Monday, October 19, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 19, 2020
Top of the News

After a decline, coronavirus now surging throughout much of Virginia

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

If you're watching the coronavirus pandemic by the numbers for signs of improvement, you could get whiplash from one week to the next. Coming off a brief period in which no health district was surging in new infections, Virginia's caseload appeared to be receding while other states across the country were headed down the opposite path. Now, all but the northern part of the state is having an upward trajectory, based on data collected by the Virginia Department of Health.

Assembly approves deferred disposition

By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Subscription required for some articles)

After a decade of nuanced judicial refinements to the standard for deferring dispositions for criminal defendants, the General Assembly has agreed to give judges nearly unfettered discretion to delay criminal judgments for later consideration. The reform given final approval Oct. 7 is a "sea change" in the practice of criminal law, according to one of the sponsors. "It shows the criminal justice system can be tempered with mercy instead of being focused solely on punishment," said Del. Michael Mullin, D-Newport News.

Legislative panel votes to include incumbents' addresses in 2021 redistricting data

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

A joint General Assembly committee preparing for the 2021 redistricting process voted last week to include incumbent lawmakers' home addresses in the data that will be used to redraw their districts. Some lawmakers insisted the move doesn't necessarily mean the address data will be used to draw lines that protect incumbents. But dissenting legislators said it looked like a step toward the type of incumbent protection that's happened in the past and some General Assembly members now want to ban.

As Chesterfield schools open, district asks parents to provide transportation

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

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the world to shut down in March, Lucy Wade, then a kindergartner with Chesterfield County Public Schools, struggled with the pivot to virtual learning. Lucy has autism. She didn't want to sit in front of a computer and didn't like to see her classmates' faces on the screen, said her mother, Stephanie Wade. Now a first-grader at Watkins Elementary, Lucy is back in the classroom four days a week as part of the school district's first cohort to return to school.

Migrant Farmworkers Under Lockdown: 'You're Practically a Slave'

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

Each spring, a thousand or more Mexican tomato pickers descend on Virginia's Eastern Shore to toil in the fields of Lipman Family Farms, enduring long hours stooped over to pluck the plump fruit and then hoisting it on their shoulders onto a waiting truck. An adept worker will fill a 32-pound bucket every two and a half minutes, earning 65 cents for each one. The region is considered the toughest on the tomato circuit. . . . This year, there is a new and even more difficult working condition: To keep the coronavirus from spreading and jeopardizing the harvest, Lipman has put its crews on lockdown.

At VMI, Black cadets endure lynching threats, Klan memories and Confederacy veneration

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

More than a half century after the Virginia Military Institute integrated its ranks, Black cadets still endure relentless racism at the nation's oldest state-supported military college. The atmosphere of hostility and cultural insensitivity makes VMI — whose cadets fought and died for the slaveholding South during the Civil War and whose leaders still celebrate that history — especially difficult for non-White students to attend, according to more than a dozen current and former students of color.

Crowd gathers in Fredericksburg for 'We the People' rally

By JOEY LOMONACO, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Attendees of the "We the People" rally at Old Mill Park on Saturday were greeted at the gate with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson, reminding them that, "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." That obligation was the pointed focus of a series of speakers, who spent the next five hours decrying perceived attacks on the Second Amendment, COVID-19 government mandates and the erosion of religious freedom among other grievances.

The Full Report
48 articles, 24 publications


VPAP Visual Business Giving on Hold

The Virginia Public Access Project

Off-year giving by many business-related PACs to General Assembly members is down sharply through the first three quarters of 2020. Economic uncertainty has led some PACs to delay setting a budget for the year and some legislators have postponed fundraisers. Shown are PACs that gave at least $20,000 to legislators in the first nine months of 2018 -- and what their giving looks like this year.

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.


State First Lady visits Suffolk Head Start Center

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

After greeting Suffolk Head Start Center staff, Delegate Clinton Jenkins and state Sen. Louise Lucas, Virginia First Lady Pam Northam got to the heart of her visit — the four children to whom she would be reading. "Hi! How are you guys? I'm so happy to be here today," Northam said to the children, part of Chyretta Ferrill's and Monchel Stallins' class. "Are you hiding a smile behind your mask? I bet you are. I'm hiding a smile too."


Virginia lawmakers pass bill giving citizen oversight panels actual investigative powers in police misconduct complaints

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The General Assembly has passed a bill to allow localities to establish "citizen oversight bodies" to investigate police misconduct complaints — and discipline officers who they determine break the rules. The bill allows city councils and county boards of supervisors statewide to create the civilian panels starting next July 1 to examine use-of-force complaints, cases of deaths and serious injuries while in custody, as well as abuse of power and discrimination concerns.

Criminal justice reform bills head to the governor's desk

By WILL GONZALEZ, VCU Capital News Service

The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up on Saturday a special session that began Aug. 18 and saw debate on more than 50 police and criminal justice reform bills. Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and can veto or amend the approved bills.

A budget amendment is laying down the tracks for a Shenandoah Valley rail trail

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

When Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, introduced a budget amendment funding a study on creating a new 43-mile long rail trail in the Shenandoah Valley, the odds of the proposal making it into the final budget for the governor to sign looked slim. After Wilt's amendment was stricken from the House version of the budget, the idea appeared doomed. However, thanks to the efforts of his regional ally, Sen. Emmet Hanger, R-Augusta, the measure made it into the Senate's budget to be adopted by the two bodies' conference committee last week.


