Javascript is required to run this page
VaNews
December 6, 2021
Top of the News

Virginia Republicans savor Youngkin’s victory at retreat

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin got a hero’s welcome this weekend at the mountain resort where Virginia Republicans have flocked for more than a decade to lick their Election Day wounds. A month after Youngkin (R) led a sweep of three statewide offices and helped his party flip the House of Delegates, the long-suffering GOP had something to celebrate. And Youngkin told hundreds of party activists gathered at the Omni Homestead Resort to get used to it.


Youngkin tells Northam to bake tax cuts into final budget

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin on Friday urged Gov. Ralph Northam to build in tax cuts for Virginians into his administration’s outgoing two-year budget, arguing that higher-than-expected revenues suggest the state is taxing people too much. “Surplus represents we’re taxing more than we need,” Youngkin said, pointing to the state’s $2.6 billion surplus in the last budget year, and the expected $3 billion in additional revenues anticipated for the current year, which lawmakers expect to be replicated in each of the next two fiscal years.


Permit denied for proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate compressor station in Pittsylvania County

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

A state board denied an air permit Friday for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate’s Lambert Compressor Station in Pittsylvania County. MVP spokesman Shawn Day expressed disappointment at the decision that came “despite the overwhelming evidence that our application met or exceeded all previously stated requirements.”


Virginia to dismantle pedestal where Robert E. Lee statue stood in Richmond

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has agreed to take down the 40-foot granite pedestal that once supported the titanic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and became the heart of last year’s social justice protests. Once the iconic, graffiti-covered plinth is gone — which is expected by the end of the month — the state will transfer ownership of the surrounding traffic circle to the city of Richmond, officials said Sunday.


Fairfax County Public Library runs out of COVID-19 tests in first hour of availability

By ANGELA WOOLSEY, FFXnow

Fairfax County Public Library offered at-home COVID-19 test kits to the community for the first time this morning (Friday). An hour later, they were all gone. The county announced on Monday (Nov. 29) that it would join a pilot program that the Virginia Department of Health launched last month to distribute free COVID-19 tests through participating public libraries.


Youngkin gets booster shot, urges others to follow suit

By SETH MCLAUGHLIN, Washington Times

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin announced Friday that he got a coronavirus booster shot and urged others to follow in his footsteps. “I received my COVID-19 booster vaccine this morning,” Mr. Youngkin, a Republican, said on Twitter. “It’s YOUR decision, but I encourage every Virginian to join me.” “Together,” he said, “we can help keep our communities safe.”


Virginia teacher shortages spiked during the pandemic. Experts are worried about what’s to come.

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

John Reaves works as a high school English teacher in Henrico County but commutes 30 miles to work from his home in Louisa. The drive takes time away from his kids, including his young daughter, and the current school year has been tough on him. Henrico, like every division across Virginia, is back to in-person learning, and Reaves sometimes feels like he’s scrambling to get students caught up after they spent a year and a half isolated at home. The district is dealing with staffing shortages, and teachers are back to their normal responsibilities, including getting kids ready for regularly scheduled standardized testing. Reaves is still committed to teaching, but he knows plenty of colleagues who have considered leaving the profession.

The Full Report
64 articles, 25 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Floyd County Precinct Results

The Virginia Public Access Project

The rural county with 11,000 voters is one of only three Virginia localities that set up November ballots to provide the public with a full understanding of the geographic distribution of votes in the gubernatorial election. This interactive map provides four views of precinct-level results, including early in-person voting and voting by mail.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard features VDH vaccination data, including what percentage of the state's population has received at least one shot and the number of vaccinations per 100,000 residents in each city and county. Our dashboard also makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's also a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Youngkin wants Va. on offense when it comes to economic development

By MATT WELCH, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin said he’d like to see 400,000 jobs created n Virginia iin the next four years. Youngkin said Blueprint Virginia 2030, which was presented to Youngkin during the 12th Annual Virginia Economic Summit and Forum on World Trade in Richmond Friday, will help reach that goal. He said the economic plan is a “multi-year, if not multi-decade, game plan.” “I do not want Virginia to be on defense. I want Virginia to be on offense,” Youngkin said.


