The Washington Post - 13.08.2019

(Kiana) #1


for the neighborhood, where
businesses hire private pest con-
trol companies to operate sepa-
rately from government efforts.
“It’s a public health risk,” Coats
said to Brown while they were
standing in the alley.
As students filed back into the
rat academy basement room, they
traded notes on what they saw in
the field and how they could use
what they learned to limit food
sources and to restrict movement
for the rats of Adams Morgan.
Their instructor warned they
just got a taste of the complicated
“People think: Just put out a
bunch of poison and kill them,”
Corrigan said. “You are now
trained to see what others are

“That bait isn’t doing any-
thing,” Coats observed as he
pointed at a bait box in an awk-
ward position on the hotel’s land-
“That’s why it’s important for
people in your position to know
where they should be,” replied
Brown, the District’s rat czar.
Coats came to the rat academy
because workers at several prop-
erties he oversees in Northwest
Washington have been trying to
keep rodents at bay. He has been
deluged by conflicting informa-
tion from pest companies and
wanted to get educated.
Coats grew frustrated as he
walked around Adams Morgan
and spotted open dumpsters, un-
sealed doors and other mistakes
beckoning rodents. No single en-
tity is in charge of rat abatement

sunbaked body resting near the
back door of a restaurant and a
furry creature spotted hobbling
under a dumpster.
“If he’s not dead, he’s dying
soon,” Yaqin Upshaw, another
D.C. Health inspector, remarked
as he walked by.
“Come on, we’ve got to keep
moving,” said Dan Coats, a Dela-
ware-based property manager.
Coats and Upshaw were among
the academy students scoping out
the blocks surrounding the Line
Hotel to identify factors enabling
the rat population to thrive.
Those metal bowls of water left
out for dogs at restaurant patios?
Also a great hydration source for
The cracks in the brick steps
near restaurants? An easy escape
path for rats.

“When I was a little boy, the
rats were in this alley,” said
Brown, 63. “Now we’re dealing
with the great-great-grandkids of
those rats.”
As part of a pilot program, D.C.
Health officials are trying to stop
the next generation by placing
bait boxes in nine locations across
the city that contain a compound
designed to interfere with ovula-
tion in female rats and with
sperm production in male rats.
The bait is a sweet, fatty liquid
that appeals to rodents.
“You know how the food is so
good you lick the plate?” Brown
remarked as he looked at a bait
box containing sterilizing liquid
in the Adams Morgan alley. “They
are starting to eat the container.”
But the city lacks data on
whether it’s working.
At the Adams Morgan alley, the
city’s contractor for rat steriliza-
tion has installed a camera to
measure the effects.
“The idea is, we don’t see baby
rats,” Brown said. “If there are a
lot of juveniles and babies run-
ning around, we know something
is not right.”
Already, something was not
right. Brown hadn’t received any
photos of rats. He figured the
camera must be in a bad location
as he examined the contraption,
which resembled a bulky walkie-
talkie wrapped around a metal
fence post.
It’s not like there were no rats
around to say cheese.
Cases in point: The carcass
caught in a nearby snap trap, the


toughening the bottom of your
feet,” Abby said.
What started out soft and
fleshy had to become hard and
“Your feet would get calloused
and permanently ingrained with
dirt,” Abby said. “I remember
once I picked up a big thorn in
the ball of my foot and it didn’t
even bother me. It eventually
worked its way out.”
The only time the Thomas
kids had to wear shoes was when
they went downtown. And that
would involve firing up Marco
Polo, the intrepid four-wheel

These area schools are reuniting
in the coming months.
Academy of the Holy Names
(Silver Spring, Md.) All-Class
Reunion — Oct. 26. Email or search
“Academy of the Holy Names @
Silver Spring, MD” on Facebook.
Walter Johnson High Class
of 1969 — Oct. 19. Visit or email
Surrattsville High (Clinton,
Md.) Class of 1969 — Sept. 27-

  1. Visit
    Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit

I would start pestering our
parents: ‘Can I go barefoot? Can
I go barefoot?’ ” she said.
When they finally got the
green light to shed their shoes,
there was work to be done.
“You had to work at

for the way it captures a certain
skinned-knee childhood as for
the Packard. The neighbor kids
are barefoot. Abby and Peter are
in shoes, which would not have
made them happy.
“In the spring, my brother and

themselves across its bulky
metalwork for a photo.
That’s Abby on the front left,
with glasses, sandals and socks,
and her brother on the opposite
I love that snapshot, as much

attached in front of each box for
air, and the trunk lid slightly
Abby’s father was a
mathematics professor at Duke
University, and with his
summers free, he’d pack the
family into Marco Polo and go
“We’d take these long trips out
west, to Wyoming. Daddy was a
lover of the Old West,” she said.
Abby and her younger
brother, Peter, would be
ensconced in the rumble seat,
which had been modified so they
could lay down and doze in it
while the Packard motored on.
“I remember feeling so
secure,” said Abby, 75. “Here you
are in this little, enclosed space.
You know how soothing a car
can be. It’s like sleeping in a
train, just the sounds going on
and on, and here are these
people who you utterly trust:
your parents. Now that I think of
it, it’s probably the safest feeling
I’ve ever had.”
Abby’s father ended up selling
the Packard — twice. He bought
it back once. It left the family
forever in the 1970s, sold to its
long-term mechanic, who
promptly flipped it for a profit.
“We felt betrayed,” Abby said.
The first time Abby’s father
sold the car, the neighborhood
kids held a funeral for it. They
picked flowers and decorated the
Packard with them, then draped

