Friday, August 28, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 28, 2020
Top of the News

Bill requiring disclosure of parole board votes receives bipartisan support from Senate panel

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

A bill that would require disclosure of how individual members of the Virginia Parole Board vote received bipartisan support from a Senate panel on Thursday. "This is a sunshine initiative," said Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, the bill's patron . The Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology backed Senate Bill 5012 on a vote of 8-6, with Sens. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, and George Barker, D-Fairfax, joining Republicans to advance the measure.

Democrats advance legislation to create absentee ballot drop boxes

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

Virginians hoping to vote absentee may soon be able to drop off their ballots in a box outside their local election office under legislation advanced by state lawmakers Thursday. The legislation was pitched in the form of a budget bill that will immediately fund new local election activities — including the drop boxes and prepaid return postage on all absentee ballots — that Democrats say will ease voting during the pandemic.

Republican-backed bills to limit governor's powers defeated

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

Virginia Democrats this week defeated numerous bills from Republicans attempting to rein the governor's emergency powers while bolstering those of the General Assembly. Gov. Ralph Northam has had sweeping authority to handle Virginia's coronavirus pandemic, shutting down businesses and schools, ordering people to wear face coverings, and limiting how many people can gather in one place.

First-time unemployment claims in Virginia see biggest drop since pandemic forced businesses to close

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

The number of initial unemployment claims filed by Virginians dropped 24.5% in one week, the lowest level since the pandemic led to state-ordered business closures, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. The agency said 11,436 initial claims — the first step after having just been laid off or furloughed — were made during the week ending Aug. 22, which was 3,715 fewer claims than the week prior.

Emails: Mental health facility's HR office had concerns over making asymptomatic employees work

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

The human resources office at Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Danville expressed concerns about making employees who tested positive for the coronavirus show up for work if they were asymptomatic, according to emails between officials at the facility. An Aug. 4 email from SVMHI Chief Operating Officer Robin Crews told those employees to continue their work routine, incorrectly citing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if they had the disease but were asymptomatic. But in emails on Aug. 5, a person in the human resources office corrected Crews.

More than 550 positive coronavirus cases have been reported at colleges across Virginia

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

More than 550 positive cases of the coronavirus have been reported among students, faculty and staff at Virginia colleges and universities as they've reopened their campuses for the fall semester. At Virginia Commonwealth University, 44 positive cases within the athletics department forced the university to create 110 beds' worth of space in the Honors College residential hall to serve as home for those in isolation.

Pressure mounts ahead of UVa's decision Friday on in-person classes

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

More voices have joined the chorus against in-person classes at the University of Virginia ahead of the school's announcement Friday of its final plans on courses. UVa's Board of Visitors met Thursday in a 45-minute executive session to discuss in private a variety of COVID-19-related topics, including plans for "protecting the health and safety of employees, students and the public in accessing University Grounds, programs, services and building facilities for the fall semester."

The Full Report
51 articles, 30 publications


VPAP Visual Lobbyist Compensation: A Primer

The Virginia Public Access Project

Each year, Virginia lobbyists are required to disclose how much they were paid. VPAP has begun posting the information on its site, along with a visualization that explains why the data makes it difficult for the public to compare spending. The short answer is that lobbyists are given such wide latitude -- they can report all or part of their compensation -- that it's impossible to make 'apples-to-apples' comparisons.

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.


Roanoke Delegate Puts Forward Bill To Require Release Of Body Camera Footage


When police in Virginia shoot or use a taser on a suspect, there's no requirement that the body camera footage of the incident be released. A bill from Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) seeks to change that. Rasoul said he was inspired to put the proposal forward following the police killing of high school student Kionte Spencer. Spencer was reportedly walking along the road with a BB-gun in hand and not responding to orders when he was shot and killed by Roanoke County Police. That was in 2016, and Spencer's family still hasn't received the body camera footage from that night.


Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul exploring run for lieutenant governor

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

Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul is considering a run for lieutenant governor. The Democrat hasn't formally announced yet, but expects to make a final decision in the next several weeks. It's been rumored for a while that he's been mulling a run. He mentioned his interest in the statewide position Wednesday night during a town hall about COVID-19 and criminal justice reform.


Warner: Post-COVID economy 'is going to look different'

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) toured the Emil & Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center that's under construction on Jefferson Street, he noted how important skills in advance technologies will be in the post-coronavirus economy. "The post-COVID economy is going to look different than the pre-COVID economy," Warner told local officials on Wednesday afternoon. "It's going to move the digital economy forward 10 years."


