Saturday, August 1, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

August 1, 2020
Top of the News

From outdoor proceedings to plexiglass shields, courts dramatically rethink the jury trial

By ANN E. MARIMOW AND JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The prosecutor reported to courtroom 4J with a tape measure. The public defender rolled in with bag full of six-foot lengths of rope. A defense attorney showed up lugging a hockey stick. Their mission on a recent afternoon in Fairfax County Circuit Court was to figure out how to salvage the most fundamental aspect of the nation's criminal justice system from the clutches of the coronavirus: the jury trial.

Virginia Tech mandates COVID-19 tests for on-campus students, stays mum on athletes

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

Thousands of Virginia Tech students will now be required to take a COVID-19 test when they start returning to campus in two weeks, the university said this week. Students living in university housing must get a less-invasive "mid-nasal" swab at Lane Stadium during move-in Aug. 14 to Aug. 23. Tech expects students to self-isolate until test results come back within about 48 hours.

Farrell 'not going anywhere' as Dominion resets leadership succession

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Tom Farrell isn't ready to talk about his legacy after 15 years as chief executive officer at Dominion Energy because he says he's not done yet. Hours after announcing a leadership succession plan at the Richmond-based energy giant on Friday morning, Farrell made clear in an interview that he will remain at the top of the company as its new executive chair, focusing on Dominion's role in what he called "the vanguard" of the new clean energy economy in Virginia and 17 other states.

As Virginia Beach faces litigation, the council declines to hold a referendum on voting system

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

An effort to place a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether to change how City Council members are elected failed this week. In a 5-6 vote Tuesday evening, the council rejected letting voters weigh in. ...The city is facing a lawsuit challenging the at-large voting system. In federal court, Virginia Beach residents Latasha Holloway and Georgia Allen, who are being represented by The Campaign Legal Center, argue the current system unlawfully dilutes or minimizes minority voting strength and denies those voters equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

What is the 'No Local Gun Control' resolution? | A primer

By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

By now, residents may be aware of a proposed resolution penciled on the Aug. 3 agenda of the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors (BOS) that aims to "reject local firearm regulatory authority." So what does this resolution do, and why is the issue being raised? Why now?

City's curfew law ruled unconstitutional, but it's not the last word

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

A judge on Friday ruled that the curfew hastily enacted by Fredericksburg officials in early June was unconstitutional and that the city had no authority to make violating it a crime. Judge Gene Woolard made the ruling in Fredericksburg General District Court, at least temporarily setting aside about 50 curfew violation cases that have been a rallying point for local protesters who have been marching and chanting along city streets for about two months.

When Black Lives Matter came to White, rural America

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Bridgette Craighead had almost reached the top of the hill when she stopped, teetering on leopard-print boots, to stare at the white-marble soldier in a Confederate uniform. He stood atop a granite obelisk, dedicated in engraved letters to "THE CONFEDERATE DEAD," that dominated the grassy square outside the Franklin County Courthouse. One of the soldier's hands rested on his hip. The other gripped a rifle.

The Full Report
32 articles, 19 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 10:00 a.m.


Biden maintains double-digit lead over Trump in new Virginia poll

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Democrat Joe Biden maintains a double-digit lead over President Donald Trump in Virginia and an even bigger lead in Northern Virginia, according to a new presidential election poll released Thursday by Virginia Commonwealth University.


Cline Named To Committee On Education

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

Congressman Ben Cline, R-Lexington, has recently been named ranking member of the House Committee on Education, as well as the Labor's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services.


Dominion overhauls leadership; Farrell stepping down as CEO

Associated Press

Dominion Energy on Friday announced a reorganized executive leadership team, including a new CEO. The Richmond, Virginia-based energy company said Thomas Farrell II, currently chairman, president and CEO, will become the company's executive chair, effective Oct. 1. In that role, Farrell will continue to serve as chair of the Board of Directors, the company said in a news release.

Back-to-school shopping: Pandemic causing sales to shift toward electronics

By ELIZABETH BELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Amy Lynn Ferry normally spends early August buying take home folders, decorating pencil boxes stocked with supplies and making bookmarks for each of her first-grade students. This year, however, Ferry won't need to stock up on her usual school supplies for her students at Highland Springs Elementary School in Henrico County. The school year will start off virtually.

Port of Virginia places a big bet on electric tractors

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

As the third largest container port on the East Coast, the Port of Virginia is used to operating non-stop around the clock to make sure shelves across the region remain fully stocked. With the current state of battery technology, however, the new electric tractors on order to lug goods around the shipyard will likely only be able to manage eight hour shifts before they need to be recharged. But if the planned pilot project at the Richmond Marine Terminal proves a success, then all 160 yard tractors operating at their six port facilities could soon go electric.