Abby Thomas
soon grew
accustomed to the
reception she’d
get when walking
back to her
family’s car after
shopping in
Durham, N.C., in
the 1960s: two or
three men
standing around, eager to talk to
whoever was driving that
striking antique automobile.
It was Abby in her family’s
beloved 1937 maroon Packard
“My father named it ‘Marco
Polo’ because it traveled so far,
taking us all over the country on
annual vacations,” said Abby,
who lives in Silver Spring. She
responded to my recent call for
old-car stories.
The Packard was the car in
which Abby learned to drive a
manual transmission — and to
use her arm as an indicator.
“There were no turn signals or
brake lights,” she said. “No seat
belts, of course; I remember my
mother putting out an arm to
hold us kids when she braked.”
Said Abby: “It had a front
bench seat and a rumble seat,
which my father converted so
that we children could sleep
tucked in behind on long drives.
Sometimes the cats traveled with
us too, each in a box in the
trunk, with an oven grill

The panel is scheduled to
submit an interim report on
findings and recommendations
to the governor and state
lawmakers by September 2021.
A final report is scheduled to
be submitted by the following
— Associated Press

Dredging of inlet in
Ocean City scheduled

The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers will be dredging the
inlet in Ocean City.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
announced that a dredge vessel
arrived Tuesday. The vessel is
scheduled to dredge for five days
over the coming week, starting
The dredging is being done to
address sediment accumulation
in an important navigation
channel used by commercial
fisherman and recreational
— Associated Press


Loans available for
those hit by flooding

The federal government is
making low-interest loans
available to residents and
business owners in parts of
Northern Virginia impacted by
flooding in early July.
The office of Gov. Ralph
Northam (D) said in a statement
that businesses and private
nonprofit organizations may
borrow up to $2 million through
the U.S. Small Business
Administration. The borrowed
funds are meant to help repair
or replace real estate,
equipment and other assets
damaged or destroyed in the
July 8 flooding.
Loans of up to $200,000 are
available to homeowners to
repair or replace real estate.
Homeowners and renters are
eligible for loans up to $40,000
to repair or replace personal
The administration will be
opening outreach centers in
Fairfax and Arlington counties
this week to answer questions
and help individuals complete
their applications.
— Associated Press


Man charged with
attempted kidnapping

An 18-year-old man has been
arrested in the assault of a
woman in College Park, Prince
George’s County police said.
Vashann Robinson of
Greenbelt has been charged
with attempted kidnapping,
second-degree assault and other
counts, police said. On
Thursday, a woman reported
that a man approached her
about 10 p.m. in the 4400 block
of Guilford Drive asking for help
finding his lost dog, police said.
At first, the woman declined.
But when he asked her about 30
minutes later, she agreed, police
said. While the two walked
together, the man grabbed her
from behind and tried to drag
her to a nearby parking lot
before a witness shouted at him
and the man released her, police
The woman was not injured,
police said.
Robinson was arrested
Saturday wearing clothes
matching the description of the
man wanted in the assault,
police said. Police said Robinson
acknowledged his involvement.
Online court records did not
list an attorney for Robinson.
— Lynh Bui

Panel researching
lynchings meets

A Maryland commission that
will research at least 40
lynchings that were committed
in the state between 1854 and
1933 and make
recommendations about
reconciliation held its first
meeting on Monday.
The Maryland Lynching Truth
and Reconciliation Commission
includes historians from each of
the state’s historically black
colleges: Bowie State University,
Coppin State University, Morgan
State University and University
of Maryland Eastern Shore. It
also includes a state archivist
and a staff member for the
attorney general’s office, who
will be able to subpoena
witnesses or documents for the
panel’s work.
Elected as acting chair was
David Fakunle of the National
Great Blacks in Wax Museum in


Results from Aug. 12

Mid-Day Lucky Numbers: 6-1-8
Mid-Day DC-4: 0-8-4-6
Mid-Day DC-5: 1-7-0-0-1
Lucky Numbers (Sun.): 7-0-0
Lucky Numbers (Mon.): 6-6-6
DC-4 (Sun.): 3-9-8-4
DC-4 (Mon.): 1-8-0-4
DC-5 (Sun.): 7-0-0-1-0
DC-5 (Mon.): 3-0-3-0-7

