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March 5, 2021
Top of the News

Northam endorses Norfolk delegate for Virginia attorney general, bypassing incumbent Herring

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

Gov. Ralph Northam is endorsing Del. Jerrauld C. "Jay" Jones (D-Norfolk) for state attorney general over two-term incumbent Mark R. Herring (D), saying the time has come for new, more diverse leadership in the office. If elected, Jones, 31, would be the first African American to serve as Virginia attorney general.

Email shows OSIG shared parole board report with Attorney General's office


A draft of a report that was highly critical of the Virginia Parole Board was sent from a state government watchdog to the Virginia Attorney General's Office one month before a shortened, official version of the report was sent to the Office of the Governor, according to emails obtained by CBS 6. The report, written by Virginia Inspector General Michael Westfall, concerned the board's handling of the release of Vincent Lamont Martin, who had been serving life in prison for the murder of a Richmond police officer before he was set free last year.

Virginia in a race with vaccines and variants

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

The coronavirus that is circulating in Virginia looks different from the one that entered the state a year ago. Variants that emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa have been detected through genome sequencing by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. It’s thought that these variants will take over, as they appear to be more infectious than the initial strain, but public health officials stress that the same things — washing hands, wearing masks, keeping distances — still work.

Lynchburg-area school divisions grapple with learning loss, increase in failing grades

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

School divisions across the nation are seeing an increase in failure rates as remote learning has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, and those in the Lynchburg area are no exception. Given that few students are receiving full-time in-person instruction and a number of students across the commonwealth have yet to step foot into a classroom this year, school officials in the Lynchburg area were not surprised to see an increase in failing grades when compared to last year.

Virginia Supreme Court asked to overrule lower court in Richmond monuments case

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

The Virginia Supreme Court is being asked to reverse a lower court judge who rejected a request to put back the monuments removed from city property last summer. The petition was filed Wednesday by the same plaintiffs fighting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue on state property. They allege city officials did not adhere to procedures set out in a new state law permitting localities to take down war memorials.

Bienvenidos to Virginia Union University

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Within three years, Virginia Union University wants 25 percent of its undergraduate students to be Hispanic, according to university President Hakim J. Lucas. . . . If VUU is successful in the effort, it would become the first historically Black college or university to earn the additional federal designation as a Hispanic-serving institution for the fastest-growing minority group in the country.

Manassas council rejects flags for neighborhood utility poles


The Manassas City Council has rejected a proposal that would have allowed American flags to be flown from city-owned utility poles in residential neighborhoods, rebuffing an effort from community members on Clover Hill Road who began a flag-flying project last year.

The Full Report
45 articles, 26 publications


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard features VDH vaccination data, including what percentage of the state's population has received at least one shot and the number of vaccinations per 100,000 residents in each city and county. Our dashboard also makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's also a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


Schools can opt for remote learning during inclement weather

By SARAH ELSON, VCU Capital News Service

Virginia lawmakers insisted there will still be snow days for public school students, though the General Assembly recently passed legislation allowing unscheduled remote learning during inclement weather. “I have heard this bill referred to as ‘the killer of snow day dreams,’” said Alan Seibert, superintendent of Salem City Schools, during a subcommittee meeting. “That’s not the case.”

School construction referendum bill dead

By NATE DELESLINE III, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

Legislation that would have allowed Isle of Wight County voters to OK a sales tax increase to pay for new school buildings by deciding the issue in a locally sanctioned referendum recently stalled and then died in the General Assembly. Senate Bill 1170 would have made Isle of Wight the 10th jurisdiction in Virginia to have permission to raise taxes for school-related capital projects. But in a 7-4 vote by a House of Delegates Finance subcommittee on Feb. 16, legislators decided to lay the bill on the table.


Northam endorses challenger Jay Jones in Virginia AG race

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has thrown his support to Democratic Del. Jay Jones, who is challenging two-term incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring in this year’s election. Jones’ office announced Northam’s endorsement in a news release Thursday morning that included a statement from the governor saying “ it is time for a new generation of leaders to take the reins.”

