Friday, September 11, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

September 11, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia Senate passes sweeping police overhaul bill

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The state Senate on Thursday passed sweeping legislation meant to overhaul policing, a cause that came to the forefront here and across the country after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. The measure included provisions meant to make it easier to sue police for misconduct, but later Thursday a Senate committee killed a House bill that would have more broadly swept aside the qualified immunity that shields officers from lawsuits.

Top police figures oppose some proposals, agree others needed

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Representatives of the largest law enforcement organizations in Virginia on Thursday vented over some of the legislation pending in the Virginia General Assembly and the current state of their profession's public image. But representatives of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Sheriffs' Association, the Virginia State Police Association and the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police also acknowledged during a news conference that there are problems that need correcting and welcomed some of the measures proposed by lawmakers.

Judge orders Lee portrait removed from Louisa County courtroom

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Circuit Court Judge Timothy K. Sanner has ordered the removal of a portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from its prominent position in a Louisa County courtroom. Reversing his Nov. 15 ruling that kept the portrait in place, Sanner wrote Thursday that, "while Robert E. Lee's place in history has been controversial, undoubtedly, for some time, the tenor of the debate has changed remarkably in the 10 months that have passed since the court last addressed the issue."

Challenge to wording on November ballot dismissed

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

The Virginia Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an attempt to block the state Board of Elections from printing ballots, including proposed amendments to the state Constitution involving the drawing of lines for political districts. Paul Goldman, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2021, had filed the legal challenge on Aug. 27, claiming the General Assembly-authored description of the proposed constitutional changes was "inaccurate, deceptive and misleading."

Hampton Roads rejoins rest of state as Northam eases local COVID-19 restrictions

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

After nearly six weeks Gov. Ralph Northam is lifting the additional restrictions that were placed on Hampton Roads to limit the spread of the coronavirus following a regional spike. "Hampton Roads residents, businesses, and health officials have worked together to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Northam said in a news release. "New cases have dropped by more than half, hospitalizations have declined, and percent positivity has fallen below the statewide average."

PTA clashes with education secretary on admissions changes

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

A battle between parents at an elite northern Virginia high school and education officials who want to dramatically overhaul the school's admissions process to make it more inclusive is growing more intense, with a clash between the school's PTA and the state's education secretary. Parents at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology are fighting efforts from Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, who organized a task force to evaluate diversity issues at TJ and 18 other magnet schools in Virginia designated as "Governor's Schools."

To keep drivers on the payroll, Fairfax County directs some to drive empty buses

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

It's a quandary many school districts are facing amid the coronavirus trend of shuttered campuses: what to do with bus drivers? In some places, drivers have been tasked with delivering school meals to families. In others, they are distributing technology and devices. Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, however, has another solution — send bus drivers out to drive their old routes in empty buses, picking up no one and delivering nothing, to justify their continuation on the payroll.

The Full Report
55 articles, 28 publications


VPAP Visual Voter Registration Rebounds

The Virginia Public Access Project

After a slowdown caused by COVID-19, voter registration in Virginia returned to historic norms for a presidential election in August. In-person visits to the DMV still account for half of voter registration activity. But voter drive volunteers with clipboards have given way to online apps that steer people to the state's Citizen Portal.

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. In-person visits to the DMV still account for half of voter registration activity. But iconic voter drive volunteers armed with clipboards have given way to online apps that steer people to state's Citizen Portal.


Northam lifts extra COVID-19 restrictions for Hampton Roads

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

Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday that he has lifted extra COVID-19 restrictions in Hampton Roads given an improved health outlook. "Hampton Roads residents, businesses, and health officials have worked together to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Northam said in a statement.

Three states and D.C. sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay pollution

By EMILY DAVIES, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, asserting it neglected to enforce a decade-old agreement aimed at cutting pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The lawsuit follows months of back-and-forth between the region's attorneys general and the EPA over New York's and Pennsylvania's predicted failures to meet pollution reduction goals, which were outlined in 2010 and codified under the Chesapeake Watershed Agreement in 2014.


