Thursday, August 6, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 6, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia's mental health reforms may be paused for lack of funding

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

Virginia lawmakers charged with reforming the mental health system learned Wednesday that $135 million worth of new programs have been placed on hold. The funding was part of a $154 million package of reforms intended to build services to prevent people from having crises that require hospitalization, and to reduce hospital re-admissions. It was included in the two-year budget that lawmakers worked on just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Virginia first to roll out pandemic app from Apple, Google

By MATT O'BRIEN AND SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia has rolled out a smartphone app to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google. But hopes for a nationwide app that can work seamlessly across state borders remain unrealized, and there are no known federal plans to create one.


Virginia House of Delegates to meet online and at VCU's Siegel Center

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A special session scheduled for later this month will see House lawmakers gather both online and in person to address the impact of COVID-19 and police reform. Delegates will gather on Aug. 18 at VCU's Stuart C. Siegel Center to kick off the special session but might pivot online for portions of the gathering, which could last two weeks or longer, according to the office of House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax.


Supervisors explore opening schools for private use

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Following the School Board's vote last month to begin the 2020-21 school year in a 100% virtual format, the county government wants to identify available space in Chesterfield's more than 60 school buildings and provide it for temporary use by parents and "private childcare and educational institutions." That's according to a July 27 letter from Chesterfield Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Leslie Haley to Debbie Bailey, her counterpart on the School Board.


Menhaden decision marks a new era in Atlantic fisheries management

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Once again, a little fish that has loomed large in Virginia politics is causing big waves. This time, though, the Atlantic menhaden is at the forefront of a change in how officials up and down the coast are looking at and managing fisheries.


Feds demand sweeping change at Hampton Roads Regional Jail

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

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a consent decree agreement in federal court with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail that, if approved, would force the jail to better care for its detainees, increase staffing and adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The action comes after a lengthy investigation into the jail's practices.


State of Virginia halts Hillsville gun show

The Mount Airy News

The state of Virginia has intervened on one of the biggest draws in Southwest Virginia. A classification change by the Virginia Department of Health has left the town of Hillsville unable to issue permits for the Grover King VFW Post 1115 Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show.

The Full Report
41 articles, 23 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Virgnia tweaks vote-by-mail procedures

The Virginia Public Access Project

In June, one in five Virginia primary election voters cast ballots by mail. But election officials in some localities predict that voters' desire to avoid crowds during the pandemic will make mail the preferred way to vote in November. This illustration shows how the process works and explains the two key changes the State Board of Elections adopted earlier this week.


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.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Northam calls coronavirus trends in Hampton Roads "encouraging"

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Although he said it's too early to lift more stringent restrictions in Hampton Roads, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that trends in the region's coronavirus cases are "encouraging." At a press conference in Richmond, he said the eastern region's rate of positive tests has decreased slightly to around 10% since spiking up to 12.2% in mid-July. The region's seven-day average of positive cases has also been "leveling off somewhat," Northam said.


Northam launches primary care task force

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

As primary care physicians report that the pandemic has caused financial stress and layoffs at their practices, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday the creation of a primary care task force in partnership with the Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI) and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

State budget freeze poses challenge in public safety, behavioral health

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

Faced with an "austere" state budget outlook amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia legislators are looking for ways to provide more compensation to state police to reverse a rapid increase in turnover among sworn officers, while pushing for better training of law enforcement officers in how they deal with the public. At the same time, lawmakers are grappling with a crisis in state mental hospitals, with two institutions closed to new admissions because of coronavirus outbreaks that have killed six patients and overcrowding that has worsened since Virginia began reopening its economy after the pandemic nearly shut it down.

STATE ELECTIONS

Chase on Cox: 'Nice guys don't win in 2021'

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

State Sen. Amanda F. Chase on Wednesday stepped up her social-media criticism of Del. Kirk Cox's possible run against her for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, calling the former House of Delegates speaker a "nice guy" but added he could not win back the Executive Mansion for the party.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Warner accepts three invitations to debate Gade

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia's candidates for U.S. Senate will debate at least three times in advance of the November election. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., announced Wednesday that he's accepted invitations to three general election debates, two fewer than his Republican opponent, Army veteran Daniel Gade, challenged him to.


