By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
The visitors' entrance to the state Capitol is boarded up. The governor is quarantined in the Executive Mansion with covid-19. Coveted parking spots around the General Assembly office building are mostly empty. Downtown Richmond seems more like it's braced for a hurricane than humming with a legislative session. But, yes, the General Assembly is still meeting, seven weeks after convening Aug. 18 for what was originally intended as a brief gathering to patch up the state budget.
By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
At Virginia Tech, students file into Lane Stadium each day to be tested for the coronavirus. These students don't have symptoms, but because they were randomly selected and compelled to undergo a test, they line up below the luxury suites and receive a nasal swab. Any student who refuses is referred to the Office of Student Conduct. In Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University takes a different approach: Students who participate in testing are rewarded with a $10 Amazon gift card.
The Speaker of Virginia's House of Delegates, Eileen Filler-Corn (D), was fined $500 Friday and told to pay attorney fees totaling nearly $2,000 after a Northern Virginia lawyer took her to court for denying his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The story goes back to July 23 when Filler-Corn had several statutes of Confederate leaders removed from the Old House chamber.
At an early voting site in Alexandria earlier this week, two Democratic precinct captains approached the same voter, 46-year-old Frank McCarthy. They each made a case for how he should vote on Amendment 1 to the Virginia Constitution, but he got little clarity. "Why are you saying yes and you're saying no?" McCarthy asked.
By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Dominion Energy's two massive wind turbines loom large off of Virginia Beach's coast. You can't see them from the Oceanfront, but at more than 600 feet tall, they would eclipse the state's tallest building, the 508-feet Westin Virginia Beach Town Center. Together, those two turbines, churning along with three 253-foot blades apiece, represent a key step toward Virginia's carbon-neutral future.
The Friends of Buckingham is calling on the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to delay voting on a zoning change that would allow a Canadian mining company to conduct exploratory drilling for gold deposits near the James River.
Lee Enterprises is one of the largest corporate newspaper chains in the country, and the company now owns more than a dozen daily papers throughout Virginia -- plus more weeklies. Lee bought the newspapers back in March from BH Media for $140 million. Since then they've fired reporters, outsourced work, and furloughed staff.
The November 3 election will be like no other Virginia has seen. Here are all the deadlines, plus what to expect under a new law that will enable local officials to consider mail ballots that arrive after Election Day.
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.
By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Virginia's 11 state-recognized native tribes will soon have a holiday that honors their history and culture, Gov. Ralph Northam declared this week. Indigenous Peoples' Day will be observed on Columbus Day — the second Monday in October. That is Oct. 12 this year.
Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that Virginia will officially recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday, Oct. 12, joining the growing number of states and cities that have shifted away from observing Columbus Day. "As a country and as a commonwealth, we have too often failed to live up to our commitments with those who were the first stewards of the lands we now call Virginia — and they have suffered historic injustices as a result," Northam said in a video message on Friday.
The coronavirus pandemic is raising the stakes of the digital divide for half a million Virginians without access to high-speed internet. Meanwhile, the General Assembly is staged to pass what some are calling record investments in broadband expansion. It comes as the state is facing significant revenue losses from COVID-19 restrictions that are straining the two-year budget and forcing lawmakers to abandon some spending priorities.
In Virginia, the gerrymander goes all the way back to the first congressional elections, when then-Gov. Patrick Henry drew up a district to try to keep James Madison, father of the Constitution that Henry opposed, out of the House of Representatives. Madison, though, campaigned vigorously despite a chronic case of hemorrhoids, and beat James Monroe in a race featuring two future presidents.
By MARIE ALBIGES AND ERIC HARTLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The region's most closely watched congressional race is — once again — the matchup between Elaine Luria and Scott Taylor. Two years ago, Luria was the Democratic challenger in the 2nd Congressional District and unseated Taylor, then a freshman Republican congressman. This year, she's the incumbent and he's the challenger. But many of the dynamics and even the tone of the attack ads haven't changed much.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Who's on top of fundraising in the hotly contested 7th District congressional race depends on who's paying. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, says she's raised $2.4 million in the last three months to defend the seat she won two years ago from Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th, while Republican challenger Nick Freitas says his campaign raised $1.8 million from July 1 through Sept. 30.
