Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 12, 2020
Top of the News

College towns fear super-spreader semester as students descend


Earlier this summer, students at the University of Virginia packed bars, rental houses, apartments and fraternity houses as part of Midsummers, a party and reunion tradition of students. Watching the surge in large gatherings on social media and hearing from concerned residents prompted Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker to call UVA's plan to bring students back to campus a "recipe for disaster."

VDH: Mechanicsville restaurant continues to operate despite having permit pulled


The Virginia Department of Health says a Calabash Seafood restaurant continues to operate even though its restaurant permit was suspended due to COVID-19 guideline violations. A spokesperson with VDH said the Hanover Health Department received about 25 complaints since May 14 regarding employees and customers violating Gov. Ralph Northam's executive orders by not wearing face coverings nor practicing social distancing at the restaurant located along Lee Davis Road.

COVID-19 testing turnarounds stretch to two weeks for some in the Roanoke region

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

Results for COVID-19 tests in the Roanoke region are taking anywhere from two days to two weeks, with the lag making it more difficult to curb the spread of the disease, Dr. Molly O'Dell said Tuesday. O'Dell said once the test turnaround time stretches beyond 48 hours, it is harder to identify others who many have come into contact with the person infected with the coronavirus. "The further out we get before starting [investigations], the more chance there is for more spread," she said.

Elite public schools in Virginia, elsewhere seek diversity

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Virginia's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology regularly finds itself at the very top of national rankings, an elite public school in the suburbs of the nation's capital for which families start preparing their children as early as kindergarten. For decades, though, Black and Hispanic students have made up just a tiny fraction of the school's student body.

MicroStrategy buys $250M in Bitcoin as CEO says it's superior to cash

By ANDY MEDICI, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The move came after the Tysons firm's CEO and founder, Michael Saylor, announced his intention to explore purchasing Bitcoin, gold or other alternative assets in an earnings call in late July. At the time he argued that that the returns from cash were fading and that the dollar was weakening. He reiterated these concerns in the announcement Tuesday.

Luray Council censures mayor for 'Aunt Jemima' comment

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

With most of his face covered by a surgical mask, Mayor Barry Presgraves kept his eyes focused on each speaker. "My grandchild came up to me and asked, 'What did he say?'" Maxine Tutt said at Monday's Luray Council meeting. "I told him, and he said, 'That's not too good.'" "How do you explain this to a little kid?" asked Melvin Tutt. "The main difference is you're the mayor; you're the leader. It's just a disappointment to me that we are at this point in 2020."

White supremacists made Charlottesville a symbol of racism. Black residents say it still is.

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

Her whole life, Dorenda Johnson has endured racism in Charlottesville. Growing up in a city built with the help of enslaved people, she attended integrated schools but often found herself assigned to segregated classes. She spent years working as an administrative assistant in a University of Virginia hospital wing that — until last year — was named after a notorious white supremacist.

The Full Report
60 articles, 27 publications


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.


Va. AG Herring prioritizes mandatory bodycams, ban on rehiring bad officers


Virginia Attorney Gen. Mark Herring is pressuring state lawmakers to mandate body-worn cameras on all law enforcement officers, and to ban the rehiring of officers who were fired or resigned for misconduct. Herring has laid out his priorities for criminal justice and policing reforms ahead of the Virginia General Assembly's special session, scheduled to begin on Aug. 18.


Rich Anderson aims to transform Virginia's Republican Party

By KARI PUGH, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Republican Party of Virginia will choose a new chairman this weekend from among three candidates, one of them former state Del. Rich Anderson, who represented eastern Prince William County for eight years. Anderson served four terms in the 51st District, chairing the House Science and Technology Committee and the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus. In 2017, he lost his seat to Democrat Hala Ayala in a blue wave that saw several districts across the state switch from Republican to Democrat. Anderson challenged Ayala last November and lost a second time, 55% to 45%.

Freitas stresses military service in first TV ads for 7th District congressional race

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

Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, is putting his military service and family values at the forefront of his first television ads in his campaign for Virginia's 7th District seat in Congress, a crucial race in Republicans' effort to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kanye West has 10 days to get on Virginia's ballot for president

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

Kanye West, the singer and rapper who announced in July he was running for president of the United States, has yet to secure a spot on Virginia's ballot in November. But he still has time. The state Department of Elections said Tuesday West hasn't filed the necessary paperwork or collected the required number of signatures to be listed along with Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Virginia leaders on Biden's pick of Sen. Kamala Harris

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

Here's how prominent Virginians reacted to Joe Biden's choice of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his vice presidential running mate. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016: "Joe Biden is running for President to offer Americans character, competence, and compassion — and his choice of [Harris] exemplifies those virtues.