Freitas Faces Criticism for Anti-China Coronavirus Masks

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE

A progressive group is calling for Republican Congressional hopeful Nick Freitas' campaign to stop selling masks that they say exacerbate discrimination against Asian Americans. The masks say "COVID 19: Made in China" and list Freitas' campaign website. The Republican delegate is hoping to unseat Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th) this November in a race that the Cook Political Report rates as a toss-up.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Hillsville can't issue flea market permits for 2020

By DAVID BROYLES, Carroll News

If the show does indeed go on, it won't look like any show Hillsville has put on in decades. A classification change by the Virginia Department of Health on the Grover King VFW Post 1115 Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show has left Hillsville unable to issue permits for the event.


Feds propose consent decree to ensure care at Virginia jail

By MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press

The Justice Department proposed Wednesday that a Virginia jail comply with a consent decree requiring officials to improve medical treatment for inmates, marking one of the first times the department has proposed such a resolution in the Trump administration. The rare action follows a multiyear investigation into the practices at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia, which prosecutors said uncovered unlawful conditions for the inmates housed there. Federal officials allege, in part, that the jail "fails to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care to prisoners," according to court documents.


Legislators to get full report on Virginia Parole Board

By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Office of the State Inspector General will provide to state legislative leaders an unredacted copy its recently released report that substantiated several allegations against the Virginia Parole Board, after top Republican lawmakers repeatedly demanded that it be made available to them. During Gov. Ralph Northam's press briefing Wednesday on COVID-19, Chief of Staff Clark Mercer announced that the parole board and the Inspector General's Office have been working with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to have the full report released to House and Senate majority and minority leaders.


Virginia caught more than 3,000 fraudulent jobless claims, stopped $50 million in payments

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

About 3,000 fraudulent claims doesn't seem like much when it's less than three-tenths of a percent of all the unemployment applications that have been filed in Virginia. The Virginia Employment Commission had handled 1,008,797 initial unemployment claims between mid-March and July 18, an unheard of number that would have normally taken years to amass, not months.

CONGRESS

Grassley, Warner keep up pressure for information in Park Police slaying of Bijan Ghaisar

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

As the three-year anniversary approaches of the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar by two U.S. Park Police officers, Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) revealed this week they have received briefings from the National Park Service, the Fairfax County police chief and two from the Justice Department. But the senators said they still have not been told why the officers fired 10 shots into Ghaisar's Jeep Cherokee while he was slowly driving away from them.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Cruise ships docked in Portsmouth during pandemic sail out of Virginia

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

Three cruise ships that were docked at Portsmouth Marine Terminal have left Hampton Roads as a no-sail order in the industry continues through the summer. Norwegian Cruise Line docked the ships — the Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Encore — at the berth of the Portsmouth terminal in May, giving boaters and residents along the waterfront an up close look at their towering decks. None of the ships had passengers.


First phase of the Facebook data center in Henrico County is now operational

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Nearly three years after it was announced, a data center built by social media giant Facebook has become operational in eastern Henrico County. Company officials said Tuesday that the data center started serving online traffic a few weeks ago.

TRANSPORTATION

Regional group forms to fund road, transit goals

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Officials from Chesterfield County and eight other Richmond-area localities are working to form the regional body that will administer millions of dollars in new transportation taxes approved earlier this year by the Virginia General Assembly. The Central Virginia Transportation Authority, or CVTA, is expected to meet for the first time this month, at which time its 16 members will select a chair and vice chair and finalize its operating bylaws.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Randolph-Macon delays start of in-person classes

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Randolph-Macon College is the latest Virginia school to push back the start of in-person classes. President Robert Lindgren announced Tuesday that classes will still start Aug. 24, but will be completely virtual until Sept. 7, citing COVID-19's continued spread in Virginia. Other colleges in the state, including William & Mary, the University of Virginia and Virginia State University, have made similar changes in the past week.


Roanoke College announces staggered return to campus housing

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

Roanoke College will stagger the arrival of most students over three weeks to better cope with the continuing virus threat. The new game plan was announced Wednesday.


COVID-19 screening tool is part of new app rolling out at Virginia Tech

By MICHELLE MURILLO, WTOP

Virginia Tech is moving ahead with plans to have students return to campus, and said it is rolling out a smartphone app to screen students and staff for COVID-19. The safety app and screening tool is called "Hokie Ready."

