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VaNews
December 4, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia schools plan gradual reopening as evidence of online learning gap piles up

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More evidence emerged this week that online school is taking its worst academic toll on Virginia’s most vulnerable students, as superintendents in the state — facing mounting pressure to reopen schools — took tentative steps toward in-person instruction. Loudoun County Public Schools went the furthest, welcoming back more than 7,300 elementary school students this week. Other Northern Virginia districts are moving more slowly: Arlington Public Schools said it would return thousands of elementary and middle school students early next year, while Alexandria City Public Schools outlined plans to send some students with disabilities and English language learners back into school buildings in late January — followed in early February by kindergartners through fifth-graders.


Misinformation, indifference fuels local COVID-19 spike

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

Misinformation and indifference by some in the public to COVID-19 safety recommendations is fueling the current spike in local cases, Ballad Health officials said this week. Wearing face coverings in public, avoiding large crowds, staying apart from people outside your immediate household and regular handwashing have been the mantra from health care workers and government leaders as ways to limit spreading the disease, virtually since the pandemic began. Yet many in the public continue to distrust or reject such advice at a time when this region has one of the nation’s highest rates of COVID-19.


Mount Rogers Health District alters virus tracing procedures

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Swamped by the region's climbing case numbers, the Mount Rogers Health District announced Thursday night it was suspending part of its COVID-19 contact tracing outreach. Staffers will keep investigating new cases that occur in the district that runs from Wythe County to Bristol, officials said. But it will now rely on patients to notify their contacts and inform them of the need to quarantine.


Hampton closes on $12 million environmental impact bond to curb flooding, polluted stormwater runoff

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

Three projects that will give Hampton the ability to capture, store, redirect and filtrate some 8 million gallons of storm water that otherwise would flood city neighborhoods are now funded. The city closed on a $12 million environmental impact bond, marking the first time a financing tool of this kind will be used in Virginia, officials from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Hampton and its partners announced during a Thursday virtual press conference.


Ransomware attack on Hampton Roads Sanitation District knocks out billing system

By ROBIN SIDERSKY, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A ransomware attack on the Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s computer network is affecting all of its customers because the billing system is down. The attack, which occurred on Nov. 17, resulted in the entire network being taken offline, which included suspending the billing system, said HRSD spokeswoman Leila Rice.


Volvo electric trucks to be produced at NRV plant in early 2021

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

Volvo Trucks North America’s plant in Pulaski County will manufacture its new battery-powered VNR Electric truck model starting early next year, the company announced Thursday. The largest Volvo truck plant in the world, the Dublin facility currently employs close to 3,000 people and builds heavy-duty trucks of multiple models. The Volvo Class 8 VNR Electric heavy-duty truck, entering the North American market next year, runs on battery electric power and produces zero tailpipe emissions.


As its birthplace, Mountain Dew can do more for Marion than just provide bragging rights

By STEPHANIE PORTER-NICHOLS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Mountain Dew can do more for Marion — its birthplace — than just provide bragging rights. Developer Joe Ellis is confident that while preserving an aspect of the community’s heritage, a museum dedicated to the popular lemon-lime soda could also bolster the local economy through tourism.

The Full Report
55 articles, 30 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Now Live: Post-Election Campaign Finance Reports

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP has posted the latest campaign finance disclosures by local candidates and referendum committees. The reports cover activity from October 23 through November 26.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Obenshain, Suetterlein Reintroduce Parole Bills

By JESSICA WETZLER, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Sen. Mark Obenshain’s Virginia Parole Board transparency bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support during the 2020 special session, but was ultimately tabled in a House committee along a party-line vote. On Thursday, the legislation aimed to increase transparency and accountability for the state’s Parole Board was officially reintroduced and will be considered during the upcoming General Assembly session.


