Saturday, October 24, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

October 24, 2020
Top of the News

Northam turns to far Southwest Virginia during economic recovery tour

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday turned to one of the most economically challenged places in Virginia to hear how the pandemic has affected businesses and families and what they need to recover. "We want to do what we can to bring all of Virginia back, especially rural Virginia," Northam said during a virtual roundtable organized by the United Way of Southwest Virginia. "We're here to listen. We don't have monopolies on ideas here in Richmond."

'Revolutionary' criminal sentencing change passes in Virginia

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

When he heard a fellow Democrat was working against his bill to change Virginia's sentencing laws, state Sen. Joseph D. Morrissey of Richmond sent a text message invoking his high school wrestling career. Morrissey told Michael Mullin, a prosecutor from Hampton, Va., and chairman of a powerful House panel on criminal justice, that in 1974 he had won a state wrestling championship with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, participating against the advice of his physician father. "You have badly underestimated me," he concluded in the text last week.

Loudoun Supervisors to Let Unions Meet with County Employees

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors has voted to let unions into county buildings to talk to and recruit public employees. Currently, under state law, state and local governments are not allowed to recognize any union or collective bargaining. Although some county employees are union members already with organizations like the Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, whose leaders speak on behalf of the concerns of county employees during the public input sessions in every annual budget cycle, unions cannot bargain on behalf of employees.

The first female recession: Women in Richmond and beyond are leaving the workforce in record numbers

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When the pandemic hit, Richmonder Kari Altizer was a financial advisor about to give birth to her first child, a boy, at the end of March. "I wasn't sure I was going to make enough money to afford day care. My clients were dropping off. And I wasn't sure where I wanted my baby to go during the pandemic. I didn't know what was safe," Altizer said. She decided to quit her job and stay home with her son.

Wedding at Wintergreen Resort leads to quarantine

By NICK CROPPER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A recent wedding held at Wintergreen Resort has resulted in multiple employees being quarantined because of possible exposure to COVID-19 and some staff have tested positive, an official with the resort said Friday. Director of Marketing Lori Zaloga said Wintergreen hosted a wedding the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11. A few days afterward, she said, resort staff was notified by a member of the wedding party another attendee had tested positive for COVID-19.

City–county feud paralyzes Fredericksburg area transportation committee

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A rift on the area's transportation planning organization has grown now to the point where little is getting done because Fredericksburg representatives are boycotting meetings. The city's members on the Policy Committee for the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization have been arguing with Stafford County and Spotsylvania County members over policies for more than a year.

As rising seas push high tides higher, Northern Neck volunteers gather valuable data with their phones

By JOHN BOYER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

When volunteers head out to map the growing reach of Virginia's tidal flooding, one of the obstacles can be the water itself. Tami McCauley and a neighbor, both Kilmarnock-based members of the Northern Neck Master Gardeners, set out in a skiff last Sunday to map the year's highest tide at Hughlett Point on the Chesapeake Bay near Ditchley. "We couldn't land the boat there because there was no beach," McCauley said.

The Full Report
41 articles, 24 publications


VPAP Visual Last Full Look at Congressional Fundraising

The Virginia Public Access Project

Cameron Webb, a Democrat running in a rural Republican district, was the top fundraiser among all Virginia congressional candidates during the first two weeks of October. This interactive visual lets you rank candidates by money raised during the period and amount of cash on hand as of October 14.

VPAP Visual Outside Money Bypasses Virginia Senate Race

The Virginia Public Access Project

Outside interest groups have spent nearly $1 billion on U.S. Senate races across the nation, but they have largely bypassed Virginia. This chart ranks spending by partisan and single-interest groups by states where Senate seats are on the ballot next month.

VPAP Visual Biden Widens Lead in Virginia Fundraising

The Virginia Public Access Project

In the first two weeks of October, Democrat Joe Biden raised nearly $2.5 million from individuals with Virginia addresses. President Donald Trump reported $974,000. The disclosures released Friday contained the public's last complete look of presidential fundraising before the November 3 election.

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.


Post-Schar School poll: Majority of Virginia voters approve of Northam's job performance

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, LAURA VOZZELLA, EMILY GUSKIN AND ALAUNA SAFARPOUR, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than half of Virginia's registered voters approve of the overall job performance of Gov. Ralph Northam, and an even larger majority support his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll. Northam's job approval rating of 56 percent is up from 49 percent about a year ago and from 43 percent in the wake of his blackface scandal in early 2019.


