Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 28, 2020
Top of the News

Judge sides with Virginia, but Lee statue stays put for now

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Democratic Virginia governor's plans to remove an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — but said the state can't immediately act on his order. The judge dissolved a temporary injunction prohibiting the statue's removal from a historic avenue in downtown Richmond, but he also suspended his own order pending the resolution of an appeal by a group of residents who live near the statue.

Northam expects VMI board to 'be open-minded' about problems at institute

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

One day after the Virginia Military Institute's top leader resigned, Gov. Ralph Northam did not indicate whether he would remove any members of the board of visitors. While in Roanoke to campaign for Democratic candidates on Tuesday, Northam said he expects the 17 members on the board "to listen and be open-minded and to realize that we have some issues that we need to address at VMI."

On anonymous chat app, VMI cadets attack Black students, women as furor over racism grows

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

The cadets were angry, venting on an anonymous chat app widely used at the Virginia Military Institute. The target of their rage: Black cadets and alumni who publicly detailed in a Washington Post story the relentless racism they had encountered at the nation's oldest state-supported military college.

Deadline to request mail-in ballot has passed. But Virginia's election system mistakenly let people apply anyway.

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed, but Virginia's election system is mistakenly letting people apply anyway. What appears to be a computer glitch is creating confusion for hundreds of registered voters days before the Nov. 3 general election.

Local school boards, not the state, are deciding how to reopen, sparking fierce local debates

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

A little over a week after Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans for a phased reopening of Virginia's K-12 schools, Virginia Beach Superintendent Aaron Spence wrote a frustrated email to a top official at the state's Department of Education. "This variance option — and the ongoing statement that all parents have to do is lobby their school board and superintendent if they want us to vary from the state plan — has injected politics into this decision," he wrote to James Lane, the state superintendent of public instruction, forwarding an angry email he received from a faculty member at a local private school. "Without context, we are going to be hung out to dry here," Spence added.

Chesterfield to send remaining students back to school Nov. 9

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

The health committee charged with deciding when groups of Chesterfield County public school students should return to the classroom during a global pandemic went against its own metrics, recommending to send the last cluster of students back despite the data saying otherwise. Tuesday's recommendation, a split decision among the committee, now allows for all sixth- through 12th-graders who have been learning from home since the beginning of the school year to join select K-12 special education students, prekindergarten through fifth-graders, and career and technical high school students.

In Trump Country, Supporters Are Steadfast, but His Personality, Pandemic Wear

By BOB DAVIS, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

In early 2017, a few mine operators met in this coal town's lone Chinese restaurant to boast of their expansion plans. With Donald Trump in the White House, they said, they wouldn't be hobbled by environmentalists and would invest in new mines. It hasn't worked out that way. . . . Buchanan County, Va., is Trump country. But even his supporters feel some Trump fatigue after four years of controversy and a pandemic that has swept across the county's mountains and hollows and battered its economy.

The Full Report
56 articles, 22 publications


VPAP Visual Localities Ranked by Early Voting

The Virginia Public Access Project

By Tuesday, more than one-third of Virginia's nearly 6 million registered voters had cast ballots ahead of the presidential election. Early voting ranges from a high of 59% of registered voters in Falls Church to a low of 12% in Lee County in far Southwest Virginia. This visual ranks every locality based on absentee voting totals reported to the state Department of Elections.

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.


Northam sends $116 million to higher education

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia colleges and universities are getting a one-time boost of $116 million in federal aid to cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, while partnering with the Virginia Chamber to create opportunities for students as interns or apprentices ultimately to fill jobs critical to rebuilding the state's economy. The funding under the federal CARES Act, which Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday, includes $10.8 million for Virginia Commonwealth University and $20 million for the VCU Health System to help cover the costs of the public health emergency.

Virginia Tech, Radford University gain millions in coronavirus aid

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

Virginia Tech and Radford University are among schools receiving millions of dollars more in coronavirus aid money. Virginia will dole out more than $116 million in federal funds to colleges and universities to help cover costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.


Senate Candidates Visit Valley Seven Days Before Election

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

Both candidates running to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate for the next six years visited Harrisonburg for voter outreach events Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner spoke to a small crowd behind the local Democratic Party headquarters on West Market Street. Later in the evening, Republican candidate Daniel Gade attended a town hall on the campus of James Madison University.

Inside Virginia's Fifth District Congressional Race, Called The 'Most Competitive In Nation'


At the headquarters of the Fauquier County Republican Committee in Warrenton, Virginia, a cardboard cutout of John Wayne gripping a rifle leans against a wall. Chair Gregory Schumacher says Wayne was "the great American Western hero," and he says Republicans who held the Fifth District in Congress for all but two of the last 20 years will keep it in their hands this November. Although the populous counties of Northern Virginia have powered the state's drift into Democratic control, Schumacher says he sits on the political boundary. "When you come out from the Beltway, Fauquier County's the first one that goes red," Schumacher said.

7th District race nears record donations in a state congressional race


A big congressional race is bringing in even bigger dollars in Virginia's 7th District. The race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Republican challenger Del. Nick Freitas has raised nearly $11 million as of the last filing deadline on October 15, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.

Warner, Wexton Discuss Federal Relief Options with Industry Leaders


More than a dozen of Loudoun's hospitality and tourism industry business leaders gathered at Lansdowne Resort this morning to voice concerns about their finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to hear about the help Virginia's federal legislators are proposing. U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) led a discussion that emphasized the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive, or RESTAURANTS, Act, which Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced in June and Warner cosponsors.

