Newscast

Teacher protest, Virginia population estimates: January 29th newscast

Good morning, and welcome to another edition of this experiment newscast, designed to give you a quick overview of what’s happening in and around greater Charlottesville in a format you can listen to quickly, or read quickly. Next week we debut out Smoke Signals edition. Look for it above a hillside near you. Today’s sponsor is Court Square Tavern, a great place where you can get a great meal while having a great time. Open for lunch Monday through Friday, open for dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday evening. That’s Court Square Tavern.

Teacher protest

Nearly 2,500 teachers from across Virginia marched on the state Capitol in Richmond on Monday to call for wage increases, according to a report in the Virginia Mercury. Organizers with Virginia Educators United stress that the event was not a strike, but a march attended by instructors who either covered their shift or were part of a school district who had the day off. Virginia allows teachers who go on strike to be fired. Delegate Lee Carter has filed a bill that would change that, and that legislation is before the House General Laws Committee..

 

Buyaki not running

There will be at least two new members of the Albemarle School Board when it convenes for the first time in 2020. That’s because Rivanna District incumbent Jason Buyaki announced last week he will not seek a third term. That’s according to a story in the Daily Progress from Thursday. Earlier the newspaper reported that Steve Koleszar will not seek a seventh term representing the Scottsville District. We still don’t yet know if White Hall member Dave Oberg or at-large member Jonno Alcaro will seek re-election.

 

Population numbers

The latest population estimates are out from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. Over a thousand people moved into Albemarle County between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, a figure based on calculations from building permits and other measures of growth. The Weldon Cooper estimate for Albemarle is 108,639, or a 9.7 percent increase since the 2010 Census. Charlottesville has grown 13.5 percent since 2010 to an estimated figure of 49,281.

Other college towns in Virginia have also experienced a high rate of growth since 2010. Harrisonburg has grown 11.6 percent to an estimate of 54,606. Fredericksburg’s rate of growth is 16.9 percent to an estimate of 28,387. Over 22,000 people have moved to Richmond since 2010, a growth rate of 11.1 percent.

 

Waltons B&B

Fans of the Waltons may soon be able to stay overnight in a replica of their fictional Nelson county homestead. The Lynchburg News and Advance reports that Nelson County Planning Commission has recommended a rezoning and special use permit for a Waltons-themed Bed and Breakfast in Schuyler, which is the home of the Walton’s Mountain Museum as well as the home of Earl Hamner Jr, the late creator of the world-famous television program. The Waltons ran for nine seasons from 1972 to 1981 and the applicant says the project will boost tourism in Nelson County. The Board of Supervisors will take up the rezoning later this year.

 

Long Bridge resolution

It has been nearly five years since state officials approved funding for a second daily train between Lynchburg and Washington’s Union Station. Amtrak, private railroads and state officials have been unable to come up with a time slot for the train in part because the bridge that carries freight and passengers across the Potomac River is at capacity. Last week, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization passed a resolution expressing support for a plan to expand Long Bridge. Planning for the project is currently in its third phase.

 

220 improvements

At the other end of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation is taking comments through February 2 on a study of possible new roadways that would travel between Martinsville and the North Carolina border. The Martinsville Southern Connector Study is intended to come up with an alternative for the project, even though there is currently no funding to purchase land for the right of way or for construction.

 

And that’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow with another installment. Now we’re off to go binge-watch some Walton’s.

 

Newscast

Fossil fuel moratorium, Bedford train stop: Newscast for January 24, 2019

Good morning and welcome to a rainy-day version of the experimental newscast, dedicated to bringing you information about state and local government since January 1. Thanks for joining us again as we work out what we’re trying to do here. Today’s edition is brought to you by HairSmith and Co, a fine place to take care of your appearance, located at 1208 East Market Street in the Coterie Suites. I recently had my best haircut of the last ten years there, and can attest to the quality that comes with every cut. Thank you, HairSmith and Co! And now, on with the news.

A bill that would prohibit new fossil-fuel power plants in Virginia was passed out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, according to a report from the Capital News Service. House Bill 1635 was introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul of Roanoke with Delegate Elizabeth Guzman serving as co-patron. Here’s some sound from the meeting yesterday beginning with committee chair Terry Kilgore.

