Javascript is required to run this page
VaNews
February 26, 2021
Top of the News

Virginia House and Senate negotiators agree on budget featuring raises for teachers, state employees

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

Virginia House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a two-year state budget that would provide 5 percent pay raises for teachers, state employees, university employees and state-supported local employees. Largely completed late Wednesday night, the $135 billion spending plan would also give state police an 8 percent pay raise and bonuses based on years of service, measures aimed at shoring up chronically low pay that has led to retention problems.


Senators make bipartisan call for new investigation of Parole Board

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

Two state senators want a select committee formed to investigate “serious damaging allegations” of wrongdoing by the Virginia Parole Board following a revelation this week of new documents related to how the board handled the release of a man who killed a Richmond police officer in 1979. WTVR-TV in Richmond reported Tuesday on the previously unreleased records from the Office of the State Inspector General, the watchdog agency that found last year that the parole board and its former chairwoman violated state law and board policies in granting release to Vincent Martin.


Virginia lawmakers pass bill requiring in-person learning

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

The Virginia Senate gave final approval Thursday to legislation that would require schools to provide full-time, in-person instruction as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The chamber voted 36-3, sending the measure sponsored by GOP Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant to Gov. Ralph Northam. If signed as is, it would take effect July 1.


Northam’s push to reopen schools meets sharp criticism in Portsmouth

By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth elementary and middle school students could return to the classroom in April, but high school students would finish the year virtually under a new plan presented Thursday. If approved by the School Board, these plans would replace existing ones that call for a phased return only after the rate of positive cases in the city — currently 16.8% — falls below 10%.


With deadline looming, Virginia lawmakers still negotiating marijuana legalization bill

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

With a Saturday deadline approaching, state lawmakers in the House and Senate are still working to resolve differences over landmark legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana in Virginia. As of Thursday evening, it was unclear whether the two chambers would be able to reach an agreement on the bill, which Gov. Ralph Northam has made a priority in his final year in office.


More than 20 guns removed from Prince William, Manassas residents so far via 'red flag' law

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

At least eight Prince William County residents and one Manassas City resident have had their firearms confiscated by local police since Virginia’s “red flag” law took effect last July. In every instance, the law was used to remove firearms from people who were either involved in violent domestic disputes or were experiencing a severe mental health crisis.


Advocates decry city cleanup of homeless encampment around Richmond Coliseum

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The cot Ahmed Ibrahim had slept on outside of the Richmond Coliseum was deemed trash and discarded by a city work crew Wednesday. Ibrahim, 31, has bounced from streets to hotel rooms to shelters in Richmond since losing housing in October. He felt his belongings were safe as he slept outside of the shuttered arena downtown until Department of Public Works employees came to clean up and swept up bedding and belongings in the process.

The Full Report
56 articles, 34 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP New: Vaccination Rollout Statistics

The Virginia Public Access Project

We've added VDH vaccination data to our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard. You can see 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

Bristol School Board to consider litigation over crowd size

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

The Bristol Virginia School Board is expected to consider going to court to challenge a gubernatorial edict regarding crowd size at outdoor sporting events. The board has a special called meeting March 2 to consult with its attorney in closed session. The announcement on the board's website includes a copy of Gov. Ralph Northam's Executive Order 72, which limits spectator attendance at outdoor school sporting events to "250 spectators."

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Virginia budget deal includes 5% raise for teachers and state employees

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

Teachers, state employees and state-supported local employees would receive raises of 5% in the next fiscal year, with additional money for state police salaries and a bonus for correctional officers, under a budget agreement reached by House and Senate leaders late Wednesday. The deal includes almost $64 million in state funds to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for home health care providers to pay for increases in the minimum wage on May 1 and Jan. 1.


Virginia General Assembly mandates in-person instruction starting this July

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia schools will be required to provide in-person instruction by this summer under a bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly. The Senate voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to accept a compromise bill developed in collaboration with House Democrats. Democrats in both chambers resisted multiple attempts to add an emergency clause that would have pushed the bill into effect as soon as it was signed by the governor.


Bill aims to expand broadband access for low-income students

By JOSEPHINE WALKER, VCU Capital News Service

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in an effort to expand broadband internet access to low-income students across the commonwealth. Senate Bill 1225, proposed by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, authorizes school boards to appropriate funds to partner with private companies for the purpose of implementing and subsidizing broadband internet access for low-income and at-risk students.


