Bill would exempt firefighters from jury duty

Because they perform such a vital public service, Virginia law exempts police officers from jury duty. But what about firefighters?

They’d be exempt too under a bill proposed by state Delegate James E. Edmunds II, R-South Boston, and endorsed last week by a House subcommittee.

House Bill 1527 also would apply to emergency medical technicians, rescue squad members and arson investigators. Along with firefighters, they would be exempt from jury duty if they so request.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel often are stretched thin; in a fire department, only a handful may be licensed to drive a fire truck. Requiring them to serve on juries puts more stress on first responders and can undermine public safety, Edmunds said.

“A lot of departments only have one or two who have the license to drive a truck,” Edmunds said.

“You can imagine if they were on vacation and there’s no substitute, and you have to call somebody from a different department. It could potentially be a life-saving issue.”

The issue was brought to Edmunds’ attention by the Virginia State Firefighters Association.

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted 11-0 in favor of HB 1527. The measure now goes to the full committee for consideration this week.

During the subcommittee’s review, one concern raised about the bill was whether some citizens might try to dodge jury duty by falsely claiming they volunteer at a local fire department.

Edmunds assured the panel that such claims could easily be disproved by simply calling the department.

He said the bill is a fitting recognition for public servants: “It’s a small token of appreciation for those who serve.”

To follow or comment on House Bill 1527, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb1527.
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State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

Henrico to hold June 8 open house on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold an open house Thursday, June 8 for residents and other members of the public to provide input for a study of the Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill areas.

The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Varina Area Library, 1875 New Market Road. The meeting’s informal structure will allow the public to attend at their convenience and to ask questions and discuss the study one on one with Planning staff. > Read more.

Henrico real estate staying strong despite low inventory

The Henrico real estate market has been relatively strong for the past month, despite a lower amount of inventory, according to data from Long and Foster Real Estate.

In the past month, 408 homes have been sold in Henrico, which is 2 percent less than were sold in the same timeframe in 2016.

Last year the median sale prices for Henrico homes was $219,975, whereas this month it's up to $232,500, a 6 percent increase. Which means half of the homes in Henrico are priced above $232,500 and half are priced below. > Read more.

Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
> Read more.

State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
> Read more.

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Richmond’s original all-musical improv troupe returns with a special Cinco de Mayo show at 10:15 p.m. at ComedySportz Richmond, 8906-H W. Broad St. Late night comedy for the adult crowd. Tickets are $5 online at http://www.comedysportzrichmond.com. Full text

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