Thursday, October 15, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 15, 2020
Top of the News

D.C. region's coronavirus caseload hits two-month high; officials say small gatherings are fueling rise

By JULIE ZAUZMER AND OVETTA WIGGINS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The number of new coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region jumped to a two-month high Wednesday as D.C.'s top health official said small social gatherings are helping to fuel the virus's spread. The seven-day rolling average of new cases across Virginia, Maryland and the District stood at 1,801 — the highest since the average hit 1,916 cases Aug. 13.

Newport News schools reverse course; will delay return to classrooms

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

A plan that would have brought some Newport News students back to classrooms starting Monday has been delayed, Superintendent George Parker said Tuesday evening. Last week, the school board voted 5-2 to allow the district to start a phased return to classes, with the flexibility to postpone the return as needed.

Colleges' virus numbers don't tell whole story

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

More than 1,500 students at James Madison University have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two months. Two other universities in the state, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, have reported 1,000 cases or more each. And yet, other large universities in Virginia have claimed dramatically fewer infected students.

Bridgewater College Likely To Lay Off 13% Of Employees

By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A recommendation from a task force charged with finding areas where funding can be reallocated at Bridgewater College will likely cost approximately 40 employees, both faculty and staff, their jobs, according to Abbie Parkhurst, associate vice president of marketing and communications. More than a year ago, well before the pandemic, Bridgewater College began the process of Strategic Resource Allocation with the goal of focusing resources on the academic programs and other activities that are most in demand and most effectively support the college's mission.

Virginia budget negotiators reach deal

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

It has taken almost as long as a regular 60-day session of the General Assembly, but budget negotiators have reached agreement on revisions to the two-year spending plan that appear not to cross lines that Gov. Ralph Northam had drawn for a budget bill he would be willing to sign in the face of economic uncertainly in a public health emergency.

Final state budget proposal scraps measure to expand broadband in rural Virginia

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

Eight weeks after starting a special session intended to address the state budget, the Virginia General Assembly is close to passing a revised spending plan. The legislature is hoping to wrap up its work by the end of this week after it passes a revised biennium budget, which had been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. The final revised budget that both chambers still need to approve does not include a proposal to allow municipal broadband authorities to compete with the private sector for state grants to provide high-speed internet in hard-to-reach areas.

Local Journalist Receives Outpouring of Support After Being Fired


The last remaining journalist at the Floyd Press says she's been fired by corporate owner Lee Enterprises after doing an interview detailing difficult work conditions. That story, "She's a One-Person Newsroom, But Lee Enterprises Kept Cutting" was published by Radio IQ last Thursday. In an interview Wednesday Ashley Spinks says she doesn't regret giving the interview because "I think that's some of the only power that workers have over corporate ownership is to speak truth to power, and speak honestly about their experiences."

The Full Report
55 articles, 20 publications


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


Division over redistricting could delay enactment of revised budget until after the election

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

Intense division among statehouse Democrats over redistricting reform is threatening to delay the state's spending plan — including COVID-19 relief — which could remain on hold until voters decide the fate of a constitutional amendment on redistricting Nov. 3. Legislative leaders in the House and Senate described Wednesday a three-way deal with the governor's office that would delay enactment of the budget until the referendum is decided next month, when Northam would send down legislation clarifying how the amendment would be enacted if it passes, or how the redistricting process will move ahead if voters reject it.

Marcus Alert deal clears House, awaits vote in the Senate

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

Virginia lawmakers have reached a tentative deal on legislation to reform the way police respond to calls involving people in mental distress, creating the framework for a statewide crisis response system named after a man killed by police in Richmond: Marcus-David Peters.


'A lot at stake for communities of color': Race takes central role in redistricting fight

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

When the Virginia House of Delegates was getting ready to pass its 2011 redistricting plan, Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, stood to say something she knew her colleagues might not want to hear. But, she said, "I just don't care." Speaking on the House floor before a vote on a Republican-crafted legislative map, Ward, a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said she knew her district lines had been drawn to make it easier for her to get re-elected, and that it would have been easy for her to just think about what was "going to be good for me." But she didn't think the map represented the type of bipartisan effort voters expect. And that's why she would vote no, even though it wouldn't stop the map from passing.

