Friday, October 23, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 23, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia releases sweeping plan to prepare for sea level rise, increased flooding

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia unveiled a sweeping plan on Thursday for how to best safeguard Hampton Roads and other coastal communities from rising seas, increased flooding, and more frequent and intense storms in the coming decades. The framework, the first such effort at the state level, is the initial step from Virginia for how best to reduce risk to people and property from sea level rise and coastal flooding, and follows similar work by several Hampton Roads cities, like Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Officials touted it as the first plan of its kind along the East Coast.

Surge of early voting in Va.'s largest county means a long wait for some voters

By ANTONIO OLIVO AND LOLA FADULU, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than a month has passed since early voting began in Virginia and, amid record turnouts during a deadly pandemic, the long lines to cast a ballot in the state's most populous jurisdiction have moved at an agonizingly slow pace. With about 9,400 people per day in Fairfax County voting in person during early voting, it has taken as long as two hours to make it to the front of the line in some locations.

Reversing ban, Va. Supreme Court says police can operate license plate surveillance programs

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that police in Fairfax County can resume a surveillance program that passively logged the date, time and location license plates pass by one of their automated readers. The decision overturns a Fairfax County judge's ruling last year that the data collection program violated Virginia privacy laws, which stopped police from continuing the program.

Newport News Shipbuilding settles employment discrimination charges

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

Newport News Shipbuilding has accepted a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to resolve allegations of hiring discrimination. The shipyard agreed to pay $3.5 million in back pay and interest to 4,428 Black applications who were not hired for 10 different positions.

Families opting out of public school pose financial impact on system

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Mike and Christy Gasiorowski had never given much thought to sending their children to private school. And why would they have? Jack and Ella already attended two of the highest-performing public schools in Chesterfield County, Midlothian Middle and J.B. Watkins Elementary, respectively. Both were thriving academically and engaged socially, and their parents couldn't have been more satisfied with the quality of education.

Quarry full of hazardous waste removed from superfund list after 33 years

By ELIAS WEISS, Chatham Star Tribune

The Environmental Protection Agency Friday morning announced the official removal of the 13-acre First Piedmont Corporation Rock Quarry Site, in the Beaver Park community of Pittsylvania County, from the National Priorities list for superfund sites. Superfund law in the U.S. is designed to investigate and clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Between 1970 and 1972, the First Piedmont Corporation leased the on-site rock quarry and used it as an industrial landfill.

Friday Read Pixie post: Fairy letters offer advice, respite in Virginia

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

With the coronavirus lockdown and school out for the summer, 9-year-old Maya Gebler's social world had shrunk to her immediate family and a few friends. When her human pen pals stopped writing, she turned to the fairies who had taken up residence at a tree in her Virginia neighborhood. And the fairies wrote back. "They care about you," she said. "And they want to write to you."

The Full Report
62 articles, 34 publications


VPAP Visual House Money Drives Casino Initiatives

The Virginia Public Access Project

Gaming companies seeking a foothold in Virginia have invested more than $2 million to back Nov. 3 ballot initiatives in four Virginia cities. The only money raised to block a local casino referendum came in Norfolk, where a competitor is seeking to block a bid by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

From VPAP Early Voting in Virginia Now Triple 2016 -- and Climbing

The Virginia Public Access Project

By Thursday, more than 1.7 million Virginians had already voted in the November 3 election -- more than three times the early votes recorded in 2016. VPAP's interactive dashboard shows the mix of in-person and mail ballots and provides a snapshot of early voting in each city and county.

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.


Under new law, prosecutors will be able to drop marijuana cases

By MARGARET MATRAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Last year, Norfolk's top prosecutor said his office would seek to dismiss virtually all misdemeanor marijuana cases as part of an effort toward criminal justice reform. But Circuit Court judges wouldn't let them, and Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood challenged them in the state Supreme Court. Underwood lost, with justices saying Virginia had given judges the final say on dismissing charges for over two centuries.

Ex-NASCAR driver gets probation in case long delayed by his lawmaker attorney

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Former NASCAR driver Eric McClure pleaded no contest this week to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and was sentenced to probation, according to a Virginia prosecutor, in a court hearing that was long delayed by McClure's state lawmaker attorney. The Associated Press has previously reported that McClure's appeals trial after his conviction in a lower court for assault and battery against his now-estranged wife was pushed back over and over again. His attorney, state Del. Jeff Campbell, repeatedly invoked a privilege of his office that grants legislator-lawyers broad discretion to obtain continuances in their cases.

Former NASCAR driver pleads 'no contest' in drawn-out Smyth domestic assault appeal

By JASMINE FRANKS, Smyth County News & Messenger

After more than two years of avoiding the courtroom, a former NASCAR Xfinity driver and his state lawmaker attorney appeared before a Smyth County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday for a plea hearing in a domestic assault case against him. Convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery on his wife in Smyth County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, 41-year-old Eric Wayne McClure appealed the case to the circuit court in June 2018. The case began to draw scrutiny in early 2020 after McClure's attorney, Jeff Campbell, who represents the 6th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, repeatedly used a special exemption to continue the case.


Biden leads Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among Virginia likely voters

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER , LAURA VOZZELLA AND SCOTT CLEMENT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among likely Virginia voters, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll — roughly double Hillary Clinton's margin of victory in the state in 2016. Biden's advantage cuts across most demographic groups, with regional strength in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area.

Taxes, health care dominate in final candidate forum for Spanberger and Freitas

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

Taxes and health care dominated the final forum for Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, Thursday, less than two weeks before the close of an election for Virginia's 7th Congressional District that could help determine control of the House of Representatives. Freitas intensified his attack on Spanberger for her support of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, during a Zoom forum conducted by the Richmond First Club.