Virginia Senate passes sweeping police reform package

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

Instead of taking small steps to solve a big problem, the Virginia Senate passed a package of sweeping legislative reforms on Thursday that would transform how law enforcement operates in Virginia. The measure encompasses matters from standards of conduct and use of deadly force to the execution of search warrants, reasons for stopping drivers or frisking pedestrians, and the equipment law enforcement may use to control potentially violent protests.

Virginia Senate approves sweeping police reform legislation

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

The Virginia Senate approved wide-ranging police reform legislation Thursday that would prohibit the use of chokeholds, restrict no-knock search warrants, and expand the grounds to decertify law enforcement officials who commit misconduct. The legislation passed along party lines, and includes many of the measures protesters around the country have called for since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Democrats hailed it as a landmark achievement they said preserves public safety while promoting civil liberties and addressing urgent needs.

Senate panel rejects Bourne's bill to ban qualified immunity for police

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

A Virginia Senate panel on Thursday rejected a bill that would make it easier for people to sue police officers and their agencies in civil court for civil rights violations — almost certainly killing any chances for legislation on the issue this special session. The Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee voted 12-3 vote to delay passage of the bill indefinitely and to set up a subcommittee to work on the issue.

Virginia Senate unanimously votes to limit emergency orders by state health commissioner

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

The Virginia Senate unanimously voted Thursday to set limits on orders of one the state's top health officials — a bill fueled in part by frustration over the lack of transparency on outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes throughout much of the pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam's administration has strongly opposed the legislation — objections that make its success unlikely as it crosses over to the House of Delegates, which tabled a similar bill in the first week of the ongoing special session.

Paid quarantine leave bill passes Virginia House

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

In a largely party-line vote Thursday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would mandate paid quarantine leave for many of the state's workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation will head to the Senate for final approval and still requires the governor's signature if passed by both chambers. But advocates described it as a positive first step amid a public health emergency that's disproportionately impacted some of the state's most vulnerable residents, including essential workers and communities of color.

Virginia bill looks to make false 911 calls based on discrimination a hate crime


A bill introduced in the Virginia General Assembly's special session aims to make false 911 calls based on discriminatory behavior a hate crime. HB 5098 passed in the House of Delegates earlier this week and is currently being reviewed in the Senate.

Louise Lucas wants a judge to throw out charges against her in Portsmouth Confederate monument case

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

Attorneys for state Sen. Louise Lucas are asking a judge to dismiss the felony charges against her in the Portsmouth Confederate monument case, saying local police didn't have the authority to investigate and that the case stems from "an illegal and unsanctioned police action." In court documents filed last week, attorneys Don Scott and Verbena Askew argue that under state law, a criminal investigation of an elected official can't be done unless requested by the governor, attorney general or a grand jury.


Democrat Fairfax announces bid for Virginia governor

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is launching a run for governor despite facing two high-profile allegations of sexual assault he has strenuously denied. Fairfax is set to hold campaign kickoff events this weekend, joining a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls looking for their party's nomination to run for governor in 2021.

Justin Fairfax says he is formally entering 2021 race for Virginia governor

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Thursday he is formally entering next year's race for Virginia governor, announcing that he was filing candidate paperwork with the state and laying out plans for weekend kickoff events highlighting his status as a descendant of enslaved people. "I plan to file today to run for governor of the commonwealth of Virginia in 2021," Fairfax (D) said in a brief interview as he prepared to gavel in the state Senate for the day.

Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, announces run for lieutenant governor

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

Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, announced on Twitter on Thursday that he is seeking his party's nomination for lieutenant governor next year, saying he would offer "common sense leadership" to help "get Virginia back on track." Davis, 46, a delegate since 2014, sought the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2017 and lost a three-way primary to Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, who lost the general election to Democrat Justin Fairfax.