Senators reintroduce Parole Board transparency bills ahead of 2021 legislative session

By EMMA NORTH, WRIC-TV

In preparation for Virginia’s 2021 legislative session, two state senators have reintroduced bills to reform Virginia’s Parole Board. Sen. Mark Obsenshain’s (R-Rockingham) bill SB 1104 and Sen. David Suetterlein’s bill SB 1103 seek to increase access to information on parole board decisions and make votes public. During the special session, two identical bills were passed with bipartisan support in the senate. When they reached the House of Delegates they were both tabled by the Courts of Justice Committee.


Runion To File Solar, Health Care Legislation

By JESSICA WETZLER, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The future of solar energy is yet to be determined in Rockingham County, but for residents across Virginia, it’s a reality quickly settling in. During an informal town hall Thursday, Del. Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater, spoke with four constituents about the upcoming legislative session and bills he planned to file — one dealing with solar energy.


Elected officials discuss legislative priorities, COVID-19 restrictions and marijuana

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

Several elected representatives for the Northern Shenandoah Valley participated in a virtual public policy meeting Thursday morning to discuss their priorities for the General Assembly legislative session that begins in January. The elected officials included state Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, 10th District Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke County, 29th District Del. Bill Wiley, R-Winchester, and 33rd District Del. Dave LaRock, R-Hamilton. The event was hosted by the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber.


Virginia lawmaker pushes for bill offering education vouchers

WFXR-TV

A Virginia lawmaker is looking to give parents more flexibility – if local schools don’t offer in-person education. Delegate Michael Webert represents Virginia’s 18th district in northeastern Virginia. Webert introduced a bill that would require local school boards to give parents who withdraw their child, a voucher to cover in-person instruction in an alternative setting.

STATE ELECTIONS

With close ties to multiple candidates, Kaine says he’s not endorsing yet in Democratic primary for governor

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe are both part of the small club of Virginia’s living Democratic ex-governors and two of the most influential figures in state politics. While governor, McAuliffe appointed Anne Holton, Kaine’s wife, as his secretary of education. Kaine has also encouraged state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, whose wedding he officiated, to run for higher office one day. That day has arrived.


Northam sets special election date for vacant 90th House of Delegates District seat

By JANE ALVAREZ-WERTZ, WRIC-TV

A date has been set for a special election in Virginia’s 90th House of Delegates District. The seat was left vacant by Delegate Joe Lindsey, who resigned last month to take an appointment as a general district court judge in Norfolk. He held the seat since 2014.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Jury trials return in Roanoke Valley

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A common courtroom question from attorney to judge — “Your Honor, may I approach the witness?” — went unasked Wednesday. The witness in this case was sitting alone in the jury box behind a plexiglass shield, one of the precautions taken during the Roanoke Valley’s first jury trial since the coronavirus pandemic struck early this year.


Panel sets meeting to recommend replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

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

A state panel charged with recommending a replacement for Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue at the U.S. Capitol has set a Dec. 16 meeting to make its decision. The Commission For Historical Statues In the United States Capitol is expected to make its recommendation to the General Assembly at the 3 p.m. meeting. The panel has been meeting virtually amid the pandemic.


Virginia State Capitol tree comes from Mineral farm

By CARLY HAYNES, CBS 19

Before the tree was the center of attention on the State Capitol steps, it was growing tall at a farm in Louisa County. The annual Virginia State Capitol Christmas tree lighting went virtual this year. . . . The event still raised some holiday spirit, thanks to a stunning 25-foot tall Norway Spruce from Claybrooke Farm.


New Virginia laws seek to close ‘school-to-prison pipeline’

By BRENDAN SHILLINGFORD AND ANYA SCZERZENIE, VCU Capital News Service

The near future of in-person schooling is uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Virginia students will return to a system where several penalties for misbehavior have been taken off the table. Two new laws seek to stop criminal punishments in elementary, middle and secondary schools.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Number of new unemployment claims in Virginia fell to lowest level since pandemic’s start

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

Since the effects of the coronavirus pandemic took hold in mid-March, the number of new unemployment claims filed in one week by Virginians fell to its lowest level during the week ending Nov. 28 . The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 8,606 new filings for traditional state unemployment benefits were made during the week, a nearly 30% drop from the week before. The number of Virginians still collecting traditional state jobless benefits week after week dropped 10% to 72,305 during the week.