Webb Pushes Virginia Democrats Into Trump Country


The little town of Fork Union, Virginia voted for President Trump by three points in 2016. Since then, residents like Ron Lewis say things have gotten worse. "The only thing we have is a drug store and a bank," Lewis said, gesturing toward a mostly deserted strip mall along the town's main drag. Lewis and other locals gathered in its parking lot during a Friday lunch break to hear from Democratic Congressional hopeful Cameron Webb, a man Lewis said can help change this town's fortunes.

Cameron Webb calls on Bob Good to divest from pharmaceutical industry in wake of Purdue Pharma settlement

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Cameron Webb, the Democratic congressional candidate in central Virginia, has called on his Republican opponent Bob Good to divest his holdings in the pharmaceutical industry following Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, agreeing to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the the addictive painkiller. Webb, a 37-year-old internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, said by Good divesting, he will be able to govern in the interest of the 5th District and not the companies he has a financial stake in.

How Virginia's largest congressional district could flip this year

By CHARLOTTE RENE WOODS, Charlottesville Tomorrow

As polling shows Dr. Cameron Webb could flip the 5th Congressional District from Republican to Democrat, it goes beyond Webb and Bob Good as candidates and to the actual shape and demographics of the district itself. Former Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good, the Republican candidate for the seat in the House of Representatives, said he wants to fight. Webb, the Democratic candidate and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, said he wants to heal. Which message — and candidate will prevail — remains to be seen, but recent polling indicates Webb could flip the seat blue for the first time in a decade.

Over a million Virginians have already voted in person. Lines are long in some places.

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

More than a million Virginians have already voted in person — and another 650,000 by mail — far outpacing the number of absentee voters in the 2016 presidential election. "None of us have ever seen this record-breaking turnout," Virginia Beach Registrar Donna Patterson said over the phone Thursday. "It's really exciting."

Williamsburg, York, James City residents register — and vote — in 2020 election

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

More than a week and a half ahead of Election Day, 44,597 or so voters in Williamsburg and James City and York counties have already cast their ballots, while more than 1.6 million voters across the state have also voted. The Virginia Department of Elections website shows that the state had 5,972,577 registered voters as of Thursday. That number has not yet been finalized with all of the people who registered before the Oct. 15 deadline.

Students say protests motivating them to go the polls

By HUNTER BRITT, VCU Capital News Service

Voters are more divided now than they were in the 2016 election, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Many young Virginians believe the passion could translate to the polls on Election Day. Rickia Sykes, a senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, said that her political views have grown stronger since protests erupted globally in late May. The death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly 8 minutes, inspired months of protests.


With new roadmap to combat rising seas, Virginia officially acknowledges the threat of climate change

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Virginia will no longer sidestep recognition that climate change is occurring and poses an existential threat to the state's way of life, shoreline, economies and resources, a new planning document released by Gov. Ralph Northam's administration Thursday reveals. The report, called the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, heralds a shift in the Old Dominion's approach to an issue on which more than 99 percent of global scientists have reached consensus but is still frequently portrayed as controversial in state and national politics.

Va. police can keep license plate data indefinitely, state Supreme Court rules

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

Police in Virginia may indefinitely keep data from automated license plate readers, noting the time and place where a car was photographed by police, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court ruled that simply storing license plate numbers and photos of cars does not constitute "keeping" data because officers must connect to a separate database from the state Department of Motor Vehicles or other criminal databases to link a license plate with a name.

Virginia got just one bidder for a $100M+ radio project. A key legislator wasn't happy about it.

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Motorola was the only company interested in bidding on an expensive project to update Virginia's statewide public safety radio system, an outcome that led a competitor to complain the process was one-sided and drew scrutiny from a top lawmaker. The Statewide Agencies Radio System, or STARS, began with a $329 million contract between the state and Motorola in 2004, with the goal of establishing a 24/7, digital voice and data communications system used by nearly two dozen state agencies.

Abingdon company fined $54,000 for hazardous waste violations

By SARAH WADE, Washington County News

An Abingdon manufacturer has agreed to pay more than $50,000 in fines for hazardous waste violations, including improperly disposing of more than 6,200 pounds of it, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). A 2019 DEQ inspection of Wolf Hills Fabricators uncovered a slew of violations of federal codes, all of them related to documenting, storing and disposing of hazardous waste, as well as training employees on how to properly handle it.

Va. flags to be half-staff Friday in memory of late Bernard Cohen, lawyer in Loving v. Virginia case

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Bernard S. Cohen, who won a landmark case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of laws forbidding interracial marriage and later went on to a successful political career as a state legislator, died last week at age 86. In honor of Cohen, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the Virginia flag at the State Capitol in Richmond would fly at half-staff on Friday, Oct. 23. The order also allows Virginia flags to be at half-staff in Alexandria and other localities across the state.


Initial unemployment claims rose 25% in Virginia last week

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

Another 11,365 Virginians filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, up 25% from the prior week as the number continues to ebb up and down week to week. Across the country, 787,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims as of Oct. 17, down 55,000 from the previous week, which had already been revised down an additional 56,000 to 842,000.

Virginia Beach's swift reopening and familiarity to tourists helped it survive a pandemic summer

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

COVID-19 dug a deep canyon in Virginia Beach's tourism market last spring, with hoteliers taking the worst beating from the pandemic, according to the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau. After a steep downturn in the early weeks of the pandemic, however, Virginia Beach rallied over the summer with a hand from repeat visitors who lived within driving distance and preferred the resort city's familiarity.

Trump Issues Order Giving Him More Leeway to Hire and Fire Federal Workers

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

President Trump signed an executive order this week that could substantially expand his ability to hire and fire tens of thousands of federal workers during a second term, potentially allowing him to weed out what he sees as a "deep state" bureaucracy working to undermine him. The executive order, issued late Wednesday and described by one prominent federal union leader as "the most profound undermining of the Civil Service in our lifetimes," would allow federal agencies to go through their employee rosters and reclassify certain workers in a way that would strip them of job protections that now cover most federal employees.

