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Hine Junior HIgh School building

Streetcar Podcast — The Hill Is Home launched a podcast about “where the streetcar started and where it may go.” The first installment features Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen, local historian Robert Pohl and Anwar Saleem, the head of H Street Main Street. [The Hill Is Home]

How Plastic Bag Fees Have Been Spent — The nickel tax on plastic bags crafted by ex-Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells has generated about $10 million since 2010. About a third of the funds have gone toward direct river cleanup and items like rain gardens to catch runoff, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Uses of the funds intended to protect the river have included $1.7 million in personnel costs and $1.2 million to send every D.C. fifth-grader on a river-related field trip. [Washington Post]

Capitol Hill ‘Bar Madness’ Party — During March Madness for basketball, The Hill Is Home ran a bracket for bars near Capitol Hill. The winner, Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, will be celebrated tonight. The party starts at 1104 H St. NE at 6 p.m. [The Hill Is Home]

Community Meetings — Items on ANC meeting agenda this week include a presentation by the First District’s “top cop,” Commander Jeff Brown, and evaluation of a liquor license for the second restaurant from the owner of Rose’s Luxury. [Capitol Hill Corner]

Geothermal Power at the Hill Center — The Hill Center is heated and cooled using a geothermal system with 32 wells dug 350 feet deep. [Hill Rag]

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Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Departing Ward 6 City Councilman Tommy Wells will be director of the District Department of the Environment, Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser announced this morning (Friday).

Bowser praised the “livable, walkable” brand of her former campaign rival, and his role in instituting the plastic bag fee.

“He’s been focused on how we can green our city and make our city sustainable for his entire time on the Council,” Bowser said. “He’s going to help us clean up the Anacostia.”

Wells, who is the first agency director Bowser has appointed, said he was ready for the challenge of making the District more environmentally friendly.

“As someone who keeps an canoe on the Anacostia River, I could not be more thrilled to have this role in the nation’s capital,” he said.

Wells noted that he will be the first former D.C. Council member to serve in the cabinet of a mayor.

“That’s what states do all the time,” he said to applause.

In other Council news, committee assignments have been made, according to Washington Post reporter Aaron C. Davis. Ward 6 Councilman-elect will sit on the Education, Transportation and the Environment, and Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs committees. Elissa Silverman, a Hill resident and at-large Councilwoman-elect was assigned to the Finance and Revenue, Housing and Community Development and Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs committees.

The announcement was made inside 400 E St. SW, where a new fire station, Hyatt Place hotel and retail are being built now. The LEED Silver building is set to open in fall 2015, officials said.

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Tommy Wells (Photo via D.C. Council)The District Council bid farewell to departing Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells this afternoon as his term concludes.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson praised Wells in the Council Chamber and give him and other soon-to-be ex-members each a ceremonial glass bowl.

“You’re one of the few Council members who actually has a brand … Livable/walkable,” Mendelson said. Wells can largely take credit for the plastic bag fee and an investigation of ex-Council Chair Kwame Brown’s use of a Department of Public Works SUV, Mendelson said.

Wells said he is looking forward to the next year.

“This will be a great legislative body with a great executive branch, and I’m so proud to have served on the D.C. Council,” he said. He thanked his staff and other members.

Departing Councilman David Catania poked fun at Wells in his own remarks. Catania needed to keep his job at construction firm M.C. Dean Inc. “just to cover Tommy’s liquor bill,” he joked.

Photo via D.C. Council

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Livable, Walkable Awards (Photo via TommyWellsWard6.com)Hill residents and business owners will be recognized tomorrow night (Wednesday) for their leadership.

D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells announced the winners of the 2014 Livable, Walkable Awards today. Recipients will be honored at a free, open-to-all party tomorrow at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

The winners are:

  • Neighbor Award: John E. Hill
  • Business Award: Atlas Vet, Dr. Matthew Antkowiak and Dr. Chris Miller
  • Community Organization Award: Capitol Hill Community Foundation, Nicky Cymrot, president
  • Public Service Award: Officer Tyrone Hardy, Metropolitan Police Department, First District
  • Civic Pride: Arena Stage, Molly Smith, artistic director and Edgar Dobie, executive producer

The 8th annual awards are given to local people and organizations that “make our great city even greater,” Wells said in a statement.

The awards celebration will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE). Food will be served from Nandos Peri-Peri, Crunkcakes, H & Pizza, Dangerously Delicious Pies, the Queen Vic and elsewhere.

Last year’s winners were Rev. Ruth Hamilton of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Rev. L.B. West of Mount Airy Baptist Church, Labyrinth Game Shop, the French Street Neighborhood Association, the Ward 6 Core Team and Ron McBee of ANC 6D.

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Livable, Walkable Awards (Photo via TommyWellsWard6.com)Hill residents have until the end of the day to put their neighbors up for an award.

The office of Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells is accepting nominations through the end of today (Monday) for the Livable, Walkable Awards. The 8th annual awards will honor local people and organizations at a gala Wednesday, Dec. 3.