Metro issues layoff notices for more than 1,100 D.C.-area employees

By JONATHAN CAPRIEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Metro is preparing to lay off between 1,100 and 1,200 employees in January, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications filed in Maryland and Virginia in late November. The job cuts will hit Jan. 23, the first Saturday after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.


Unemployment rates continue to improve across the region

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

Unemployment rates continue to improve across the region in the past 30-day reporting period with all localities reporting that its percentage of the unemployed are back in the single digits. The unemployment figures released by the Virginia Employment Commission show that Martinsville’s rate decreased from 11.4% in September's, to 9.5% at the end or October, but up from 3.9% a year ago.


Dominion pulls plug on power plant plans for Southern Virginia Megasite

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Dominion Power, which had hoped to invest about $200 million in a power plant at the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill, has canceled its plans at the site. "We no longer believe it is possible to build the units planned in Pittsylvania County despite the economic and reliability benefits for our customers," Dominion spokesperson Jeremy L. Slayton wrote in an email to the Danville Register & Bee on Thursday afternoon.


Dominion Energy pulls megasite power station project

By LANIE DAVIS, Chatham Star Tribune

Dominion Energy announced today that they will not be completing their proposed power station project at the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill, located in Pittsylvania County. In November 2019, Dominion announced their intentions to build a $200 million peaking plant, which would provide power to the grid to fulfill energy demands during high usage periods.


A clean energy transition won’t be free. Officials hope energy efficiency can offset costs.

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Much of Virginia’s planned shift to a carbon-free electric grid involves grand plans: turbines sprouting hundreds of feet tall from the ocean waves and solar panels spread across thousands of acres. But another major part of the clean energy transition Virginia and other states are looking to make is often overlooked: energy efficiency. Unlike wind, solar and storage, in which progress is seen in new construction, new megawatts and new technology, energy efficiency successes are chalked up in terms of absence: projects that no longer have to be built, costs that no longer have to be paid.


Report illuminates the way for solar development in Virginia

By CLINT SCHEMMER, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Historic preservation need not knock heads with Virginia’s pursuit of solar energy. If, that is, developers of utility-scale solar plants do their homework, detect trouble spots in advance, collaborate with others, and proceed smartly. That’s the gist of the advice in a report released today by a trio of heavyweight preservation advocates.


Newport News shipyard says worst of COVID-19’s effect on work schedules is past

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

The worst of the pandemic’s effects on Newport News Shipbuilding’s workers and work schedules is over, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ chief financial officer Chris Kastner told security analysts Thursday. “We’re hitting our milestones,” he said, speaking at Credit Suisse’s annual industrials conference.


Crab pot season extended 20 days amid pandemic

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

Virginia fisheries regulators’ decision to extend the traditional crab pot season into December shouldn’t have a big effect on crab populations, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s latest blue crab management plan says. The commission extended the usual crab pot season by 20 days, until Dec. 19. The season for peeler pots and other commercial crab gears still ended Oct. 31 to protect the juvenile population. The goal of the extension is to make up for losses caused by the pandemic, as social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home orders cut demand at restaurants, the commission plan said.


New marketing strategy is bringing social media influencers to the Historic Triangle

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

Amy Littleson, a 2017 University of Richmond graduate who now lives in New York City, grew up visiting Williamsburg. Her godmother lives in Newport News, and Littleson used to run around Colonial Williamsburg with her sister in matching outfits. . . . When she returned to the area at the end of August for a short trip with her sister Jaqueline, she was happy to see the Historic Triangle again. But as much as she enjoyed it, her trip to Williamsburg wasn’t just for fun — it was a business venture with Visit Williamsburg, for her full-time job as a social media influencer.


