Connie Stevens

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VA Lawmakers & Freedom Caucus Buck GOP Leaders

US Cap 01Two Virginia Republican in Congress are members of a new group called the Freedom Caucus. Matt Laslo explains the conservative hardliners are proving to be thorns in the sides of Republican Party leaders in Washington.

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Driving Away with Personal Information

Rear View Mirror Creative Commons

Photo: Susan Sermoneta/Creative Commons

A Virginia lawmaker believes a simple ride in a nontraditional taxi could put your personal information in jeopardy. Now that delegate is pushing for legislation to further limit the information that companies such as Uber and Lyft can collect and store about passengers.  

 

 

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Art Turns Housing into Home

haven-300x136-300x136Shelter is a big problem for many people in Virginia. Up to 40,000 may be homeless for some period of time during any given year, with many cycling through housing and back to the streets. Now, a Central Virginia group is using art and interior design to attack the problem. From Charlottesville, Emily Richardson-Lorente reports.

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Do Not Buy This Book!

NekkidWhen eleven professional writers from Smith Mountain Lake decided they wanted to do something out of the ordinary they considered their options and finally settled on trying to produce the worst novel ever written. With the work now complete they believe they may have attained their goal.  Fred Echols reports.

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Charlottesville’s Garage: Alternative Art Space

The GarageCentral Virginia boasts plenty of great places for concerts, but there’s one venue that offers a unique experience for the audience, and the bands that play there. Emily Richardson-Lorente checked it out.

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Court Says Former VA Governor Can’t Remain Free

Gov McDonnell by Anne MarieWhile his wife is still in the midst of the appeals process for her federal corruption convictions, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is nearing the end of his fight to beat the convictions against him. The 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals has denied his request to remain free as he pursues an appeal to the nation’s highest court.  And as Tommie McNeil reports, only one option remains. 

 

The Chief Justice handles emergency applications for the 4th Circuit.  In their filing, McDonnell’s attorneys argue that by the time the Supreme Court hears the case and hands down a ruling that could potentially reverse the convictions, McDonnell could have finished serving his entire sentence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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State Budget: Report Finds “All

Budget Cuts“All is not well—Rosy Surplus Numbers Don’t Erase Damage from Budget Cuts.” That’s the title of the latest report by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. And the organization’s president says as candidates campaign for election to the entire General Assembly this November, it’s imperative that voters have a conversation with them about the state’s long-term budget problems. More from Tommie McNeil.

 

 

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Reviewing Exemptions to VA’s Open Government Laws

FOIAMembers of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council are conducting a meticulous review of the MANY exemptions to Virginia’s open-government laws.  The exemptions prevent the public from having access to certain government records and meetings—usually on both the state and local levels.  And as Anne Marie Morgan reports, even after an exhaustive study, a special subcommittee is not likely to eliminate very many of them.  

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VA Lawmakers Weigh In On First Amendment Defense Act

Gay Marriage 01The majority of Virginia Republicans in Congress are backing an effort they say will protect religious institutions and businesses from having to abide by the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Matt Laslo reports that opponents of the effort say the bill will legalize discrimination.

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School Funding Crusade

SchoolGenericAs kids head back to school, parents, teachers and administrators are gearing up for a fight in Richmond – hoping to win greater state support for public education.  They say it’s time to restore cuts made during the recession  and to raise pay for new teachers as  thousands prepare to retire.  Sandy Hausman has that story. 

 

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Virginia Senate Votes to Adjourn Special Session

va-capitol-2 - CopyGovernor McAuliffe called the General Assembly into special session to redraw the Commonwealth’s congressional district boundaries, but Republican lawmakers first used the opportunity to try to advance their own selection to the state Supreme Court.  As Anne Marie Morgan reports, the day’s sessions turned into a tug-of-war between supporters of McAuliffe’s interim nominee, Justice Jane Marum Roush, and advocates of the GOP’s choice, state Court of Appeals Judge Rossie Alston. 

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VaNews: Craft Beer Culture

VPAPnewVirginia’s growing craft beer culture is running into complications as the state tries to decide how to regulate the brewers…and Petersburg’s sheriff is facing a lawsuit from a surprising source, the City of Petersburg. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews on vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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New VA Regulations for Crowd-Funding

Simon Cunningham, Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Simon Cunningham, Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Across the nation crowdfunding is enabling entrepreneurs and dreamers to bring their ideas to fruition by allowing start-ups to get help from other individuals and businesses. And as of July 31st, Virginia has been allowing crowdfunding offerings-but in order to protect investors, the State Corporation Commission is implementing new regulations. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Virginia Company a Leader in Marine Energy

Marine Energy Oregon ResizedFour engineers from Virginia Tech have beat 72 other teams to win a place in the federal government’s Wave Energy competition.  Eric Paterson , George Hagerman, Mike Philen and Heng Xiao  now have the chance to win $2 million to build their design which would turn wave power into electricity. Another Virginia team chose not to enter the contest.  Instead, they’re hoping to leapfrog the competition by installing a successful commercial wave farm in Europe.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

 Sandy Hausman reported from Europe with the support of an Energy and Climate Media Fellowship from the Heinrich Böll (HINE-rick BOWL) Foundation.”