(sound-bite1)

The legislation would also commit Virginia to a plan that would require energy suppliers to only use “clean energy resources” after the year 2036.

One Republican joined eight Democrats in voting for the bill, while two Democrats joined five Republicans in voting no. Six other Republicans did not vote on the bill. A vote by the full House of Delegates has not yet been scheduled.

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If you live in southeast Virginia, you may be been moved this into a House of Delegates new district. The Virginia Public Access Project today released a visualization tool which depicts the results of a recent 4th District Court of Appeals decision to redraw 26 state House districts. However, VPAP also reports in their newsletter today that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Republican appeal of the decision this spring.

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The Bedford Town Council has added its voice to a growing call for Amtrak service to stop in that community, according to a story in the Lynchburg News and Advance. This month, both Council and the Bedford County Board of Supervisors adopted resolutions calling for a $9.8 million grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation for a new train station. A passenger train has traveled through Roanoke every day since service to Roanoke was established in 2017, and train activists say a stop in Bedford would boost economic development.  Franklin County is also interested in the idea because it could help bring more people to Smith Mountain Lake. A study commissioned in 2017 by a grassroots group demonstrated such a stop would add 12,000 new riders to Amtrak’s service in Virginia.

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A developer in Afton has told the Nelson County Times he will build six cabins on a portion of his property off of Route 151. Earlier this month, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors turned down a request for a special use permit for that use. The cabins are part of the Afton Depot development, which is across the street from Silverback Distillery. The company Rockfish Valley Events eventually wants to build a nanobrewery, farm winery and tasting room as part of the entire project. The Times reports that the Nelson County Planning Commission was set to take up a permit for a restaurant at their meeting this week.

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Today is the first meeting of the Regional Housing Partnership, an advisory panel that will “focus on housing production, diversity, accessibility, cost, location, design, and increasing stability for the region’s residents.” Members include elected officials from throughout the Thomas Jefferson Planning District, which includes Albemarle, Charlottesville, Nelson, Green and Fluvanna counties. The idea behind the partnership is to address the need for more affordable housing on a regional basis. The meeting begins at 9:00 am at the Water Street Center on Water Street.

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This next story from Louisa County is written by citizen journalist Tammy Purcell.

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors continued to wrestle with its vision for the locality’s future Tuesday night, listening to dozens of citizens share their concerns about the county’s proposal to develop a sprawling industrial park just off Interstate 64.  In a 4-3 decision, the board voted to purchase more than 700 acres near Shannon Hill in hopes of bringing both jobs and revenue to the county. The proposed industrial park met widespread opposition when it became public last summer. The original proposal spanned some 1600 acres, spilling far beyond the county’s designated growth area.  The board eventually downsized the project but many residents still expressed concerns about its threat to Louisa’s rural character. Thanks to citizen journalist Tammy Purcell for that story.

Newscast

Dangerous streets, Albemarle elections, city leases: Newscast for January 23, 2019

Good morning and come on in as we read some top headlines from in and around the greater Charlottesville area. We’re entering our fourth week of this experiment, which is intended to  help you learn more about what’s happening. Today’s installment is brought to you Rapture, a restaurant and nightclub on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Tonight’s Wednesday Music Showcase presents the band Toad Head in a free show beginning at around 10:00 pm. Before, come on in for a great dinner. And now, that news we told you about.

The Equal Rights Amendment may have been defeated in the Virginia House of Delegates. The House Privileges and Elections Committee voted 4 to 2 to “pass by indefinitely” a bill that the Virginia Senate approved last week on a 26 to 14 vote. The Virginia Mercury reports that the only woman on the subcommittee, Delegate Margaret Ransone, said she did not need “words on a piece of paper” because she said “God made us all equal.” Supporters of the bill are still hoping it can be brought to the house floor for a full vote.

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There are now two candidates for the open race in the Rivanna District on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. The Daily Progress reports that Bea Kirtley of Keswick will also seek the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Norman Dill. Dill announced earlier this year he would not run for a second term representing the northeast portion of Albemarle County. Kirtley moved to the area in 2007 after a long career in public service in the Los Angeles area, including a stint on City Council. Jerrod Smith announced last week that he would run for the seat as well. Ann Mallek has said she will run for a fourth term representing the White Hall district in northwest Albemarle. She has not been opposed since 2007. Rick Randolph, the incumbent in the Scottsville District, has not announced his plans.