Youngkin promises to ‘slash regulations’ on day one for business growth

By ALLISON WINTER, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin promised business leaders Friday he would slash “job-killing regulations” and implement policies to “start winning big time” in the race to lure businesses and jobs to the region — laying out educational choice, diverse energy investments and lower taxes as top agenda items in his early days in office. Youngkin’s remarks — which echoed many of the themes of his campaign — came at the 2021 Virginia Economic Summit & Forum on World Trade at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.


Youngkin’s wealth helped win him office. Now it’s testing Virginia’s lax ethics laws

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE-FM

Republican Glenn Youngkin’s wealth helped catapult him from political nobody to Virginia’s executive mansion, investing $20 million of his own money into his campaign. It was a drop in the bucket of a fortune valued over $450 million, with his financial holdings eclipsing the annual budgets of several state agencies he’ll soon manage. The money now poses potential conflicts of interest as Youngkin prepares to be sworn in as governor, with only some of his holdings in a blind trust. And while the businessman has complied with state disclosure laws, he has declined to hand over tax returns that would paint a fuller picture of his wealth.


Local incarcerated man pushes for clemency as Northam's term wanes

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

As Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s term approaches its end and a change of political power is inbound, people across the Commonwealth are making final pushes for clemency. One of the people petitioning for clemency is Brian “Uhuru” Rowe, who is currently being held in Buckingham Correctional Center. Rowe is currently serving a 93-year prison sentence he received after pleading guilty in 1995 to crimes related to a robbery that turned deadly. He was 18-years-old at the time.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

New River, Roanoke valleys' governments lobby state for education, police, child care funding

By LUKE WEIR, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Cities and counties in the region are sending Christmas wish lists to their state lawmakers, who are considering which laws to make when the General Assembly convenes again this winter. Looking ahead to 2022, counties, towns and cities alike want more state funding for education, policing and children’s services, among other requests. Localities, including Roanoke County, want more money from Virginia for school construction, with crumbling schools a growing concern across Southwest Virginia.


Loudoun Dems Look Ahead to Changes in Richmond

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

When state lawmakers return to Richmond early next year, they also will return to a Virginia tradition: divided government. With Republicans taking control of statewide offices and the House of Delegates in November’s election, Democrats have fallen from two years of rare single-party control of state government to now holding just a single-seat majority in the state Senate.

STATE ELECTIONS

Youngkin tells party faithful he has plans to ensure Virginia stays red

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Saying Republicans have turned Virginia red with an opportunity to keep it that way, Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin gave a punchy political speech to party faithful on Friday, telling them he plans to ensure GOP dominance continues in Virginia but saying to do that the party can never write off any voter. His address came at the annual Republican Party of Virginia Advance at the Omni Homestead Resort in Bath County, an event in which Republicans across the state plan political strategy, socialize and hobnob with candidates and elected officials.


Virginia Republicans gather in Hot Springs to celebrate and plan next steps

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

After years roaming the wilderness of electoral defeat, Republican activists from across Virginia showed new optimism at their annual post-election conference this weekend, saying they think their big wins last month are a model for the nation. They gathered at the annual Republican Party of Virginia’s Advance at the Omni Homestead Resort in Bath County, where they celebrated their statewide wins and talked about policy, how to increase diversity in the party and what they can do to deliver in office.


Wish list for Virginia GOP will likely remain elusive, even after Republicans retake House of Delegates

By MIKE VALERIO, WUSA-TV

Virginia Republicans secured control of the commonwealth’s House of Delegates Friday, after a narrow recount in Virginia Beach delivered a defeat to incumbent Del. Alex Askew (D) by 115 votes. The result, sending Republican challenger Karen Greenhalgh to Richmond, tilts the balance of power in the House to a new GOP majority. . . . But can Virginians expect conservative priorities to now sail through the General Assembly? Action on abortion and education promised by Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to become reality in Richmond?


