Thursday, October 29, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 29, 2020
Top of the News

Ban on chokeholds, no-knock warrants among bills Northam signed into law

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced that he'd signed several bills meant to overhaul policing and the criminal justice system, which the General Assembly passed in a special session called amid a national uproar triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Northam (D) signed into law bills that ban chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants — which have allowed police to enter a home without announcing themselves — except in the most extreme circumstances. That makes Virginia only the third state — behind Oregon and Florida — to ban those warrants, Northam said.

SW Virginia driving new COVID-19 cases, but no regional restrictions — for now

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's COVID-19 infections are increasing again, but the latest spike is targeting the Southwest — a region that largely avoided significant case growth for much of the pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that he currently has no plans to place the area under more stringent safety restrictions or step up enforcement at public-facing businesses — measures he took this summer in response to a surge in cases in the Hampton Roads region. There, health officials attributed much of the growth to residents gathering in bars without wearing masks.

COVID cases pushing health system toward crisis

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

The current spiral of COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm Ballad Health's resources at a time when more than 180 of its workers are quarantined, system officials said Wednesday. Ballad was treating 168 COVID-19-positive patients in its hospitals Wednesday, with 15 more awaiting test results — a 42% increase over just one week ago.

Judge rules Virginia must reject late ballots with no postmark

By STEPHEN DINAN, Washington Times

A judge in Virginia ruled Wednesday that the state cannot count ballots that arrive after Election Day and do not contain a postmark. Judge William W. Eldridge IV said the state can, though, accept ballots with illegible postmarks for up to three days as long as the voter's oath was signed and dated before the election.

Despite goal, Virginia Tech reports more online teaching for spring semester

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

Despite a push for more in-person classes, spring at Virginia Tech is shaping up to be about as virtual as the fall semester, if not more so. "Current estimates of the proportions of in-person or hybrid instruction planned for the spring are slightly lower than those for this fall," Provost Cyril Clarke wrote in a message to faculty Wednesday. "Clearly, this does not align with our commitment to make progress in advancing in-person learning."

In Chesapeake, tension over reopening schools is running high

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

In the past several months, Chesapeake Public School Board meetings have become a flashpoint for one issue: how to return students and teachers back to school during a pandemic. Parents, students and teachers have come out to the podium — the meetings have remained in person — to voice their opinions.

In Rural Virginia, a Militia Tries to Recruit a New Ally: The County Government

By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

The board of supervisors meeting in September opened with the familiar liturgy of local government: the prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, the roll call. The chairman was recognized for completing a course for public officials. "Constitution Week" was hereby proclaimed. About 15 minutes in, Ricky Short motioned for approval of Resolution 2020-27. Whereas the Virginia and U.S. Constitutions speak of a "well regulated militia," it read, whereas a militia should be trained with arms "including modern semiautomatic rifles," whereas a militia was "the last best hope" when liberties are threatened by "a tyrannical government," then be it resolved: Halifax County would support a local militia. Ronnie Duffey seconded the motion.

The Full Report
54 articles, 23 publications


VPAP Visual On Election Night, absentee votes can distort early returns

The Virginia Public Access Project

The 2018 congressional race between Republican Dave Brat and Democrat Abigail Spanberger was so tight that the lead changed several times as results rolled in on Election Night. But how would the timeline -- showing the exact same final results -- have looked if early voting had been as heavy as it is this year? This simulation shows that Brat would have held a lead from the start and maintained it late into the night, until a huge block of absentee votes would have swung the outcome to Spanberger.

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.


Northam signs police, criminal justice reform bills

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

Legislation intended to bring reform to policing and criminal justice in Virginia — including a ban on no-knock warrants and stricter training and performance requirements for police officers — will soon become law in the state, after a summer of demonstrations over police brutality and systemic racism. Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday signed more than a dozen measures sent to his desk by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, which he described as a "tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Northam signs into law police reform bills inspired by George Floyd's death

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

Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bundle of police bills into law Wednesday, including limiting police use of chokeholds and prohibiting police from serving search warrants without first announcing themselves. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed a wave of bills during a special session this month in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody earlier this year in Minneapolis.

Virginia becomes third state to ban no-knock search warrants

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Wednesday banning law enforcement officers from executing search warrants without first knocking and announcing themselves as police. Sponsored by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, in the House and Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, in the Senate, the bills were inspired by the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville during a late-night raid of her apartment.


Poll: Virginia voters strongly favor redistricting amendment

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

Virginia voters strongly favor — 54% to 24% — a constitutional amendment that would establish a redistricting commission to draw state and congressional district lines, according to a poll released Wednesday. The amendment is receiving bipartisan support and 22% of voters are still undecided, according to the poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Is Denver Riggleman still a Republican? He's not sure.

By ARIANA FIGUEROA, Virginia Mercury

U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, a Republican who was running for a second term in Virginia's 5th congressional district until he was ousted in a primary this past summer, says he's considering a run for governor. But he's not sure, as he sounds the alarm on the spread of the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory, whether he still wants to be part of the GOP.


Warner visits Danville, speaks at Bibleway Cathedral

Danville Register & Bee

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, spent an hour talking to members of the African American community at Bibleway Cathedral on Wednesday evening in Danville. Warner spoke of the upcoming election and criticized President Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women play critical role in 7th District vote

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Two years ago, on the heels of the #MeToo movement and Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election, a grassroots coalition of left-leaning Chesterfield women launched an aggressive canvassing operation that took down U.S. Rep. Dave Brat and helped flip a 7th House District seat that had been held by Republicans for the better part of five decades. As Election Day 2020 looms amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans, the question now facing the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County is:...

Judge: Virginia can't count some ballots without postmarks

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A judge ruled Wednesday that Virginia elections officials cannot count absentee ballots with missing postmarks unless they can confirm the date of mailing through a barcode, granting part of an injunction requested by a conservative legal group.