State watchdog agency examining special education system

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

First came a scathing federal report on the failure of the Virginia Department of Education to effectively monitor the special education programs that local public school divisions provide to children with learning disabilities and mental challenges. Now the General Assembly's fiscal watchdog is preparing to do its own study of special education services at the local and state level and is seeking help from parents, foster parents and guardians of special needs children.

New Black history class coming to Virginia schools


Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia students will have the opportunity to take a new Black history class in school this year. "Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate," said Governor Northam. "The introduction of this groundbreaking course is a first step toward our shared goal of ensuring all Virginia students have a fuller, more accurate understanding of our history, and can draw important connections from those past events to our present day."


Altria Group and Dominion Energy provide grants to MBL's We Care RVA Rebuild Project

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

Altria Group Inc. is giving $675,000 in grants to four organizations that support minority-owned businesses in central Virginia as part of a larger $5 million program to support racial equity, social justice and small businesses. Altria, the Henrico County-based parent company of Philip Morris USA, had announced in June that it was setting up a $5 million fund to support nonprofit organizations advocating for social justice and assisting small businesses. The company made the announcement Thursday.

Airport employees protest MWAA for paid sick days

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

About 40 people protested Thursday outside of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority headquarters in Arlington, calling for paid sick leave for workers at the state's two Northern Virginia airports who have not received emergency sick days under federal coronavirus legislation.


Regional transit authority launches, bolstered by new tax money

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A yearslong backlog and proposed road, sidewalk, trail and public transit projects that Richmond area officials have at times struggled to address await the newly formed Central Virginia Transit Authority. The Ashland-Petersburg trail, expansion of the GRTC Pulse rapid-transit bus line, road-widening projects and perennial pothole repairs are just a few examples of projects officials at the transit authority's inaugural meeting on Thursday said will be completed faster with the new tax revenue and better coordination by local officials the authority aims to ensure.

Chesapeake's Rails-to-Trails project hits temporary impasse

By DAVID MACAULAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

More than a year after the city of Chesapeake outlined a proposal to turn an abandoned railroad in Western Branch into a multi-use trail, the project remains stalled. At a public meeting in April 2019, the city showcased phase 1 of the Western Branch Rails-to-Trails multi-use path to the public at Western Branch High School, with citizens reacting enthusiastically.

Bristol casino project expected to bring more flights to Tri-Cities Airport

Johnson City Press

More flights should come to Tri-Cities Airport if the Bristol casino project is approved by Bristol, Virginia, voters in the November general election, project advocates told members of the Airport Authority during a Thursday Zoom meeting. "If something like this is successful, it could add a lot to our air travel," said airport Executive Director Gene Cossey. "The air service side of this is extremely important to us."


UVA COVID-19 cases climbing past 50 and classes haven't even started in-person yet

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

The University of Virginia released a COVID-19 dashboard website Wednesday afternoon showing a rise in cases since Aug. 18. As of Wednesday morning, there were 37 positive cases of COVID-19 amongst faculty, staff, students and contract employees. Thirteen of those are students, the dashboard said. Five percent of student quarantine rooms were occupied as of Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday morning, there were 58 positive cases amongst faculty, staff, students and contract employees — 31 of those were students.

More college students in quarantine as COVID-19 cases rise

By NOAH FLEISCHMAN, VCU Capital News Service

As more universities open, they're collecting and releasing COVID-19 data and grappling with contingency plans for those who contract the disease. The University of Virginia in Charlottesville released its first set of COVID-19 testing data on Wednesday. There have been 58 total positive cases at the university since Aug. 17, including 31 students.

Viral photo and football promos: Virginia Tech grapples with gatherings during COVID-19 era

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

Virginia Tech is grappling with how to control large gatherings that could hasten the spread of COVID-19 during the first week of classes. An engineering professor was removed from teaching a class after a photo of an overfilled classroom, with some students sitting on the floor, went viral. A Tech website on Thursday continued to advertise tailgate packages with the smallest tent hosting up to 20 guests and the largest up to 60 people.