GOP Challenges New Virginia Absentee Voting Rule


The Republican Party of Virginia and a conservative legal group with a history of making accusations of voter fraud without evidence are challenging a new Virginia voting rule in a hearing set for Wednesday. The lawsuit centers on a new state law that requires that a ballot postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted by a registrar if it arrives by noon on the third day following elections -- this year, Friday, November 6.

Voters are still requesting mail-in ballots despite deadline

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

Local election officials in Virginia say the state's website could be giving voters the false impression that they can still apply for a mail-in ballot to vote on Nov. 3. That deadline passed Friday afternoon. But the state's online portal is still allowing requests for mail-in ballots to vote in the year 2020. And hundreds of people, if not more, have continued to submit applications. All will be denied for the Nov. 3 election.

Va. elections website let hundreds of voters request mail-in ballots after deadline, but they won't get them


Hundreds of voters in Fairfax County expecting a mail-in ballot won't get it in time. That's because the Virginia Department of Elections website is still allowing voters to request a mail-in ballot well past the deadline. At last count, 853 voters in Fairfax County requested they be sent a mail-in ballot after the deadline passed on 5 p.m. last Friday, elections Director Gary Scott said.

Fairfax County extends early-voting hours in the face of long lines and delays

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Early-voting sites in Fairfax County will be open for an extra two hours Thursday and Friday, a move meant to alleviate some of the long waits at those locations amid record turnouts, county officials said Tuesday. During those two days, the county's 13 satellite locations will open at 11 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. and will close at 7 p.m., said Brian Worthy, spokesman for the Fairfax elections office. The county's main government center, another early-voting site, will continue to operate between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during that period.

Virginia Voters Who Mess Up Their Absentee Ballot Have A Chance To Fix It Under New Law


Virginia voters who make a mistake filling out their absentee ballots for the November election are getting a chance to correct errors, like a missing signature, that might ordinarily lead to their votes getting rejected. A new law in effect for this election cycle sets up what's known as a ballot "cure" process, requiring that election officials reach out to voters whose ballots have been flagged because of errors. It's one of a series of voting-related policies that Democrats advanced during a special legislative session that started in August and is beginning to wrap up.

Democrats sue to get list of Richmond voters whose mail ballots have flaws

By BRAD KUTNER, Courthouse News Service

Virginia Democrats have filed suit against an elections official in Richmond for not handing over a list of rejected absentee ballots, which the party hopes to use to notify voters so they can file a corrected ballot by next week's deadline. The Democrats claim other cities and counties across the state have complied with the same request, but Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter has refused.

Virginia Democrats sue for list of voters with ballot errors

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Virginia Democrats are suing Richmond's top elections official to get a list of absentee voters whose ballots contain errors that need to be corrected in order for them to be counted in the Nov. 3 election. In a lawsuit filed late Monday in Richmond City Circuit Court, the Democratic Party of Virginia alleges that Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter has failed to turn over a complete list of absentee voters with ballots containing errors or omissions.

More Than Half of Active Arlington Voters Have Already Cast Ballots


Arlington has just crossed the 50% mark. New figures released today by the Arlington County elections office show that 85,776 votes have already been cast in the upcoming Nov. 3 election. That represents more than 50% of active voters in the county, and more than twice the early and mail-in votes of the entire record-setting 2016 presidential election.

Early voters in New Kent will not have ballots scanned into machines yet


In most localities, a huge number of people are taking advantage of early voting. But unlike those other counties, after anyone votes in New Kent, the ballot is not scanned into a machine. New Kent is processing ballots the way they have traditionally handled absentee ballots and is a process even the registrar says is taxing but out of her control. "We're busier than we've ever seen before in this little, small county," Registrar Karen Bartlett said.


Betting on the Future: Going mobile in Virginia


Virginia is moving quickly to launch sports betting throughout the commonwealth, with applications for mobile betting licenses flowing into the Virginia Lottery ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline. The approach being taken in Virginia is in stark contrast with the District's approach, and the gaming industry is far more excited about it.


Another lawsuit filed against bogged-down Mountain Valley Pipeline

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

Two endangered species of fish — the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter — could be pushed closer to extinction if a natural gas pipeline is allowed to invade their waters, according to a legal challenge filed Tuesday. A coalition of environmental groups asked a federal appeals court to review a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which found last month that construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not likely to jeopardize protected fish, bats and mussels.

Migrant workers face season of uncertainty


Geovanni Miranda Garcia labored through an apple orchard in the Shenandoah Valley one recent warm October afternoon, sorting freshly picked apples. One after another, for hours on end. It is a job he has done at Turkey Knob Growers in Rockingham County, Va., for several years. His whole family back home in Monterrey, Mexico, depends on his income. . . . Garcia is one of more than 10,000 migrant farmers who travelled to Virginia this year during the deadly pandemic to plant and harvest crops at more than 250 Virginia farms and orchards, according to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). Despite the health crisis, the influx of migrants this year changed little from previous harvests, according to VEC estimates.

'A real-life magic school bus': Virginia's first electric school buses unveiled

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

The first electric school buses in the commonwealth will begin rolling down the road early next month, thanks to Dominion Energy's Electric School Bus Program and Sonny Merryman, a Campbell County-based school and commercial bus company. In a rollout celebration Tuesday, representatives from Sonny Merryman; Dominion Energy; Thomas Built Buses; Proterra, a California-based electric transit and charging manufacturer; and school divisions across the state had a first look at the state's first electric school buses.

