Friday, October 2, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 2, 2020
Top of the News

SCC won't extend moratorium on utility disconnections

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

Thousands of Virginians behind on their utility bills could soon face disconnection under a decision from state regulators on Thursday that amps up pressure on state lawmakers to resolve their differences on how to offer relief. Lawmakers remain divided on how much debt forgiveness will be offered to indebted customers and who will pay for it, according to the spending plans approved by the Senate on Thursday and the House on Tuesday.

90 percent of Norfolk jurors aren't showing up for trials amid pandemic

By JONATHAN EDWARDS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As the pandemic persists, only a handful of people are showing up for jury duty, endangering Norfolk's nascent effort to become one of the first cities in the state to restart jury trials. Roughly nine out of 10 possible jurors aren't showing up to court — a huge jump from the usual no-show rate of about a third.

Struck by COVID-19, Gov. and Mrs. Northam are seeing state's response system up close

By GEORGE COPELAND JR., Richmond Free Press

As Gov. Ralph S. Northam and his wife, First Lady Pamela Northam, remain in isolation until early next week after testing positive on Sept. 24 for COVID-19, officials in seven different health districts in the state are working to connect with scores of people the couple may have had contact with in the days before their diagnoses. Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond Health District that is coordinating the contact tracing efforts in the Northams' case, said late Tuesday that health officials are using the Northams' documented schedules to create a list of potential people who may have been exposed, including during the couple's separate public appearances at events in Fredericksburg, Hampton and Fairfax on Sept. 22.

The number of COVID cases at Virginia college campuses has surpassed 5,000

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

Colleges across Virginia opened their campuses this fall knowing they would see cases of the coronavirus. Now, a month or more into the semester, the total number of cases on college campuses in the state has reached 5,300. Three schools — James Madison University, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia — account for more than 3,000 of those cases.

Former speaker Cox takes another step toward a 2021 bid for Virginia governor

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

Former House speaker Kirk Cox inched closer to running for Virginia governor next year by filing paperwork with the state this week to establish a campaign committee. The veteran Republican delegate from Colonial Heights, who has been publicly weighing a bid since August, filed a "statement of organization" Wednesday with the Department of Elections.

With ACP canceled, Nelson residents look to environmental recovery

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

About 2½ years ago, tree felling began at the entrance of Wintergreen to facilitate drilling underneath the mountains. Remnants of felled trees are consumed by overgrowth in a roughly 120-foot-wide swath that climbs up the mountainside, concealing the make-ready work the Atlantic Coast Pipeline performed to pave the way for the pipeline in Nelson County.

Friday Read Lillian Brown, Makeup Artist to Nine Presidents, Dies at 106

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

On Aug. 8, 1974, Lillian Brown, a longtime makeup artist for presidents, was urgently summoned to the White House, where she saw President Richard M. Nixon sobbing. Engulfed by the Watergate scandal, he was about to go on national television and announce that he was resigning. If he didn't stop crying, she knew, his makeup would streak down his face. "He was in bad shape," Ms. Brown recalled years later. "We had six minutes to air, and I thought, What can I do for this man?"

The Full Report
60 articles, 33 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.


Virginia's ban on utility cutoffs expires Monday

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam asked state regulators Thursday to again extend their ban on utility cutoffs during the pandemic, just 16 days after they said they would not issue any more extensions. The State Corporation's Commission's ban is set to expire Monday.

Descendants Of People Enslaved By Virginia's Governors Are Reframing History


In Virginia's Executive Mansion, grand rooms are filled with oil paintings and roped-off period furniture. Visitors could go the entire trip without seeing a smaller, more modest brick building tucked to the side of the home. But for more than 50 years, enslaved people served governors from the kitchen quarter — those governors who uprooted enslaved people from across the state to the capital in Richmond, Va.


Republican Budget Amendment for Virtual Learning Refunds Rejected


During a heated back and forth, the Virginia Senate rejected an amendment to its budget bill that would have reimbursed parents for virtual learning costs. In a 19 to 21 vote, senators struck down the amendment along party lines, as was the case with a majority of amendments discussed Thursday.

Want a facial in Virginia? Estheticians are on front lines, fighting mask requirement.

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

As the Virginia General Assembly moves into the final stretches of a special session that's lasted for more than six weeks, House and Senate lawmakers will meet to reconcile two different budget plans that, in some cases, propose significantly different funding for legislative priorities including police reform and child care. Buried amid the amendments, there's another difference: language in the House version of the spending plan that would require revisions to the state's Phase Three business guidelines to allow estheticians to temporarily remove a client's face mask for services.