Coronavirus dominates low-key Senate race in Virginia

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Much like the presidential contest, the U.S. Senate race in Virginia has been heavily shaped by the coronavirus. Unlike the presidential contest, few people are paying attention. Virginians are nearly two weeks away from deciding between two-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Daniel Gade, a political newcomer, in a contest that's become largely an afterthought.

Republican challenger Daniel Gade criticizes Warner, Democratic Party during Danville stop

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Republican United States Senate candidate Daniel Gade spent Saturday morning at Danville's Westside Diner meeting with residents and framing himself as a career servant — the opposite, he said, of Democrat incumbent Mark Warner, who he called a career politician. As nearly 30 supporters and local GOP officials gathered for breakfast just more than two weeks out from Election Day, Gade, 45, told the story of his life, which centered on his extensive Army record and the 2005 explosion in Iraq that claimed his right leg.

Don't expect results on election night in Hampton Roads, registrars say

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

If you're planning to stay up late to hear if your candidate won on Election Day, you might as well get the extra sleep. City election registrars around Hampton Roads — the ones who could spare a minute or two to talk — are warning that the public shouldn't expect to see solid results from local, state or federal races on election night.


SCC considers the ups and downs of Appalachian Power's rates

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

What the monthly electricity bill will look like next year remains murky for Appalachian Power customers, as a roller-coaster regulatory process plays out. The State Corporation Commission is considering three separate cases that will affect rates. Appalachian is asking the SCC to approve an increase in its base rates, which are reviewed every three years.

Virginia panel sets Nov. 17 public hearing, asks input on replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

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

A state panel charged with recommending a replacement for Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue at the U.S. Capitol has set a Nov. 17 public hearing and is encouraging the public — including students in public and private schools — to submit their suggestions. Written suggestions are due to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources by Nov. 27, the end of the public comment period.


Virginia Tech campus, Potomac Yard development earn approval in Alexandria

By JONATHAN CAPRIEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The first phase of Virginia Tech's campus and plans for six other buildings in Alexandria's section of Potomac Yard earned approval from City Council on Saturday morning. Developers JBG Smith Properties (NYS:JBGS) and Lionstone Investment have reenvisioned the entire district and brought it through the city's planning process in a little over a year after they earned the university's $1 billion computer science-focused campus after it exited a nearby site.

Dharma opens to serve Virginia patients

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

Dharma Pharmaceuticals formally opened its doors Saturday to patients seeking medical cannabis treatment. The firm is the first medical processor to open in Virginia so registered medical cannabis patients across the state have access to the treatment, according to a written statement from the Virginia Medical Cannabis Coalition. Its facility is located in the Bristol Mall.

As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

By DAVEY ALBA AND JACK NICAS, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

...Maine Business Daily is part of a fast-growing network of nearly 1,300 websites that aim to fill a void left by vanishing local newspapers across the country. Yet the network, now in all 50 states, is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals, a Times investigation found.....Conservative activists are running similar sites, like the Star News group in Tennessee, Virginia and Minnesota.


Virginia State University launches institute to nurture Black political, government leaders

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

Saying it wants to create a place "for individuals who look like us," Virginia State University announced Wednesday the establishment of Virginia's — and possibly the nation's — first program dedicated to the development of Black political and governmental leadership. College officials joined two state lawmakers and others to launch the John Mercer Langston Institute for African-American Political Leadership, JMLI will be accessible not just to collegiate scholars, but also Black Virginians interested in doing a public service.

NCI to be first in state to offer wind energy training

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

Some education innovation is blowing into Martinsville. New College Institute will be the host institution of the new Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, and by next year, the school will offer two classes to train wind-energy technicians. The Alliance is made up of NCI, Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy.


VDH Sunday coronavirus data: Cases up 900 statewide

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Coronavirus cases statewide rose by 900 from Saturday to Sunday, according to Virginia Department of Health data. Statewide, hospitalizations rose by 30 and deaths by 11. The 7-day positivity rate in Virginia is 5%, a figure that has been essentially flat for the past several days.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations climb in Lynchburg region

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

After nearly two months of declining new COVID-19 cases, the Lynchburg region is once again seeing a rise in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Since the start of October, more than 900 positive cases have been reported in the Central Virginia Health District, eclipsing the surge in infections reported during late July and early August, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

Far more people have died from the pandemic than the virus death toll indicates, VCU study says

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

Since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. in January, nearly 218,000 Americans have become infected and died. But for every two coronavirus deaths, a third death occurs that's indirectly linked to the pandemic, according to a study led by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University. That translates to an additional 100,000 pandemic-related deaths so far this year.

How one Virginia doctor's coronavirus infection led to 25 people in quarantine

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A doctor in training who wasn't feeling well went into work. The attending physician who supervised the Eastern Virginia Medical School resident sent the new doctor home. A little later, the doctor started to feel better and went to a barbecue with about 25 people.

Virginia Beach General District Court closed after four people test positive for coronavirus

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

The Virginia Beach General District Court will be closed Monday and Tuesday after four people tested positive for coronavirus. Two Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office deputies assigned to court security and two other non-sheriff's office personnel tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, said Kathy M. Hieatt, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, in a news release.


Virginia county escalates sanctuary battle with ICE

By STEPHEN DINAN, Washington Times

Prince William County's jail released an illegal immigrant late last month despite a federal criminal warrant for his arrest, marking what federal officials see as an escalation of sanctuary policies. Edras Onel Vasquez-Perez, 25, had been deported before. When he was found in the U.S. again, federal authorities persuaded a magistrate judge to issue a felony warrant for his arrest.

