Friday, August 21, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 21, 2020
Top of the News

Senate adjourns to await resumption of work by House of Delegates

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

The Virginia Senate adjourned Thursday and will return to Richmond next week to continue work for the special session. The Senate has worked through dozens of bills in just a few days, while the House of Delegates has yet to begin its work. The House is planning to vote Sunday to transition to an all-virtual session and then it will begin taking up bills.

Unemployment claims rise in Virginia, and U.S.

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

Unemployment claims picked up in Virginia and across the United States last week. The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 15,151 initial jobless claims — the first step for people who have found themselves out of work either for the first time or again after a period of employment — had been filed with the state during the week ending Aug. 15.

McAuliffe files paperwork to run but says no decision made

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has filed paperwork to run for his old job next year but says he's still hasn't made a decision yet. McAuliffe filed paperwork with the Virginia State Board of Elections on Wednesday listing himself as a Democratic candidate for governor. But his spokesman, Brennan Bilberry, said McAuliffe won't made an official decision to run until after the November election.

7 Virginia Tech students suspended after off-campus gatherings

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

Seven Virginia Tech students were suspended Thursday after local law enforcement alerted the university to reports of large groups of students gathered off-campus. "Virginia Tech remains steadfast in its commitment to expect all members of our community to follow all public health guidelines issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Dean of Students Byron Hughes said in a message posted on Tech's website Thursday afternoon.

As other universities pull the plug on in-person classes, UVa tries to reassure community

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

Positive cases of COVID-19 will be part of the "new normal" at the University of Virginia as students return to Grounds for the new school year, and a successful return doesn't mean completely eliminating the risk of infections, officials wrote in a letter to the university community Thursday. "It means instead that each and every one of us acts to prevent the spread of the virus by following simple but powerful public health measures," officials wrote.

Bristol schools reopen

By SARAH WADE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

On Thursday, Bristol Virginia schools reopened their buildings to students for the start of the new academic year. While some had elected the remote learning option in a school systemwide survey, at least 56 percent of the student population returned in person.

Sweeping probe details ruthless rise of a new gang in D.C.'s suburbs

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A member of the Reccless Tigers gang beat and robbed Brandon White over a drug debt in 2018. But even after they put White in the hospital with bruised ribs and broken orbital bones, they weren't done with him. Ignoring offers of bribes to keep silent and death threats, White testified in court and named his attacker as David Nguyen, according to court records. Court documents state that Nguyen admitted he got a copy of a police report from his attorney and sent out a letter from a Fairfax County jail cell: White was a "snitch" who needed to be "checked."

The Full Report
61 articles, 30 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.


Virginia has $1.1B in unused reserve funds. Some say the rainy day is here.

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

When he presented his pandemic-era budget proposal to the General Assembly this week, Gov Ralph Northam said that, just as it is in family budgeting, "cash is king." In other words, a year of crisis and financial uncertainty is no time to start spending on new things. As legislators began their special session, Northam detailed all the ways the state has tried to help Virginia families weather the COVID-19 pandemic, including the $3.1 billion in federal CARES Act money the state is deploying, much of it going directly to local governments to help their communities.

Alert system for mental health crises advanced by lawmakers

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A Virginia Senate committee has approved legislation that would establish an alert system to dispatch mental health providers along with police to help stabilize people in crisis situations, a move prompted by the police killing of a high school teacher in Richmond police two years ago. The bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday is named after Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old Black man who was killed while he was undergoing a mental health crisis.

Virginia bill eliminating mandatory minimum punishments dies in committee


In a special session dedicated to COVID-19 and criminal justice reform, senators shot down a bill that would've done away with mandatory minimum punishments in Virginia. Eight members of the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to kill the proposal and refer it to the Virginia Crime Commission for further study. Three senators voted to keep it alive, including the Committee's Chairman Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), who introduced the bill.

Bob Calhoun, former Alexandria vice mayor and state senator dies at 83

By JEANNE THEISMANN, Connection Newspapers

Bob Calhoun, a political statesman who represented Alexandria in elected office for 20 years, died Aug. 6 at his country wildlife preserve in Berryville, Va., following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 83 years old. "Bob was always interested in politics," said Calhoun's wife Sandra. "His grandmother was an influential Democratic backer in the Chicago area while the other side of his family were fervent Republicans. So I guess you could say it was kind of in his blood."

