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Va. News: School Enrollment & “Halloween as Usual”

While some Virginia localities are trying to discourage trick-or-treating this year at least one city says it’ll be “Halloween as usual.”  And the pandemic is costing Virginia school systems millions of dollars in funding.

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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Amid Continuing Pandemic, Families Wait for Housing Help

A map of the 7th Congressional District

The congressional race in Virginia’s 7th District is one of the most competitive in the state.

It pits incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger against Republican challenger Nick Freitas.

The two met for their only debate Tuesday night.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more. 

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Amid Continuing Pandemic, Families Wait for Housing Help

Tammie Lyle had to quit her job to help her son during the school day. (Credit: Cat Modlin-Jackson)

Our pandemic reality is precarious… and many Virginians have struggled like never before to keep the lights on and pay the rent.

Since a special session began in the summer, members of the General Assembly have acted on a series of rules intended to provide relief for both tenants and landlords trying to make ends meet.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this look at what made it through and what got left behind. 

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Elections Board gets Update on Postmarks, Other Issues

The state Board of Elections approved a regulation Tuesday that will count ballots with a missing or illegible postmark, as long as the ballots were received by noon on the Friday after Election Day.

Jahd Khalil has more. 

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No Immediate Ruling from Judge After Lee Statue Trial

Protesters gather around the Lee Monument last summer. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A judge in Richmond heard arguments Monday in a lawsuit that could determine the fate of the Robert E Lee statue on Monument Avenue.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the courthouse Monday and reports the judge expects to issue a ruling in the coming days. 

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After Lengthy Special Session, Adjusted State Budget Still Faces Delays

The much awaited budget proposal was adopted by the General Assembly late Friday.

As Cat Modlin-Jackson reports, Virginians reeling from the pandemic are waiting on financial aid tied up in the plan.

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Va. News: Outlawing Outhouses and Reopening Public Libraries

A Virginia county is being asked to exempt its Amish community from rules prohibiting outhouses. And extended closures during the pandemic are putting pressure on public libraries.

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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While Virginia Unemployment Begins to Fall, It Remains High in the Asian American Community

Although some sectors of the economy are making a comeback from the crisis created by the pandemic, many communities in Virginia are still struggling.

Michael Pope reports.

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General Assembly Sends Civilian Review Legislation to Governor

Members of the General Assembly are wrapping up their special session.

And, as Michael Pope reports, one bill they’re sending to the governor could create new oversight of law enforcement. 

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After Two Months, Legislators Ready to Advance Budget Bill

Almost two months into a special session that was initially expected to last two weeks, negotiators in the General Assembly have come to an agreement over the details of the state budget.

Now it’s up to both chambers and the Governor to make the bill a law.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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What We’re Buying: From Sourdough Effect to Frozen Pizza Effect

New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows consumers in Northern Virginia are looking for comfort food.

Michael Pope reports.

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Thousands Fail to Enroll in VA Public Schools

A recent survey of schools in Virginia yielded some surprising and worrisome news – enrollments are down, and that could mean a reduction in state funding.

Sandy Hausman has more on where students have gone and what that might mean for public schools.

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Judge Extends Virginia’s Voter Registration Deadline

A federal judge today/Wednesday extended the deadline for Virginians to register to vote.

The last day of registration was supposed to be Tuesday, but the state website citizens would use to register was taken offline when a construction crew severed a fiber optic cable.

Jahd Khalil has more.

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Democrats Aim to Hold on to Competitive 7th District Seat, Republicans Want it Back

Virginia’s 7th District stretches from Culpeper all the way south to Blackstone, encompassing the suburbs west of Richmond.

The mix of rural and suburban voters makes for a competitive race between Republican Nick Freitas and incumbent Abigail Spanberger.

Mallory Noe-Payne spoke with the Democrat about her policy positions and has this report. 

Nick Freitas also recently spoke to Mallory Noe-Payne about the issues in the race.

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Warner, Gade Meet for Final Debate

U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his Republican opponent Daniel Gade squared off in their third and final debate Tuesday night.

Michael Pope reports.

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McEachin, Benjamin Debate in 4th District Race

Virginia’s 4th Congressional District stretches from Richmond south and east to Chesapeake.

Incumbent Congressman Donald McEachin squared off Tuesday night with challenger Leon Benjamin.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this round-up of their debate. 

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Voter Registration Portal Working Again, But No Extension of Deadline Yet

The Department of Elections’ portal to register to vote was offline for much of Tuesday after a fiber optic cable was cut during construction.

It happened on the last day of voter registration, prompting calls to extend the registration period.

Jahd Khalil has more.

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Va. News: Signs, Signs and More Signs

Political signs have always been targets for thieves and vandals but in at least one city the problem seems to be worse than ever… and when a Richmond area couple wanted to show support for Black Lives Matter protesters they went big with a sign of their own.