Trial to get underway over Northam's effort to remove Richmond statue of Robert E. Lee

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Arguments are scheduled to get underway Monday morning in the lawsuit over Gov. Ralph Northam's effort to take down the giant statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on state property along Monument Avenue. The 60-foot colossus of Lee became the focal point of protests this summer over racial inequity, triggered in Richmond and across the country by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Judge to hold trial on Northam's plans to remove Lee statue

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond is scheduled to go to trial Monday. The plaintiffs, a group of Richmond residents who live near the monument, filed suit after Northam ordered the removal of the statue in June amid the outcry and unrest caused by the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Family, Richmond community join to celebrate Marcus-David Peters' 27th birthday

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, Commonwealth Times

Dance performances, screen-printed T-shirts and birthday cake marked on Saturday the 27th birthday of Marcus-David Peters, a VCU alum who was killed by Richmond police while experiencing a mental crisis. Richmond community members gathered at the Robert E. Lee statue, coined Marcus-David Peters' Circle, to celebrate Peters' birthday. As performers danced around the statue's base, volunteers handed out free food and cake.

Spotsylvania coalition continues push for equality

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

A simple proclamation at the beginning of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors meeting last week was a big deal to a group of area ministers who have been working for months with area leaders on social justice issues. Board Chairman Gary Skinner read the proclamation, which supports nondiscrimination and the U.S. Constitution's "promise of the equality of all persons regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin."

Monument Fund, other plaintiffs rebuff Charlottesville's statues appeal

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

The Monument Fund and other plaintiffs in a yearslong lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville are urging the Supreme Court of Virginia to uphold decisions made by the city circuit court ahead of a week of hearings in November. Judge Richard Moore last year sided largely with the plaintiffs in the suit, issuing a permanent injunction against the city removing its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Market Street Park.

New city park a celebration of racial harmony

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

Like most Southern towns in the 1960s, Winchester was racially segregated. But there was one place in the city where skin color didn't matter, where people from all races could hang out together without feeling society's pressure to keep Blacks and whites apart. That place was Ruth's Tea Room at the corner of South Kent and East Cecil streets.


Parents, alumni protest after admissions process changed at Thomas Jefferson High School


Parents and alumni at a top-ranked Virginia high school held a protest Sunday after the board of education changed how students are admitted. The Fairfax County Board of Education eliminated the race-blind admission test for students wishing to go to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology during a meeting on Oct. 6.

Enrollment drops by 2,500 students in Prince William County schools

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Nearly 2,500 fewer students are enrolled in Prince William County Public Schools than a year ago, according to data from the school division. If the numbers maintain, it would mark the first time in many years that enrollment in the school system has declined. Public school systems are required to report fall enrollment figures to the Virginia Department of Education on Sept. 30 every year.

Virginia Beach to let nonprofits distribute $10 million in pandemic relief

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

Residents and small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic will likely have another opportunity to get assistance from local nonprofits. On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council is expected to vote to give $10 million to nonprofits to distribute aid.

Hampton OKs business owner to set up indoor shooting range in a trailer

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

For years, Hampton has wanted to relocate a noisy outdoor shooting range near Rip Rap Road in the otherwise sleepy Old Northampton section. It was costly and finding the right location without having the same issue was a challenge. The owner of the "war games" simulation company Threat Tec at 34 Research Drive in the Langley Business Park sought to expand the business by adding an indoor shooting range. It seemed like a match made in the heavens.

Grants give small businesses in Williamsburg, York, Poquoson affected by COVID-19 a 'jump start'

By ALEX PERRY, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted small business owners across the country, including the Pryor family in Yorktown. Jill Pryor and her husband Randy have owned and operated Patriot Tours & Provisions in Riverwalk Landing for about a decade. They offer guided Segway tours and kayak, paddleboard and bicycle rentals, and they sell souvenirs and gifts at their retail store on Water Street.

State program provides PPE to local residents

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

A pilot program offered by the state of Virginia made it possible for Winchester to give away thousands of face masks and hand sanitizers. According to a media release from Rouss City Hall, Winchester was one of more than 40 state localities selected in May for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's new Health Equity Pilot Program. The program provided personal protective equipment (PPE), staff training and health information to underserved and vulnerable areas, especially those at high risk of being COVID-19 hotspots.

Frederick County to provide $500,000 in CARES Act funds to local businesses and nonprofits

By STAFF REPORT, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Local businesses and nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic have another chance to receive grant money from Frederick County. Round Two of the county's COVID-19 Business/NonProfit Grant Program will open Friday at 8 a.m. Grants of $5,000, $7,500, or $10,000 will be awarded to Frederick County businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that have 2019 annual gross revenues of at least $30,000 but less than $3 million.

Pittsylvania County, Danville not asking voters for an extra 1-cent sales tax for school construction

By KIM BARTO MEEKS, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Earlier this year, the General Assembly authorized four Southside Virginia localities to let residents vote on raising sales taxes to pay for school construction needs. However, only two of the four — Henry and Patrick counties — have placed the measure on the ballot this fall.

Regional academy awaits outstanding Montgomery County payment

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

Montgomery County is past the deadline on the payment it makes every year to the New River Criminal Justice Training Academy, the regional institution tasked with ensuring that local law enforcement and corrections officers obtain the credits needed to work. A top official with the Dublin-based academy said Montgomery County still owes an assessment fee of just over $56,000, an amount that was due on Sept. 30. The invoice, however, was sent out in July.

Coalition of churches pays for billboards against proposed casino

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

Messages written in bold black letters splashed across bright yellow billboards around Bristol shout opposition to the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino resort project. The messages are: "All that glitters is not gold." "When casinos go up, communities go down." "What would Jesus do? He would definitely vote no on the casino referendum."