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In other Albemarle election news, longtime public defender Jim Hingeley is set today to announce his campaign to be the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Albemarle County. That seat is currently held by Republican Robert Tracci, who defeated Denise Lunsford in 2015. Hingeley created the Albemarle-Charlottesville Public Defender and served there for 18 years.

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The group Smart Growth America has issued its annual Dangerous by Design report, which states that drivers kill 13 pedestrians a day in crashes across the United States. The report ranks cities and states on something the group calls the Pedestrian Danger Index. Virginia is ranked as the 23rd worst state on that index.Most of the communities with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities are within Florida. From 2008 to 2017, pedestrian deaths increased 35.4 percent while vehicle miles traveled increased by 8.1 percent. Smart Growth America calls upon states to adopt Complete Streets policies to make them safer for people on foot as well as cyclists. Charlottesville adopted such a policy in 2016 called Streets That Work that is used to help prioritize what projects get funded locally.  

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If you’re interested in transportation issues, there are a couple of meetings in the next two days you might want to know about. The Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board meets at 4:00 today at 410 Water Street in downtown Charlottesville. The MPO is made up of two Charlottesville City Councilors and two Albemarle Supervisors, as well as the head of VDOT’s Culpeper District. The policy board will discuss the Long Range Transportation Plan, the Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan and will review how area transportation projects fared in a statewide funding competition. As we reported last week, the Smart Scale process has only recommended $2 million in funding for the West Main Streetscape project. Projects to improve the area around the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road were not recommended for funding. We’ll bring you some of that conversation on today’s installment.

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Tomorrow, the Regional Transit Partnership will meet in the same place at 4:00 p.m. The partnership is similar to the MPO, but is a non-binding advisory group that works to try to encourage and implement cooperation between the three main transit agencies that serve urban Charlottesville. They are the Charlottesville Area Transit, JAUNT and the University Transit System. We’ll have a preview of that meeting tomorrow.

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Finally today, Amtrak will begin a second daily passenger train to Norfolk from Washington D.C. beginning in March. The new service was announced at the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting last week by Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. Passenger service to Norfolk was restored in 2012, three years after daily passenger service came back to Charlottesville. Passenger service was restored to Roanoke last year. Have you taken the train? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

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Audio-only: City council discussion of the lease extension for the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society. 

Newscast

Minimum wage hike defeat and Seminole Square apartments: Newscast for January 22, 2019

Good morning and welcome to today’s installment of this experimental newscast. The idea of this evolving concept is to inform you and other listeners about what’s happening in the greater Charlottesville area, as well as state government. We’re glad you’ve joined us and hope this will become part of how you stay informed. Today’s sponsor is Court Square Tavern, a great place to talk about what you learn on this program. Bring some friends for lunch, Monday through Friday or dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday night. That’s Court Square Tavern, in the bottom of the old Monticello Hotel. Now, on with the following.

In the state Senate yesterday, a bill to raise the minimum wage in Virginia was defeated on party line votes. All 21 Republicans voted against the legislation, which would have raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour this July with further increases to $15 in subsequent years.

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Roz Dance of Petersburg, said the legislation was intended to create more opportunity for those in low-pay jobs.

“This has been a simple bill that has been out for quite a year now… from those who find themselves that are hard workers and they want to work but they aren’t able to make a salary that will allow them to have a quality living style for their families.”

But Senator Mark Obenshain, a Republican from Rockingham County, said the measure would hurt business.

(need to transcribe bite)

A similar bill awaits action in a House of Delegates Commerce and Labor subcommittee.

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A bill for Virginia to become the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is scheduled for a key subcommittee meeting tomorrow. House Privileges and Elections SubCommittee #1 will begin at 7:00 am tomorrow. The Virginia Senate passed the ERA amendment last week on a 26 to 14 vote.

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One of Charlottesville’s underused commercial shopping centers could soon have a new future as a residential community. The Great Eastern Management Company will present a conceptual idea to the city’s Planning Commission tonight. That’s in advance of an official application for a special use permit on the site of a former Giant grocery store. The plans depict demolition of a portion of the existing building and construction of 11 five-story buildings, most of which would contain apartments for rent. Most of the units would have one or two-bedrooms, while only a dozen would contain three-bedrooms.