Regal movie theater at Virginia Beach Town Center to close permanently

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

After the Regal movie theater chain announced this month that it would stop showing movies indefinitely amid the pandemic, at least one location in Hampton Roads is set to close permanently. Armada Hoffler announced Monday that it had terminated the lease of the Regal Columbus Movies 12 at 104 Constitution Drive, across from the developer's Virginia Beach Town Center. The lease had fallen into default.

Group home provider settles allegation from deaf resident

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Federal litigators reached a civil settlement Tuesday with the largest operator of group homes in Virginia for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities over allegations it failed to provide necessary sign language interpreters. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger announced the settlement with Richmond-based Good Neighbor Homes Inc. The settlement resolves allegations that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide an interpreter for a deaf resident.

Isle of Wight County hopes gift card match using federal relief funds boosts region's small businesses

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

Looking to shop local this holiday season but need a little extra incentive amid a global pandemic that might make one skittish about spending? Isle of Wight County and two of its towns are using federal COVID-19 relief funds to create a matching gift card program to help small businesses.


Amid controversy, William & Mary receives $1.5M endowment to support gender equity, president

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

William & Mary President Katherine Rowe received two emphatic endorsements on Tuesday amid the fire she is facing in the wake of the school's decision in September to cut seven of its 23 varsity sports – three of which have been reinstated. The first was an expression of support from W&M's Board of Visitors. The second was a $1.5 million gift, made in honor of Rowe, for women's athletic scholarships.

Track team, alumni react to W&M Board of Visitors' 'utmost confidence' statement about Rowe

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

Some members of the Tribe community have some words for those supporting the university president's leadership amid the controversy surrounding the cut varsity sports programs. William & Mary Board of Visitors Rector John Littel wrote in an email the board has the "utmost confidence" in W&M President Katherine Rowe in response to a question on how confident the board was in her leadership. . . . But not everyone agrees with Littel's opinion of Rowe.

Community divided over Washington and Lee University's name today

Associated Press

Virginia's Washington and Lee University says that there are deep divisions over its name as the nation continues to grapple with its racial past. The school in Lexington said in a statement last week that it received 14,000 responses to a survey it has conducted as it examines issues of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.

State purchases Baldwin Building for NCI

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

The Baldwin Building, the home of New College Institute, now officially belongs to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which paid $7.5 million to the New College Foundation. Meanwhile, NCF, the foundation created to support the vision of NCI, remains quiet about what it plans to do with the money or what its future role with NCI would be.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,134 from Monday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 175,409 — an increase of 1,134 from the 174,275 reported Monday. The 175,409 cases consist of 163,339 confirmed cases and 12,070 probable cases. There are 3,600 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,350 confirmed and 250 probable. That's an increase of 19 from the 3,581 reported Monday.

Health department confirms 16 dead in COVID-19 outbreak in Chester nursing facility

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Chesterfield County health officials confirmed on Tuesday that 16 residents of a skilled nursing facility in Chesterfield have died of COVID-19 in an outbreak that has infected 69 residents and 36 staff. Chesterfield Health Director Alexander Samuel confirmed the deaths and cases at Tyler's Retreat at Iron Bridge in an intensifying outbreak that was first reported by WRIC 8 News.

Virginia Beach Circuit Court remains closed this week after 5 employees test positive for COVID-19

By JANE HARPER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Beach's Circuit Court will remain closed the rest of this week after five employees tested positive for COVID-19 and multiple others await test results. Among those testing positive for the disease was Clerk of the Circuit Court Tina Sinnen, who has led the office since she was first elected to it in 2003. Sinnen wrote in an email Tuesday to The Pilot that she was just starting to feel well enough to respond to messages.

As COVID case counts rise in Southwest Virginia, contact tracing gets challenging

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

With hospital cases of COVID-19 increasing by more than a third in just one week, local public health officials warned Tuesday not to be tricked into thinking that the coronavirus will take a holiday. "Everything that we've been asking individuals to do, we are imploring them to do right now. Stay home if you're sick, contact people if you have COVID, consider downloading the COVIDWISE app," said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.


Judge rules Northam can remove Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

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

A Richmond Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Gov. Ralph Northam's order to take down the Robert E. Lee monument, holding that arguments to keep it in place were contrary to current public policy. Northam's June 4 order was blocked by a temporary injunction issued by Richmond Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant after five residents of the 14-block Monument Avenue Historic District sued.

Northam can remove Lee statue in Richmond, judge rules

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

Gov. Ralph Northam can remove this city's towering tribute to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a circuit court judge ruled Tuesday. But the judge also halted the governor from acting immediately, allowing the group trying to preserve the statue to mount an appeal. Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant found that Virginia is not bound by the terms of covenants dating from 1870 and 1890, in which the state agreed to forever protect the statue.

Botetourt committee to recommend moving Confederate monument

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A Botetourt County committee plans to recommend that the Confederate monument that stands in front of the county courthouse should be moved. Botetourt County Supervisor Steve Clinton, who represents the Amsterdam District, heads the committee on monuments and memorials. During Tuesday's meeting of the county supervisors, he explained that the volunteer committee reached that conclusion at its Oct. 8 gathering.


APS Return to School Plan Hits Snag


While students with disabilities are still set to return to classrooms next week, further return-to-school phases are now on hold. Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán made the announcement in an email to families Tuesday evening. "Currently, the health and safety metrics are not where they need to be to proceed with Level 2, Phase 1 Return on Nov. 12 for PreK, Kindergarten, and Career & Technical Education (CTE) students," Durán wrote.