Virginia governor’s race smashed fundraising records

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe continued raising money at a blistering pace in the homestretch of the Virginia governor’s race, bringing their combined total to a record-smashing $136 million, the latest campaign finance reports show. Post-Election Day reports made public Friday show that Youngkin, a first-time candidate and wealthy private-equity executive who prevailed in the race, raised a total of $67.9 million over the campaign, including $20 million in loans from his personal fortune.


Youngkin put $20 million of his own money into campaign

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Republican Glenn Youngkin’s trend-reversing victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial race cost him $20 million out of his own pocket, according to new campaign finance reports. The reports filed Thursday with the State Board of Elections show that Youngkin, a wealthy businessman and newcomer to politics, did not make any last-minute loans to his campaign in its final weeks. The $20 million he had loaned to his campaign had already been reported.


With Virginia Beach Recount, Republicans Confirm House Majority

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

A three-judge panel overseeing a recount in a close Virginia state House race upheld the Republican candidate’s victory on Friday, a decision that also reaffirms the GOP’s takeover of the chamber and completes the party’s sweep of last month’s elections. Republicans also claimed the statewide offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in the Nov. 2 balloting. Those wins were a dramatic turnaround in a state where the GOP had not won a statewide race since 2009. Democrats still hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate — where elections won’t be held until 2023 — splitting control of Virginia’s state legislature.


Virginia Beach House of Delegates race called for Republican after recount, giving GOP the majority

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A recount in a close Virginia Beach House of Delegates race affirmed Friday that Republican Karen Greenhalgh defeated incumbent Democrat Alex Askew and ensured that the GOP will retake control of the House when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 12. Another close race will undergo a recount next week in Hampton, but the Virginia Beach result means Republicans will hold at least a one-seat majority in the House of Delegates.


A look at Va. voters who supported both Biden and Youngkin

By NICK IANNELLI, WTOP

Virginia’s election for governor captured the nation’s attention last month as voters chose Republican Glenn Youngkin over Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate who had previously served as governor from 2014 through 2018. A pollster is now offering a unique look into how Youngkin attracted swing voters. “This was talking to people in their own words,” said Brian Stryker, a Democratic pollster with ALG Research who hosted focus groups in Northern Virginia comprising voters who supported President Biden and either voted for Youngkin or strongly considered supporting him.


Lynchburg Electoral Board reports variety of “disruptive experiences” took place at local precinct

By AMANDA LEE, WFXR-TV

The Lynchburg Electoral Board is reporting what they’re calling “disruptive experiences” at a polling place in the area during the Nov. 2 election. In the city’s final report, they mention four experiences they say happened at the Crosspoint Community Church precinct. The four experiences outlined in the report include: Sample ballots being handed out beyond 40 feet from the entrance, Party representatives not being allowed to view vote counts, Constant phone calls and interruptions, and Raised voices by authorized party representatives.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Virginia regulatory board denies Mountain Valley Pipeline compressor station permit

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

In a surprise 5-2 vote, the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board on Friday voted to deny an air permit for a proposed compressor station in Pittsylvania that would be a key part of the Southgate extension of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. “I have concluded that when we equitably consider — not just consider but equitably consider — the potential negative impacts of this permit on this community, granting this permit would not promote environmental justice,” Air Board member Hope Cupit said Friday, in the second day of hearings on the Lambert Compressor Station being held in Chatham.


Audit finds Virginia agencies have failed to provide proper language access to services

By MEL LEONOR AND SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A newly released state-ordered audit found Virginia agencies have failed to competently provide information to the almost half a million residents who speak little to no English, forcing them to navigate documents and websites that barely meet basic standards of translations. The result has been a pervasive lack of access to resources, which denies non-English speakers the right to services in their language as outlined in federal law.


Legal news service sues Virginia for access to online court records

By TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In virtually every federal court in the United States, members of the public can access court documents — lawsuits, indictments, judge’s orders — from their home computer, at a cost of 10 cents per page. In 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to Courthouse News Service (CNS), the public can also call up dockets and actual legal filings online, often for free. But not in Virginia or Maryland. In both states, access is granted only to attorneys, and to the individual parties to a case. Now, CNS has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond challenging Virginia’s restricted access to online records, citing First Amendment precedents that guarantee public access to the courts, and 14th Amendment and federal civil rights laws ensuring equal protection for all.