CORONAVIRUS

New app lets Virginians know if they have been exposed to COVID-19

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

If, while scrubbing your hands upon returning home, you have wondered whether a stranger you encountered while running errands has COVID-19, there's an app for that. Virginia on Wednesday launched COVIDWISE, an app developed jointly by Apple and Google that lets users know whether they've been exposed to someone with the virus without having to know who you are or where you have been.


Virginia launches new public health app letting you know if you've been exposed to coronavirus

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia health officials, hoping to use technology to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, have launched a new smartphone app that notifies users if someone near them tested positive for COVID-19. Virginia is the first state to launch the free app, called COVIDWISE, using software developed by Google and Apple. On a call with reporters Wednesday, public health officials stressed that the app, which Virginians can download voluntarily, doesn't track the user's location or identify them.


Virginia rolls out virus-alert app for smartphones

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia officials on Wednesday launched a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth technology to alert people when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Use of the app, designed to help contain the spread of the virus as public activity increases, is voluntary and would require that individuals download the software on their phones, activate notifications and self-report a positive COVID-19 test.


Ballad: Cases, hospitalizations continue rising

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

Nearly 2,900 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 14 days across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, and, with that sharp rise, Ballad Health is working to expand its capacity to treat those patients.


Henrico Jail COVID-19 Outbreak Under Control, Sheriff Says

By WHITTNEY EVANS, WCVE

The Henrico County Sheriff says a July COVID-19 outbreak at the Henrico jail is under control. Nearly 200 positive cases were recorded at the facility through the month of July. Sheriff Alisa Gregory told VPM those inmates and staff who tested positive were quarantined and monitored for symptoms and are now in recovery. She said on Wednesday, the jail had seven new positive cases that were detected when the offenders were recently booked into the jail.


Sovah Health hospitals seeing more COVID-19 patients; Pittsylvania-Danville Health District adds 137 new cases in a week

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

Sovah Health hospitals in Danville and Martinsville were treating a total of 40 COVID-19 patients — that amount evenly split amount between the two facilities — as of Wednesday, according to a company update. That's an overall increase of 10 patients from last week.

LOCAL

Campbell supervisors approve broadband expansion

By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Wireless broadband is about to spread into more of Campbell County. In four to six months, unserved areas of the county — such as those surrounding Evington, Red House and Brookneal — should see increased internet accessibility. The Campbell County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved B2X Online's $1.4 million proposal to install wireless internet transmitters with the potential to provide more than 1,400 county residents with internet access.


Fairfax County school superintendent says school system has not focused enough on equity

By KYLE COOPER, WTOP

The superintendent of Fairfax County public schools in Virginia said he is committing to hiring more teachers of color, changing the system that has consistently resulted in more African American students than others getting in trouble at school and addressing overall equity issues made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. During a live Facebook town hall Wednesday night sponsored by the Fairfax County NAACP, Superintendent Scott Brabrand admitted that Fairfax County has not done all it can when it comes to issues of race, saying, "Fairfax has had many focuses, on many things, and equity has not been the No. 1 focus."


FCPS Superintendent Defends Rationale for Virtual Start to School

By FATIMAH WASEEM, Reston Now

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand says that the decision for a virtual start to school on Sept. 8 was largely motivated by the health risks associated with COVID-19. In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, Brabrand said that while cases are relatively stable in Fairfax County, precautionary steps are necessary to ensure the safety of staff and students. FCPS initially planned a hybrid approach of in-person and virtual instruction — a decision that was reversed by Brabrand in late July.


Prince William County to double absentee voting locations for presidential election

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Prince William County will double its number of satellite early voting locations for the upcoming Nov. 3 election under a measure the board of supervisors approved Tuesday. In past years, the county's electoral board made absentee in-person voting available at only four locations throughout the county. This year, the electoral board recommended adding four additional sites due to expected higher turnout because of the presidential election and the need for social distancing.


Prince William Supervisors to Consider Eliminating Board Proclamations

By STACY SHAW, Bristow Beat

Controversial proclamations that divide citizens may soon be a thing of the past for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) proposed, Tuesday, that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors no longer hold votes on board proclamations, explaining they have become too political, causing strife among board and community members.


Leaders of a private school near the Robert E. Lee monument have concerns about reopening

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

COVID-19 has upended the school year for many public school students, but in Richmond, there's one private school that might not reopen for concerns outside of the spread of the novel coronavirus. The administration of the Orchard House School, on North Allen Avenue near the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue, told parents in an email late last month that the school might not reopen over fears about activity in the adjacent circle.


Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson to Lead RPS Diversity Effort

By ALAN RODRIGUEZ ESPINOZA, WCVE

Richmond Public Schools has appointed Rodney Robinson -- 2019's national teacher of the year -- as senior advisor for the district's new initiative to recruit and support male teachers of color. The male teachers of color initiative is part of the district's larger anti-racism policy agenda that was drafted in June. Robinson taught at several schools in Richmond for 19 years -- most recently at Virgie Binford Educational Center inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center.


WJCC School Board gives support to supe's virtual plan but questions board's non-involvement in the decision

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

A majority of the members of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board stood by the decision to reopen the schools virtually for the first nine weeks. Board member James Beers was absent at the Tuesday meeting — his home lost power during Tropical Storm Isaias. Many of the parents who called in during the public comment section did not support online learning for the first nine weeks with a few citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Newport News school board approves virtual start for first 9 weeks

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

Students in Newport News will start the year online. The school board voted 6-1 to approve the recommendation of Superintendent George Parker in a virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon. The district will reevaluate a hybrid option after the first quarter, but district leaders want more public health data and information about which students and staff want to return before that decision.


Fredericksburg's school system offers child care options for parents, staff

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

Fredericksburg City Public Schools is lining up child care options for its students and its employees' children when it reopens virtually Aug. 17 for the fall semester. The School Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a contract with Minnieland Private Day School to provide child care for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at the city's two elementary schools for the 2020–21 school year.


Culpeper County swiftly passes another resolution opposing "any law" restricting gun rights

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Culpeper County has approved another resolution stating its opposition to any infringement of gun rights for local citizens and visitors alike. At its meeting Tuesday morning, the Board of Supervisors almost unanimously approved the document recommended for adoption last month by Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins.


Supreme Court of Virginia denies appeals from two men convicted in rally beating

Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Two men convicted in the beating of a counterprotester following the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally were denied appeals by the Supreme Court of Virginia Wednesday. In May 2018, Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos were both found guilty in Charlottesville Circuit Court of malicious wounding and later sentenced to eight years and six years in prison, respectively. Both men appealed the verdicts.


Luray Mayor Apologizes

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

Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves has made another Facebook post generating a lot of attention, this time issuing an apology. "I posted a picture 8-1-20, I am sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. Lesson learned. It was not my intent to hurt anyone. I took it to be humorous. SORRY," Presgraves posted Tuesday evening. In a screenshot obtained by the Daily News-Record, the post had received more than 100 comments by 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

 

EDITORIALS

Will distance learning bring an end to snow days?

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

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has an interesting take on distance learning, most school districts' main tool for dealing with the effects of COVID-19. "Maybe," she said not too long ago, "it's the end of the snow day." The governor said it with a smile, but she has a good point. The logic is as unassailable in Virginia as it is in Rhode Island.

COLUMNISTS

Schapiro: '21 could be a reality check for Va. Democrats

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

In all but declaring for governor — an idea he's been considering for several months — Republican Kirk Cox said he would wait until after the presidential election to announce whether he will actually run. That was the most telling line in the former House speaker's written statement. It was not just the customary bow to the current cycle's candidates. It might have been Cox's way of signaling he would prefer Donald Trump is defeated.

OP-ED

Romanello: Investing in the community

By ANTHONY J. ROMANELLO, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

On Wednesday, Facebook announced that the long-awaited Henrico Data Center officially is online, and Henrico County and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) couldn't be happier to have Facebook at Henrico's White Oak Technology Park. This is an important investment in our community and something Henrico worked hard to make happen.

Romanello is executive director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority.

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 5, 2020
Top of the News

Northam joins 5 other governors in interstate pact to buy rapid coronavirus tests for Virginia

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Citing efforts from the federal government that are making it harder on states to test for the coronavirus, six governors, including Virginia's Ralph Northam, said they are banding together to purchase antigen tests that deliver quick results. The governors from Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio and Massachusetts announced Tuesday that they are already in talks with two companies authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manufacture the antigen tests — which can produce results in 15 to 20 minutes — and if the talks are successful, the governors will purchase 500,000 tests for each state.


U-Va., in shift, will open online for undergraduates and start in-person classes after Labor Day

By NICK ANDERSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The University of Virginia announced Tuesday that it will delay the return of undergraduates by about two weeks, a further sign of the tumult in higher education brought on by the rising threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, undergraduate students were invited to come this month to the Charlottesville campus known as the Grounds for a fall term with a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid classes.