Southwest Virginia's unique pitch for data centers

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

The most fascinating thing we've read lately isn't on the New York Times best sellers list. It's a document that otherwise would cause eyes to glaze over — an economic development report on whether Southwest Virginia would be a good place to locate data centers, the massive warehouses of computer servers that make online traffic go. Spoiler alert: The answer is yes, but the most remarkable part is how the report arrived at that conclusion.

Our laws have to keep pace with virtual learning

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

When Gov. Ralph Northam closed Virginia schools on March 23 for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year due to COVID-19, the decision ushered in a new education era that might outlast the contagion. The novel coronavirus quickly placed school leaders across the commonwealth into novel territory with digital policymaking.

Decision should aid Rassawek

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

There already had been indications that this important shift was in the wind, but now we know for sure: The James River Water Authority said last week it will take a closer look at a potential alternative location for a project now slated to be built at the site of Rassawek, a significant historical site for the Monacan Indian Nation — and, indeed, for all Virginians.

Why are so many data centers in Northern Virginia? (And not here?)

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

The rich keep getting richer. You knew that already, of course. Here's some new evidence. It comes in the form of real estate records and construction permits — in Loudoun County. The pandemic has put some people out of work and sent others to work — or study — from home. We are now living in the Age of Zoom. The implications of that ripple all across the economy, but eventually they show up in Northern Virginia.

Amendment 1 deserves voters' support

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

A proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution would dramatically change how the commonwealth draws lines to govern representation in Congress and the General Assembly. It is not perfect, as the strong opposition of Black lawmakers attests, but it is also not a piecemeal solution to a problem once thought intractable. It would establish greater independence for those making the maps and greater oversight by the public — and is therefore deserving of voters' support.

Never-ending session wasn't special

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

About the only thing "special" about the General Assembly's special session this year is that it lasted longer and got much less done than the 46-day regular legislative session that ended in March. The legislature had already passed a $135 billion biennium budget, and Gov. Ralph Northam's subsequent freeze on new state spending in April, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Virginia, should have made short work of adjusting budgetary wish lists to the new coronavirus reality.


Smith: Vote for Virginia's gerrymandering solution

By PAUL SMITH, published in Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia has taken a big step toward addressing its historic issues with racial and partisan gerrymandering, but voters need to close the deal this fall for any progress to be realized.

Smith is the vice president of Campaign Legal Center, a nationally recognized election law expert and Supreme Court litigator who resides in Rappahannock County.

Adams and Kiggans: Rethink pay cut for dedicated medical professionals

By DEL. DAWN M. ADAMS AND SEN. JEN A. KIGGANS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Recently there was little fanfare after an article was published highlighting Virginia's largest insurance company's decision to lower reimbursement rates for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) by 15-20%. Anthem had been reimbursing for medical services based on the service provided, not the service provider, meaning it paid 100% reimbursement for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Adams is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner and a Democrat who represents the 68th District in the House of Delegates. Kiggans is a board-certified adult-geriatric nurse practitioner and a Republican who represents the 7th District in the Senate.

Morse: Sometimes the fight is more important than winning it

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

Just a little more than two weeks remain until the Nov. 3 election and then what? Uncertainties cloud the path forward, but at least the noise emanating from closer in will dissipate. Some. The ads will stop, finally, but the campaigns may echo for a while. Especially the presidential one. And there will be difficulty for those who lose at all levels. Almost no one ever thinks about that part.

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

Alexander: Toll relief should be part of any tunnel contract deal

By KENNETH ALEXANDER, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Underwritten by public money and financed by millions of dollars in tolls collected from our residents, Elizabeth River Crossing Opco LLC has operated the Downtown and Midtown tunnels since 2014. The two multinational firms that own ERC are set to sell the remaining 50 years of their exclusive contract to operate the tunnels. The contract includes the right to increase tolls at a rate of at least 3.5% annually until 2069, as well as the power to influence the scope and scale of any transportation project that may offer commuters alternative routes and choices that impact current tunnel traffic.

Alexander is the mayor of Norfolk.

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Friday, October 9, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 9, 2020
Top of the News

Looming deadline for CARES Act money sparks debate between Northam and General Assembly

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

How Virginia spends remaining coronavirus relief funds provided through the federal CARES Act has become a point of contention between Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly — now in the final stretch of finalizing a two-year budget plan amid a special session that's lasted for nearly two months. Looming in the minds of many legislators is a Dec. 30 deadline set out in the federal stimulus bill — the date by which states are expected to spend the money they received.

Virginia Democrats' redistricting fight spills into special session budget talks

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Last week, Virginia Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, stood to try to extract a promise from Democratic leaders. Since the Senate was solidly behind the bipartisan redistricting commission voters will weigh in on next month, Norment asked, would Senate Democrats be willing to fight for it in budget negotiations with their counterparts in the House of Delegates?

Power Play: Inside the Dominion lobbying blitz that's going to raise your electric bills

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When Democrats campaigned for the Virginia legislature last year, they took aim at the state's largest power broker: Dominion Energy. The electric utility's clout was legendary in the state Capitol, where it doled out millions in campaign contributions and employed an army of lobbyists who helped write energy policy for decades. The result was soaring electricity bills and an energy grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

Trump can't stop tweeting about ever-bluer Virginia and its governor

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

It was not yet 7 a.m. and the leader of the free world, still hospitalized with the coronavirus, was thinking about Virginia, an increasingly blue state where his campaign hasn't been willing to bankroll ads on TV. "Virginia Voters! Your Governor wants to obliterate your Second Amendment. I have stopped him," President Trump declared Monday at 6:45 a.m., in his third tweet of the day from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Fairfax school board eliminates admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School

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

The famed — and feared — admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prestigious magnet school in Northern Virginia, is no more. The Fairfax County Public Schools Board on Thursday night gave the green light to a proposal, submitted by Superintendent Scott Brabrand, that eliminates the test and the $100 application fee, long staples of the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson.