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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In a Rural Community, Rumors Fill the Void of Coronavirus Information

Credit: CDC

During the last days of September, rural communities in the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck had a surge in coronavirus cases.

Because of privacy rules, the local department of health is not allowed to give out any details of where surges occurred.

As Pamela D’Angelo reports, that’s when rumors began to spread.

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During Debate, Senate Candidates Own Up to Mistakes

Candidates for the United States Senate are not perfect.

In fact, as Michael Pope reports, some of them even admit when they’ve been wrong.

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Va. News: School Bus Space and Long Overdue Recognition

Maintaining social distancing on school buses is complicating things for localities looking to bring students back to the classroom. And a high school baseball team is finally being recognized for a championship it won half a century ago.

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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COVID-19 Outbreak at Farmville ICE Facility Officially Over

(Credit: U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

An immigrant detention facility in Farmville is COVID-19 free, for now.

That’s according to officials with the Virginia Department of Health.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports. 

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Budget Revisions Could Address Immigrant Medicaid Rule

The state Senate approved its version of a budget today/Friday, leaving lawmakers in the General Assembly to reconcile their proposals.

As Cat Modlin-Jackson reports, one difference between the upper-chamber and the House comes down to a rule often cited as a barrier to healthcare for immigrants.

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Effort to Block Funding for Sex Ed Texting Program Fails

Lawmakers are in Richmond trying to deal with the health emergency created by the pandemic and the economic emergency caused by the shutdown while also addressing systemic racism and police reform.

But, as Michael Pope reports, it was a debate over sex-ed that occupied much of the Senate’s attention Thursday.

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5th Congressional District Up for Grabs

A map of the 5th Congressional District

The Fifth Congressional District, which runs from northern Virginia to the North Carolina border, was drawn to benefit Republican candidates. 

In 2016, Donald Trump got 53% of the vote to Hilary Clinton’s 42%.  This year, however, the Cook Political Report rates the congressional race a toss-up, with Democrat Cameron Webb trailing Republican Bob Good by a single point in the latest poll. 

Sandy Hausman spoke with Webb and has this profile of the candidate.

And she also has this profile of Bob Good.

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Rural Patients Could Get Care at the Library

UVA’s nurses have been talking with patients once they leave the hospital, to make sure they’re doing well. If homes lack broadband, local libraries may offer space for consultations.
(Credit: Sandy Hausman)

The COVID pandemic has prompted more doctors and nurses to see their patients online, but more than 300-thousand rural residents of this state lack high speed Internet. 

Recent budget cuts in Richmond will delay the expansion of broadband, but a team at the University of Virginia is proposing another way to make telemedicine available as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Care at Federal Prisons in Virginia Suffers During and After COVID-19 Outbreak

One of buildings at the federal prison in Petersburg. (U. S. Bureau of Prisons photo)

A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers is demanding answers from the Bureau of Prisons about what they call “troubling conditions” at the two federal prisons in Virginia.

That includes one in Petersburg, where about 200 inmates have tested positive for the virus over the course of the pandemic.

According to the BOP, about 150 of the men have recovered.

Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne has been speaking to family members about conditions there and has this report. 

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Two Issues for Voters on Virginia Ballot

Voting is underway here in Virginia for the presidency, U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. 

But there are also two issues on the ballot– proposed amendments to the state constitution. 

Sandy Hausman reports on what they would do.

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Pandemic Teacher Shortage? Hard Data is Hard to Find

Credit: CDC

In Virginia Beach, 70 teachers have resigned since August.

One educator told local officials that teachers are at a tipping point.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it’s difficult to pin down the situation statewide. 

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Senate Committee Says No to COVID-19 Workers Comp for Teachers, Firefighters & Police

Credit: CDC

A Senate panel has rejected efforts to allow public sector employees from getting workers compensation if they contradict COVID-19 while on the job.

Michael Pope reports.

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National Trust Names Rassawek to List of Most Endangered Historic Sites

(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named its annual list of the most endangered historic sites in the country.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the list includes a place in central Virginia — the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation. 

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Warner, Gade Spar in First Debate

Health care is poised to be one of the key issues in the presidential race this year.  

And, as Michael Pope reports, it’s also a flashpoint in the race for U.S. Senate. 

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Support from Law Enforcement Groups Could Move Senate Reform Bills Forward

For now, Democrats in the House and Senate are deadlocked over policing reform.

Michael Pope reports on what might break the stalemate.

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House Justice Committee Moves Sentencing Reform Forward

Lawmakers may be on the verge of approving legislation that could transform the criminal justice system in Virginia.

But, as Michael Pope reports, that’s only if lawmakers decide they can afford it.

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Does an Election Equal Civilian Review for Sheriff’s Offices?