Portsmouth officer's email condemned Lucas before investigation started

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

The day after protests and vandalism at the city's Confederate monument, a Portsmouth police sergeant emailed the city manager and council members to defend the police chief and take aim at Sen. Louise Lucas, the city's top prosecutor and public defenders. "For a Senator to try to inject any of us into her agenda is repulsive," he wrote of Lucas.


McAuliffe files paperwork to form campaign committee, but has not yet decided to seek a comeback, aide says

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Former governor Terry McAuliffe has filed paperwork with the Virginia elections office to create a campaign committee to run for governor in 2021, but the Democrat's spokesman said that it's a technicality and that there's no candidacy. Yet. "Governor McAuliffe is making no decisions on 2021 until after we defeat Donald Trump and his hateful ideology. This represents a paperwork change suggested by our accountant and lawyer," spokesman Brennan Bilberry said via text message.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe files paperwork to raise funds for gubernatorial run

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

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has teased at a run for governor after considering a run for president, filed paperwork on Wednesday with Virginia election officials to formally raise funds for a gubernatorial campaign. McAuliffe, 63, has encouraged speculation about his run for governor while becoming a prominent surrogate for the presidential campaign of Joe Biden.

Fairfax legislators split on need for redistricting amendment

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Virginia voters on Nov. 3 will decide whether to approve a proposed constitutional amendment to create a commission that would redraw congressional and state legislative districts – a process usually conducted by the General Assembly the year after each decennial census. Democrats advocated for such a commission during the two most recent decades when they did not hold the majority in the General Assembly. But with the commission potentially on the cusp of becoming reality – and Democrats in control of both legislative houses, following last November's massive victory sweep – some lawmakers within the party are expressing reservations about possible redistricting changes.


Gade brings Senate campaign to city

By TERRAN S. YOUNG, Coalfield Progress

"I will lead the movement," U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade told supporters during a midday event here Monday. The Republican held an outdoor lunchtime meet-and-greet event downtown with Norton and Wise County residents. Gade is running against Democratic incumbent Mark Warner.

Stafford supervisors approve satellite voting station

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

Stafford County supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday night to open an additional early voting site at the Stafford Regional Airport, in anticipation of heavy turnout for the upcoming presidential election.

Preparing for a unique fall election

By TOBY COX, Central Virginian

Louisa officials are preparing for an upcoming presidential and Congressional election that presents unique challenges and opportunities for voters. Around this time in a normal election year, people would be canvassing across the county, third-party nonpartisan organizations would be setting up booths at events to encourage passersby to register to vote, and the local registrar's office would be engaging high schoolers to register and participate as election pages.

New early voting location approved by Washington County supervisors

By JOE TENNIS, Washington County News

Voters can find a new early voter polling place prior to the upcoming presidential election in Washington County, Virginia. The Washington County Board of Supervisors last week approved establishing a voter satellite office at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center just off I-81's Exit 14.


Virginia seeks stopgap federal unemployment aid

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

Unemployed Virginians could receive an additional $300 a week in unemployment compensation under a federal executive order by President Donald Trump, but the emergency funding could run out soon after the money starts flowing. The Virginia Employment Commission filed an application on Thursday for enhanced unemployment compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which said it already has spent about $2.4 billion of the $44 billion that would be available under the executive order issued after talks broke down between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over COVID-19 relief.

Virginia's high court won't extend ban on evictions; moratorium still set to expire in early September

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

The chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court extended a "judicial emergency" order Thursday, but the court said it was not extending the order that temporarily stopped evictions proceedings. On Aug. 7, in a 4-3 ruling, the court agreed to a moratorium on eviction proceedings through Sept. 7 at Gov. Ralph Northam's request. The updated order Thursday said the moratorium would end unless it was amended in a future order....The court said it was passing the order to give Northam and his administration time to develop and pass a legislative package to help tenants facing eviction and to expand financial assistance.

Inspector general faults lack of diversity in conservation police agencies

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

Conservation and marine police at Virginia's natural resources agencies are overwhelmingly white and male, according to an inspector general's audit that faults the departments for not doing more to make their law enforcement staffs more diverse to reflect the population they serve.