More Than A Year Ahead Of Vote, Virginia's Lt. Gov. Race Grows To Nine Candidates


Sean Perryman, the president of the Fairfax County NAACP, announced his run for Virginia lieutenant governor on Tuesday, adding his name to a large and diverse pool of candidates vying for the second-highest office in the commonwealth more than a year ahead of the statewide vote. . . . So far, nine candidates have announced their candidacies ahead of the 2021 primary, with the contenders skewing heavily from Northern Virginia. A handful of them, including Perryman, have never held elected office before.


Federal judge extends Virginia voter registration deadline


A federal judge on Wednesday extended the deadline for registering to vote in Virginia by 48 hours after the state's online voter registration system went down because of an accidentally severed cable. The order by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. in Richmond is an effort to make up for several hours of lost time on Tuesday, which had been the last day to register before the November general election.

Federal judge orders Virginia voter registration deadline to be extended through Thursday

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

Afederal judge Wednesday extended the deadline for registering to vote until 11:59 p.m. Thursday in light of a construction accident that shut down the online voter registration system for several hours Tuesday, which was originally the last day to register. "What we have here is a case where somebody forgot to call Miss Utility in Chesterfield County," said U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. during a brief hearing. Gibney's order is for online and in-person voter registration, both disrupted Tuesday after a Verizon cable was accidentally struck by equipment at a sewer project outside the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.

Virginia's voter registration deadline extended until Thursday night

By ROBYN SIDERSKY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A federal judge in Richmond has granted a request to extend voter registration in Virginia. It will be extended until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, according to an order granted by Judge John Gibney in U.S. District Court in Richmond. The request was made by voter advocacy groups and supported by Attorney General Mark Herring after a fiber was cut overnight Monday and voter registration online was disrupted on the last day it was allowed.

Federal judge extends Virginia voter registration through Thursday

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

A federal judge in Virginia has extended the state's voter registration deadline through Thursday after a severed fiber-optic cable kept voters from registering online most of Tuesday, which was supposed to have been the last day to do so. The order by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Gibney Jr. allows voters to register through the Board of Elections website until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and for them to register in person at local elections offices or other designated agencies until those offices close at 5 p.m.

Richmond First postpones 7th District forum because of House of Delegates session

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

The Richmond First Club postponed an online forum for the hotly contested 7th Congressional District on Wednesday because Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, had to attend a floor session of the House of Delegates that began at the same time. Freitas is the Republican challenger for the 7th District seat held by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who is seeking a second term.

At Charlottesville stop, Emhoff encourages voter registration

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Doug Emhoff, husband of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, stopped in Charlottesville on Tuesday to encourage people to register to vote before the deadline passed Tuesday evening. The first of multiple in-person campaign stops in Virginia, Emhoff was greeted by several dozen supporters. Spaced apart in Rives Park, supporters held signs showing their support for Joe Biden and Harris and gave muffled cheers from behind their masks.

Inspired by her grandmother, Norfolk State athlete is working to get others to vote

By LARRY RUBAMA, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Symone Thomas learned the importance of voting at an early age. When she was just 7, she remembered getting a phone call from her grandmother, who was crying. "It was 2008, and I was sitting on the couch," the Norfolk State University volleyball player remembered. "She was crying because we had our first Black president." The historic event of Barack Obama being elected president was celebrated by her family, even though she couldn't truly grasp the magnitude of the moment.


Recipients of unemployment benefits could see delay this week

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

Virginians who are receiving unemployment benefits could see a delay in their payments this week, partly because of a construction accident Tuesday that disrupted computer networks for several state agencies. The Virginia Employment Commission, which administers unemployment benefits in the state, said Wednesday that payments this week could be delayed by two days.

In Southwest Virginia, aging wastewater systems pose big problems for cash-strapped communities

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Southwest Virginians have long looked beneath the surface of the rugged coalfield region for wealth and opportunity. But just below the asphalt and concrete of the communities that dot its ridges and valleys, the area's aging and dilapidated wastewater systems are draining the coffers of localities already strapped for cash. Across Virginia, water and wastewater systems are some of the biggest headaches for rural towns and counties. Small populations mean fewer customers to pay for repairs, while less industry and economic activity mean declining tax bases.