Marcus alert bill passes House and Senate, moves to Northam's desk

By ANDREW RINGLE, VCU Capital News Service

Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have approved a proposal to establish a statewide system that pairs teams of mental health professionals and peer recovery specialists with police officers responding to mental health crises. The Senate approved the measure Thursday by a vote of 24-15. The House gave the legislation the green light in September with a vote of 57-39. The proposal now needs a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam to become law.

Norfolk wedding photographer drops lawsuit over Virginia anti-discrimination law

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A Norfolk wedding photographer has dropped a lawsuit he filed this summer claiming a new state anti-discrimination law would force him to promote same-sex marriage. The case was voluntarily dismissed Monday without prejudice, which means it could be brought again in the future. The photographer, Chris Herring, had said in court documents that he believed the Virginia Values Act would make him promote same-sex marriage against his Christian religious beliefs.

Their Matchmaker Was Right

By VINCENT M. MALLOZZI, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

When they were asked to summarize their relationship in one word, Mavis Baah and Jay Jones, who are both 32 and working in Norfolk, Va., blurted out the same word at the exact same time: "partnership." Ms. Baah, a public relations manager for the PRA Group, a financial services company, and Mr. Jones, a lawyer for Bischoff Martingayle, met in August 2017 through a mutual friend, Melinda Gainer. She reportedly had told Mr. Jones, "This is the person you are going to marry." . . . Mr. Jones, who is currently running for attorney general of Virginia, graduated from the College of William & Mary and received a law degree from the University of Virginia.


Ex-Virginia House speaker files papers to run for governor

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox has filed paperwork with the state to run for governor next year, joining a small field of Republicans looking to enter the race. Cox, a retired school teacher who has served in the House of Delegates since 1990, on Wednesday filed a "statement of organization" to establish a campaign committee. Cox said he will not formally enter the race until after the presidential election in November.

Republican party attracts massive crowd

Northern Neck News

Northumberland County's Republican committee may have had to cancel its traditional fall oyster roast due to the Covid outbreak, but that didn't stop it from having a large party on Saturday. While a hard count was difficult to get about 1,500 people showed up. Most came by road but about 50 boatloads arrived at the landing at Bleak House Farm on Lewisetta Road.


Presidents of UMW, Germanna spell out higher-ed needs for Sen. Warner

By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The presidents of the University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College met with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner on Thursday afternoon to discuss the challenges facing higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Warner, D–Va., held a roundtable discussion at UMW's Stafford Campus with UMW President Troy Paino and Germanna President Janet Gullickson to discuss local needs in higher education and how they might be addressed in a new COVID-19 relief package or in future legislation.

Democrat Cameron Webb is closing in on Republican Bob Good in red Virginia district, analysts say

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

The House race in Virginia's usually red 5th District appears within reach for Democratic candidate Cameron Webb, with two nonpartisan political analyst sites saying he is proving competitive against Republican Bob Good. Between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, both Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia and Inside Elections shifted their race ratings in Webb's favor.

Good reports no financial assets

By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Fifth District congressional candidate Bob Good reported no assets and no unearned income on the financial disclosure report he was required to file as a stipulation for his candidacy. All candidates running for a House seat are required to disclose assets (such as savings accounts, retirement funds, insurance plans, income from real estate and capital gains) to the House Committee on Ethics. It is unlawful to willfully fail to disclose or file a false report.

Dueling disclosures: Virginia candidate Freitas tells state one salary, Congress another


Nick Freitas, the Republican challenging freshman Democrat Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th District, reported different amounts of 2019 income from his consulting business in financial disclosures he had to file this year as a state legislator and as a congressional candidate. In a Virginia state filing required for members of the House of Delegates, he disclosed that his income from Gold Team Consulting was $50,000 or less. However, in a federal disclosure filed with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Freitas listed his income from the business in 2019 as $130,900 — a difference of more than $80,000.

1st Congressional District: Wittman challenged by Rashid

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

One's a conservative Republican elected from one of Virginia's redder Congressional districts, the other a lawyer whose passion for protecting religious minorities and criminal justice reform led him to run for office. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, and Qasim Rashid, the Democratic candidate for the first Congressional district, are offering voters of the sprawling district on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay sharply different visions of where the nation needs to go.