DEQ traces Tinker Creek fuel leak to downtown Roanoke plant

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

A diesel fuel leak into Tinker Creek last month has been traced to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in downtown Roanoke. About 2,500 gallons of fuel slowly escaped from the plant's fueling station over about two weeks, according to Jon Newbill, a petroleum remediation specialist with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.


Congressman seeks to end park's designation as Lee memorial

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

A northern Virginia congressman is pursuing legislation to remove Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's name from the official designation at the historic mansion where he lived before the Civil War. The home, overlooking the nation's capital and surrounded by Arlington National Cemetery, is a National Park Service site officially known as "Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial."


Panelists at economic outlook forum see modest COVID-19 recovery, need for more stimulus

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

Hopes for a swift economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic are now giving way to the reality of a longer, fitful climb back to normalcy, economists and business leaders said Thursday during an online forum focusing on the economic outlook for Virginia. Joined by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the panel of two economists and two business leaders said a slower economic recovery will require additional measures, such as assistance for renters who may face evictions, along with more help for small businesses that were unable to tap into earlier rounds of federal government-backed relief loans.

Five N. Va. public schools will receive Amazon money for computer science classes

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

When Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) met with CodeVA about funding computer science programs in Virginia public schools, the e-commerce and cloud computing giant wanted to know how it could make a significant impact. Chris Dovi, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit, which works to make computer science training equitable throughout Virginia's schools, recalls responding, "Double our budget" of about $1.3 million.

SW Va. coal mine owner and foreman sentenced in dust sampling fraud case

By TIM DODSON, Washington County News

A Southwest Virginia coal mine owner and a foreman who previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit dust sampling fraud were sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon. Daniel Tucker, 57, of Russell County, owns D&H Mining and was sentenced to three months in federal prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia.

J.C. Penney plans to close two stores in Virginia

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

J.C. Penney plans to close two stores in Virginia, including its location in Regency mall in Henrico County. The Plano, Texas-based chain, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, filed documents with the federal bankruptcy court late Wednesday night seeking to close a total of three more stores. That list includes its store in the Fashion Square Mall in Charlottesville.


Fare or no fare? Transit agencies face tough choices amid COVID-19 budget crunch.

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

Thanks to ground-breaking expansion plans and record ridership numbers in 2019, the Greater Richmond Transit Company expected 2020 to be a turning point in Central Virginia's glacial journey towards a truly regional transit system. Instead, GRTC's first-ever local route in Chesterfield opened during an unprecedented pandemic and eight months into the year the agency finds itself hustling to balance the safety of its riders and staff, its responsibility as an essential transportation service, and its own budget.


Community colleges, facing major enrollment drops, prep for a virtual fall semester

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

Community colleges typically face a predictable calculus: Unemployment goes up, more people seek job training and affordable tuition, so enrollment rises. The economy improves, unemployment goes down, and enrollment drops. But the coronavirus pandemic has broken all the rules. Despite high unemployment, Thomas Nelson and Tidewater community colleges are facing significant enrollment declines.

VCU reports 25 confirmed student and 11 employee COVID-19 cases

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

Within an hour of confirming 25 student and 11 employee cases of COVID-19, Virginia Commonwealth University unveiled an online dashboard billed as a transparent accounting of the potentially fatal virus's footprint in the campus community. Of the student cases, 11 involve people who are living on campus, said VCU spokesman Mike Porter.

University of Richmond has six new COVID-19 cases

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

Six students at the University of Richmond are infected with the coronavirus four days before classes start. According to a university spokeswoman, three of those students are living on campus and are in isolation. Two off-campus students self-reported their cases to the school, and one was tested on campus but did not plan to attend classes in person. Students returned to campus last week.

EMU's delay of move-in because of positive COVID tests underscores colleges' challenges

By ANDREW JENNER, Harrisonburg Citizen

Even before many of its students even reached campus, Eastern Mennonite University sought to quash an outbreak this week when four students tested positive, although without showing symptoms. But the students' interactions with others, who also now must be quarantined, set into motion a ripple effect, prompting EMU to delay its move-in date from this weekend until Sept. 3-6 and forcing classes online to start the semester.

