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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 29, 2020
Top of the News

Ban on chokeholds, no-knock warrants among bills Northam signed into law

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced that he'd signed several bills meant to overhaul policing and the criminal justice system, which the General Assembly passed in a special session called amid a national uproar triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Northam (D) signed into law bills that ban chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants — which have allowed police to enter a home without announcing themselves — except in the most extreme circumstances. That makes Virginia only the third state — behind Oregon and Florida — to ban those warrants, Northam said.

SW Virginia driving new COVID-19 cases, but no regional restrictions — for now

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's COVID-19 infections are increasing again, but the latest spike is targeting the Southwest — a region that largely avoided significant case growth for much of the pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that he currently has no plans to place the area under more stringent safety restrictions or step up enforcement at public-facing businesses — measures he took this summer in response to a surge in cases in the Hampton Roads region. There, health officials attributed much of the growth to residents gathering in bars without wearing masks.

COVID cases pushing health system toward crisis

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

The current spiral of COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm Ballad Health's resources at a time when more than 180 of its workers are quarantined, system officials said Wednesday. Ballad was treating 168 COVID-19-positive patients in its hospitals Wednesday, with 15 more awaiting test results — a 42% increase over just one week ago.

Judge rules Virginia must reject late ballots with no postmark

By STEPHEN DINAN, Washington Times

A judge in Virginia ruled Wednesday that the state cannot count ballots that arrive after Election Day and do not contain a postmark. Judge William W. Eldridge IV said the state can, though, accept ballots with illegible postmarks for up to three days as long as the voter's oath was signed and dated before the election.

Despite goal, Virginia Tech reports more online teaching for spring semester

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Despite a push for more in-person classes, spring at Virginia Tech is shaping up to be about as virtual as the fall semester, if not more so. "Current estimates of the proportions of in-person or hybrid instruction planned for the spring are slightly lower than those for this fall," Provost Cyril Clarke wrote in a message to faculty Wednesday. "Clearly, this does not align with our commitment to make progress in advancing in-person learning."

In Chesapeake, tension over reopening schools is running high

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

In the past several months, Chesapeake Public School Board meetings have become a flashpoint for one issue: how to return students and teachers back to school during a pandemic. Parents, students and teachers have come out to the podium — the meetings have remained in person — to voice their opinions.

In Rural Virginia, a Militia Tries to Recruit a New Ally: The County Government

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

The board of supervisors meeting in September opened with the familiar liturgy of local government: the prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, the roll call. The chairman was recognized for completing a course for public officials. "Constitution Week" was hereby proclaimed. About 15 minutes in, Ricky Short motioned for approval of Resolution 2020-27. Whereas the Virginia and U.S. Constitutions speak of a "well regulated militia," it read, whereas a militia should be trained with arms "including modern semiautomatic rifles," whereas a militia was "the last best hope" when liberties are threatened by "a tyrannical government," then be it resolved: Halifax County would support a local militia. Ronnie Duffey seconded the motion.

The Full Report
54 articles, 23 publications


VPAP Visual On Election Night, absentee votes can distort early returns

The Virginia Public Access Project

The 2018 congressional race between Republican Dave Brat and Democrat Abigail Spanberger was so tight that the lead changed several times as results rolled in on Election Night. But how would the timeline -- showing the exact same final results -- have looked if early voting had been as heavy as it is this year? This simulation shows that Brat would have held a lead from the start and maintained it late into the night, until a huge block of absentee votes would have swung the outcome to Spanberger.

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.


Northam signs police, criminal justice reform bills

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

Legislation intended to bring reform to policing and criminal justice in Virginia — including a ban on no-knock warrants and stricter training and performance requirements for police officers — will soon become law in the state, after a summer of demonstrations over police brutality and systemic racism. Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday signed more than a dozen measures sent to his desk by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, which he described as a "tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Northam signs into law police reform bills inspired by George Floyd's death

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

Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bundle of police bills into law Wednesday, including limiting police use of chokeholds and prohibiting police from serving search warrants without first announcing themselves. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed a wave of bills during a special session this month in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody earlier this year in Minneapolis.

Virginia becomes third state to ban no-knock search warrants

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Wednesday banning law enforcement officers from executing search warrants without first knocking and announcing themselves as police. Sponsored by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, in the House and Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, in the Senate, the bills were inspired by the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville during a late-night raid of her apartment.


Poll: Virginia voters strongly favor redistricting amendment

By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia voters strongly favor — 54% to 24% — a constitutional amendment that would establish a redistricting commission to draw state and congressional district lines, according to a poll released Wednesday. The amendment is receiving bipartisan support and 22% of voters are still undecided, according to the poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Is Denver Riggleman still a Republican? He's not sure.