Radford bans gatherings of more than 50 as college students return

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

Radford City Council on Tuesday banned gatherings of more than 50 people through August in anticipation of a spike of COVID-19 cases as Radford University students return to campus. The emergency ordinance that council members adopted at a special meeting comes as thousands of students are moving into the city, which has seen COVID-19 cases increase from 11 to 34 in the last 30 days.


Virginia waives school accreditation for second school year

By MATT JONES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The closure of schools this past spring because of the pandemic means that Virginia schools will keep their same accreditation until at least 2022. State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane waived the process for the 2021-2022 academic year on Tuesday, citing the lack of standardized tests from the spring that would've been part of the ratings.


Virginia will require tracking codes on all absentee ballot envelopes

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

All Virginia voters who cast absentee ballots will send their forms back in envelopes marked with tracking codes, according to a new rule adopted Tuesday by the State Board of Elections. The regulation, approved in a unanimous vote, requires local election officials to print a 65-character U.S. Postal Service Intelligent Mail barcode on both the outgoing envelopes sent to voters and the included return envelopes voters use to mail completed ballots back.


1,102 people were denied purchase of gun during first month of Va.'s new one-handgun-per-month law

By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia's new one-handgun-per-month restriction resulted in 1,102 people being denied the purchase of a firearm during the law's first month — by far the largest percentage of the 1,877 denials issued in July by the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center. The high number of denials is due in part to confusion among firearms dealers and their customers about how the monthly or 30-day restriction period is calculated.


Mountain Valley, DEQ reach agreement on environmental fines

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

The latest problems with muddy runoff streaming from construction sites along the Mountain Valley Pipeline's route through Southwest Virginia have been resolved, with the company paying $58,000 in fines. The agreement, reached after several months of negotiations with the Department of Environmental Quality, marks the troubled pipeline's latest penalty for violating erosion and sediment control regulations.

The Full Report
42 articles, 22 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual In-Person or Remote? Virginia's Back-to-School Plans

The Virginia Public Access Project

With the pandemic on the loose, Virginia's public school districts will start the 2020-21 school year with a variety of instructional models. VPAP maps this fluid situation, with 20 districts at last count still determining if students will return to the classroom this fall.


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.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Supreme Court of Virginia is silent on Northam's request to renew eviction moratorium

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Gov. Ralph Northam wrote to Supreme Court of Virginia Chief Justice Don Lemons at the end of last month asking that he renew a moratorium on evictions that expired at the end of June. A little over a week later, Northam's spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, says the governor hasn't received a response.


There's no national testing strategy for coronavirus, so Va. and 6 other states banded together to make one

By ERIN COX, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In the absence of a national testing strategy for the novel coronavirus pandemic, seven governors have formed a first-of-its-kind purchasing compact they hope will pressure companies that make rapid-detection tests to quickly ramp up production. The governors, three Republicans and four Democrats, say that other states and cities may join them and that talks have already begun with one of the two companies approved by the Food and Drug Administration to sell point-of-care antigen tests that can detect the virus in less than 30 minutes.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Virginia waives accreditation ratings for 2021-22 school year

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia schools won't receive normal accreditation ratings from the Department of Education again in 2021-22. Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Tuesday that he is waiving annual school accreditation for the 2021-22 academic year, a move a state-appointed panel recommended to the K-12 schools chief earlier this year.

CONGRESS

Housing contractor, senator disagree over what prompted $50M Fort Lee project

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

A long-awaited upgrade to on-post military housing is set to begin this month, but the management firm overseeing it says pressure from Capitol Hill, specifically Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner, had nothing to do with its timing. The senator says he is not buying that.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Kings Dominion not reopening this year

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Kings Dominion won't be open this year. The theme park in northern Hanover County said late Tuesday that it will remain closed for the rest of 2020 because of the challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.


Kroger Mid-Atlantic to leave Roanoke for Richmond area

By CASEY FABRIS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Kroger Mid-Atlantic announced Tuesday it will move its division office from Roanoke to the Richmond area. Spokeswoman Allison McGee said in an email that the office on Peters Creek Road is expected be closed by the end of the year. Approximately 100 associates will be affected. All employees will be offered opportunities to remain with Kroger. The company is working to identify local jobs for those who do not want to relocate to Richmond, McGee said.