Brunswick Republicans welcome Senator Ruff, Delegate Cox, and state congressional hopefuls

By JAMI SNEAD, Brunswick Times-Gazette

The Brunswick County Republican Committee welcomed a slew of special guests at their Tuesday night meeting, including Senator Frank Ruff and Delegate Kirk Cox. Long-time Senator, Frank Ruff, took time on his birthday to speak to the Republican Committee about the recent Special Session of the General Assembly. "I want you to visualize a movie or a TV show where there is a car wreck and the car goes off the bridge and then in slow motion it starts to come down. You know that it is going to be a disaster when it hits the bottom. That's what we're doing in Richmond.

Challenging year culminates for local election officials

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

Fauquier's general registrar described 2020 as a year for election history books. From March to June, Fauquier voters went to the polls three times. . . . Fauquier residents will vote a fourth time this fall to help elect a president, congressional representatives and a U.S. senator.

Early voting turnout is busy and going smoothly, according to local registrars

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

Voters in the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro areas are trickling into their respective registrar's offices in order to cast their votes early. "We've been busy," said Molly Goldsmith, Staunton's general registrar. "The first three days we had over 250 voters stop. We are now averaging around 150 per day."

Too young to vote? Not to young to be a poll worker!


As the November election gets closer, the state of Virginia is seeing a shortage of poll workers. And two local counties offer a solution that includes getting teenagers to the polls. "Our students… are able to view firsthand what democracy is like and to see what it's like to be a poll worker," explained Henrico County Deputy Registrar Anne Marie Middlesworth when discussing the county's Student Election Page Program.


Amid waivers, Virginia graduation rates hit record highs

By MATT JONES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The class of 2020 made history in more than one way. Not only did they graduate in the middle of a pandemic, more high school students graduated on time in 2020 than any year since 2008, when the state started tracking the number. ...The closure of schools in spring had created uncertainty for students missing graduation requirements. Standardized tests and other requirements like CPR courses weren't held, leading state superintendent James Lane to issue a number of waivers to keep students on track.

Two state prisoners assert they were in danger after acting as confidential informants

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

A second inmate claims the Virginia Department of Corrections failed to properly protect him as promised after he informed on prison gang activities. The inmate, who asked that his name and current location not be identified for his security, was recently transferred to a prison in another part of the state from the high-security Keen Mountain Correctional Center, where he had been held in restrictive housing

Va. Supreme Court authorizes Chesterfield, Colonial Heights to resume jury trials during pandemic

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

The Virginia Supreme Court has authorized circuit courts in Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights to resume criminal jury trials immediately, as long as both courts adhere to strict plans they devised to ensure the safety of all participants during the ongoing pandemic. Both courts anticipate being ready to conduct jury trials beginning Nov. 2, which will allow them to start paring down the backlog of cases that has accumulated since the state's highest court issued a "judicial emergency" in mid-March that barred jury trials across the state.

Capital murder charge tossed out against Louisa man who had objected to courtroom portrait of Lee

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

In an unusual ruling after three days of trial proceedings, a Louisa County Circuit Court judge tossed out capital murder and related charges against Darcel Nathaniel Murphy, who has been held in jail since 2016. Douglas Ramseur, one of Murphy's lawyers, said Thursday that Judge Timothy K. Sanner dismissed the murder, robbery, breaking and entering and firearm charges on a defense motion to strike the evidence as insufficient.

All charges dismissed in murder case

By DAVID HOLTZMAN, Central Virginian

All charges were dismissed this morning against a man who had faced a possible death sentence for a murder in Louisa County. Louisa Circuit Court Judge Timothy Sanner found that while it was clear from DNA evidence that Darcel Murphy was present in Kevin Robinson's Oakland Road house on March 30, 2016, there was no direct evidence that Murphy fired or even possessed a gun.

Virginia regulators accused of slow-walking new turbidity standard

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

As work on Mountain Valley Pipeline remains stalled, state officials are also moving at a sluggish pace to develop a standard that would help Virginia regulate muddied waters like those that have dogged the project. "My recollection is that this was first requested by the board about 18 months ago," State Water Control Board member Paula Jasinski said to Department of Environmental Quality officials at a meeting Sept. 24. "Does it take that long?"


Error delays Virginia's extra $300 jobless benefits as another 9,377 file for unemployment

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

Out-of-work Virginians had marked their calendars for Sept. 30. That was supposed to be the date an additional but limited-time $300 a week in jobless benefits, backdated to the week ending Aug. 1, was supposed to arrive in depleted bank accounts, just in time to pay first-of-the-month bills and rent. Then, with no notice, the date changed to Oct. 15 on the Virginia Employment Commission's website.