Labor complaint filed on behalf of George Mason janitors

Associated Press

Janitors working at George Mason University who are considering forming a union are facing retaliation from their employer, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board. The complaint filed this week by the union, Service Employees International Union, alleges janitors have been targeted with surveillance and interrogations about potential union activity by their employer, H&E Cleaning in Manassas, Virginia.

Virginia Tech gets record amount of donations

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

Virginia Tech on Thursday reported a record-setting year of donations, despite a pandemic that has ravaged the economy and imperiled the university's budgets. The university received more than $185.4 million in gifts and commitments for donations over the fiscal year that ended June 30.


863 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday in Virginia

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 863 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state's tally to 109,882. At least 2,427 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, an increase of 17 overnight.

Where COVID-19 cases rose in Virginia over the past month

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

After seeing an explosion in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in July, Hampton Roads has seemingly reversed course. Many of the region's key health metrics are now trending down. Over the past few weeks, the region's percent of tests coming back positive have dropped from 12.2% to 8.7%.


Shame and acclaim; council hears opinions on statue

By ROGER WATSON, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Farmville's Town Council spent more than an hour Wednesday, Aug. 19, hearing opinions from 27 citizens concerning the fate of the town's Confederate Heroes statue. The bronze soldier was hastily removed from atop its pedestal at the intersection of High and Randolph streets the night of June 18.

It's gone

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

The Surry County Confederate monument, formerly located in front of the county's courthouse, is gone. The monument was removed from its spot over the weekend. According to county officials, the monument is being stored at an undisclosed location while Surry's Board of Supervisors wait out the 30 days state law requires localities to offer their Confederate monuments slated for removal to museums, historical societies, other government entities or military battlefields.

Religious leaders say they'll 'walk the walk' from Charlottesville to DC to highlight racial inequalities


A group of about 30 religious figures from around the country gathered in Charlottesville as a symbolic starting point to talk about race in the country, with a focus on inequalities that they feel sometimes go unaddressed by other religious activists. But they have no intention of staying in the Virginia.

Residents weigh in on Confederate statue's place in Lovingston

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

Several residents went before the Nelson County Board of Supervisors during its Aug. 11 meeting to voice their opinions on the suggested removal of the confederate statue that sits on courthouse grounds. In total, five residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, two stating their support of the statue's removal, and three voicing their opposition.

School board removes Lee-Jackson name

By CHARLIE KOENIG, Gazette-Journal

The name Lee-Jackson Elementary is now history. By a 4-0-1 vote Tuesday night, the Mathews County School Board voted to remove the name from the school, putting off a decision on selecting a new name for the school until the end of the year.


Arlington GOP preps for first in-person meeting since COVID hit

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Having been relegated to online meetings since spring, the Arlington County Republican Committee is planning to return to in-person gatherings. Party chairman Andrew Loposser said the monthly Republican Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at Summers Restaurant, located in the Courthouse area. . . . The Arlington GOP will be the first political party in the county to revert to in-person meetings; both the Arlington County Democratic Committee and Arlington Greens continue to use "virtual" platforms.

Loudoun County Public Schools expands opening plan to add hybrid learning for some students


As Loudoun County Public Schools gears up for a virtual start to the school year Sept. 8, certain groups of students in the Virginia school system will have a hybrid option. On Wednesday night, the Loudoun County School Board directed LCPS to add two days of in-person learning for students with disabilities who receive instruction through the Aligned Standards of Learning as well as in Early Childhood Special Education.

Prince William County facing COVID-19 workers' comp claims

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Prince William County has set aside over $237,000 to cover workers' compensation claims from five county employees who say they contracted COVID-19 after being exposed in the workplace. Brian Misner, the county's emergency management coordinator, provided information about employees' exposure to the coronavirus for the first time Aug. 4 at the request of the board of county supervisors. Misner said 40 county employees have tested positive for the virus, with 22 of those being public safety employees.

Superintendent investigation costs Prince William schools $110,000

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

An investigation into Superintendent Steve Walts' use of his Twitter account has cost Prince William County Public Schools over $110,000. The school division paid law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP a total of $110,776.50 for its investigation of complaints about Walts, according to documents from the division provided to InsideNoVa in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Superintendent: 1,894 special needs students will return to school in-person

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steve Walts told the school board Wednesday that approximately 1,894 special education students, English language learners and students with interrupted learning will return to school this fall for in-person learning. Walts outlined the school divisions plan to return the "most vulnerable" students to school for in-person learning and said he was "very confident" that the school division will be prepared to open on Sept. 8.