Va. Supreme Court denies Roanoke courts' plan to resume jury trials

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

The Virginia Supreme Court has rejected a plan by Roanoke Valley's courts to resume jury trials during the pandemic. Chief Judge David Carson of the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia, which includes Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem courts, said during an Oct. 13 Roanoke Bar Association Meeting that the Virginia Supreme Court rejected the proposal because it covered the three jurisdiction's courts under one proposal instead of presenting separate plans for each courthouse, according to a report from Virginia Lawyers Weekly.


Northam announces wind training alliance

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced the formation of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, Virginia's first workforce training collaborative for the offshore and onshore wind energy industries. The program will offer industry-required certifications for wind project operations and long-term maintenance. The New College Institute in Martinsville will serve as the host institution, working with Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy.

A small Virginia city struggles to save its local businesses

By PAUL WISEMAN, Associated Press

In a normal year, hundreds of book lovers would have descended on Winchester this summer for Shenandoah University's annual children's literature conference. Some would have made their way to Christine Patrick's bookshop downtown. Winchester Brew Works would have rolled out kegs this month for Oktoberfest revelers. The Hideaway Café, occupying a prime location at the corner of Cork and Loudoun streets, would be advertising its monthly Divas Drag Show.

The coronavirus prompts new urgency for rural Internet access

By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Jason Onorati moved to rural Powhatan, Va., 23 years ago, when he didn't need the Internet to raise a family. He lives with his young son and his 2-year-old granddaughter on a gravel dead-end road on the edge of town, one of many pockets of rural America that lack reliable WiFi. Here, there is no access to video calls, no Netflix or online billing, except via cellphone. Teleworking, online doctor's appointments and remote school are nearly impossible.

Lawsuits allege defamation by Mountain Valley Pipeline security

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

Shortly before a Mountain Valley Pipeline opponent was charged in 2018 with trespassing in a construction zone, a member of the project's security force falsely targeted her as "affiliated with Antifa," a lawsuit claims. The charges against Nan Gray and two of her friends were later dropped by a prosecutor who said there was no evidence to support them.


Virginia Tech, Radford U offer fall break tips and tests

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

Midway through the fall semester, Virginia Tech and Radford University are taking efforts to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, with a mix of dos, don'ts and more tests. Tech "strongly discouraged" students this week from traveling or hosting visitors over Friday's Fall Break. "Navigating a pandemic is really difficult and can cause us all to feel fatigued," the university said in a statement. "But we can't let that weariness grow into apathy towards the guidelines that keep us and others safe and healthy.

Virginia State University will reopen campus in the spring

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

Virginia State University will reopen its campus for the spring 2021 semester and join the majority of colleges in the commonwealth that have opened campus and transitioned to a mostly online curriculum. A historically Black university located in Ettrick near Petersburg, VSU was one of three colleges in the commonwealth to keep its campus closed for the entire fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to push in athletic department, nearly all UL teams registered to vote this November

By EMILY BROWN, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

There's a philosophy among the men's basketball team at University of Lynchburg, a simple few words the group discusses often and aims to apply daily. Let's not just talk about it, they say — "Let's be about it." Talk is important. After all, discussions about tough issues, like the killing of George Floyd and what "true brotherhood" among a group of diverse individuals should resemble, were the starting point of a movement at the Lakeside Drive school.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 805 from Tuesday

By STAFF REPORT, 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 161,610 — an increase of 805 from the 160,805 reported Tuesday. The 161,610 cases consist of 152,039 confirmed cases and 9,571 probable cases. There are 3,381 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,141 confirmed and 240 probable. That's an increase of 9 from the 3,372 reported Tuesday.

Richmond-area COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Continue Rising


Health officials say COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in the Richmond area. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Melissa Viray, deputy director of the Richmond City Health Department, said the increase is being driven partly by outbreaks at long term care facilities, but also by exposures at weddings, restaurants and workplaces.