Northam endorses Jay Jones for attorney general over Mark Herring

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

Gov. Ralph Northam will back Del. Jay Jones in his bid for attorney general, Jones’ campaign announced Thursday. Jones, a two-term lawmaker and lawyer from Norfolk, won Northam’s backing over incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term. All three are Democrats.

Northam endorses Del. Jay Jones for attorney general over incumbent Mark Herring

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

Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday that he is “proud to stand” with Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, in his bid to become Virginia’s next attorney general and the first African American to hold the office. Northam’s endorsement comes as a high-profile snub of current Attorney General Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term against Jones, his opponent in a June Democratic primary.

Former Roanoke sheriff Johnson announces run for governor

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson announced Thursday that she’s again setting her sights on public office — aiming this time for the governor’s seat. “I am running for governor of this great commonwealth because there is a deep need for change,” Johnson said as she announced her candidacy on the steps of city hall. “It is time for the whole state of Virginia to thrive. Together, we can make a tangible difference.” Johnson is launching her first run for statewide office and joining a crowded field of six others vying for the Republican nomination in the race.

Another gov. candidate visits: Sergio de la Peña stops in Appomattox

By MICHELLE PAYNE, Times-Virginian

Sergio de la Peña, who has his sights on becoming the governor of Virginia, stopped in at Granny Bee’s in Appomattox for a bite to eat while on the campaign trail Tuesday. It was just two weeks after fellow Republican candidate Pete Snyder stopped in town for breakfast on Feb. 8 at the same restaurant.

Christiansburg restaurant owner seeks state House seat

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

Christiansburg businesswoman Marie March announced Thursday that she is seeking the Republican nomination to run for the state House seat that Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg, is leaving. March’s announcement came after Rush, who has served five terms as the 7th District representative, announced Wednesday that he won’t run for office again in November.


A man feared for his life before dying at Hampton Roads Regional Jail. His family wants answers.

By GARY A. HARKI AND MARGARET MATRAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Faith Gay just wants to know why her husband, Thomas Fludd, died in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. Was he murdered? She thinks so. “I’m going to die in here,” he told her several times in the days leading up to his Feb. 19 death.


Marlboro Maker Asks FDA to Convince Americans Nicotine Isn’t That Bad

By TIFFANY KARY, Bloomberg News

Marlboro-maker Altria Group Inc. wants to enlist an unlikely partner in convincing Americans that nicotine isn’t as bad as they think—its regulator. The company asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to tackle misperceptions about nicotine as part of a proposed $100 million advertising campaign to reduce the harm caused by tobacco, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg News.

Manufacturing sector expanding in Hampton Roads region

By ELIZABETH COOPER, Va Business Magazine

Online retailing giant Inc. continues to expand its footprint in Virginia, bringing 1,500 jobs total to Suffolk and Chesapeake with the construction of operations facilities in those cities. Located less than two miles apart, both facilities are slated to open this year. In Suffolk, Amazon is building a $230 million, multistory robotics fulfillment center in Northgate Commerce Park. At 95 feet and five stories tall, the facility will be the state’s largest industrial building and second in overall size to the Pentagon. A thousand employees, working in conjunction with robots, will pick, pack and ship customer orders, including books, home goods and electronics.

Two casinos, just miles apart, will debut in Hampton Roads

By ELIZABETH COOPER, Va Business Magazine

Hampton Roads will be home to two Las Vegas-style casino complexes after Norfolk and Portsmouth voters overwhelmingly approved November 2020 referendums greenlighting the projects in their cities.

Virginia unemployment claims remained virtually unchanged last week

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

The number Virginians who found themselves newly unemployed last week remained flat from the previous week. There were 12,155 initial claims filed for traditional state unemployment benefits last week, up slightly from 11,944 the week earlier, according to statistics from the Virginia Employment Commission. The number of Virginians to seek new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, available for workers in nontraditional roles including self-employment or contracted “gig economy” jobs, also rose slightly to 1,469 from 1,435, according to U.S. Department of Labor data.

Belvac expanding operations, adding up to 50 jobs in Bedford County

By SHANNON KELLY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Belvac, a Lynchburg-based company specializing in can forming and printing technologies for the beverage can manufacturing industry, is expanding operations in Bedford County. The firm will invest more than $3 million and create up to 50 new jobs, the Bedford County Economic Development Authority announced Thursday. Belvac’s Bedford County expansion is projected to take place over a five-year period, the EDA said in a news release. The company is expanding due to a global increase in demand for beverage can-making equipment.