Moving F-22s to Langley means more people, more jobs — and more noise, Air Force study says

By DAVE RESS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Air Force plans to move training for F-22 pilots to Langley Air Force Base from Florida will bring some 2,400 people to the region — and increase the number of households that would hear fighter jet operations. The Air Force hopes to make the move next year, according to a draft environmental impact statement released this week.

COVID infecting Winchester Medical Center revenue

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

Besides killing some 1.1 million people, including about 222,000 Americans, the coronavirus pandemic has hospitals hemorrhaging money. Winchester Medical Center lost nearly $49.2 million through Sept. 30 compared to the same time last year. The losses are projected to rise to between $55 million and $58 million by year's end, according to Mark Nantz, president and CEO of Valley Health System. The losses, primarily from the cancellation of non-emergency surgeries from March 23 to May 6, were part of nearly $78 million lost by Valley Health, the six-hospital chain of which WMC is a part.

Grants for Appalachian Trail communities to come from Mountain Valley Pipeline gift

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

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is offering $150,000 in grants to strengthen the ties between the scenic footpath and eight Virginia and West Virginia counties through which it passes. And there's more money where that came from. Community impact grants announced this week by the conservancy will be funded by a $19.5 million contribution from Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is building a natural gas pipeline that will pass under the Appalachian Trail as it runs along the state line in Giles County.

Lee Enterprises Posts Ad Looking for Ashley Spinks's Replacement

By ROSA CARTAGENA, Washingtonian

Lee Enterprises is looking to fill a difficult job. The media company has posted the Newsroom Editor position for Floyd Press, a small newspaper based in rural Virginia, after firing the previous editor, Ashley Spinks. The 26-year-old journalist had talked to Virginia public radio station WVTF about her struggles running the weekly publication under Lee's management for a story called "She's a One-Person Newsroom, But Lee Enterprises Kept Cutting."

Glimmer of hope for striped bass: Numbers of young fish show stability

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

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science's annual count of young striped bass once again yielded a number higher than the historic average. But the significant increase — 13.89 fish per sample, compared to last year's 9.54 and the historical average of 7.77 from 1980 to 2009 — may be a fluke of bad weather and the pandemic, VIMS cautioned.


Prince William County pays consulting firm $1.3 million to manage Va. 28 bypass 'messaging'

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Prince William County has signed a three-year, $1.3 million contract with a communications firm to conduct community outreach for the county's $300 million Va. 28 bypass proposal as it moves through the design and right-of-way process. The contract did not come before the Prince William Board of County Supervisors for consideration because the board approved the bypass and the contract is "part of the project," according to county spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson.

Self-driving shuttle debuts in high-traffic Virginia spot

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

The future of transportation arrived in northern Virginia, looking like a big blue toaster on wheels that seats six and drives itself through the region's notorious traffic. State and local officials debuted the Relay system Thursday, an all-electric, autonomous vehicle that will provide free shuttle rides back and forth from the Dunn Loring Metrorail stop to the bustling Mosaic District in Fairfax County.

Valley Legislators Advocate For Rail Trail

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

For the last several years, a group of public, private and nonprofit organizations located in Rockingham and Shenandoah counties has been exploring possible uses for an abandoned railroad track in the Valley. With help from Del. Tony Wilt and Sen. Emmett Hanger, a new recreational opportunity could be on the horizon. Wilt, R-Broadway, introduced a budget amendment during this year's General Assembly special session calling for the Department of Conservation and Recreation to assess the feasibility of developing a 38.5-mile linear park along the rail corridor that spans from Broadway to Strasburg.


UVa spring semester will mirror fall's mix of online, in-person classes

By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

University of Virginia students can expect their spring semester to look much like the fall with a mix of online and in-person classes and restrictions on the size of student gatherings, face mask requirements and a regimen of regular COVID-19 testing, officials announced Thursday. They can also expect a shortened spring break with shorter breaks scattered throughout the semester as encouragement to limit travel out of the area, officials said.

Case workers and quarantine: When students test positive for COVID-19 at William & Mary

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

Students and faculty that have tested positive for COVID-19 at the College of William & Mary this fall have been managed using a new system developed by the college, along with quarantine and isolation protocols for students living on campus.

Liberty University students to start spring semester with quarantine, online classes

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Liberty University students will start the spring semester by quarantining in their dorm rooms and briefly taking classes online, and the school has eliminated the traditional weeklong spring break. The moves are aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus during the first weeks of the semester as thousands of students return from a monthlong winter break and also preventing a similar spread in the spring.

Liberty University launches website to report misconduct under Jerry Falwell Jr.'s tenure

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A financial consulting firm hired by Liberty University to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by former president Jerry Falwell Jr. has launched a website for employees to confidentially report evidence of misconduct. The launch of the website represents the first public phase of an independent and wide-ranging investigation by Baker Tilly US, an accounting and advisory firm, into Falwell's tenure as president.

Netflix offers boot camp and scholarships to Norfolk State students in an effort to increase diversity in tech

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

Patricia Mead remembers one of the first students she spoke to as a judge for the FIRST Robotics program in 2002. He was from Bedford–Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York, competing in a high school robotics program. "I thought you had to be superhuman to program a computer," she recalled him saying. "He was completely intimidated." The student joined the program, realized he could do it and went on to pursue engineering, she said.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,332 from Wednesday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 170,104 — an increase of 1,332 from the 168,772 reported Wednesday. The 170,104 cases consist of 159,060 confirmed cases and 11,044 probable cases. There are 3,524 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,274 confirmed and 250 probable. That's an increase of nine from the 3,515 reported Wednesday.

D.C. already has $90 million back from FEMA for fighting covid-19. So far, Fairfax County has $0.