State awards $278K to COVID-19 economic recovery projects

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that the state has awarded $278,000 among 18 economic revitalization projects in Virginia as part of the state's COVID-19 economic recovery plan. "Downtown districts are the lifeblood of our communities and our local economies and they need our support now more than ever," Northam said in a statement.


On the Eastern Shore, locals hope a 49-mile rail trail will reinvigorate the economy

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's rural Eastern Shore has been losing residents for decades, but in one aspect of that abandonment, locals see opportunity. Last month, Canonie Atlantic, the company which owns the tracks on the Eastern Shore, petitioned the federal Surface Transportation Board to decommission a 49.1 miles long rail line from the town of Hallwood to Cape Charles.

Toano business apologizes after selling culturally offensive item

By ALEXA DOIRON, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

A Toano-based business has issued a formal apology for selling a mini skirt that featured a Hindu deity on the front. Enlighten Clothing Company started selling a skirt that featured the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, who is regularly worshiped by those of the Hindu faith, across the middle portion of a wearer's pelvic area.

All Points Broadband, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative partner to extend broadband in northern, western Loudoun

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times

All Points Broadband and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) announced Tuesday they have reached an agreement that company leaders say will support All Points Broadband's efforts to extend fiber-to-the-home broadband service to more than 1,000 homes in northern and western Loudoun County.

Comcast is expanding in Charles City County


Comcast is expanding its service to more than 2,300 homes and businesses in Charles City County. ..."I am very pleased that Charles City County, Comcast and the Commonwealth of Virginia have partnered to bring fiber-based internet connectivity to Charles City County," said Bill Coada, chairman of the Charles City County Board of Supervisors.


William & Mary leaders take pay cuts as colleges cope with COVID's fiscal impact

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Three top leaders at the College of William & Mary are taking pay cuts, and the school is instituting a voluntary furlough program in an effort to increase financial flexibility amid COVID-19. The moves underscore that as students prepare to return to campus, colleges and universities across the state are juggling financial pressures as they prioritize safety precautions.

Blacksburg Town Council passes 50-person gathering limit, restaurant curfew

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

The town's reopening was scaled back Tuesday night as its leaders aim to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among the locality's biggest population group — Virginia Tech students. An emergency ordinance approved unanimously by the town council limits public and private gatherings to no more than 50 people and requires that food and drinking establishments not remain open to the public after midnight, among other conditions.

City Council Bans Gatherings Over 50 People

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

Harrisonburg City Council approved a proposed ban on gatherings of more than 50 people at its Tuesday meeting. "This is something I have been talking to the city attorney about," Mayor Deanna Reed said during the virtual meeting. "I feel like we know that in the next 10 days, we're going to have a tremendous amount of people in the city, so this is just a little guideline for people to still feel safe."

Racial equity requires time, money and resource commitment, UVa report says

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

The University of Virginia Racial Equity Task Force is recommending a sweeping set of changes at the school, including removing Confederate and racist symbols, funding scholarships and endowments for minority students and faculty and rooting out procedures and policies perpetuating prejudice.

College history shapes student action, demands for change


After 60 years as a Williamsburg native, Shelia Ward still remembers the feeling of abject fear when at the age of five, her parents sat her down and explained what it meant to be a Black woman in America. Recalling her childhood, Ward recounted a Williamsburg where members of the Ku Klux Klan would openly gather on Oak Tree Road near Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que for local Klan meetings, or times where her brother and other neighbors would come home in tears after being chased with sticks and other items by white residents.

Hampton University sues accreditor over fate of pharmacy program

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

After months of appeals, Hampton University has sued the American Council for Pharmacy Education over the university's pharmacy doctorate program. The ACPE withdrew the Hampton University School of Pharmacy's Pharm.D. accreditation earlier this year, citing low performance on licensing exams and high student attrition. The accreditor put the withdrawal on hold after the university appealed.


Virginia reports nearly 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 17 deaths Tuesday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 996 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state's tally to 101,745. At least 2,344 Virginians have died from the virus as of Tuesday morning, up 17 from Monday.