Judge rules against Virginia Uranium's 'one last effort' to mine Chatham deposit

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

The prospect of uranium mining occurring at Coles Hill in Chatham, the largest known uranium deposit in the country, took another blow when a Wise County Circuit Court judge ruled against Virginia Uranium, Inc. on Thursday afternoon. In his ruling, Judge Chadwick Dotson described the lawsuit, which had originally been filed in 2015 before finally going to a multi-day trial earlier this month, as "one last effort" by Virginia Uranium and other companies to utilize their property.

Lee Enterprises plans newsroom cuts at Virginia publications

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville will lay off its four-person copy desk in early October, as Iowa-based owner Lee Enterprises eliminates local jobs in favor of a consolidated copy desk in Indiana or Wisconsin, according to a memo sent to affected employees Friday. The cuts at The Daily Progress are possibly just the beginning of eliminating copy editing and page design jobs at all of Lee Enterprises' Virginia newspapers, according to members of two newsroom unions and other Lee employees.


UVa COVID prevention tactics will rely on, test student self-governance

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

University of Virginia officials will open up Grounds to students later this month with a set of rules, protocols, a contact tracing cellphone app and a student-signed contract that they hope will allow classes to commence and continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The university's Board of Visitors met Friday afternoon mostly behind closed doors to review the school's detailed pandemic response plans, including testing for the virus, public health and safety issues on grounds and liability issues.

William & Mary delays start of in-person classes

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

The College of William & Mary is delaying the start of in-person undergraduate classes after Gov. Ralph Northam put in place new COVID-19 restrictions in Hampton Roads, which has seen a recent surge in cases. President Katherine Rowe announced Friday that undergraduate classes will still start Aug. 19 remotely, with in-person instruction beginning after Labor Day.

Project reconfigures W&M campus to comply with physical distancing

By JENNIFER L. WILLIAMS, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

Having spent the past four years compiling classroom information, all Timothy Russell '90 had to do was access it and overlay the new COVID-19 guidelines. But inventorying every space on William & Mary's campus, and then applying physical distancing regulations onto new and converted instructional spaces, has taken cooperation from departments far and wide, according to Russell. It started with work he had already done.

Christopher Newport University delays first day of classes by 2 weeks

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

Christopher Newport University announced Friday it is delaying the start of its fall semester because of the coronavirus. Classes will start Monday, Aug. 31 — two weeks later than previously planned — because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads.


UVA researchers say state has avoided more than 800,000 additional COVID-19 cases

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

Virginia has avoided the possibility of 800,000 more COVID-19 cases since it started its phased reopening in May, according to researchers from the University of Virginia who are urging residents to stay vigilant amid surges across the state.

Virginia reports 984 new coronavirus cases Friday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 984 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the state's tally to 89,888. At least 2,174 Virginians have died from the virus as of Friday morning, up 33 from Thursday.

Richmond Juvenile Court is second to close over COVID-19 concerns

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court was closed Friday because of potential COVID-19 exposure. The judge at the courthouse, located in the Oliver Hill Courts Building at 1600 Oliver Hill Way, ordered the closure on Thursday.

Lynchburg Circuit Court Clerk's office closes again after positive COVID-19 tests

By STAFF REPORT, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

The Lynchburg Circuit Court Clerk's office again closed on Friday after "additional employees" tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a news release. In a news release, Lynchburg Circuit Court Clerk Todd Swisher said the building would be closed Friday afternoon and Monday for cleaning and disinfecting.


At Stoney's request, governor extends emergency order in Richmond over protests

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

Richmond will remain under a state of emergency until Aug. 30, due to "civil unrest," that has been in effect since May 31, according to an order Gov. Ralph Northam signed Friday at the request of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. Stoney wrote in a letter to Northam on Wednesday that the "climate of our city has again risen," referring to demonstrations last weekend that resulted in police using chemical agents, while protesters set a dump truck on fire and shattered storefronts.

RPD assigns Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney a security detail because of 'credible and ongoing threats'

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Citing credible threats to Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond police have assigned him a security detail, reviving a controversial practice from the two previous mayoral administrations that Stoney ended when he took office. Police Chief Gerald Smith created the detail because of "serious, credible and ongoing threats to Mayor Stoney," police spokesman Gene Lepley wrote in an email.

Confederate battle flag pulled down, taken overnight from Culpeper's Lenn Park

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

An unidentified man Thursday night pulled down and stole the Confederate battle flag flying over Lenn Park off of Route 3 in eastern Culpeper County. The Culpeper County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's assistance in identifying the person suspected in the destruction of property that occurred around 10:55 p.m. on July 30.

Forest Service to release new report on Mountain Valley's impacts on Jefferson National Forest

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

Two years after a permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to pass through a national forest was struck down, a new plan will soon be unveiled. The U.S. Forest Service plans to release a draft report on the pipeline's environmental impacts to the Jefferson National Forest by September, according to a notice published Thursday in the Federal Register.