Kroger relocating regional headquarters to the Richmond area from Roanoke

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Kroger Co., the nation's largest traditional supermarket retailer, is moving its regional headquarters to the Richmond area. Kroger's Mid-Atlantic division — which operates the chain's 18 local stores as well as about 100 other locations elsewhere in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio — will move to western Henrico County by the end of the year.


Smithfield ends lawsuit it filed to stop OSHA from getting its COVID-19 case data

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

Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, has ended its legal fight to prevent the release of information about an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among workers at its South Dakota plant and agreed to give the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration documents it had sought. The company, owned by China-based WH Group and headquartered in the city of Smithfield, had filed a federal lawsuit as Smithfield Packaged Meats Co. in South Dakota to stop the OSHA records request.


Christiansburg to be part of national aviation history

By TONIA MOXLEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The drone that carried the first commercial residential delivery of its kind in the U.S. will soon be displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Wing, a Google sister company with a delivery hub in Christiansburg, announced Tuesday that it had donated aircraft A1229 to the national museum.

TRANSPORTATION

Pandemic caused $26.1M hole in GRTC's budget

By JACK JACOBS, Richmond BizSense

The economic disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic burned a $26.1 million hole in GRTC's budget for its current fiscal year. And while that damage, which was equal to almost half of the regional bus authority operations budget, was repaired with federal funding, GRTC is uncertain how it will make up the expected shortfall of $10 million to $12 million in its fiscal year 2022 budget.


Prince William County supervisors reject Route 28 bypass

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

After securing $300 million and spending years developing a bypass for busy Va. Route 28, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors rejected the proposal Tuesday night, leaving any fix for Manassas-area commuters in limbo. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 8-0 at its meeting to deny staff's recommendation to move to the design phase of the project.


New Virginia Breeze bus lines connect Dan River Region to Richmond, D.C.

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Thanks to an expanded set of intercity bus routes, Dan River Region residents will soon have more commuting and travel options through other parts of Virginia. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which already offered a popular Blacksburg-to-Washington, D.C., route called Valley Flyer, has expanded its operations to include other rural communities that are underserved in their transportation options.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Nearly 100 VCU faculty members call for virtual fall semester as UVA, other colleges delay in-person classes

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Nearly 100 Virginia Commonwealth University professors are formally asking the school to switch to a fully virtual fall semester. In a resolution approved Tuesday, the VCU chapter of the American Association of University Professors called on President Michael Rao to "immediately declare that classes for the Fall 2020 semester should be held exclusively online, except in cases where in-person education is deemed absolutely necessary."


UVa delays start of classes by two weeks

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

The University of Virginia is pushing back the start of in-person classes to Sept. 8 and delaying move-in day for undergraduates following an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state and nation. UVa leaders announced the change Tuesday in an email that also cited supply chain disruptions that have affected the availability of testing materials. The decision comes after elected officials and community members have criticized the decision to bring students back.


U.Va. delays in-person instruction, move-in for undergraduates by two weeks

By NIK POPLI, Cavalier Daily

The University announced Tuesday that it is delaying the start of undergraduate in-person instruction and the opening of residence halls by two weeks in response to an increase in local and national coronavirus cases. All undergraduate courses for the fall semester will now be completely online until Sept. 8, when in-person instruction becomes available. The semester will still start Aug. 25 as originally planned, but the University is urging students who plan to live off-Grounds to delay their return until in-person courses resume.


Lynchburg-area college presidents outline reopening plans in meeting with city leaders

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

Lynchburg-area college presidents outlined plans for fall instruction at a virtual Town and Gown meeting Tuesday with Lynchburg city leaders, with some moving forward with in-person classes and others sticking with remote education as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the region. Thousands of college students at three local institutions — Liberty University, University of Lynchburg and Sweet Briar College — are preparing to return to their respective campuses in the coming weeks.

CORONAVIRUS

1,145 new coronavirus cases reported in Virginia on Tuesday; 6 new deaths reported in Hampton Roads

By MOSS BRENNAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,145 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state's tally to 94,251. At least 2,244 Virginians have died from the virus as of Tuesday morning, up 26 from Monday.