 

The work session is an opportunity for commissioners to weigh the proposal against the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The ongoing review of that document is currently on hold while a search is conducted for a company to facilitate further discussions. In the meantime, the property under review tonight is within the area of a small area plan adopted by both Charlottesville and Albemarle County last year.

 

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Location of property under consideration by Greene County Board of Supervisors on January 22, 2019

Further to the north, the Greene County Board of Supervisors tonight will consider a special use permit for up to 212 apartment units off of Moore Road. Without the permit, the 13 acres of land would only be allowed up to 78 units. The staff report for the proposal states that “the demand is emerging for housing options that offers a more affordable and convenient lifestyle that is offered by many low-density suburban communities.” A market study conducted for the new complex found that the occupancy rate for apartments in Greene and Northern Albemarle is at ‘just under 99 percent.”

 

As part of the plan, the developer would build a new connector road and would pay $2.4 million in fees to connect to water and sewer. Greene County is currently working with the Rapidan Service Authority to pay for a new reservoir to increase the community’s water supply.

 

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And finally today, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission will meet today. Among the items on their agenda is a plan in Norfolk for a “community-wide coastal resiliency project” for two flood-prone neighborhoods. The idea is to build a series of berms and restore “living shorelines” to mitigate or halt the rising waters. Part of the project involves a restoration of oyster habitat.  

 

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Newscast

Climate change, school employee benefits: Newscast for January 21, 2019

Good afternoon and welcome to this late edition of the daily newscast. Today’s installment is brought to you by Court Square Tavern, a downtown institution since 1976. Come by and have a conversation with a stranger, all while having a great meal and a great ale. That’s Court Square Tavern in the street level of the old Monticello Hotel.  Now, on to the stories.

 

The U.S. Defense Department has presented a report to Congress that outlines the security risks that come with climate change. The $329,000 report states that erratic weather and sea-level rise pose potential impact to “missions, operational plans and installations.” The Pentagon has been studying the issue for years. The Langley-Eustis air force base in Virginia has seen a 14-inch sea level rise since 1930 and flooding “has become more frequent and severe.” The report also lists thawing permafrost as a threat to critical infrastructure in Alaska, and said armed forces may also have to help with a growing number of humanitarian relief projects following catastrophes. 

 

The Charlottesville City School Board is seeking to raise the minimum wage for support staff to $15 an hour. The Daily Progress reports that the increase would cost the school system an additional $423,789 a year. According to materials presented at last week’s budget work session, enrollment in Charlottesville schools has increased from 3,855 students in fiscal year 2009 to 4,238 in the current one. School officials also report that enrollment will continue to increase as more dwelling units are built within Charlottesville city limits. The school board is currently down one member with the resignation earlier this month of Amy Laufer. Chairwoman Jennifer McKeever told the Progress that the board will appoint an interim member and are looking for a previous member who will not run this year to permanently fill the vacancy. (USE IMAGE)

The Staunton News Leader reports that Augusta County schools may offer health insurance and other benefits to bus drivers. The system stopped offering health insurance to new employees in 2013 in order to save money. In November the News Leader reported that the system has 160 bus routes but only 150 drivers. Localities across Virginia are experiencing similar shortages.

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The Lynchburg News and Advance reports that the continued shutdown of the federal government will mean no new varieties of Virginia wine and beer until there is a resolution. The formula for new products must be inspected and approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Treasury. A notice on the agency’s website said that no new applications will be reviewed ‘until appropriations are enacted.” The shutdown is now entering its second month.

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Charlottesville City Council will not meet today as it is a holiday to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Junior. Council will meet Tuesday for a relatively light agenda at which they will discuss the lease terms for the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society to continue occupying the McIntire Building. The society has been in the former library location since 1993. The current lease expires at the end of April and to renew it, the non profit society must complete a series requirements, including “accountability for racial and ethnic diversity in staffing practices and representation on the Board of Directors that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of our region.” The staff report for the discussion indicates that the society has met that goal, but has not submitted an audit of it finances.