Virginia Beach Del. Glenn Davis will run again for lieutenant governor

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

Del. Glenn Davis, a Republican state delegate from Virginia Beach who ran for lieutenant governor in 2017, announced Thursday he's running for the seat again in 2021. Davis, whose 84th district include Princess Anne and Woodhouse Corner, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2013 and served on the Virginia Beach City Council for five years before that, representing the Rose Hall district.

Del. Glenn Davis to make second run for Virginia lieutenant governor

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

State Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr., who cut a quirky and upbeat figure on the 2017 campaign trail for lieutenant governor when he lived out of an RV to spread his message, will make a second run for lieutenant governor next year, he announced Thursday. The Virginia Beach Republican lost a three-way race for the GOP nomination three years ago. He lived out of a 27-foot Winnebago and focused on a pro-business message while his two Republican rivals engaged in a highly personal feud.


At VMI, Pence defends Trump's support for military

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

Speaking Thursday in an auditorium full of Virginia Military Institute cadets, Vice President Mike Pence emphasized that President Donald Trump "reveres the men and women of our armed forces." Pence delivered his remarks at the nation's oldest state-supported military college on the day before the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He honored the memory of the VMI graduates who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years that followed.

Sen. Warner meets with business owners

By NATE DELESLINE III, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

After a full day of socially-distanced meetings and conversations with business owners in Hampton Roads, Sen. Mark Warner said his takeaway message was that many people in Virginia "are still on the financial edge." Warner wrapped up a Sept. 3 visit through the region at a roundtable hosted at Smithfield Foods that included small business owners and economic development officials from Isle of Wight, Surry, Southampton and Franklin.


New $300-a-week unemployment benefits in Virginia may be limited to just three weeks of retroactive payments


Virginia plans to start distributing an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits to workers by the end of September, but that money will be limited to just three weeks of retroactive payments at first. Congress didn't pass an extension of the $600 per week supplemental benefits program that expired in late July. President Trump ordered a new $300 per week program and Virginia was approved. However, the Virginia Employment Commission says the FEMA funding source for this program is limited, so it will only pay out three weeks – or $900 dollars – in retroactive payments once the program is available.

State revenues flat in August, up $325 million for fiscal year

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

Gov. Ralph Northam has mixed news about state revenues as the General Assembly prepares to consider proposed changes to the state budget — tax revenues are steady, but don't count on a speedy economic recovery from the COVID-19-inspired recession. Tax revenues were down slightly in August, $3.6 million less than the same month a year ago, but the state is about $375 million ahead of the revised revenue forecast that Northam issued last month when the assembly convened in special session to consider changes to the budget.


New jobless claims grow statewide as 217,485 Virginians still collect unemployment

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

The number of new jobless claims in Virginia grew last week by 11,135, an increase of 8.1% from the week before, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. As of Sept. 5, there were 217,485 ongoing claims for unemployment benefits across Virginia, down 6.8% from the previous week. The number of continuing claims peaked at 403,557 the week ending May 16 and has, mostly, fallen each week since.

Hampton Roads cotton farmers suffer from drop in prices

By SABRINA GOODWIN, Inside Business

Hampton Roads farmers banked on getting profits from cotton this year, but a drop in prices and uncertainty around trade with China is dampening their expectations. Shelley Barlow of Cotton Plains Farm in Suffolk explained that at the beginning of last year, cotton was selling for around 90 cents per pound. Because of that high price, the family-owned farm decided to plant more this year — close to the highest quantity of cotton ever grown in a year there.

U.S. Regulators Fine Pork Giant Smithfield Over Covid-19 Outbreak

By JACOB BUNGE, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

The U.S. Department of Labor fined Smithfield Foods Inc. over a Covid-19 outbreak that infected nearly 1,300 workers at a South Dakota plant and killed four, alleging that the pork giant failed to protect employees. The action is the federal government's first Covid-19 related penalty for a meatpacker, the Labor Department said.