 

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Marine Mammals and Fish Befriend Offshore Turbines

sea lionsConditions off the coast of Virginia are ideal for construction of offshore wind turbines, but scientists see a limited role for marine energy – power generated from waves, currents and tides.  That’s because prevailing winds on the planet blow from west to east, creating bigger waves on the west coast of continents.  Still there is some potential here, and experts say turbines can likely be placed off our shores with minimal risk to wildlife.  Sandy Hausman has details.

Sandy Hausman reported from Europe with the support of an Energy and Climate Media Fellowship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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Eyeing Lunch

Credit: Virginia Commonwealth University

Credit: Virginia Commonwealth University

Hungry students will find something new at Virginia Commonwealth University.  They can now pay for their meals with their eyes.  Sandy Hausman reports on new technology at one campus cafeteria.

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Marine Energy Drives Economic Development

Orkney 02 resizedThis week, we’re reporting on marine energy – power generated from waves, currents and tides.  As a state with 112 miles of coastline, Virginia should be a prime candidate for development of this resource, but so far there’s no sign of an industry.  To understand why, reporter Sandy Hausman traveled to Scotland – ground zero for efforts to exploit marine energy in Europe.

Sandy Hausman reported from Europe with the support of an Energy and Climate Media Fellowship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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Marine Energy: Wave Power for Virginia? Scotland Shows the Way

Orkney 02 resized

Orkney, Scotland

With so much coastal property, this state could be harvesting the energy of waves, currents and tides to power homes and offices, factories and electric cars.  But Virginia is far from the day when that might happen.  In a week-long series, Sandy Hausman travels across the continent and the Atlantic to find out why.

 

Sandy Hausman reported from Europe with the support of an Energy and Climate Media Fellowship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.”

 

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Carbon vs Coal: Clean Energy Plan

President Obama recently unveiled a new rule to combat climate change by forcing state’s like Virginia to cut their carbon pollution. But this summer the Supreme Court shot down a new EPA rule aimed at limiting mercury pollution, which, as Matt Laslo reports, has conservatives calling for the new rule to be halted.

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Civil War…Still Fighting

This June 25, 2015, the words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va. Confederate monuments in a half-dozen places this week have been defaced _ a telling sign of the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America. AP Photo/Steve Helber,

This June 25, 2015, the words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va. AP Photo/Steve Helber,

Those who say Virginia—and Richmond—are still fighting the Civil War need only look at current state policy changes and debates over the Confederate flag and monuments to back up their claims.

And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event’s organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history.  Tommie McNeil has this report.

(July 17, 2015)

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Surrogate Ancestors to Remains of Slaves

Well PhotoIt’s been more than 20 years since construction workers at Virginia Commonwealth University unearthed the remains of about fifty people in an old well near the Medical College of Virginia.  Historians believe they were the bones of former slaves, whose bodies were stolen from local cemeteries for dissection by medical students. VCU promptly sent the remains to the Smithsonian for storage, but they may soon be coming back to Richmond as Sandy Hausman reports.

(July 16, 2015)

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More to the Tour: Slave History at Virginia’s Plantations

Slave History 02In addition to museums, battlegrounds and presidential homes, tourists find history at dozens of plantations that are open to the public. Often they learn about the big, elegant homes at the heart of those properties – about the people who lived there, but how do mannerly tour guides introduce the harsh subject of slavery?  That’s what a team from the University of Mary Washington hopes to learn as Sandy Hausman reports. (May 20, 2015)

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Richmond Wrangling Over Future of Historic Slave Site

Lumkin Jail Historical SiteOn a warm spring night, more than 150 people gathered in Shockoe Bottom, a name taken from the Native American word for a site in Richmond.  This part of town, bounded by I-95 and bisected by railroad lines, was central to a city that prospered from the slave trade. Sandy Hausman reports. (May 6,2014)

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Selecting Virginia’s Judiciary

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling & Former Rep. Rick Boucher  (center) co-chair the commission.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling & Former Rep. Rick Boucher (center) co-chair the commission.