Hollins University, Ferrum College welcome back students for in-person classes

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

Hollins University remains on track to begin in-person classes next week, and Ferrum College began classes this week. One Hollins student has tested positive for COVID-19, and one Ferrum employee and one student have tested positive. Meanwhile, Roanoke College's total of positive COVID-19 cases has risen this week from 15 to 20 students plus two staff members as of Wednesday.

JMU Reports Over 100 COVID-19 Cases

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

On the first day of in-person classes in almost six months, James Madison University saw its COVID-19 cases jump to 124 on Wednesday from 49 the day before. Most of Wednesday's new cases — 64 of the 75 — were self-reported, according to information posted to the school's COVID-19 online dashboard, meaning the figures do not necessarily translate to new cases in the Harrisonburg area, said Caitlyn Read, communications director for JMU.

JMU denies parts of The Breeze's FOIA request

The Breeze

The Breeze received an email from Caitlyn Read, university spokesperson and director of communications, Wednesday saying that parts of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed repetitively by The Breeze on Aug. 20, 24 and 25 had been denied. The FOIA request asked directly about daily COVID-19 numbers from the university. Case numbers in the JMU community continue to rise, and the university continues to refuse to provide specific information on where cases are located, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Radford University suspends fraternity and 8 students over COVID-19 issues

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

Radford University announced the interim suspension of one of its fraternities and eight of its members for violating health measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a school officials. The school announced the suspension of the Theta Chi fraternity-Iota Zeta Chapter for COVID-19 related violations, including endangering conduct by hosting off-campus gatherings, according to a news release sent out by the university early Thursday evening.

SU reports 9 COVID cases on its main campus

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Shenandoah University is reporting nine cases of coronavirus on its main campus in Winchester, less than a week after students started moving in. In-person classes at the private university started Monday. In March, the university closed to in-person instruction over coronavirus concerns.

Liberty University campus pastor apologizes for Falwell's 'sinful' behavior

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

David Nasser, Liberty University's campus pastor, extended what he called a personal apology to the school's student body Wednesday for the "sinful" behavior of ousted former president Jerry Falwell Jr. "I am sorry," Nasser, a senior vice president who has led spiritual programs at the religious institution for the last six years, said. "In my opinion, you as a Liberty student deserve better. And the embarrassment that's been brought upon you as a Liberty student, and more importantly brought upon the name of Christ, is wrong."

Liberty students, alumni split on Falwell's scandalous exit


Some say he has sinned but should be forgiven. Others want an investigation. Jerry Falwell Jr.'s resignation as president of Liberty University following revelations of a sexual relationship between his wife and a business partner of the Falwell family has stirred conflicting emotions among those with close ties to the school founded by his father. While some students, graduates and former employees were appalled by his behavior in the latest of a series of scandals, others defended him.


Virginia reports 1,121 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,121 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state's tally to 116,579. At least 2,527 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, an increase of 12 from Wednesday.

Virginia state lab begins antibody testing for COVID-19

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's state public health lab in Richmond began antibody testing for COVID-19 on Thursday, according to a news release from the Department of General Services, the agency that oversees it. The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services has offered polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing since Feb. 29, when it first validated the COVID-19 test distributed to states by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Inmates, Staff Quarantined at Richmond Jail Following Outbreak


Dozens of inmates at the Richmond City Jail are being monitored after testing positive for COVID-19, displaying symptoms, or having been exposed to the virus. A spokesperson for the Richmond City Jail told VPM that about 75 inmates who potentially have COVID-19 are being watched. That's down from about 100 cases identified earlier in the week, which includes several staff members.


City to crack down on unauthorized events at parks, obstruction of roadways

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

Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson is warning community organizers that they could be cited if they hold an event planned for Friday. In a statement released Thursday evening, Richardson said the city has supported the community's right to "peaceably assemble," but that "obstructing city streets and using parks without the proper permits will no longer be allowed."

Johns considered for statue in U.S. Capitol

By TITUS MOHLER, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

The late Barbara Rose Johns may soon be representing Farmville and Virginia in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall. As the Virginia Office of the Governor announced in a July 24 press release, the Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol recommended, via unanimous vote, the removal of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from National Statuary Hall.

Former city councilman pushing African-American perspective missing in Lee statue lawsuit

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

New drama is about to be injected into the already charged legal fight over removing the last and largest offensive Confederate statue from Monument Avenue — the one to slavery's top military defender, Gen. Robert E. Lee. Sa'ad El-Amin, a former Richmond City Councilman who has long been outspoken about the need to remove the white supremacist Confederate statues that have dominated the Richmond landscape for more than a century, is preparing to enter the fray.