By REBECCA TAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed the District about $90 million — or about $130 for each resident — for fighting the novel coronavirus. Neighboring Montgomery County has gotten $20,000, or about 2 cents per resident. The rest of Maryland and, to an even greater extent, Virginia, are also lagging far behind the nation's capital, where officials are sensitive to being shortchanged by the federal government and have aggressively pursued reimbursement.

Northern Virginia immigrants disproportionately affected by COVID-19

By JAMES JARVIS, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected immigrants in Northern Virginia who are the most vulnerable to the economic stresses caused by the pandemic, according to a new report. The Immigrants in Northern Virginia Report was released Wednesday before a virtual webinar hosted by panelists representing the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and New American Economy, a research and advocacy organization.

Henrico Courthouse Employees Quarantined After Positive COVID-19 Results


Several employees of the Henrico County courthouse are in quarantine. General District Court Clerk Barbara Shaw told VPM News that this comes after two employees tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the criminal section of the court clerk's office is understaffed, leading to some cases being postponed. All traffic violation hearings that were scheduled from Tuesday, October 20 to Friday, October 30 have continued. Other cases in the building are still being heard. The circuit court is not affected.

Anyone who attended a recent concert at a Henrico restaurant should quarantine, health officials say

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

The Henrico County Health District reported Thursday that it's investigating a COVID-19 outbreak associated with an Oct. 9 live music event at JJ's Grille, a restaurant on Staples Mill Road in Glen Allen. People who attended the show should "immediately stay home and away from others for 14 days (until October 24)," the health district said.

October's COVID-19 record death toll grows in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District

By STAFF REPORT, Danville Register & Bee

A Danville woman in her 80s became the 58th resident in the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District to die of COVID-19 in what is now the deadliest month so far locally for the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday — for the sixth consecutive day — a new fatality appeared on the Virginia Department of Health's online database. A record 20 deaths have been added this month alone for Danville and Pittsylvania County.


Windsor cemetery top choice for monument

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

Isle of Wight's monument task force, on Oct. 21, ranked Windsor's municipal cemetery as its front-runner choice of seven potential sites on which to relocate the county's Confederate statue.

Nelson County Confederate statue to remain, for now

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

A Confederate soldier statue at the Nelson County Courthouse appears unlikely to go anywhere for at least the next few months, with the board of supervisors opting instead to focus on other issues. While there still are no official plans for the monument, several supervisors said during the Oct. 13 meeting the issue would remain a priority, but Chairman Tommy Harvey said he did not want to rush to form a committee, citing more pressing concerns as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervisors vote to end Lee-Jackson holiday

By LARRY CHOWNING, Southside Sentinel

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted, 4-0, Oct. 6 on a 2020-2021 calendar that eliminates Lee-Jackson Day as a holiday and instead will give holiday status to county employees on "Election Day." The decision by the board of supervisors to drop Lee-Jackson Day from the calendar comes on the heels of efforts across the South and Virginia to take down Confederate statues and flags associated by some as symbols of hate.


Alexandria Public Schools will return hundreds of students with disabilities to classrooms

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

The Alexandria City Public Schools board voted to approve a plan that will bring hundreds of lower- and middle-schoolers back to classrooms over the next few months. The plan, outlined in a lengthy presentation Wednesday night by Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., prioritizes the return of young children with disabilities and English-language learners throughout the rest of 2020.

Supervisors Could Take Control of Loudoun Libraries

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Loudoun supervisors could take over direct control of the Loudoun County Public Library, putting an end to the separate, governing Board of Trustees that has overseen the library system since its creation in the 1970s. The discussion comes after a summer that saw county supervisors clash with the Library Board of Trustees when the county sought to take over libraries to use for daytime childcare centers while schools are closed.

Prince William School Board approves staggered return-to-school plan

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

All Prince William County students who choose the school division's proposed "hybrid plan" could return to schools for in-person learning by the start of the third quarter, which begins Feb. 2, under a plan the school board approved early Thursday despite criticisms from some members who said it lacks a sense of urgency about getting students back in school.

Henrico School Board votes for phased return to classrooms

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

Henrico County Public Schools students will be allowed back in classrooms in phased groups beginning Nov. 30, the School Board decided Thursday in a 4-1 vote. Students who choose to return will attend in-person classes four days a week, with Wednesday being a virtual day. A fully virtual option will remain available to students.

Audit finds no evidence of 'bullying' by teachers union

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Based on available documentation and responses to an anonymous survey, Chesterfield County's Internal Audit Department could not substantiate allegations that members of the local teachers union bullied school employees who disagreed with its official stance on reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than half of Albemarle families opt for in-person classes

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

About 55% of Albemarle County families have said they want their children to go back to school for classes twice a week, and division officials say they have enough teachers to make that work. The School Board voted Oct. 8 to move to Stage Three of the division's reopening plan, which opens up in-person classes to preschoolers through third-graders as well as increasing the number of students who can go into schools for online classes.

Charlottesville ends payments to more than 200 temporary employees

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville has stopped paying more than 200 temporary employees who were receiving paychecks throughout the pandemic although they weren't able to work.

New cigarette tax approved in Amherst County

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, Amherst New Era Progress

The price of cigarettes in Amherst County is set to go up in mid-2021 through a newly approved tax, a measure county officials estimate will yield $1 million or more in annual revenue. The Amherst County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve the new tax effective in July. Supervisor David Pugh opposed the move.

Political, Diversity Issues Raised At Rockbridge School Board Meeting


A number of citizens approached the Rockbridge County School Board at the regular monthly meeting on Tuesday of last week with concerns unrelated to the reopening of schools. During the public comment portion of the meeting, Kerrs Creek resident Scott Guise said the Board was deceitful in its previous issued statement denying partisan affiliation or influence in their work for the division.

