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VaNews
October 15, 2021
Top of the News

Youngkin distances himself from controversial rally featuring Trump and Bannon

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

Republican Glenn Youngkin distanced himself from the most controversial elements of a rally for his Virginia gubernatorial campaign headlined Wednesday by former president Donald Trump and his onetime White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon. The event, in a key suburban battleground outside Richmond, opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag that emcee Martha Boneta said had been present "at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6." Asked about the flag, Youngkin initially ducked the question but later issued a statement saying it was "weird and wrong" to pledge allegiance to it.


Corruption in charitable gaming is running rampant due to inadequate oversight, lawmakers say

By JACKIE DEFUSCO, WAVY-TV

Corruption in Virginia’s charitable gaming industry is running rampant due to inadequate oversight and conflicts of interest. That’s according to members of a General Assembly subcommittee studying reforms ahead of the 2022 legislative session. The bipartisan group met for the final time on Thursday to finalize their recommendations.


Virginia seals 64,000 marijuana distribution charges

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Virginia has sealed records documenting more than 64,000 misdemeanor marijuana distribution charges since the state legalized the drug in July. The figure came out Thursday during a meeting of the legislature’s Cannabis Oversight Commission. Officials said the records were scrubbed from the state’s criminal record database, which is used by employers like school boards, state agencies and local governments to screen employees.


Superintendent alleges death threats over equity

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton says he’s received four death threats from opponents of Isle of Wight County Schools’ equity and inclusion initiatives. Thornton made the allegation at a Sept. 16 Board of Supervisors meeting while advocating for the release of $3.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds given to the county for the purpose of passing along to its school division. Two of those threats were made “as I’ve sat in this meeting,” Thornton said.


Four ousted from tense school board meeting

By ZACH MCKNIGHT, Chatham Star Tribune

Pittsylvania County School Board met Tuesday night to honor students, give awards and vote on requests. Four people were kicked out of the meeting for defying COVID-19 protocol. The atmosphere was extremely tense from the start of the meeting because of the ongoing mask mandate. Chairman J. Samuel Burton recapped what happened at last month’s meeting when two were removed for not wearing masks the correct way.


Dan Snyder Was Battling With Bruce Allen. Jon Gruden Was the Loser.

By ANDREW BEATON AND LOUISE RADNOFSKY, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

Before the emails that prompted Jon Gruden to resign as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders became public over the past week, some of them made a little-noticed and redacted appearance in another public forum: a discovery motion Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder had filed in April. Snyder sought to learn who had leaked false information to an India-based media outlet that he contended wrongly connected him to Jeffrey Epstein. Snyder’s lawyers asked a U.S. court to compel the production of evidence they wanted: emails, texts and phone records of Bruce Allen, his team’s former president and general manager.


Friday Read 52 Years in 11 Days: A Son, Facing Death, Finds His Father

By REID J. EPSTEIN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Three weeks before he died, Sam Anthony, 52, mailed his last wishes to a man he had never met. He was dying, he wrote in a letter postmarked Aug. 2, of an aggressive cancer in his mouth and throat that he had been struggling with since 2005. He enclosed a copy of a college alumni magazine article about his high-ranking job at the National Archives. He was writing, he explained, because the two men shared ancestors, a fact he had learned from DNA matches and public records.

The Full Report
57 articles, 38 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Redistricting: Three for Us, Three for You

The Virginia Public Access Project

In a bid to find bipartisan consensus that has eluded it for months, the Redistricting Commission on Thursday tried a novel approach to drawing the state's 11 congressional districts: Start by keeping intact two largely African-American districts stretching from Richmond to Hampton Roads. Then ask the panel's Republican consultant to shape three districts in overwhelmingly red Southwest and Southside Virginia and task the Democratic consultant with drawing three districts in deep blue Northern Virginia. The idea was to leave a swath in the middle of the state that could form the basis of a compromise on the remaining three congressional districts. That methodology resulted in two very similar maps, neither of which pleased Democrats. VPAP has posted maps and analyses of each plan.