Some Virginians with coronavirus have stayed over 75 days in a hospital bed: new analysis

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The average time Virginians stay in a hospital with the coronavirus is about two weeks, but some have gone over 75 days before being discharged, a new data analysis shows. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association released statewide details and trends about people being treated for COVID-19 during a press briefing Thursday.

Keysville Church Deals with Covid Outbreak

By STAFF REPORT, Southside Messenger

Following a revival held at Emmanuel Bible Church September 20-23, multiple attendees including the Pastor and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. Pastor Todd Childers made the following statement this week. "We feel as though the spread began either Monday or Tuesday evening.

The Full Report
57 articles, 28 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.


K-12 schools will receive additional $220 million in federal aid, Northam announces

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

Virginia school divisions will receive $220 million of additional funding toward operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. Approximately $12.4 million will go to school divisions in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

Northam to send $220 million to schools to cope with pandemic as state doles federal aid

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

Gov. Ralph Northam will distribute $220 million in federal emergency aid to local school divisions across Virginia, including about $27 million in the four biggest localities in the Richmond area, as the state ramps up efforts to spend money provided under the CARES Act to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The money for K-12 schools has been expected for more than three weeks, but Northam increased the amount from $159 to $175 per pupil, or an additional $20 million, as divisions get better estimates of enrollment in a school year defined by uncertainty because of the public health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.


Measure to expand broadband in rural Virginia faces uncertain future in budget negotiations

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

As the General Assembly works toward developing a final revised budget, lawmakers are facing pressure from cable companies over two sentences tucked within a budget bill aimed at expanding broadband in rural Virginia. The House of Delegates passed its budget bill last week that included a proposal for a pilot program for municipal broadband authorities to compete with the private sector for state grants to provide high-speed internet in hard-to-reach areas.


Donald Trump Accuses Virginia Governor of Being in Support of 'Executing' Babies


President Donald Trump alleged on Thursday that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam supported the execution of babies under the guise of late-term abortions. Trump has emphasized his Christian faith during his re-election campaign, reaching out to pro-life groups for support. During speeches at campaign events, Trump has said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would ban religion if he were elected. Biden did endorse Northam's 2017 campaign for governor.

Congressional candidate Bob Good corrects the record after reporting no financial assets

Fauquier Times

Fifth District Republican Congressional candidate Bob Good has submitted a new financial disclosure report to the U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk reflecting financial assets worth up to $1.6 million after initially reporting no assets and no unearned income. Good's new financial report included nine additional pages of financial assets not disclosed in the initial filing.

New Filings Raise Questions About Bob Good's Finances


New federal paperwork filed by Republican Congressional hopeful Bob Good shows he owned at least $250,000 in assets that have not previously been disclosed in similar state filings. An amended financial disclosure form filed by Good on Monday shows he owned securities in various retirement accounts worth between $257,000 and $1.8 million as of November 30, 2019. It also showed between $30,000 and $100,000 in student loans to pay for his children's college education.

Trump-supporting pastor wants to turn Virginia's 4th Congressional District red

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

Before he led the raucous crowd in prayer, Leon Benjamin, red USA hat in hand, said President Donald Trump's impending arrival at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport last week was a sign. "A wave is about to hit Virginia, and Virginia is about to turn red again!" Benjamin said into the microphone, drawing applause and cheers from the large crowd gathered on the tarmac to hear Trump speak.

Former Virginia congressman's presidential choice is clear: None of the above.


Less than one month before Election Day, WAVY-TV 10 is checking the political pulse of someone you may have not heard from in a few years. For 6 years, Republican Congressman Scott Rigell represented the people of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, parts of the Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore. Rigell is now watching from the sidelines while traveling the country in an RV with his wife.

Rep. Morgan Griffith talks police reform, other issues ahead of all-but-assured reelection


Congressman Morgan Griffith has been working in Virginia politics for more than two decades. As Griffith wraps up his tenth year in his congressional seat, he is setting new priorities focusing on the people in Virginia's 9th District. "Everybody has a calling and something that they love doing. I love trying to solve problems," said Griffith.

Registrar Responds to Allegations of Voter 'Micro-Suppression'

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Accomack County's voter registrar responded to concerns some voters have voiced about early voting and the electoral board. Voter Registrar Patricia White in a Sept. 29 email said 1,519 people had voted in person and the office had mailed out 2,177 ballots by that date, less than two weeks after early voting began Sept. 18.


In December state panel will recommend a replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

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

In December, a state commission will recommend a noted Virginian to the General Assembly to honor with a statue at the U.S. Capitol, replacing that of Robert E. Lee. The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol decided during a virtual meeting Thursday to invite children in Virginia's schools — public and private — to add their voices to the discussion about who Virginia should honor.

Manufacturers seek to block Virginia from joining carbon market in lawsuit

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

The Virginia Manufacturers Association is suing Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality and State Air Pollution Control Board over the state's revision of regulations that will allow it to join a regional cap-and-invest market for carbon. The suit, filed in Richmond Circuit Court Oct. 2, says DEQ followed an incorrect process in revising an existing carbon trading rule as well as claiming the new rule is "unlawful" and the association's members will be adversely affected by it.