Pulaski man could potentially keep home now on town land with private easement

By SAM WALL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gary Martin's precarious living situation may have a pathway to a happy ending for the lifelong town resident, according to the town's mayor. Martin—who has lived on a patch of the town's MacGill Park for the better part of 40 years—was sent a letter late last month by interim Town Manager Darlene Burcham that he needed to vacate the premises in 30 days after discovering he lived on the property but could find no documentation that he had anything in writing.

Mathews to stay with virtual instruction through 2020

By CHARLIE KOENIG, Gazette-Journal

The majority of students at Mathews County Public Schools will continue to receive their instruction virtually, at least until the end of the calendar year. That was the decision of the school board, meeting on Tuesday in the Harry M. Ward Auditorium at Mathews High School. The decision came after a public comment period, where several parents and one middle school student made a plea for the return to in-person instruction.

Halifax IDA director Brown fired from position

South Boston News & Record

In a stunning turnaround after his hiring little more than a year ago, Brian Brown, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, is out of the job. Members of the IDA board gathered in emergency session Thursday to enter into closed executive session, where Brown's status was apparently the main topic of discussion. After coming out of the closed meeting, IDA directors asked Brown to turn over all the files he had been working on, and board chair Robert Bates and director Ryland Clark escorted him out of the building.

Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones resigns from school system job

By ELIAS WEISS, Chatham Star Tribune

The Star-Tribune confirmed this afternoon that Danville Mayor and former DPS Director of Maintenance and Operations Alonzo Jones resigned from his position at Danville Public Schools. While neither DPS nor Jones has made any announcement to the public yet, and while his name and former title are still listed on the Virginia Department of Education website, Jones's name was quietly removed from the DPS personnel website today, sparking questions.



On Purdue Pharma, Trump's Justice Department just did what Bush's refused to do

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

President Trump's Department of Justice has just done something that George W. Bush's Department of Justice refused to do. It's secured a criminal conviction against the maker of OxyContin — which has agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts, pay more than $8 billion and shut down the company. Separately, the Justice Department has reached a civil settlement with the Sackler family, the former owners of Purdue Pharma.

Virginia's predictable gun control backlash

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

According to Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." This is also true in politics, although it sometimes takes a while to identify the opposite reaction, which is often simply referred to as "the backlash." If you want a perfect example of a political backlash, look no further than Virginia, where gun control sentiment ran high following the June 2019 massacre of 12 people in Virginia Beach by a disgruntled city worker.

Fixing police records law should remain a priority

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

Of all the criminal justice bills passed by the General Assembly in this year's special session, lawmakers chose to delay one of the most important proposals — a bill that would make police records more accessible — for further study. That's all well and good if it makes for stronger legislation and, in turn, a stronger law. But in Virginia, "further study" is too often a synonym for "inaction" and lawmakers cannot allow this critical change to public record laws fall by the wayside.

The importance of voting

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

A long-ago slogan of the Maryland Lottery was "You gotta play to win." A motto for having a say in government should be "You gotta vote to participate." And what does that mean? Having your voice heard as your local, state and federal elected leaders make decisions that affect all aspects of your life, from your tax rate, to when schools open, to where roads go. Voting matters. It's that simple.

The false promise of a surplus during a pandemic

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

The city of Richmond entered 2020 with budgetary priorities that could not have accounted for COVID-19. When Mayor Levar Stoney presented his plan to City Council on March 6, several issues drew attention. School funding was to increase by $16 million. City employees were to get a 2% raise and $686,000 was to go to the eviction diversion program.

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 21, 2020
Top of the News

Area hospitals fill with COVID patients, as people shun advice to halt spread, health officials said

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

On a day the number of COVID-19 patients in Roanoke-area hospitals rose to the highest level yet, the Associated Press released a poll showing that more people today than in April disbelieve what the government and the media tell them about the virus. "I have never experienced this level of mistrust or misinformation," Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, said Tuesday.

Amid Continuing Pandemic, Families Wait for Housing Help


On a summer evening, Tammie Lyle is in the parking lot of a Motel 6 across from Richmond International Airport. She's a few yards away from the room where her son is winding down after a day of virtual elementary school. The family has lived here for weeks. They have two beds, one bathroom, no kitchen. And the rent isn't cheap.

Va. saw jobs recovery drop in September

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

After recovering a total of 68,000 jobs in August, Virginia saw its labor force fall by 71,954, or 1.7%, in September, according to employment statistics released Tuesday by the Virginia Employment Commission. Between September 2019 and September 2020, the VEC estimates that Virginia has lost 207,100 jobs a 5.1% decrease.

A new Virginia law aims to keep bad cops from landing new jobs

By GARY A. HARKI, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The state board that oversees police will soon be tasked with creating standards of conduct that all Virginia officers must abide by thanks to legislation passed in Virginia's special session and is expected to be signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. The new law will also give the board more power to strip officers of their certification if they have committed a crime or violated those standards.

VMI official to Northam: 'Systemic racism does not exist here'

By IAN SHAPIRA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Virginia Military Institute fought back Tuesday against allegations that its Black cadets face bigotry and hostility, telling Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in a letter that "systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true." The letter, signed by John Boland, president of VMI's Board of Visitors, came after Northam and other state leaders authorized an independent investigation of the culture of the 181-year-old school in Lexington. Northam is a 1981 graduate of VMI.

Early voting 'unprecedented' in Prince William

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

More than 88,000 people in Prince William County have cast early ballots in this year's general election, bringing the county's voter turnout up to 30% with two weeks left until election day, according to county election officials. The number of early voters, both from people voting in-person at early voting locations and those who have returned absentee ballots, has already surpassed the number of early and absentee votes cast in 2016.

When to expect election results in the Washington region

By MICHAEL BRICE-SADDLER, ERIN COX AND ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The onslaught of mail-in voting in 2020 — and the cumbersome procedures to count those ballots — could delay full election results by days or weeks in some parts of the region. Elections staff in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are racing to process as many mail-in ballots and early votes as possible before the polls close on Nov. 3. Although unofficial results will be published after polls close on election night in each jurisdiction, officials say those totals will be updated with thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots that are counted in the days that follow.