By ARIANA FIGUEROA, Virginia Mercury

U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, a Republican who was running for a second term in Virginia's 5th congressional district until he was ousted in a primary this past summer, says he's considering a run for governor. But he's not sure, as he sounds the alarm on the spread of the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory, whether he still wants to be part of the GOP.


Warner visits Danville, speaks at Bibleway Cathedral

Danville Register & Bee

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, spent an hour talking to members of the African American community at Bibleway Cathedral on Wednesday evening in Danville. Warner spoke of the upcoming election and criticized President Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women play critical role in 7th District vote

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Two years ago, on the heels of the #MeToo movement and Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election, a grassroots coalition of left-leaning Chesterfield women launched an aggressive canvassing operation that took down U.S. Rep. Dave Brat and helped flip a 7th House District seat that had been held by Republicans for the better part of five decades. As Election Day 2020 looms amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans, the question now facing the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County is:...

Judge: Virginia can't count some ballots without postmarks

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A judge ruled Wednesday that Virginia elections officials cannot count absentee ballots with missing postmarks unless they can confirm the date of mailing through a barcode, granting part of an injunction requested by a conservative legal group.

Va. voters are still requesting absentee ballots, even after the deadline passed

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

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Virginia expired Friday, but the state elections website has allowed voters to continue to apply, causing confusion in an already tense election that has seen record turnouts for early voting, local officials said. In Fairfax County, the state's most populous jurisdiction, 1,184 voters so far have electronically submitted absentee ballot applications since the Oct. 23 deadline passed, county election officials say.

Virginia Democratic Party and Richmond election officials working to resolve dispute over voter list

By MEL LEONOR AND C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Democratic Party of Virginia and Richmond's top elections official are working to resolve a legal dispute over the release of a list of voters whose ballots haven't been processed due to errors. A DPVA spokesman said the party has received a list of 97 Richmond voters whose ballots were flagged for errors, and is working with Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter to obtain the most up to date, complete list.

In Hampton, activists ask for tougher open carry restrictions at polling sites

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

Six days before Election Day, Hampton will put out an election safety guide that aims to address possible voter intimidation at the polls. City Council will hear a presentation from the city attorney's office Wednesday night on state laws that govern election day activities. It will review precautions in place because of the pandemic and offer steps that may be taken, such as alerting an election official if a voter feels intimidated.

Democrats look for gains in deep-red Fauquier in 2020 -- and beyond

By DANIEL BERTI, Fauquier Times

Fauquier County has been a Republican stronghold for over a decade, but some Democratic campaigners and Virginia political commentators say shifting political dynamics could benefit Democratic candidates in Fauquier in 2020 and beyond.  The county hasn't picked a Democratic presidential candidate since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, and a statewide Democratic candidate has carried the county only once since the year 2000. However, more college-educated residents moving to Fauquier from liberal suburbs, combined with the Republican Party's drift to the right, has given the Democrats an opening in the historically conservative county, according to political analysts from both parties.

Fauquier County voter turnout exceeds 35% more than a week before Election Day

By COY FERRELL, Fauquier Times

Of the 54,382 registered voters in Fauquier County, 19,164 – 35% -- had already cast an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election as of the morning of Oct. 26, including 12,388 cast in person and 6,776 by mail. As of Oct. 26, there were 2,907 outstanding absentee ballots – ballots that a registered voter in the county requested be sent to them by mail and have not been completed and returned to the registrar's office.

Thirty percent of Tri-City area voters are early birds this year, according to non-profit

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

Roughly three out of every 10 registered voters in the Tri-City area have cast early ballots for Tuesday's election, according to figures released Wednesday by the non-profit Virginia Public Access Project. Colonial Heights and Petersburg lead the list of localities, separated by about a half-percent, VPAP said in analyzing numbers from the state Department of Elections.

Early Voting Turnout Strong Across the Shore

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

The last day to vote early in person in Virginia is Saturday, Oct. 31, and thousands of Eastern Shore voters already have cast their ballots, either by mail or in person at the voter registrar offices in Eastville and Accomac. As of Oct. 25, 7,111 voters in Accomack County had cast early ballots or applied for an absentee ballot by mail, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. That's compared to a total of 1,557 absentee ballots cast in the 2016 election, of 15,999 total ballots cast.