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

D.C. Didn’t Ask Northam And Hogan To Help Crack Down On Ticket Scofflaws, Despite Initial Claims It Did

By JORDAN PASCALE, DCist

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser never reached out to the governors of Virginia and Maryland to negotiate reciprocity for automated traffic camera tickets, despite a District government report — signed by the mayor and submitted to the D.C. Council last week — saying that said she did. This week, Bowser said the original report has been corrected.


Governor gets taste of Louisa school lunch

By DAVID HOLTZMAN, Central Virginian

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made his second visit this year to Louisa County High School on Thursday morning to pay tribute to the public schools' cafeteria workers. The school breakfast and lunch program has gone the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing food to classrooms rather than feeding students in cafeterias. That has meant a whole new level of food preparation, as items have to be wrapped up in the cafeteria so they stay warm while they are delivered to students.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Regional sports complex, I-64 expansion lead legislative priorities for Williamsburg

By DAVID MACAULAY, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

The city of Williamsburg’s draft legislative agenda for 2022 prioritizes the building and operation of a regional sports facility with a plea to make up the funding gap to widen Interstate 64 between the city and Richmond in second place. Assistant City Manager Michele Mixner DeWitt presented the draft 2022 legislation agenda to be presented to state legislators in a report to the City Council work session Monday.

REDISTRICTING

Draft Congressional Maps Include Big Changes For Central And Western Virginia

By DAVID SEIDEL, WVTF-FM

After failing to agree on new maps for state legislative districts, Virginia's Redistricting Commission is moving on to federal Congressional districts. The drafts reviewed Thursday included some big changes for southwest and central Virginia. The series of drafts reviewed Thursday largely left the 3rd and 4th Congressional districts in Southside and the Richmond area unchanged because of the strict scrutiny required for these areas by the Voting Rights Act.


How the 5th, 6th and 9th might change

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

After attempts to redraw the state’s General Assembly nearly ended with the implosion of the newly formed Virginia Redistricting Commission last week, the panel is anxious to move forward with drawing new congressional districts. Co-Chair Greta Harris on Thursday probed for a way to get a single compromise map to be presented to the public by Monday – as a starting point for further discussion. “I think it is driving us all crazy having multiple maps that we are trying to reconcile in our minds,” Harris said. At first glance, taking on the new boundaries for the state’s 11 congressional districts isn’t quite as controversial as the failed do-over of the 40 state Senate maps and its 100 counterparts in the House of Delegates.


Richmond suburbs loom as fault line in preliminary discussion of new congressional districts

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Henrico and Chesterfield counties are shaping up as key areas of debate as Virginia's redistricting commission takes its first crack at redrawing the state's congressional districts ahead of an Oct. 25 deadline. In Virginia's current congressional map, Chesterfield and Henrico are split between districts represented by Rep. Don McEachin, D-4th and Abigail Spanberger, D-7th.


Derailed redistricting commission begins work on congressional maps, but hits similar roadblocks

By PATRICK LARSEN, WCVE-FM

The Virginia Redistricting Commission began evaluating congressional district maps Thursday, after abandoning work on state Senate and House of Delegates maps this week. The group has an Oct. 24 deadline to finish state maps, which were derailed after a range of mostly partisan disagreements over competing sets of maps drawn by Democratic and Republican map makers.

STATE ELECTIONS

Youngkin calls rally flag pledge ‘weird and wrong’

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor said Thursday that it was “weird and wrong” for attendees at a recent right-wing election rally to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag said to have been flown at a rally just before the Capitol riot in January. Glenn Youngkin, a businessman and first-time candidate, did not attend Wednesday’s rally in suburban Richmond. The event was organized by a surrogate of former President Donald Trump to fire up conservatives ahead of Virginia’s critical Nov. 2 election and was full of falsehoods about election fraud.


Democrats pounce on GOP over rally featuring election conspiracies

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia Democrats are widely condemning a Republican election rally Wednesday in Henrico County that featured former President Donald Trump and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, seizing on the event to urge voters to reject the GOP at the ballot. Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who faces Republican Glenn Youngkin in the race for governor, on Thursday released a new TV ad featuring Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement of Youngkin at the Wednesday event. The ad will air statewide starting Friday.