The Full Report
47 articles, 24 publications


VPAP Visual Sept. fundraising generates two Top 10 lists

The Virginia Public Access Project

What is considered a big pile of campaign cash is situational. A candidate who raises the most in a small town election might not even show up on the radar in places like Richmond or Arlington County. That's why we made two Top 10 lists to rank candidates for local office who raised the most money last month. One list is led by Virginia Beach mayoral hopeful Jody Wagner, who brought in more than $320,000. Atop the second list is Theresa Coates-Ellis, who raised $12,900 in her bid to become mayor of Manassas.

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.


10 things Gov. Northam wants to do to reduce hunger in Virginia

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

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, nearly 850,000 Virginians were already considered food insecure, meaning they can't reliably access food. In the wider Hampton Roads area alone, there are more than 180,000 people who fall into that category, a third of them children. The COVID-19 crisis has thrown the issue into even sharper relief, state officials said this week. An additional nearly half a million people in the state are experiencing food insecurity due to the pandemic.


Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul files paperwork to run for lieutenant governor

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Del. Sam Rasoul of Roanoke has filed campaign paperwork indicating he will run for lieutenant governor in 2021. The Democrat hasn't made any formal announcement yet, which is expected to come after the November election. Rasoul, 39, a Palestinian American, was elected to the House in 2014, becoming the first Muslim member of the legislature.

Virginia's crowded race for lieutenant governor draws its 10th candidate

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

Del. Sam Rasoul filed paperwork this week that allows him to start raising money to run next year for lieutenant governor, making him the 10th candidate to enter the race. Rasoul (D-Roanoke) said in an interview Tuesday that he will wait until after next month's presidential and congressional contests before formally announcing his bid.

Mike Allers announces run for House of Delegates against Lee Carter

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Mike Allers Jr., a teacher and political commentator, announced Tuesday he plans to seek the Republican nomination for the Manassas-based 50th District House of Delegates seat. The seat is currently held by Democrat Lee Carter, who was elected in 2017 and re-elected last year.


Spanberger and Freitas talk health care, income inequality in first debate

By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) clashed with Republican Del. Nick Freitas on everything from income inequality to coronavirus relief, as Spanberger pitched herself as a moderate focused on issues affecting rural Americans while Freitas stressed the need for limited government and cutting red tape.

Spanberger and Freitas split on minimum wage, health care, pandemic during forum

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

In a televised faceoff Tuesday night with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, focused on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to define the choice for voters in a tightly contested 7th Congressional District race that could help decide control of the House of Representatives.

Luria, Taylor accuse each other of lying at debate in tight Va. House race

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Republican challenger Scott Taylor tore into each other Tuesday night in one of two debates they will engage in this week, accusing each other of lying and using scare tactics to try to win one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation. The two Navy veterans — competing in Virginia's 2nd District, which is home to eight major military installations — said their opponents were misrepresenting their record or positions on a variety of issues: the Green New Deal, protection of preexisting conditions in health care, Black Lives Matter and China.

Luria-Taylor rematch 'among most expensive in Virginia'

By DAN NOVAK, Eastern Shore News (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia's second congressional district race between incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria (D) and former Rep. Scott Taylor (R) is turning out to be one of the most competitive in the country, and one of the most expensive in the state. The race is a tossup, according to the Cook Political Report, and the national parties and deep-pocketed super PACS have taken notice: Luria has raised more than $5.7 million in the race and Taylor more than $2 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Masks will be strongly encouraged at Virginia polling places, but not mandatory

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Virginia voters who show up on Election Day without a mask or visibly sick will be asked to put a mask on or cast their ballot outside the polling place, but they won't be denied access if they refuse, according to state election officials. At a virtual media briefing Tuesday on the state's plans for a coronavirus-disrupted presidential election, Elections Commissioner Chris Piper said the state can't prohibit anyone from voting if they insist on casting a ballot indoors without wearing a mask.

Democrats optimistic about increasing Fauquier vote


Democrats in Fauquier harbor no illusion that their party's candidates for president, U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives will carry this county in the Nov. 3 election. But, they claim to see progress for their cause in reliably "red" Fauquier, where Republican presidential candidates have averaged 60 percent of the vote in the last five elections.

More than 22K ballots cast so far locally

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

More than 22,000 people have already voted in the city of Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties, according to area elections officials. That's a local record for ballots cast before Election Day. Votes have been cast early in-person or by absentee ballot.

Early voting steady, smooth so far in Bristol

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

About 22% of the city's registered voters have already cast ballots through early or absentee voting, with two weeks remaining until Election Day. Through Tuesday, 2,511 of the city's 11,723 voters participated in the commonwealth's first opportunity to come to a polling place and vote in both the presidential election and the public referendum for a proposed casino, Penny Limburg, the city's general registrar said Tuesday. Early voting continues through Oct. 31, and Election Day is Nov. 3.

County to increase ballot dropboxes ahead of Election Day

By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Albemarle County is adding more drop boxes for voters to deposit their mail-in ballots. Starting the week of Oct. 26, a drop box will be available at Albemarle High School from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.


Virginia Lottery sales surge, as gaming options multiply

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Virginia Lottery is off to a fast start in the race for sales and profits in an unprecedented era of expansion for legal gaming opportunities in a state that traditionally had discouraged them. Lottery sales increased by $181.5 million, or almost 36%, in the first three months of the fiscal year that began on July 1, compared with the first three years of fiscal 2020, powered by the quick launch of internet sales of lottery tickets, which the General Assembly approved this year.