House and Senate Democrats are united about civilian oversight of police departments.

But as Michael Pope reports, they’re divided over whether sheriff’s offices should be subjected to new review boards that can subpoena documents and fire deputies engaged in wrongdoing. 

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Va. News: Drops in School Enrollment & Low Cost Opioid Treatments

Signs offering low cost medications for treating opioid addictions raised some questions in Martinsville. And at least one county started the school year with almost a thousand fewer students than expected.

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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As Schools Face Outbreaks on Campus, Va’s Community Colleges Will be Virtual All Spring

As residential college campuses become COVID-19 hot spots, Virginia’s community colleges announced Friday they’ll remain mostly online all the way through Spring semester.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Work Share Legislation Aims to give Employment Commission Another Tool to Save Jobs

Friday members of a House committee advanced a bill that would make the state eligible for federal funds to help establish a work-share program.

Experts say the initiative could ultimately help save jobs in Virginia.

Cat Modlin-Jackson explains how.

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With Early Voting Underway, Election 2020 Brings More Planning and More Cost

Virginians can now vote in the 2020 General Election.

Absentee ballots are being sent out and voters can vote in person at their electoral office. Jahd Khalil reports early voting is getting much more attention this cycle due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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CDC says Farmville Immigration Center Still at Risk of COVID Outbreak

An empty dorm at the ICE Farmville Detention Center
(Credit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Immigrants detained at a facility in Farmville where there was an outbreak of COVID-19 this summer are still at risk.

That’s according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more. 

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Family of COVID-19 Doctor Calls for Change in Medical Culture

Dr. Lorna Breen ran the emergency department at New York – Presbyterian Allen Hospital during the height of the COVID crisis.
(Credit New York – Presbyterian Allen Hospital)

The family of a Charlottesville woman is speaking out today about a tragic death and the need to change how we view our doctors and nurses.

They may be heroes, but they are also human. 

Sandy Hausman reports on how the suicide of Doctor Lorna Breen could help other healthcare providers.

Click here for the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation

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In 2019, Virginia Led the Nation in Expanding Health Insurance Coverage

New numbers out today from the Census show that in one year Virginia made greater gains in getting people enrolled in health insurance than any other state.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports. 

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Cost Could Derail Sentencing Reform Effort

Lawmakers are debating a bill that could radically transform the criminal justice system in Virginia.

But Democrats in the House and Senate are divided over how and when to pay for it.

Michael Pope reports.

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COVIDWISE App Hits 500,000 Downloads in Virginia

In the five weeks since Virginia became the first state to launch a COVID-19 exposure app, more than a half-million people have downloaded it.

Those are the latest numbers from the Department of Health.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports. 

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Va. News: Venomous Caterpillars and School Buses

A Virginia woman has gotten a painful introduction to one of the state’s few venomous caterpillars…and school buses are back on the road in one county even though they’re not carrying any students.

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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Senate Committee Stops Qualified Immunity Bill

A Senate panel has rejected a bill ending qualified immunity for law-enforcement officials.  The legal precedent shields police officers from being sued for wrongdoing.

Michael Pope reports.

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The Shifting Burden of Flood Insurance

Adair Wallerstein’s house in the process of being raised.
(Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

This summer, tornados and intense rains have devastated some of Virginia’s tiny communities from the Atlantic Coast to mountain valleys.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA will be increasing flood insurance premiums next year.

Homeowners are facing emotional decisions, some with hefty price tags, to adapt to the changing climate.

One option is to go high. In this three-part series, Pamela D’Angelo looks at federally-funded solutions.

Virginia’s changing climate has created a flooding problem, and not just on the coast.

In August, homeowners and small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley were hit with not one but two floods. In smaller communities, federal aid is not easy to get.

Throughout Virginia, communities are facing down climate change.

A common symptom – more frequent flooding of their homes. A common fix – state and federal funding.

But it’s not easy to get and the National Flood Insurance Program is shifting the burden to those willing to take the risk of living close to the water.

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Va. News: Change for Change and Bristol vs Its Utility Provider

People in downtown Lynchburg are again being asked to drop coins into meters but this time it’s not for parking… And a complex set of lawsuits in Bristol could be very expensive for either the city or its utilities provider.

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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Senate Committee Sidelines School Nurse Legislation

General Assembly 2020

Lawmakers are in Richmond trying to figure out how to navigate their way through the pandemic.

And, as Michael Pope reports, one proposal to put a nurse in every school is now sidelined.

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Northam Urges Vigilance Ahead of Labor Day Weekend

Northam 9.1

Gov. Ralph Northam speaks at Tuesday’s COVID-19 response briefing. (Credit: Governor’s Office Livestream)

At his first press conference on COVID-19 in weeks, Governor Ralph Northam says he won’t be loosening any restrictions ahead of the holiday weekend.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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