The panel created by Governor McAuliffe to recommend changes to state ethics laws is tackling an issue that’s not typically associated with conflicts of interest:  the way that Virginia chooses judges.   The Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government says the quality of the state’s judiciary overall is excellent.  But as Anne Marie Morgan reports, it also says the process of selecting judges is politicized and ineffective far too often.

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Two Topics from VA News: Virginia Wineries, Virginia’s Obsolete Courthouses Present Preservation Issues

VPAPnewAs more wineries are opening in Virginia grape production in the state is not keeping pace…and with many Commonwealth counties looking to replace obsolete courthouses issues of historic preservation may create complications. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on www.vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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Straight Street Reaching out to Child Victims

Straight Street LogoIn Virginia, underage sex trafficking is real. That’s why the Commonwealth has created new and stronger laws and methods of saving the children being victimized. With these efforts comes the bitter-sweet challenge of the rescue of child and then the recovery. Tab O’Neal reports.

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Fracking Regulations Reviewed

Fracking 01

File Photo

For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

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Virginia & Israel: Open for Business

va-israel-flagsWhile Israeli leaders have voiced their displeasure about the Iran nuclear deal amidst already strained relations with the U.S., some have wondered if that dynamic has had any impact on Virginia’s business relationship with Israel.  As Tommie McNeil reports, the simple answer is:  business couldn’t be better. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim Celebrates 90 Years

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

This month marks the 90th year the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Saltwater Cowboys run their annual pony swim. The wild ponies, whose Spanish lineage dates back centuries, are moved from Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, to the fire company’s carnival grounds where a selection of foals are auctioned off. But unless there’s a fire, rounding up cowboys is sometimes more difficult than ponies. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Va News for 07.20.15: Loud Colonial Times, More Valedictorians Than Ever

VPAPnewThe sounds of colonial life in Williamsburg may be getting a lot louder soon…and the term ‘valedictorian’ is taking on a whole new meaning for some high school students in Virginia and across the nation. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap,org. More from Fred Echols.

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Richmond: Past and Present Confronted

Tommie Confed 01Those who say Virginia—and Richmond—are still fighting the Civil War need only look at current state policy changes and debates over the Confederate flag and monuments to back up their claims.

And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event’s organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

 

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Medicinal, Musical Therapy

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

We often think of music as entertainment and/or art… but for people with certain language or cognitive difficulties, it can be far more than that. It can actually be a tool that rewires the brain… helping treat such conditions as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, traumatic brain injuries, and strokes.  Rebecca Sheir takes us to Norfolk, to one of the only facilities in the country dedicated to bringing music and medicine together.

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VA’s Democratic Congressional Leaders Discuss Presidential Candidate Jim Webb

It’s been about two weeks, since former Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb announced on his website that he’s running for president. He’s not your everyday politician, and as Matt Laslo explains from Washington, he’s also not running a traditional campaign for the nation’s top job.

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US Appeals Court Upholds Former Governor’s Corruption Convictions

Robert "Bob" McDonnell, governor of Virginia, speaks at the Bloomberg Link Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The Bloomberg Washington Summit gathers key administration officials, CEOs, governors, lawmakers, and economists to assess the economy and debate the path beyond the fiscal cliff. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Robert “Bob” McDonnell, governor of Virginia, speaks at the Bloomberg Link Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The Bloomberg Washington Summit gathers key administration officials, CEOs, governors, lawmakers, and economists to assess the economy and debate the path beyond the fiscal cliff. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What happens now that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel has rejected former Governor Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his federal corruption convictions?  Legal analysts say while it’s not clear whether he will be sent directly to jail for now, he still has a shot at beating his convictions—although it won’t be easy. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

 

 

 

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VA News: Indian Tribe Wins Federal Recognition

VPAPnewA Virginia Indian tribe has won its long battle for official federal recognition…and there’s more controversy over a plan to widen one of the nation’s busiest highways. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A News link on vpap.org.

Fred Echols reports.

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Redefining “Small” Business

What’s the definition of a small business? About a dozen stakeholder organizations along with Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce are in the process of redefining what it means in the Commonwealth. Reporter Tommie McNeil explains.

 

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Rallying for Rail Safety & Reform

Boom

Screenshot from the Weather Channel documentary, Boom: America’s Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem

It’s been two years since several petroleum tank cars derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, claiming 47 lives and almost destroying the small Canadian town in eastern Quebec. Activists in Richmond are using the anniversary to not only commemorate the victims, but also draw attention to rail safety and reform. Kelsea Pieters has the story.