Virginia Supreme Court Approves Loudoun's Jury Trial Return


The Virginia Supreme Court has approved the Loudoun County Circuit Court's plan to resume jury trials, but not until at least the end of next month. On Oct. 15, Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons notified Loudoun County Circuit Court Chief Judge Douglas L. Fleming, Jr. that the county's plan was approved and effective immediately—although Loudoun's plan stipulates that the first jury trial won't begin until at least 45 days after the Supreme Court's approval, Monday, Nov. 30.


Virginia's unemployment stays virtually still in September

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

The unemployment rate in Virginia inched up one-tenth of a percentage point in September to 6.2% as the pandemic continues to affect the labor market, according to data released Wednesday by the Virginia Employment Commission. While the rate was 2.7% a year ago, Virginia still remains below this year's U.S. unemployment rate, which fell to 7.9% last month.

Virginia's jobless rate ticks up in September as labor force participation declines

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia's unemployment rate inched up slightly from August to September as the pace of the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic seemed to slow. The state's jobless rate rose from 6.1% in August to 6.2% in September, even though the number of people counted as unemployed declined and employers reported adding jobs.

Atlantic coast's menhaden fishing haul cut by 10% for 2021 and 2022

By DAVE RESS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A new way of thinking about fishing quotas will bring a 10% cut in the coastwide cap for menhaden, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission decided Tuesday. The commission's menhaden board voted to cut the quota for 2021 and 2022 to 194,400 metric tons from the current 216,000, a 10% reduction.

Hospitals resolve complaints of clergy access amid pandemic

Associated Press

Hospitals in Maryland and Virginia have resolved religious discrimination complaints with federal officials over the hospitals' decisions to block clergy access to patients during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. In response to the complaints, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Maryland, and Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg, Virginia, revised their visitation policies to allow patients to receive religious services as long as clergy members follow infection prevention practices.


VMI pledges full cooperation in independent probe, denies systemic racism

By CLAIRE MITZEL AND AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Military Institute's leadership on Tuesday pledged full cooperation in the independent investigation ordered by state officials but denied that systemic racism exists at the nation's oldest state-supported military college. "I welcome an objective, independent review of VMI's culture and the Institute's handling of allegations of racism and/or discrimination," Board of Visitors President John "Bill" Boland wrote in a two-page reply to Gov. Ralph Northam.

Carroll Foy: VMI's Confederate-tinged history needs a future of 'inclusion and diversity'

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

While Virginia Military Institute's ties to the former Confederacy are undeniable, its future must be seeded more with an eye toward relegating those ties to the background, a Petersburg native and VMI grad running for governor said over the weekend. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy referenced a report by The Washington Post of what it called "relentless racism" against Black cadets and alumni in her comments.

William & Mary president admits errors in decision-making process used to cut sports

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A day after William & Mary reversed its decision made in September to cut three women's athletic teams, university president Katherine Rowe acknowledged flaws in the decision-making process that also resulted in the elimination of four men's sports still on the athletic department chopping block. "In this case we should have fully addressed (gender) equity matters first, based on our core commitments and our legal obligations, and then worked to address the significant (budget) shortfalls in years ahead," Rowe said Tuesday during her monthly Community Conversation at W&M. "That's the sequence we're following now."

More Virginia colleges scrap traditional spring break

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, VCU Capital News Service

A growing number of Virginia colleges are announcing that spring break will be canceled or modified in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, announced plans Monday. The biggest change is that the university will not have a week-long spring break. It will instead have five one-day breaks spaced throughout the semester.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 926 from Monday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 167,754 — an increase of 926 from the 166,828 reported Monday. The 167,754 cases consist of 157,213 confirmed cases and 10,541 probable cases. There are 3,485 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,236 confirmed and 249 probable. That's an increase of 28 from the 3,457 reported Monday.

Could Virginia be heading for a new COVID-19 case peak?

By ROBERT ZULLO, Virginia Mercury

Though a University of Virginia model now projects a potential new peak in Virginia COVID-19 cases in November, a top state health official says it's too soon to tell whether an uptick in cases over the past few weeks is indicative of a bigger trend. "It's premature to say now things are increasing," said Dr. Lilian Peake, Virginia's state epidemiologist. "We really have had quite a bit of increase over the summer. And that's been generally going down. Now we are seeing a little bit of increase but it's small and we need to see what happens with that."

Va. boarding school sets rules, remains COVID-free


More than two months after the first students arrived on campus for in-person learning, not a single student or staff member at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia, has tested positive for COVID-19. It hasn't been easy, said retired Air Force Brigadier Gen. David Wesley, president of the academy which offers university-preparatory education in an Air Force Junior ROTC program.


Opponent's scuffles with Mountain Valley Pipeline workers bring $1,000 fine

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

Physically interfering with Mountain Valley Pipeline workers will cost a protester $1,000, a Montgomery County judge ruled Tuesday. Also, Emma Howell, known as "Ash" among pipeline opponents at the tree stands near Yellow Finch Lane, also must stay off Mountain Valley Pipeline's construction sites for a year, the judge said.

Fairfax County to donate Civil War monument to preservation group

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Fairfax County on Tuesday decided to donate a stone obelisk marking the spot where the first Confederate soldier was killed during the Civil War to a local historical society, the latest such action taken under a new Virginia law giving localities authority over the fate of war monuments and memorials in their communities.

City Council Moving Forward With Confederate Ave Renaming


A residential street in Richmond named after the Confederate State of America could soon get a new name. Richmond City Council's Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee voted Tuesday to move forward with renaming Confederate Avenue to Laburnum Park Boulevard. The name comes from the small neighborhood where the street sits in Richmond's northside. The three-member committee forwarded the name change to the full city council with a recommendation to approve.


Student Petition to Lighten Homework Load Grabs Attention of APS


High school students in Arlington Public Schools say they are getting too many assignments and not enough time to do them during virtual learning. More than 3,000 students and parents have signed a petition asking Arlington Public Schools to adhere to its high school homework "expectations," as stated online.