Va. voters are still requesting absentee ballots, even after the deadline passed

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

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Virginia expired Friday, but the state elections website has allowed voters to continue to apply, causing confusion in an already tense election that has seen record turnouts for early voting, local officials said. In Fairfax County, the state's most populous jurisdiction, 1,184 voters so far have electronically submitted absentee ballot applications since the Oct. 23 deadline passed, county election officials say.

Virginia Democratic Party and Richmond election officials working to resolve dispute over voter list

By MEL LEONOR AND C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Democratic Party of Virginia and Richmond's top elections official are working to resolve a legal dispute over the release of a list of voters whose ballots haven't been processed due to errors. A DPVA spokesman said the party has received a list of 97 Richmond voters whose ballots were flagged for errors, and is working with Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter to obtain the most up to date, complete list.

In Hampton, activists ask for tougher open carry restrictions at polling sites

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

Six days before Election Day, Hampton will put out an election safety guide that aims to address possible voter intimidation at the polls. City Council will hear a presentation from the city attorney's office Wednesday night on state laws that govern election day activities. It will review precautions in place because of the pandemic and offer steps that may be taken, such as alerting an election official if a voter feels intimidated.

Democrats look for gains in deep-red Fauquier in 2020 -- and beyond

By DANIEL BERTI, Fauquier Times

Fauquier County has been a Republican stronghold for over a decade, but some Democratic campaigners and Virginia political commentators say shifting political dynamics could benefit Democratic candidates in Fauquier in 2020 and beyond.  The county hasn't picked a Democratic presidential candidate since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, and a statewide Democratic candidate has carried the county only once since the year 2000. However, more college-educated residents moving to Fauquier from liberal suburbs, combined with the Republican Party's drift to the right, has given the Democrats an opening in the historically conservative county, according to political analysts from both parties.

Fauquier County voter turnout exceeds 35% more than a week before Election Day

By COY FERRELL, Fauquier Times

Of the 54,382 registered voters in Fauquier County, 19,164 – 35% -- had already cast an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election as of the morning of Oct. 26, including 12,388 cast in person and 6,776 by mail. As of Oct. 26, there were 2,907 outstanding absentee ballots – ballots that a registered voter in the county requested be sent to them by mail and have not been completed and returned to the registrar's office.

Thirty percent of Tri-City area voters are early birds this year, according to non-profit

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

Roughly three out of every 10 registered voters in the Tri-City area have cast early ballots for Tuesday's election, according to figures released Wednesday by the non-profit Virginia Public Access Project. Colonial Heights and Petersburg lead the list of localities, separated by about a half-percent, VPAP said in analyzing numbers from the state Department of Elections.

Early Voting Turnout Strong Across the Shore

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

The last day to vote early in person in Virginia is Saturday, Oct. 31, and thousands of Eastern Shore voters already have cast their ballots, either by mail or in person at the voter registrar offices in Eastville and Accomac. As of Oct. 25, 7,111 voters in Accomack County had cast early ballots or applied for an absentee ballot by mail, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. That's compared to a total of 1,557 absentee ballots cast in the 2016 election, of 15,999 total ballots cast.

Biden, Warner and redistricting amendment ahead in final CNU poll

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in Virginia by double digits according to the final pre-Election Day poll from the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University. Biden received 53% of the vote among likely voters to 41% for Trump in the survey released Wednesday. "Biden's lead continues to illustrate Virginia's solid shift left in presidential and statewide races," said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center at CNU.

Latest poll: Biden, Warner leading by double digits in Virginia

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by 12 points in Virginia, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Biden leads Trump 53% to 41% among likely Virginia voters. Another 2% support another candidate, and 3% remain undecided. The results show a 7-point increase for Biden from the Wason Center's last poll, conducted in mid-September, which had him ahead by only 5 points.

Longtime Poll Volunteer Passing Baton to New Generation After Record-Breaking Election


From record early voting turnout to the volume of volunteer requests to the number of first-time voters, the word "first" characterizes many aspects of the 2020 election in Arlington. But for 83-year-old poll volunteer Bill Thatcher, 2020 is his last year helping people exercise their "supreme privilege of voting."


Richmond region's jobless rate declined in September as overall labor force contracted

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

The Richmond region's unemployment rate dropped slightly in September as the region's overall workforce declined. The unemployment rate stood at 6.7% in September compared with 6.9% in August, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Wednesday. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the jobless rate last month was more than twice where it stood in September 2019 at 2.8%.

Up to $100,000 available to Virginia businesses, nonprofits affected by pandemic

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

More Virginia businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors can apply for even more pandemic relief under the Rebuild VA grant program with the maximum award now $100,000 versus $10,000. Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he had also expanded who was eligible to apply to include those entities earning less than $10 million in annual revenue or with fewer than 250 employees, the standard definition of a small business in Virginia.


William & Mary's women's gymnasts join the fight to reinstate men's programs

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

William & Mary's women's gymnasts echoed other female athletes in expressing frustration that the men's gymnastics team is still slated for elimination, even as they are grateful to be one of three female teams reinstated by school administration. "(Gender) equity gained solely at the expense of others is not a step forward for women's athletics," the team said in an "Open Letter to the Administration, Board of Visitors and Greater (W&M) Community" posted Wednesday on the Save W&M Gymnastics website.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,345 from Tuesday

By ABBY CHURCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 176,754 — an increase of 1,345 from the 175,409 reported Tuesday. The 176,754 cases consist of 164,308 confirmed cases and 12,446 probable cases. There are 3,616 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,364 confirmed and 252 probable. That's an increase of 16 from the 3,600 reported Tuesday.

D.C. region hits 11-week high in coronavirus infections

By DANA HEDGPETH, LAURA VOZZELLA, LOLA FADULU AND REBECCA TAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

New coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region hit an 11-week high Wednesday, mirroring a rise seen across large swaths of the country as the pandemic's spread worsens ahead of the cold winter months. The rolling seven-day average of new infections across D.C., Virginia and Maryland stands at 1,949 cases, the most since the average reached 2,001 new cases Aug. 9.