Big-name Democrats aim to bring star power to McAuliffe campaign as poll margins narrow

By MICA SOELLNER, Washington Times

High-profile Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, are rushing to Virginia in an 11th-hour bid to boost Terry McAuliffe in a neck-and-neck race for governor. Mr. McAuliffe, who has led the majority of polls against GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin for months, will take the stage with several big names in the two weeks left before Election Day.


Democrats Rely on Big Guns in Virginia as Early Voting Plummets

By GABRIEL T. RUBIN, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

EARLY VOTE LAGS IN VIRGINIA, giving Democrats heartburn in a crucial contest for governor. Early voting in person and by mail has been available since Sept. 17, but so far turnout has been sluggish. Compared with the high-enthusiasm 2020 presidential election, early voter turnout is down around two-thirds from the same date of last year’s cycle, according to data tracked by Republican political strategist John Couvillon.


Jill Biden out to flex political muscle in governors’ races

By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

First Lady Jill Biden is set to campaign Friday for Democrats in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey, trying to boost the party’s political fortunes in her most overt way since arriving at the White House nine months ago. Her involvement is the latest sign that Democrats are pulling out the stops in the upcoming elections, particularly in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe appears to be in a tighter race than expected.


Terry McAuliffe’s Other Obstacle in Virginia Race: Democrats’ Apathy

By JONATHAN MARTIN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Terry McAuliffe doesn’t do subtext well. So when Mr. McAuliffe appeared on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC this week, it wasn’t long before the Democrat let slip the biggest challenge he’s facing next month in his bid to reclaim Virginia’s governorship. “People got to understand, Joe, this is about turnout,” he told the show’s co-host, Joe Scarborough.


With Tight Race, Gubernatorial Hopefuls Seek To Fire Up Bases

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

It was a who’s who of Republicans — past and current elected officials, nominees, activists and boosters — who sat or stood in the crowd at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds listening to their party’s nominee for governor speak in the Valley yet again Thursday evening. About 270 people attended Thursday’s annual event, dubbed Oysters with Obenshain and hosted by state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham.


Advocates say cherry-picked crime data is meant to scare voters as they head to the polls

By WHITTNEY EVANS, WCVE-FM

Criminal justice reform advocates say Republican political candidates are deploying misleading crime data to discount progress in the commonwealth. They say cries to reverse Democrats' criminal justice agenda are fear mongering and even dangerous, and they’re worried the rhetoric will lead Virginia back to the tough-on-crime era of the 1980s and ‘90s, when harsh mandatory minimum sentences led to the disproportionate incarceration of Black men and women.


Why The Virginia Governor’s Race Is So Close

By GEOFFREY SKELLEY AND MACKENZIE WILKES, 538.com

Election Day 2021 is only about two weeks away, and the big race to watch is undoubtedly Virginia’s gubernatorial contest. A still-somewhat purple state with a Democratic lean in recent presidential elections, Virginia will be viewed by many as a bellwether for the 2022 midterms, and the race is already proving to be a testing ground for some of the big national issues that could very well influence elections next year, including COVID-19 policies, what should be in taught in schools and the economy.


Fox News Poll: Schools, economy driving close Virginia governor’s race

By VICTORIA BALARA, Fox News

Virginia voters give better personal ratings to Democrat Terry McAuliffe than Republican Glenn Youngkin -- and that gives McAuliffe an edge over Youngkin in the Virginia governor’s race. The closeness of the contest is driven by Youngkin’s competitiveness on the economy and schools. McAuliffe’s support stands at 51 percent to 46 percent for Youngkin, according to a Fox News survey of Virginia likely voters. That puts the race within the poll’s margin of sampling error.


Bennett-Parker and Maddox face off in race to House of Delegates

By CODY MELLO-KLEIN, Alexandria Times

With the Nov. 2 general election only a few weeks away, the race for the 45th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates is heating up between Democrat Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Republican Justin David Maddox. Bennett-Parker and Maddox diverge on their approaches to several issues, from police reform to education, but both said they are hyper-focused on the issues that are challenging residents of District 45, which includes Alexandria, Arlington and parts of Fairfax County.