Virginia Budget May Underfund Poor Schools, Overfund Rich Ones

By ALAN RODRIGUEZ ESPINOZA, WCVE-FM

Schools throughout Virginia have seen a decrease in student enrollment during the pandemic, as many students face attendance barriers, and some parents withdraw their children from the public education system in favor of homeschooling or private schools. The sudden enrollment declines automatically triggered budget reductions to a range of critical school programs.


Virginia Is Poised To Approve Its Own Voting Rights Act

By BEN PAVIOUR, NPR

Nearly eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, Democrats in Virginia are poised to enact state-level legislation they say would boost voter protections. Backers of the Virginia Voting Rights Act say it's the most comprehensive bill of its kind — and the first in the South. The legislation cleared a final vote on Thursday and now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.


Senate advances paid sick leave bill for home health aides

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

The Virginia Senate narrowly passed a bill mandating paid sick leave for home health care workers who care for Medicaid recipients on Thursday after severely limiting the scope of which essential workers would be included in the legislation. Led by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, the measure initially extended at least five days of paid sick leave for those on the front lines of the public health crisis who work at least 20 hours per week such as cleaning staff, restaurant workers, child care providers and grocery store clerks.


Virginia General Assembly gives local governments power to go after illegal gaming

By BRETT HALL, WAVY-TV

Virginia lawmakers have doubled down on their efforts to hold illegal gaming operators accountable. A pair of bills that passed the General Assembly this month will work to close what some see as “loopholes” in current gaming law, as well as make it easier for local governments to go after operations that have been skirting laws currently on the books. This all comes as the state prepares for its expansion into casino gaming and prepares to say goodbye to ban skill games — also known as gray machines.


General Assembly commits to tabulating Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

With ambitious efforts underway to reduce carbon output from the power and transportation sectors, Virginia is preparing to figure out exactly how extensive the state’s greenhouse gas emissions are. This week, a bill from Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, that would allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to conduct a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions cleared its final legislative hurdle when the House passed it on a nearly party-line vote.


Jessica Foster appointed general district court judge

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

Fauquier’s General District Court soon will get a new judge. The Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously appointed Jessica H. Foster, a Manassas lawyer who lives near Remington, to a six-year term on the bench that begins July 1.

STATE ELECTIONS

Virginia GOP chairman apologizes to statewide candidates for confusion over drive-in convention

By DEAN MIRSHAHI, WRIC-TV

Republicans vying to be Virginia’s next governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general received an apology Wednesday from the state party’s chairman over the confusion surrounding the GOP’s plans to have a drive-in convention at Liberty University. During a Tuesday night meeting, the Republican State Central Committee approved a proposal to hold its convention at the university on May 8. The plan would have convention delegates cast their ballots for statewide candidates from their cars while parked in lots owned by Liberty. The GOP’s convention plans appeared to surprise Liberty University, pushing the school to issue a statement the next day denying that an agreement had been reached.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

First-time unemployment filings fell in Virginia last week

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The number of Virginians seeking jobless benefits for the first time dropped last week, according to data from the Virginia Employment Commission and U.S. Department of Labor. Initial claims for traditional state benefits during the week ending Feb. 20 dropped by nearly 3,000 compared with the week prior to 11,944. The number of people seeking first-time benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, for gig workers and the self-employed, dropped by even more — nearly 60% — to 1,453.


Transit projects could spur changes to Fairfax County's Richmond Highway corridor

By ALEX KOMA, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Fairfax County’s Richmond Highway corridor has huge potential for new residential and retail development, according to a new study — but the county will need to do more than just build out its new bus rapid transit system to ensure it realizes its full potential. The study, prepared by D.C.'s Partners for Economic Solutions for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and released last week, argues this 7.3-mile corridor in the southeastern section of the county can grow by up to 50%, adding 17,600 new households by 2035.


North Anna quake safety questioned

By DAVID HOLTZMAN, Central Virginian

As Dominion Energy pushes to extend North Anna Power Station’s lifespan for another 20 years, critics are calling for a more thorough study of how the plant can withstand a future earthquake. Beyond Nuclear, the Sierra Club and Alliance for a Progressive Virginia are seeking a formal hearing before an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel. They say that since a third reactor at North Anna would meet a new, higher standard for withstanding an earthquake, an upgrade may also be warranted for the two existing units.