Carly Fiorina elected chairwoman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Trustees

By GABRIELLE RENTE, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Trustees has a new chairwoman. Carly Fiorina has been elected to the position after serving on the board since 2017. . . . Fiorina and her husband moved to Lorton, in Fairfax County, in 2011 after losing a bid to unseat California’s Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Fiorina sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.


Green Leaf, Richmond's first medical marijuana dispensary, is now open

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

As Virginia readies to consider the legalization of recreational marijuana, Richmond’s first medical marijuana dispensary is celebrating its opening. Green Leaf Medical of Virginia opened to the public last week and has already seen over 2,000 customers come through its South Richmond doors.

TRANSPORTATION

More highway deaths reported over Thanksgiving holiday than last year, Virginia State Police say

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Ten people were killed in crashes in Virginia — including one in Hampton Roads — over Thanksgiving weekend. The holiday weekend was deadlier than last year, when eight people died, Virginia State Police said Thursday in a news release. But it was less than the 12 reported in 2018.


A US airport first: Shared bicycles at Reagan National

By JEFF CLABAUGH, WTOP

Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Roanoke medical school says applications up 48%

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

By Monday’s deadline, nearly 6,400 prospective medical students had applied to enter the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Usually the school receives about 4,000 applications. Dean Lee Learman said more people are recognizing the medical school in Roanoke as a place for “systems-minded scientist physicians.”


Virginia Tech athletics department instituting pay cuts in wake of ‘harsh financial reality’ of COVID-19

By MIKE NIZIOKEK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Tech athletics director Whit Babcock said earlier this year that the “financial shoe will drop” from the COVID-19 pandemic before the year was out. It dropped on Thursday with Tech announcing a series of cost-saving measures in hopes of saving $15 million for the department’s budget next year.


W&M president got a $75K bonus

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

The sports controversy is far from over. Less than a month after William & Mary announced the remaining varsity sports teams would be reinstated tentatively for one year, the university’s Board of Visitors gave W&M President Katherine Rowe a bonus for how she handled the situation and the coronavirus pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 2,023

By STAFF REPORT, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the state’s cumulative total for COVID-19 cases during the pandemic is now up to 244,503, an increase of 2,023 from Wednesday. There have been 4,147 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia, an increase of 34 from Wednesday. Statewide, the total number of people hospitalized is 15,014, an increase of 181 from Wednesday, though the VDH website notes that hospitalizations are underrepresented.


Officials aren’t sure exactly what’s driving the COVID-19 surge, making policy more difficult

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Since COVID-19 cases began to rise in late October, small gatherings were quickly pinpointed by state officials in Virginia and across the country as a significant contributor to the spread of the virus. “We need to continue to figure out why those numbers are rising,” Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference in early November. “And they’re rising right now because people are gathering and they’re not wearing masks.”


Richmond Officials Preparing For COVID-19 Vaccine Roll Out

By ROBERTO ROLDAN, WCVE-FM

Richmond health officials released new information Thursday about how they’re preparing to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, which could be available in limited doses in as soon as a few weeks. At a weekly pandemic update, Richmond Health District Director Dr. Danny Avula said there are about 60,000 people in Central Virginia who will have first priority for getting the vaccine. They are mainly health care workers and nursing home residents.


COVID-19 Cases Shutter Tangier Combined School

By STAFF REPORT, Eastern Shore Post

COVID-19 cases are now being reported on Tangier, resulting in the temporary shutdown of the island’s school. Accomack County Public Schools Superintendent Chris Holland announced Tuesday that Tangier Combined School will be closed starting Monday, Nov. 30, until Tuesday, Dec. 15, due to a COVID-19 outbreak on Tangier.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Portsmouth will rename 3 schools with namesakes tied to racism

By MARGAUX MACCOLL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth’s School Board voted Thursday night to change the names of three schools whose namesakes are tied to racism. The names of Wilson High School along with James Hurst and John Tyler elementary schools will begin to be changed on July 1, 2021.

LOCAL

With COVID-19 cases hitting new peak in Richmond, RPS leader will recommend schools stay virtual

By SABRINA MORENO AND KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in Richmond recently reached an all-time high amid a state and nationwide surge, prompting Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras to say Thursday that he will recommend that classes remain virtual through the end of the school year.