Va. jobless claims drop slightly last week

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Virginia saw a small decrease in the number of initial jobless claims last week, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday, but the number of initial claims filed from mid-March through the Sept. 26 filing week totaled 1.167 million, or 28.4% of pre-pandemic payroll employment. For the week ending Sept. 26, 9,377 Virginians filed initial claims for unemployment, a decrease of 1,205 from the previous week, continuing the overall trend of lower claims volumes seen in recent months following April's peak, according to the VEC.

Port of Virginia CEO says terminals set record in September

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

The CEO and director of the Port of Virginia isn't retiring until March, but he was lauded Thursday at an annual State of the Port event as if it were his last day. John Reinhart, who was hired in 2014 to turn around a financially troubled port system that had toyed with privatization, told those watching to "continue to collaborate, continue to work together, because this is how we'll make the Port of Virginia a world-class port."

Fauquier Bankshares board OKs sale to Va. National

Fauquier Now

Fauquier County's oldest and largest independent bank's board has OKd its sale to a Charlottesville company — finally following the path Marshall National, People's National, the State Bank of Remington and other local institutions have taken over the decades. Fauquier Bankshares and Virginia National Bankshares leaders announced the "merger of equals" Thursday morning.


Lynchburg Regional Airport to add back flights as traffic recovers

By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

American Airlines is expanding its Lynchburg flight schedule after monthly passenger traffic rose more than 900% since its April low. Down to passenger loads as low as 12.9% in April, meaning the flights were holding just over 12% of their capacity, traffic was back up to about 70% in August, with some 7,582 total passengers carried for the month. That represents a 905% increase in the airport's monthly airline passenger count compared to its April low of just 837 total passengers.


Virginia Tech reaches goal of 30,000 undergraduates three years early

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

Virginia Tech enrolled more than 30,000 undergraduates this fall, reaching a goal three years early that President Tim Sands made a hallmark of the university's growth. Undergraduate enrollment increased 2.4% over last year from 29,300 to 30,016 students, according to a fall census taken Sept. 21, the university announced Thursday.

Animal rights activists question Virginia Tech's dog purchases

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on Virginia Tech to stop purchasing beagles from Envigo, a controversial dog breeding facility in Cumberland that's been the subject of recent legislative debate. It's the second time PETA has gone after Tech and other state universities in recent weeks. In mid-September, the animal rights organization claimed that both Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia misused state funds by conducting experiments on animals they planned to kill during the pandemic.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 450 from Wednesday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 148,721 — an increase of 450 from the 148,271 reported Wednesday. The 148,721 cases consist of 140,990 confirmed cases and 7,731 probable cases. There are 3,228 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,015 confirmed and 213 probable. That's an increase of 20 from the 3,208 reported Wednesday.

COVID in Fluvanna Prison: This is a Runaway Train

By HEATHER MICHON, Fluvanna Review

At least 115 inmates and 10 staff members at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW) have tested positive for COVID-19 since early September, and two are currently hospitalized. Shannon Ellis, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Justice Center, learned about the spread of the virus in the first week of September. According to her clients at FCCW, the outbreak was discovered when at least one of the inmates who worked in food service became symptomatic.

COVID-19 claims life of Baskerville warden

By TOM MCLAUGHLIN, South Boston News & Record

Coronavirus infections in Virginia's prison system have led to 31 inmate deaths and the death of one employee, according to the latest reporting by the Virginia Department of Corrections. That employee appears to be Earl Barksdale, chief warden of Baskerville Correctional Center, who died Sept. 9 at age 66.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations spike in Mathews County

By SHERRY HAMILTON, Gazette-Journal

The number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Mathews County since the pandemic has nearly doubled since last week, while total hospitalizations have also doubled. The Virginia Department of Health reported on Wednesday morning that there have been 81 confirmed cases and six hospitalizations in the county since March, when the first case was reported.


Virginians will get to weigh in on replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

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

Virginians will soon have opportunities to voice their views on who the state should honor with a statue at the U.S. Capitol to replace that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol will meet remotely Thursday, Oct. 8 at 10:30 a.m. At this session, the panel will discuss a process for selecting a statue to replace Virginia's statue of Lee in the Statuary Hall Collection.

One bidder for Surry monument

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

Surry County received only one proposal during the 30-day window for museums and organizations to express interest in taking the county's Confederate monument. On Sept. 11, four days prior to the deadline, a Hampton Roads chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans offered to pay Surry County up to $3,000 to take ownership of the monument, which the group plans to re-erect on private property located off Mount Ivy Lane, a little over a mile from Chippokes Plantation State Park.