Water Country USA reopens May 22 with limited capacity, COVID-19 safety protocols

By ALEX PERRY, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

Water Country USA is scheduled to reopen to the public May 22 with limited capacity and COVID-19 safety protocols, after the water park had closed last year due to the pandemic. There will be increased cleaning, sanitation and temperature checks at the park, “in addition to the park’s already strict health and safety measures,” according to a Wednesday news release. Capacity will be “significantly limited” to allow physical distancing, the news release states.


Historic Jamestowne to reopen to public March 1

By MAGGIE MORE, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

Historic Jamestowne will reopen to the public March 1, roughly two and a half months after the historic site and museum temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Dec. 21. The site and museum, administered by Jamestown Rediscovery and their partner, the National Park Service at Colonial National Historical Park, have implemented “changes to operations and health and safety protocols” to ensure guests, staff and volunteers remain safe during the pandemic.


$8.5M parcel in Spotsylvania to be used for Veterans Affairs clinic

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Nearly 50 acres of land along Route 1 and Interstate 95 in Spotsylvania County has sold for $8.5 million, Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer announced Wednesday. The 48.75-acre parcel will be used to develop one of the nation’s largest Veterans Affairs facilities, according to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer.


Rappahannock Oysters Excel

By TOM CHILLEMI, Southside Sentinel

Some of the best oystering in years on the Rappahannock River comes to a close on Feb. 28. Oyster grounds in Areas 6 and 7 near Urbanna were each open for two months and produced a bounty of oysters during the four-month-long season. John Dryden motored his 46-foot deadrise from his homeport in Poquoson 38 miles to Urbanna in January. It was worth the trip. In Area 6 he and his helper harvested some real beauties. Dryden picked out some oysters that were “as big as my hand” and shucked a pint from just a dozen oysters. “I haven’t seen oysters that fat in a long time,” said Dryden, a fourth generation waterman.

HIGHER EDUCATION

At William & Mary, a school for free and enslaved Black children is rediscovered

By JOE HEIM, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

It has been more than a decade since academics and researchers began taking a closer look at a small, unremarkable old building on the campus of the College of William & Mary to see if maybe it had a more important story to tell. Archives were scoured. Centuries-old letters and memoirs were pored over. Archaeological digs were made. Last year, a scientific analysis of the building’s original wood framing nailed down the year of its construction. With the pieces of the puzzle in place, there was no longer doubt about the building’s identity.


Colonial Williamsburg Foundation discovers site of historic school for Black children

By CLAIRE HOGAN, Flat Hat

Thursday, Feb. 15, researchers at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced that they had confirmed the original location of the Bray School, an 18th-century institution that once educated free and enslaved Black children, some of whom were owned by the College of William and Mary. The building, located at 524 Prince George St., currently houses the College’s military science department, but it will soon become the site of historical research into the legacy of Black Americans in the colonial era. The journey of identifying the building has been long and winding, spearheaded by Chancellor Professor of English, Emeritus, Terry Meyers.


Vaccines on wheels: Hampton University unveils custom-built RV

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Hampton University plans to join the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts with a new mobile vaccination and testing unit. The vehicle, a custom-built RV with pharmacy-grade freezers capable of storing vaccines, was unveiled at a press conference on campus Wednesday. University leaders said it’s critical for the historically Black school to lend its weight to the fight against a disease that’s disproportionately affected African Americans.


Names on UR buildings still carry racist stigma

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher is taking a more nuanced approach to dealing with the racist parts of University of Richmond’s history and the long overlooked Black people who are part of it. Instead of completely erasing or replacing names of segregationists on buildings such as Virginia Commonwealth University and other public institutions in the state have done, UR’s first Black president announced plans for inclusion of Black history in the campus narrative to “spark conversation and understanding” among students and anyone else who comes to campus.

CORONAVIRUS

If Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, Virginia expects 50,000 doses a week

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia public health officials are bracing for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine to be cleared soon, potentially allowing more immunization supplies to arrive in the state as early as next week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended Wednesday that the drugmaker’s version of the coronavirus vaccine be issued an emergency use authorization. The agency’s evaluation indicated the shot is about 66% effective at preventing moderate cases of COVID-19 and 85% effective at preventing severe illnesses that lead to hospitalization and death. The report also said the vaccine was safe.


Mary Washington Healthcare gives 50,000th vaccine dose

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

Cenia Bonilla believes it was meant to be that she received the 50,000th dose of vaccine given at Mary Washington Healthcare, then was asked if she could be interviewed and photographed. She sees herself as a sort of vaccine messenger whose mission is to tell others of the importance of getting inoculated against COVID-19.