Tazewell County residents to vote in Russell County

By JIM TALBERT, Clinch Valley News

Several Tazewell County residents moved to Russell County last week without a choice in the matter. Tom Lester, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors said Oct. 7 that over 20 people living on County Line road received letters from the Russell County voter registrar informing them they will now vote in Russell County.


Fredericksburg area takes advantage of early voting

By TAFT COGHILL JR., Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As church was dismissed on Oct. 3, some Spotsylvania County pastors encouraged their congregation to head to the polls. A similar “Souls to the Polls” event was held this past Sunday in Caroline County. Spotsylvania and Caroline were the only two localities in the Fredericksburg area to take advantage of a bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier this year to permit Sunday voting and provide state funds to conduct it.

STATE GOVERNMENT

A Southwest Virginia utility is seeking another rate hike

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Old Dominion Power, the state’s smallest investor-owned electric utility serving about 28,000 customers in Virginia’s southwestern tip, is again asking state regulators for a major rate increase, saying its current rates “do not permit it an opportunity to earn a fair rate of return.” The utility, a subsidiary of Kentucky Utilities, is asking to increase its revenues by just over $12 million by increasing both the basic service charge all customers pay and the energy charge linked to the amount of electricity they consume. If approved, the utility said the average residential customer would see their monthly bill rise by between $24 and $28.


ACRJ superintendent: COVID-19 outbreak on decline

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

A COVID-19 outbreak at ACRJ is under control and lessening, according to an update given Thursday to members of the jail’s Authority Board. The outbreak was first reported on Oct. 8 via a news release from the jail, detailing the number of people infected and precautions the jail was taking. According to the release, the first case was reported on Sept. 22 and soon spread to three other incarcerated individuals.

CONGRESS

Airport director explains airport's funding needs to Wexton

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10, toured Winchester Regional Airport on Wednesday to learn more about the airport's operations and needs. The visit included a tour of the terminal building at 491 Airport Road and a drive in a golf cart around several airport hangars. Along the way, Airport Director Nicholas Sabo explained the need for various airport projects. The most significant project is relocating the existing 9,245-square-foot terminal, built in 1989, with a new one roughly 100 feet south of the current location. The airport is seeking Wexton's assistance in finding federal funding solutions.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

NASA Langley’s newest wind tunnel is under construction, will help prepare for moon and Mars missions

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

Crews have started groundwork on a new wind tunnel facility at NASA Langley Research Center, the first major construction project of its kind in four decades. Federal officials awarded a $43.2 million contract to Alabama-based BL Harbert International to design and build the modern flight dynamics research facility at the Hampton-based agency, the U.S. General Services Administration announced Wednesday.


Supply chain issues threaten Thanksgiving main course

By ROBYN SIDERSKY, Va Business Magazine

To get a turkey on your Thanksgiving table this year, you may have to plan ahead. And even so, ham, pork tenderloin, chicken or even tofurkey might have to fill in as substitutes. Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, the Richmond-based prepared food business spun off from the former regional grocery store chain, informed its customers Tuesday that it won’t be able to fill pre-cooked turkey orders for Thanksgiving this year.


Trade unions back massive ‘rural crescent’ data center plan

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

A coalition of dozens of regional construction and labor unions are backing plans for a controversial, 800-acre data center campus known as the “PW Digital Gateway” proposed for rural, western Prince William County, further ramping up political pressure behind the project’s approval. The Northern Virginia Labor Federation and the Baltimore-D.C. Building and Construction Trades Council, who together represent more than 50,000 construction and building trades workers in the D.C. metro region, have thrown their support behind the plan, citing high wages and steady employment opportunities for their workers.