Electoral board chair planning hearing on city registrar’s removal

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

James M. Nachman, chairman of the Richmond Electoral Board, is planning to hold a board hearing to consider the removal of veteran Richmond Voter Registrar J. Kirk Showalter. Mr. Nachman said no date has been set as he is proceeding carefully to ensure that the decision could stand up in court should Ms. Showalter be removed and then file a lawsuit to challenge her ouster.


Richmond scores 100 on Human Rights Campaign's LGBTQ equality index

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

After doubling its score two years ago, Richmond has reached a perfect 100 on a national assessment of how localities around the country support and protect LGBTQ people through local laws, policies and services. Three other Virginia localities — Alexandria, Virginia Beach and Arlington County — were among the 94 communities to score 100 out of the 506 places graded on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index for 2020.


Inmates Want Accountability For August Tear Gassing Inside Richmond Jail

By WHITTNEY EVANS, WCVE-FM

People incarcerated at the Richmond City Jail say they were indiscriminately tear gassed this summer by corrections officers for demanding answers about the jail’s COVID-19 outbreak. Now attorneys say they plan to file a federal class-action lawsuit against the jail. The Commonwealth Law Group says it’s suing on behalf of incarcerated people at the Richmond City Justice Center who were involved in the August 29 incident.


Virginia Beach inspectors to crack down on zoning and code violations at the Oceanfront

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

For the first time in more than two decades, city zoning and code inspectors will be dedicated solely to the Virginia Beach resort area in a new effort to rein in violators and spruce up Atlantic Avenue. On Tuesday, the City Council approved funding for a new Resort Management Office to improve the 40-block commercial district by enforcing city codes, addressing homelessness issues, promoting safety and enhancing event programs.


Donors pulled $2.5 million from TCC project, saying Norfolk backed out. City says that’s false.

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

The biggest donors to Tidewater Community College’s much-ballyhooed culinary school project in the NEON district say they pulled back their $2.5 million donation because the city of Norfolk had pulled out first, newly obtained documents show. But the mayor and city manager say Norfolk is still committed to providing the land for the project, and always has been.


Williamsburg-James City County schools to return to remote learning

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

Almost all students at Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools will return to entirely remote learning Monday, according to an announcement from division superintendent Olwen Herron posted to the WJCC Public Schools Facebook page Thursday evening. Those students will not return to in-person instruction until “at least January 11,” the release states.


King William interim treasurer updates supervisors on tax collection of nearly 300 properties, audit on office

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

King William Interim Treasurer Marie Wilson updated the Board of Supervisors at Monday’s meeting on the $1.4 million in uncollected taxes on 295 delinquent properties. In July, former Treasurer Harry Whitt released a report that outlined the total number of delinquent properties and the total uncollected amount. According to the report, there are about 400 properties, including both personal property and real estate, dating back 30 years, with about $1.4 million in uncollected taxes.


Spotsylvania School Board gets public input on changing name of Robert E. Lee Elementary

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

The majority of speakers at a special meeting of the Spotsylvania School Board supported changing the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The meeting Wednesday was the first of two events scheduled by the board to gather public input on whether the name should be changed. Wednesday's meeting was a forum to which board members invited two members of the public from their districts to share thoughts on the issue.


Foxhunting organization permanently gives up development rights on 71-acre property

Fauquier Times

The Orange County Hounds, a foxhunting organization founded in 1900, has entered into a permanent conservation easement agreement with the Fauquier County government for its 71-acre property near The Plains. The organization donated the easement, which forbids in perpetuity subdivision of the property and residential, commercial or industrial development of the land.


Page County schools partner with national group to broadcast sports

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

With high school basketball less than three weeks away from the 2020-21 tip-off, Page County Public Schools is carrying out plans to allow parents, fans and other spectators an opportunity to actually watch the games. . . . In order to allow the Bulldog and Panther faithful an opportunity to be a part the shortened seasons and support their teams, Page County High School Athletic Director Keith Cubbage has led efforts for the school division to sign a five-year deal with the National Federation of State High School Associations to provide livestreams of all home athletic events.


