Archive for June, 2011
Many students see summer as a time to get away from books, but at the University of Virginia a unique program is bringing people closer. In the bowels of the main library, they study the history of binding, paper making, typography and illustration. Working with more than 80,000 rare volumes and manuscripts – they learn to read books in a whole new way, and Sandy Hausman reports that they’re encouraged to touch.
When the state fiscal year begins Friday, a number of new laws will take effect that reduce the financial burden that many Virginians endure when they are injured, jobless, or taking care of loved ones who suffer from disorders or disabilities. In Part 1 of our series on new state laws, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports some highlights from the State Capitol.
The winding roads of Rappahannock County are scenic and sparsely populated with about 26 people per square mile. But each summer, the number swells by about a thousand people a day as visitors and participants converge on a unique summer festival. Sandy Hausman reports.
Virginia is now hammering out phase two of a plan to curtail the flow of pollution into the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired waters. The Environmental Protection Agency has already approved the first phase, which aims to curb the total amount of nutrients that reach the Bay and tidal tributaries .As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the next phase will set new criteria for local governments.
Millions of Americans will watch, next month, as the space shuttle blasts off for the last time, but the nation’s space program will continue, and much of the action will be right here in Virginia. It may come as a surprise to many people, but three rockets launched from the Commonwealth in June and five more will go up in July. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman reports fromWallops Island.
State officials briefed the media on the status of Virginia’s natural resources and environmental priorities … while also announcing that Governor McDonnell will host the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting with other Governors in July. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the state’s initiatives include an array of new laws that take effect on Friday.
A segment of the state’s prison population is withering away behind bars. But a State Senator is asking the Department of Corrections to consider alternatives to incarceration. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, he’s calling for cost-effective but humanitarian options for the geriatric population.Geriatric
Virginia Senate Candidate George Allen has taken a stand on ethanol subsidies while at TV talk show host claims Congressman Eric Cantor applies a double standard to sex scandals. Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols gets some facts about both from PolitiFact Virginia.com, and reporter Warren Fiske.PolitiFact 6-24
While Virginia and its first responders have proven the state can hold its own during natural disasters and emergencies such as September 11th, the state’s Secretary of Homeland Security says there have been deep federal cuts in funding for essential programs and services. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Secretary says those cuts are making the Commonwealth more vulnerable in the event of a national emergency.201106230522200.security
University researchers in Virginia say they’re on the verge of making significant medical breakthroughs. But in order to achieve those results, they need more state funding. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the State Capitol.
Few people give sewage treatment a second thought, but for more and more Virginians, it’s becoming a serious issue. That’s because farmers can get sludge from sewage treatment plants for free. The state isn’t 100% sure about the safety of so-called biosolids, and the Department of Environmental Quality is working on new guidelines for how and where they’re used, but folks who live near farms want answers now. WVTF’s Sandy Hausman has that story.
Photos Courtesy of Charlottesville Tomorrow
News that Virginia may end the fiscal year with at least a $100-million budget surplus has prompted members of the House Appropriations Committee to caution that Virginians should tamp down their expectations. They say sluggish national GDP growth of 1.8% and several state indicators suggest that the economy is slowing down … and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, other factors may also loom on the horizon.
The U-S Secretary of Education says if Congress doesn’t reauthorize No Child Left Behind…he’ll deal with schools directly. Matt Laslo reports that the announcement has ruffled some feathers in Virginia.
More than 100,000 Virginia children suffer from some type of serious mental health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia … yet according to a Department of Behavioral Health study, many of their needs are not being met. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a child advocacy group has sent a letter to Governor McDonnell that recommends reforms to implement before the problem gets worse.
Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell recently surprised some people when he said the U.S national debt is actually seven times larger than we’ve been led to believe. That, and bus safety are the issues Fred Echols and Warren Fiske talk about on this week’s PolitiFact Virginia report.
Virginia’s colleges and universities will be adding six-thousand new slots for in-state students this Fall thanks to initiatives enacted by the General Assembly this past session. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the bill signed by Governor McDonnell aims to enable tens of thousands of additional students to get college degrees over the next 15-years.
Environmental groups are applauding Governor McDonnell’s signing of eight pieces of legislation that he says will help Virginia become the energy capital of the East Coast. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they also say the Commonwealth has a lot of catching up to do to compete with other states that are seeking the same designation.
Virginia is erecting another road block to restrict sex offenders’ access to children, making obscene texting illegal, and enacting other public-safety measures under legislation ceremonially signed into law today by Governor McDonnell. The bills offer students additional protections during school and while being transported … and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, their impact will also extend elsewhere throughout communities.
Middle school is a tough time for kids – especially girls, as they deal with changing bodies and social pressures. To better prepare them, a group called GIRLS ON THE RUN has started a program that combines esteem-building exercises with training for a 5K race. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman has that story.
