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Infant’s Death Draws Lawsuit Against Social Services Agencies


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The family of an infant who died two years ago while under watch of Rockbridge County Child Protective Services is suing the county and state Department of Social Services.

Jessie Knadler has more.

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VA News: Natural Bridge Safety, Virginia Beach Inmate Video Visits


Inmates at the Virginia Beach jail can’t have visitors now because old technology has
failed. And a new study shows the state will at some point have reroute the highway that has crosses Natural Bridge.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia
Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More on that from Fred Echols.

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VPAP Analysis: General Assembly Committee Assignments = $


Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

For elected officials, getting into office is not the only goal on the agenda.

There’s also the issue of getting key committee assignments.

And, as Michael Pope reports, that is likely to influence how much money they’re able to raise.

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In Virginia, Should You Buy or Rent? A Look Into the Numbers


Diana Parkhouse/flickr (Creative Commons)

Is buying a home always better than renting a home? Experts say it depends on how long you’re staying.

Michael Pope has this look at the numbers.


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Virginia Students Participate in National School Walkout


Students rally in Richmond. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Hundreds of young people marched on the capitol in Richmon Friday to protest gun violence.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it was part of a nationwide event on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

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Republican Senate Debate Turns Testy


Credit: Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Three Republicans vying to get the nomination to run for the Senate have drastically different approaches to politics.

This week, Nick Freitas, Corey Stewart and EW Jackson met for a debate at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Michael Pope has the story.

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The Vietnam Graffiti Project


Lee and Art Beltrone share one of about 400 works of graffiti on canvas, left by U.S. servicemen en route to Vietnam. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

More than 50 years ago a troop ship in Oakland, California sailed for Vietnam, carrying over 3,000 men.

They slept in very tight quarters on canvas hammocks – one just a few inches above the man who slept below.  That canvas was a tempting target for graffiti – lots of it, and a Virginia couple has saved much of it as a tribute to those who fought in Southeast Asia.

Sandy Hausman reports on the Vietnam Graffiti Project, which will visit Blacksburg this month and Charlottesville in June.

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Virginia Dedicates Memorial to Native Tribes

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Like a labyrinth, a stone pathway spirals in to a small fountain.  Inscribed under the water are the names of many of Virginia’s rivers. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Virginia has a new memorial at Capitol Square in Richmond. The spiral stone footpath with a fountain in the center is a tribute to Virginia’s native tribes.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the dedication ceremony and has this report.

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What is Medicaid Expansion? And What Does it Have to Do With Virginia’s Budget? Here’s a Primer

Medicaid Rally

  A sign during a rally at the capitol in Richmond to support Medicaid expansion.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

State lawmakers are back in Richmond for a special session.

They didn’t finish their work during the regular legislative session because they couldn’t agree on Medicaid expansion and the coverage gap.

Those phrases are used a lot in the news.

Mallory Noe-Payne breaks down what they mean.

Medicaid is expensive. It’s a huge chunk of the state budget, and growing quickly.

Even still, an expansion of the program to about 400,000 poor Virginians is projected to save the state money— if lawmakers make an agreement during a special legislative session.

Mallory Noe-Payne explains that part of the story.

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African-American Enclaves Provide Social And Professional Networks


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorors (from left) Dorothy R. Smith, Maria Crenshaw, Tamara Johnson and Sada’ Hill (Credit: Jason Fuller)

Enclaves are comfortable spaces where people convene, laugh and sometimes even cry. There are enclaves for sports fans, foodies, college alumni. During the early 20th Century, though, it wasn’t easy for African-Americans to build enclaves in the Commonwealth.

Jason Fuller has been exploring the significance black enclaves across Virginia and starts in Alexandria.

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Liberty’s Quiet Win


Brian Hinkley and his team at Liberty University maintain 40 acres of pristine sports fields. Credit: Sandy Hausman

While many in Virginia have been focused on March Madness, a team at Liberty
University is quietly celebrating its victory.

The school took top national honors for its turf grass.

Sandy Hausman reports on how the Lynchburg campus captured that win.

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The Chinese Feast on Virginia’s Turtles


  An unhappy snapper hisses as it is studied, then released as part of a VCU study of Virginia’s turtle population.
Credit Benjamin Colteaux

With the coming of spring, snapping turtles have emerged from their winter homes in the mud – ready to reproduce and to spend the summer trolling ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.

They’re a hearty species with few natural enemies.

Now, however, turtles which can live more than a hundred years are in danger.