Charlottesville to seek proposals to remove Lewis-Clark-Sacagawea statue

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville plans to seek proposals to remove the West Main Street statue commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition. City Council discussed the statue in a larger work session about the West Main Streetscape project on Wednesday. The statue depicts explorers Meriwether Lewis, who was born in Albemarle County, and William Clark, accompanied by Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea.

Man charged with driving truck toward Virginia Beach protesters arrested in Florida after missing court date

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

A Chesapeake man accused of driving his truck toward a group of protesters at the Oceanfront in May was arrested Wednesday night in Florida. The arrest came a little over a week after a Virginia Beach General District Court judge issued a warrant for 20-year-old Emanuel "Manny" Wilder when he failed to show up for his trial for a second time.


Fairfax County extends time for some teachers to decide whether to return to classrooms


Virginia's largest school system is extending the deadline for some faculty and staff members to decide whether they will return to the classroom. Previously, Fairfax County Public Schools gave a specific group of teachers and classroom instructional support staff until Friday to decide and let the school system know about their intention to return in support of in-person instruction. They now have until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond.

COVID-19 Changing How Local Candidates Campaign

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Door-to-door canvassing, fundraising dinners, crowded rooms of phone banks, shaking hands and kissing babies—all hallmarks of running a local campaign that present new dangers in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the strategies on which candidates for office have relied to get out their message and meet potential voters have had to change to avoid passing along a virus with that message. That has politicians and their campaign staff rethinking how to reach voters.

City schools commit to more inclusive curricula after gender identity lesson briefly removed

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

Members and allies of the LGBTQ community are calling on the Charlottesville school division to make sure all identities are reflected in lessons and activities after officials took down and later restored a lesson about identity that mentioned gender. School division officials said this week that they heard those calls and are committed to making sure that the school system and its curriculum are inclusive.

Greene BOS files second lawsuit against RSA

By TERRY BEIGIE, Greene County Record

The Greene County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 28 filed its second lawsuit in two weeks against Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) and the RSA Board of Members, this time requesting the dissolution of the utility. The second lawsuit comes after the two Greene County representatives were prohibited at the RSA board's Sept. 17 meeting from speaking at all during the meeting and going forward. The supervisors filed the first lawsuit on Sept. 14; both were filed in Greene County Circuit Court.

Greene County replaces two ballots stolen from residents' mailboxes

By TERRY BEIGIE, Greene County Record

When Jimmy Henshaw woke up last Friday the last thing he thought he'd be doing is speaking to Virginia State Police about items found on his property: discarded mail-in ballots....Trooper Cooper said people often drive around looking for mailboxes with flags raised and take out the mail in hopes of finding checks or cash or other items of value.

Number of Roanoke Valley residents behind on their water bills triples during COVID

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

Sandy Wilkins once went a week without water at her house. "And I would never wish something like that on my worst enemy," she said. "I had to go to my mom's to take a shower and wash clothes. I have two teenage girls who couldn't do their hair or makeup. You couldn't wash your face, flush commodes … it was hard. It was stressful. You can't live without water."

Roanoke sees decrease in on-time graduation rate for first time in more than a decade

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

After more than a decade of gains, Roanoke City Public Schools saw a decline in its on-time graduation rate this year. Half of the area's school divisions experienced dips in their on-time graduation rates. Across the state, 92.3% of students who started high school in 2016 earned a diploma within four years, a small increase from 2019, according to data released Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

Pulaski County schools set to have full attendance four days a week starting Monday

By SAM WALL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Pulaski County Public Schools is moving to its next reopening phase, which includes having students in the classroom at all of its schools four days a week. The school system made the announcement Wednesday evening on its Facebook page. Superintendent Kevin Siers said in an phone interview Thursday afternoon that the elementary schools started the plan this week, and the middle and high schools are set to follow beginning Monday.

'Our lives matter; our championship matters'

Northern Neck News

Lancaster County is giving the 1969 Fighting Warriors baseball team the recognition they never received for being state champions. "Tonight we are here to honor a group of men who in 1969 did something that no other group of men had done in this county, and they haven't done it since," said District 4 supervisor William Lee. He read a resolution that recognized that Brookvale High School's baseball team won the district championship over Richmond County and carried a 7-2 record into the Group II, District IV State Championship at Virginia University. It recognized that the all-black team defeated Central of Charlotte 5 to 4 in the State Semi-Final game and defeated G. W. Watkins 11 to 5 to claim the State Championship.