Xavier Warren Aims For 'Fresh Start' in Campaign For Lieutenant Governor


Arlington businessman Xavier Warren is basing his campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia on a pledge to lead a statewide economic recovery while focusing on the job market. Warren is a partner with Congressional Partners, a bipartisan organization that helps nonprofits and corporations secure federal grants. He also works as a sports agent and serves as a NFL Players Association contract advisor.


2 moderate Democrats vie for reelection in Virginia suburbs

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger were part of a historic wave of women who helped Democrats retake the U.S. House in 2018. And when they got to Washington, both established themselves as party moderates willing to work with Republicans on legislation. But their reelection bids are far from guaranteed. They're wooing voters in Republican-drawn districts that supported Donald Trump, a president they voted to impeach.

Battle lines drawn in Chesterfield as Spanberger touts record, while Freitas focuses on party

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

The lines at four new satellite polling places for early voting in Chesterfield County this week signaled a new way of running elections in Virginia, triggered by a public health emergency that has transformed a pivotal congressional campaign that could determine political control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Former Chesterfield Registrar Larry Haake predicted a close race and delayed outcome in the showdown between Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper.

Fiery House election on Virginia's coast tests whether GOP can rebound in an increasingly blue state


A bitter election in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District over a crucial House seat is boiling down to which of two Navy veterans better represents a historically Republican region that now finds itself increasingly drawn toward Democrats. The contest, as muddy as its Tidewater setting, pits incumbent Democrat Elaine Luria against a familiar rival: GOP challenger and former Rep. Scott Taylor.

Fairfax NAACP urges Electoral Board to make changes with early voting in the county


The Fairfax County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging the county's Electoral Board to make significant, but swift changes as residents are continuing to stand in long lines for early voting in this year's general election. "Since early voting began in mid-September, Fairfax County residents have stood in lines of four hours and longer to vote. We were told that once satellite locations opened in October, the lines would become manageable. However, this is not the case, and now we have many lines averaging four hours all over the county," the local chapter said in a release.

Registrar processes record number of mail-in ballots

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

The Fauquier Electoral Board secretary has complete faith in the county registrar's system of handling mail-in votes. "My only concern is if people don't get the ballots into the mail on time," said Jane Hurst, who joined the three-member panel about a dozen years ago. "The sooner the better. The mail can be slow. No need to push that."

Here's what's happening at the polls to protect voters from COVID-19


When you show up to vote on Election Day, you'll notice quite a few changes at Virginia polling places. For starters, the number of people inside each building will be limited. "We can't have more than 10 people at a time inside of the actual precinct," said Hattie Lattimore, precinct chief at the Major Hillard Library Precinct in Chesapeake.


Virginia Supreme Court upholds dismissal of lawsuit over Sheriff's Office's participation in ICE program

By JOSH GULLY, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the local circuit court's dismissal of a civil lawsuit over the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office's participation in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that allows sheriff's deputies to notify ICE officials of illegal immigrants housed in local jails. The lawsuit, filed in 2018 by county residents Michael V. McClary and Christina Stockton in coordination with the ACLU, claimed that the supposedly free program is funded with local tax dollars.


Loudoun's new cash crop: Local farmers see opportunity in growing hemp market

By KAREN GRAHAM, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As Loudoun County farmer Luke Greer inspects his first crop of hemp plants, he is pleased with the rows of tall and bushy stems and says they are ready for harvest. Greer, owner of Northern Virginia Hemp Company on Allder School Road in Purcellville, produces CBD oil, topical cream, massage cream and other products used for humans and animals. The items are made using a C02 extractor.

Steak-Holders: Local Beef Industry Members Have Concerns About PRIME Act

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

The Grottoes family farm of Charles Patterson can trace its roots back to 1745. And as a seventh-generation farmer, Patterson knows his history. "I could remember my granddaddy and my grandmother telling me they used to have what they called 'beef clubs,'" Patterson, 66, said. These "beef clubs" were a loose organization of about eight to 10 people in the area who would slaughter cattle on a rotation.


I-81 improvements remain on track

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

Work on all 48 remaining I-81 improvement projects remain on schedule, with some even ahead of schedule, according to Virginia Department of Transportation staff. The Interstate 81 advisory committee met Friday morning to hear updates from VDOT staff about the roadway improvements, truck parking situation and facets of the I-81 corridor impacting residents and commuters. Dave Covington, the I-81 improvements project lead, said at this time there are no plans for any delays either. Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway is on the advisory committee and called the news "a very pleasant surprise."