Biden, Warner and redistricting amendment ahead in final CNU poll

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in Virginia by double digits according to the final pre-Election Day poll from the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University. Biden received 53% of the vote among likely voters to 41% for Trump in the survey released Wednesday. "Biden's lead continues to illustrate Virginia's solid shift left in presidential and statewide races," said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center at CNU.

Latest poll: Biden, Warner leading by double digits in Virginia

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by 12 points in Virginia, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Biden leads Trump 53% to 41% among likely Virginia voters. Another 2% support another candidate, and 3% remain undecided. The results show a 7-point increase for Biden from the Wason Center's last poll, conducted in mid-September, which had him ahead by only 5 points.

Longtime Poll Volunteer Passing Baton to New Generation After Record-Breaking Election


From record early voting turnout to the volume of volunteer requests to the number of first-time voters, the word "first" characterizes many aspects of the 2020 election in Arlington. But for 83-year-old poll volunteer Bill Thatcher, 2020 is his last year helping people exercise their "supreme privilege of voting."


Richmond region's jobless rate declined in September as overall labor force contracted

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Richmond region's unemployment rate dropped slightly in September as the region's overall workforce declined. The unemployment rate stood at 6.7% in September compared with 6.9% in August, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Wednesday. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the jobless rate last month was more than twice where it stood in September 2019 at 2.8%.

Up to $100,000 available to Virginia businesses, nonprofits affected by pandemic

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

More Virginia businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors can apply for even more pandemic relief under the Rebuild VA grant program with the maximum award now $100,000 versus $10,000. Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he had also expanded who was eligible to apply to include those entities earning less than $10 million in annual revenue or with fewer than 250 employees, the standard definition of a small business in Virginia.


William & Mary's women's gymnasts join the fight to reinstate men's programs

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

William & Mary's women's gymnasts echoed other female athletes in expressing frustration that the men's gymnastics team is still slated for elimination, even as they are grateful to be one of three female teams reinstated by school administration. "(Gender) equity gained solely at the expense of others is not a step forward for women's athletics," the team said in an "Open Letter to the Administration, Board of Visitors and Greater (W&M) Community" posted Wednesday on the Save W&M Gymnastics website.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,345 from Tuesday

By ABBY CHURCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 176,754 — an increase of 1,345 from the 175,409 reported Tuesday. The 176,754 cases consist of 164,308 confirmed cases and 12,446 probable cases. There are 3,616 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,364 confirmed and 252 probable. That's an increase of 16 from the 3,600 reported Tuesday.

D.C. region hits 11-week high in coronavirus infections

By DANA HEDGPETH, LAURA VOZZELLA, LOLA FADULU AND REBECCA TAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

New coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region hit an 11-week high Wednesday, mirroring a rise seen across large swaths of the country as the pandemic's spread worsens ahead of the cold winter months. The rolling seven-day average of new infections across D.C., Virginia and Maryland stands at 1,949 cases, the most since the average reached 2,001 new cases Aug. 9.

Northam considers restrictions in Southwest Virginia to slow virus

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday said he could impose restrictions in Southwest Virginia where COVID-19 cases are rising quickly, and as the disease begins to overwhelm Ballad Health's hospitals. "In other states and other countries, they are re-imposing restrictions to get case numbers under control. Nobody, nobody, wants to have to do that, but this virus remains a very real threat," Northam said during a briefing in which he touted Virginia's overall success in keeping the virus in check.

As Southwest Va. cases rise, state officials discourage family gatherings

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

Small family gatherings that include people from different households coming close without masks may be to blame, in part, for increased community spread of COVID-19 in Southwest Virginia, state officials said Wednesday. Without citing specific data, Gov. Ralph Northam and state Health Secretary Daniel Carey said anecdotal evidence from the state's contact tracing efforts shows community spread among extended families that have come together without following health precautions.

Health Officials Urge Caution as COVID Cases Increase in Richmond


Richmond is continuing to see a trend of increasing coronavirus cases heading into the winter months, health officials say. As of Wednesday, an average of 30 Richmonders per day are testing positive for the virus. At the weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Danny Avula, head of the Richmond Health Department, said the number of tests coming back positive and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are also on the rise.

Chester nursing home reports 105 cases of coronavirus, 16 deaths

By SCOTT BASS, Chesterfield Observer

More than seven months after the coronavirus pandemic began, the county is experiencing one of its largest outbreaks to date at a senior care facility in Chester. Since Sept. 29, Tyler's Retreat at Iron Bridge has reported 105 COVID-19 infections and 16 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Hospitals release information on COVID-19 patients

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

Hospital systems in Virginia's Near Southwest region on Wednesday released the first of what is expected to be a weekly report on patients with COVID-19. Carilion Clinic, LewisGale, the Salem VA Medical Center, Centra Heath and Sovah Health reported caring for 200 patients with COVID-19 and another 46 patients who are thought to have the virus but are awaiting test confirmation.