Metro board member suggests system shutdown

By JUSTIN GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Fed up with troubling and recurring issues in Metro's rail operations center, a board member said Thursday the system should be shut down until the problems are fixed and that the agency's leadership should be restructured with input from local, state and federal officials. The suggestion from board member David Horner was in response to a withering audit released this week by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) that revealed deep-rooted cultural and leadership problems in the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) that the commission said threaten the safety of everyone who depends on Metro.

Silver Line fixes at rail stations could be more costly

By LORI ARATANI, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A special coating applied to prevent cracking on more than 100 concrete panels at five stations along the second phase of the Silver Line appears to be working, but the fix will be more costly to maintain than originally anticipated, according to a report released Thursday by Metro's Office of the Inspector General.


JMU students try to adjust and keep anxiety in check amid an ever-changing semester

By SABRIYA MCKOY, Harrisonburg Citizen

For both new JMU students and returning students who went through the abrupt shift to online classes in the spring, the university's move this week to online classes amid a spike in COVID-19 cases has stoked anxiety and confusion. "I think it's going to be difficult to do online classes, especially because I was scheduled to attend classes face-to-face and alternate online," said Chloe Mills, a freshman justice studies major. "It's hard enough to keep up with hybrid classes."


Virginia reports 1,236 new coronavirus cases Thursday

By SALEEN MARTIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,236 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state's tally to 130,525. At least 2,708 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, up 11 from Wednesday.

Virus outbreak at squad prompts warning to community

By DEBBIE HALL, Enterprise

Derek Wagner, chief of the Jeb Stuart Rescue Squad, issued a warning to residents after nine squad personnel tested positive for COVID-19. "Please follow the CDC guidelines," Wagner said of guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "We are healthcare providers. We followed the guidelines, but it still happened to some of us."


Lawsuit: EPA fails to enforce Chesapeake Bay pollution caps

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency has failed to ensure that Pennsylvania and New York are doing enough to reduce pollution that flows from farms and cities into the Chesapeake Bay, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday. The federal suit was brought by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others, including the Maryland Watermen's Association.

Virginia landlord sues to stop CDC's nationwide ban on evictions

By TYLER ARNOLD, Center Square

A lawsuit filed in federal court is seeking to halt the enforcement of a federal order that temporarily prohibits landlords from evicting tenants as a means to stop the spread of COVID-19. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Virginia resident Rich Brown, is asking a federal court to order the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop enforcement because it is unlawful and exceeds the limit of the Supremacy Clause. The lawsuit claims the CDC does not have the legal, statutory or constitutional authority to enforce the order.

Judge orders Lee portrait to be removed from Louisa Circuit Courtroom

By DAVID HOLTZMAN, Central Virginian

A judge reversed his previous ruling today and ordered a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee to be removed from the Louisa Circuit Courtroom. Along with the portrait, which has hung in the courtroom since 1908, Judge Timothy Sanner ordered the removal of a United Daughters of the Confederacy plaque that hangs on the same wall and dates from 1916.

Fate of Mathews monument to be placed on 2021 ballot

By CHARLIE KOENIG, Gazette-Journal

The fate of the Confederate monument in Mathews will be placed in the hands of county voters. By a 5-0 vote Wednesday night at Mathews High School, the Mathews County Board of Supervisors decided it will petition the circuit court to have the matter placed on the November 2021 ballot.

Nelson officials eye committee to decide confederate statue's fate

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

The fate of the Confederate statue on courthouse grounds could soon be in the hands of a committee appointed by leaders. While the Nelson County Board of Supervisors made no official decision, some supervisors during a Tuesday meeting expressed support of forming a committee to evaluate how to proceed in what board chair Tommy Harvey called a "no-win" situation.

