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Thousands expected for Gay Softball World Series

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Gay Softball World Series, NAGAAA, gay news, Washington Blade

 

Gay Softball World Series, NAGAAA, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands are expected to come to the D.C. area for the Gay Softball World Series. (Photo by Bigstock)

The annual Gay Softball World Series, organized by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, is returning to D.C. after 10 years and is expected to be the biggest tournament the organization has ever hosted. The opening ceremonies begin Monday with the tournament to be held Tuesday through Saturday.

“We have over 156 teams confirmed and it will be the largest World Series ever,” says Wayne Williams, co-director of this year’s tournament. “We’ve had tremendous support from the LGBT community and the city itself. The city’s been our partner from the beginning.”

Gay softball teams from all over the U.S. and Canada participate in the Alliance’s Gay Softball World Series each year. The games are free to attend and this year’s expected turnout is between 3,500-4,000 spectators and participants. The Alliance is technically a co-ed organization, but the majority of its teams are all male.

Teams compete in five different divisions, including A, B, C, D and Masters, which is reserved for players 50 and older. Many local Alliance leagues have tournaments to decide which teams will go to the World Series and which division they will compete in.

“The age range varies. You have to be 18 and over to play, and there is no upper age limit,” Williams says. “The Master’s division has been growing each year because a lot of the players are aging.”

Games will be held in a variety of locations outside the city including Watkins Regional Park (301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro, Md.), Braddock Park (13241 Braddock Rd., Clinton, Va.), Fairland Regional Park (13950 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel, Md.) and Bachman Sports Complex (570 East Ordnance Rd., Glen Burnie, Md.). The exact game times and who will be playing who are still to be announced. The Alliance will not provide buses or vans to the fields for teams or spectators.

“We don’t provide transportation to and from the fields,” Williams says. “We do have an arrangement with the National Car Rental company. They provide discounts for car rentals, so we will connect our players with that service.”

Although the games are free to watch, the Alliance does raise money each year for charity from the teams that pay to compete in the World Series and the week’s social events. The beneficiaries are usually LGBT organizations. This year’s are the You Can Play Project (an LGBT organization that combats discrimination in athletics), Team D.C. and the Team D.C. Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund, the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation (anti-bullying) and PETS-Washington, D.C. (provides care for pets owned by those living with HIV/AIDS). The Alliance is a registered non-profit with a charitable mission.

“Softball is an opportunity for players to come together as a group and organize activities in that regard, to represent the best of gay softball,” Williams says. “We designate local and national charities for this, so it’s an opportunity to give back.”

The week’s social events include daily afternoon pool parties, Night OUT at the Nationals hosted by Team D.C., an Alliance talent show and a “GrandSlam” after party at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) on Saturday night. Many of the players and spectators enjoy the sense of community that is a part of each year’s tournament.

“I absolutely love the gay softball community,” says Tony Mase, shortstop for Washington-based team Capital Punishment. “There’s just something about the camaraderie among the teams that play in the league that you don’t get playing in other leagues outside of that community. For instance, our teams play in a straight league on Friday nights, and it’s not that bad to play in it, but it’s just not as fun and outgoing as it is in the LGBT league.”

This year’s World Series will demonstrate the cohesion among D.C.’s gay softball community. Six D.C. teams are competing, which is more than ever before. Ed Vincent, the coach of the Logan Tavern team and co-director for the tournament, describes the World Series as important.

“[The Alliance] provides this opportunity as kind of a safe haven for the LGBT community to play in an organized league setting,” Vincent says. “It’s really important that the players feel comfortable and secure to play in a league where they can compete at all levels, whether it’s the A division that’s the best or the B division that’s more recreational.”

“The tournament really allows the softball players to be role models for LGBT youth and other LGBT people out there. There’s a way to get involved and a way to form an association and a network of friends. It’s almost like a family,” Williams says. “A lot of these people really know each other. It’s a way to help people come out, or feel more comfortable with the coming out process.”

For more information on the 2013 Gay Softball World Series, visit DCseries2013.com.

Events:

MONDAY
Opening Ceremonies are from 6-10 p.m. at Fairgrounds D.C. (1299 Half St., S.E.), and the Opening Ceremonies After-Party is from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Ziegfeld’s Secrets (1824 Half St., S.E.). A complimentary shuttle-bus service will loop from Fairgrounds to the after-party at 9, and will drop guests off at the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro Station until 11.