(city council agenda)

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There are over a dozen items on the City Council’s consent agenda. That is a list of items that are all approved at the meeting without public comment. These items include appropriation of $875,000 in state money for two trail projects, and acceptance of nearly $550,000 in intersection improvements in the city’s Belmont neighborhood. The latter projects were prioritized through the city’s Street That Work problem as well as a 2016 study of unsafe intersections in the city by the Timmons Group. The city will need to spend around $66,000 of its own money for the Belmont work, and that money will come out of a fund set aside for the Strategic Investment Area.

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Also on the consent agenda is an appropriation to pay the group Smart Growth America an additional $42,553 to tailor presentations on form-based zoning to the Board of Directors for both the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Public Housing Association of Residents. As part of the additional work, Smart Growth America will come up with an estimate of how many “affordable” units can be built at the Ix Park, which is itself within the Strategic Investment Area.

 

Newscast

General Assembly updates: Newscast for January 18, 2019

Good morning, and welcome to the end of the week. You made it! Two and a half weeks into the year. Come on by Court Square Tavern this Saturday where I’ll be working behind the bar, and in the kitchen, and as your host. As this newscast moves along, I’ll likely advertise that last, but for now, come on in tomorrow night to learn more about what this is all about. And now, on with the news, which today is mostly about the General Assembly.

Today is the final day for legislators in the House of Delegates and the State Senate to introduce legislation for this year’s session. There’s less than a month to go before the two chambers adjourn.

Bills introduced on Thursday include one from Senator Adam Ebbin that would limit the number of rounds in a publicly brandished firearm, one from Senator Amanda Chase what would prohibit further construction of coal ash ponds to contain waste from coal-fired power plants, and one from Senator John Cosgrove that would direct the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to study ‘peer-to-peer’ vehicle rental services. The state of Maryland passed legislation last year requires car sharing services such as Turo to comply with tax laws and insurance requirements.

Another bill from Delegate Todd Pillion would clarify that motorized scooters can use designated bike lanes.  Legislation from Delegate David Toscano would allow elections for local office to use “ranked choice voting.’  Neither Toscano nor any other legislator has so far introduced a charter amendment that would allow Charlottesville City Council to raise the salary level for elected office.

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Also on Thursday, the Virginia Mercury reports that several bills that would place limits on firearms were voted down in both House and Senate committees. One bill from Delegate Rip Sullivan would have allowed firearms to be temporarily confiscated from people judged by a court to pose a risk to public safety.  That bill was passed on indefinitely in a House subcommittee on a 4 to 2 vote. The Roanoke Times reports that another bill to allow that city to ban guns at public meetings has also been defeated.

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Meanwhile, environmental organizations are hoping the General Assembly will pass legislation that would create a state body to promote and study wildlife corridors.  The bill from Delegate Mark Keam defines a wildlife corridor as “a habitat linkage that joins two or more areas of wildlife habitat.” Such corridors can help species migrate and part of the idea is to have the group make suggestions on how to make road projects safer for the safe passage of wildlife.

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Speaking of roads, the American Trucking Association has sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam expressing their opposition to tolls on Interstate 81. The Bristol Herald Courier reports that the association has hinted at a legal challenge if an annual pass were only available to automobiles and not commercial vehicles. Last year, the ATA sued the state of Rhode Island for tolling only trucks, a practice the organization said violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Legislation for tolls on Virginia’s portion of I-81 await action in the House Rules and Senate transportation committees.

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Klöckner Pentaplast in Louisa County is set to invest $25 million to increase the size of its factory. That includes a $300,000 grant from the Virginia Investment Performance program, a state incentive program that encourages new capital investment by existing companies. The Gordonsville factory is part of a large German company that has had a presence in Virginia since 1979. Klöckner Pentaplast is the fourth largest employer in Louisa County, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

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The man behind a new office building at the western end of the Charlottesville Downtown Mall has donated $120 million to the University of Virginia for the creation of a new school of data science. The Daily Progress reports that investor Jaffray Woodriff will make the gift from his Quantitative Foundation. Woodriff is also behind the new triangular CODE building which will replace the Main Street Arena and its ice park. Demolition of that building is just about to get underway. The donation to UVA is the largest in its history. According to the Progress, the previous gift was $100 million and went to establish the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

 

Newscast

ERA, Smart Scale and Albemarle elections: Newscast for January 16, 2019

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Welcome to another edition of the little newscast that could, a brief look at news and events related to local and Virginia government. Our sponsor today is the Court Square Tavern, with fine European beers and fantastic food that doesn’t cost a lot of money. You can find Court Square Tavern in the bottom level of the tallest building in Charlottesville. Look up for it today.