Crystal City developer, businesses and neighbors all fear the Route 1 redesign has gone off track

By ALEX KOMA, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

As a new vision for Crystal City’s portion of U.S. Route 1 comes into focus, local businesses, neighbors and the area’s dominant landlord are all becoming increasingly concerned the highway redesign process has gone off the rails. The preliminary plans have raised alarms among some powerful interests in South Arlington. Renderings unveiled in a Virginia Department of Transportation meeting Wednesday night have united the National Landing Business Improvement District, JBG Smith Properties and some neighborhood activists in opposition over fears that the designs are still too car-centric.


University of Richmond names its next president

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

The University of Richmond has elected Cornell University dean Kevin F. Hallock as its next president, completing a search that began six months ago when Ronald Crutcher announced his intention to step down. Hallock, who turns 52 next week, comes from Cornell University, where he currently serves as dean of the business college.

VCU Adjunct Professors Call for Better Pay, Health Services Amid Pandemic


Adjunct professors at Virginia Commonwealth University are calling for better pay and benefits. A group of about 20 professors, students and other members of the community gathered on campus Thursday to share their demands. . . . Currently, an adjunct with a full course load of teaching only makes about $20,000 per year, at just over $1,000 per credit. They’re asking for an increase to $3,000 per credit.


First child under the age of 10 dies in Virginia from COVID-19 complications

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

For the first time in Virginia, a child younger than 10 has died from complications of a chronic health condition and COVID-19, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The child, who has not been publicly identified to protect the family’s privacy, lived in the Central Region, which includes Richmond and surrounding cities and counties.

First child in Virginia under the age of 10 dies from COVID

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

A child in central Virginia has died from COVID-19, the state's first coronavirus death of a child under the age of 10. The child died from complications of a chronic health condition and COVID, the state health department said in a press release Thursday. The department did not release the name of the child or any other descriptive information.

Can squeezing more vaccine doses out of each vial speed things up in Hampton Roads?

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

In the months since coronavirus vaccines were first released, officials have learned several lessons about the best ways to administer them. But another development centers around how many doses officials can get out of each glass vial. Numerous doses are stored in each vial, and they are transported around the country in large batches. Moderna and Pfizer, however, have discovered they can eke out more doses of their vaccines in each glass than they originally thought. That could translate into the public getting vaccinated faster.

Prince William to administer its first 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Monday

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

The Prince William Health District will administer its first 1,000 doses of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this coming Monday, March 8, at its mass vaccination site at the former Gander Mountain store near Potomac Mills. The new site, announced by Prince William County officials earlier this week, is currently being used by Walmart to administer 2,400 COVID-19 vaccinations at a rate of about 600 a day. That effort began on Wednesday and will continue through Saturday.

1,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered at mass vaccination event in Warrenton Saturday

By ROBIN EARL, Fauquier Times

On Saturday, March 6, newly available Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to 1,000 residents who are already registered for the vaccine through the state database. Fauquier Hospital employees will work alongside Fauquier County fire and rescue workers to deliver the vaccines into residents’ arms. Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Cubbage said that the hospital is also soliciting nursing students to volunteer to help.

New COVID-19 cases in West Piedmont Health District are dropping

By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Despite a few logistical snafus along the way, West Piedmont Health District officials are claiming to be winning the war against the COVID-19 virus. “The Martinsville dashboard has been updated, and 11,873 [doses distributed] in Martinsville and Henry County have been vaccinated as of today,” WPHD spokesperson Nancy Bell said during a Zoom meeting of community leaders on Thursday. “This weekend we will be in the 12,000 to 12,500 range.”

'Stop the Virus' group forms in Nelson County

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a new group of Nelson County residents fighting to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus has formed. Dubbed “Stop the Virus,” the group of county residents is dedicated to helping the community understand how preventative measures can lower infection rates as well as opening businesses and schools, a news release form the group states. The group will also work to encourage people to register for vaccinations as an effective means to prevent further spread of the virus.