Virginia ABC to move law enforcement office from Hampton to Newport News

By JESSICA NOLTE, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority is moving its regional enforcement office to Newport News to allow more space for one of its Hampton retail stores. The office in Hampton, at 4907 W. Mercury Blvd., shared space with a retail store, according to Dawn Eischen, a spokesperson for Virginia ABC. Moving to Newport News will give the store more space for products and for law enforcement officials to work.

CONGRESS

Short-term government funding measure likely comes at a steep cost for Hampton Roads

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Congress rarely appropriates planned funds for military operations, military construction and veterans services on time, and it looks like it’ll happen even later than usual. And while both chambers approved a short-term stopgap to keep the government from shutting down and prevent critical employees like active duty military personnel from staying on post without pay — there’s a cost to kicking the funding can down the road, local members of Congress and economists say.


Warner, Kaine urge patience in seeking infrastructure money

By JARED FORETEK, Inside NOVA

Virginia’s two U.S. senators were in Arlington on Friday morning to tout successes in passing both the COVID-19 relief bill in March and the bipartisan infrastructure bill last month. “I have a feeling that by the end of the year … I’m going to be able to say this was my most productive year in terms of doing good things for Virginia,” Sen. Tim Kaine told those assembled at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City for the “Governor’s Transportation Conference.” “This year will prove to be an extremely Virginia-focused year.”

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

New Va. unemployment claims fall by 50%

By KATE ANDREWS, Virginia Business

The state’s new unemployment claims for the filing week ending Nov. 27 fell by about 50% from the previous week, while continued claims rose by more than 7,000 filings. The Virginia Employment Commission installed a new unemployment insurance system in November, and it missed two weeks of reports during that period.


Hope, improvement top focus of Virginia Economic Summit

By MATT WELCH, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Leaders from Virginia’s economic and business sectors gave statewide business leaders hope during Friday’s 12th Annual Virginia Economic Summit and Forum on World Trade. The summit, which was held both in-person in Richmond as well as virtually, kicked off with a session titled, “Kicking it into high gear: Transforming Virginia into a national growth leader.”


Union claims a shameful history is repeating itself in Colonial Williamsburg

By REGINA MOBLEY, WAVY-TV

Patrick Henry’s proclamation, “Give me liberty or give me death,” brings cheers, but a slave auction that tore families apart brings tears in Colonial Williamsburg. Today, some say a shameful history is repeating itself in the Colonial Capital due to a forced six-day workweek. John Boardman is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Unite Here Local 25. “Their bodies are breaking down. They are not able to spend time with families. Children are not getting their parents home in one piece so that they can do homework together,” said Boardman in a Zoom interview. And, just like in colonial times, says Boardman, many of the workers are Black.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tours Jackson Ward, Henrico, talks infrastructure

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Jackson Ward on Friday to herald a plan to reconnect the historically Black community, but he never made it to the other side of the neighborhood bisected by the interstate highway nearly 70 years ago. Buttigieg, accompanied by Gov. Ralph Northam and other Virginia Democratic leaders, walked down Leigh Street from the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia to the Maggie L. Walker historic site...


Funding to build $300M Fall Line trail picks up pace with $104M allocation

By JACK JACOBS, Richmond BizSense

The money needed to cover the costs of a proposed 43-mile regional walking and biking trail continues to fall into place. The Central Virginia Transit Authority voted Friday to allocate $104.5 million toward the Fall Line, which would run from Petersburg to Ashland.

CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations on rise in Fredericksburg region

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the region, an unwelcome although not unexpected development, according to health officials. Mary Chamberlin said on Thursday that the district has “been in a plateau for some time, which is very typical of the nation as a whole. But that plateau is high.” Instead of dropping, cases are rising, including five new COVID-19 cases and one death at Mary Washington Hospital reported Friday.