Sandy Hausman tells why.

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Is Virginia Missing Out On Federal Grant Money?


Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

Virginia gets a lot of money from the federal government, so much that it’s often seen as being overly reliant on Uncle Sam.

But there’s one part of the state’s budget where the federal government plays a minimal role.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Gun Control Groups, Not The NRA, Are The Big Spenders In State Races


Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Much has been made of the role that campaign contributions from the NRA has on elected leaders in Washington.

But, as Michael Pope reports, money is flowing on both sides of the gun debate.

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VA News: Chesterfield County uses Uber, ‘Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft’ signs

VPAPnewChesterfield County is trying a new approach to providing transportation for residents in need. And if you don’t believe those signs on Virginia highways that warn of speed limits being enforced by aircraft then you may be right.
Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.
More now from Fred Echols.

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Weed Warriors Train New Troops


A team of experts will train landowners and their neighbors to identify and remove invasive plants. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

A central Virginia group is declaring war on weeds this spring.

Blue Ridge PRISM will hold free workshops to teach landowners how to identify and remove some of the 91 non-native plants that threaten our forests.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

To sign up for training, visit http://blueridgeprism.org/

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Virginia Prisoner Sues Over Food Behind Bars

Virginia DOC

Virginia has about thirty thousand people in its prisons, and for each one it spends two dollars and ten cents a day on food.

Now, one inmate is suing, alleging the daily diet puts him at high risk for obesity, cancer and many chronic conditions.

The state says it’s a security risk to allow recording in person, so Sandy Hausman spoke with the plaintiff by phone and filed this report.

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There’s a Teacher Shortage in Virginia. Are Shorter Prep Programs the Fix?


  Credit Derek Bruff/Flickr CC

Virginia is facing a critical shortage of teachers. Lawmakers in Richmond are trying to tackle that problem. They passed several measures this year making it easier to get and keep a teaching license.

As part of that push, they’re also urging colleges and universities to create four year teaching programs — instead of the traditional five or six years.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, not everyone thinks that’s the best solution.


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Government Considers Loosening Regulations On Hog Processors


Credit: USDA/Flickr

The U.S Department of Agriculture along with the hog industry have proposed more deregulation at hog plants.

If implemented, meat packers would get more authority to police food safety themselves while allowing them to slaughter hogs faster.

Jessie Knadler has more.

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Beyer Looks For Allies To Save Chesapeake Bay Funding


As President Trump continues to call for spending cuts, Congressional Democrats like Rep. Don Beyer  are trying to keep environmental protection money flowing towards the Chesapeake.

Matt Laslo has more from the Capitol.

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Step, Storytelling And Sisterhood

Step 1

PST performs at Charles City County High School. (Credit: Brad Kutner)

The art of step is as much a form of storytelling as it is a physical activity. Using a mix of stomps, claps, hand motions and shouts, stepping offers an outlet for people to have their feelings heard and send a message.

Brad Kutner spent some time with Precision Step Team, an award winning collection of Richmond-area middle and high school girls, to learn more about what’s involved and give them a chance to talk about Step in their own words.

They were getting ready to perform a show honoring Harriet Tubman.

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New Hope For Buena Vista Is Part Class Project, Part Redevelopment Effort


The Shenandoah Valley city of Buena Vista has long been economically depressed.

But now that a Roanoke developer snapped up 11 buildings downtown, some wonder if the old manufacturing town just outside of Lexington is ripe for a revival.

Reporter Jessie Knadler heads to BV to find out.

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Virginia Republicans Wary of Tariffs And Potential For Trade War


Credit Rog Cogswell, Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers are worried that President Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum may spark a trade war.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details form Washington.

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Rear-facing Car Seat Legislation Headed to Governor

General Assembly 2018-01

Parents are about to be forced to strap their children into rear-facing child seats.

Michael Pope explains why from the Capitol.

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State Senate Debates Use Of Cellphones While Driving

General Assembly 2018-01

Texting while driving is already illegal in Virginia. But a bill now being debated in the state Senate would require hands-free use of cell phones.

Michael Pope explains.

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Virginia Budget Negotiations Forge Ahead, in Secret

Jeion Antonia Ward

  The budget bills on the desk of a state delegate. A budget conference committee has a tight deadline to find a compromise between the $400 million difference in their budget proposals.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

Virginia’s Senate and House have written their versions of the two-year state budget. But there’s a problem.

The two budgets are about 400-million dollars apart.

