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Virginia Is for Apple Lovers

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Owner Charlotte Shelton touts the taste of heritage apples. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

When it comes to apple production, Virginia ranks sixth in the nation – well behind the leader: Washington State.

It’s worth noting, however, that farmers here offer a huge variety and our cider industry is growing.

Sandy Hausman stopped at this state’s oldest cidery to learn more about the fruit and its delectable juice.

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Va. News: Dolphins Swimming in the Potomac, Efforts in Amherst to remove Elected Official

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Washington, DC isn’t the only place where controversy has arisen over whether an elected official should be removed from office…and the return of dolphins in large numbers to the Potomac River is a sign of change.

 

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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Pretty Poison; VT Study First to Confirm Invasive Plants Threaten Native Wildlife

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  Jacob Barney and six graduate students conducted the first-ever comprehensive meta-analytic review examining the ecological impacts of invasive plants. Shown (l-r): Cody Dickinson, Ariel Heminger, Becky Fletcher, Gourav Sharma, Jacob Barney, Rachel Brooks, and Vasiliy Lakoba.
(Credit Virginia Tech)

The first comprehensive study of the effects of invasive plants on indigenous wildlife is sobering.

Researchers at Virginia Tech found that when invasive plants take over an area they actually alter the ecosystem, depleting native animals’ natural food sources.

As Robbie Harris reports, this phenomenon is a major driver of wildlife extinction. And the researchers say it’s even worse than they thought.

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The Complicated Effect of Phragmites in the Chesapeake Bay

M.K. Miles amid phragmites

M. K. Miles amid phragmites at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

The phragmites invasion began when it hitched a ride here with European colonists.

Today, the tall reed lines Virginia’s waterways, and wetlands, taking over native habitats and clogging waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay.

But with climate change, the pesky plant is being considered in a different way. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Could Water from Abandoned Coal Mines Lure Data Centers to SWVA?

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(Credit SparkFun Electonics via flickr.com / CC)

Loudoun County has the world’s largest concentration of data centers. But what about Southwest Virginia?

Michael Pope reports on one economic development effort to bring data centers to coal country.

 

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Climate Change Experiment Fast-Forwards the Chesapeake Bay to the Year 2100

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Senior scientist Patrick Megonigal showing native wetland grass outside an experimental chamber. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Scientists in Maryland have transported parts of a marsh into the next century.

They are looking at the future effects of global warming and increased carbon dioxide on wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay.

In her occasional series on climate change resilience, Pamela D’Angelo talks with some of the scientists behind the project.

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Stakes are High as Political Newcomer Tries to Unseat House Speaker

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Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Democrat, is taking on Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, Republican.

The national political discussion may be focused on the 2020 Presidential election… but first, here in Virginia, there’s 2019.

In a month all 140 state lawmakers are up for election.

Party control of the General Assembly is at stake.

Mallory Noe-Payne has a look at one of the most important races of the year.

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Analysis: Work Requirements Could Knock 74,000 Off Medicaid Rolls

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Remember those work requirements Republicans insisted on before passing Medicaid expansion?

They haven’t been implemented yet. And Michael Pope reports the governor’s office is still negotiating with federal officials to strike a deal.

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UVA Researcher Develops Tool to Guide Patients Toward Best Breast Cancer Treatment

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  Randy Jones, professor of nursing; Pat Hollen, professor emerita of nursing; Crystal Chu, graduate nursing student; and Dr. Lynn Dengel, a surgeon at the UVA Medical Center.
(Credit University of Virginia)

When actress Angelina Jolie learned she was at high risk for breast cancer, she opted to have both breasts removed and reconstructed.

Since then, many women who are not at high risk have — nevertheless – followed her lead.

Now, a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing hopes to reverse that trend as Sandy Hausman reports.

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If Dry Spell Continues, Virginia Farmers Will Take a Hit

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September is over. And for some parts of the state, including Danville and Bluefield, it was the driest September on record.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports if the dry spell continues, it could mean a big hit to the bottom line for many farmers.

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High Interest Lenders Investing in General Assembly Campaigns

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Car-title lenders and internet lenders have stepped up their campaign contributions in recent years.