AAA: Fatal teen car crashes up in Virginia despite lighter pandemic traffic


Traffic is lighter, there are fewer car accidents and students are studying at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, yet teen-involved fatal crashes are up in Virginia in 2020. According to AAA, 55 people have died in crashes involving teen drivers in the commonwealth as of mid-October, compared to an annual average of 51 people who died in teen- and rookie driver-related crashes in Virginia during the same time frame between 2015 and 2019.


William & Mary moves spring break to individual days off, rather than a full week

By MAGGIE MORE, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

William & Mary's 2021 spring break will be comprised of individual days off, spaced out over the semester, rather than one week of consecutive vacation days, the school announced to students in a Thursday email detailing spring semester updates. Classes in the spring, like in the fall, will be a mix of in-person, blended and fully remote classes.

JMU makes changes to academic calendar because of COVID-19

The Breeze

JMU removed spring break from the official academic calendar Friday. Instead of an official week off school, the calendar includes two "Break Days" to the spring semester. The university will still be closed on Friday, March 12 as originally planned. There'll be no class on Feb. 17, March 12 and April 8.


Virginia directs $22 million in emergency aid to vaccination effort

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

Virginia plans to spend $22 million in federal emergency aid this year to prepare for its COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign, an unprecedented effort ahead of the approval of a vaccine.

Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,180 from Thursday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Friday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 171,284 — an increase of 1,180 from the 170,104 reported Thursday. The 171,284 cases consist of 160,004 confirmed cases and 11,280 probable cases. There are 3,539 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,293 confirmed and 246 probable. That's an increase of 15 from the 3,524 reported Thursday.

Another COVID-19 unit converted at Lynchburg General as facilities 'strained'

By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

With COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise, Centra Health has converted another unit at Lynchburg General Hospital to specifically deal with those patients. The increase in patients comes on the heels of a bump in cases in and around Lynchburg. As of late this week, the hospital reported 39 COVID-19 patients, 11 of them in ICU settings.

COVID-19 death count in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District reaches 21 in past 23 days

By STAFF REPORT, Danville Register & Bee

The terrible month of death in the Pittsylvania- Danville Health District continued Friday when yet another resident of Danville succumbed to COVID-19 This is the 59th person in the district to die of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and the 42nd in the city, the Virginia Department of Health reported. This also continues the deadliest month since the pandemic began, with 21 deaths in the past 23 days.

Four Richmond bars have permits suspended; complaints to two health departments pass 3,000

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Four Richmond bars had their health permits suspended Friday for violating COVID-19 regulations outlined in Phase Three guidelines, which mandate frequent disinfection, physical distancing and that employees wear masks, according to the Virginia Department of Health.


TPS Holders In D.C. Region Sue To Stop Policy Change That Could Lead To Deportation


Six residents of the D.C. region are among a group of foreign nationals suing the Trump administration. They're trying to halt a policy change that makes it harder for some immigrants to shake off old deportation orders. Immigrant advocates say the shift in policy leaves those people vulnerable as Trump pushes to end the Temporary Protected Status program next year. Floriselda Alvarez Gomez, 48, is a mother of four and works as a manager at Burger King restaurants in Manassas and Gainesville, Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park Reports Too Many Visitors, Not Enough Cash


The new superintendent of Shenandoah National Park spoke to supporters Thursday night – warning that attendance is way up, and it might be necessary to require reservations for visitors. Patrick Kenney, who took over at Shenandoah three weeks ago, says the park is setting records for attendance during the pandemic, and there's limited funding for day-to-day operations.


Condo Board Objects to Decorative Cemetery for 'Hate' and 'Racism'


Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest. Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.

Fairfax County Public Schools to bring more students back to classrooms


Some elementary school students and other students in specific programs are returning to classrooms next month in Virginia's largest school system. Fairfax County Public Schools said that starting Nov. 16, it will open in-person instruction to students in kindergarten, pre-K, Early Head Start, special education and students with intensive support needs.

As Students With Disabilities Return To Loudoun Schools, Some Parents Feel Left Out


As Principal Derek Racino welcomes back students to Sycolin Creek Elementary School in Leesburg, he watches as one of his students in a wheelchair is lowered onto a ramp. School staff is waiting, ready to take the young boy inside for his first day of in-person classes since March. The bell rings. "It feels good," says Racino. "It's a sound we're definitely looking forward to hearing more and more often, that's for sure."

Some Richmond teachers want a new elementary grading system for virtual learning

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

Some Richmond Public Schools teachers want to revise the grading system for elementary students during virtual learning in a move they say would help ensure equity. A petition launched online and signed by 400 people as of Friday afternoon calls for a move away from the traditional letter grade scale while children and teachers grapple with remote learning.

A North Side woman faced eviction. Then activists stepped in.