A handful of lawmakers are tasked with hammering out the difference.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, all the wrangling happens behind closed doors.

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As Part of Deal, Restitution Reform Quietly Sails through General Assembly


  As part of their sentence, criminals are often asked to pay restitution to their victims. But in Virginia the money often goes uncollected and unpaid.
Credit Shawn/Flickr

One of the highlight compromises this legislative session is a deal to raise the felony larceny threshold.

The flipside of that deal is a crackdown on restitution. That’s the out of pocket costs criminals are often ordered to pay to their victims.

And Mallory Noe-Payne reports it often goes uncollected and unpaid in Virginia.

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Proposal Would Streamline Zoning Variance Process For People With Disabilities

General Assembly 2018-01Lawmakers in Richmond are debating a bill that would make it easier for people with disabilities to make changes to their homes.

Michael Pope reports from the Capitol.

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Dogs Rescued From South Korea Find New Homes In Virginia


Eleven-month old Stephanie is one of four mastiffs brought to Charlottesville from a now-shuttered dog meat farm in South Korea. (Credit: Emily Richardson-Lorente)

If you’re a dog person, it may bother you to know that many dogs are bred to be eaten in South Korea. But increasingly, it bothers Koreans as well.

That’s why, in the last three years, the Humane Society International has been able to negotiate the closure of nearly a dozen meat farms.

Where do the dogs go after that? Well, it turns out many head to shelters here in the U.S. 

Emily Richardson-Lorente tracked down a few in Charlottesville.

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Changes, Budget Cuts At EPA Worry Some Va. Lawmakers, Please Others

EPA Logo

In President Trump’s newly released budget the administration calls for drastic cuts to environmental programs, including the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

Matt Laslo reports from Washington that lawmakers from the region are divided on the role the Environmental Protection Agency should play today.

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Who Takes The Lead After The Freeze?

4257813689_b09e353206_zLawmakers in Richmond are deep in a discussion about lifting a freeze on utility rates that has customers overpaying electric companies.

But what happens next?

As Michael Pope reports, lawmakers are divided.

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Virginia’s Oyster Shell Shortage Has A New Twist: Looking On Land


Volunteers from Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Tidewater Oyster Gardener’s Association hauling oyster shell. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Virginia calls itself the “Oyster Capitol of the East Coast.”

But because the oyster population remains at historic lows, there’s a struggle for oyster farmers and state sanctuaries to keep up with the shell needed to continue producing more oysters.

Now, even homeowners are kicking in, as Pamela D’Angelo explains.

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Supplanting Or Shell Game: The Fight Over Lottery Money and Education Funding


Lottery profits are supposed to go to education.

But critics say lawmakers are engaged in a bait and switch.

Michael Pope explains why.

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Delegates Include Medicaid Expansion Money, But Fight With State Senate Looms

vacapitol_slideshowSupporters of expanding Medicaid are celebrating movement in the House of Delegates after many years of resistance.

The House included an expansion in its state budget proposal released over the weekend.

But, as Michael Pope reports, they still have to get through the Senate.

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Va. News Topics: Buena Vista Legal Fight, Culpupper County Explores Solar Power

VPAPnewThe city of Buena Vista has won the latest round in its legal battle against an insurance company. And Culpeper County is trying to decide whether to embrace the solar power industry.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

Fred Echols reports.

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Millennial Lawmakers Work Across Party Lines… Sometimes

Millennial Caucus

Millennial generation lawmakers announce the formation of Future Caucus. (Mallory Noe-Payne/Radio IQ)

The freshman class in Virginia’s House of Delegates is the most diverse in history.

But, as Michael Pope reports, it’s also one of the youngest.

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Virginia Republicans And Democrats Alike Have Complaints About President Trump’s Budget

Washington Weather

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Virginia lawmakers have mixed reactions to the sweeping federal budget proposal President Trump released this week.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has more on what the document means and doesn’t mean for our state.

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Film Tax Credit Faces Opposition But Gets Extension

Television Shoot Virginia

  A clap board is readied during the filming of an American Heroes Channel three-part series about the Revolutionary War in Powhatan County, Va., in 2014.
  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Should Hollywood moguls get money from Virginia taxpayers? Lawmakers in Richmond are divided.

Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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Remembering Virginia’s Role In “The Great War”

Norfolk WWI

The Navy Yard at Nofolk around 1917. Credit: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

A hundred years ago this November, the First World War came to an end.

