Thursday, June 29, 2017

Newport News Now




Deer Park Elementary Receives
Solar Power From Dominion

Deer Park Elementary School students are now getting the opportunity to learn about the clean, renewable power of the sun thanks to Dominion Energy's Solar for Students program. Students can now engage in hands-on learning via a solar array installed right outside the school.
Dominion is providing a 1.2-kilowatt photovoltaic system, a power system designed to supply usable solar power, as well as technical support, educational materials and training for educators. Read more...



field day

Detention Field Day Celebrates School Achievements 

The Newport News Juvenile Secure Detention and the Detention School staff work together to ensure that the residents in detention are presented the same level of outstanding educational opportunities while living there as when they return to their assigned home school. Under the leadership of Principal John Day, his staff of education professionals work hard to ensure that “No kid in Detention is ever left behind.”   
As the 2016-2017 school year ended, Dawn Barber, Director of Juvenile Services, thanked the school staff and congratulated the residents for their achievements. Read more...

field day



Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter Expands Summer Hours

Pet adoptions available every day beginning July 4th

Summer brings longer days and so does the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter (PRAS)!   Beginning July 4th and continuing through Labor Day, the shelter is expanding its adoption hours.  Visit them starting at 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday with extended hours to 7 p.m. on Fridays and early hours at 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

The PRAS is a collaborative venture supported by four separate Hampton Roads communities: Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, and York County. Read more...



Follow us on our social media pages @CityofNN or City of Newport News for more updates!

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York County District 5 Report June 2017 by Supervisor Tom Shepperd

Dear Neighbors,


The District 5 Report for June 2017 is designed to keep you informed of local activities and government actions that might impact your family, home, and neighborhood.*  Comments and questions are always welcome.  I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report to other residents.




Tom Shepperd

York County Board of Supervisors


Home (757) 868-8591

Mobile (757) 903-1875



-----District 5 and Crime Watch Report June 2017*-----


1.  Announcements:


            a.  Volunteers from District 5 are needed to serve on York County’s 26 Boards and Commissions.  Participation by representatives from throughout the County is essential to ensuring that a balanced, fair, and informed approach is used in addressing issues that come before the County government.   Volunteers are instrumental in providing recommendations for action by the Board of Supervisors and County staff and have saved the citizens of York County millions of dollars in taxes through their dedicated services.  You can learn more about our Boards and Commissions by visiting the County’s webpage at and under
“County Government” clicking on Boards and Commissions.  If you find a Board or Commission of interest, you can apply for a slot by completing the Board Bank Application, which is very easy to fill out and only takes a couple of minutes to complete.  The County staff will hold your application and once a position opens up, will present it to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.  Again, we need your help.  It’s your County and getting involved is a great way to make a difference. 


b.   When you go to Yorktown Beach, you will see the blue Mobi-Mat that was put in place on the beach to give our physically challenged citizens wheelchair accessibility to the river.  In addition, a Mobi-Chair - a sand and water accessible wheelchair - will be available for use at no charge and can be checked out at the Dockmasters’ office.  For more information, please call the York County Parks, Recreation, and Tourism’s Dockmaster’s office at (757) 890-3370.


c.  Recycling!  Household Chemical Collection will take place 8 a.m. to 12 noon on July 8, September 9th, and November 11th in York County on County Drive, which is off of Goodwin Neck Rd.   The list of acceptable and unacceptable items for recycling can be found on the VPPSA website at  Once you are on the webpage select “Services.”  Recently, a citizen asked me about recycling rechargeable batteries.  Yes, rechargeable (lithium batteries) are collected during the Household Chemical Collection.  They are not collected during curbside recycling.  Alkaline batteries are not rechargeable and never collected.  You should throw alkaline batteries in the trash.  If you miss the Household Chemical Collection in York County, you can participate in the collections in Williamsburg/James City County, Hampton and Poquoson.  The collection dates for these municipalities are listed on the VPPSA website.


d.  Mosquito ground spraying started on May 18th.  Despite the 4.7 inches of rain in May and 3.5 inches in June the mosquito control staff has received fewer service calls than last year this same time.  However, the staff tells me that the mosquito count is up.  In addition to ground spraying, the drainage maintenance crews are placing larvicide in the roadside ditches.  Mosquito-borne diseases include West Nile virus, encephalitis and Zika, which is a particularly nasty disease affecting unborn babies.  Currently, aerial spraying is not planned for York County.  However, this could quickly change if there is a disease outbreak or the mosquito population increases significantly due to a weather event.