Northam considers restrictions in Southwest Virginia to slow virus

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday said he could impose restrictions in Southwest Virginia where COVID-19 cases are rising quickly, and as the disease begins to overwhelm Ballad Health's hospitals. "In other states and other countries, they are re-imposing restrictions to get case numbers under control. Nobody, nobody, wants to have to do that, but this virus remains a very real threat," Northam said during a briefing in which he touted Virginia's overall success in keeping the virus in check.

As Southwest Va. cases rise, state officials discourage family gatherings

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

Small family gatherings that include people from different households coming close without masks may be to blame, in part, for increased community spread of COVID-19 in Southwest Virginia, state officials said Wednesday. Without citing specific data, Gov. Ralph Northam and state Health Secretary Daniel Carey said anecdotal evidence from the state's contact tracing efforts shows community spread among extended families that have come together without following health precautions.

Health Officials Urge Caution as COVID Cases Increase in Richmond


Richmond is continuing to see a trend of increasing coronavirus cases heading into the winter months, health officials say. As of Wednesday, an average of 30 Richmonders per day are testing positive for the virus. At the weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Danny Avula, head of the Richmond Health Department, said the number of tests coming back positive and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are also on the rise.

Chester nursing home reports 105 cases of coronavirus, 16 deaths

By SCOTT BASS, Chesterfield Observer

More than seven months after the coronavirus pandemic began, the county is experiencing one of its largest outbreaks to date at a senior care facility in Chester. Since Sept. 29, Tyler's Retreat at Iron Bridge has reported 105 COVID-19 infections and 16 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Hospitals release information on COVID-19 patients

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

Hospital systems in Virginia's Near Southwest region on Wednesday released the first of what is expected to be a weekly report on patients with COVID-19. Carilion Clinic, LewisGale, the Salem VA Medical Center, Centra Heath and Sovah Health reported caring for 200 patients with COVID-19 and another 46 patients who are thought to have the virus but are awaiting test confirmation.

Health Experts Advise Against Traditional Halloween Activities


Health experts locally and nationally are advising families to not participate in traditional Halloween activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent guidelines highlight trick-or-treating as "high-risk" and recommend that people who may have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid all in-person festivities. Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough says her two "little ones" love trick-or-treating, but her family decided it would be safer to skip it this year.


Fairfax supervisors move forward with removal of Confederate imagery

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

A monument and historical marker noting the death of a Confederate officer, plus two Dahlgren naval howitzer cannons also on display outside the Fairfax County Judicial Complex will be removed and given to other organizations, the Board of Supervisors decided Oct. 20. A majority of supervisors said the granite obelisk and historical marker, which commemorate the death of Confederate Capt. John Quincy Marr in a skirmish near the old Fairfax Courthouse on June 1, 1861, did not belong there.

Confederate flag over I-95 in Stafford comes down for good

By KARI PUGH, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

A large Confederate flag flying on private property adjacent to Interstate 95 in Stafford County is gone for good – at least at its original location. The Virginia Department of Transportation has acquired the land, one of 10 parcels adjacent to I-95 near the Falmouth exit, for the I-95 Northbound Rappahannock River Crossing project.

Four people charged following Tuesday night's unrest in Richmond

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Four people were arrested Tuesday night during a protest after Richmond police said they saw the group throwing things at people, a business and a police vehicle. Dozens of police cars were stationed around Monroe Park on Virginia Commonwealth University's campus Tuesday ahead of a scheduled 9 p.m. protest calling for justice for Walter Wallace Jr., who was shot and killed Monday during a confrontation with police in West Philadelphia.

A rare 2020 bright spot: Chesapeake Bay had shorter, less severe dead zone

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Thanks to a cool spring, early fall temperatures and the arrival of Hurricane Isaias in August, the Chesapeake Bay dead zone was less severe and lasted for a shorter time in 2020 than in previous years. The annual dead zone report for the bay, issued by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at William & Mary, bore out optimistic predictions put forward by scientists in June. One of the most obvious signs of ecological trouble, dead zones are parts of a body of water where animal and plant life cannot be sustained because of a lack of oxygen.

Two long cold nights in a row for search and rescue paramedics on Old Rag

By JOHN MCCASLIN, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Shenandoah National Park this morning released more detailed information about two medical emergencies that took place on Old Rag Mountain on the nights of Oct. 16 and 17, as first reported in this newspaper. In a statement, the park writes: "On October 16, 2020, the Communications Center received a call shortly after 7 p.m. for a 19-year old woman who had suffered an injury in the middle of Old Rag/s Rock Scramble. . . .


In blue Northern Va., Democrats eye a mayoral seat long held by the GOP

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

Northern Virginia's blue wave has so far missed the mayor's seat in the city of Manassas, where Republican Harry J. Parrish II has held office since 2009 in a community that has only elected GOP mayors since it was incorporated in 1975. But Parrish, 70, is not seeking a fourth term next month — giving Democrats hope that they can finally take the top seat in the steadily changing city of 41,000 residents that sits just south of a federally owned Civil War battlefield site.

Loudoun County Public Schools nixes numerical class rank starting with Class of 2025

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday night to discontinue a numerical class rank system starting with next year's Loudoun County Public Schools freshman class, opting instead for a percentile-based Latin Honor System. Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles District) was the sole dissenter in the 8-1 vote, which resulted from a motion by Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn District).

Study says fair pay for Chesterfield public safety employees would cost an extra $22 million a year

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

Chesterfield County should spend more than $22 million a year to make its salaries for public safety employees more fair, a consulting firm told the county's Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

All students who opted to return to Virginia Beach schools will be back in November

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

All grades will return for in-person classes in Virginia Beach public schools on Nov. 12. The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to bring grades 7 and 8 as well as 10 through 12 back under a hybrid plan starting in three weeks, when the next round of classes begins. Those are the remaining five grades that have remained entirely virtual so far this school year, as some 25,000 students have already returned for in-person classes.