PATHS' new mobile unit will take vaccinations on the road.

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Piedmont Access to Health Services — or PATHS as it is known — has a new mobile unit that will be used immediately to provide COVID-19 vaccines across different parts of the Dan River Region. PATHS will begin offering vaccines on the unit this morning at its Danville office at 705 Main St. and has plans to take the mobile unit to various parts of its service area, including Danville, Chatham, South Boston, Martinsville and Boydton, three or four days a week, Chief Operating Officer Joban Singh said.

Appomattox County schools close after 30 employees out sick following vaccine


Appomattox County Public Schools closed Feb. 25 after a significant number of staff members who had received their second round of COVID-19 vaccinations the day before were unable to come to work. Superintendent Dr. Annette Bennett reported to the school board’s regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25, that 107 district employees received their second dosage of the vaccine Wednesday at the district’s vaccination clinic. On Thursday morning, “about 30 of them where not feeling well enough to come to work,” she explained. These absences proved enough to make opening the schools a logistical impossibility, with shortages of both bus drivers and in-school staff.


APS Data: Grades Fell for Middle, High Schoolers Amid Virtual Learning


New data from Arlington Public Schools suggest that more secondary students are failing classes and their average GPA has dropped. Sixth-grade students appear to be the hardest hit this year: Their average GPA dropped about 6%, and the number of students failing at least one class increased 118%.

New Alexandria school names for TC Williams, Maury announced


The superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia has recommended new names for a pair of schools, including T.C. Williams High School. Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings suggested that school board members take up Alexandria High School to replace the name of T.C. Williams, the city’s only high school, and that Matthew Maury Elementary School be renamed Naomi Brooks Elementary School for a former teacher who died in 2020.

Proposal to limit flag size, flagpole height rejected in Fairfax Co.


Fairfax County, Virginia’s planning commission has voted against a proposal to add new restrictions on the height of flagpoles and the size of flags flying at homes and businesses. The panel has been considering modernized zoning ordinances, which would alter the county’s current rule that limits the number of flags to three per lot with no size limitations.

Virginia Beach sets out to restore 200-plus acres of marshes to curb wind-driven flooding


In an effort to bring quicker relief to the southern part of the city, which has more frequently been crippled by wind driven floods, engineers are making plans to restore more than 200 acres of marshes in Back Bay. The idea is that marsh habitats will serve as a speed-bump of sorts for water driven up the Albemarle Sound by sustained winds from the south.

Portsmouth to bring back elementary school students for in-person classes in April

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

Elementary schools in Portsmouth will reopen for in-person classes in mid-April. The plan approved by the School Board in a 6-3 vote is scaled back from the proposal Superintendent Elie Bracy presented last week, which would have included middle schoolers as well. The approved plan also includes full-day in-person instruction instead of the half-days initially proposed.

Hampton schools propose 5% pay raise for employees

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

Teachers and other school employees in Hampton would get 5% raises next school year under a budget presented Wednesday night to the School Board. It’d be the largest raise for the district in years. The district has given steady 2-3% raises over the last few years, but new state funding means many boards in Virginia are weighing 5% raises.

New Kent school official apologies for photo of student-athletes without masks

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

New Kent County School Board member Gail Hardinge faced comments from a parent at Monday’s School Board meeting because of a Facebook post she made on her political page in mid-February. The post included several photographs of New Kent student-athletes posing and playing without masks along with a school safety measures graph stating the importance of mask-wearing in schools amid the pandemic. Hardinge apologized for the post at the board’s Feb. 16 work session.

Frederick supervisors back 61-cent real estate tax rate, 2% meals tax increase

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

The Frederick County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night agreed by consensus to advertise a 61-cent real estate tax rate and a 2% meals tax increase. Although the tax rate is already 61 cents per $100 of assessed value, tax bills for county residents will likely be higher due to an average 8.5% increase in real estate values from a 2021 county tax reassessment.

Campbell supervisors deny Gladys solar farm proposal

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

With several hundred acres of solar projects already in the works in Campbell County, supervisors denied a special use permit to construct a 10-acre solar farm in Gladys, citing the concerns of neighboring landowners and finding no substantive economic benefit for the county. Tuesday night’s proposal came from Minnesota-based energy company Impact Power Solutions, which specializes in community solar projects. It is one of several solar farms to be proposed in the county, with four others already approved.