More Virginians file first-time unemployment claims compared with a week ago

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

Nearly 11,000 Virginians filed a first-time unemployment claim last week, an increase of 1,466 people compared with the prior week, according to weekly data released Thursday by the Virginia Employment Commission. The agency said 10,843 new claims were filed during the week ending Oct. 3.

Jobless claims rise 15.6% in Virginia; down overall in the U.S.


The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week to a still-high 840,000, evidence that layoffs remain elevated seven months into the pandemic recession. . . . In Virginia, initial jobless claims rose 15.6%, or 1,466 claimants, from the previous week, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. The number of initial claims stood at 10,843 for the week that ended Oct. 3.

ODU economists see opportunities for the region in Newport News' Jefferson Lab

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Jefferson Lab in Newport News is on the leading edge of nuclear physics while also providing educational resources and opportunities for schools and university researchers. The facility also is an important employer and has a major economic impact in the region. Beyond physics, local economists see lots of potential.

Facebook says it has invested $1 billion in its Henrico County data center

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

The social media company Facebook said it has now invested about $1 billion in its eastern Henrico County data center that became operational this summer. Facebook first announced plans to open the data center in White Oak Technology Park in 2017. It is one of eight data centers that the company now operates in the United States to serve its online traffic, with five more data centers in development.

Virginia Beach maker of PPE to expand, add 180 new jobs

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

A Virginia Beach-based maker of disposable face masks and surgical masks plans to create 180 jobs and spend $5.3 million to buy equipment that will allow it to produce more of the personal protective equipment that is in high demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. PremiumEstore LLC at 2601 Reliance Dr., primarily an e-cigarette distributor since 2008, pivoted to PPE production in March, when it began operating as Premium-PPE and producing AmeriShield branded masks.

Businesses suffering without college football in Hampton Roads

By DAVID HALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On a typical fall Saturday when Old Dominion's football team is home, Perfectly Frank on Monarch Way is teeming with blue-and-white-clad fans eager to get their bellies full and root on the Monarchs. Energetic patrons crowd the counter and fill the dining room tables as others wait to take their places. Tarah Morris and her staff sling hot dogs, burgers, breakfast sandwiches and other items from the restaurant's diverse menu as pregame excitement builds.


Metro Is Planning For The Future, But One Question Remains: When Will Riders Return?


Metro's Board of Directors is beginning to formulate its budget for July 2021 through June 2022, and so far it is filled with uncertainties and question marks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. How soon will schools return? Will workers be allowed and more inclined to work from home? If they do go back to the office and traffic isn't bad, will they just opt to drive? Those are some of the scenarios the transit agency is currently working through. But board members agreed on Thursday that Metro should plan for the worst-case scenario: Ridership won't return to pre-COVID levels for years.


Class of 2024 has the lowest number of enrolled students since 2016, most diverse class in U.Va. history


The Class of 2024 is comprised of 3,785 students, the lowest number of enrolled students since the 2016 admissions cycle and the most diverse class in the University's history. Wes Hester, deputy University spokesperson and director of media relations, said that the University is excited to welcome the Class of 2024 during what has been a challenging year. "To do this and meet enrollment targets during such challenging times is remarkable, and speaks to the value and respect that an education from U.Va. carries," Hester said.

W&M alumni pledge not to donate unless cut sports reinstated

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

William & Mary alumni have joined together to demand the seven sports teams cut by the university to be reinstated or else…no more funding. The Pledge Not To Donate, signed by mostly college alumni and parents, had a list of demands, too.

Old Dominion University reports coronavirus outbreak in residence hall

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

Old Dominion University reported a coronavirus outbreak Thursday night in one of its residence halls. "We want to make you aware that our COVID-19 testing has identified what could be the beginning of an uptick in positive results among symptomatic and asymptomatic students who live on campus," an alert from the university said.


More than 1,800 coronavirus cases reported Thursday in Virginia. It's not as bad as it sounds.

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

The state Department of Health reported 1,844 coronavirus cases Thursday, more than three times as many as the day before. It was the second-highest case count for one day since the pandemic began. But state officials had a simple explanation: Wednesday's numbers weren't actually as good as they seemed.

Virginia COVID-19 cases jump by 1,844 due to reporting issue

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 155,535 — an increase of 1,844 from the 153,691 reported Wednesday. The VDH dashboard noted Thursday that the increase in cases includes 689 that should have been reported on Wednesday.

New hospital data sheds more light on serious COVID-19 cases in Virginia

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

From January to June this year, Virginia's oldest hospitalized COVID-19 patient was 103. But there were also 46 coronavirus hospitalizations among children younger than five out of a total of 22,508, according to new data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — including infants under the age of one. With the exception of a few outliers, the data analysis — presented by the association during a Thursday webinar — highlights much of what's already known about the virus, which disproportionately impacts older patients and those with underlying health conditions.

Region's new infections at 19-day high

By LOLA FADULU, ERIN COX, GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND RACHEL CHASON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The average number of new daily coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region reached a 19-day high Thursday as local health officials sent an open letter urging people connected to a White House outbreak to get tested. Despite the rise, officials have cautioned that there's no evidence of widespread ties to the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event suspected of being at the center of the outbreak. An infection spike stemming from a reporting issue Thursday lifted the number of confirmed cases in D.C., Virginia and Maryland above 300,000 since the start of the pandemic.