Ballad concerned about wave of COVID-19 cases

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

A wave of COVID-19 across the region has Ballad Health officials forecasting that more and more people will require hospitalization in the upcoming weeks. COVID-19 logo Health system officials used words like "alarming" and "concerning" Wednesday when talking about the increasing numbers of cases, patients and testing positivity across the region, after rates remained steady through the end of August and all of September.

Authorities raid Martinsville restaurant for possible COVID violations

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

Officials with the Martinsville Health Department along with ABC agents and Martinsville Police officers descended upon El Norteno Restaurant at 730 East Church St. in Martinsville on Friday night on a report of possible COVID-19 violations. Patrons of the restaurant and observers in the parking lot described the scene as akin to a major police raid.


Hanover renames government building for woman enslaved at site

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

It's hard for Ajena Rogers to find words for the moment. She hesitates a bit as she stands outside a newly renovated brick building at Hanover County's government complex that just received a new name — the name of one of her ancestors, Martha Ann Fields, who was enslaved at Nutshell on the same grounds.

Leader of Black Lives Matter 757 found guilty of blocking traffic at Hampton protest

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

A local leader of the Black Lives Matter movement was convicted Wednesday of blocking traffic at a Hampton intersection during a July protest. Aubrey Dwight "JaPharri" Jones Jr., 35, was found guilty on two charges — obstructing the free passage of others and improperly using a highway as a pedestrian — at a hearing in Hampton General District Court, online court records show.

JRWA to study alternative site to Rassawek for pump station

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

The James River Water Authority said Wednesday it will more closely study a potential alternative site for a project that currently is slated to be built on land that was home to Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan nation. On Wednesday, the authority board voted to allow a consultant to move forward with an archaeological survey of a potential alternative site for the project.


Fairfax school enrollment drops nearly 5%; taxpayers unlikely to get a break

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Fairfax County Public Schools kicked off the 2020-21 school year in September with nearly 8,900 fewer students – roughly the equivalent of four high schools – than the system had one year earlier, but officials do not plan to return any of the already-budgeted moneys to the county's coffers just yet.

In Fairfax County, Domestic Violence Described as 'Pandemic Within Pandemic'


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in what some local advocates and law enforcement officials are calling a pandemic within a pandemic for domestic violence victims. In Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Police Department reported a slight uptick in calls related to domestic abuse. Following statewide orders to remain at home when possible, the average number of monthly calls jumped from 158 in February to 191 in April.

Loudoun School Board Rejects Push to Accelerate Hybrid Learning

Loudoun Now

During another meeting marked by protests from frustrated parents and students pushing for a return to the classroom, an effort to accelerate Superintendent Eric Williams' schedule to expand in-person learning narrowly failed to gain support from a School Board majority Tuesday night.

School board members, supervisors say Prince William return-to-school plan falls short


Some Prince William supervisors and School Board members sharply criticized county school leaders this week after they wavered on a return of students to classrooms in November. . . . Republicans supervisors chastised the school board and division staff for not following the 50/50 hybrid plan approved in July, which would have brought all grade levels back to school Nov. 10 for two days a week.

Council rejects Stoney's $500,000 health initiative plans; proposes emergency COVID fund instead

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

Richmond City Council wants to direct $500,000 of an estimated $19 million surplus to pandemic relief efforts instead of health initiatives Mayor Levar Stoney says would address gun violence, drug addiction and racial disparities in maternal health. As estimates for a budget surplus for the year that ended on June 30 continue to rise, the City Council agreed Wednesday to allocate $5 million to brace a routinely underfunded pension program.

RRHA board reaffirms plans to demolish and redevelop Richmond's public housing communities

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

The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on Wednesday reaffirmed its goal to overhaul the city's public housing communities. In a 6-1-1 vote, the housing authority's Board of Commissioners endorsed the agency's annual plan and five-year capital plans. The documents outline RRHA's formal intent to demolish and redevelop neighborhoods that are home to some of the poorest residents in the region.