40-cent cigarette tax proposed in Clarke County

By MICKEY POWELL, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Smokers in Clarke County soon may have to pay a lot more to get their nicotine fix. The county is proposing a 40-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes beginning July 1, the start of its upcoming fiscal budget year. Officials estimate the tax, to be charged only by retailers in unincorporated areas, would bring the county $100,000 in additional revenue annually.

Pittsylvania County supervisors will now have voice on Danville Utility Commission

By JOHN R. CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors will now officially have a spot on the Danville Utility Commission. Danville City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday night to add another seat to the commission specifically for a representative from the board of supervisors who is also a Danville Utilities customer. That person will be a non-voting member of the commission.

Bristol, Virginia has solid financial 1st half of fiscal year

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

Bristol, Virginia revenue collections outperformed budgeted expectations during the first six months of the fiscal year despite the financial ravages of COVID-19. Revenues from key indicators, including local sales and restaurant meals taxes came in above projections during the period from July 1-Dec. 31, 2020, helping offset a decline in hotel lodging tax revenues.



More interesting details in Virginia's marijuana legalization bill

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

Our reading list for March begins with Senate Bill 1406, the 264-page bill that the General Assembly just passed that will legalize marijuana in 2024. It’s not the most riveting prose we’ve ever read, but it is fascinating in its own peculiar way. Whether you favor legalization or oppose it, the odds are that Virginians don’t fully comprehend what the legislature has set in motion. On Tuesday, we wrote about three aspects of the bill, which might get even longer if Gov. Ralph Northam proposes amendments, as many think he will.

Delegates paid for staying home

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

When Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler–Corn, D–Fairfax, decided that legislators would work socially distanced online during the 2021 session, she should have made it clear that they would not be eligible for their usual per diems to cover travel expenses, hotel rooms and restaurant meals in Richmond. After all, if delegates stayed home, they wouldn’t incur any travel expenses. Instead, House members received $211 per day, for a total of over $800,000 in per diem travel stipends anyway.

Legislature deserves credit for budget built on restraint

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

When it comes to large-format fiscal management — the commonwealth of Virginia, for instance — sometimes you get it right. Or you get lucky. Or a mixture of the two. It’s been all of the above over the past year for Gov. Ralph Northam and his budget managers, during a period of unprecedented pandemic-confounding economic uncertainty. How well the state budget turned out — the headline is that it turned out better than almost anyone expected — requires a quick flashback to many anxious prognostications.


Crawford: Now is time to push for renewables

By DAN CRAWFORD, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

One of the unfortunate effects of Trump’s presidency was the distraction from our biggest challenge, rapid climate change, but the tide has turned, hopefully not too late. Wind and solar are the big clean energy producers, with wind in the lead and solar making impressive gains. My focus is wind power, having taken part in discussions, some dramatic, regarding Rocky Forge Wind and Poor Mountain Wind.

Crawford is chair of the Sierra Club Roanoke Group.

Hill: It’s past time for Congress to consider reparations

By LAURA HILL, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On Feb. 17, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss a decades-old reparations bill that refuses to die on the vine. HR40 calls for establishing a commission to examine the impact of centuries of American slavery and systemic racism, and to provide recommendations for remedies. As states, cities and counties nationwide begin to work through the pain of addressing systemic racism, it sure looks like HR40′s time has come. and economic discriminaThe congressional hearing came on the heels of the Virginia House of Delegates passage of a bill requiring five Virginia public colleges to provide reparations to the descendants of people that the colleges enslaved...

Hill leads the Historic Triangle chapter of Coming to the Table, a national racial reconciliation organization


Gonna need a second boat: Man catches 9½-foot bluefin tuna in 22-foot Grady-White off OBX coast

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

Josiah VanFleet once caught a 3-pound flounder. He was 6 years old, and his grandparents took him on a party boat to fish. “I actually won the pool for the largest fish on the boat,” recalled VanFleet, now 38. “I made like $60.” Well, he has another big catch under his belt.