Union urges Fairfax teachers to take 'mental health day'

Associated Press

A teachers' union in Virginia's largest school district is urging members to call in sick Wednesday for a "mental health day" as they ponder how they will respond to a gradual return to in-person learning. Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams said teachers need the mental health day because of the stress they face with a looming Oct. 30 deadline to say whether they will return to the classroom when called upon, seek a leave of absence, or resign.

Fairfax woman charged with vandalizing Leesburg sidewalk last month

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A woman has received one misdemeanor count of destruction of property after a Leesburg sidewalk was vandalized last month, according to the Leesburg Police Department. Local law enforcement served Jessie Patton, 29, of Fairfax, with a warrant Sunday, after which she was reportedly released on her signature promising to appear in court.

Northern Virginia school officials step up efforts to return students to classrooms

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

As the end of the first semester approaches, Northern Virginia school officials are stepping up efforts to return children to classrooms, inspiring elation, anger and protest — including a planned teacher day off for mental health — among parents, students and staffers. At a school board meeting in Loudoun County on Thursday evening, Superintendent Eric Williams and top staffers outlined detailed plans to return third- through fifth-graders, as well as some high-schoolers studying STEM, to classrooms by early December.

In Richmond mayoral race, Stoney eclipses $1 million in donations

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

Incumbent Levar Stoney's re-election bid for Richmond mayor raised another $303,000 this month, outpacing his two closest competitors again and eclipsing $1 million in donations. With candidates making their final push to sway voters, Stoney maintains a cash advantage over Alexsis Rodgers and Kimberly B. "Kim" Gray, according to a new round of campaign finance reports filed Monday.

The first construction — and demolition — in Norfolk's St. Paul's overhaul is starting soon

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

Nearly two years after Norfolk officially set the St. Paul's redevelopment in motion — a massive plan to tear down half of the city's public housing and reimagine a wide swath near downtown — the first wave of new construction will begin. Slowly over the next two years, four new apartment buildings, major road work and a pump station will all emerge from the dirt around the Hampton Roads Transit station on St. Paul's Boulevard.

Human remains found at cemetery may have been used in medical experiments

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A cache of unidentified human remains found in Richmond's East End Cemetery this summer show some evidence of medical experimentation, according to a preliminary analysis by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Officials from the state agency revealed the findings last week during a public hearing on what should be done with the remains.

Maggie Walker network releases data after surveying Black students, alumni and parents

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

Black alumni demanding racial change at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School have released the findings of a June survey that asked Black students, alumni, and even students' parents about their experiences with racism. A total of 76 respondents to the survey conducted by the Maggie Walker Black Alumni Network overwhelmingly said while they felt confident in the rigorous education they received from the school, they recall a traumatizing experience filled with microaggressions, a lack of support from administration and teachers, and isolation from being one of the few Black students there.

Condo residents sue Virginia Beach over proposed high rise that would block their view of the Chesapeake Bay

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

Two condo associations have sued the city and a senior living community over a proposed high-rise building that will threaten neighbors' view of the Chesapeake Bay. The residents of Ocean Shore Condominium Association and Ships Watch Condominium Owners' Association filed the lawsuit last week, one month after the the Virginia Beach City Council approved the 22-story glass tower on the campus of Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay.

Winchester School Board approves more in-person learning for its youngest students

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Prekindergarten through first-grade students in Winchester Public Schools will be able to attend in-person classes four days a week instead of two starting Nov. 16. The city School Board unanimously approved the change Monday night. "I do believe this is the right decision," Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said about expanding in-person learning for the youngest students in the division's four elementary schools.

Bedford County Public Schools to suspend in-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Bedford County Public Schools to suspend in-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School In-person learning for fourth and fifth graders at Forest Middle School will be suspended beginning today through Nov. 6 because of a rise in positive COVID-19 cases at the school.

Roanoke schools prepare to welcome back elementary students in-person, 2 days a week

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

Three Roanoke schools are currently closed for two weeks, but the city school division still plans to have elementary students return to the classroom next week. Superintendent Verletta White and her staff provided a reopening update to the school board on Tuesday, which included information about the students who will return two days per week.

Governor endorses Mayor Sherman Lea, Democratic ticket in Roanoke stop

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

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam came to Roanoke on Tuesday to endorse Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea and the three Democratic candidates running for city council. Standing at the Mill Mountain overlook in front of the Roanoke Star, with the familiar mountain-hugged vista of the city as a backdrop, Virginia's Democratic governor praised Roanoke for its economy, public high school graduation rates and its diversity, which he credited to the city's Democratic leadership.

Franklin County looks to next semester to expand in-person classes

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Franklin County School Board heard an assessment Monday afternoon of what it would take to have students back in the classroom for at least four days a week under pandemic conditions. The board's consensus, ultimately, was that conditions aren't right for making that leap, at least not yet.

Danville's contract with Caesars has clause allowing company to delay meeting commitments

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

The contract between Caesars Entertainment and the city of Danville includes provisions that would not require the company to meet its promised jobs numbers and wage commitments under certain circumstances. The provisions in the contract signed Sept. 3 by city and company officials state that Caesars Virginia temporarily would not be required to meet those obligations "in the event of a partial or total shutdown of the project as a result of natural disaster, pandemic, endemic or other emergency situation."