So far this election cycle the industry has given about $840,000 and more campaign cash may be on the way before Election Day.

Michael Pope explains why.

 

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Va. News: Richmond statue could generate Discussion, Charlottesville man says Newspaper defamed him

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A statue presents a new kind of artistic comment about public memorials to the Confederacy. And one of the people who went to court to prevent a statue of Robert E. Lee from being removed from a Charlottesville park says a newspaper article defamed him.
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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Rumors of War Unveiled in Times Square, Eventually Headed to Richmond

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Kehinde Wiley is known for reimagining historic portraits. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A statue modeled after a Confederate monument in Virginia was unveiled in Times Square today.

It’s the same size and shape as the JEB Stuart Monument in downtown Richmond but astride the horse is a black man in a hoodie.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Prosecutor Wants New Diversion Program for Marijuana Posession Cases

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Creative Commons/flickr

Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia, but some prosecutors across the Commonwealth are now taking new approaches.

Michael Pope reports on a diversion program in Alexandria that takes a new twist on a familiar problem.

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Mental Health Patients Can Wind Up in Police Cars, That Will Change in Southwest Va in October

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One of the new transport vehicles, during a display in Richmond. (Credit: Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services)

A big change is coming to mental health treatment in southwest Virginia.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the state is rolling out a new way to transport people in crisis.

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Va. News: Randolph College cuts tuition, Montgomery County seeks a law change to boost Tax Revenue

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Counties say a Virginia law deprives them of needed tax revenue and now it will be challenged in the General Assembly… and private colleges are reconsidering how they present their tuition and fees to prospective 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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Virginia Republicans Back Trump’s Plan to use Military Money for Border Wall

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(Credit: Rog Cogswell via flickr.com / CC)

Virginia Democrats are not happy with President Trump’s plan to divert money from Virginia military facilities in order to construct portions of his southern border wall.

But, as Matt Laslo reports, Republicans support the effort.

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The Next Challenge for Expanded Medicaid

Part 1: Accessing Care

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Since Medicaid expanded, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has seen a 3.5% uptick in Medicaid charges, and a corresponding decrease in uninsured patients. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Hundreds of thousands of Virginians now have something they didn’t have this time last year– health insurance through Medicaid.

Lawmakers lowered the requirements for the state-run health insurance program in January.

But just because someone has health insurance, doesn’t mean they’re accessing healthcare.

This week we take a look at Medicaid expansion – nine months in.  Mallory Noe-Payne begins in Norfolk.

Part 2: Finding a Doctor

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Dr. Karen Ransone and husband Dr. Sterling Ransone have had a busy summer. They’ve seen an influx of new patients because of Medicaid expansion. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Since Medicaid expansion passed, more than 300,000 Virginians have gotten health insurance.  They’re visiting the doctor, getting prescriptions filled, and even accessing cancer treatment.

But earlier this summer Mallory Noe-Payne visited rural Eastern Virginia, where not everyone is able to get an appointment.

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Omega Protein Exceeds Menhaden Cap for Chesapeake Bay

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Omega ships tied up at the company’s plant in Reedville. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Last week, Omega Protein, a menhaden (men-HAY-den) fishing fleet, exceeded the amount of fish they were told they could harvest from the Chesapeake Bay.

Omega, renders the fish into food for farm-raised fish and oil supplements for people.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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McEachin Bill Aims to Increase Solar Power in Lower Income Communities

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Rep. Donald McEachin

 

What can solar energy do for low-income communities?

Michael Pope reports one Virginia congressman thinks it can boost the economy while also combating climate change.

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Va. News: Zero Candidates and Medical Marijuana for Kids

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In a possible first among Virginia cities, the election for Clerk of Court in Petersburg will have zero candidates on the ballot…and medical marijuana can now be given to students by school nurses in Virginia.

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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Virginia Gets Low Marks for Ethics Enforcement

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How transparent is Virginia government?

One new report says the commonwealth is falling far behind other states.

Michael Pope reports.

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Crozet Hosts First Public Autonomous Shuttle in Virginia

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  TONY, short for To Navigate You, is a kit made by Perrone Robotics. It transforms any vehicle into a self-driving unit. This one is now offering free shuttle service in Crozet.
(Credit Perrone Robotics)

There’s been lots of talk about autonomous vehicles — cars and trucks that drive themselves– and there are several demonstration projects around the nation.