Citing questions about enforcement, Richmond City Council delays vote on gun ban

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

The Richmond City Council delayed a vote Thursday on a gun ban for events in the city amid questions over how the prohibition would be enforced. The ban, proposed by Mayor Levar Stoney, would prohibit bringing a gun to, or adjacent to, a street, sidewalk, alley or other public right-of-way at a permitted event or one that requires a permit under city code.

Empty school buildings may be central to plan to help parents with day care as they return to work

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Sharonda Robinson hoped against hope that Richmond Public Schools would reopen this fall so her sons, ages 6 and 8, could be in school taking classes while she went to work. But the RPS decision to hold classes only online this fall means the 32-year-old single mother might have to give up her job as a retail store clerk to stay home to care for the boys and help them with online classes.

County sales tax revenue keeps rising, up 20% in June

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

While many individual Chesterfield businesses continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, by one important measure the local economy is outperforming those in most of Virginia's largest jurisdictions. In April, state sales tax collections in Chesterfield increased by 4%, a surprising result given the nationwide recession. Two months later, June's collections proved that wasn't a blip, as Chesterfield's state sales tax revenue jumped 20.4% that month when compared to June 2019, marking the county's largest year-over-year increase in more than two decades.

Council limits gatherings to 50; masks required in public spaces

By ROGER WATSON, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Farmville's Town Council unanimously enacted an emergency ordinance Wednesday, Aug. 19, to limit gatherings to 50 people. The only debate was if 50 was the right number. "I think 50 is too many," Council Member Sallie Amos said.

Buckingham County Sheriff's Deputy's Facebook post questioned

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Many area residents expressed outrage and disappointment this week in response to a social media post made by a Buckingham County sheriff's deputy. A screenshot of the post, deemed racist and unprofessional by several citizens, began circulating online last week. The Facebook status appeared to have been written by Deputy Chris Fishburne of the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office.

Prince Edward County Sheriff's Sergeant demoted after Facebook comment

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

A Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office sergeant has been demoted following his involvement in a controversial Facebook post deemed racist and offensive by many area residents. Tuesday, Aug. 11, Buckingham County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Fishburne shared a Facebook post that outraged several citizens. A Facebook profile under the name Larry Redskin Franklin seemed to find humor in the deputy's joke, commenting laughing emojis under the original post. That's when locals identified Franklin as being an employee of the Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office.

27,000 new laptops. How schools in Hampton Roads will keep students connected during COVID.

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

One book a day and cuddle. It's some advice Denae Horton got from her son's teachers after the coronavirus pandemic closed the doors to their school, Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Chesapeake. Horton had been feeling down. She was worried she wasn't being the mother her two boys needed. She was preoccupied not only by what impacts the pandemic was having on her own job prospects, but about the boys' education.

With roughly half reporting to U.S. Census, King William, King and Queen counties could miss out under limited timeline

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

With federal dollars and congressional seats at stake, the U.S. Census Bureau is working against the clock, keeping a 200-year tradition alive, sending out letters, knocking on doors and reminding folks to fill out their forms. Conducting the report every 10 years, the agency works to collect the information on everyone in the country in hopes of gaining a better understanding of where to allocate federal funds and what votes will go where.

While local universities return, Lynchburg has no plans to enact local ordinances or scale back reopening

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

In preparation for the return of college students, some Virginia localities are implementing local ordinances in hope of limiting the spread of the virus in their communities. Blacksburg, Radford and Harrisonburg have each banned gatherings of more than 50 people in their localities in preparation for students' return to Virginia Tech, Radford and James Madison University.

As about 75 Nelson schools employees face furloughs, officials offer alternative work

By NICK CROPPER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

About 75 Nelson County Public Schools employees face possible furloughs because of schools' move to remote learning, but the division is offering the opportunity for different work instead. That's the result of the Nelson County School Board's unanimous approval Aug. 13 of the division's furlough policy.