By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)
A recent review of the Fifth District Republican congressional candidate's financial disclosures reveal that during his four-year tenure on the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, Bob Good failed to disclose his assets and liabilities in apparent violation of Virginia ethics laws. Sections 2.2-3112 and 2.2-3115 of the Virginia code require all local and state officials to disclose personal offices and directorships, liabilities, securities, business interests, and real estate investments valued at over $5,000 in annual filings called Statements of Economic Interest (SEIs). Good filed SEIs from 2016 until his departure from the Campbell County Board of Supervisors in 2019.
By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
After previously disclosing owning zero financial assets, Virginia congressional candidate Bob Good filed an amended financial disclosure this week showing he holds dozens of stocks, including in two companies that had business before the Campbell County Board of Supervisors when Good served on the panel. Good (R), who is running against Democrat Cameron Webb for the open 5th District seat, filed amended disclosures dating to 2018 after facing questions last week from news outlets in his district, such as the Rappahannock News, about why he had reported no assets, unusual for a longtime businessman.
U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) and Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews found plenty of common ground, during an Oct. 5 virtual debate, but laid out different philosophies regarding voting by mail and how best to help the economy recover post-COVID-19. The debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, was moderated by journalist Michael Lee Pope.
By ANTONIO OLIVO AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
A large portion of ballots will already have been cast in Virginia by the time Election Day rolls around next month, after a record turnout for early voting that has featured long lines outside some polling stations and mail-in ballots coming in by the thousands per day. So far, nearly 887,000 Virginians have voted in person, by mail or by hand-delivering their ballots to a registrar's office or drop box — the menu of options available to voters worried about going to potentially crowded polling stations on Nov. 3 and risking exposure to the novel coronavirus.
The upcoming election is setting up to be one for the record books in Arlington. We're around the halfway point between the start of early voting in September and Election Day on Nov. 3. Yet as of last night, 39,202 mail-in and early ballots had already been cast in Arlington, according to election officials. That already exceeds the 37,869 mail-in and early ballots during the entire 2016 presidential general election.
By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The New River Valley's main population center has quickly eclipsed the early voting totals set during the 2016 general election. In Montgomery County, voting is more than triple the 3,388 mailed and early in-person absentee ballots cast in 2016, according to Registrar Connie Viar As of Friday afternoon, 7,718 ballots had been cast early and in person and another 4,289 mailed ones have been marked and returned.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
The Virginia Information Technologies Agency is moving out of its Chester data center and into the "cloud," the interconnected digital universe that Gov. Ralph Northam ordered state agencies two years ago to begin using to store data instead of relying on nearby buildings filled with computer servers....[T]he move also represents a new way of thinking at VITA, a previously maligned IT agency that is embracing the use of cloud technologies to safely store information critical to more than 60 executive branch agencies while working to improve the way it serves them and responds to outages that affect their operations.
By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Mountain Valley Pipeline was given another two years Friday to complete a natural gas pipeline already marked by six years of community opposition, environmental damage, legal fights and delays. In orders filed late Friday afternoon, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also lifted a stop-work order for all but a 25-mile segment of the interstate transmission line that includes the Jefferson National Forest and adjacent land.
By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Dominion Energy Virginia wants to partner with internet service providers to cut the cost of extending broadband services to rural Virginia, beginning with pilot projects that include Surry County. The idea is to use the fiber optic lines Dominion is installing along power lines across the state as part of a modernization of its grid, to create a kind of backbone for internet service providers, said company president Ed Baine.
By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
There are more than 180,000 people in and around Hampton Roads who cannot reliably access food and often don't know where their next meal will come from, according to Old Dominion University economists. About 1 in 10 residents in the region experienced what's known as food insecurity in 2018, the analysts said in the annual State of the Region report released this week. About a third of those were children.
By LUZ LAZO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Transurban, the company that operates toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia, is seeking investors to buy into the Virginia express lanes, the company confirmed Friday. Scott Charlton, chief executive of the Australian company, on Thursday announced plans to sell stakes of the U.S. toll operations, all of which are in Virginia, as part of a strategy to free up capital to pursue other projects in the United States.