Vaccine prioritizes residents 65 and up. Only 5% of Richmond Latinos are in that group

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

In Richmond and Henrico County, coronavirus cases among Latinos have been at least twice their share of the population. Latinos are barely 3% of vaccinations within these localities, according to health district data. Ongoing discrimination in medical care, lack of transportation to vaccination sites, limited internet access to sign up for appointments and living in neighborhoods without pharmacies remain obstacles that block vaccine access for Black and Latino neighborhoods.


COVID-19 blood clots are a huge problem, Sentara surgeon says

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

COVID-19 is known as a disease that affects the lungs. Patients suffering from the illness caused by the coronavirus often have an intense cough and trouble breathing. But another common, deadly and somewhat more mystifying complication happens in the blood, said Dr. David Dexter, a surgeon with Sentara Vascular Specialists.


Northampton Has Highest County Vaccination Rate Per 100K in State

By STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post

Northampton is the number one county in Virginia for the total persons per 100,000 who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, Eastern Shore Health District Chief Operating Officer Jon Richardson announced Feb. 23. The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered per 100,000 persons is “the ultimate measure of getting vaccines in people’s arms, so we’re pretty proud of that,” Richardson said during the Northampton supervisors meeting Tuesday night.


Henrico, Richmond health districts to begin receiving 61% more weekly vaccine doses

By TOM LAPPAS, Henrico Citizen

COVID-19 vaccinations will ramp up in a major way in Henrico and Richmond beginning next week, according to Richmond and Henrico Health Districts officials. That’s because the districts will being receiving about 61% more vaccine doses from the federal government than they’ve been getting during the past month or so.


Council expresses frustration with COVID-19 vaccination distribution in the city

By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A resident chastised Martinsville City Council members in an email for appearing to brag about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations while most of the rest of the city’s population waits, wondering when the health department will call to tell them they can get inoculated. “Per the Bulletin, today’s edition, Martinsville continues to have statistically the worst vaccination rate of any locality in the state—why?” Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson read aloud from an email from Jane Martin that was sent first to City Council member Danny Turner. “City Council doesn’t care, but can brag about getting the vaccine during council meetings.”


Third COVID-19 outbreak hits Danville's Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute has had yet another COVID-19 outbreak, with seven clients and staff having tested positive for the disease. "As of Thursday afternoon, there are two positive cases of COVID-19 among staff and five positive cases of COVID-19 among patients," said Lauren Cunningham, spokesperson with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, which oversees SVMHI.


Perdue Gets Another 150 Vaccines for Accomac Plant Workers

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Perdue Farms received an additional 150 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for workers at the Accomac poultry processing facility late last week, according to a spokesperson. The vaccines were made available immediately, on a voluntary basis and free of charge. The doses were continuing to be distributed early this week, according to spokesperson Madison Scanlan.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Former Rocky Mount officers forbidden from carrying guns

By JEFF STURGEON AND MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A judge declined Thursday to let two fired Rocky Mount police officers carry guns while they await trial on felony charges in connection with last month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. A defense lawyer for Jacob Fracker said the usual condition of pretrial release for a felony defendant that bans possession of a gun or dangerous weapon should not apply to his client.


Treatment Centers Adapt to Pandemic Realities as Drug Overdoses Spike

By LYNDON GERMAN, WCVE-FM

Preliminary data from the Virginia Department of Health shows a huge increase in fatal drug overdoses in 2020. A report released by the VDH this January found that 1,626 overdoses occurred statewide in 2019, the largest annual total in Virginia's history. Prescription opioid overdoses did not see a significant increase, but drugs containing fentanyl, a powerful opioid which is fatal at lower doses, contributed to 59% of all overdoses in 2019.

LOCAL

Prince William School Board chair defends decision to reject superintendent's request for delayed opening

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

About 9,000 more Prince William County elementary, middle and high schoolers returned to school buildings Thursday morning for the first time this school year as a result of the school board’s decision last week to override Superintendent Steven Walts’ request to wait a few weeks longer. School Board Chairman Dr. Babur Lateef defended the decision Tuesday, saying he is expecting challenges -- including more outbreaks and quarantines -- but believes the benefits of providing in-person instruction to those who want it outweigh the risks.


Pamunkey Indian Tribe proposes minority owned, Virginia based casino for Richmond

By EMMA NORTH, WAVY-TV

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is joining the competition to build and operate Richmond’s first resort casino. The tribe’s casino would be under full minority ownership and be completely Virginia-based. The tribe’s proposal includes a 300-room hotel with a spa, fitness center and rooftop pool. Dining options range from fast casual to fine dining.