TUESDAY
The tournament kicks off at 7:50 a.m. at the various fields and the day’s games finish at 5 p.m.

An afternoon pool party for players will be held at Penthouse Pool at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.) from noon-6 p.m.

Team D.C. hosts Night OUT at the Nationals at Nationals Park (1500 South Capitol St., S.E.) for tournament contestants. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. with $5 beer in the Night OUT section until first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-8 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.) from noon-6 p.m.

Sequioa Restaurant (3000 K St., N.W.) hosts a “Hall of Fame Reception and Dinner” from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

THURSDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-6 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party from noon-6 p.m. at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.).

The Renaissance Hotel Grand Ballroom hosts an Association talent show from 8-11 p.m, with performances by players, coaches and directors. Shi-Queeta-Lee and Bubba D. Licious will be emceeing the event. Admission is $5. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit nagaaatalentshow.eventbrite.com.

FRIDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-6 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party from noon-6 p.m. at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.).

SATURDAY
The NAGAAA Softball Championships will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Fairland Regional Park and Watkins Regional Park, with a closing street party and awards ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel’s 8th St. Plaza (999 9th St., N.W.).

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts the GrandSlam Closing Dance Party from 10 p.m.-3 a.m., with free admission for those with World Series wristbands from 10-11 p.m, and $8 after 11.

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Real Estate

City inspection codes: How easy is it to fail?

Be sure to check ventilation, smoke detectors, and more

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Landlords are required to install and maintain smoke detectors in their rental properties.

In the District of Columbia, rental properties are required to meet certain health and safety standards. These standards are set by the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).

If you own a rental property in the District of Columbia, you may be required to have your property inspected by the DCRA to ensure that it meets these standards. The inspection process typically involves a DCRA inspector visiting the property and checking for any hazards or code violations.

It’s important to make sure that your property is in good condition and meets the District’s health and safety standards, as failing a rental property inspection can have serious consequences. If your property fails the inspection, you may be required to make repairs or upgrades in order to bring it into compliance. If you are unable to do so, you may be forced to stop renting out the property until the necessary repairs are made.

Overall, the likelihood of failing a rental property inspection in the District of Columbia will depend on the condition of your property and whether it meets the applicable health and safety standards. To minimize the risk of failing an inspection, it’s important to keep your property well maintained and address any potential hazards or code violations as soon as possible.

In the District of Columbia, landlords are responsible for maintaining their rental properties in a safe and habitable condition. If a rental property is not in compliance with the city’s health and safety standards, the landlord may be cited for code violations.

Some common code violations that landlords in the District of Columbia may be cited for include:

• Lack of adequate heating or ventilation: Landlords are required to provide sufficient heating and ventilation systems to ensure the health and safety of their tenants.

• Electrical or plumbing issues: Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their properties have functional electrical and plumbing systems. All plumbing fixtures must be properly sealed, in other words, no holes in the walls. All water heaters require pressure relief valves

Structural issues: Landlords must maintain their properties in a safe and structurally sound condition.

Pest infestations: Landlords are required to address and eliminate pest infestations in their rental properties.

Lack of smoke detectors: Landlords are required to install and maintain smoke detectors in their rental properties. Detectors must be placed 36” from ceiling fan blades and away from the path of the HVAC registers.

Proper locks: All exit and security gate locks must be easy to operate and must not require a key to exit.

It’s important for landlords in the District of Columbia to be aware of these and other code violations and take steps to ensure that their properties are in compliance with the city’s health and safety requirements.

Scott Bloom is senior property manager and owner, Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, go to www.ColumbiaPM.com.

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Business

Canino Dog Boutique offers healthful food, accessories

Cati Sesana opens new store on Belmont Street in Northwest

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Cati Sesana owns Canino Dog Boutique at 1409 Belmont St., N.W. (Photo courtesy Sesana)

Cati Sesana was sitting at home trying to help her mom find a local shop in D.C. that would have a cute sweater for her dog but couldn’t find much outside of the big-box stores. Last month, she opened Canino Dog Boutique to solve the problem.

“I was like ‘Let me do some research,’ there are shops like this in New York but I don’t know of one in D.C.,” she said.  