Dan River Region teachers still wary of reopening schools

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Nine weeks into the school year, some teachers across the Dan River Region report mixed feelings regarding levels of student engagement, their preparedness for the school year and the merits of reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in Pittsylvania County Schools who opted for in-person learning have been back in classrooms for the last two or four weeks depending on grade level. In Danville Public Schools, students who elected in-person learning will begin returning on Nov. 9, with more following on Nov. 16.

Danville Utilities completes 14MW solar project

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Danville Utilities, in partnership with Edison, New Jersey-based CS Energy LLC, Hingham, Massachusetts-based Navisun LLC and Denver-based TurningPoint Energy, announced Tuesday it has completed a 14-megawatt utility-scale solar project in Danville — the city's largest solar development to date.



Northam makes the VMI mess even worse

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

There is so much wrong with the situation at Virginia Military Institute that it's hard to know where to begin. Let's take things in chronological order. 1. Why the delayed outrage? Roanoke Times education reporter Claire Mitzel wrote in June about how some Black alumni were using social media to describe what they had faced at VMI, including: "being punished for not saluting the [Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall"] Jackson statue; white cadets wearing blackface; the pain of charging across the New Market battlefield; white students using the N-word; getting spit in the face."

Holding the House Speaker accountable

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

On Oct. 9, Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland fined Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn $500 for lying to Northern Virginia attorney David Webster about a Freedom of Information Act request he made regarding her unilateral removal of Confederate statuary from the Old House Chamber in Richmond. The judge also ordered her to pay Webster's attorney nearly $2,000 in legal fees.

Superintendent's swift ouster complicates VMI investigation

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

Gov. Ralph Northam said he lost confidence Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute. On Monday, the general lost his post. A situation that called for thorough investigation and careful deliberation instead received neither, which reflects poorly on the commonwealth.


Jenkins: Teachers are working

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

"We shouldn't be paying teachers if I'm teaching my kids." "I should be paid their salary." "If they don't want to go into the building, they shouldn't get paid." I saw social media comments such as these after Henrico County Public Schools announced the plan for virtual instruction. I've been an educator for 23 years, and I've heard many misconceptions about our schedules, mostly comments regarding how nice it must be to have summers "off."

Suzanne Jenkins of Varina is an exceptional education teacher with Henrico County Public Schools and is the mother of two Henrico students.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 27, 2020
Top of the News

VMI superintendent resigns after Black cadets describe relentless racism

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

The superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute resigned Monday morning, after Black cadets described relentless racism at the nation's oldest state-supported military college and Gov. Ralph Northam ordered an independent probe of the school's culture. Retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, 80, had been superintendent of the 181-year-old school since 2003.

Lexington sheds some Confederate monikers

By TIM THORNTON, Va Business Magazine

Lexington memorializes Confederate Gens. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee so much, Lee's final resting place in the city was described as "a kind of Confederate Graceland" in a 2009 Washington Post travel story. Lexington's image changed some this summer, however. While Virginia Military Institute refused to remove Confederate statues and names from its campus, Carilion Clinic acquired the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and renamed it Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital. The Robert E. Lee Hotel, which opened in 1926, became The Gin, and the city-owned Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, where Jackson's statue stands over his grave, became Oak Grove Cemetery.

Poll: Virginia voters say virus, not economy, most important

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

Enacting restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is more important than removing them to get the economy going, according to a majority of Virginia voters polled this month. The poll conducted by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% think the biggest priority for their community is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, even if it hurts the economy, while 35% said removing restrictions to help the economy, even if more people get the virus, is the bigger priority.

Modelers: Coronavirus to double if behavior doesn't change

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

Virginia is averaging more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases each day, and unless people's behavior changes, the pace is likely to double and hit its peak by mid-December, according to the latest forecast by University of Virginia modelers. The model calls for nearly 15,000 new cases a week in December.

Dramatic increase in COVID cases stretching health system

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

A tsunami of new COVID-19 cases is "stretching" the resources of Ballad Health even more than system officials projected. On Monday, Ballad established a single-day record with 166 confirmed COVID-positive patients, with a dozen more suspected cases awaiting test results, system officials said Monday. Twenty-eight of them were being treated in intensive care units, with 13 on ventilators.

Torched Trump signs, raised middle fingers: Why D.C. can't wait for the election to end

By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Victoria Frankhauser, a Joe Biden supporter who lives in McLean, Va., expressed sympathy when vandals threw eggs and spray-painted "R-A-P-I-S-T" across her neighbor's poster-sized lawn sign supporting President Trump. Pegge Caccavari, who lives next door, responded to the mischief by installing a "Honk for Trump" sign, which she bathed in a flood light so drivers could see the display at night. The blare of horns at all hours has disturbed Frankhauser and her three children ever since.

As virus halts inmate roadway cleanup in Smyth and Wythe, volunteers step up

By JASMINE DENT FRANKS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

With inmate work release programs at the regional jails in both Dublin and Abingdon placed on hold due to the coronavirus, litter alongside the roadways in Smyth and Wythe counties is piling up. Typically, the sheriff's offices in each county supervise a crew of trusties inmates who are sent out to help clear the roadsides. In Smyth County, those inmates are typically out each day of the week and in Wythe County, they work 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday.

The Full Report
43 articles, 26 publications


From VPAP Now Live: Pre-Election Campaign Finance Reports

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP has posted campaign finance disclosures by local candidates on next week's ballot and committees seeking to pass or defeat ballot issues. The reports, which cover activity in October through last Thursday, include those filed by mayoral candidates in Richmond and Virginia Beach and a statewide referendum on how legislative districts are drawn.