By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
James Madison University has begun "surveillance" testing of asymptomatic students in an effort to prevent a spread of cases among those without symptoms. The goal is to test approximately 300 non-symptomatic students each week, said Mary-Hope Vass, spokesperson for the university. Testing resources will focus initially on the on-campus student population.
By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)
William & Mary interim Athletics Director Jeremy Martin introduced himself to the campus community via Zoom. That was two days after Samantha Huge resigned from the post. The Zoom deal lasted about 30 minutes. "We find ourselves in a moment of conflict," he said. "We must ensure that W&M will thrive for all time."
Like many colleges and universities across our area, Virginia Military Institute is focusing on keeping the campus and greater community safe while some of their own recover from COVID-19. As of Friday, VMI was reporting 42 active COVID-19 cases, with almost 200 cadets in quarantine. School leaders said the uptick is mostly due to the close quarters of the barracks.
By GENE WANG, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
The Virginia football team had grown so accustomed to avoiding the consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic that when Coach Bronco Mendenhall revealed the first positive tests this season last week, players weren't exactly sure how to react. So there was silence.
By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)
Liberty University on Wednesday reported 89 active COVID-19 cases among its students and employees, a decline of 32 from the 121 reported last week. University officials have instructed 739 students and employees to quarantine, down from about 850 asked to quarantine last week, according to the university's online COVID-19 dashboard, which debuted Sept. 16 and is updated weekly.
Three million dollars for public outreach. Nearly $2.5 million for refrigerators and thermometers. And more than $71 million for mass vaccination clinics, where hundreds of thousands of Virginians could be immunized against COVID-19. Virginia's plan, released to the Mercury Friday, shows the size and scale of a public health campaign designed to protect millions against a historic virus.
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 156,649 — an increase of 1,114 from the 155,535 reported Thursday. The 156,649 cases consist of 147,928 confirmed cases and 8,721 probable cases. There are 3,344 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,110 confirmed and 234 probable. That's an increase of 16 from the 3,328 reported Thursday.
By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Between April and June, two of every three people hospitalized in Virginia with COVID-19 also were suffering from high blood pressure. Kidney disease and high cholesterol rated second and third on the list of chronic conditions faced by those hospitalized while fighting the virus, according to data presented Thursday by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Central State Hospital is considering mass testing of patients for COVID-19 in response to an outbreak that has infected at least 20 patients and 17 employees at the overcrowded state mental institution near Petersburg.
By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)
A recent outbreak at one Centra Health facility has led to a wave of new COVID-19 cases among its patients and caregivers. Centra reported an outbreak that started on Sunday at the Acute Rehabilitation Center on Virginia Baptist Hospital's campus. As of Monday, eight patients had received positive COVID-19 test results and caregivers were still waiting on their test results.
The cases of COVID-19 at the Danville City Jail have now reached 100. Sheriff Mike Mondul reported Friday that there are now 87 inmates and 13 staff members who have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That's up from 73/10 he had reported on Wednesday in a facility long known to be crowded and cramped.
By EMILY HOLTER, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)
It had become a sort of tradition. Every few months, members of Oak Grove Baptist Church would make the trip to the Oak Grove Cemetery: a primarily Black cemetery located on a small plot of land just off of interstate 64. With leaf blowers, fresh paint and flowers, they'd get to work cleaning up the graves of their relatives. For many in the church, their family tree can be found on the grounds.
By CHRISTINA MORALES, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)
The owner of an animal park featured in the Netflix documentary "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" has been charged with wildlife trafficking in connection with lion cubs moved between Virginia and South Carolina, prosecutors announced on Friday. Bhagavan Antle, who is known as Doc and is the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, was charged with two felony counts related to wildlife trafficking and 13 additional misdemeanors, according to the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.
By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Already facing accusations of having allegedly wretched conditions at his roadside zoo, a Frederick County man is now accused of illegally selling lions to a celebrity wild animal trainer, who is charged with animal cruelty. Keith Arnold Wilson, owner of Wilson's Wild Animal Park on West Parkins Mill Road, was indicted Thursday by a Frederick County grand jury on 10 counts of animal cruelty, a single count of depriving an animal of food and 10 counts of selling endangered species. Wilson is accused of selling the lions to Mahamayvi Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, an animal trainer and owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. Antle is one of the people profiled on "Tiger King," a Netflix documentary series on eccentric wild animal breeders and a murder-for-hire plot.