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Fifty people stood outside of Katrina Pitt's North Side home on Friday, ready to stop her from losing it. They gathered for an emergency eviction defense, a last-ditch effort to keep Pitt's landlord and sheriff's deputies from evicting her from the property that morning. Tenant unions and activists have employed the tactic in other cities this year, confronting landlords who pursued evictions despite legal protections meant to keep tenants sheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

King George looks to cash in on cigarette sales

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

King George County officials want to make sure their chances to get some money from cigarette sales don't go up in smoke. "I don't want to drag our feet on this," county Supervisor Jeff Bueche said this week. "We recognize the potential revenues the county is losing every day with the amount of cigarettes floating out of this county."

Frederick Water disconnecting 30-70 delinquent accounts per day

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

Since resuming disconnections for delinquent water and sewer accounts on Oct. 14, Frederick Water has been disconnecting service to 30-70 customers a day, Frederick Water Executive Director Eric Lawrence told the agency's board of directors on Tuesday night. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in Frederick Water suspending penalties and disconnections in March. In August, the board voted to resume them in October.

Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones resigns from role in Danville Public Schools

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones resigned from his position as director of maintenance and operations for Danville Public Schools this week. DPS officials confirmed his resignation but offered no other comment on the matter. Messages to Interim Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk and Danville School Board members went unreturned. Jones, when reached Wednesday, said he felt the workload of being mayor and working within DPS had become too much to keep up with.



Housing project is promising

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

Albemarle County might get a new public housing complex based on strategies that have had success elsewhere in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Three area agencies are considering creating such a complex on U.S. 29 north of Westfield Road. Under the proposal, the site also would contain a mixed-use office building. Efforts are prompted by the county's existing homeless problem, exacerbated by COVID.

Would Virginia shut down VMI?

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

Is Virginia Military Institute doomed? That's probably an overstatement, but we're not the ones who raised the question — the chair of the General Assembly's Senate Finance Committee was and, since she's got some control over the state's budget, she's the one who really counts.


Williams: The Lee statue property should belong to the city

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

We cannot liberate Richmond from its veneration of the Lost Cause until we emancipate the ground where the Robert E. Lee statue stands. We're in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the statue's removal. In City Hall, a measure is under consideration — supported by civic associations in response to ongoing demonstrations — that would restrict public traffic on medians near the Lee statue. But the elephant on the pedestal remains the monument's ongoing status as state property, exactly as intended by Lost Cause proponents more than 130 years ago.

Schapiro: The Virginia irony that wasn't

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

Bernie Cohen tilted at windmills. He also tore them down. As a legislator, he tried — and failed — to decriminalize homosexuality in Virginia in 1980, 23 years before the U.S. Supreme Court nationally did so, ruling in a Texas case. But Cohen won protections for consumers, especially car buyers stuck with lemons. And he wrote Virginia's right-to-die law in 1983 — a statute unsuccessfully challenged in court 15 years later by a Republican governor mindful of his right flank.

Teel: W&M track advocates question dramatic change in reported endowment data in the years before sports were cut

By DAVID TEEL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In explaining recent plans to ax seven varsity sports, William & Mary called the athletic department's financial deficits "unsustainable." The aftermath of that decision has created a shortfall far less tangible but no less damaging — a shortfall of trust. The latest suspicions emerged Thursday afternoon when advocates for the targeted men's track program unveiled what they believe is evidence of misappropriated funds from restricted endowments, which in turn inflated the program's budget deficit — no W&M sport generates a surplus.


Morse: Officials render VMI verdict before conducting an investigation

By GORDON C. MORSE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The lesson from last year — that elected officials, faced with a difficult situation, ought to avoid hurried, snap political judgments — obviously did not take. That would be one fair conclusion from the letter dispatched last week by Gov. Ralph Northam — co-signed by the lieutenant governor, attorney general, speaker of the House and seven other leading members of the General Assembly — to the VMI Board of Visitors.

After writing editorials for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles.

Jemaine and Town: VCEA a historic win for climate action

By KIM JEMAINE AND MICHAEL TOWN, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The blessing and the curse of democracy is that little gets done at the legislature without a lot of back and forth — and this particularly is true when fixing our broken, fossil fuel-dependent system of energy regulation. What RTD reporter Patrick Wilson failed to recognize in his Oct. 9 article is that on the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), the lion's share of compromise had to be carried — for the first time in, perhaps, ever — on Dominion Energy's shoulders rather than on the backs of Virginia's ratepayers, and the environmental and clean energy community.

Kim Jemaine is Virginia director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Michael Town is executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

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