Virginia Beach schools to give all full-time employees a $1,000 bonus

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

All full-time Virginia Beach school employees will soon get a $1,000 bonus and teachers will receive either .25% or .5% raises on top of that, the school board voted Tuesday. Teachers who teach both in-person and virtually also will see an increase in the roughly $750 stipends they receive for doing so.

Fired Portsmouth city attorney sues mayor for defamation as Confederate monument saga continues

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

Fired Portsmouth City Attorney Solomon Ashby is suing Mayor John Rowe for defamation — the latest political fallout from a June 10 protest at the city's downtown Confederate monument. "It's unfortunate that a person like Mr. Ashby – who performed his job professionally, loyally, and ethically – has his performance misrepresented to the public," his attorney, Christian Connell, wrote in an email. "Mr. Ashby is trying to correct that misrepresentation."

Downtown mixed-use project falls victim to pandemic

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

Construction of an anticipated residential and business complex in downtown Winchester has been canceled due to complications brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The purchase and sale agreement that had been in effect since last June expired on Saturday," Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said.

CARES funding to expand broadband access in Albemarle

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

Broadband internet access is coming to more Albemarle County residents. With funding from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, Firefly fiber broadband is going to be extended along Burchs Creek Road.

Amherst officials raise concerns on security, maintenance of CVTC site; state responds

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Amherst County officials expressed concerns about the care of the Central Virginia Training Center to the state agency that manages the Madison Heights campus and on Wednesday the state responded. In an Oct. 23 letter to Alison Land, commissioner of the Department of Health and Developmental Services, on behalf of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors, the county cited concerns the facility, which is in the process of closing after more than a century of operation, is minimally staffed and the grounds and buildings are deteriorating at an accelerated rate.

Franklin County High School goes all-virtual for five school days

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Franklin County High School will return to all-virtual learning from Thursday through Nov. 4 because of a staff shortage caused by the need to self-isolate in response to reported COVID-19 cases.

Martinsville receives grant to expand internet service across entire city

By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

By the end of this year, everyone in Martinsville will have access to high-capacity and high-speed wireless internet service. The announcement came at the end of Tuesday night's regular meeting of the Martinsville City Council, when City Manager Leon Towarnicki told council that the city had the federal money in hand to expand the city's MiNet internet service and intended to make it happen in six weeks.



Return Warner to Senate

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia voters have the privilege and responsibility next week to elect a U.S. senator, choosing between incumbent Mark Warner, Democrat, and Daniel Gade, Republican. This has been a well-fought campaign, giving voters clear and contrasting pictures of the two candidates.

Why is Roanoke's virus rate spiking?

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

Roanoke didn't have a good summer, virus-wise, but we're now having an even worse autumn. Will Halloween this weekend turn into a series of miniature super-spreader events? Let's review the data. Back in the spring — remember the spring? — we thought we had this beat.

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project takes shape at last

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

Plenty of Tidewater residents split time between three places: their home, their place of business and sitting in traffic on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Folks who live on one side of the water and work on the other know this all too well — and have our sympathy for their daily commute. Thus it is cause for celebration to hear of progress being made in the massive construction project to expand that critical span.

Richmond police chief should release the names

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

So let's get this straight: Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith established a committee to strengthen relationships and build greater trust between his department and city residents — but he will publicly identify only one of the members. Where is the transparency and accountability?


Schapiro: Northam as judge, jury and executioner of VMI

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

This past Friday — shortly after Gov. Ralph Northam, if only because of the pace of events, would be recast as judge, jury and executioner of his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute — Northam's chief of staff, Clark Mercer, telephoned Richard Cullen, the lawyer-fixer VMI hired to help extract it from a fast-spreading racial controversy. Mercer told Cullen it was time for superintendent Binnie Peay to go, that Northam — who over the summer had discussed with Peay his worries about the fraught atmosphere at VMI — and the Democratic legislative leadership did not believe the retired Army four-star general could fashion a remedy that put equity for cadets of color ahead of the school's Confederate heritage.


Snyder and Snyder: Career politicians are failing us when we need them most

By PETE AND BURSON SNYDER, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Right now is a time when everyone needs to work together to help one another. But with jobless claims throughout the country rising, families hurting and small businesses shutting their doors or fighting tooth and nail just to stay alive, Washington is failing us. As families and communities throughout the country continue to face the economic effects of a global pandemic, the message from our nation's capital is that any additional relief is unlikely to come before Election Day.

The Snyders are cofounders of the nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund.

Rowe: Why college matters now

By KATHERINE A. ROWE, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

This past summer, university presidents in Virginia faced extraordinary decisions about how to create a successful semester for our students. In August, as COVID-19 cases were surging in the peninsula, William & Mary students and their families wrote to me as they did other presidents in the commonwealth, expressing hope and fear. A large majority hoped to be on campus; a smaller group — with vulnerable families and health concerns — needed to learn remotely.

Rowe is president of the College of William & Mary.

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 28, 2020
Top of the News

Judge sides with Virginia, but Lee statue stays put for now

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Democratic Virginia governor's plans to remove an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — but said the state can't immediately act on his order. The judge dissolved a temporary injunction prohibiting the statue's removal from a historic avenue in downtown Richmond, but he also suspended his own order pending the resolution of an appeal by a group of residents who live near the statue.

Northam expects VMI board to 'be open-minded' about problems at institute

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

One day after the Virginia Military Institute's top leader resigned, Gov. Ralph Northam did not indicate whether he would remove any members of the board of visitors. While in Roanoke to campaign for Democratic candidates on Tuesday, Northam said he expects the 17 members on the board "to listen and be open-minded and to realize that we have some issues that we need to address at VMI."