Mid-Day Pick 3: 1-4-1
Mid-Day Pick 4: 9-1-9-1
Night/Pick 3 (Sun.): 9-2-2
Pick 3 (Mon.): 7-7-7
Pick 4 (Sun.): 6-0-0-8
Pick 4 (Mon.): 8-5-7-3
Multi-Match: 9-14-16-19-33-35
Match 5 (Sun.): 18-19-31-34-38 *24
Match 5 (Mon.): 4-10-25-30-31 *17
5 Card Cash: JD-4D-4H-5D-7H

Day/Pick-3: 2-7-5
Pick-4: 7-3-9-4
Cash-5: 11-12-13-19-27
Night/Pick-3 (Sun.): 0-1-0
Pick-3 (Mon.): 5-9-6
Pick-4 (Sun.): 0-4-2-9
Pick-4 (Mon.): 9-8-4-3
Cash-5 (Sun.): 4-11-19-25-28
Cash-5 (Mon.): 11-13-17-21-30

Cash 4 Life: 7-15-31-50-57 ¶1
Lucky for Life: 2-5-14-27-39 ‡3

*Bonus Ball ‡Lucky Ball ¶Cash Ball

For late drawings and other results, check


Family explored American West in beloved 1937 Packard called Marco Polo


Abby Thomas, left in sandals, has fond memories of traveling in the old Packard with her parents and
brother, Peter, on opposite fender. On long trips, she liked sleeping in the converted rumble seat.


He was stabbed a few blocks
from where he grew up in Mar-
shall Heights, while returning
home from a construction job.
His mother believes he got into
an argument that quickly grew
Pierre Fenner’s death went vir-
tually unnoticed in a city where
the homicide count is rising. His
was the District’s 100th slaying
victim of 2019. And while the
pace of deadly violence has in-
creased over last year, his death
on Aug. 5 also marked the begin-
ning of a respite.
No one else had been killed as
of Monday evening.
“It doesn’t matter at all until
we get that number to zero,” said
David Bowers, the founder of a
group called No Murders D.C.
“It’s good news we have gone six
or more days without a homicide,
and the challenge is how do we
get to seven, and then 10.”
Bowers added, “The bad news
is all the people killed up to this
Fenner’s mother, Moanick
Fenner, had no time on Monday

to contemplate statistics. She
shuttled between the coroner
and the funeral home, struggling
to organize the service for her
29-year-old son.
“It’s frustrating, period,” said
Fenner, who is 54 and works as an
administrative assistant in the
U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. “What makes
these young people so violent?
Why are they so angry? Back in
the day, you would get into a fight
and go home and start over
again. People don’t do that any-
This is not the longest inter-
lude between homicides in the
city in recent months. Twice this
year, the District has gone nine
days without a killing. But sum-
mer months are typically the
most deadly, and it follows a
particularly violent stretch, with
19 people shot in five days last
An 11-year-old boy was among
the victims of eight homicides
reported during that period. The
killings prompted the District’s
police chief and mayor to speak
out against what they said is easy
access to illegal guns and a ten-

dency for petty disputes to turn
Every year, police chiefs across
the country have to answer for
rising homicide counts or explain
why violent crime dropped.
There are few simple answers to a
complex issue. The city didn’t
reach 100 killings until the end of
August last year, and not until the
end of fall in 2017. The city didn’t
reach the mark at all in 2012,
when 88 people were killed.
Three years later, 162 homicides
were recorded.
D.C. Police Chief Peter New-
sham declined to comment for
this article.
Fenner said her son graduated
from now -closed Spingarn High
School and worked construction
jobs, most recently at a building
on the campus of Howard Uni-
versity. He was working toward
his commercial driver’s license.
“He had a difficult life,” Moan-
ick Fenner said, noting she sus-
pected too late he had develop-
mental problems that were never
addressed in school. He lived
with his mother in the house he
grew up in and spent free time
with his cousins.

She said her son was some-
times quick to grow frustrated.
“His patience is so thin,” she said,
wondering whether that played a
role in the stabbing, which oc-
curred about 9:45 p.m. in the
5000 block of Bass Place SE. No
arrest has been made.
Fenner said she was home but
didn’t learn that her son had died
at the hospital until the next
morning. He didn’t have identifi-
cation on him, she said, and
“nobody knew who he was.”
His mother said her son “was
so funny” and “he wanted to
make sure everyone was okay. He
also was a person who wanted to
tell everyone what to do, especial-
ly his sisters.”
Fenner also said he lacked
street smarts. “He trusted every-
body,” she said.
Pierre Fenner had two adult
sisters who work as government
contractors. His younger brother
died three years ago of natural
causes at the age of 15.
“I had four kids,” Moanick
Fenner said. “Now I only have
two. That is so difficult. I just
hope nobody else gets killed.”


City records 100th homicide Aug. 5, none since

O∞cials try


to cut rat


A camera was installed in an Adams Morgan alley in Northwest Washington to measure the effects on
rats of bait boxes containing sterilizing liquid. The bait boxes are deployed at nine D.C. locations.
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