Efforts To Hire Spanish-Speaking Contact Tracers Continue

By MEGAN PAULY, WCVE

On June 5, Chesterfield-County resident Karen Chacón started to experience some symptoms of COVID-19, like what felt like a mosquito in her throat. "Physically, I felt tired," Chacón said. "I felt sleepy, like my battery wasn't full." About a week later, she decided to get tested. The next day, she noticed her sense of smell was gone. "I called my husband and I started crying and I told him 'That's it. Definitely. It's the virus,'" she said.


Virginia Beach employees must self-report symptoms after 39 test positive for COVID-19

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Beach city employees are required to report if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms each day before they start work. Soon employees will be able to upload that information to a digital platform so city leaders and department heads can easily track the data. The rollout of this technology comes after at least 83 employees contracted coronavirus.


Warrenton clinic's COVID rapid tests exceed 14,000

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

They come by the hundreds each day to the Piedmont Urgent Care "rapid-test" site in Warrenton to learn if they have the coronavirus. From Maryland, Pennsylvania and beyond, people travel great distances because the clinic — using technology unavailable today in many communities — can provide test results in as little as two hours, said Dr. Steve von Elten, who oversees the operation.


$500,000 in rental, mortgage help available for Danville residents affected by COVID-19

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Not many Danville residents have taken advantage of more than $500,000 in mortgage and rental assistance available for those affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, just more than a tenth of that amount — $58,936 — has been spent by the city to help residents pay for their rent or mortgage, said Chasta White, senior account clerk with Danville's Department of Community Development.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Tens of thousands still without power in Hampton Roads after Tropical Storm Isaias rips through region

By JOSH REYES AND MOSS BRENNAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Tropical Storm Isaias pummeled Hampton Roads on Tuesday morning with heavy winds and rain — officials and meteorologists believe tornadoes affected the region as well. More than 122,000 Dominion Energy customers in Hampton Roads were without power as of 9:30 p.m. At times Tuesday, the total outages in the area neared 300,000. Dominion crews have begun making repairs and clearing fallen trees.


Tropical Storm Isaias hit eastern Virginia hardest during brief but destructive journey

By JOHN BOYER AND ALI SULLIVAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Tropical Storm Isaias hit the eastern third of Virginia hardest on Tuesday morning during its brief but destructive journey up the Eastern Seaboard. Several hours of torrential rain flooded dozens of roads, while winds gusting past 45 mph downed trees and put hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark.


One killed, 400,000 lost power in Va. and Md. as Isaias spawns tornadoes and drenches the D.C. region

By DANA HEDGPETH, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Tropical Storm Isaias left hundreds of thousands without power Tuesday in the greater Washington region and one person died after a tree fell onto a moving vehicle. But the nation's capital avoided the brunt of the waterlogged storm as it barreled up the East Coast.


Small Demonstration at Arlington Intersection Yields Loud Response

By MADELINE TAYLOR, ArlNow

Bold posters inscribed with "Black Lives Matter" prompted a raucous symphony of honks from passing traffic at a busy Arlington intersection. The conductor directing the clamor at Wilson Blvd and George Mason Drive on a weekday evening last week was Bob Edgar, who is no stranger to advocacy.


Commission to Vote on Plans to Help Menhaden Fish Bounce Back

By WHITTNEY EVANS, WCVE

Regulators in charge of Atlantic Coast fisheries will vote Wednesday on a long-awaited plan to manage the menhaden fish population. Virginia is the largest harvester of menhaden along the Atlantic coast. The nutrient-dense fish is critical to the Chesapeake Bay's food chain, but their population has declined over the last two decades.

LOCAL

Loudoun Supervisors to Consider Revitalization Incentives

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Loudoun County supervisors have ordered a study of a program to offer zoning and regulatory flexibility and lower fees on targeted properties to attract redevelopment and revitalization. State law allows the county to create Economic Revitalization Zones, where government user and permit fees may be reduced and tax liens waived, as well as zoning rules relaxed, to incentivize development in that area. County staff members will evaluate whether those zones might be right for Loudoun.


Prince William students to take SAT, ACT tests in person

By GIANNA JIRAK, Potomac Local (Subscription Required)

Students in Prince William County Public Schools will not be returning to school for in-person learning in August — but they will line up for the SAT. In August, September, October, November, and December, Prince William County high schools will be hosting the SAT and ACT tests in-person, with 'guidelines for safety to include cleaning procedures, physical distancing, and the use of face coverings,' according to Diana Gulotta, Prince William County Schools Director of Communications Services.