However, Sesana had a long journey from researching the pet boutique business to her opening day. Sesana played water polo at George Washington University and majored in music, so she didn’t know much about starting a business. 

One of her first tasks was figuring out what she was going to sell. 

“Initially I was just going to do accessories or apparel and not treats or food,” she said. “But I got really deep into pet nutrition and what’s going to make your dog live the longest.”

She recalled the initial trouble she had with finding food for her dog, Aiko and wanted to eliminate that worry for her customers. 

“I only carry two dog food brands, so I kind of get rid of that overwhelming decision-making that’s like, ‘What do I do? What’s right for my dog?’ so I only carry brands I know and trust,” she said. 

As for her apparel and accessories, she only sells products from small and local shops that don’t have distribution in major retailers. One of the local shops Sesana purchases from told her that she was their first retailer and that since then, business has improved. 

“By shopping here, you’re helping other small businesses and it all kind of domino effects,” Sesana said. 

As a first-time business owner herself, Sesana knows all about the obstacles of trying to get a small business off the ground. 

 “The biggest challenge was finding a landlord that would give me an opportunity,” she said. 

Sesana visited spaces in a lot of high foot-traffic shopping areas, like Georgetown and met plenty of landlords who loved her concept but didn’t want a first-time business owner. 

“I think the pandemic scared landlords from giving smaller businesses a chance, because so many closed,” she said. “But then the personality of a neighborhood kind of disintegrates a lot. … Why would I come to 14th Street when I can shop from Lululemon online?”

Finally, Sesana was given a chance for a space just off of 14th Street on Belmont Street. Conveniently located next to Streets Market and across the street from Doozydog! Club.

On Nov. 6 she opened her doors and has worked every day since then. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4-7 p.m. and on weekend 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sesana is currently the only employee. 

“I am the company graphic designer, customer service, and dog walker!” she said, motioning to her dog lying in his doggie bed. 

After Sesana closes the store, she is out into the night playing the drums in a band. 

She says that being a musician has given her the right mentality to get through the long days at her boutique. 

“Slow days are tough, but I can zoom out and see the bigger picture,” she said.

Canino Dog Boutique is located at 1409 Belmont St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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Real Estate

Top tax benefits of homeownership

Mortgage interest, property tax deductions, and more

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Thinking of buying a house? Here are some of the many tax advantages that come with homeownership.

As we are closing out 2023 and getting ready to start 2024, now is a good time to review what tax benefits most homeowners are getting. There are several categories that you can look at to see if you will benefit from being a homeowner. According to RocketMortgage.com, here are some of them:

  • Mortgage interest.  Most newer homeowners are paying more on the interest in their monthly mortgage payment than on the principal, so this could be a big tax benefit.
  • Home equity loan interest – HELOC (home equity line of credit) loans are like a 2nd mortgage on your home. Many homeowners can use it to make upgrades to their house and interest on these loans is deductible if you used it for that purpose.
  • Discount points – for those of you that purchased in the last year or so these may apply, as these are the price paid to lower an interest rate on a loan.
  • Property taxes – depending on where you live, your state and local property taxes may be a big source of tax deductions for you.
  • Necessary home improvements – even if you did not use a HELOC to improve your home, some of your expenses in this category may be deductible.
  • Home office expenses – as more and more people are working from home, this should not go unexamined in your search to find tax deductions.
  • Capital Gains – a capital gain is the difference between the value of a home when you sold it versus when you borrowed it. So, if you sold your home for a significant profit and did not roll over those gains into a new property within a short period of selling the old property, then ask your tax professional up to which amount of these profits are not taxable.

We asked Tina Del Casale ([email protected]), a DMV-area lender with Sandy Spring Bank, what she thought about the tax benefits of homeownership, and here is her answer:

“Most homeowners wish they knew sooner that most every major home improvement can reduce your future capital gains when you are ready to sell your home. While the deduction for a single person is $250,000, and for married couples is $500,000, the DMV has seen property appreciation that outpaces those numbers. So keep ALL your receipts for replacement items like your HVAC, windows, doors, roof, major landscaping and updating bathrooms and kitchens. You will thank me later! Of course most importantly consult a tax adviser for up-to-date information!”

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us if you have more questions and happy holidays! Let’s get you home for the holidays.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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