All of those who fought are now gone, but Virginia’s Historical Society wants Americans to remember what that conflict meant on the battlefield and here at home.

As Sandy Hausman reports, a special exhibit opens this weekend.

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The Only Gun Bill Still Alive In The General Assembly? One To Allow Them In Churches

General Assembly 2018-01Gun violence is back in the news this week.

It’s also a topic that lawmakers in Richmond are debating.

Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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Building A Road Map For Teaching About Slavery

National Summit on Teaching Slavery at James Madison's Montpelier

The Montpelier Foundation

It’s a question that has long vexed America: How do we teach our history of slavery?

Last weekend, James Madison’s Montpelier started working on an answer.

Jordy Yager has more.

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Poultry And Potential Pollution Get Scrutiny From DEQ, Neighbors


New poultry houses in Accomack County near the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Pamela D’Angelo

Big poultry on the DelMarVa Peninsula began by accident when  homemaker Cecile Steele was shipped 500 chicks to raise instead of the 50 she ordered. She kept them, made a profit and ordered a thousand the next year.

And so, an industry was born and has been growing ever since.

But the hundreds of thousands of tons of manure produced each year so close to the Chesapeake Bay worries residents of Virginia’s Eastern Shore as Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Richmond Raises Meals Tax to Pay for New Schools


Credit Tom Woodward / Flickr

Virginia’s capital city is raising its meals tax.

The money is earmarked to help fix the city’s crumbling schools. Richmond City Council voted late Monday night 7 to 2.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the contentious meeting and has this report.


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New Lawmakers Face Obstacles In General Assembly Session

Danica Roem, Lee Carter, Debra Rodman, Kelly Convirs-Fowler

  Del. Lee Carter, D-Prince William recites the pledge of allegiance during opening ceremonies of the 2018 session of the Virginia House of Delegates. Carter may end the session with all of his legislative proposals killed.
Credit (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The halls of power in Richmond are loaded with new members after the wave election in November.

But, as Michael Pope reports, that doesn’t mean their proposals are seeing much success.

Being a freshman House member in the minority isn’t easy. You just got here and you’re not sure how it all works. And you’ve got Republicans eager to kill your bills just because you’re new.

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A Lesson In Curling

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  A contest at the Curling Club of Virginia
Credit Brad Kutner

While Virginia’s warm climate might not offer the perfect venue for some Winter Olympic sports, indoor ice rinks have opened their doors to the ancient art of Curling.

Brad Kutner takes us inside a regional club for more insight ahead of the games.

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NPR TV critic Eric Deggans to speak in Lexington

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Eric Deggans (Credit: Washington & Lee University)

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans is giving a talk about race and media at Washington and Lee University in Lexington Tuesday night.

His talk is called “Building Bridges, Not Walls: Decoding Media’s Confusing Coverage of Race and Culture.”

Reporter Jessie Knadler has this preview.

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Virginia Delegation SOTU Reaction: Military Spending and Infrastructure


Credit Rog Cogswell, Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers have mixed reactions to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, especially on his call for a massive new infrastructure spending package.

Matt Laslo reports: Infrastructure

Matt Laslo reports: Military Spending

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Lawmakers Look To Put Limits On Internet Loans

Virginia_State_Capitol3In Richmond, a bipartisan coalition is cracking down on predatory lending.

Walk into a payday lender, and there are dozens of rules they have to follow to protect consumers. Same thing for a car title lender. But log into a website, and it’s the Wild West. That’s why Senator Scott Surovell, a Democrat from Fairfax County, wants to limit consumer finance loans to a 36 percent annual interest rate.

Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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VA News: Public Art in Norfolk, Coastal Flood Warnings

VPAPnewScientists have found a more precise way to predict when and where flooding will happen on Virginia’s Atlantic coast, and a planned art exhibit in Norfolk caused some controversy in the workplace.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

Fred Echols reports:

Click here for the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News Link.  

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House Panel Backs Expansion Of Medical Marijuana Oils

Allen Peake

  In this 2017 photo, various cannabis oil products are displayed in the office of a Georgia State Representative.
Credit (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Lawmakers in Virginia are taking the first step toward expanded use of medical marijuana.

Advocates for medical marijuana have tried and failed in Virginia year after year. A few years ago, they persuaded lawmakers to allow it for epilepsy. But that didn’t help Tamara Netzel. She’s a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis. And she brought her story to lawmakers in powerful testimony this week.

Michael Pope explains the new developments from the Capitol.


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