N.F.L.’s Top Lawyer Had Cozy Relationship With Washington Team President

By KEN BELSON AND KATHERINE ROSMAN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

For nearly a decade, the president of the Washington Football Team sent emails to a friend in which he casually joked about Native Americans and racial and political diversity, griped about referees and league initiatives to improve player safety, and arranged tickets and perks for his correspondent. He also thanked the man for getting a fine lifted and for understanding the team’s thorniest troubles. That man was Jeff Pash, who — as the longtime general counsel of the N.F.L. and a top adviser to Commissioner Roger Goodell — would become responsible for investigating the team that had been run by the very executive he grew close to.


James City County to gain second broadband provider

By DAVID MACAULAY, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

James City County’s Board of Supervisors has backed a franchise agreement with a second broadband provider after considering Shenandoah Cable Television’s plans to build a $10 million fiber-optic network in the county. Many county residents currently use Cox Communications services but have expressed frustration for years at the lack of competition.


Proposed hospital draws wide support

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

A Virginia Department of Health public hearing on Oct. 13 drew near-unanimous support for Riverside Health System’s proposed 50-bed Isle of Wight County hospital. The VDH had scheduled the 11 a.m. hearing, and another one at 10 a.m. on a proposed 27-bed addition to Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, for the purpose of deciding whether the two projects would receive certificates of public need.


Bonumose expanding in Albemarle

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Bonumose, a food technology company, is investing $27.7 million in its expansion in Albemarle County, which will add 64 employees over the next three years. The company, which specializes in “healthy sugar,” is relocating from University of Virginia’s North Fork research park to a 50,000 square feet section of the former State Farm building on Pantops. Earlier this year, The Hershey Company and American Sugar Refining, Inc. invested in Bonumose and will partner with the company to research and develop reduced or zero sugar chocolate products.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Virginia Tech limiting student attendance at football games after ‘selfish, inappropriate and embarrassing’ behavior

By SAMANTHA SMITH, WSLS-TV

Virginia Tech is putting restrictions in place ahead of the Pitt game this upcoming weekend after “selfish, inappropriate, and embarrassing student behavior,” according to the university. According to the release, student attendance will be restricted to season ticket holders and the number of student lottery winners will also be limited. “Over the last several weeks, we have heard too many stories of selfish, inappropriate, and embarrassing student behavior at home football games,” officials stated in the release.

CORONAVIRUS

Anonymized cell phone data is helping Virginia’s local health officials select mobile vaccine sites

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

In early spring, Virginia health officials launched large community vaccination clinics with the highest of hopes. The sites, set up to administer thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccine, were selected with equity in mind — all placed in communities with diverse populations and high rates of infection. At the time, state Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said Virginia was doing a “very good job” at expanding vaccine access to underserved communities. Then, something unexpected happened. Attendance at the sites slowed to a trickle.


Hampton Roads military vaccination rates hit 90%: ‘It’s a major readiness issue.’

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

Hampton Roads’ sailors, soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen are far outpacing civilians when it comes to getting vaccinated against COVID 19, with the percentage of fully vaccinated set to approach or exceed 90% this week. Leaders from the region’s bases reported those numbers at a roundtable called by Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Newport News.


Not many are lining up for COVID boosters

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

Much has been said and written about the COVID-19 booster shots since they became available less than a month ago, but are people around here eligible for the third dose actually taking them? According to the Virginia Department of Health, not many. VDH data indicates an average of less than 1.5% of Tri-City are residents with access to the booster has received them. The low number reflects an ongoing trend of low activity across the area. As of Oct. 14, no Tri-City locality has crossed the 50% level of fully vaccinated against COVID-19


Newport News reopening COVID-19 vaccination clinic to get ready for booster shots

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

To prepare for the wave of booster shots, the city of Newport News is reopening its main coronavirus vaccination clinic that has been closed since June. The City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize a month-to-month lease for the clinic, which will open next week, at 13785 Warwick Boulevard in the old Sherwood Shopping Center.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Where is the ESVA? Not on Official Virginia History Ornament

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Some Eastern Shore residents expressed concern this week after the peninsula once again was omitted from a Virginia map. The map is a stylized depiction on the Virginia Museum of History and Culture’s 2021 Official Virginia History Christmas ornament. Eastern Shore Public Library Director Cara Burton noticed the Eastern Shore was omitted from the ornament.