From VPAP GOP Super PAC no longer funding TV ads in 2nd Congressional District

The Virginia Public Access Project

A Super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the U.S. House has reallocated its TV budget in Virginia by shifting money out of the 2nd District and investing more heavily in a GOP candidate seeking to win back the 7th District and a candidate seeking to hold the reliably Republican 5th District. The shift by the Congressional Leadership Fund has left former Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) with a diminished TV presence heading into the final week of the campaign.

From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


Virginia Sheriff's Association writes governor asking for amendment to military equipment bills


The Virginia Sheriff's Association wrote to Gov. Ralph Northam asking him to change two bills that would restrict law enforcement agencies' acquisition of certain military surplus equipment. The particular issue they have with HB 5049 and SB 5030 is restrictions on the use of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The Senate bill states that Virginia State Police and local law enforcement agencies will be prohibited from acquiring armored multi-wheeled vehicles that are mine-resistant, ambush-protected and configured for combat from a surplus program operated by the federal government.


Norfolk delegation backs Del. Joe Lindsey for judgeship

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

State lawmakers who represent Norfolk are backing one of their own for a vacant judgeship on the Norfolk General District Court, according to a letter obtained by The Virginia Mercury. The General Assembly's Norfolk delegation is proposing Del. Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk, a trial lawyer who has also served as a substitute judge, to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge S. Clark Daugherty.

Gooditis elected chair of the I-81 Advisory Committee

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

Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-Clarke County) has been unanimously elected chair of the Interstate 81 Advisory Committee. Gooditis was selected to the post on Friday. "I'm grateful to the committee members who have placed their trust in me," Gooditis said in a news release. "I-81 is vital to western Virginia's economy. I look forward to supporting the economic growth of this region while working to ensure that I-81 is a safe and reliable roadway for all motorists."


Redistricting amendment has engendered passionate friends and fierce foes

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

No matter which side one happens to be on in the battle over a state constitutional amendment to revamp Virginia's legislative and congressional redistricting, there seems to be general agreement on one thing: Offer a politician the chance to enhance his or her party's prospects by drawing election districts their way, and they will do it.

Ballot question asks Virginians whether to exempt disabled veterans' vehicles from taxes

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

It has received much less attention than redistricting, but Virginia voters are considering a second proposed state constitutional amendment on their ballots this year. Question two asks voters whether a car or pickup truck owned and chiefly used by a 100% service-disabled veteran of the U.S. armed forces or the National Guard should be exempt from state and local taxation.


Swing-District Democrats, Defying Predictions, Poised to Help Keep House

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

When Representative Abigail Spanberger, the Democrat running for re-election in the conservative-leaning Richmond suburbs, arrived to debate her Republican opponent on a recent evening, she received a heroine's welcome, loudly cheered by supporters on both sides of the street who held blue balloons and handmade signs praising her accomplishments. There was no such warm welcome for Nick Freitas, the state delegate running to oust her, recalled Carol Catron, 52, a stay-at-home mom and a supporter of Ms. Spanberger, who was among those shouting "We love Abigail!" outside as the Republican walked in without making eye contact.

Two Lexington Residents Vie To Represent Valley In U.S. House

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

Congresman Ben Cline, R-Lexington, faces his first opponent, another Lexington resident, as an incumbent in the U.S. House of Representatives in November. Nicholas Betts, who like Cline also works in the legal field, is a Democrat who has held jobs in construction, landscaping and as a teaching assistant. Both candidates said tackling the COVID-19 pandemic is first on their list of actions if elected.

60 percent of Loudoun voters may cast ballots before Election Day

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Loudoun County is on track to have all of its early votes and ballots received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, according to a local election official. This includes about 50,000 returned mail-in ballots and another 25,000 expected to be cast between now and Nov. 3. Richard Keech, deputy director for Loudoun County's Office of Elections and Voter Registration, said the office is projecting that about 60 percent of voters will have cast their ballots by Election Day.

Early voting numbers surge in Peninsula area

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

Maria Taylor prefers to vote on Election Day itself, but this is an abnormal year. So the Yorktown resident decided to avoid a line at her precinct and took her 76-year-old mother to vote early Friday. "With Covid, I don't want her around that many people," she said. "It is wise for her."

Voter turnout steady during Saturday voting in Williamsburg, James City and York

By ALEX PERRY, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

Voters showed up to the polls on Saturday for early voting in Williamsburg, James City and York counties, including young citizens who voted for the first time, and even younger "future voters" like 9-year-old Trent Guarino in York County. Parents Katie and Anthony Guarino brought their son Trent to the York County Registrar's Office in Washington Square, where Trent got a future voter sticker like many other children that came in with their parents to the polls. Katie Guarino, 32, said that she wanted to show her son the importance of voting.

More than 47,000 votes already cast locally

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

Nearly 47,000 people in Charlottesville and Albemarle County already have cast their ballot for next week's election. With only a week until Election Day, about 40% of each locality's voters have officially made their decisions.

Virginia early voters favor Biden, Post-Schar poll finds

By LAURA VOZZELLA, ANTONIO OLIVO AND SCOTT CLEMENT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Voters who support former vice president Joe Biden are fueling an unprecedented surge in early voting in Virginia, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll that finds nearly 7 in 10 early ballots were cast for the Democrat seeking the White House. About 1.95 million Virginians have voted in person or by mail, according to state data — nearly half the total number who turned out for the 2016 contest, and more than triple the 538,410 voters who voted early four years ago.