Roanoke's Fralin institute uses genome sequencing to look for omicron variant in SW Virginia

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia scientists and researchers are on the lookout for the new COVID-19 variant, omicron, which was detected in the United States for the first time last week. No cases have been found in Virginia, but the molecular diagnostics lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech-Carilion is searching for the variant in Southwest Virginia.

VIRGINIA OTHER

In swift decision, the state will start removing the Lee monument pedestal on Monday

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The pedestal that held the now-gone statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — and that last summer became a vivid display of frustration toward police violence and systemic racism — will be removed from its place on Richmond’s Monument Avenue by state officials before the end of the year. The decision, which state officials announced suddenly on Sunday, was the product of behind-the-scenes deliberations between the state and the city of Richmond.


Northam to remove Richmond’s graffiti-covered Lee statue pedestal and transfer land to city

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that his administration will remove an enormous pedestal that until earlier this year held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond. The announcement marks a reversal in course from September, when the statue was removed but the Democratic governor said the 40-foot-tall (12-meter-tall) pedestal, currently covered in graffiti, would stay.


State and partners celebrate Virginia oyster restoration project's success

By PAMELA A. D’ANGELO, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

For the small group gathered at a rural marina along the Piankatank River, it’s taken more than a decade of massive planning, effort and collaboration among state and federal agencies, businesses and conservationists to complete what is being called the largest oyster restoration project in the world. Among them was Gov. Ralph Northam, a staunch supporter of the Chesapeake Bay.

LOCAL

Arlington is reconsidering when to work with ICE. Activists want the county to cut ties entirely.

By TEO ARMUS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

As Arlington County lawmakers embark on an effort to strengthen trust with immigrant residents, the details of what that will look like — particularly over when and how Arlington communicates with federal immigration officials — remains an open question. Earlier this fall, officials in the Northern Virginia county released a draft framework that declares it is “inappropriate” to use its resources to detain or deport undocumented immigrants. But activists say Arlington needs to go further, pushing the county to cut all ties with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Debate over controversial books dominates Fairfax Co. schools’ meeting again

By NICK IANNELLI, WTOP

A meeting held by the Fairfax County School Board Thursday turned into a debate and a protest over controversial books that were recently placed back into school libraries. “I’m here to offer voice to the parents who are fighting to protect their children from exposure to pornographic material,” said one speaker, Lin-Dai Kendall. It was the first meeting since the board announced last week that it would return two controversial books to high school libraries.


Moving the needle? Incentives help vaccine rate slightly among Manassas city staff

By JARED FORETEK, Inside NOVA

A financial push to get Manassas city employees vaccinated against COVID-19 has netted just a 68% vaccination rate among staffers. The initiative launched at the end of September gave all city employees until Nov. 15 to receive a $300 bonus for submitting documentation of full COVID vaccination (not including boosters). City records show that 68% of the municipal ranks submitted the documentation to receive the bonus.


Rising property values - up $4.2 billion in 2 years - means Richmond will lose millions in state education funding

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS AND KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond is poised to lose millions in state education funding next year. As Gov. Ralph Northam is preparing to introduce his final two-year budget this month, state officials have determined that Richmond will be responsible for a greater share of school costs split between the state and local governments for 2022-2024. Richmond city and school division officials say they aren’t sure how much revenue they will lose, but some city leaders and government finance experts estimate that the city may need to plug a $30 million hole in the next city schools budget.


Henrico County officials defend redistricting proposal as residents criticize it

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As Henrico County redraws its boundary lines for the next decade, residents are raising questions about the county focusing on maintaining Black districts instead of increasing diversity throughout the county. Their concerns come a month after Chesterfield approved maps that residents said were unfairly drawn.


Virginia Beach public school administrators, staff fill in as substitues

By ALLISON BAZZLE, WVEC-TV

Staffing shortages are hitting Hampton Roads school divisions hard, especially when it comes to finding substitute teachers. Virginia Beach City Public Schools is increasing the pay for its subs. Many Central support staff are also answering the call to sub! On Friday, it was Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence’s turn. He tapped into his principal past, subbing at Kempsville High School.