Health Experts Advise Against Traditional Halloween Activities


Health experts locally and nationally are advising families to not participate in traditional Halloween activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent guidelines highlight trick-or-treating as "high-risk" and recommend that people who may have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid all in-person festivities. Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough says her two "little ones" love trick-or-treating, but her family decided it would be safer to skip it this year.


Fairfax supervisors move forward with removal of Confederate imagery

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

A monument and historical marker noting the death of a Confederate officer, plus two Dahlgren naval howitzer cannons also on display outside the Fairfax County Judicial Complex will be removed and given to other organizations, the Board of Supervisors decided Oct. 20. A majority of supervisors said the granite obelisk and historical marker, which commemorate the death of Confederate Capt. John Quincy Marr in a skirmish near the old Fairfax Courthouse on June 1, 1861, did not belong there.

Confederate flag over I-95 in Stafford comes down for good

By KARI PUGH, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

A large Confederate flag flying on private property adjacent to Interstate 95 in Stafford County is gone for good – at least at its original location. The Virginia Department of Transportation has acquired the land, one of 10 parcels adjacent to I-95 near the Falmouth exit, for the I-95 Northbound Rappahannock River Crossing project.

Four people charged following Tuesday night's unrest in Richmond

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Four people were arrested Tuesday night during a protest after Richmond police said they saw the group throwing things at people, a business and a police vehicle. Dozens of police cars were stationed around Monroe Park on Virginia Commonwealth University's campus Tuesday ahead of a scheduled 9 p.m. protest calling for justice for Walter Wallace Jr., who was shot and killed Monday during a confrontation with police in West Philadelphia.

A rare 2020 bright spot: Chesapeake Bay had shorter, less severe dead zone

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Thanks to a cool spring, early fall temperatures and the arrival of Hurricane Isaias in August, the Chesapeake Bay dead zone was less severe and lasted for a shorter time in 2020 than in previous years. The annual dead zone report for the bay, issued by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at William & Mary, bore out optimistic predictions put forward by scientists in June. One of the most obvious signs of ecological trouble, dead zones are parts of a body of water where animal and plant life cannot be sustained because of a lack of oxygen.

Two long cold nights in a row for search and rescue paramedics on Old Rag

By JOHN MCCASLIN, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Shenandoah National Park this morning released more detailed information about two medical emergencies that took place on Old Rag Mountain on the nights of Oct. 16 and 17, as first reported in this newspaper. In a statement, the park writes: "On October 16, 2020, the Communications Center received a call shortly after 7 p.m. for a 19-year old woman who had suffered an injury in the middle of Old Rag/s Rock Scramble. . . .


In blue Northern Va., Democrats eye a mayoral seat long held by the GOP

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

Northern Virginia's blue wave has so far missed the mayor's seat in the city of Manassas, where Republican Harry J. Parrish II has held office since 2009 in a community that has only elected GOP mayors since it was incorporated in 1975. But Parrish, 70, is not seeking a fourth term next month — giving Democrats hope that they can finally take the top seat in the steadily changing city of 41,000 residents that sits just south of a federally owned Civil War battlefield site.

Loudoun County Public Schools nixes numerical class rank starting with Class of 2025

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday night to discontinue a numerical class rank system starting with next year's Loudoun County Public Schools freshman class, opting instead for a percentile-based Latin Honor System. Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles District) was the sole dissenter in the 8-1 vote, which resulted from a motion by Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn District).

Study says fair pay for Chesterfield public safety employees would cost an extra $22 million a year

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

Chesterfield County should spend more than $22 million a year to make its salaries for public safety employees more fair, a consulting firm told the county's Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

All students who opted to return to Virginia Beach schools will be back in November

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

All grades will return for in-person classes in Virginia Beach public schools on Nov. 12. The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to bring grades 7 and 8 as well as 10 through 12 back under a hybrid plan starting in three weeks, when the next round of classes begins. Those are the remaining five grades that have remained entirely virtual so far this school year, as some 25,000 students have already returned for in-person classes.

Virginia Beach schools to give all full-time employees a $1,000 bonus

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

All full-time Virginia Beach school employees will soon get a $1,000 bonus and teachers will receive either .25% or .5% raises on top of that, the school board voted Tuesday. Teachers who teach both in-person and virtually also will see an increase in the roughly $750 stipends they receive for doing so.