Capitol insurrectionist gets 45 days

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Arms raised in victory, insurrectionist and Winchester resident Edward Eugene Hemenway II stood atop a U.S. military vehicle outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 rebellion. A smiling Hemenway had just spent 17 minutes inside the Capitol with a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

LOCAL

How APS, ACPD Say They’re Keeping Kids Safe Without SROs

By JO DEVOE, ArlNow

Against the backdrop of Alexandria’s City Council voting to reinstate School Resource Officers, Arlington school and police officials say they’re confident kids and staff will be safe without daily police presence. That’s because, leading up to the decision to remove SROs this summer, the county spent six years investing in other school safety pillars, adding counselors, enhancing building safety and beefing up emergency management operations, according to School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen.


Unions Rally for Bargaining Rights at Loudoun Gov’t Center

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Labor union leaders from across trades and the region gathered in front of the Loudoun County Government Center in downtown Leesburg Oct. 13 to push county supervisors for strong organizing rights, as negotiations continue on what form collective bargaining will take for the public employees. County supervisors voted in July to start work writing a local ordinance permitting collective bargaining among county employees.


Essential workers rally, push for supervisors to pass collective bargaining ordinance

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Essential workers from around the region joined dozens peers from Loudoun County to rally for a collective bargaining ordinance from local leaders. The rally was held early Wednesday evening in the front of the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg.


Loudoun parent advocacy group calls for superintendent resignation after sexual assaults reported

By HORUS ALAS, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Ian Prior, executive director of the activist group Fight for Schools, held a press conference Thursday afternoon enumerating several demands of the school division in response to what he characterized as a negligent response from school administrators to a pair of sexual assaults. The event, held outside the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, comes in the wake of a report in the media detailing a pair of assaults at two Loudoun high schools involving the same suspect — one of which occurred at the end of May, and was not made public until this week.


Monacan High social studies teacher fired for refusing to wear a mask to school

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Stephen Roszel was preparing for his “dream job” teaching Advanced Placement government and social studies at Monacan High School this year when the Chesterfield School Board adopted a mask mandate, a move recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then required by the state. Roszel declined on principle. He joined parents in filing open records requests for the science behind the mandate, which is designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, communicated his reasoning to the administration and never stepped foot in the school. This week, he was fired.


Defunct: Richmond Slave Trail Commission no longer exists

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

The Richmond Slave Trail Commission – an advocacy group created by Richmond City Council to raise awareness of the role slavery played in the capital city’s history – is defunct. Little apparent notice has gone to the governing body that created it and appoints the membership. “That’s horrible, horrible,” said former City Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin, who led the effort to create the commission in 1998 and served as its chair until he was forced to resign his council seat in 2003 amid legal woes.


Kaine-Holton household split on casino

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine gave casino opponents a boost when he announced that he had voted against the proposed South Side gambling mecca. But during a visit to City Hall last Friday, he disclosed that his wife, Anne B. Holton, a former Richmond judge, past state secretary of education and former interim president of George Mason University, disagreed with him. And she told him, “Honey, I’m canceling your vote on this one” by casting a “yes” vote in support of the planned $565 million casino, Sen. Kaine recounted.


Virginia Beach ramps up security plan following 2019 mass shooting

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Reverberations from the mass shooting at the municipal center two and half years ago are still being felt, but steps are being taken to make the city government’s offices safer. This week, city staff divulged details about its efforts to prevent another violent attack.


King William County hires assessor with ties to former Commissioner of the Revenue

By EM HOLTER, Tidewater Review

King William is hiring the husband of the former Commissioner of the Revenue to perform a reassessment of all the properties in the county, a county official confirmed last week. The county will pay more than $300,000 to Pearson’s Appraisal Service, owned by appraiser Fred Pearson, for the appraisal of 11,197 parcels. Pearson is the husband of former Commissioner of the Revenue Sally Pearson, who resigned mid-term in November 2020. Prior to leaving office, Sally Pearson faced scrutiny for refusing to take part in the county’s previous assessment


DOJ drops suit against Stafford County in cemetery case

By JAMES BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced it would drop a religious discrimination lawsuit against Stafford County involving a Muslim cemetery. Last month, Stafford supervisors agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the All Muslim Association of America that claimed supervisors discriminated by blocking it from creating a cemetery on 29 acres in the 1500 block of Garrisonville Road.