2.  Transportation.


            a.  Victory Boulevard (Route 171) – The good news is that the widening of Victory Boulevard is included in the Hampton Roads 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, which means it is a prioritized road for eventual construction.  The not so good news is that construction will be in phases and only Phase 1, which includes the stretch of road between Route 17 and Route 134, will be funded in the near term.  The funding is only for an eastbound third lane. 


            b.  Repaving schedule for 2017:


                        (1) Route 17 northbound from Wolf Trap Road (Kentucky Fried Cleaners) to Falcon Road (near the National Park) – July 12th to 18th - crack sealing only

                        (2) Route 17 southbound from Fort  Eustis Boulevard to Goodwin Neck Road (Pop’s Restaurant) - July 12th to 18th - milling and paving

                        (3) Victory Boulevard (east and westbound) from Route 134 to just west of Route 17.  This should cover all the old patching.  July 19th to 25th - milling and paving.

                        (4)  Kinnakeet Run from Pohick Run to Kanawah Run.  This is in the Running Man subdivision and should occur July 27th to 29th milling and paving.


            c.  Report road problems to VDOT online at or for immediate action call 800-367-7623.


 3.  Land Development.


            a.  My last report stated that developers are beginning to approach the County with proposals to develop the 101-acre Smith Farm along Victory Boulevard across from the Running Man subdivision.   In an update discussion with the owner of the property, I was informed that there are no plans to develop any part of the property.  The property is zoned Rural Residential (RR), which equates to one house per acre.  There is no by-right commercial development allowed on the property.  Any change to the current zoning will require approval by the Board of Supervisors.


            b.  The Legacy of Poquoson is a residential and commercial development along Victory Boulevard that was approved by the City of Poquoson over two years ago.  Approval from the Army Corps of Engineers is moving along at a glaciered pace.  The property developer, Mid-Atlantic, estimates that it will be another year before there is any development on the property. 


            c.  Smith property on Yorktown Road.  After the Planning Commission public hearing, the developer asked to withdrew the application for Board of Supervisors consideration.  The original application was a request to rezone the 112-acre parcel located next to the Taylor Farms subdivision from RR-Rural Residential (low density residential) to R-20 (medium density residential).  This rezoning would have yielded 142 residential lots.  Currently, the developer (Harrison & Lear) is considering a new options based on the comments received from the public and the Planning Commission.   The new proposal reduces the number of proposed lots from 142 to 113.  The decrease in the number of lots will increase the size of the lots near Plantation Acres.  The new proposal provides for enhanced buffering along Yorktown Road that will include a landscaped berm and serpentine brick wall.  Also, there will be a left turn into the development to reduce the potential for back-ups on Yorktown Road. 


Harrison & Lear has announced that it will host a community meeting in the Tabb High School Auditorium on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 6 p.m.  The purpose of the meeting is to provide County residents with an opportunity to review the plans, ask questions and provide comment.  Currently, there is no set date for when the application will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final vote.


            d.  The outparcel being developed in front of Kroger’s near the Panda Express is for a Taco Bell restaurant.


            e.  An application for a Special Use Permit will be coming before the Planning Commission on July 12th for a development called the Phoenix, which is Continuing Care Retirement Community.  The site for the Phoenix is the nine acre parcel of  land behind the Coastal Community Church (old Kroger store) on Victory Boulevard.   The applicant is seeking to rezone the property from residential (R13) to Conditional General Business (GB).  If approved, the Special Use Permit would authorize a maximum of 170 senior housing units consisting of a combination of independent living apartments, assisted living units, and a memory care unit.  Access to the facility will be by way of a driveway connected to Victory Boulevard opposite the Walmart driveway, which has a traffic light.  The access will be designed so as not to require additional traffic light delays beyond the current delays.  Victory Boulevard is a limited access road.  The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board must approve the access to Victory Boulevard and will only do so at the recommendation of the Board of Supervisors.