Virginia Beach plans makeover for the resort area before next summer

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A multi-million dollar overhaul of the Oceanfront resort area will launch in the coming months, with some major changes to be in place before next summer's tourist season, city officials said this week. Virginia Beach is gearing up to spend $1.5 million to revive an office in the resort area focused on enforcing code and zoning violations, maintenance such as sidewalk repairs, public safety and parking issues, as well as outreach for homeless people, Deputy City Manager Ron Williams told the City Council on Tuesday.

New Virginia Beach surf park map reveals where the venue will land

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Neighbors surrounding the old dome site at the Oceanfront have been inundated with projects over the last 20 years. From the razing of houses and city buildings, to the digging up of pipes, and most recently, the construction of new sidewalks along the 19th Street corridor. "I feel like I've lived in a war zone," said Lisa Lawrence, who has been hunkering down in her grandmother's 1940′s beach cottage on Arctic Avenue. "Everybody's so exhausted from the dirt and construction. … The dirt, it comes in the darnedest places."

Norfolk approves new Airbnb rules — with more to come

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

Norfolk's City Council approved a new round of regulations on short-term rentals, like Airbnb stays, over the objections of one councilman Tuesday. Tommy Smigiel, who represents the Ocean View area of the city where the bulk of Airbnb listings are located, said he believed after talking with constituents that the changes to Norfolk's zoning law seemed to be trying to solve problems that didn't exist. One example he cited is forcing the owners of larger, four- or five-bedroom homes to seek a special permit from the council to rent them out.

Norfolk may put city offices in MacArthur Center's empty Nordstrom building

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

Could one of the anchors of MacArthur Center mall become a one-stop shop for city services? Norfolk is exploring the idea of consolidating several city offices that are currently in rented private space into the former Nordstrom building.

Some Chesapeake teachers told they can't work from home anymore

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

Chesapeake school administrators have begun telling some teachers who opted to work from home the first semester that they must return to their school building in early November. Some teachers are worried the forced return — as the pandemic continues — will put the health of themselves or vulnerable family members at risk. The directive affects teachers at the district's seven high schools, according to Angie Smith, a Chesapeake Public Schools spokeswoman.

Gloucester schools on track to have all grades back by Nov. 12

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

All grades will return to schools in Gloucester County at the start of the second quarter, according to a plan presented by Superintendent Walter Clemons. Clemons initially presented a timeline for return to the School Board in September. Since then, the district has gradually started returning students for hybrid instruction, in person two days a week. Students in regional special education programs returned Sept. 21.

Haas skeptical of schools attendance data as in-person learning approaches

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

Nearly 100% of Albemarle students are participating in virtual learning, though the rates of those attending live classes are much lower, the division said last week. Schools Superintendent Matt Haas is skeptical of the veracity of the attendance data that he presented to School Board members last week. The data, which encompasses the first three weeks of the school year, was the first time attendance information has been publicly discussed. Haas said during last Thursday's board meeting that the attendance rates statewide are being "dramatically inflated" to save funding for school divisions.

Blacksburg Town Council OK's Shentel franchise

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Town Council unanimously approved a cable franchise Tuesday night for Shentel, a move that will allow the company to bring home internet and television services to the town. The franchise, which passed on a 7-0 vote, allows the Edinburg-based provider to use Blacksburg right-of-ways to run its lines.

Culpeper Town Council says no to gun-free zones

By JOSH GULLY, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Culpeper Town Council has approved a resolution stating that the town will not pass any ordinances establishing gun-free zones. The resolution was passed Oct. 13 by a 5-4 vote with council members Jamie Clancey, Pranas Rimeikis, Keith Price and Meaghan Taylor dissenting. The resolution was in response to a Virginia Code section granting localities the ability to prohibit firearms in buildings, recreation centers and parks it owns or operates.

Pittsylvania Education Association reiterates that schools aren't ready for in-person instruction

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

The revelation of a student testing positive for COVID-19 at Chatham High School this week has reinforced the Pittsylvania Education Association's stance that the school district was not ready to bring students back into classrooms en masse. Jessica Jones, president of the association which represents teachers in Pittsylvania County, expressed disappointment and disbelief that a student tested positive on just the second day of children in grades four-12 returning to their schools.