Fired Portsmouth city attorney sues mayor for defamation as Confederate monument saga continues

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

Fired Portsmouth City Attorney Solomon Ashby is suing Mayor John Rowe for defamation — the latest political fallout from a June 10 protest at the city's downtown Confederate monument. "It's unfortunate that a person like Mr. Ashby – who performed his job professionally, loyally, and ethically – has his performance misrepresented to the public," his attorney, Christian Connell, wrote in an email. "Mr. Ashby is trying to correct that misrepresentation."

Downtown mixed-use project falls victim to pandemic

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Construction of an anticipated residential and business complex in downtown Winchester has been canceled due to complications brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The purchase and sale agreement that had been in effect since last June expired on Saturday," Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said.

CARES funding to expand broadband access in Albemarle

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

Broadband internet access is coming to more Albemarle County residents. With funding from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, Firefly fiber broadband is going to be extended along Burchs Creek Road.

Amherst officials raise concerns on security, maintenance of CVTC site; state responds

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Amherst County officials expressed concerns about the care of the Central Virginia Training Center to the state agency that manages the Madison Heights campus and on Wednesday the state responded. In an Oct. 23 letter to Alison Land, commissioner of the Department of Health and Developmental Services, on behalf of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors, the county cited concerns the facility, which is in the process of closing after more than a century of operation, is minimally staffed and the grounds and buildings are deteriorating at an accelerated rate.

Franklin County High School goes all-virtual for five school days

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

Franklin County High School will return to all-virtual learning from Thursday through Nov. 4 because of a staff shortage caused by the need to self-isolate in response to reported COVID-19 cases.

Martinsville receives grant to expand internet service across entire city

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

By the end of this year, everyone in Martinsville will have access to high-capacity and high-speed wireless internet service. The announcement came at the end of Tuesday night's regular meeting of the Martinsville City Council, when City Manager Leon Towarnicki told council that the city had the federal money in hand to expand the city's MiNet internet service and intended to make it happen in six weeks.



Return Warner to Senate

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

Virginia voters have the privilege and responsibility next week to elect a U.S. senator, choosing between incumbent Mark Warner, Democrat, and Daniel Gade, Republican. This has been a well-fought campaign, giving voters clear and contrasting pictures of the two candidates.

Why is Roanoke's virus rate spiking?

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

Roanoke didn't have a good summer, virus-wise, but we're now having an even worse autumn. Will Halloween this weekend turn into a series of miniature super-spreader events? Let's review the data. Back in the spring — remember the spring? — we thought we had this beat.

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project takes shape at last

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

Plenty of Tidewater residents split time between three places: their home, their place of business and sitting in traffic on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Folks who live on one side of the water and work on the other know this all too well — and have our sympathy for their daily commute. Thus it is cause for celebration to hear of progress being made in the massive construction project to expand that critical span.

Richmond police chief should release the names

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

So let's get this straight: Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith established a committee to strengthen relationships and build greater trust between his department and city residents — but he will publicly identify only one of the members. Where is the transparency and accountability?


Schapiro: Northam as judge, jury and executioner of VMI

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

This past Friday — shortly after Gov. Ralph Northam, if only because of the pace of events, would be recast as judge, jury and executioner of his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute — Northam's chief of staff, Clark Mercer, telephoned Richard Cullen, the lawyer-fixer VMI hired to help extract it from a fast-spreading racial controversy. Mercer told Cullen it was time for superintendent Binnie Peay to go, that Northam — who over the summer had discussed with Peay his worries about the fraught atmosphere at VMI — and the Democratic legislative leadership did not believe the retired Army four-star general could fashion a remedy that put equity for cadets of color ahead of the school's Confederate heritage.


Snyder and Snyder: Career politicians are failing us when we need them most

By PETE AND BURSON SNYDER, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Right now is a time when everyone needs to work together to help one another. But with jobless claims throughout the country rising, families hurting and small businesses shutting their doors or fighting tooth and nail just to stay alive, Washington is failing us. As families and communities throughout the country continue to face the economic effects of a global pandemic, the message from our nation's capital is that any additional relief is unlikely to come before Election Day.

The Snyders are cofounders of the nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund.

Rowe: Why college matters now

By KATHERINE A. ROWE, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

This past summer, university presidents in Virginia faced extraordinary decisions about how to create a successful semester for our students. In August, as COVID-19 cases were surging in the peninsula, William & Mary students and their families wrote to me as they did other presidents in the commonwealth, expressing hope and fear. A large majority hoped to be on campus; a smaller group — with vulnerable families and health concerns — needed to learn remotely.

Rowe is president of the College of William & Mary.

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