Historic nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir to be dismantled


The red button was always there — just in case. Most people never knew the world's first nuclear power reactor to provide electricity to a commercial power grid was — and is — on the grounds of Fort Belvoir, the U.S. Army installation in Fairfax County, Virginia. But it won't be there much longer.

Bald eagles shot in Highland, area stores offering reward for information

By LOGAN BOGERT, News Virginian

After two bald eagles were found dead in Highland County, two local stores have contributed to a $3,000 reward fund for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Nuckols Gun Works in Staunton began the reward fund with $1,000. Store manager Jim Wood said the bald eagle killings came on their radar from local law enforcement and game wardens.


Richmond Public Schools Faces Laptop Shortage During Transition to Remote Learning


Only a quarter of the laptops ordered by Richmond Public Schools - that were going to be given to students for online classes - have shown up, according to school officials. RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras delivered the news of the shortage in an email to parents Wednesday night. The district intended to distribute the devices to support remote learning.

County weighs $85 million in bonds for schools, drainage work

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

With interest rates at historic lows – and the county still reeling from flooding two weekends ago – the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors is considering issuing up to $85 million in bonds to finance school major maintenance and transportation/drainage infrastructure projects. The county and school system initially planned to put a $600 million bond referendum on the ballot for November's general election, but that was delayed by at least a year because of economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

IW, Poquoson only Hampton Roads school divisions planning to reopen


... Isle of Wight County and Poquoson are the only two public school divisions in the Hampton Roads area to offer the option of in-person instruction for students. Both divisions plan to offer in-person instruction for grades Pre K-3 two days per week on an alternating schedule, so that only half of the students are present in the same building on any given day.

Amazon grant will help 7 Hampton Roads schools get more kids in computer classes

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

Seven schools in Hampton Roads will be among those to benefit from an Amazon grant aimed at helping low-income students access computer science classes. Amazon will donate $3.9 million to a Richmond-based nonprofit over the next three years to help the group support students at mostly Title I or economically disadvantaged schools.

Hampton considering new household parking regulations: No more parking on lawns

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

Hampton is considering new regulations on household parking, including a ban on parking in front lawns. A majority on the Planning Commission last week recommended changes to zoning laws that would require vehicles to be parked on improved surfaces ― concrete, asphalt, pavers, gravel, rock, or oyster shells. Homeowners also would need to keep at least a certain percentage of their lawns as green space in yards on one- and two-family houses and duplex lots.

King William residents could see entire county with broadband service

By EMILY HOLTER, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

For King William County residents, broadband internet access may no longer be a luxury following the Board of Supervisors' unanimous vote to partner with a subcontracting business. After months of discussions through the county's Economic Development Authority and the King William Internet Connectivity Initiative, the county plans to work with Northern Virginia-based company All Points Partners.

Supervisors eye broadband expansion as virtual school looms

By HEATHER MICHON, Fluvanna Review

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors continued their deliberations over broadband expansion at their meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 19), a discussion made all the more urgent by the need to get more than 3,000 students ready for the start of virtual learning next month. With Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) absent for the evening, the Board voted 4-0 to approve a $45,900 request from Fluvanna County Public Schools for the purchase of 200 Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots and four months of data.

Council rescinds CRB appointment, fills seat with Bellamy Brown

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

Charlottesville's City Council has appointed Bellamy Brown, a former council candidate, to a seat on the Police Civilian Review Board after mistakenly appointing a city employee to the panel. The council unanimously rescinded the appointment of Latita Talbert and then voted 4-1 to appoint Brown following a closed session Thursday.

PERF reviewing Fredericksburg police's use of force during protests

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

A third-party review is underway of Fredericksburg's law enforcement practices and use of force and arrests during demonstrations held in the city between May 31 and June 2. Members of the Police Executive Research Forum, or PERF, met privately this week with Fredericksburg officials, the city's police department and community members, including some of the protesters.

HCPS to offer free meals to all students during virtual instruction

By JULIE HAGY, Harrisonburg Citizen

For the first time, free breakfast and lunch will be offered at no cost to all HCPS students this school year. During virtual instruction, the meals will be distributed through pick-up and delivery options. Because the program is funded through reimbursement for each meal provided, the district is hoping for a high participation rate from students during the virtual phase of instruction.