On anonymous chat app, VMI cadets attack Black students, women as furor over racism grows

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

The cadets were angry, venting on an anonymous chat app widely used at the Virginia Military Institute. The target of their rage: Black cadets and alumni who publicly detailed in a Washington Post story the relentless racism they had encountered at the nation's oldest state-supported military college.

Deadline to request mail-in ballot has passed. But Virginia's election system mistakenly let people apply anyway.

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

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed, but Virginia's election system is mistakenly letting people apply anyway. What appears to be a computer glitch is creating confusion for hundreds of registered voters days before the Nov. 3 general election.

Local school boards, not the state, are deciding how to reopen, sparking fierce local debates

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

A little over a week after Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans for a phased reopening of Virginia's K-12 schools, Virginia Beach Superintendent Aaron Spence wrote a frustrated email to a top official at the state's Department of Education. "This variance option — and the ongoing statement that all parents have to do is lobby their school board and superintendent if they want us to vary from the state plan — has injected politics into this decision," he wrote to James Lane, the state superintendent of public instruction, forwarding an angry email he received from a faculty member at a local private school. "Without context, we are going to be hung out to dry here," Spence added.

Chesterfield to send remaining students back to school Nov. 9

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

The health committee charged with deciding when groups of Chesterfield County public school students should return to the classroom during a global pandemic went against its own metrics, recommending to send the last cluster of students back despite the data saying otherwise. Tuesday's recommendation, a split decision among the committee, now allows for all sixth- through 12th-graders who have been learning from home since the beginning of the school year to join select K-12 special education students, prekindergarten through fifth-graders, and career and technical high school students.

In Trump Country, Supporters Are Steadfast, but His Personality, Pandemic Wear

By BOB DAVIS, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

In early 2017, a few mine operators met in this coal town's lone Chinese restaurant to boast of their expansion plans. With Donald Trump in the White House, they said, they wouldn't be hobbled by environmentalists and would invest in new mines. It hasn't worked out that way. . . . Buchanan County, Va., is Trump country. But even his supporters feel some Trump fatigue after four years of controversy and a pandemic that has swept across the county's mountains and hollows and battered its economy.

The Full Report
56 articles, 22 publications


VPAP Visual Localities Ranked by Early Voting

The Virginia Public Access Project

By Tuesday, more than one-third of Virginia's nearly 6 million registered voters had cast ballots ahead of the presidential election. Early voting ranges from a high of 59% of registered voters in Falls Church to a low of 12% in Lee County in far Southwest Virginia. This visual ranks every locality based on absentee voting totals reported to the state Department of Elections.

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.


Northam sends $116 million to higher education

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

Virginia colleges and universities are getting a one-time boost of $116 million in federal aid to cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, while partnering with the Virginia Chamber to create opportunities for students as interns or apprentices ultimately to fill jobs critical to rebuilding the state's economy. The funding under the federal CARES Act, which Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday, includes $10.8 million for Virginia Commonwealth University and $20 million for the VCU Health System to help cover the costs of the public health emergency.

Virginia Tech, Radford University gain millions in coronavirus aid

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

Virginia Tech and Radford University are among schools receiving millions of dollars more in coronavirus aid money. Virginia will dole out more than $116 million in federal funds to colleges and universities to help cover costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.


Senate Candidates Visit Valley Seven Days Before Election

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

Both candidates running to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate for the next six years visited Harrisonburg for voter outreach events Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner spoke to a small crowd behind the local Democratic Party headquarters on West Market Street. Later in the evening, Republican candidate Daniel Gade attended a town hall on the campus of James Madison University.

Inside Virginia's Fifth District Congressional Race, Called The 'Most Competitive In Nation'


At the headquarters of the Fauquier County Republican Committee in Warrenton, Virginia, a cardboard cutout of John Wayne gripping a rifle leans against a wall. Chair Gregory Schumacher says Wayne was "the great American Western hero," and he says Republicans who held the Fifth District in Congress for all but two of the last 20 years will keep it in their hands this November. Although the populous counties of Northern Virginia have powered the state's drift into Democratic control, Schumacher says he sits on the political boundary. "When you come out from the Beltway, Fauquier County's the first one that goes red," Schumacher said.

7th District race nears record donations in a state congressional race


A big congressional race is bringing in even bigger dollars in Virginia's 7th District. The race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Republican challenger Del. Nick Freitas has raised nearly $11 million as of the last filing deadline on October 15, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.

Warner, Wexton Discuss Federal Relief Options with Industry Leaders


More than a dozen of Loudoun's hospitality and tourism industry business leaders gathered at Lansdowne Resort this morning to voice concerns about their finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to hear about the help Virginia's federal legislators are proposing. U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) led a discussion that emphasized the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive, or RESTAURANTS, Act, which Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced in June and Warner cosponsors.

GOP Challenges New Virginia Absentee Voting Rule


The Republican Party of Virginia and a conservative legal group with a history of making accusations of voter fraud without evidence are challenging a new Virginia voting rule in a hearing set for Wednesday. The lawsuit centers on a new state law that requires that a ballot postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted by a registrar if it arrives by noon on the third day following elections -- this year, Friday, November 6.

Voters are still requesting mail-in ballots despite deadline

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

Local election officials in Virginia say the state's website could be giving voters the false impression that they can still apply for a mail-in ballot to vote on Nov. 3. That deadline passed Friday afternoon. But the state's online portal is still allowing requests for mail-in ballots to vote in the year 2020. And hundreds of people, if not more, have continued to submit applications. All will be denied for the Nov. 3 election.

Va. elections website let hundreds of voters request mail-in ballots after deadline, but they won't get them


Hundreds of voters in Fairfax County expecting a mail-in ballot won't get it in time. That's because the Virginia Department of Elections website is still allowing voters to request a mail-in ballot well past the deadline. At last count, 853 voters in Fairfax County requested they be sent a mail-in ballot after the deadline passed on 5 p.m. last Friday, elections Director Gary Scott said.