Recently the environmental group Greenpeace stepped up its campaign against rainforest destruction – claiming it had analyzed packaging used by toymaker Mattel and concluded the cardboard was made from tropical rainforest trees. The material was supplied by a company that collected a quarter of a million dollars from Virginia taxpayers to expand a subsidiary here. On a fact-finding trip with the International Reporting Project, Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman learned more about the situation and filed this report.
Recently, the environmental group Greenpeace stepped up its campaign against rainforest destruction – claiming it had analyzed packaging used by toymaker Mattel and concluded the cardboard was made from tropical rainforest trees. The material was supplied by Asia Pulp and Paper, which last year located one of its subsidiaries in Virginia. Governor Bob McDonnell had approved a $250,000 grant to help with the move. On a fact-finding trip with the International Reporting Project, WVTF’s Sandy Hausman learned more about the situation and filed this report.
The Commission formed 12 years ago to help revitalize Virginia’s fiscally stressed tobacco regions has had a positive impact … but it has also funded projects that have not contributed to the regions’ economic renewal. That’s according to the General Assembly’s watchdog agency … which also found that grants awarded by the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission were not always linked to economic need. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports from the State Capitol.
While the recent unexpected E-coli-related death of a young Southwest Virginia child is alarming, the health officials want it understood the case was most likely not connected to the deadly outbreak in Europe. The Virginia Department of Health reports some illnesses and deaths caused by the bacteria are NOT that unusual in the Commonwealth. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they also say it’s imperative for the public to know how to recognize and deal with E-coli-related problems.
Job creation and Medicare are current hot topics in the back and forth of national politics. Both issues make an appearance this week, as Fred Echols talks with Warren Fiske of the Richmond Times Dispatch and PolitiFactVirginia.com
While the General Assembly reconvenes for Congressional redistricting, the process of redrawing the boundaries will actually be drawn out over how to make sure that the minority population is fairly represented under the Voting Rights Act. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the process will continue in negotiations about the two chambers’ methodology for calculating that.
While the Justice Department continues reviewing the revised statewide General Assembly districts, both chambers will return to Richmond Thursday, June 9th to decide how to redraw the Congressional boundaries. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, and the House, controlled by Republicans, are expected to ultimately reject each other’s proposals. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, some want lawmakers to put far more thought into the process for the people—rather than protect their own political interests.
When it comes to the economy, Virginia appears to be doing pretty well with the 6th highest net worth for households. Our poverty rate is lower than 38 other states, and we edge out 42 states when it comes to unemployment, but Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman reports we should probably not be celebrating.
Family members who are temporarily caring for a relative’s children have found that some Virginia school systems will not permit those children to go to school where the caregiver lives—unless the biological parents relinquish custody. That could create obstacles to kinship care, yet the schools also have legitimate concerns. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Commission on Youth has brought together stakeholders–with a goal of finding a viable solution.
With the world’s population growing, the pressure is on to produce more food on less land. The challenge is especially great in the tropics, where insects and fungi compete with farms for edible crops. That’s why scientists from Virginia Tech are traveling the world– promoting powerful organic ways to protect plants. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman went to Indonesia as part of the International Reporting Project to see how this green farming program works.
Sunday marks the anniversary of one of the most influential documents in American history. The Virginia Declaration of Rights will be 235 years old … and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, its influence has been far-reaching—both in the U.S. and around the world.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling remains optimistic about the continued growth of Virginia’s workforce. He spoke to business leaders in Roanoke about creating jobs and investing in the economy. Virginia Public Radio’s Beverly Amsler reports.
Last week’s announcement by veteran State Senator William Wampler that he will not seek re-election is yet another sign that the faces of the General Assembly will change significantly after November’s elections. But with numerous Senators and Delegates retiring—and no word yet on the Justice Department’s approval of new districts—many Virginians wonder who will represent their interests. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, despite the uncertainty, both Democratic and Republican officials are confident that voters will have a wide selection of qualified candidates on the ballot.
Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran has drawn some attention with a statement about styrofoam cups, while Republicans from the Commonwealth are taking President Obama to task over Israel. They’ve all drawn the attention of PolitiFactVirginia.com, as we hear from Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols.
State employees who’ve always thought they had the perfect idea to improve Virginia’s government but never believed anyone would listen … now have the ear of the Governor. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they have about two weeks to submit their suggestions … and the one with the most innovative idea will get more than a penny for his thoughts.
With the world’s population growing, the pressure is on to produce more food on less land. The challenge is especially great in the tropics, where insects and fungi compete with farmers for edible crops. That’s why scientists from Virginia Tech are traveling the world – promoting powerful organic ways to protect plants. Sandy Hausman reports from one program location — Indonesia.
Every day that a law enforcement officer puts on a uniform and leaves for work, there’s always the possibility that it may be the last time their loved ones see them. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, recent events have made a Public Safety Memorial Commission more determined than ever to create a monument and program to pay tribute to the fallen and assist their families.