Resource officers to stay in Hburg schools this year — but with a more limited role

By RANDI B. HAGI, Harrisonburg Citizen

The five police officers stationed in Harrisonburg City Public Schools will be charged with focusing only on protecting schools and the people in them as opposed to monitoring student culture or "morality" this academic year, as the division works to revise its memorandum of understanding with the Harrisonburg Police Department. The Harrisonburg School Board is expected to approve the memorandum, just for one year, in an upcoming meeting.


Predicting 45,000 absentee ballots, James City to hold hearing to discuss Rec Center becoming voting center

By DAVID MACAULAY, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

James City County expects an unprecedented rush of early voters before the Nov. 3 presidential election, prompting a special public hearing to designate the James County Recreation Center as an absentee voting center. Under a new law in Virginia, voters will be able to show up to the registrar's office to cast their ballot as long as 45 days before an election without a stated excuse.


City Council police listening session focuses on mental health services

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

Speakers overwhelmingly told Charlottesville city councilors to better invest in mental health services over law enforcement. The council held a three-hour virtual listening session on policing Tuesday to get feedback from the community on the future of law enforcement, and nearly everyone who spoke called for more investment in mental health services. A handful of people spoke favorably of the department and didn't support taking funding away from it.


Lynchburg City Schools go all virtual until October

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Lynchburg City Schools students will return to school 100% remotely Aug. 24, and will not transition to in-person learning until at least after the first nine weeks of school. The Lynchburg City School Board voted 7-1 in favor of delaying in-person learning until after the first nine weeks of school due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the area.


Calls For Luray Mayor's Resignation Continue

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

After opening the door to the Luray town office, a long hall leads directly to Mayor Barry Presgraves' office, where the lights have yet to be turned on this week. "He has not been in," Town Manager Steve Burke said Tuesday afternoon.


Danville council passes resolution requesting casino referendum on November ballot

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Danville City Council voted to pass a resolution requesting that a referendum be held in November on whether a casino will be allowed in the city. Council voted 6-0 for the resolution during its regular meeting Tuesday night.


Bristol schools expect to open on Aug. 20

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

City schools are expected to open Aug. 20 with about 60% of students attending in person and the balance online, following a Monday vote by the city School Board. Following a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4-1 to approve a recommendation to open schools on schedule Aug. 20 unless local health metrics regarding COVID-19 deteriorate in the coming days.

 

EDITORIALS

Uranium extraction is still unsafe

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

It was significant that a report on a court decision denying uranium mining in Virginia appeared in The Daily Progress on the same day as a front-page story warning about rains — including possible flash flooding — from Hurricane Isaias. It is precisely because of the hydrology of our ground and surface water and our vulnerability to hurricanes and other storms that uranium mining is dangerous for Virginia.


Tackle housing disparity to address racial inequality

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

It is, sadly, not news that the color of one's skin is often a deciding factor in getting a loan to buy a house. If you're Black, you're likely to have to jump over higher hurdles than others to get a mortgage, if you can get one at all. But the renewed awareness of racial injustice and its devastating effects means that the time has finally come to end that pervasive disparity.


As COVID-19 spreads, young people are far from invincible

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

This past weekend in Scott's Addition, the brewery scene showed signs of life. Groups of young people roamed the streets with day drinking essentials in hand: cellphones, IDs and newest of all, masks. Once inside (or outside) an establishment and seated at a table — or at a private home gathering — masks have to be off to consume a beverage. Conversations continue. How responsibly are drinks being consumed?


Keep the Confederate names off Hanover schools

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

We thought the Hanover County School Board voted this past month to remove the names honoring Confederate leaders from two public schools. Appropriately, the signage for Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School promptly was taken down from the buildings. But then on Monday, Hanover Schools announced that the signage would temporarily be reinstalled while the system works through the renaming process.

OP-ED

Woll: Workforce investment key to wind power project's success

By EILEEN WOLL, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

In June, Virginia became the first state in the nation to stand offshore wind turbines in federal waters. And with its larger adjacent Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, Virginia is in line to be home to the nation's largest project — bringing 2,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2026, enough to power more than 650,000 homes. Virginia must now ensure that offshore wind is done right — meaning it is brought online in a way that is fair, equitable and beneficial for all Virginia communities.

Woll is the Offshore Energy Program Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, located in Norfolk.

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