'COVID boom of babies' expected in Culpeper

By JOSH GULLY, Culpeper Times (Metered Paywall)

While some areas of the Culpeper Medical Center have seen less traffic than usual, hospital President Donna Staton said the delivery room will be busy with a looming baby boom stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is going to be a COVID boom of babies in the spring. We're already starting to see that," she recently told the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors. Staton explained the hospital is projecting 70-plus births in both January and February compared to the average of about 45.

Coronavirus outbreak sickens more than a dozen at Fairfax juvenile detention center

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Officials said a coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than a dozen workers and residents at Fairfax County's Juvenile Detention Center, prompting questions from staff members about the precautions taken against the virus and how its spread was handled. Eight workers and six juveniles have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Fairfax City facility since Sept. 29, officials said, making it one of the worst known outbreaks at a local youth center since March.

Virus cases increase in Farmville

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

The area is suddenly seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. According to Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash, many local counties have seen a small jump in cases this week, with attributions to the jump ranging from community spread to local colleges to religious events.

Outbreak widens at Baskerville prison as covid numbers spike

By SUSAN KYTE, Mecklenburg Sun

A renewed virus outbreak at Baskerville Correctional Center has driven up Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 caseload and placed the county in the highest risk category for the pandemic. Mecklenburg went from orange to red over the weekend, according to the risk scale developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute, after 60 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the state health department between Friday and Sunday.

Second wave strikes at Chase City nursing home

South Boston News & Record

A second outbreak of COVID-19 has surfaced at Chase City Health and Rehab. The initial outbreak at the nursing home occurred in May but abated within a month. The second outbreak began in September. The latest reporting by the Virginia Department of Health suggests at least 13 new positive test results have been confirmed among individuals affiliated with Chase City Health and Rehab.


Virginia gun sales in 2020 soar past record: 'It's a year like no other'


Gun sales in Virginia this year have skyrocketed, breaking a record set in 2016 in just nine months. Data from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, which has tracked mandatory background checks on buyers since 1990, shows estimated firearm sales have spiked in 2020, a year rocked by the global pandemic and protests across the country.

Parts of Norfolk's granite MLK monument — in the middle of a busy intersection — have come loose

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

Part of the granite face of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that towers over Brambleton Avenue has come loose and may pose a risk to drivers. From the street, a panel near the very top of the monument could be seen to be missing on Thursday.

After segregation apology, NAACP offers 'terms for conciliation' to Loudoun Co. schools


The Loudoun County School Board and administration, and the Board of Supervisors issued "An Apology to the Black Community of Loudoun County," last month for some of the ways county officials fought against desegregation in the Virginia county in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the NAACP Loudoun Branch has authored "Proposed Terms of Conciliation," that it hopes "works toward moving forward" by "building an institutionalized system equity in a meaningful way that gets to the heart" of addressing systemic racism.

FERC study finds no risk from protective coating of Mountain Valley Pipeline

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

Segments of steel pipe stockpiled along the path of a natural gas pipeline, exposed to the elements for two years while lawsuits delayed construction, pose no risk to the surrounding air, soil or water, a federal agency has concluded. In a report released Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission addressed concerns that have been raised about the Mountain Valley Pipeline.


New APS Enrollment Figures Show More Than 1,000 Fewer Students Than Last Year


Arlington Public Schools is seeing a sharp decline in enrollment this year as families cope with remote learning during the pandemic. From September 2019 to September 2020, PreK-12 enrollment fell from 28,020 to 26,895 — a 4% drop — according to APS' official Sept. 30 count. That's an even bigger drop than the preliminary numbers at the beginning of September, which showed enrollment of 27,109. The drop comes after years of enrollment growth.

Alexandria extends Old Town 'streatery' car-free zone until spring 2021


The Alexandria City Council has voted to keep in place the pedestrian-only restaurant zone in Old Town through March 2021. The 100 block of King Street near the Potomac River and waterfront park of the Northern Virginia city has restaurant seating on the sidewalks and along the road where cars typically would park. A broad corridor down the center of the road is open for walkers and social distancing.

ACPS Superintendent Hutchings Sends Child To Private School Bishop Ireton


Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings has enrolled one of his two children in Bishop Ireton, a private Catholic high school in Alexandria that operates under a hybrid learning model, in contrast to ACPS's entirely virtual model. A hybrid model includes virtual and in-person instruction. The high school sophomore transferred to Bishop Ireton after attending the Minnie Howard campus of T.C. Williams last year as a freshman.

Local COVID-19 numbers delay in-person instruction option for most Prince William students

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Prince William County's still high COVID-19 numbers and the logistical hurdles involved with returning students to schools during the pandemic will keep the majority of local students learning virtually until at least early 2021, Superintendent Steven Walts told the school board Wednesday.

As Henrico nears return to learn decision, teachers are uncertain about returning

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

Uncertainty lingered Thursday as Henrico County school officials heard their most detailed briefing to date on COVID-19 ahead of an Oct. 22 decision on whether to bring more students into classrooms. The Central Virginia region is at what health experts deem a moderate burden for transmission of the virus, which has claimed 220 lives and infected at least 5,659 people in Henrico, state data shows.

Virginia Beach City Council moves meetings to Convention Center due to pandemic

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

The Health Department has recommended that the City Council and Planning Commission no longer hold public meetings at City Hall for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suite 5 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center will be the new meeting place so everyone will have enough room to space out, the city announced on Thursday. The change comes a few days after Councilman John Moss announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

Portsmouth students won't return to school until 2021

By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth students won't return to the classroom in 2020. Superintendent Elie Bracy gave the board an option to bring back students in pre-K through third grade starting Nov. 16, but didn't make a recommendation. The board unanimously said it preferred to err on the side of caution and wait until 2021.