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American Rehab, Virginia: Mount Airy Plantation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Northern Neck of Virginia is known for the plantation homes of the Washingtons and Lees. But just up the road in Warsaw, their close friend and fellow patriot John Tayloe II was a successful businessman whose Mount Airy Plantation has been the private home of the Tayloe family for more 250 years. Now, it’s latest generation of owners, John Tayloe Emery and his wife Catherine are opening it’s doors to the public in some unusual ways. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Filling the Void in Services to Veterans

VVCCA new wing at one of Virginia’s Veterans’ Care Centers aims to reduce the number of homeless veterans, while providing quality senior services for those with declining mental and physical health. Governor McAuliffe says a new state-funded expansion of a Richmond facility is just the beginning of several projects aimed at filling a huge void in veterans’ services and making the Commonwealth an invaluable military asset.   Tommie McNeil has more.

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Buena Vista Faces City Hall Foreclosure

Vista LinksLocal government leaders across Virginia are keeping an eye on a disagreement between the City of Buena Vista and ACA Financial Guaranty of New York. A letter the company sent to Buena Vista this week threatens imminent foreclosure on city hall and police headquarters because the city has stopped paying premiums on an insurance policy.  Fred Echols reports.

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Civil Rights Leaders Want Changes to Education Bill

6660120775_4cb8910db1_zFederal legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 has come under fire from Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus and a coalition of national and state civil rights organizations. The groups assert that both the U.S. House and Senate versions of the reauthorization fail to adequately protect vulnerable student populations. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re calling on U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to support amendments that they argue are essential.
 

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Export Import Bank Debate Divides GOP

Export Import Bank 01There’s a little known bank run by the federal government that just expired. It supports billions of dollars in economic activity across the commonwealth. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on where our delegation stands on the Export Import Bank and the potential impact its lapse will have on the state’s role in the global economy.

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Recreating the Silence of Owl Flight to Quiet Turbine Blades

Flying Owl

Photo Credit: Virginia Tech

Neighbors of turbine farms often complain about the noise they make.  Now a Virginia Tech team of researchers has come up with a way they say will dampen that sound.  Beverly Amsler has the story.

 

 

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Rethinking Redistricting in Virginia

vedistrictsDuring the last election in Virginia, fewer than eight percent of eligible voters showed up to cast a ballot, perhaps because only 18 districts had contested primaries.  In most places, lawmakers ran unopposed.  Critics say that’s because the legislature drew boundaries to ensure that incumbents could keep their seats, so citizens figure there’s no point in voting.  Now, however, there are signs that situation could change as Sandy Hausman reports.

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VA’s Governor Praises SCOTUS Ruling

supreme_courtReactions from Virginia leaders came swiftly following the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld Affordable Care Act subsidies for consumers who bought health insurance plans through the federal marketplace. But how swiftly will the Commonwealth—with no healthcare exchange of its own—act in its wake?  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on reactions from the Attorney General who argued for the provision … and a lawmaker who is also a doctor who opposed Medicaid expansion.

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Renaming the Redskins

flickr user Keith Allison Photo: Creative Commons

flickr user Keith Allison
Photo: Creative Commons

The Washington Redskins were back in court this week, hoping to overturn a U.S. Patent Office decision that canceled the team’s trademark, because some find it offensive.  That controversy prompted business students at Virginia Commonwealth University to research and choose new names for DC’s professional football team.

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Dismal Outlook on VA’s Projected Cancer Rates

cancer-390322_640Prior to 2012, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in Virginia, but now cancer is the Commonwealth’s leading killer. To help lawmakers craft state policies for the future, the Joint Commission on Health Care wanted to find out what the projected cancer rates will be over the next few decades.   And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the outlook seems rather dismal. 

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Mountains of Music Homecoming

mntsofmusic_feature-copy-270x270The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is a nine-day festival staged in nineteen counties and four cities across Southwest Virginia. Events range from Barter Theatre performances to canoe and snorkeling trips to tours of an alpaca farm. But at its heart, the Homecoming is about music.  Tim Thornton reports.

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Initiatives to Combat Veterans’ Homelessness

Homeless VeteranSeveral years and one administration ago, Virginia Public Radio highlighted some of the challenges pertaining to veterans’ homelessness, and since then new leaders have vowed to do all they can to eliminate it within the Commonwealth. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a lot of progress has been made in just a short period of time.

 

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Lays Hardware Center for the Arts

Lays HardwareThe Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming, running throughout the week, spotlights the music, environment and culture of Southwest Virginia, including some venues that do that work all the time. Tim Thornton reports.

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