Chesterfield School Board approves budget with increased teacher pay

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

The Chesterfield County School Board on Thursday approved a $744.7 million operating budget that aims to provide better wages for teachers as well as increased funding for legally required expenses such as increases in retirement benefits and health care for employees. Last year, the county made deep cuts to its budget because of COVID-19, including eliminating a 2% raise for all school employees.


Henrico School Board sends $665.2 million spending plan to county supervisors

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Henrico County School Board on Thursday approved a $665.2 million spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that would restore cuts made during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal anticipates using federal relief funds for 10 additional school counselors who were originally paid through CARES act dollars, fully funds existing positions, foots the bill for employee healthcare increases and pays for an app to help families track school buses, among other things.


Hampton, Newport News work together to funnel $1.5 million in CARES Act funding to local businesses

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Hampton and Newport News have partnered to use a federal grant to set up a revolving loan program to help struggling businesses affected by the pandemic. The City Council on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million CARES Act grant that it will share with Newport News. The award was a portion of the $13.9 million in grants to capitalize revolving loan funds for small businesses across Virginia, according to a city release from August.


Litter increases during the pandemic have been a ‘nightmare’ for some Hampton Roads cities

By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Last week, about 60 volunteers fanned out across parts of Norfolk to pick up litter. In all, the group picked up over 100 bags of trash. But there’s much more out there. As the coronavirus pandemic has worn on, cities across Hampton Roads and Virginia are experiencing upticks in roadside trash. Chesapeake had a unique double whammy, losing contracts with firms it normally pays to pick up litter and having fewer local jail inmates available to collect it.


Newly elected King William treasurer, commissioner of the revenue request higher salaries, give updates on offices

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

After taking office mid-February, King William Treasurer Mary Sue Bancroft and Commissioner of the Revenue Karena Funkhouser offered updates on the state of their respective offices and requested salary increases at the county’s February Board of Supervisors meeting. The pair took office following a February special election after their predecessors resigned mid-term when a county-led probe into their offices’ revealed poor bookkeeping and mismanagement.


Plans in works locally for expanded summer school offerings

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Neither the Charlottesville nor Albemarle County school division is planning to extend the school year or move up the first day of school. Instead, the divisions are planning to expand summer school offerings. More details about those plans will be presented to the respective school boards in the coming months.


Supervisors, residents support creek name change

By GRACIE HART BROOKS, Madison Eagle

A Madison creek’s name may soon be a thing of the past—literally. Late last year, a committee of the Madison Equality Project (MEP) began pursuing the renaming of Madison County’s Mulatto Run due to the derogatory and offensive nature of the word “mulatto.” The term refers to a person of mixed race.


Culpeper fixed wireless internet project will reach 3,800 this year, cost $3.2 million

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

To all the rurally located homes in Culpeper County still without high-speed internet service in 2021, help is finally on the way. Following months of negotiations stretching back to September of 2020, the Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee on Tuesday advanced a $3.2 million contract with Leesburg-based All Points Broadband, a regional internet service provider.


Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro Democrats to hold drive-thru petition signing events on Saturday

By JACLYN BARTON, News Virginian

The Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro Democratic committees will host drive-thru petition signature events in each of their localities this upcoming Saturday. During the event, attendees will have the chance to sign petitions for candidates to get on the ballot for the June 8 Democratic Primary.


Warren County voter registrar faces increased costs

By ALEX BRIDGES, Northern Virginia Daily

The Warren County voter registrar says she expects early voting to increase the cost to run her office. Registrar Carol Tobin presented her funding request to the Board of Supervisors at a work session on the fiscal year 2022 budget on Tuesday. Electoral Board Secretary Leander B. “Lee” Bowen also attended the work session. Tobin has requested $497,185 for fiscal 2022 — a 53.8% increase over the current budget of $323,342.


Bankruptcy judge ruling allows EDA case to resume

By ALEX BRIDGES, Northern Virginia Daily

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority can resume its civil lawsuits against former Executive Director Jennifer R. McDonald, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Rebecca B. Connelly granted the EDA’s motion earlier this month for relief from a stay that froze the authority’s litigation seeking to recoup more than $20 million from McDonald and her real estate company MoveOn8. The EDA claims in the lawsuit in Warren County Circuit Court that McDonald misappropriated or embezzled authority money for her own benefit.