Hampton students won't be back in classrooms until at least early November

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

Superintendent Jeffery Smith said in a school board meeting Wednesday that, at the request of board members, Hampton City Schools students won't return to classrooms this quarter. The district hasn't established a specific timeline for return yet. Several neighboring districts, including Newport News and York County, have started to bring some students back or plan to do so this month.

As pandemic grinds on, Hampton sees slight drop in some tax revenues

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

The good news about Hampton's finances some seven months into a pandemic: the city has a fat cushion in its savings account, thanks to some bountiful years. The bad news: Hampton is feeling a pinch because some funding sources - such as lodging and admissions taxes - are suffering, according to a report city finance director Karl Daughtrey gave the Hampton City Council last month.

In Poquoson, a familiar face ready to return

By NOOR ADATIA, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

After leaving the House of Delegates more than a year ago, Gordon Helsel is running unopposed for another stint as mayor of Poquoson. "It's time for me to come back," Helsel, now 73, said. "I look forward to serving the citizens of the community — always have and always will."

Albemarle School Board votes 4-3 to move to move to Stage Three

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

Albemarle County School Board voted 4-3 late Thursday night to start in-person classes for preschoolers through third-graders starting Nov. 9. The vote came after more than two hours of discussion about schools Superintendent Matt Haas's recommendation to move to Stage Three of the division's reopening plan. Parents have until Oct. 16 to decide whether to send their kids to school or stick with online classes.

Fearing violence, Bristol GOP cancels planned "Back the Blue" rally

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

The Bristol Virginia GOP announced today it is cancelling a "Back the Blue" rally originally planned for Oct. 10 due to concerns about violence. In a written statement, Chairman Jacob Holmes explained the decision. "After much deliberation, we have come to the decision to cancel the Bristol VA/TN Backs the Blue event. We wholeheartedly support our law enforcement officers, and wish to ensure that we are not possibly putting them in harm's way," according to the statement.



Virginia Tech's gain has been Radford University's loss, and not a net gain for the region

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

Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said she didn't have any comment on Virginia Tech reaching its goal of enrolling 30,000 undergraduates three years ahead of schedule. We, however, do. Blacksburg is understandably not completely thrilled about Tech hitting the goal — or even, necessarily, having this goal.

Time for a shake-up at VRS

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

The Virginia Retirement System, which provides retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of teachers, state judges, police officers, firefighters and other government employees throughout the commonwealth, reported a dismal 1.4 percent rate of return on its investment portfolio in fiscal year 2020. VRS Board Chairman O'Kelly McWilliams tried to put a brave face on the fact that 1.4 percent is well below the 6.7 percent goal the system needs to meet its pension obligations—which it met last fiscal year, according to its 2019 annual report.

Hold the fiscal line, governor

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

Gov. Ralph Northam, take Del. Mark Sickles up on his offer. Reach for the veto pen. Do not be shy. "It's the role of the legislature to set spending priorities," Sickles, D-Fairfax told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview with veteran reporter Michael Martz. "Of course, he can veto any item not to his liking."

Vote "yes" on Amendment 2

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

They served our country with valor, defending the liberty and protecting the freedoms we often take for granted. Yet some members of the military suffer debilitating injuries during the course of their service, posing challenges to both them and their families. There's a way that Virginians can show their appreciation for those veterans who become permanently disabled: by supporting Amendment 2 during this year's election.

There's the urgency we've been looking for on broadband

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

Enter the home of a student attending school virtually, or a parent juggling a job and child care. Visit a small business that cannot engage with customers online. Talk to a farmer who is unable to use the latest technology to care for crops. Meet a patient driving long distances to receive care because telehealth is out of the question. Watch as Virginians reset wireless hot spots 10 times a day, rejoin Zoom meetings after missing a critical exchange or can't pay a bill because of $70 in data overage fees.

Reelect Sen. Mark Warner

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

In 12 years on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has staked a legitimate claim as one of the more effective, constructive and genuinely bipartisan lawmakers in Congress. In a place where grandstanding, pandering and interparty venom are nearly normal, Mr. Warner is frequently the grown-up in the room, a measured and substantive Democrat who has forged partnerships with key Republican colleagues. Virginians would do well to reelect him this year to a third term in the Senate, and we endorse him.


Baron: Seek understanding and look for the good

By JOE BARON, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On a late summer evening as we were returning from a community event, my wife Jennifer began scrolling through social media and reading some entries aloud to me. Quickly, we became frustrated and saddened about how easily so many people seem to spread hateful and hurtful messages. Often, those messages are spread online, but the dialogue recently seems to be moving onto city streets and into neighborhoods, too.

Baron is the sheriff of Norfolk.

Filler-Corn and Helmer: Vote "yes" on Amendment 2 and support our disabled veterans

By EILEEN FILLER-CORN AND DAN HELMER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

This election, voters across Virginia face important choices. We know there are sharp divisions on the direction of our country, but as you cast your ballot, regardless of your party, we hope you will vote "yes" on Question 2, the Motor Vehicle Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans Amendment. So many throughout Virginia served their country in the armed services and many — while in service to our nation — suffered injuries they will deal with for the rest of their lives.

Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, is the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and represents the 41st District. Helmer, D-Fairfax, is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who represents Virginia's 40th District in the House of Delegates


A Chesapeake 12-year-old cut 50 lawns for free for those in need — and used the tips to feed the homeless

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

Phoenix Browne worked hard for his brand new lawnmower this summer. Over about a month, the Chesapeake 12-year-old cut grass in yard after yard — 50 in all — around Hampton Roads, battling the heat and humidity. And he did it all for free.

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