Alexandria City Public Schools should start the fall all-virtual, superintendent says

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Alexandria City Public Schools should start the fall with all-virtual learning, the superintendent recommended Friday, a move that would mean all major public school systems in the Washington region are starting the new academic year online. Under Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr.'s plan, all of the Northern Virginia district's 16,000 students will receive tablets or Chromebooks in coming weeks.

Western Loudoun towns continue business aid in the pandemic age

By KAREN GRAHAM, Loudoun Times

Providing support to locally-owned businesses and restaurants during the pandemic over the past few months has been an ongoing goal for western Loudoun's town governments. Some businesses experienced as much as an 80 percent loss at the onset, and the Town of Middleburg was one of the first to respond by launching a voucher program in early April.

Chesterfield Education Association recommends school employees have a choice to return to work or continue remotely

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

When the Chesterfield County school system kicks off the year virtually in September, with all but its highest-need students learning from home, all teachers are expected to return to the classroom. After collecting concerns from Chesterfield Education Association members, the teachers union recommended Friday that Chesterfield Public Schools employees be given the choice to work in their respective schools or from home.

$2.6 million emergency program provides 5-day food packages during pandemic

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A $2.6 million public-private program has been created to provide emergency food care packages for families facing hunger as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The 20-pound boxes will be filled with five days' worth of nonperishable meals. Distributors say they can be easily assembled and mass-produced at the usual Federation of Virginia Food Banks. Other locations are being considered to reach vulnerable people and those in quarantine.

Schools in Gloucester, Mathews to be mostly virtual for first quarter

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

Students in Gloucester and Mathews will spend most of the first part of the school year online, school leaders decided this week. The Gloucester School Board voted Monday to adopt a virtual start for the first nine weeks. Mathews Superintendent Nancy Welch announced Thursday that some students may come to the school at the very start of the quarter — but only for a couple of days, and only elementary and middle school students.

City sues BVU for purported $6.5M share of OptiNet sale proceeds

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

The city of Bristol Virginia is suing BVU Authority, claiming it is owed $6.5 million from the 2018 sale of BVU's former OptiNet division. The civil action was filed Friday in Bristol Virginia Circuit Court by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Adrien C. Pickard of the Blank Rome firm, on behalf of the city. This is the latest step in a long-simmering disagreement between leaders of the cash-strapped city and its utilities provider over what, if anything, the city is owed since BVU was a division of the city for the first nine years the OptiNet telecommunications division was in operation.



Trinkle's legacy, revisited

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

Hear ye! Hear ye! The Court of Public Opinion is now in session, the Honorable Judge Vox Populi presiding. Our first case today: The People versus E. Lee Trinkle, former governor of Virginia. Gov. Trinkle, you stand accused of racism and support for eugenics. How do you plead? Well, since Trinkle has been dead since 1939, he can't very well testify, but he has been the latest historical figure put on trial, so to speak.

VEC struggles to stay above water in 'perfect storm'

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

The Virginia Employment Commission is not high on anyone's list of favorite state agencies these days. Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down a lot of businesses in March, more than 1 million Virginians have filed for unemployment benefits. Some 38,000 filed in one week, the one ending July 18, and 357,000 continue to draw benefits. The VEC has had to deal with as many claims in five months as it normally sees in six years.


Schapiro: A chance for Virginia to repeat history

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

Sometimes it's no more than the table of probability but, in Virginia, politics has a way of repeating itself. Republicans swept the governorship in three straight elections — 1969, 1973 and 1977. Democrats three-peated in 1981, 1985 and 1989.


Meredith: Franklin County needs a memorial to Booker T. Washington

By ROBERT MEREDITH, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Franklin County is home to two prominent figures from American history: Booker Taliaferro Washington and Jubal Anderson Early. Both of these men contributed much to the history of our great nation. If you drive through our county, you can drive on a highway named for each of these great Americans. Franklin County can be proud to claim both men as native sons. This is our history; it belongs to all of us.

Meredith is a minister, a historian, and a citizen of Franklin County

Evans: Stonewall doesn't define VMI

By CONOR EVANS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

I've had Robert E. Lee's "Definition of a Gentleman" in a frame with other pictures alongside hanging in my office since 2004. A nice quote/sentiment that most anyone would agree if not for opposition to the author. But, two weeks ago it dawned on me as I was sitting in my office with one of my direct reports, a woman of color, that she may have a different perspective.

Evans is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Class of 2002. He is now a construction executive in Morristown, New Jersey.

Skinner: VRE prepares for the safe return of riders

By GARY SKINNER, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

With Virginia entering Phase 3 today, many of us are considering what our commutes will look like. The Virginia Railway Express, the commuter rail system that has served our region for nearly three decades, remains a viable option for those headed north in the morning. Wondering what VRE has done to prepare for the safe return of passengers? It has spent the past several months putting safeguards in place that will, to the greatest extent possible, protect riders' health and safety.

Skinner is chairman of both the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board.

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