But a Virginia company believes it’s the first to offer public rides on public roads.

Sandy Hausman caught a lift in Crozet, a small town west of Charlottesville.

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Refunds On the Way, But Not for All Virginians

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Beginning late next week, Virginians should keep an eye on their mailboxes for a letter from the state.

In it will be a check… a tax refund thanks to a budget move by state lawmakers earlier this year.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Virginia Joins Growing Number of States Suing the Sacklers

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Attorney General Mark Herring

Just hours before many states and local governments reached a legal settlement with Purdue Pharma, Virginia’s Attorney General announced a separate lawsuit against the family that owns it.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the latest.

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Episcopal Seminary in Virginia Starts Slavery Reparations Fund

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What kind of reparations could begin to make amends for slavery?

Michael Pope has this report about a new two-million dollar effort in Alexandria.

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Regulators Weigh Dominion’s Request to Raise Profit Margins

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Dominion Energy is asking state regulators for permission to make more money.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the State Corporation Commission Tuesday and has this report.

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Does Virginia Need RGGI If Emmissions Are Already Falling?

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Should Virginia work with other states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Voters may end up deciding that issue this November.

Michael Pope reports.

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Kaine Fears Break Down of Taliban Talks Will Lead to More Deaths

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Sen. Tim Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine was in Charlottesville Monday for the naming of a U.S. Post Office in honor of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American killed in Iraq when he stopped a suicide bomber from reaching troops in a military base.

Afterward, Kaine expressed dismay over President Trump’s tweet calling off peace talks in Afghanistan and the administration’s decision to use military dollars for a border wall.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Northam Announces New Director of Diversity

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Janice Underwood (Credit: Old Dominion University)

Virginia Governor’s announced a new top-level advisor Monday. Her job is, in part, to help diversify the state workforce.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the latest from the capitol.

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Va. News: 25 Years since Disney Theme Park was scrapped, Bland County cancels Football Season

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This month marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of Disney’s plan to open a major historical theme park in Virginia. And another Virginia high school has canceled its varsity football season.

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

More now from Fred Echols.

 

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Surprise Medical Bills Get Attention

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Credit: Chris Dlugosz / Flickr

Insurance companies and health-care providers are engaged in a pitched lobbying effort in Washington and Richmond on surprise billing.

Michael Pope reports.

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Northern Virginia Communities Remove Jefferson Davis Name from Highway

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Jefferson Davis in 1855 (Credit: Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

The name Jefferson Davis is slowly being removed from public highways.
But as Michael Pope reports, the civil war of old names remains an open conflict.

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Does Hurricane Dorian Have You Thinking About Surviving A Disaster?

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Emergency operations planners brainstorm about tips for disaster preparedness in the Alexandria Emergency Operations Center. (Credit: Michael Pope)

September is National Preparedness Month.

So even without Hurricane Dorian, people are thinking about surviving a disaster or terrorist attack.

Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Native Americans Fight to Save Historic Site

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(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

In Central Virginia, at a point where two rivers merge, there’s a little-known site with great historical value.

For centuries, it was home to the chief village of the Monacan Indian Nation.

Today, the Monacan Tribe is fighting to keep the area untouched as officials in Fluvanna and Louisa Counties push to put a water pump there.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the story.

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Wexton Bill Aims to Protect Transgender People who are Homeless

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Credit: John Brighenti / Flickr

When Congress gets back into session, one bill members will consider was introduced by a freshman House Democrat hoping to protect transgender people who are homeless.

Michael Pope reports.

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Va. News: Saving a Historic Black Cemetery, Police testing Construction Zone Law

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A new Virginia law limiting cell phone use by drivers is getting an early test. And a Northern Virginia Boy Scout is leading an effort to restore a neglected cemetery for African Americans.

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

More now from Fred Echols.

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Alexandria Prosecutor Plans Diversion Instead of Prosecution of Marijuana Cases

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Marijuana possession is still against the law in Virginia.

But one Northern Virginia prosecutor is taking action to sidestep prosecution for low-level offenders.

Michael Pope reports.