Nearly 200 jobs coming to Pittsylvania County

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

A furniture manufacturer and a supplier are bringing nearly 200 jobs to Pittsylvania County. Ison Furniture Manufacturing, a North Carolina-based furniture manufacturer, is planning to bring a vacant facility back to life and create 150 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday afternoon. The company is expected to invest $3.5 million to purchase and renovate the recently closed A.C. Furniture Company facility in the Axton community in Pittsylvania County.

Hampton University poll: Virginians feel OK about their finances, gloomier about the economy

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

Most Virginians -- 62% -- say they feel good about their personal financial situations but fewer than half feel that way about the national, state or local economy, a new Hampton University-Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found. Some two-thirds of Virginia voters say they've been spending less since the pandemic hit -- but they also don't seem to be saving more or paying down debts any faster than usual, the poll found.


New data underscore COVID impact on airport finances

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has seen its year-to-date revenue from airlines decline more than 23 percent, according to new figures, with revenue from sources indirectly related to aviation service declining 46 percent.

What's behind Virginia's increasing pedestrian death toll and how to reverse the trend

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

On Thursday evening, friends and family were at the intersection of Jahnke and German School roads on Richmond's Southside to mourn the loss of 16-year-old Aajah Rosemond, who was killed by a driver while walking to the store. According to police, a collision with a GMC Yukon sent a roughly 6,000 pound Nissan Titan spiraling up and onto the sidewalk, fatally striking the teenager. The evening news tells such tales with disturbing regularity, a product of Virginia's rapidly rising pedestrian death rate.


VMI superintendent resigns as fallout continues from systemic racism allegations

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

Virginia Military Institute's top leader resigned Monday, a week after Gov. Ralph Northam announced an investigation into the school's culture and policies following reports of racism that received national attention. Retired Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III resigned as superintendent at the request of state leaders, according to his resignation letter.

Head of Virginia Military Institute Resigns Amid Review of Racism on Campus

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

The Virginia Military Institute's superintendent resigned on Monday, after Virginia's governor ordered an independent investigation of allegations of systemic racism at the state-supported military college. Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, 80, who has led the school since 2003, said in his resignation letter that the staff of Gov. Ralph Northam and members of the Virginia legislature had "lost confidence in my leadership" and had asked him on Friday to resign.

VMI board says "with deep regret" that superintendent is out

Associated Press

The superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute has resigned, the school's board president announced in a statement Monday, a week after state officials ordered an investigation into what they characterized as a culture of "ongoing structural racism." Retired Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III tendered his resignation Monday, and the Board of Visitors accepted it "with deep regret," board President John William Boland said in a statement.

William & Mary women's track team questions department's management, refuses meeting with AD

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

William & Mary women's track and field athletes said Monday they have refused an "urgent" meeting on Thursday with interim director of athletics Jeremy Martin to discuss their concerns about the elimination of the men's track and field team at the school. Instead, they are requesting a meeting with school President Katherine Rowe, Board of Visitors Rector John Littel and Provost Peggy Agouris prior to Thursday. Their request comes two days after 26 W&M track athletes signed an open letter to administration expressing that the men's indoor and outdoor track teams – slated for elimination at the end of the academic year – be reinstated.

Bridgewater College's alumni, students and faculty rush to defend programs from cuts

By BRIDGET MANLEY, Harrisonburg Citizen

Many Bridgewater College alumni, students and faculty were surprised by the announcement this month that the college would eliminate several student organizations and some academic programs and are mobilizing to try to save some of them. The college's decisions to move forward would mean laying off faculty — even as the college said the year-long strategic resource allocation process was transparent and included campus-wide input.

Large Covid Outbreaks "Very Likely" On College Campuses, Unless....


A new Virginia Tech study suggests large outbreaks of Coronavirus at colleges and universities will continue to grow unless certain behaviors change. Researchers looked at millions of simulations of interactions by students living on campus that suggest, large outbreaks are likely to spread – and fast.

Starships were meant to fly: Robots take off with JMU Dining

By JAMES FARIS, The Breeze

Even in a bumpy semester for JMU, Starship delivery robots have been on a roll. Since landing at JMU last semester, Starship Technologies' self-driving robots have grown in popularity as students opt to order on-campus food from the comfort of their dorms. A fleet of 40 bots has made over 19,000 deliveries since August, Brent Beringer, director for dining at JMU, said via email.


Virginia Department of Health dashboard shows state has had 25 COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 174,275 total COVID-19 cases on Monday — a 904-case increase from Sunday — and 3,581 total deaths, an increase of two. More than 36,000 of those cases are within the 20-29 age group, and 27,136 cases are from the state's 1,238 outbreaks. The VDH classifies an outbreak as at least two lab-confirmed cases. Among cases associated with outbreaks; 2,301 are linked to colleges and universities; 307 with child care; 186 with grades K-12.

Culpeper's Coffeewood Correctional coronavirus outbreak more than doubles in week

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Culpeper County added 61 positive cases of COVID-19 in the past week as the ongoing outbreak more than doubled at Coffeewood Correctional Center in Mitchells. The Virginia Dept. of Health reported 1,374 total cases for Culpeper County as of Oct. 26 and 18 deaths, which has held steady for the past two weeks.