Officials Sound Off On Parents' Role In What Is Taught In Schools

By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

At a Rockingham County School Board meeting Monday, it was posited during public comment that parents have the right to pick and choose from the Virginia Department of Education standards what their child is taught. But that is simply not what the law states, Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said. The law states that parents can direct the education of their child, but the Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld that the Virginia code applies to a parent's right to seek private education for their child. It does not mean that parents have the right to dictate curriculum, Scheikl said.


Charlotte County Board Lowers Personal Property Tax Rate

By STAFF REPORT, Southside Messenger

This year used car prices have soared due to inflation, shortages caused by COVID restrictions, and supply chain issues. ... On average Charlotte County residents would have seen a tax increase of 40% based on the same vehicles owned last year. Charlotte County Commissioner of the Revenue Naisha Carter said many 5 to 10 year old pickups and SUVs doubled in value. Carter contacted the Board regarding the issue and Chairman Gary Walker requested the board to consider an equalization number to prevent residents being subjected to an increase.


Judge says he can’t solve Merry Point’s pig problem

By MICHELLE SMITH, Northern Neck News

When Janice Baylor appeared in Lancaster General District Court on Sept. 1, she was facing a list of charges for animals and livestock running at large. When she came back for her review hearing on Oct. 6, she had 10 new charges. Baylor has over 100 pigs. Many of them roam, hanging out in the woods, walking the road, and sometimes blocking the road. They have also been destroying her neighbors’ property.


Rowe issued summons for removing sign

By SHERRY HAMILTON, Gazette-Journal

Mathews County Board of Supervisors chairman Mike Rowe was issued a summons last week to answer to a charge that he stole a Coraplast Yard Sign valued at less than $1,000 that belonged to Lane-Armistead Camp 1772 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Mathews. ... The signs encourage residents to vote against removing the monument from the court green during the upcoming election on Nov. 2.


Marion reconsiders tattoo shops

By STEPHANIE PORTER-NICHOLS, Smyth County News & Messenger

The growing popularity and acceptance of tattoos are prompting Marion to reconsider the town’s tough requirements to open a shop. The town has been home to tattoo shops in the past that drew negative attention and ultimately failed as businesses. After they closed, the town council added such shops to its list of adult uses in the town code, which includes adult book and video stores, establishments for fortunetellers, palm readers, and mystics, and body-piercing salons among others.

 

EDITORIALS

City is not getting any more affordable

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

Although increasing its stock of affordable housing is one of the stated goals of the City of Fredericksburg, achieving that goal remains elusive. One of the reasons is that despite a lot of talk about the lack of affordable housing, city officials are not actually doing much about it. Meanwhile, Fredericksburg is being gentrified.

COLUMNISTS

Yancey: A bold, generational bet in Martinsville and Henry County

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

Never read the comments, they say. I’ve read the comments. Specifically the comments on a story that The Martinsville Bulletin published last week, a story so remarkable that it deserves a wider audience and comments so utterly disappointing that they deserve a public airing, in the hopes that sunshine truly is the best disinfectant.

OP-ED

Thomas: Supporting model policies for transgender students in Virginia

By COURTNEY THOMAS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Three years ago, my then-7-year-old, Bettie, interrupted our bedtime story and exclaimed, “Mom! I know I’m not a boy. But I don’t feel like a girl. Am I both?” My child had just come out as transgender. Bettie soon asked our family to start using the neopronouns zie, zir and zirs rather than the feminine pronouns she, her and hers or the masculine he, him and his. Bettie identifies as genderfluid and nonbinary, so gendered pronouns don’t feel right to zir.

Thomas lives in Christiansburg