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Oxfam: Virginia Ranks Poorly for Worker Protections

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Virginia has a well-known reputation as being a state that’s good for business. But what about workers?

Michael Pope reports.

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Northam Inches Up in Polls

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Gov. Ralph Northam

Polling from Roanoke College shows approval for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is on the rise.

He’s up to a 37% approval rating. That’s a five point uptick since February when a racist photo was discovered on his medical school yearbook page.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this look at where Virginia’s Governor stands now, six months later.

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Efforts to Limit Haze in National Parks May Be Hurt By New Federal Guidelines

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  Air pollution or haze hurts scenic views in Shenandoah National Park. The National Park Service has documented the effect on the park’s views back into the 1990’s.
(Credit” Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments)

When you think about a national park, you probably think about fresh air, but the fact is that pollution blows through many of our parks, including the Shenandoah.

The Environmental Protection Agency came up with a rule to address air quality, but park advocates complain that the Trump administration is getting in the way of improvements.

Sandy Hausman explains.

 

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Attorney General: Local Governments Can Exercise Zoning Authority Over Gun Stores

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Do local governments across Virginia have zoning authority to tell gun stores where they can be located and, maybe more importantly, where they can’t be located?

Michael Pope reports.

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Herring: Oklahoma Ruling Encouraging for Virginia Opioid Lawsuit

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Creative Commons via flickr.com

A judge in Oklahoma ruled yesterday/Monday the company Johnson and Johnson is partially responsible for the opioid epidemic there. The drug-maker has been ordered to pay half a billion dollars.

Virginia wasn’t a party in that case, but as Mallory Noe-Payne reports the ruling could still have implications for the Commonwealth.

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Roanoke College Poll: Democrats Have Momentum As Fall Campaign Approaches

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Next week is Labor Day and the traditional beginning of the campaign season in Virginia.

As Michael Pope reports, a new poll shows Democrats are poised to do very well.

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Virginia Marks Women’s Equality Day

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US Census Bureau Data

Virginia marked Women’s Equality Day Monday.

But as Michael Pope reports, there’s still no equality between the genders in Virginia when it comes to pay.

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Honoring Black Patriots

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Charles Jameson looks on as fellow reenactors Charles Belfield, George Beckett and fire muskets in a salute to black patriots of the Revolutionary War.
(Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

It’s been nearly two-and-a-half centuries since the Revolutionary War and still very little is known about Virginia’s black patriots.

Some were promised freedom and went into battle. Others produced weapons, clothing and food.

In the Tidewater Region, the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society is recognizing the role of black patriots in winning the war.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Protecting Student Borrowers

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(Credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr.com / CC)

Is the federal government doing enough to protect people with student loans?

Michael Pope reports that one Virginia Congressman is seeking action on the issue.

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The Appalachian Trail Hopes to Lure New Communities of Hikers

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  Shalin Desai celebrates completing his AT hike from Georgia to Maine. Now he’s organizing groups to enjoy and maintain the trail.
(Credit: Shalin Desai)

The Appalachian Trail stretches nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, and it depends on volunteers to keep the path clear.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is now trying to interest more people in the job – especially those who have not, historically, been part of the hiking community.

Sandy Hausman has details.

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‘Honoring the Journey’ 400 Years of African-American History at Fort Monroe

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(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

400 years ago, the first enslaved Africans arrived to English North America. That moment would set the trajectory of a nation.

The story begins in 1619. In western Africa, a village is raided and the people that lived there are put on a ship and forced to go to the New World. Through piracy and storms, about twenty land eventually in Point Comfort, Virginia.

Today the site is called Fort Monroe and it’s a National Monument.

Mallory Noe-Payne spoke about the history and future with Superintendent Terry Brown.

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In Richmond, Virtually all Juveniles Stopped for Curfew Violations Were African-Americans

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  Robert Morris, commissioner for RVA League for Safer Streets. Many of the young men he works with have been stopped by police. (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Earlier this year Richmond Police released a trove of data. It revealed who in the city is stopped by law enforcement, and why.

The numbers show large racial disparities in stops for things like suspicious activity, and disorderly conduct.

Mallory Noe-Payne takes a look at the most drastic disparity– curfew violations.

 

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