25% of recent Alexandria COVID-19 cases possibly tied to workplace


As the long-predicted fall surge of COVID-19 accelerates nationwide, the City of Alexandria in Virginia is detailing how over 400 of its recent cases possibly originated. The city's Health Department interviewed 422 infected residents from Sept. 21 to Oct. 19 and found that one-fourth of them had been in their workplaces within two weeks of feeling sick.


Claire Gastañaga will retire next year as executive director of ACLU of Virginia

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

Claire Gastañaga will retire as the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia on March 31 or as soon as a successor is found, the organization announced Monday. "I'm profoundly grateful for the eight plus years that I've been honored to serve as the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia," Gastañaga said in a statement Monday. "Now is the time to make room for new leadership while continuing to be an agent for change in Virginia in a way that is authentically me."


Survey: A Majority of APS Teachers Prefer Remote Teaching for Now


A 61% majority of Arlington Public Schools teachers prefer to continue distance teaching or telework, according to a survey recently conducted by APS. Almost 4,300 employees, or 63% of APS staff, completed the survey. Teachers and assistants had the highest participation rates, 87% and 86% respectively, and while teachers had a stronger preference for distance learning over in-person teaching, assistants were split 50-50.

Fairfax County teachers union opposes new concurrent method for instruction


A union representing teachers in Virginia's largest school system believes instructors and parents have been ambushed by a dual announcement from the Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent, demanding a decision about returning to classrooms that will begin deploying a new form of instruction. "We are doing concurrent learning; this is the model we will use," first-grade teacher Emily Vanderhoff said, paraphrasing a return-to-school update released late last Friday afternoon.

Loudoun Supervisors to Resurrect Land Conservation Program

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

County supervisors have voted to lay the groundwork to resurrect the Purchase of Development Rights program, a land conservation tool that would see them spend county dollars to permanently protect some properties from development. In a purchase of development rights program, the county could buy the development rights from a piece of land, permanently separating those rights from that land an retiring them. In theory, that would allow the landowner to realize some of the value from their land's development potential while also permanently protecting that land from actual development.

Richmond police chief forms community advisory committee, won't publicly identify most of its members

By REED WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith has established an External Advisory Committee that he hopes will strengthen relationships and foster greater trust between his department and city residents. But despite widespread calls for greater police transparency and accountability in Richmond and nationwide, Smith has declined to name all but one of the new committee's 15 members and balked when asked if a reporter could cover one of the meetings.

Despite Virginia making Election Day a holiday, some city workers won't get it off

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

Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer on Monday announced he was making Election Day 2020 a holiday, giving city workers the day off with pay. The move came two days after state lawmakers and activists pushed him and other city leaders around the region to do so. But, unlike other cities in Hampton Roads, they won't get the day off in the future.

Quaker school in Virginia Beach downsizes, sells land to developer for apartments

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A modest Quaker school secluded in the trees next to Laskin Road has cut a deal with a developer that will shrink its footprint in half. Virginia Beach Friends School sold seven of its 13 acres to The Breeden Company last week as it looks to reconfigure its already small campus.

Former Lancaster County commonwealth's attorney has law license suspended

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Former Lancaster County Commonwealth's Attorney Jan Smith has agreed to a one year and one day suspension of his law license for misconduct in his handling of a 2017 fatal boating accident. A three-judge panel, which was scheduled to hold a disciplinary hearing Monday, approved the agreement last week, according to documents from the bar.

Two Brownsville Elementary employees test positive for COVID-19

By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Two staff members at Brownsville Elementary have tested positive for COVID-19, the school told families Monday, bringing the division's total to 11 employees and one contractor who have contracted the virus since the start of school in September. Brownsville is one of three schools hosting day care programs five days a week for children of employees of Albemarle County.

School board votes to bring high school students back to class Nov. 16

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

The Page County School Board voted, 5-1, on Monday night to bring high school students back into the classroom two days a week beginning Monday, Nov. 16. Numerous complaints from parents regarding falling grades, a lack of instruction and psychological drawbacks of high school students not attending class with their peers and their teachers prompted the third major revision to the school division's "Return to Learn" plan.

Henry County Public Schools reports first two cases of COVID-19 among students

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

Henry County Public Schools has reported its first positive cases of COVID-19 in students, with one at Magna Vista High School and one at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School. Both schools remain open, except for part of one grade level at the middle school that is learning virtually as a precaution, according to schools spokesperson Monica Hatchett.



Take action to halt domestic violence, help victims

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

Every year, October is the time designated across the United States to shine a light on the seemingly intractable problem of domestic violence. Usually, there are vigils and events to support domestic violence victims and those who help them. People wear purple. They relate stories of abuse and offer a message of hope: Things don't have to be this way; you can get help. They raise money for the cause.

Looking forward, how can Virginia — and the nation — prepare better amid this ongoing pandemic?

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

Looking back, the warning signs were there. One year ago, the term "pandemic" largely was reserved for studies assessing preparedness. In October 2019, the Global Health Security Index (GHSI) released a report assessing 195 countries' abilities to handle pandemics. Some of the top-line conclusions were bleak: "National health security is fundamentally weak around the world. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.


Roberts: William & Mary: A time to lead

By GEORGE H. "SKIP" ROBERTS JR., published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Much credit goes to the College of William & Mary leadership in pausing their decision to eliminate a number of sports to include its very successful track and swimming programs pending more review. If past is prologue, the process largely will be the same as other similar schools that form their committees, bring in consultants, and conclude that football and basketball are the untouchables.

George H. "Skip" Roberts Jr. of Virginia Beach is a lawyer with extensive nonprofit experience.

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