Fairfax County extends early-voting hours in the face of long lines and delays

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

Early-voting sites in Fairfax County will be open for an extra two hours Thursday and Friday, a move meant to alleviate some of the long waits at those locations amid record turnouts, county officials said Tuesday. During those two days, the county's 13 satellite locations will open at 11 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. and will close at 7 p.m., said Brian Worthy, spokesman for the Fairfax elections office. The county's main government center, another early-voting site, will continue to operate between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during that period.

Virginia Voters Who Mess Up Their Absentee Ballot Have A Chance To Fix It Under New Law


Virginia voters who make a mistake filling out their absentee ballots for the November election are getting a chance to correct errors, like a missing signature, that might ordinarily lead to their votes getting rejected. A new law in effect for this election cycle sets up what's known as a ballot "cure" process, requiring that election officials reach out to voters whose ballots have been flagged because of errors. It's one of a series of voting-related policies that Democrats advanced during a special legislative session that started in August and is beginning to wrap up.

Democrats sue to get list of Richmond voters whose mail ballots have flaws

By BRAD KUTNER, Courthouse News Service

Virginia Democrats have filed suit against an elections official in Richmond for not handing over a list of rejected absentee ballots, which the party hopes to use to notify voters so they can file a corrected ballot by next week's deadline. The Democrats claim other cities and counties across the state have complied with the same request, but Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter has refused.

Virginia Democrats sue for list of voters with ballot errors

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Virginia Democrats are suing Richmond's top elections official to get a list of absentee voters whose ballots contain errors that need to be corrected in order for them to be counted in the Nov. 3 election. In a lawsuit filed late Monday in Richmond City Circuit Court, the Democratic Party of Virginia alleges that Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter has failed to turn over a complete list of absentee voters with ballots containing errors or omissions.

More Than Half of Active Arlington Voters Have Already Cast Ballots


Arlington has just crossed the 50% mark. New figures released today by the Arlington County elections office show that 85,776 votes have already been cast in the upcoming Nov. 3 election. That represents more than 50% of active voters in the county, and more than twice the early and mail-in votes of the entire record-setting 2016 presidential election.

Early voters in New Kent will not have ballots scanned into machines yet


In most localities, a huge number of people are taking advantage of early voting. But unlike those other counties, after anyone votes in New Kent, the ballot is not scanned into a machine. New Kent is processing ballots the way they have traditionally handled absentee ballots and is a process even the registrar says is taxing but out of her control. "We're busier than we've ever seen before in this little, small county," Registrar Karen Bartlett said.


Betting on the Future: Going mobile in Virginia


Virginia is moving quickly to launch sports betting throughout the commonwealth, with applications for mobile betting licenses flowing into the Virginia Lottery ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline. The approach being taken in Virginia is in stark contrast with the District's approach, and the gaming industry is far more excited about it.


Another lawsuit filed against bogged-down Mountain Valley Pipeline

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

Two endangered species of fish — the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter — could be pushed closer to extinction if a natural gas pipeline is allowed to invade their waters, according to a legal challenge filed Tuesday. A coalition of environmental groups asked a federal appeals court to review a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which found last month that construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not likely to jeopardize protected fish, bats and mussels.

Migrant workers face season of uncertainty


Geovanni Miranda Garcia labored through an apple orchard in the Shenandoah Valley one recent warm October afternoon, sorting freshly picked apples. One after another, for hours on end. It is a job he has done at Turkey Knob Growers in Rockingham County, Va., for several years. His whole family back home in Monterrey, Mexico, depends on his income. . . . Garcia is one of more than 10,000 migrant farmers who travelled to Virginia this year during the deadly pandemic to plant and harvest crops at more than 250 Virginia farms and orchards, according to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). Despite the health crisis, the influx of migrants this year changed little from previous harvests, according to VEC estimates.

'A real-life magic school bus': Virginia's first electric school buses unveiled

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

The first electric school buses in the commonwealth will begin rolling down the road early next month, thanks to Dominion Energy's Electric School Bus Program and Sonny Merryman, a Campbell County-based school and commercial bus company. In a rollout celebration Tuesday, representatives from Sonny Merryman; Dominion Energy; Thomas Built Buses; Proterra, a California-based electric transit and charging manufacturer; and school divisions across the state had a first look at the state's first electric school buses.

Regal movie theater at Virginia Beach Town Center to close permanently

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

After the Regal movie theater chain announced this month that it would stop showing movies indefinitely amid the pandemic, at least one location in Hampton Roads is set to close permanently. Armada Hoffler announced Monday that it had terminated the lease of the Regal Columbus Movies 12 at 104 Constitution Drive, across from the developer's Virginia Beach Town Center. The lease had fallen into default.

Group home provider settles allegation from deaf resident

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Federal litigators reached a civil settlement Tuesday with the largest operator of group homes in Virginia for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities over allegations it failed to provide necessary sign language interpreters. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger announced the settlement with Richmond-based Good Neighbor Homes Inc. The settlement resolves allegations that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide an interpreter for a deaf resident.

Isle of Wight County hopes gift card match using federal relief funds boosts region's small businesses

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

Looking to shop local this holiday season but need a little extra incentive amid a global pandemic that might make one skittish about spending? Isle of Wight County and two of its towns are using federal COVID-19 relief funds to create a matching gift card program to help small businesses.


Amid controversy, William & Mary receives $1.5M endowment to support gender equity, president

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

William & Mary President Katherine Rowe received two emphatic endorsements on Tuesday amid the fire she is facing in the wake of the school's decision in September to cut seven of its 23 varsity sports – three of which have been reinstated. The first was an expression of support from W&M's Board of Visitors. The second was a $1.5 million gift, made in honor of Rowe, for women's athletic scholarships.