ICA-Farmville accepted 74 transfers June 2. Next came the largest COVID-19 outbreak in a U.S. immigrant detention center.

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

His cough is hollow, a raspy effort he said feels like blades scraping his lungs. Whispering into the phone — his one vehicle to the outside world as he grapples with a reality he calls "a hell we're living in" — he recites the horrors he's come to know well at Farmville's immigrant detention center: bugs in food, beds less than 6 feet apart, dust particles in vents he fears will kill him if COVID-19 doesn't, and medical attention that's delayed because nearly everyone at the center has tested positive.

Judge orders ICE to stop transfers into Virginia facility hit hard by coronavirus

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

A federal judge on Tuesday barred the Trump administration from transferring more undocumented immigrants into a Virginia detention center that is home to the nation's largest novel coronavirus outbreak inside such a facility. U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema also said she would decide whether to allow an independent health expert to inspect the Farmville facility after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention delivers a report Friday on testing being conducted there this week.

CDC team is at federal immigration facility to address virus

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

A federal judge has ordered immigration authorities to halt any transfers into a Virginia detention center that has seen the worst coronavirus outbreak at any such facility in the nation. Government lawyers argued unsuccessfully against the injunction at a hearing Tuesday, saying they have no plans to transfer anyone into or out of the complex at Farmville, where a detainee died last week and more than 80% of the center's 300 detainees have tested positive for the virus.

COVID-19 Continues to Disproportionately Affect Some Areas of Prince William County

Bristow Beat

Prince William localities continue to have some of the highest COVID-19 positive numbers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and minority neighborhoods have been the hardest hit. As the Governor warns of increases in COVID-19 cases along the eastern shore, Northern Virginia still leads the state in COVID-19 cases.

Galax has less than 10,000 residents. Why was it leading the state in new COVID-19 infections?

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Around 30,000 people crowded downtown Galax last year during the first week of August, gathering in Felts Park for the city's annual, internationally known Old Fiddlers' Convention. The same week this year, the streets of the small Southwestern Virginia city are quiet. Many of the local businesses, especially the antique shops and art galleries, are closed. The 2020 Old Fiddlers' Convention — its 85th year — was canceled for the first time since World World II.

Reston Hospital Center Sees Decline in Patients During Pandemic


At the Reston Hospital Center, staff members are seeing a decline in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-related patients. Compared to August of 2019, Reston Hospital Center Emergency Room admissions are down 20 percent and the hospital only had six COVID-19 patients currently, which is the lowest number since May, according to David Jacobs, the chairman and medical director for Reston Hospital Center's emergency department.

On the Peninsula, there's help with substance abuse during the pandemic

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

COVID-19 has sent many people on the Peninsula into relative isolation, but one group of people is still going out plenty: dealers with heroin and other opioids. That has the substance abuse treatment team at Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board worried.


Downtown Richmond buildings vandalized during 'Solidarity with Chicago' protest


Windows were broken at multiple buildings in Richmond on Tuesday night, leaving a trail of property damage behind protesters that circled the downtown area. Protesters dressed in all black gathered at around 9 p.m. in a parking lot at Broad and Crane streets in the East End. VCU sent an alert regarding a "public assembly" off of the MCV campus at 9:39 p.m.

Unofficial historical markers on Monument Avenue are removed by city officials

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

City officials on Tuesday removed two unofficial historical markers near the Robert E. Lee statue, as law enforcement continues to more actively enforce city ordinances near the site of protests on Monument Avenue. Around midday Tuesday, about a dozen police officers and city workers arrived in white pickup trucks, dislodged the signs from the ground and removed them, according to videos shared on social media.

Newport News will remove Confederate monument in Denbigh

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Newport News City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to remove the Confederate monument that stands in Denbigh. Members of the council called it long overdue and the right thing to do, and most of the 13 speakers at a public hearing agreed. Councilwoman Pat Woodbury was the lone vote against removing the monument. She equated removing the monument to erasing history and said it should remain so that people can learn the history of the Confederacy and never repeat it.

Fredericksburg police ticket five protesters for blocking streets

By KEITH EPPS, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Five people who participated in a protest in downtown Fredericksburg Monday evening have been ticketed for refusing to get out of the road, police announced Tuesday, and three of them also face a misdemeanor charge. City police spokeswoman Sarah Morris said police received numerous complaints Monday when demonstrators blocked lanes of traffic during a protest that lasted about two hours. Morris said charges against other protesters are pending.