Study shows Martinsville area in dire need of more housing

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

A stunning new study shows that Martinsville and Henry County, already losing population based on age, is on the brink of housing shortage. A report commissioned last year to analyze the situation was presented Tuesday night to Martinsville City Council, and it included some eye-opening data about the needs of the market and how well that might attract new businesses and the employees they require.

Coal communities get $43.3M in project funding from ARC

Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Three projects in Southwest Virginia are among 51 across 12 Appalachian states that will receive a total of $43.3 million to support economic diversification in coal-impacted communities, the Appalachian Regional Commission announced Wednesday.



What should Virginia do with its future marijuana tax revenue?

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

There's so much news right now that it's hard to keep up.The presidential election. The pandemic. The pot revenues in Colorado. One of those is distinctly more interesting than the others so let's deal with that one.

Northam plot shows need to tone down rhetoric

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

Gov. Ralph Northam was characteristically measured on Tuesday when discussing an alleged kidnapping plot hatched by members of an anti-government paramilitary group, a conspiracy that also targeted Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Saying he would not be intimidated, Northam called for greater consideration and care with language used in the public square — an exhortation that should ring from sea to shining sea.

Justice is delayed for Bijan Ghaisar — again

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Five months into his tenure as the top prosecutor in Virginia's most populous locality, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve T. Descano served notice that he was closing in on a decision in by far the highest-profile case he faces: the unwarranted fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar. That was in May — and still, unaccountably, Mr. Descano has not moved.


Long: Vote yes on Amendment One: It's better than what we have now

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Years ago, I heard an ex-congressman tell about campaigning for reelection near his hometown. He approached one elderly voter and introduced himself, explaining some of the issues he supported or opposed. The man listened a while and then, apparently unaware that he was talking to the incumbent, gave him his endorsement. "I think I'll vote for you, son. Anything's better than what we've got now."

Schapiro: Legal battle in Fairfax over Civil War markers

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

A little-noticed lawsuit by a state senator against the Northern Virginia suburb he represents in Richmond is the new front in the battle over Civil War symbols — or what are construed as such in the least Southern corner of the least Southern state in the South. Chap Petersen, an occasionally contrarian Fairfax Democrat, wants a state court to block Fairfax County from taking down a stone obelisk, erected by Confederate veterans in 1904, and a cast-iron sign, installed by the state in 2009, both of which mark the spot where a rebel officer, Capt. John Quincy Marr of the Warrenton Rifles, in June 1861 became the first soldier killed in a Civil War land battle. He was shot dead in a middle-of-the-night raid by Union cavalry.


Azher: Moving beyond free speech — why I say F—k U.Va.

By HIRA AZHER, published in Cavalier Daily

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, and I was recently involved in several debates and controversy over a sign on my Lawn room door, which states "Fuck UVA. UVA Operating Costs - KKKops, Genocide, Slavery, Disability, Black and Brown Life."...As a Muslim woman of color at this University, I am constantly and painstakingly aware that this institution was not made for people like me, and everyday, the University continues to function and uphold white supremacist ideals that makes this very clear for marginalized students all across Grounds.

Azher is a fourth-year student at UVa. (Given the level of controversy involved, VPAP has made a rare exception to it's policy to not include commentary from online-only publications)

Allen: Portsmouth students need a lifeline

By FRANK ALLEN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Daily, at Hope Charitable Services, we hear about problems suburbanites cannot imagine. Our families want their children educated, but many lack the capacity to home-school. It is an insurmountable challenge. Recently a woman with custody of her grandchildren came seeking help. "By the time I get the third grandchild online," she explained, "the first child is done with one part and needs something else. They all need something different at the same time. When I get everything settled, the class is over."

Allen is the founder and director of Hope Charitable Services in Portsmouth.

O'Keefe: Why we should support Richmond 300

By DON O'KEEFE, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond, like the rest of the country, has reached a point of reckoning. Public health is in danger, wildlife is threatened and Black people again are disproportionately suffering due to systematic racism. With all this occupying our attention, why should we take time to think about urban planning? Because changing the way we plan is one of the most important ways to address these issues.

Don O'Keefe is a master in architecture candidate at Harvard University and holds a bachelor of science from the department of urban and regional studies and planning at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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