            f.  Riverside is beginning the process to build The Riverside Rehabilitation Center on 7 acres of a 23 acre parcel near Theater Road. The parcel is across from Walmart on Route 17.  The Center will provide care for patients who have suffered from a stroke, neurological disorders, orthopedic trauma, brain and spinal cord injuries and amputees.  Groundbreaking for the Center is slated for later this year.  Also, Riverside is actively marketing four outparcels next to the Center.


4. District 5 Crime Report – The following events, as reported by the Sheriff’s Office occurred over the past several months.


            a.  Larceny from a Motor Vehicle is still pretty rampant.  As I reported last time, there seems to be no defining characteristic of the culprits.  Gang members, non-gang members,  male, female, young and old alike all seem to be committing the crime.  If there is a defining characteristic, it is the targeted vehicles.  Since the beginning of the year, there have been 197 Motor Vehicle Larceny cases in York County.  In only 2 of the 197 case, did the culprits gain entry by breaking out a window.  In all other cases, the vehicles were unlocked.  What’s really amazing to me are the items taken - cameras, cell phones, wallets, purse, guns, golf clubs, credit cards, cash, tools, and musical instruments just to name a few.  Locking your vehicles is a great way to protect your property.  Criminals generally do not like to bring attention to their actions, which is why they do not like to break out windows.  Remove valuables from your vehicles at night, lock your vehicle and call 911 to report any tampering with your motor vehicle.  By reporting the incident, you will be helping our Sheriff’s Office identify trends and areas that need increased patrolling.  


            b.   Drugs in York County.  You have probably heard about the Opioid Epidemic and thought maybe it was limited to just the big cities.  Well, it is everywhere and York County is no exception.  From January 2015 to November 2016, the Sheriff’s Office responded to 86 calls for services related to heroin.  Of that number, 19 calls involved ingestion of heroin resulting in 5 deaths.  The remaining 67 calls resulted in charges for possession or possession with intent to distribute.   The Sheriff’s Drug Task Force ranks heroin as the second most dangerous drug available on the Peninsula.  Cocaine ranks first.  As a result of the increase in overdose cases, the Sheriff’s Deputies are now carrying kits to administer Narcan to individuals experiencing the life threatening effects of a heroin or opioid overdose.


            c.  Communication security is an ongoing problem and citizens in our area are getting compromised on a regular basis.  Notice that I did not use the term cyber security.  That is because the term seems too limited.  We are being compromised not only through our computers but also through our credit cards and phone systems.  Here are some examples of what we are seeing in our area:


                        (1) Credit card fraud is a very common crime.  What we are seeing is the use of credit cards that are stolen from unsecured vehicles.  To combat this crime, review your credit card purchase history on a regular basis.  Better yet.  Don’t leave valuables in an unsecured vehicle.


                        (2) In May, several residents received phone calls from a person stating that he was from the York County Sheriff’s Office and notifying them that they had missed a court date.  The caller told the victims that they needed to pay money to avoid having a warrant issued for their arrest.  The Sheriff’s Office has repeatedly stated that they will never call to collect money for a missed court date or for anything else.  If a warrant is issued, you will very likely receive a personal visit by a deputy.


                        (3)  Recently I had my Facebook page “cloned”, which resulted in friends receiving a new “friend request” from the scammer.   What basically happened is that someone took a picture of me from the worldwide web and created a fake Facebook page.  In this particular case, the fake user was simply trying to sell something.  Fortunately, many of my friends recognized the fake and quickly informed me of the problem.   We fixed this problem by limiting access to my Facebook page, which is something I should have originally done.  I also notified everyone on my friends list to disregard the duplicate friend request. 