By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
A home contractor was walking through a construction site Thursday afternoon when he discovered several bags of mail in a dumpster in Virginia Beach. Joe Gurganus said he doesn't normally check the construction containers at job sites, but the future homeowners had requested to keep the leftover pieces of siding, so he was checking the dumpster to see whether there were any others inside.
By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
As schools in Northern Virginia make plans to usher children back inside classrooms, a major question is coming swiftly to the fore: Will teachers return, too? In Fairfax County Public Schools, Arlington Public Schools and Loudoun County Public Schools — all of which have promised to return thousands of special education students, English language learners and young children to school buildings over the next few weeks — the answer appears to be no for a significant portion of the teaching staff.
Personal information stolen from Fairfax County Public Schools during a ransomware attack last month has appeared on the dark web, according to a news release from Virginia's largest school system. School Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that "it appears as though certain personal information for some students and employees may have been impacted."
A northern Virginia teachers' union is apologizing after some of its members used child-size coffins as props at a protest seeking to delay in-person education. The Prince William Education Association posted the apology on its Facebook page early Thursday. The union said that 100 cars participated in the protest caravan Wednesday, and that two of the cars were decorated in a way that some found offensive.
Richmond Public Schools continues to generate more dropouts and produce fewer graduates in four years than virtually any other school division in Virginia, according to the latest yearly report from the state Department Education. Despite pandemic-induced halts to grading and end-of-course testing in the final three months of the 2019-20 school, RPS issued diplomas to 1,078 students of the 1,506 who began ninth grade in 2017, according to the report.
By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Like other mayors across the nation, Virginia Beach's Bobby Dyer has spent much of 2020 responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice protests first spurred by the death of George Floyd. And his re-election campaign has centered on these topics. Dyer is facing two challengers: Jody Wagner, a popcorn company owner who has held some key state finance positions, and Richard "RK" Kowalewitch, a self-employed home builder.
It's unclear what Albemarle County intends to do with its ordinance waiving the state's public records request deadlines after Attorney General Mark Herring on Monday said that such ordinances violate state law. Albemarle County Attorney Greg Kampter said in a Thursday email that he was reviewing the attorney general's opinion and intended to "bring a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on November 4."
By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
Albemarle County parents of preschoolers through third-graders will have until Oct. 16 to decide whether to send their children to school twice a week after the School Board voted 4-3 late Thursday to move the division to Stage Three of its reopening plan. In the wake of the board's decision, teachers expressed disappointment on social media, which extended to parents who wanted more information about the specifics of Stage Three after receiving a letter from the division about the change.
By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)
Fulfilling a promise made earlier this year, internet access is coming to the New Chapel area in Campbell County within the next two months, and other underserved areas can expect to see increases in broadband access in the coming weeks. A longtime priority of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, the push to expand broadband took on greater urgency as the pandemic forced remote learning and more telework, and a stringent deadline on CARES Act funding fast approaches in December.
VPAP Board of Directors
Thanking the 431 donors who contributed during the VaNews-a-thon! List
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
In Shakespeare's "Hamlet," the moody Prince of Denmark brushes off an inquiry by his evil uncle's chief adviser with the empty dismissal: "Words, words, words." Who would have thought that Shakespeare in the 1600s would have been such an insightful commentator on the 2020 vice presidential debate?
By MATHEW ALEXANDER, SUHAS GONDI, AND ALI KHAN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Last month, Gov. Northam signed voter protection legislation allowing ballot drop boxes for the general election. As doctors and medical students, we commend state officials for protecting the right to vote and health of all Virginians. The circumstances surrounding the 2020 election are unprecedented, and barriers to voting are unusually high. For the past nine months, our country has grappled with the consequences of our flawed COVID-19 response.
Alexander is a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Gondi is a medical student at Harvard University. Khan is a primary case physician from Northern Virginia. He is co-founder of Vote Health 2020.
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