Track team, alumni react to W&M Board of Visitors' 'utmost confidence' statement about Rowe

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

Some members of the Tribe community have some words for those supporting the university president's leadership amid the controversy surrounding the cut varsity sports programs. William & Mary Board of Visitors Rector John Littel wrote in an email the board has the "utmost confidence" in W&M President Katherine Rowe in response to a question on how confident the board was in her leadership. . . . But not everyone agrees with Littel's opinion of Rowe.

Community divided over Washington and Lee University's name today

Associated Press

Virginia's Washington and Lee University says that there are deep divisions over its name as the nation continues to grapple with its racial past. The school in Lexington said in a statement last week that it received 14,000 responses to a survey it has conducted as it examines issues of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.

State purchases Baldwin Building for NCI

By HOLLY KOZELSKY, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Baldwin Building, the home of New College Institute, now officially belongs to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which paid $7.5 million to the New College Foundation. Meanwhile, NCF, the foundation created to support the vision of NCI, remains quiet about what it plans to do with the money or what its future role with NCI would be.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,134 from Monday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 175,409 — an increase of 1,134 from the 174,275 reported Monday. The 175,409 cases consist of 163,339 confirmed cases and 12,070 probable cases. There are 3,600 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,350 confirmed and 250 probable. That's an increase of 19 from the 3,581 reported Monday.

Health department confirms 16 dead in COVID-19 outbreak in Chester nursing facility

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

Chesterfield County health officials confirmed on Tuesday that 16 residents of a skilled nursing facility in Chesterfield have died of COVID-19 in an outbreak that has infected 69 residents and 36 staff. Chesterfield Health Director Alexander Samuel confirmed the deaths and cases at Tyler's Retreat at Iron Bridge in an intensifying outbreak that was first reported by WRIC 8 News.

Virginia Beach Circuit Court remains closed this week after 5 employees test positive for COVID-19

By JANE HARPER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Beach's Circuit Court will remain closed the rest of this week after five employees tested positive for COVID-19 and multiple others await test results. Among those testing positive for the disease was Clerk of the Circuit Court Tina Sinnen, who has led the office since she was first elected to it in 2003. Sinnen wrote in an email Tuesday to The Pilot that she was just starting to feel well enough to respond to messages.

As COVID case counts rise in Southwest Virginia, contact tracing gets challenging

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

With hospital cases of COVID-19 increasing by more than a third in just one week, local public health officials warned Tuesday not to be tricked into thinking that the coronavirus will take a holiday. "Everything that we've been asking individuals to do, we are imploring them to do right now. Stay home if you're sick, contact people if you have COVID, consider downloading the COVIDWISE app," said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.


Judge rules Northam can remove Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

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

A Richmond Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Gov. Ralph Northam's order to take down the Robert E. Lee monument, holding that arguments to keep it in place were contrary to current public policy. Northam's June 4 order was blocked by a temporary injunction issued by Richmond Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant after five residents of the 14-block Monument Avenue Historic District sued.

Northam can remove Lee statue in Richmond, judge rules

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

Gov. Ralph Northam can remove this city's towering tribute to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a circuit court judge ruled Tuesday. But the judge also halted the governor from acting immediately, allowing the group trying to preserve the statue to mount an appeal. Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant found that Virginia is not bound by the terms of covenants dating from 1870 and 1890, in which the state agreed to forever protect the statue.

Botetourt committee to recommend moving Confederate monument

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A Botetourt County committee plans to recommend that the Confederate monument that stands in front of the county courthouse should be moved. Botetourt County Supervisor Steve Clinton, who represents the Amsterdam District, heads the committee on monuments and memorials. During Tuesday's meeting of the county supervisors, he explained that the volunteer committee reached that conclusion at its Oct. 8 gathering.


APS Return to School Plan Hits Snag


While students with disabilities are still set to return to classrooms next week, further return-to-school phases are now on hold. Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán made the announcement in an email to families Tuesday evening. "Currently, the health and safety metrics are not where they need to be to proceed with Level 2, Phase 1 Return on Nov. 12 for PreK, Kindergarten, and Career & Technical Education (CTE) students," Durán wrote.

Union urges Fairfax teachers to take 'mental health day'

Associated Press

A teachers' union in Virginia's largest school district is urging members to call in sick Wednesday for a "mental health day" as they ponder how they will respond to a gradual return to in-person learning. Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams said teachers need the mental health day because of the stress they face with a looming Oct. 30 deadline to say whether they will return to the classroom when called upon, seek a leave of absence, or resign.

Fairfax woman charged with vandalizing Leesburg sidewalk last month

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A woman has received one misdemeanor count of destruction of property after a Leesburg sidewalk was vandalized last month, according to the Leesburg Police Department. Local law enforcement served Jessie Patton, 29, of Fairfax, with a warrant Sunday, after which she was reportedly released on her signature promising to appear in court.

Northern Virginia school officials step up efforts to return students to classrooms

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

As the end of the first semester approaches, Northern Virginia school officials are stepping up efforts to return children to classrooms, inspiring elation, anger and protest — including a planned teacher day off for mental health — among parents, students and staffers. At a school board meeting in Loudoun County on Thursday evening, Superintendent Eric Williams and top staffers outlined detailed plans to return third- through fifth-graders, as well as some high-schoolers studying STEM, to classrooms by early December.

In Richmond mayoral race, Stoney eclipses $1 million in donations

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

Incumbent Levar Stoney's re-election bid for Richmond mayor raised another $303,000 this month, outpacing his two closest competitors again and eclipsing $1 million in donations. With candidates making their final push to sway voters, Stoney maintains a cash advantage over Alexsis Rodgers and Kimberly B. "Kim" Gray, according to a new round of campaign finance reports filed Monday.

