Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.

Construction begins on JA Finance Park at Libbie Mill


School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.

Assembly poised to OK state budget on Friday


Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.

The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies. > Read more.
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Dreaming big

School Board votes to create new ‘academy’ at Highland Springs ES

It was, perhaps, fitting that days before the nation paused to honor the life of a man known in part for his powerful dream (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), the Henrico County School Board voted to approve a program whose design could help some of the county's most at-risk students realize their own dreams.

The board Jan. 12 unanimously approved a five-year, $2.16-million agreement with An Achievable Dream Certified Academies, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Newport News that will begin operating its acclaimed educational program at Highland Springs Elementary School this fall.

The aim of the program is simple: to engage the most vulnerable students – whose family situations, economic levels or discipline issues might otherwise prevent them from achieving academically. > Read more.

Capitol is site of dueling gun allies


Unified by their desire to preserve safety, but divided on ways to do so, both sides of the Virginia gun debate rallied on Capitol Square on Monday.

“Hello deplorables. Are you ready to take back the Commonwealth of Virginia?” Corey Stewart, a Republican candidate for governor, asked as members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League rallied in the morning.

Stewart cautioned the crowd that while it is possible to lose a battle and win the war, that means it is also possible to win the battle and lose the war. He said they won the battle for the presidency with Trump’s 2016 election.
> Read more.

Poll finds support for workforce training


Most Virginians said they are willing to pay more in taxes to keep programs for workforce training and development at their current levels, according to a statewide poll conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University. The survey, conducted by the VCU’s Center for Public Policy, said 58 percent of adults statewide felt that way. That view was more prevalent among Democrats, among people who don’t have children in the public schools, and among Virginians 65 and older.

“Economic development and workforce development are important topics nationally as well as statewide, and they will certainly be at the forefront of this year’s General Assembly session,” said John Accordino, interim dean of VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, which oversees the center. > Read more.

Advocates for rape survivors applaud grant


Organizations that help rape survivors see benefits from Virginia receiving a $2 million federal grant to improve the commonwealth’s handling of sexual assaults. They say the money will help the state train sexual assault investigators, test rape evidence kits and provide services to rape survivors.

“At YWCA Richmond, we acknowledge that all survivors respond differently to trauma and to news involving sexual assault. News of this continued testing may provide comfort to survivors and their families that justice will be served to the perpetrator of the assault,” Rachel Solomon, the Y’s development and relations coordinator, said Thursday. > Read more.

Anti-abortion group wants ‘Day of Tears’ commemoration


An anti-abortion organization called Day of Tears is urging the Virginia General Assembly to pass a resolution declaring a day of mourning to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Joined by a dozen Republican colleagues, Dels. Benjamin Cline of Amherst and Richard Bell of Staunton have introduced the resolution – HR 268. It would declare Jan. 22 as the Day of Tears in the state and encouraged Virginians “to lower their flags to half-staff to mourn the innocents who have lost their lives to abortion.”

Jan. 22, 1973, was a monumental day for both pro-life and pro-choice advocates. > Read more.

House panel shoots down ban on guns in libraries


A House subcommittee shot down a bill Thursday to allow libraries owned or operated by local governments to ban firearms from their premises.

On a 4-1 voice vote, Subcommittee No. 1 of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee recommended tabling HB 1418. The bill, proposed by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, sought to allow localities to adopt ordinances to prohibit the carrying firearms in public libraries.

“The (library) staff strongly feels that a library should be used as a reading circle and that schools and libraries are inappropriate places to openly carry firearms,” McQuinn said. > Read more.

Attorney General seeks to expand hate crime definition


Attorney General Mark Herring, backed by Democratic legislators and interfaith leaders, said Friday he will seek to broaden the state’s definition of “hate crime” to cover gender identity, sexual orientation and disability.

“Too many Virginians and folks all around the country have been targeted by a criminal simply because of who they are,” Herring said at a press conference.

State law defines a hate crime as “any illegal act directed against any persons or their property because of those persons’ race, religion, or national origin.” > Read more.

Lawmakers start tackling Virginia’s opioid crisis


Virginia officials are scrambling to get a grasp on the state’s growing opioid epidemic, legislators and health-care leaders said Thursday.

William A. Hazel Jr., the commonwealth’s secretary of health and human resources, gave a presentation to the Senate Education and Health Committee and the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee about the opioid problem and how lawmakers should start to solve it.

Experts – including Dr. Mishka Terplan, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor of obstetrics and gynecology – joined in the presentation. > Read more.

Cocke, Cooper selected to lead School Board


The Henrico County School Board Jan. 12 unanimously elected Brookland District member Beverly Cocke to serve as its chairwoman for 2017 and Fairfield District member Roscoe Cooper III to serve as its vice chair.

Cocke has served on the School Board since 2012 and previously served as chairwoman in 2013. Cooper just completed his first year on the board. > Read more.

Glover, O’Bannon to lead Henrico Board of Supervisors


The Henrico County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to elect Brookland District Supervisor Richard W. Glover as chairman and Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia S. O’Bannon as vice chairman for 2017.

Glover is serving as the board’s chairman for the sixth time. He most recently held the post in 2012. He succeeds Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson in the position.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Glover thanked Henrico residents for giving him the opportunity to serve, noting that he is beginning his 29th year on the board.

"You as citizens are fantastic,” he said. “You’ve done so well by this county. You’ve made us what we are, and you will continue to do that.” > Read more.

Delegate defends bathroom privacy bill


A state lawmaker and his supporters Thursday defended legislation telling transgender individuals which bathroom they must use – a proposal that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vowed to veto. House Bill 1612, proposed by Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, would require people in public schools and government buildings to use the restroom for the sex shown on their original birth certificate.

The bill also would require the principal of a public school to notify the parent or guardian if a child requests to be identified by the name, pronoun or treatment “inconsistent with the child’s sex.”

Marshall discussed the proposal, known as the Physical Privacy Act, at a news conference with members of the Virginia First Foundation, a citizens group that supports “limited Constitutional government supported by a strong Judeo-Christian, Conservative culture.” > Read more.

McAuliffe pushes for easier absentee voting


Currently, to vote absentee in Virginia, you must cite a specific excuse, such as attending college or having a disability.

But if Gov. Terry McAuliffe has his way, the state would expand the list of excuses to include people caring for children or for an ill or disabled individual and anyone without reliable transportation. Better yet, McAuliffe says, Virginians should be able to vote absentee without having to give an excuse.

McAuliffe is urging the General Assembly to approve those proposals during the legislative session that began Wednesday. > Read more.

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Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Innsbrook Executives’ Breakfast Series continues at 7:15 a.m. at the Richmond Marriott Short Pump, 4240 Dominion Blvd. The speaker will be Neil Amin, CEO of Shamin Hotels. Amin began his career at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York, advising technology companies on public and private mergers, acquisitions and capital market activities. Hear his perspective on the hotel landscape and future trends. Cost is $30. The series continues on the third Thursday of every month. For details, visit http://www.innsbrook.com. Full text

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