$550,000 settlement paid after pregnant woman dies in police custody in Virginia

By ADRIENNE MAYFIELD, WAVY-TV

Portsmouth officials agreed to pay a grieving family $550,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday. The settlement comes three years after their pregnant daughter died in Portsmouth police custody. Carmeita “Carly” VanGilder, 28, died just a few hours after Portsmouth police officers arrested her on Dec. 13, 2018. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy that showed Carly VanGilder died of “acute myocardial ischemia due to difluoroethane and recent cocaine use.”


Judge awards fees in FOIA case

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

A Suffolk Circuit Court judge has awarded just over $19,500 in attorney’s fees and costs to a woman who he previously ruled was denied access to a July School Board retreat in violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act. During a Nov. 23 hearing, Judge Matthew A. Glassman awarded $17,520 in attorney’s fees and $1,983.56 in costs to Dr. Deborah Wahlstrom, who he ruled Sept. 20 “was denied free entry” into the July 22 retreat at the College and Career Academy at Pruden.


All local school divisions but Stafford see enrollment decline since pre-COVID

By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Local public school enrollment continues to be below pre-pandemic numbers, except in Stafford County. Enrollment in Stafford Public Schools as of the Sept. 30 fall membership count was up 1.2 percent, or 353 students, over the pre-COVID count of fall 2019, according to data collected by the Virginia Department of Education.


Reassessments create 'uproar' in King George

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

With gas, groceries and everything else on shopping lists going up, the last thing King George County resident Carl Crump needed was a real-estate assessment that suggested his tax bill next year might climb by $800. “It creates a hardship,” said the 77-year-old who is retired, on a fixed income and lives in a one-story rambler on 6 acres near Fairview Beach.


City announces search for firm to perform interim city manager duties

By GINNY BIXBY, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The city of Charlottesville is looking to hire a firm to perform the duties of interim city manager, according to a Request for Proposals, or RFP, posted by the city Friday afternoon. This firm would be tasked with tackling the city’s urgent needs, including developing the fiscal year 2023 budget. On Tuesday, City Council announced Marc Woolley, who was appointed as Interim City Manager last month and was slated to start Wednesday, had withdrawn from the position. He was to have started his job the next day.


Bus driver shortage continues in Bedford County, Lynchburg area

By SHANNON KELLY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

An ongoing shortage of school bus drivers has forced Bedford County to delay and cancel some bus routes in recent weeks, leaving some parents and students struggling with regular transportation to school. Many of the affected schools systems’ bus routes are updated regularly on the division’s social media platforms and website, informing families which routes are delayed or canceled, since the situation can change almost by the day.


Christiansburg responds to builder lawsuit, says town is entitled to $209,250 in damages

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The town of Christiansburg is denying many of the allegations made in a lawsuit that Roanoke-based Allegheny Construction Co. Inc. filed over a project that sought to improve traffic flow in the area around the intersection of North Franklin and Cambria streets. Christiansburg filed a response this past week to the lawsuit from Allegheny, which is seeking $700,721 from the town. Allegheny alleges in a complaint filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court that the plans prepared by the engineering firm for the project were “replete with errors and omissions” that significantly impacted the builder’s capacity to finish the work on the original schedule approved by the town and builder.


Work to eliminate elevated benzene levels to begin at Bristol landfill

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

If the city of Bristol, Virginia had responded to reports of elevated benzene levels in landfill wastewater dating back to 2018, it might have been able to avoid or lessen its current landfill crisis, the CEO of BVU Authority said Friday. Since 2018, the city has received 32 notices of violation for benzene levels above what is allowed in its landfill operating permit. BVU and wastewater treatment plant operator Inframark monitor pretreated sewage of a number of businesses and industries, but the city landfill is currently the only one in violation, according to BVU President and CEO Don Bowman.


Gas well work nears finish line at Bristol landfill

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Literally and figuratively, the Twin City is holding its collective breath. That’s because months of work at the Bristol Virginia landfill is expected to be completed this month and — based on the predictions and assurances of consultants and city officials — residents were told to expect a notable reduction in the putrid, pungent odors emitted by the 17-acre quarry landfill. But there are no guarantees.