The first construction — and demolition — in Norfolk's St. Paul's overhaul is starting soon

By RYAN MURPHY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Nearly two years after Norfolk officially set the St. Paul's redevelopment in motion — a massive plan to tear down half of the city's public housing and reimagine a wide swath near downtown — the first wave of new construction will begin. Slowly over the next two years, four new apartment buildings, major road work and a pump station will all emerge from the dirt around the Hampton Roads Transit station on St. Paul's Boulevard.

Human remains found at cemetery may have been used in medical experiments

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

A cache of unidentified human remains found in Richmond's East End Cemetery this summer show some evidence of medical experimentation, according to a preliminary analysis by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Officials from the state agency revealed the findings last week during a public hearing on what should be done with the remains.

Maggie Walker network releases data after surveying Black students, alumni and parents

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

Black alumni demanding racial change at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School have released the findings of a June survey that asked Black students, alumni, and even students' parents about their experiences with racism. A total of 76 respondents to the survey conducted by the Maggie Walker Black Alumni Network overwhelmingly said while they felt confident in the rigorous education they received from the school, they recall a traumatizing experience filled with microaggressions, a lack of support from administration and teachers, and isolation from being one of the few Black students there.

Condo residents sue Virginia Beach over proposed high rise that would block their view of the Chesapeake Bay

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

Two condo associations have sued the city and a senior living community over a proposed high-rise building that will threaten neighbors' view of the Chesapeake Bay. The residents of Ocean Shore Condominium Association and Ships Watch Condominium Owners' Association filed the lawsuit last week, one month after the the Virginia Beach City Council approved the 22-story glass tower on the campus of Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay.

Winchester School Board approves more in-person learning for its youngest students

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

Prekindergarten through first-grade students in Winchester Public Schools will be able to attend in-person classes four days a week instead of two starting Nov. 16. The city School Board unanimously approved the change Monday night. "I do believe this is the right decision," Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said about expanding in-person learning for the youngest students in the division's four elementary schools.

Bedford County Public Schools to suspend in-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Bedford County Public Schools to suspend in-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School In-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School will be suspended beginning today through Nov. 6 because of a rise in positive COVID-19 cases at the school.

Roanoke schools prepare to welcome back elementary students in-person, 2 days a week

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

Three Roanoke schools are currently closed for two weeks, but the city school division still plans to have elementary students return to the classroom next week. Superintendent Verletta White and her staff provided a reopening update to the school board on Tuesday, which included information about the students who will return two days per week.

Governor endorses Mayor Sherman Lea, Democratic ticket in Roanoke stop

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

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam came to Roanoke on Tuesday to endorse Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea and the three Democratic candidates running for city council. Standing at the Mill Mountain overlook in front of the Roanoke Star, with the familiar mountain-hugged vista of the city as a backdrop, Virginia's Democratic governor praised Roanoke for its economy, public high school graduation rates and its diversity, which he credited to the city's Democratic leadership.

Franklin County looks to next semester to expand in-person classes

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Franklin County School Board heard an assessment Monday afternoon of what it would take to have students back in the classroom for at least four days a week under pandemic conditions. The board's consensus, ultimately, was that conditions aren't right for making that leap, at least not yet.

Danville's contract with Caesars has clause allowing company to delay meeting commitments

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

The contract between Caesars Entertainment and the city of Danville includes provisions that would not require the company to meet its promised jobs numbers and wage commitments under certain circumstances. The provisions in the contract signed Sept. 3 by city and company officials state that Caesars Virginia temporarily would not be required to meet those obligations "in the event of a partial or total shutdown of the project as a result of natural disaster, pandemic, endemic or other emergency situation."

Dan River Region teachers still wary of reopening schools

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Nine weeks into the school year, some teachers across the Dan River Region report mixed feelings regarding levels of student engagement, their preparedness for the school year and the merits of reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in Pittsylvania County Schools who opted for in-person learning have been back in classrooms for the last two or four weeks depending on grade level. In Danville Public Schools, students who elected in-person learning will begin returning on Nov. 9, with more following on Nov. 16.

Danville Utilities completes 14MW solar project

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Danville Utilities, in partnership with Edison, New Jersey-based CS Energy LLC, Hingham, Massachusetts-based Navisun LLC and Denver-based TurningPoint Energy, announced Tuesday it has completed a 14-megawatt utility-scale solar project in Danville — the city's largest solar development to date.



Northam makes the VMI mess even worse

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

There is so much wrong with the situation at Virginia Military Institute that it's hard to know where to begin. Let's take things in chronological order. 1. Why the delayed outrage? Roanoke Times education reporter Claire Mitzel wrote in June about how some Black alumni were using social media to describe what they had faced at VMI, including: "being punished for not saluting the [Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall"] Jackson statue; white cadets wearing blackface; the pain of charging across the New Market battlefield; white students using the N-word; getting spit in the face."

Holding the House Speaker accountable

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

On Oct. 9, Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland fined Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn $500 for lying to Northern Virginia attorney David Webster about a Freedom of Information Act request he made regarding her unilateral removal of Confederate statuary from the Old House Chamber in Richmond. The judge also ordered her to pay Webster's attorney nearly $2,000 in legal fees.

Superintendent's swift ouster complicates VMI investigation

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

Gov. Ralph Northam said he lost confidence Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute. On Monday, the general lost his post. A situation that called for thorough investigation and careful deliberation instead received neither, which reflects poorly on the commonwealth.


Jenkins: Teachers are working

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

"We shouldn't be paying teachers if I'm teaching my kids." "I should be paid their salary." "If they don't want to go into the building, they shouldn't get paid." I saw social media comments such as these after Henrico County Public Schools announced the plan for virtual instruction. I've been an educator for 23 years, and I've heard many misconceptions about our schedules, mostly comments regarding how nice it must be to have summers "off."

Suzanne Jenkins of Varina is an exceptional education teacher with Henrico County Public Schools and is the mother of two Henrico students.

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