Page County moving forward with four initiatives to improve broadband service

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Community leaders and decision-makers in Page County have long talked about the need for better broadband service, and now some of that discussion is evolving into action thanks to new federal and state funding streams. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the need for better internet connectivity higher up the priority scale at all levels of government across the country. As a result, monies aimed at improving broadband service — particularly in rural and underserved areas — have been included among federal CARES Act funding allocated to states to address issues related to the pandemic.


Former Hallwood Clerk Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

By NANCY DRURY DUNCAN, Eastern Shore Post

Angela Hinman “Angel” Taylor, the former Hallwood town clerk who was charged with 65 felony counts of embezzlement, pleaded guilty to 12 felony charges in Accomack circuit court Thursday in a plea agreement with the commonwealth. The crimes occurred between Aug. 31, 2011, and Sept. 12, 2017. During the course of a state police investigation, a Virginia State Police special agent identified 65 instances when Taylor, 48, of Hall Street in Hallwood, committed felony embezzlement by writing checks to herself and paying her personal electric bill with town funds.

 

EDITORIALS

House Democratic leaders now own every crumbling school in Virginia

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

And so it’s come to this: House Democrats care so little about the poorest localities in the state that they won’t even vote on two measures intended to fix up their decaying school buildings. They lack the political courage to actually vote these bills down so they’ve resorted to a procedural trick: The two bills have been left to die, unacted upon, in the House Appropriations Committee — the legislative equivalent of running out the clock on something House Democratic leaders have found strangely inconvenient.


Late census data casts uncertainty on Virginia elections

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia’s tradition of holding legislative elections in “off years” — that is, in years different than congressional or presidential elections — means that commonwealth voters always have another election on the horizon. This year the timing could prove problematic. The U.S. Census Bureau confirmed earlier this month it will not transmit data from last year’s population count until September, which all but ensures that House of Delegates races will take place using the current maps rather than new ones.


Money runs rampant in Virginia politics

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Eight years after a money-in-politics scandal mired a previously popular governor, Virginia lawmakers still cannot manage to enact ethical reforms that might convincingly demonstrate that public service is not a free pass for lining their pockets. Virginia remains one of just five states where virtually anything goes with regard to political contributions. Not only are there few limits on campaign giving, but also elected officials can use the money they receive for anything. And by anything, we mean . . . anything.

COLUMNISTS

The University of Richmond confronts its racist legacy

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

Douglas Southall Freeman feared that interracial marriage would cause “pollutions of blood.” He praised involuntary sterilization for its “beneficent effects.” And he wrote that slavery “was not of Virginia’s seeking” but rather “imposed on it by the crown.” John Mitchell Jr. “often challenged Freeman’s editorial stances and never hesitated to denounce his racism.” The two Richmond newspaper editors — one white, one Black — will share the name of a University of Richmond dormitory currently named exclusively for Freeman as the school confronts a legacy of racism that includes its enslavement of Black people.

OP-ED

Redman: Sickles' 'foundation' is built on sand

By BENSON REDMAN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

I am a teacher in Southwest Virginia, and I say to you one hundredfold: Thank you! Your editorial on Feb. 19 (“House Democrats turn back on rural Virginia”) has warmed my heart with the attention you have brought to a neglected area of the state and highlighted the spirit of neglect repeatedly shown by Northern Virginia. Simultaneously, the righteous indignation I feel with the reminder of the disparity of income and school funding allocation that the Democrats of Northern Virginia are willing to exploit over and again, reminds me that beyond the city limits of Roanoke, we do not exist down here.

Redman is a teacher at John S. Battle High School in Bristol, Va.


Katiyar: Establish First Amendment protections for student journalists

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

“Murder the media.” More than a month later, those words scribbled inside the walls of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection still are haunting to journalists everywhere. They are a reminder of how, despite freedom of the press being a pillar holding up our democracy, there are those who seek to silence the news media. And yet, student journalists like me have been struggling with a version of this reality for far too long.

Katiyar is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She is editor-in-chief of the student-run publication, tjTODAY, and a new voices leader with the Student Press Law Center.

THE FRIDAY READ

Dahlgren sailor breaks record for swimming while handcuffed

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

Sailor Ben Katzman was handcuffed on Saturday for breaking and entering. For almost four hours straight, he broke through the water at the King George YMCA Pool on his way to unofficially entering his name into the Guinness World Records for swimming the longest distance while handcuffed. The Navy corpsman blew the existing record, of 3.4 miles, out of the water as he covered the length of the pool 344 times for a total of 5.35 miles.