Community Service, Teach-Ins, How Protestors in RVA are Moving Beyond Marches


Music blares from a speaker across the street from Mosby Court, one of Richmond's public housing neighborhoods. Organizers have set up a table and tent. There's a cooler of cold waters, popsicles, and bags of household supplies. "Tell all your friends," says one man as he hands out plastic bags to people wandering over. "You can have a mask as well, have a blessed day."

Senate confirms Cullen as federal judge

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

The U.S. Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's nomination of U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen to become a federal judge Thursday. The vote was 79 to 19. Cullen is 43 and has served as the Roanoke-based U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia for nearly two and a half years.

U.S. attorney in Roanoke leaving to become federal judge

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Thomas T. Cullen, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday for a district court judgeship and will be leaving his job as a prosecutor next week. Cullen, 43, has served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District since March 30, 2018.

Venomous caterpillar 'no one has heard of' sends New Kent woman to ER

By REX SPRINGSTON, Virginia Mercury

Crystal Spindel Gaston was reaching into the rear door of her Prius outside her house when she felt an excruciating pain in her right leg. "It felt exactly like a scorching-hot knife passing through the outside of my calf," said Gaston, 55, of New Kent County. "Before I looked down to see where it came from, I thought 100 percent I was going to see a big piece of metal, super sharp, sticking out from my car." What she saw baffled her. Clinging to the car, just below the door, was a brownish, hairy creature, not quite two inches long, resembling a miniature cat, or maybe a tiny toupee — or to Gaston, a "Star Trek" fan, a furry alien called a tribble.


Fairfax County Board to Consider Proposal to Ban Firearms in County Areas


The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering a weapons ban in county buildings, parks, recreation and community centers next week. The proposal would ban the possession, carrying and transportation of firearms and ammunition in county areas, as well as permitted events and areas next to permitted events.

Fairfax Co. Library Board trustee apologizes for race remarks; calls for resignation continue


Calls continue for the resignation of a member of Virginia's Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees following an apology over remarks that many consider racist. Philip Rosenthal, the trustee who represents the Springfield District, apologized for comments he made about books currently being featured on the library's website on topics that include systematic racism, Black history, social justice and civil rights.

2 Virginia Beach school board members leave meeting after dispute over mask

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

At the start of what would end as a roughly six-hour school board meeting Wednesday, two board members walked out the door. One refused to wear a mask, citing medical reasons. The other was her ride. Following an extended argument — and vote — the board decided Laura Hughes could not stay and participate in the meeting without proper documentation. The board has an established rule requiring the wearing of masks.

Virginia Beach school board officially backs implicit bias training, 'culturally responsive curriculum'

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

Virginia Beach wants all school staff to undergo mandatory implicit bias training and teachers to follow a "culturally responsive curriculum." And in the hopes of bridging longstanding equity gaps in student achievement, school board members want to receive regular reports on enrollment in gifted programs as well as graduation and discipline rates. The board on Wednesday approved its first educational equity policy in the hopes the school division will become more inclusive.

Portsmouth council members may have broken law by asking for charges in Confederate monument case

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Weeks before Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene made the unusual decision to file felony charges against more than a dozen people in connection with a June 10 protest at the city's downtown Confederate monument, two council members emailed her "requesting that charges be brought against" demonstrators. The emails by Bill Moody and Elizabeth Psimas, who are white, could violate a city charter provision barring council members from giving orders to department heads. It's the same charter section a Black council member, Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, is accused of violating by calling for Greene's removal.

Albemarle school division sees enrollment drop by 717 students

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

More than 900 fewer students than projected enrolled in the Albemarle County school division for this academic year, according to numbers from the first two days of school. Officials had expected enrollment to drop and compared the enrollment from Wednesday with what they projected, as well as with the number of students enrolled as of Sept. 30, 2019.