                        (4)  Recently, the insurance company, USAA, mailed its customers a cyber warning about “Phishing.”  The letter stated that, Phishing is a way cybercriminal try to steal your identify and take over your account.”  Phishing scams can come to you through email, phone call and social media.  Sound familiar?  Just before receiving the letter, I received an email supposedly from USAA saying that information was missing from my account and that I should contact USAA.  The email presented a hyperlink for me to initiate contact with USAA.  This immediately raised my suspicions.  I quickly confirmed that the email was bogus by looking at the senders email address.  It did not come from USAA.  Companies like USAA have lots of customers in York County.  USAA requests that you report any suspicious email to   I’d bet that other insurance and banking companies have a similar site to report Phishing.


5.  Board of Supervisors and Other Government Actions


In May, the Supervisors set new tax rates and approved the FY2018 Budget.  Generally, it has been my experience that most citizens pay very little attention to the financial aspects of government other than the tax rates.  Why?  It is because every time we turn around we are being taxed for something.  Understandably, when people are already paying a lot of their hard earned income to federal, state, and local taxes any additional tax seem questionable.  This is especially true if you have no idea where your money is being spent.  Here are a few highlights of the County’s budget that might help you understand why we had to raise the tax rate and the value your are getting:


            (a)  The real estate tax rate increased by 4.35 cents.  The new tax rate is now 7.95 cents per $100 of assessed value.  The assessed value is the estimated value placed on your property by the County’s assessors.  A few citizens have noted that the tax increase is about 5.8% over the old tax rate.  I would offer that a better way to look at the increase is to look at it over time.  For example, Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 was the last tax rate increase prior to FY 2018. This means that the year-to-year increase over the past 5 fiscal years is just over 1%, which is very reasonable and manageable.   Considering that Hampton Roads is still recovering from the Great Recession and that the price of nearly everything is continuing to increase in cost (labor, equipment, and material) and there is greater demand for governmental services, the County tax rate is not so bad.  Looking at the tax rate of nearby localities will help put our tax rate into perspective.  None of the cities on the Peninsula except for Williamsburg, whose population is less than one of our County districts, has a tax rate that is under $1.07.  Even James City County and Isle of Wight County have rates above 84 cents. 


            (b)  Where is the County getting its money?  First, consider this.  The County’s population is about 68,000 and our total general operating fund is about $142 million.   Approximately 85% of this money comes from the citizens of York County.  That means we provide about $120 million of our County’s $142 million budget.  It might interest you to know that about 63% of the $120 million comes from property tax and that is why the real estate tax rate is of significant interest to everyone.  It impacts a significant portion of our population.  Of the remaining $22 million, the state and federal government provide $14 million and we get the remainder from various other sources that I’ll skip over in this email.


            (c)  What are we getting for our tax dollars?  It is very easy to connect the dots between the life we enjoy in York County and the County budget.  First, it begins with the priority we place on our public education, which includes library services and cooperative extension.  Over 42% or $63 million of our tax dollars goes to public education.  Due to the tremendous quality of our schools, the demand to live in York County is quite high.  Tied closely to this demand is the quality of our public safety, which includes both our Sheriff’s Department and our Fire and Life Safety Department. Public safety receives about 24% or $34 million of the budget revenue.  Together, Public Education Services and Public Safety receive about $97 million of our $142 million budget.  Some other important but less talked about departments includes Public Works, which maintains our buildings, grounds, stormwater system, and mosquito control.  Public Works receives about 6.2% or $8.8 million.  Management Services, which is another vital area of our budget, includes the County’s financial management system, human resources, real estate assessment, planning and economic development.  Management Services receives about $10 million or 7% of the budget.   Other budget areas that receive the bulk of the remaining revenue and play a vital role in meeting citizen needs are Administrative Services,  Judicial Services, Human Services and Community Service.