Rejected ballots might have made the difference in Staunton's council election

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

Did you know that your absentee ballots can be rejected? Yes they can, and they don't count if they're late. They also aren't counted if they are rejected. They can get rejected for several reasons. According to Staunton Registrar Molly Goldsmith, 98 ballots arrived late in the May 19 election and 58 ballots were rejected.

Roanoke County schools report smooth first week

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

The first week of school for Roanoke County has gone smoothly, Superintendent Ken Nicely reported Thursday night to the Roanoke County School Board. "The first week of school always brings some kinks to work out, and that's normal ... but all the efforts ... everybody put in to get this first week up and running has been a wonderful success," he said. Temperature checks, arrival procedures and mask usage among students have gone well, Nicely reported.

First positive COVID-19 cases reported in Roanoke County Public Schools

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

Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A student and an employee at separate Roanoke County elementary schools have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district. These are the first positive cases the district has reported since the 2020–21 school year began Monday. The student attends Back Creek Elementary School, and the employee works at Green Valley Elementary School, according to spokesman Chuck Lionberger.

Lynchburg mayor, recruitment firm shed light on search for city manager

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

As the six-month search for a new city manager drags on, city leaders must now decide if they will stay with the consulting firm that already has cost $17,000 in fees and led to the shortest city manager tenure in Lynchburg history. The firm identified, and the city hired, former Warren County Administrator Douglas Stanley on Aug. 11, only to have him resign Aug. 21, one week before the job was to begin.

Blended model of instruction chosen by most families who had options

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Page County Public Schools recently surveyed families across the county to see which learning method they preferred for the upcoming school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results were presented at Monday night's meeting of the Page County School Board by Eric Benson, the division's Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and Accountability. Nearly 60 percent of the 3,155 surveys sent out showed families opting for remote learning for the 2020-21 school year in Page County.

Supervisors reject bid to remove monument

By SYLVIA ALLEN, Brunswick Times-Gazette

The Brunswick County Board of Supervisors rejected the bid received from Clary Construction to remove the Confederate monument from courthouse square and will advertise again soliciting bids for the work. The bid totaled $33,300: removal of monument - $26,500, restoration of site - $2,800, other costs - $4,000 and transport cost per mile - $150. The company is also not responsible for any breakage.



Good luck reopening college campuses

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

Colleges and universities are opening all over the country, COVID-19 be damned. They're doing it with fingers crossed, full of hope and optimism that 18- to 22-year-olds will act responsibly. In another type of gambling, this would be the equivalent of drawing to an inside straight. The odds are not good. Virginia Commonwealth University reported 48 active cases of COVID-19 among its student body as of Aug. 23, the day before classes commenced.

John Hager reminds Virginia of the meaning of public service

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

Public reaction to the passing of John Hager, Virginia's lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002, has been telling. It reveals a measure of regret and a tinge of despair. Maybe more than a tinge. The regret is easy to understand. It results from the loss of a decent and valued public servant, who not only handled the cruel, paralyzing effects of polio, but also muscled himself beyond its restraints.

Internet safety in the virtual classroom

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

Across Virginia, students and their families — as well as teachers and administrators — are preparing for the first day of school. But this is no ordinary year. Instead of the usual back-to-school preparations of cleaning classrooms, confirming bus schedules and assembling supplies, many are checking their internet connectivity.


Hobbs: Individual, collective action needed to combat climate change

By KATHERINE HOBBS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On Aug. 4, Tropical Storm Isaias spawned two tornadoes in Suffolk, one in the Riverview neighborhood where I grew up. While I now live in Chesapeake, I drive to Suffolk often to check on my father, 93, who still lives in Riverview. Fortunately, he only lost power for three days, but some of his neighbors were not so lucky. Giant pines had snapped and broken through power lines, falling onto houses and cars.

Hobbs is a leader with the Climate Reality Project and a resident of Chesapeake.


A Flying Start

By SADIE DINGFELDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

One of the lesser casualties of the coronavirus pandemic is gossip. Many of us are suddenly leading very boring lives: baking banana bread, learning TikTok dances, watching the full contents of Netflix. Even the celebrities are dullsville these days. Sensing our desperation for scuttlebutt, they've retreated into their luxurious villas, which they quickly learned not to flaunt. Now who are we supposed to talk about, judge and live vicariously through? Birds.

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