Reinstalling signs stirs school board, NAACP leader

By JIM RIDOLPHI, Mechanicsville Local

Less than two days after the Hanover County School Board voted to remove the names of two county schools named for Confederate leaders, outdoor signage and nameplates were removed from the two campuses. According to a statement issued Monday, Aug. 3, by the Hanover County School Board, those signs will be going back up "for a brief period of time."


August Has Been a Deadly Month for Opioid Overdoses in Arlington


Arlington County police are again sounding the alarm about opioid abuse and its dangers. In a press release, ACPD says that it is seeing a new "spike" in drug overdose deaths. "In the month of August, the Arlington County Police Department has investigated five deaths as possible drug-related overdoses," the department said in a press release Tuesday.

F.C. Council Votes 6-0 to Adopt Firearms Prohibition Law

By NICHOLAS F. BENTON, Falls Church News-Press

Culminating a grueling 5 hour, 15 minute virtual meeting Monday night, the Falls Church City Council voted unanimously, 6-0, to enact a "Firearms on City Property and Events" ordinance that will go into effect Nov. 1. It prohibits the possession of firearms, open or concealed, in official City-owned locations such as buildings (including City Hall and the Community Center), parks, facilities and streets when City-sponsored events are occurring.

School Board approves inequity-combating changes to Academies of Loudoun admissions process

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times

At the recommendation of Loudoun County Public Schools senior staff, the Loudoun County School Board on Tuesday approved changes to the Academies of Loudoun admissions process. The action, which the board previously discussed as a potential method to combat systemic racism within the division as well as a means to "promote geographic and socioeconomic diversity," comes following years of concern regarding the underrepresentation of certain racial and economic groups at the Academies.

Richmond's superintendent said that police don't belong in schools; teachers remain divided on the issue

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

When Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said last month that he's going to ask the School Board to remove police from schools, Armstrong High School teacher Graham Sturm was distressed. Sarah Hunter, a teacher at Chimborazo Elementary, thought it was the right decision. Where Sturm, who was a sophomore at Virginia Tech in April 2007 when a gunman murdered 32 people, sees protection, Hunter sees a structural problem that cannot be solved without wholesale change.

Richmond Mayor Proposes Broad Gun Ban, Drawing Concerns


Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is proposing a ban on firearms at public gatherings in the city. The proposal comes after months of Black Live Matter protests where some demonstrators have been openly armed. The ordinance proposed by Mayor Stoney would ban the possession of guns on public roads, sidewalks and parks "when a permitted event, or an event that should be permitted, is taking place."

Stoney wants state lawmakers to legalize marijuana

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney wants state lawmakers to legalize marijuana when they take up criminal justice reforms during a special legislative session scheduled next week. Marijuana was decriminalized in Virginia beginning last month, after the Democratic-controlled General Assembly stopped short of legalizing the drug earlier this year. In a letter sent to Gov. Ralph Northam a week before the Aug. 18 special session, Stoney said state lawmakers "need to take it a step further."

Henrico school system says it needs $15M more for upcoming school year because of COVID-19

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

With Henrico County schools preparing to begin the school year online next month, the school system has requested an additional $15.1 million over its adopted $509.9 million budget for this year. The additional money, which officials said the federal CARES Act would cover, is needed for extra cleaning supplies, substitute teachers, laptops, overtime costs and other expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students won't be back in class. But some Hampton Roads teachers will have to be.

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

When Erin Stephens-Royster heard school board members in Chesapeake voted to start the year off virtually, she was thrilled — both as a teacher and a parent. She assumed that meant she'd be leading her classes online, too, just as she had in the spring when governor orders closed schools down due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when she got an email a short time later, she learned that wasn't the case. She'd be required to report to work, along with many other teachers in the city.

Virginia Beach parents have until midnight on Wednesday to choose between in-person and virtual learning

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

Parents of students attending Virginia Beach schools have until midnight on Wednesday to decide whether they want to commit to virtual learning for a semester or have their children return for in-person instruction when health conditions improve. If families don't make a choice by the deadline, students will automatically be placed in the face-to-face instruction option.