            (d)  So why the tax increase?  When the recession hit in 2008 and things continued to get worse over the intervening years, the Board of Supervisors decided to minimize the negative fiscal impact to our public schools by offsetting cuts in funding from the state.  This offset was successful in that we were able to sustain our schools and County services.  However, there was a downside to the offset.  The sacrifice placed a tremendous burden on the County’s employees and led to delays in capital improvements.  In 2011, as the nation climbed out of the recession, Hampton Roads was still way behind and remains so even today.  Yes, we have had several tax increases (8.4 cents in 2012 and 1 cent in 2013) to help offset the unfunded mandates from the state and get us back to a better financial footing.  Yet, we are still in a recession recovery mode.  The tax rate increase this year is an effort to ensure our school and county employees receive raises that keeps their salaries and health care competitive with neighboring localities, both for new employee recruitment and retention of our current top notch people.  Other needs that led to the new tax rate was an increase in personnel for the Sheriff’s Office (two new deputies) and Fire and Life Safety Department (six fire fighters).   A smaller but vital part of the tax increase went to the County’s debt service and to fund capital improvements.  Maintenance and replacement of roofs and air conditioning systems can only be pushed off so long before they become an even bigger problem. The new revenue for the Capital Improvement Plan has put funds where they needs to be for future maintenance and replacement. 


In summary, what we are getting for our $142 million is a community where the schools are exceptional, the crime rate is low, taxes are low, property values are strong and there are adequate services to meet the demands of a growing community.


* Homeowner Associations are encouraged to use portions of this report in preparing their association newsletters.  Comments and opinions expressed in the District 5 Report do not necessarily represent the position of the other members of the York County Board of Supervisors.  All email correspondence to and from this address is subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and to the Virginia Public Records Act, which may result in monitoring and disclosure to third parties, including law enforcement.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tell me who you'd like to support:

No one knows Yorktown better than you -- we need your opinion!
American Possibilities
My first job in politics was on the New Castle County Council.

We met on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I'd leave my day job as an attorney and walk around the corner from my office on Market Street to the County Council meetings. We took on tough issues -- from sanitation to public safety, from public transportation to stopping highway expansion projects that went through residential neighborhoods, to zoning. Things that affect the quality of life for ordinary folks.

That local work was as important as anything I ever worked on as a U.S. Senator or Vice President.

My ability to stop the construction of a new chemical facility in the coastal zone of my county had as much to do with the health and quality of air of my county as anything anyone did nationally.

Today, this kind of work is more important than ever.

Local officials understand -- look at the reaction to the administration walking away from the Paris Climate deal.

Unhappy with the decision to pull out of this historic climate agreement, mayors from more than 200 American cities said, "Not on our watch." And they signed pledges to continue reducing their emissions locally. That matters.

Today, we're seeing a resurgence of leadership at the local level. Folks who aren't happy with their leaders are stepping up to take matters into their own hands. That is what makes America great -- our continual willingness to work together to improve the country we love.

We're building this organization together to help elect leaders and support causes that restore that uniquely American sense of possibility to our politics. And before I decide which races and causes I want to support, I want your help. Because nobody knows your communities like you do. Nobody knows Jefferson City, Youngstown, River Falls, or Yorktown better than you.

So as we put together our initial slate of candidates and causes to support, I want to hear from you. Share who you think I ought to be paying attention to -- from County Supervisor to local grassroots organizations to seats in the U.S. Congress. With your feedback incorporated, we'll announce the first round of causes and candidates that we'll be putting our support behind.

I'll start. I'm paying attention to State Senator Stephanie Hansen in my home state of Delaware, who recently won a race that tipped the balance of the state legislature here. Stephanie was a single mom who put herself through school while working a full-time job. She's the kind of person who doesn't have to ask anyone what it's like to be middle class, or read policy papers about it.

She knows, because she's lived it.

Stephanie is just one of thousands of regular Americans who have stepped up and decided to run for office themselves over the past few months, and those folks give me hope. They give me hope because I see so many of them who share my belief that everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- ought to have the opportunity to achieve the impossible in this country.

I'd put my money on us over them any day. Now, let us know where you want to put your money:

I'm proud to be fighting alongside you.


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