Reaching for the stars: Wise County’s partnership with Starlink has brought internet access to more than 360 students

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

When Billy Markham looked down his street less than a year ago, the fiber-optic cable running less than a quarter mile from his house was almost within reach. But internet access remained lightyears away in his neighborhood in Coeburn, a small town sitting on the banks of the Guest River on the eastern tip of Wise County. “We talked to Comcast, but they would have charged us $23,000 to run the extension to our house,” said Markham, who works in IT for Ballad Health. “That just wasn’t feasible.”

 

EDITORIALS

Saving the fish that saved a nation

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In 2004, Fredericksburg witnessed one of the largest explosions since the Civil War. The Virginia National Guard breached the old Embrey Mill Dam. After almost 100 years, the Rappahannock River was allowed to run free again. There were a lot of good ecological reasons for doing this. But for many, it was done with one species of fish in mind, and that was the shad.


No one size fits all solution for homelessness in Roanoke

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The task of regulating the places where the homeless can stay is weighted with political peril and strong emotions in play on all sides. It’s a deep-rooted challenge that’s hardly unique to the Star City. However, tents pitched by the homeless on downtown Roanoke sidewalks in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns have led to new scrutiny, and new complaints to the city from downtown residents and business owners.


Virginia soldiers in the Horn of Africa

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

President Joe Biden declared in September that the United States was no longer at war. Yet Southwest Virginians might understandably be nonplussed that, so soon after the turbulent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, about 850 soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard are headed overseas to the Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia and Somalia lie.


For Richmond pandemic relief, community centers work best when a community is stable

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Late October, the Richmond City Council endorsed a plan outlining how to divide the city’s almost $155 million share of the American Rescue Plan Act pandemic relief — landing hard on funding for children and families. The outlay touches many priority areas for Richmond residents: $32 million for affordable housing, $5 million for health equity, $19 million for climate change programs, and $81 million for community centers, parks and trails. A sizable chunk of that $81 million will be for revitalizing the T.B. Smith, Southside and Calhoun centers, and building a new center in the East End at Lucks Field.

COLUMNISTS

Leahy: On Spanberger and redistricting

By NORMAN LEAHY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Virginia's new congressional and legislative district maps could be ready at the end of the month. At the top of the list of politicos awaiting the state Supreme Court's efforts is 7th Congressional District Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat. I wrote about some of the issues facing Spanberger's re-election effort a few weeks ago and how control of the House of Representatives could be decided in the Richmond suburbs - a good portion of which are in the 7th District.


Vargas: Students call on a Virginia high school to do more to stop sexual misconduct

By THERESA VARGAS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than 35,000. That’s how many signatures an online petition started by three Northern Virginia teenagers had drawn by Tuesday afternoon. At first, the signatures showed up slowly. Then they poured in, carrying with them passionate explanations of why people were signing.


Schapiro: Picture emerging of Youngkin is sharply fuzzy

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and several of his wealthy Democratic predecessors may have finally found something on which to agree. It’s personal and political. Youngkin, a former private equity executive with an estimated net worth approaching $400 million, is quietly shifting millions in vast holdings from his direct control to independent oversight, aiming to avoid an ethical conflict between his private fortune and his public duties.


Yancey: An open letter to President Biden

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

Dear President Biden: I know you’re a busy man, what with the supply chain all fouled up right in time for Christmas, inflation galloping along like prize racehorse in the Kentucky Derby, and the omicron variant threatening to run rampant, but if you can spare a moment, I’d like to call your attention the little town of Hurley, Virginia.

OP-ED

Mandelberg, Riley and Rohrs: Teaching history accurately is essential to understanding

By RABBI ROZ MANDELBERG, REV. DR. SHARON RILEY AND REV. JOHN ROHRS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On behalf of the members of Hands United Building Bridges (HUBB), a multi-faith, multi-racial coalition of congregations and community partners, we are writing in response to the outcry about “critical race theory” and its relation to what is taught in public schools. It is clearly a resonant topic, which has fostered conflict at local school board meetings and has emerged as a key issue in political campaigns. The problem is that this discussion is full of misinformation.