Virginia Beach Correctional Center has a new medical provider

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

The Virginia Beach Correctional Center has a new medical and mental health care provider. The sheriff's office awarded Richmond-based MEDIKO Inc., a contract earlier this summer paying $6.42 million a year. On Aug. 1, the company began offering medical, mental health, dental services and more to the jail's more than 1,000 inmates. MEDIKO is owned and operated by physicians.

Hampton to receive $800,000 in federal and state to aid homeless during pandemic

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

Hampton is on tap to receive $800,000 from federal and state sources to aid people without homes during the pandemic. The Hampton City Council expects to approve the COVID Homelessness Emergency Response Program funds Wednesday to cover costs for emergency shelters and rehousing incurred from April 2 through Sept. 20, 2022. Hampton's social services department will receive $560,000 from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sources and $240,000 from Virginia.

Journalist groups renew push for Newport News to record, broadcast work sessions

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Two Virginia journalism groups are urging the Newport News City Council to begin recording and broadcasting its work sessions, a topic that's been simmering among members of the council. Newport News is the only Hampton Roads city or Peninsula locality, including Gloucester and Isle of Wight counties, that does not post video recordings of work sessions. Most localities in the region broadcast their work sessions live, either online or on a public-access television channel.

Poquoson votes unanimously for hybrid start for students from Pre-K to third grade

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

The School Board voted Tuesday to bring some of Poquoson's youngest students back to school buildings starting Sept. 8, putting the city in rare company in eastern Virginia. Almost every district in Hampton Roads, including all of Poquoson's neighboring districts, has elected to start the year virtually.

Stafford residents fed up with poor mail delivery

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

After five days of waiting, Brenda Murray finally got mail delivered to her home last Friday. "It was not as much as I expected," Murray said. "And I tell you, we usually get tons of mail every day." Murray, like other residents in southern Stafford County, has experienced a lag, or in some cases, a total lack of mail over the last week or so.

Snow days the latest victim of COVID-19

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

Brace yourselves for some bad news, kids: There will be no snow days this year in Clarke County Public Schools. In fact, it's possible that snow days for schools throughout the commonwealth could vanish, possibly forever. Blame it on COVID-19. Starting in March, the novel coronavirus forced schools statewide to switch to an online learning model to complete the 2019-20 school year. Now, it's wreaking havoc with the 2020-21 school calendar, as school divisions across the state struggle with offering in-person classes, online instruction or a combination of the two when schools reopen in the fall.

Luray Town Council Censures Mayor Over 'Aunt Jemima' Post

By REBECCA ARMSTRONG, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Mayor Barry Presgraves was formally reprimanded by his colleagues Monday night following a 90-minute meeting that drew more than 30 speakers, most calling for his resignation. In a 5-to-1 vote, Luray Town Council voted to censure Presgraves for an Aug. 2 post to his personal Facebook page that read "Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick."

Roanoke schools will be online only for most students for first quarter

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

Roanoke City Public Schools will be online only for the majority of students through the first nine weeks of the 2020–21 school year. The Roanoke School Board voted 6-1 late Tuesday to approve the district's recommended phased reopening plan, following a four-hour meeting including two hours of rigorous questioning and discussion.

Salem schools modify reopening plans

By RALPH BERRIER JR., Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Salem schools will use a "soft opening" when classes resume later this month. All students who opt for in-person attendance will be in school one day a week, rather than two, for the first two weeks after schools open Aug. 31. Assistant Superintendent Curtis Hicks told the school board during a Tuesday work session that the district decided to reduce the number of in-person days after following guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health.

Roanoke County public safety employees to receive hazard pay

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke County has allocated more than $1.4 million to provide employees with hazard pay and bonuses after cutting salary increases from the fiscal year 2021 budget. The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the additional pay. Most of the funding comes from the county's share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which Congress passed in March to help state and local governments pay for COVID-19 related expenses.

Dan River Region school administrators commit to swift notification of positive tests once in-person learning resumes

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Among the many contingencies that school districts must plan for in the coming school year is the response to a student testing positive for COVID-19 once in-person instruction resumes. That scenario is viewed by some as an inevitability, but school leaders across Danville and in Pittsylvania County believe in a forthright reporting process that alerts parents and the wider school community as soon as they learn of a positive case.



5 lessons from Falwell's departure from Liberty

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

There is much that can be said about Jerry Falwell Jr.'s abrupt and indefinite departure from the presidency of Liberty University, surely far more than the 47 words in the university's terse formal announcement late Friday afternoon. This being 2020, a lot of those things got said pretty instantaneously on social media.