While 'vaccine' statement stands, superintendent says more students may be coming back to school soon

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Following a story published by Page Valley News on Wednesday morning, the central office of Page County Public Schools has been inundated with phone calls and messages over the superintendent's comments about a full reopening of schools for five-day, in-person instruction. "For the foreseeable future, a five-day [in-person instruction] option will not happen until a vaccine or cure comes for COVID-19 and schools return to 'normal,'" Dr. Wendy Gonzales stated to PVN on Tuesday. . . . However, on Thursday Dr. Gonzales contacted PVN to clarify her overall remarks and provide additional details.

Backers of casino project release new videos

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

Backers of the proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol issued two new videos Thursday further touting the project. Early and absentee voting is currently underway on a referendum that could allow a casino to operate at the former Bristol Mall on Gate City Highway in Bristol, Virginia. Held in conjunction with the Nov. 3 general election, the question will be decided by a majority of votes cast by registered Bristol, Virginia voters.



What if our Confederate memorials weren't so heroic?

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

The late Virginia Tech historian and noted Civil War expert William "Bud" Robertson used to give a talk that went something like this: Before the Civil War, most Americans' connection with the federal government was limited to just one thing — the post office. There were no federal income taxes deducted from your paycheck. There was no Social Security or Medicare.

The Northams' double standard

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

Why was Virginia first lady Pamela Northam allowed to visit Kids' Station—a preschool/daycare center in Fredericksburg—last week when the young children's own parents have not been allowed to enter it since March due to COVID-19 restrictions? "We can't even go inside with our own children, yet both of them [Northam and her husband, Gov. Ralph Northam] have been traveling and doing different site visits all over the area," a Stafford Hospital nurse whose child in enrolled at Kids' Station on the Mary Washington Hospital campus complained to The Free Lance–Star.

Expanding, not erasing American history

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

History, like science, is—or should be—in a constant state of revision. New discoveries can alter or even completely change perspectives on what was once considered immutable truths. So Virginians should applaud the efforts of the Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth to belatedly include, in the state's Standards of Learning, the many contributions African Americans have made to the establishment and history of the United States.

Transforming energy requires shared costs

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

The barrenness, the sterility, the repetitive, stuck-in-a-rut quality of public discourse, when it comes to energy choices, is astounding. Case-in-point: Appalachian Power's recently proposed rate change for Virginia customers. If approved by the State Corporation Commission, the request would raise rates for its Virginia customers an average of 5%.

The economic benefits of NASA's "Moon to Mars" mission

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

While the global coronavirus pandemic has cast a haze of uncertainty over our lives on Earth, we're finding hope in the stars. The highly contagious virus continues to disrupt our financial stability as businesses fold, retailers struggle and restaurants try to survive. However, NASA's Mars mission offers an economic bright spot nationally and in Virginia.

In trying times, localities must be mindful of their unique tax structures

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

On Thursday, businesses and customers across the Richmond region experienced a change on some of their receipts. Effective Oct. 1, a 0.7% sales and use tax increase went into effect in the city of Richmond, the town of Ashland, and the counties of Henrico, Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, New Kent and Powhatan.


Lohmann: In Caroline County, the loss of a newspaper hits home

By BILL LOHMANN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A longtime newspaper editor who left the business for academia, Nick Mathews didn't quite know what to expect when he embarked on his master's thesis: a report on the aftermath in a community where its only newspaper shut down after almost a century. "As a former journalist and somebody who cares about the craft and the industry, I kind of worried a little bit that I was going to walk in and people were going to say, 'We don't miss it at all,' that the shuttering of the newspaper didn't have any impact on their lives," Mathews said in a phone interview. "The report obviously showed that's not the case."


Terranna: Fix our broken campaign finance system

By PHIL TERRANA, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

"No facet of American life cries our more loudly for reform than the dingy gray area of political campaign financing, which casts a lengthening shadow across all else we do in our elective political institutions. The price of campaigning has risen so high that it actually imperils the integrity of our political institutions. One curious by-product of big money in politics is the slick, shallow public-relations approach with its nauseating emphasis on 'image' at the expense of substance."

Terranna is a Virginia Beach resident

Anthony: Let's build on the success of the Virginia Capital Trail

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

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Capital Trail (VCT), the 52-mile scenic, meandering byway between Richmond and Jamestown, it's time to not only take stock in its success but also begin getting even more serious about what's next — creating a network of trails that connect our region's communities to recreation, transportation, history and so much more.

Cat Anthony is the executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation and the president of the Virginia Trails Alliance.

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