The Virginia Senate has passed the Equal Rights Amendment on a 26 to 14 vote. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that seven Republicans joined all 19 Democrats in supporting the Constitutional amendment which would state that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Senator Mamie Locke said amending the Constitution is necessary to move forward with guarantees of equality and equity.

“In 1863, Abraham Lincoln penned the Emancipation Proclamation but it didn’t really free slaves. It’s the 13th amendment that did that. In 1857, the Dred Scot said that people like me weren’t citizens of the United States of America. It took an amendment to make me a citizen of this country. The 14th amendment did that.”

Senator Amanda Chase spoke out in opposition to the measure.

(Chase soundbite:)

Chase said the ERA would have unintended consequences.

The resolution now awaits action in the House of Delegates’ Privileges and Elections Committee. Opponents say a ten-year deadline to ratify ERA passed in 1982. That hasn’t stopped advocates from moving forward. Nevada ratified the amendment in 2017 and Illinois did so in 2018.

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The preliminary scoring round has been revealed for new transportation projects in Virginia, and none of Albemarle County’s submissions have qualified for funding in what is known as Smart Scale process.

However, transportation planners at VDOT have recommended $2 million toward the West Main Streetscape, a project that has been in the planning stage for over five years.

In this third round of the Smart Scale process, there were over 400 submissions from across the state. Here’s deputy transportation secretary Nick Donohue.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen a continued decline in the amount of available resources and we have $779 million available for award in this round of Smart Scale,” said Virginia deputy transportation secretary Nick Donohue. In Smart Scale, projects are measured on they reduce crashes, increase economic development and improve congestion.

“It’s not just that the project with the most benefits gets the gold and goes home as the winner. It’s the project that provides the most benefits for the dollars spent,” Donohue said.

Only four projects among over 40 submissions in the VDOT’s Culpeper District have been recommended for funding. The West Main project scored high in the economic development category and received the second highest overall ranking in the District. The highest scoring project in the is a roundabout in the Town of Culpeper.

Albemarle’s submissions had included an extension of Berkmar Drive to Airport Road and a roundabout at Rio Road East and Pen Park Road. The county was awarded funding for six projects in the last round, including converting the I-64 interchange at Exit 124 ito a diverging diamond. Various businesses are now competing to be hired to design and build those projects.

There were 70 submissions in the Staunton District, and the top ranked project would improve the intersection of U.S. 220 and Virginia Route 615 near the Homestead in Hot Springs. Other high-scoring projects in the Staunton District include a streetscape in Waynesboro.

The results for this round are not final until further review by the Commonwealth Transportation Board including a vote in June.

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Charlottesville Delegate David Toscano has filed a bill that would allow Virginia localities to decide for themselves if they want to remove Confederate statues. State code currently specifies that it is unlawful for localities to “disturb or interfere” with such monuments. Charlottesville City Council in 2017 voted to remove a statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee from his namesake park. That prompted a lawsuit which is still before Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore. Toscano’s bill awaits action in the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns.

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Albemarle Supervisor Ann Mallek is expected to announce today that she will seek a fourth term representing the White Hall Magisterial District. Mallek was first elected in 2007 and has ran opposed in her two previous re-election bids. The Daily Progress reports that Albemarle native Jerrod Smith is expected to announce on Friday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the Rivanna District. That seat’s current supervisor, Norman Dill, announced last week he will not seek a second term. Smith has a master’s degree from the Batten School of Leadership of Public Policy and works for PRA Health Sciences.

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Speaking of the Board of Supervisors, they will meet today at 2:00 pm for their second meeting of the year. They’ll get a preview of how the 2019 Real Estate Assessments will look like, and will also hear more about the development potential of within the vicinity of the Rio Road Small Area Plan. The Charlottesville City Council will meet with its Housing Advisory Committee at a joint session with the subject heading of “Intervention Analysis Tool and Housing Strategy Review.” That public meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Water Street Center on Water Street. .