Long Bridge is still a good investment

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

The good news is that the coronavirus pandemic has not derailed one of the region's most important transit projects: the construction of a second Long Bridge over the Potomac River reserved exclusively for Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express passenger trains. The bad news is that due to revenue shortfalls directly related to the pandemic, the $3.7 billion, 10-year project may be significantly delayed.

Include developmentally disabled Virginians in COVID relief measures

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

Group homes for adults with developmental disabilities are struggling to survive as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to wipe out their already inadequate financial resources. Their plight, and their frustration with Richmond's unresponsiveness, serve as a reminder that lawmakers have a daunting challenge ahead of them next week, and that protecting our must vulnerable residents remains elected officials' most important charge.

Richmond should help businesses damaged during protests

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

Six months ago, downtown Richmond was bustling. Restaurants were full and sidewalks were crowded. The stretch of Broad and surrounding streets was lined with open storefronts with such offerings as shops, galleries and theaters. In a diverse economy, a cross-section of small businesses brought even more people into RVA, providing a multitude of fulfilling, competitive jobs.


Skaff: Police legislation endangers lives

By WILLIAM SKAFF, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Open Letter to the Virginia General Assembly: I respectfully ask that you vote against prospective State of Virginia legislation that will (1) decrease state funding for local police departments and (2) substantially curtail the ability of police to do their job. The first will result in fewer police on the job or reductions in training and equipment and the second in limiting tactics and protections that will prevent police from engaging promptly and effectively.

Skaff is a retired director of policy analysis for a policy organization in Washington, D.C. He lives in Roanoke County.

Hess: VEC is providing a helping hand to jobless

By ELLEN MARIE HESS, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Six months ago, the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic would have been unimaginable. Today, nearly everyone has been touched in some way by the crisis, and the last thing anyone needs is something else to worry about. For the more than 1 in 5 working Virginians affected by the pandemic, the need for unemployment benefits has never been greater.

Ellen Marie Hess is commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission.

Locke: Virginia Democrats propose sweeping justice reform agenda

By SEN. MAMIE LOCKE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have given Americans the full picture of the far-reaching problems with policing in America — primarily, the policing of people of color. Many of us are all too familiar with the obstacles and racial disparities of the justice system. The stories of violence against people of color are dominating the news cycle, social media and, for some, the conversations that we have with family and friends.

Locke represents the 2nd District, which includes parts of Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth and York County.

Brabble, Ludwig and Ewing: Wearing a mask in Virginia — historical lessons from 1918

By JESSICA BRABBLE, ARIEL LUDWIG AND E. THOMAS EWING, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In October 1918, Virginia's first lady, Marguerite Inman Davis, worked as a volunteer nurse fighting the flu in an emergency hospital in Richmond. A photograph published in the Roanoke World-News on Oct. 19, 1918, and republished widely across the United States, depicted Davis "wearing a mask to protect herself from the disease germs." This historical example is relevant today as Virginians deal with requirements to wear face coverings in public for the first time in more than a century.

Brabble is a second-year graduate student in history at Virginia Tech. E. Thomas Ewing is a professor of history at Virginia Tech. Ludwig recently received her doctoral degree in Science and Technology in Society (STS) from Virginia Tech.

Warner: Can summer camps survive?

By ANN M. WARNER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

...While camps have been able to weather world wars, the Great Depression and even other pandemics, COVID-19 has presented unique challenges that are a direct threat to the continued existence of summer camps. Without diminishing the hardships visited on so many businesses, overnight camps in Virginia have been uniquely and profoundly affected, perhaps more so than any other industry in the state. First, we are the only trade that specifically has been prohibited from operating, regardless of reopening phase.

Warner is owner and director of Camp Mont Shenandoah in Millboro Springs.

Robinson: After the statues come down, let's build a more equitable society

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

The fall of the Confederate statues reminds us that no nation forever can be shackled to symbols that defy its values, subvert its purpose, and cause its people anguish and pain. Removing these statues, though, also creates an opportunity, and focuses us on what we must do to build a just and equitable society. Part of the answer must be to confront the ways systemic racism has put Black people on the front lines of environmental hazard and harm far too often, and for far too long.

Robinson is the northeast/mid-Atlantic director of energy affordability at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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