Montgomery Co. School Board debates lower 2020 grades, new phase of reopening

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

The Montgomery County School Board continues to debate how the division should educate during the pandemic, with a report that a significant number of students have received lower grades in 2020. The board discussed measures this week after members were provided with a rundown of a recent reopening survey and recommendations from several committees that saw the survey’s results.


Danville Public Schools reverting back to virtual learning until at least Jan. 5

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

During her first school board meeting as Superintendent of Danville Public Schools, Angela Hairston gave a recommendation for a return to virtual learning for all students until at least Jan. 5 in light of the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. All seven members of the Danville School Board voted in favor of the recommendation.


Bristol council formally approves HR Bristol as casino operator

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

The Bristol Virginia City Council voted unanimously Thursday morning to certify HR Bristol LLC as the city's preferred gaming operator. Today is the state-imposed deadline for the certification, occurring one month after city voters overwhelmingly approved a plan for Hard Rock International to establish a $400 million casino, hotel and resort at the Bristol Mall.

 

EDITORIALS

Wrongly in prison: Now what?

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia often prides itself on being among the top states in the nation on a number of measurements: business, science and technology, education, financial stability and a host of others. But on one measurement, the commonwealth lags behind many of its peers — and in a way that impacts some of the most ill-treated of its citizens: those who have been wrongly imprisoned.


Ordinance doesn't solve Confederate flag problem

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

It would be ironic indeed if the Stafford County Board of Supervisors’ new ordinance limiting the height of flagpoles and monuments came back to bite them by interfering with long-awaited plans to bring broadband services to the Rock Hill and Hartwood districts of the county.


Time for a discussion about the future of EVMS

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

Eastern Virginia Medical School has collectively stuffed its head in the sand — more up to its ankles, really. Should it remain so buried, bereft of situational awareness, the consequences could be dire for this important and valuable institution. EVMS appears to believe it can achieve and maintain the majesty of full autonomy, that it has sufficient wallop in the region to play games with local leaders, do little pirouettes behind the scenes and manipulate reality.

OP-ED

Jordan: To be competitive, Virginia Republicans must pivot

By D.J. JORDAN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

When I first got involved in Virginia politics in 2013, the commonwealth had a Republican governor and legislature in Richmond. My, how times have changed. Since then, the GOP has lost every statewide election. And after each loss, many political scientists and party leaders credited the same thing: changing demographics. It’s true. The Virginia of today is not the Virginia of 2009, the last year Republicans won statewide.

Jordan grew up in Hampton Roads, and now lives in northern Virginia. He served as chairman of the Virginia Board of Social Services in 2016 and 2017, and unsuccessfully ran for House of Delegates as a Republican in 2019.


Rashid: Why bother with dialogue?

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

Why even bother with dialogue? The “other side” clearly only cares about themselves. It makes more sense to gather our base, vote them out and undo the damage they’ve done. Right? It’s hard to ignore this argument precisely because it feels so good to stick it to those who’ve treated us so unjustly, mocked and ridiculed us, and in some cases, even denied us our humanity.

Rashid is an attorney, an author and a former candidate for Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

THE FRIDAY READ

Interabled YouTubers, ‘Cole and Charisma,’ Celebrate Wedding

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

As a couple who share a formidable internet following, it may be somewhat shocking to learn that Charisma Jamison and Cole Sydnor met the old-fashion way. In November 2017, Ms. Jamison, at the time an inpatient rehab technician at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers in Richmond, Va., noticed Mr. Sydnor working out on the outpatient side of the facility. Mr. Sydnor is a C5/C6 quadriplegic — he’s completely lost function of his hands, trunk and legs, with limited function in his arms, wrists and shoulders. He was injured in 2011, when he struck a rock with his head after diving into the James River in Virginia.