Riley of Faith Deliverance Christian Center in Norfolk is a co-chair of Hands United Building Bridges. Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk is a co-chair of HUBB. Rohrs of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk is a co-chair of HUBB.


Gregory: Region should unite under the banner of “Port Virginia”

By RAY GREGORY, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

What an urban hodgepodge, all those little cities crammed into the southeast corner of Virginia, each with tiny populations by modern big-city standards, each unknown to most of the people in the land. Yet all that separated the little cities were lines on a map and sometimes water (always bridged) and a bunch of individual city councils, each doing its own self-important thing. By coming together, the little cities could have turned from separate backwaters into a mighty Colossus overlooking the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Why not one strong city government, with representation from all of its subdivisions and practical autonomies for each?

Gregory is a life-long resident of Norfolk, Old Dominion University graduate and retired Norfolk businessman.


Petersen: Bipartisan action possible on Dominion bill, with Youngkin’s help

By CHAP PETERSEN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The narrow election of Glenn Youngkin in a governor’s race with historic turnout has made one thing clear: Voters expect the parties to work together. So how does the governor-elect approach a General Assembly with a closely divided House and a Democratic-majority Senate? A rollback of the Democrats’ legislative victories from 2020-21 is unlikely; in fact, it is impossible. However, there are areas, such as public education, where the Democrats can cooperate in ways to make our schools more focused on the best interests of the children. And, yes, parents must be part of this process.

Petersen, a Democrat in the Virginia Senate, represents the 34th District, which includes part of Fairfax County.


Letourneau and Malone: A Virginia college professor set off a firestorm about pedophilia

By ELIZABETH LETOURNEAU AND LUKE MALONE, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

It reads like something out of the Netflix show “The Chair.” An assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University gave an interview where they spoke about their research on pedophilia and distinguished between people with an attraction to children and people who offend sexually against children. A brief clip from the interview, devoid of context, began metastasizing its way through social media, where it eventually exploded. Suddenly, the professor was being accused of defending child sexual abuse.

Letourneau is director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. Malone is an award-winning journalist who reports on child sexual abuse and sexual harassment.


Nance: Second chances for incarcerated Virginians

By SANTIA NANCE, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Last month, in an interview in Henrico County, Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin addressed his plans for Virginia’s criminal legal system. When discussing instituting new leaders for the Virginia Parole Board, which evaluates parole for eligible incarcerated people, he stated in part: “We make sure that we’ve got folks that are recognizing that, yes, second chances are part of our own philosophy.” I sincerely hope he means what he’s saying. Virginia has one of the cruelest punishment systems in the country, keeping people behind bars far longer than necessary.

Nance is co-founder of Sistas in Prison Reform, which supports second chances for people who have served lengthy sentences.


Cowell and Lyon-Hill: As election dust settles in Virginia, don't forget the urban-rural ties that bind us

By MARGARET COWELL AND SARAH LYON-HILL, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The glass-half-empty types may be tempted to see the 2021 election as yet another reminder that Virginia remains a politically contested constellation of people and places. While suburban areas continue to determine which shades of purple best suit them, the usual divide — at least in recent decades — between the deep red of our rural areas and the bright blue of their urban counterparts was clear. And while this election certainly highlighted divergences, inequities and tensions between urban and rural, the glass-half-full types might see these results as a call to action, a chance to highlight the possibilities afforded by a more holistic understanding of who and what Virginia is.

Cowell is associate professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech. Lyon-Hill is senior economic development specialist at the Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement.


Butler: Hospital proposal for Isle of Wight is an opportunity for more equitable health care in Virginia

By VALERIE BUTLER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health’s staff recommendation in late October to deny a local health system’s application to build a hospital in Isle of Wight County was based on an incomplete understanding of local needs. For those familiar with the lack of equitable access in Virginia’s health care system, it was just another example of how disconnected policymakers in Richmond are from the communities they affect.

Butler is president of the Isle of Wight NAACP and serves as a member of the Smithfield Town Council.