Whole lotta bull

South Boston News & Record

The Mecklenburg County School Board spent much of its monthly meeting Monday night focused on an unusual topic: cows. Trustees responded to a controversy, fanned largely on social media, concerning the care of three cows at Bluestone Middle School by FFA teacher Amy Whitten.

Accomack Board approves CARES Act Grants for watermen, charter boat captains

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Accomack officials approved a proposal to distribute remaining money from the federal CARES Act to watermen, small businesses, and charter boat captains. Twenty grants of $5,000 each previously were awarded to watermen; 21 grants of $5,000 each were awarded to businesses; and 11 grants of $3,500 each were awarded to other businesses, according to Rich Morrison, Accomack County deputy administrator of building, planning, and economic development. He proposed the board consider awarding grants to another 46 eligible watermen who applied in the first round but were not given funds.



"Not Americans" Amanda Chase goes down dangerous path

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

State Sen. Amanda Chase, the only declared candidate for the Republican nomination for governor next year, spent part of her Fourth of July at a rally where, in the words of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "a handful of white men raised their hands in Nazi-like salutes." Last weekend, she was in Salem to speak at another rally where she declared that "the people who are calling for defunding the police, in my opinion, are not Americans." That's a curious juxtaposition.

Crime victims deserve justice too

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

Is it too much to ask that appointed state officials follow the law like everybody else? If you're a member of the Virginia Parole Board, apparently it is. That's why State Inspector General Michael Westfall's unredacted July 28 report on the Parole Board's deliberate violations of state law and its own policies and procedures should be a must-read for state legislators currently considering reforms to the criminal justice system, including relaxing the commonwealth's "truth in sentencing" laws.

Louise Lucas arrest demands an explanation

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

Portsmouth police officials need to explain themselves. Chief Angela Greene has a duty to the city she serves to justify the decision to issue arrest warrants against Sen. Louise Lucas, the president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, and 13 other people in relation to the June 10 rally in Olde Towne that saw the city's Confederate monument defaced and partially toppled.

Ensuring safe and secure voting

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

Voting is a right, not a privilege. And casting a ballot — that most fundamental exercise of American citizenship — should be as accessible as possible. And in this age of pandemic, voting safely should not be an issue. Voters shouldn't have to potentially forego a trip to crowded polls to cast ballots in person if they don't feel secure because of the highly contagious coronavirus.


Politifact: Spanberger Refuses Corporate Donations... For the Most Part


Rep. Abigail Spanberger sits in a yard with her parents during a TV ad, talking about the lessons they imparted. "Growing up, my parents taught me, 'Correct what's wrong, maintain what's right,'" the Virginia Democrat says. Then, Spanberger addresses something she's trying to correct: Corporate donations to political campaigns. "When I ran for Congress, I promised to refuse money from corporate PACs," she says. "I've kept that promise." The National Republican Campaign Committee says Spanberger is lying in her ad and accepting backdoor corporate contributions. So we fact-checked Spanberger's claim that she's spurned corporate PAC contributions, and found it needs elaboration.


Manley: How Virginia can rebuild its economy

By DAVID MANLEY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

If there is one thing we can all agree with —from our rolling mountains to our sandy beaches, and our most rural regions to our urban centers — it's time to get Virginia's economy back on track. It's time to get back to business. It's time to get back to work. If we don't start focusing on that now — focusing on the many tomorrows ahead of us while also working together to help slow the spread of COVID-19 — we could find Virginia falling further and further behind as a great state to do business.

Manley is a Board Member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and Executive Director of the Joint IDA of Wythe County.

Accordino: We can bridge the urban-rural divide

By JOHN ACCORDINO, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Among America's pressing tensions and conflicts, the so-called urban-rural divide is one that we must not ignore. Characterized by divergent social and political attitudes, this divide found expression in the presidential election of 2016, in which Hillary Clinton carried almost every major metropolitan area and Donald Trump carried most of the rest of the nation, particularly rural areas.

Accordino is a professor of planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and guest editor of the special issue of State and Local Government Review on "The Urban-Rural Divide."


'The mystery is over': Researchers say they know what happened to 'Lost Colony'

By JEFF HAMPTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — the Croatoans of Hatteras, according to a new book. "They were never lost," said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the 16th century. "It was made up. The mystery is over."

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