“The Livable, Walkable Awards celebrate the leadership, commitment and vision of people who are making our great city even greater,” Wells said in a statement. “To create a truly livable, walkable community, it takes leadership and vision — not just from those elected to office, but also from our neighbors, city employees, civic organizations and local businesses.”

The award categories are:

  • The Neighbor Award
  • The Business Award
  • The Community Organization Award and
  • The Public Service Award

Last year’s winners were Rev. Ruth Hamilton of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Rev. L.B. West of Mount Airy Baptist Church, Labyrinth Game Shop, the French Street Neighborhood Association, the Ward 6 Core Team and Ron McBee of ANC 6D.

The awards will be given during a free event at the Atlas Performing Arts Center from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3.

To nominate a person or group, fill out this form.

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Navy Yard finally has a supermarket.

The Harris Teeter at 401 M St. SE opened Tuesday evening with a ribbon-cutting and a crowd eager to explore the bright store.

Offerings at the 50,000-square-foot market include a “make your own six-pack” selection of craft beers, a Starbucks, a wide selection of wines, heaps of organic and conventional produce, and a wall of frozen cakes.

Navy Yard resident Devon Jones said he and his mother, who uses a motorized wheelchair, were thrilled to get a grocery store close to home. They’re used to having to make a 20-minute trip to the Safeway near the Waterfront Metro station.

“Now we can just go across the street,” Jones, 25, said. “It makes a big difference.”

The store is crucial for Navy Yard as its population booms, Ward 6 City Councilman Tommy Wells said.

“This is one of the key amenities for any neighborhood to be successful,” he said about the store with a staff of 215.

Before Harris Teeter opened about 5:30 p.m., store director Tim Porch presented oversized checks of $5,000 each to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and Jan’s Tutoring House, and thanked locals for their patience during construction.

Shoppers said the store’s prices seemed comparable to competitors’.

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Much of Ward 6 has poor access to existing transit, DDOT says. (Photo via DDOT)The D.C. Department of Transportation can expand transit options for Hill residents by increasing the number of protected bike lanes and adding small shuttle buses, Ward 6 City Councilman Tommy Wells said.

Wells weighed in on the long-term MoveDC transportation plan Mayor Vincent Gray released Tuesday. The councilman praised the extensive 25-year plan but said it didn’t “get into the fine grain of what to do.”

“There’s been a major increase in bicycling in Ward 6, so they need to continue to look at protected bike lanes, like on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said.

Wells also called for the use of small shuttle buses in underserved parts of the district.

“It’s a way to expand public transportation in areas not necessarily served by buses,” he said.

MoveDC called for the restoration of funding for 22 miles of streetcar tracks. Wells said “bumps in the road” to create the H Street NE streetcar have hurt general will to support the expansion of the network.

“The future of the streetcar is going to require private business leadership to step forward,” he said.

The citywide plan calls for improved traffic signals, additional sidewalks, upgraded pedestrian safety measures, dedicated bus lanes and more.

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As 1,500 job seekers filed through Southwest’s Arena Stage for a job fair on Friday, organizers paid close attention to the attendees with the worst chances of finding work — those with criminal backgrounds.

About half of D.C.’s previously incarcerated people, also called “returning citizens,” are jobless, according to studies cited by the D.C. nonprofit Council for Court Excellence.

Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells and the theater organize the annual fair and this year welcomed companies open to applicants with criminal records.

Kevin Grover at Arena Stage job fairKevin Grover, a 43-year-old who spent eight years in prison in the 1980s, said he has been struggling to find work since he lost a job working for Metro in 2010. Most employers set his application aside when they see he has a criminal record, he said.

“Even if you have 20 years experience, your background is the first thing they’re going to look at,” said Grover.

Grover attended the fair — which was open to all — hoping to find a maintenance job, but said he would take any work he could find.

Returning citizens shouldn’t be excluded from opportunities, Wells said. “They’ve done their time and paid their debt to society.”

Wells introduced legislation this year that bars employers from asking about candidates’ criminal backgrounds until they make a conditional job offer. This so-called “ban the box” initiative was signed into law in August.

“The two biggest challenges these people face are finding a job and getting housing,” he said. “This bill gives people a better shot.”

Companies recruiting at the fourth annual fair included Big Bus Tours, Harris Teeter and Clark Construction.

Deborah Evans-Atkins, who represented USPS, said that before Wells’ law went into effect, her office did not immediately eliminate candidates with criminal records. She declined to describe USPS’s criteria in evaluating ex-offenders.

Nonprofits and other government agencies also had tables at the fair. And many returning citizens provided their information to the city’s Office of Returning Citizen Affairs, which advocates on their behalf.

In addition to needing help finding work, returning citizens face challenges finding housing, said Victor Battle, an ORCA workforce development specialist. He said he was denied housing six times because of his own criminal record.

“We have to bring opportunity to their level,” he said. “A lot of time they think it’s out of reach.”

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