Leesburg man alleged to have fraudulently obtained more than $2.5M in CARES Act funds

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

Federal prosecutors say a Leesburg man was arrested Tuesday on charges of fraudulently obtaining more than $2.5 million in loans through the federal CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and then spending the money on luxury items. Didier Kindambu, 48, is alleged to have fraudulently obtained two loans issued under the PPP, a program instituted by Congress in an effort to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to pay salary or wages to their employees, according to court documents.

RRHA says 15,000 signed up for chance at federal housing voucher

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

In the latest marker of the region's affordable housing crisis, thousands entered a lottery last week for a chance at a coveted federal housing subsidy, according to preliminary figures from the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. RRHA began accepting applications Oct. 12 for one of 5,000 slots on its Housing Choice Voucher Program waitlist for the first time in 5½ years. On that first day, tenants seeking help swamped RRHA's call center and 7,800 people applied.

'Agonizingly devastating': Historic Triangle leaders discuss COVID-19's effects on summer tourism season

By WILFORD KALE, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

Put succinctly by Scott Stevens, James City County administrator, the past summer tourism season in the Greater Williamsburg area was "bad to ugly" as major attractions, including Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, were closed part, if not all, of the June through August term. Andrew Trivette, Williamsburg city manager, echoed those sentiments: For the businesses involved in the hospitality industry, the summer was "agonizingly devastating and continues to be."

Norfolk reopens more libraries and pools

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

The city will reopen three more libraries and three indoor pools starting on Nov. 2, but access and services will still be limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three smaller library branches will join Norfolk's three main branches and reopen for "Grab-n-Go" checkout two days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

Newport News to offer free tutoring to children of employees

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

Newport News announced Tuesday that it will offer online tutoring through as a new employee benefit. According to a news release, it's the first city in the country to offer the company's service as an employee benefit.

Decade-old case resurfaces in Portsmouth City Council race

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

De'Andre Barnes was helping bathe a child with cerebral palsy more than 13 years ago when he scalded the boy with hot bath water, according to court records obtained by The Virginian-Pilot. His employer, Holiday House of Portsmouth, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit over the child's injuries. And Barnes, then 21, was charged with felony child neglect and a related misdemeanor and went to trial.

Fredericksburg to hold four virtual public sessions on racial equity concerns

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

Fredericksburg officials are offering four opportunities in the next three weeks for people to address City Council about racial equity concerns. The four virtual sessions will have limited availability for speakers. Anyone interested in addressing the City Council can register on the city's website,, but signing up doesn't guarantee the opportunity to speak in the 75 minutes allotted for each session.

Franklin County school employees to get year-end bonus

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

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to give year-end bonuses to all teachers and staff in the county school system. Under the proposal outlined Tuesday afternoon by schools Superintendent Mark Church during the board's regular meeting, the system's 1,238 full-time employees will each receive a $1,000 bonus, and the 65 part-time employees will each receive $500.

Martinsville completes plans for cutting-edge battery storage project

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

The city of Martinsville completed plans last week with Wärtsilä Corporation, a Finnish company, to construct a commercial battery storage facility that is estimated to result in significant savings for the city's utility department. "This is about improving the system and making overall costs for residents of Martinsville cheaper," said Andy Tang, vice president of energy storage optimization. "It is helping Martinsville lower its demand charge."



An alarming snapshot of hunger in Hampton Roads

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

For thousands of people in the Hampton Roads area, worry about where the next decent meal is coming from has become an unfortunate — and unhealthy — fact of life. This year's State of the Region report from Old Dominion University economists shines a spotlight for the first time on the growing problem of "food insecurity" — a term for having to skip meals or skimp on food because of lack of money and lack of access to good quality, nutritious food. What it finds is troubling. Advertisement

A COVID-19 measure that matters

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

On its own, the 220,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus are enough for us to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash our hands and respect the severity of the pandemic. Through two recent studies, we now are aware of another COVID-19 measure that matters — one that reinforces the need for responsible actions in the days and months ahead.

Staying healthy this winter depends on good air quality

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The warm summer months have given us a slight advantage in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. Being able to dine outdoors, visit at a distance outdoors and enjoy time in parks and wilderness all have let us use open spaces and fresh air to thwart transmission of the virus. But now colder weather is on the horizon and we're headed back indoors where our risk goes up.

Virginia Military Institute has been promising for decades to uproot its racism. Time's up.

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

In 1993, after what was then the latest in a history of racist episodes at the Virginia Military Institute, retired Maj. Gen. John W. Knapp, then-superintendent at the nation's oldest state-supported military college, denounced what he called "reprehensible deeds" and vowed to "root out this cancer." More than a quarter-century later, it has become clear that VMI's cancer of bigotry has metastasized. Virginia taxpayers and lawmakers, who heavily subsidize the college, can no longer look the other way.


Williams: A 90-year-old Chesterfield man almost lost the right to vote this year

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

Clarence Lee of Chesterfield County has been casting ballots since the end of World War II, an era of poll taxes, literacy tests and other roadblocks to keep Black people from voting. Lee, 90, never misses an election, "general nor primary," said his daughter, historian Lauranett Lee. So she was alarmed when her check of the state's online website showed that her father was not registered to vote.


Ahlgren: William & Mary should reinstate canceled sports teams

By KYLE R. AHLGREN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The College of William & Mary must reverse its decision to unnecessarily eliminate seven varsity sports. The cut teams — men's indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's gymnastics, women's volleyball, and men's and women's swimming — are among the least costly and most successful programs at W&M, both athletically and academically. The swimming program is a crown jewel of the college, winning eight Colonial Athletic Association championships in the past six years at a cost to the athletic department of approximately 1% of its budget. Thirteen W&M swimmers have qualified for U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ahlgren is a 1997 graduate of William & Mary and served as the co-captain of the men's swimming team.

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