Supervisors commit $15 million toward broadband partnership

By DAVID HOLTZMAN, Central Virginian

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors voted to commit $15 million toward a public-private partnership with electricity providers to provide high-speed internet for residents and businesses. The vote at the board's Sept. 8 meeting specified that the money should be used to provide broadband using fiber-optic lines. It was intended to send a clear message to providers, particularly Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, that the supervisors are willing to pay their share to connect the entire county.

Greene commissioner of revenue and son seek continuance

By TERRY BEIGIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Greene County Commissioner of Revenue has requested another trial continuance due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a motion filed in federal court Sept. 2. Larry Vernon Snow, 71, is asking the trial for himself and his son, Bryant Austin Snow, be moved from Oct. 19-22 to spring 2021, due to health concerns from the pandemic.

Local counsel granted nominal fees in FOIA suit against Board of Supervisors

By STAFF REPORT, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Exactly four years to the month of its filing in September 2016, Judge Designate Jeffrey W. Parker of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Virginia has awarded attorney David Konick $6,250 of the $132,769.46 in attorney's fees he claims he's owed in representing Marian Bragg v. The Board of Supervisors of Rappahannock County.

Roanoke businesses can apply for thousands in pandemic recovery grants

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

Roanoke still has nearly $800,000 available to give to businesses reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this summer, Roanoke set aside $1 million of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act strictly to support businesses. Since the program was announced, the city has received applications for about $700,000 of relief funds from local businesses.

Montgomery County schools taking grades 4-12 to online classes

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Montgomery County Public Schools announced Thursday a shift to virtual-only classes for grades 4-12 effective next week. The decision was made in light of projections that forecast a rise in the area's COVID-19 numbers, officials wrote in a statement shared online. No positives cases have been found in the county schools, officials said.

Supervisors adopt special tax rate to attract lucrative data centers

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Frederick County is trying to become an attractive place for data centers to locate. On Wednesday night, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 to implement a low tax rate for the tangible personal property that data centers use in an attempt to lure them to the county, along with the tax revenue they would bring.

Supervisors to seek stimulus funds for volunteer fire companies

By MICKEY POWELL, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors is seeking to help volunteer fire and rescue services overcome financial troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A letter requesting stimulus funds for those services within the county and elsewhere is to be sent to state and federal lawmakers. Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the county has obtained about $2.55 million to put toward COVID-related expenses incurred by itself and its towns. Emergency services providers are eligible to receive some of the money.

Conflict over ballot measure led to Electoral Board resignation


Disagreements among members of Floyd County's Electoral Board about how to address the county's Confederate monument eventually led to the resignation of Electoral Board Secretary Tammy Belinsky on Aug. 26, according to emails obtained by the Floyd Press via a Freedom of Information Act request.



The first presidential voters born after September 11

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

Here's a sobering but useful measure of time: This year's presidential election (which officially opens next week with early voting in eight states, including Virginia) will include the first generation of voters born after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001.

UMW students return to campus

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

On Thursday, students enrolled at the University of Mary Washington finally returned to campus for the fall semester. Since young people are driving many new COVID-19 infections, according to the World Health Organization, Fredericksburg residents are understandably concerned.


Surovell: Eliminating mandatory minimums is not an 'assault' first responders

By SEN. SCOTT SUROVELL, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Free Lance-Star's Sept. 2 editorial addressing a bill recently passed by the Virginia Senate ["Legislative assault on first responders"] is misleading and reflects some basic misunderstandings that warrant correction. The bill, SB 5032, would remove current law's mandatory minimum sentence for assaults and assaults and battery on law enforcement officers.

Surovell represents the 36th District, which includes part of Stafford County, in the Virginia State Senate.


Virginia man gets permission to be buried in Juicy Fruit-themed casket


A 94-year-old Virginia man with a lifelong love of Juicy Fruit has received permission from the Mars Wrigley Company to have his casket painted to resemble a pack of the chewing gum. Sammy Oakey, president of Oakey's Funeral Service, was asked by friend Suttie Economy, 94, to be buried in a casket painted to resemble a pack of Juicy Fruit.

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