7 more groups endorse roads plan

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the Apartment & Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington have endorsed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan for funding more than $4 billion in road, rail and other transportation projects across the state.

The groups were among seven business and transportation associations that announced their support for the plan last week. The other organizations were the Virginia Auto Dealers Association, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals, Retail Alliance and Virginia Business Council.

Earlier, 36 organizations had endorsed McDonnell’s plan.

The Republican governor’s proposal would require the state to borrow money to fund the transportation projects. Critics, notably Democrats, say they oppose the plan in part because they don’t want Virginia to go into debt.

Mary Beth Coya, senior vice president for public and government affairs for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, said that the group has long been an advocate for more funding for transportation and that this is an initial step.

“Our members, the home buyers and the selling public that we serve spend too many valuable hours stuck in traffic. This is time that could be spent with our families or being more productive in our jobs,” Coya said.

The governor said his proposal would help Northern Virginia and other regions by speeding up road construction, providing employment, easing congestion and boosting economic development.

The proposal includes an employee tax credit for telecommuting and a tax incentive for companies that use water and rail, instead of trucks, to ship cargo.

McDonnell’s transportation plan would fund nearly 900 projects statewide. The plan would be funded by about $3 billion in bonds. Also, a 0.25 percent sales tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads would be used for projects in those areas.

Democrats fear that diverting sales tax revenues to transportation will take money away from education and public safety. House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, D-Martinsville, also said the governor’s bond proposal would “run up massive amounts of debt.”

However, Coya said low interest rates make this a favorable time to sell bonds.

“We expect to see proposals in the near future for new funding sources that will address the magnitude of our transportation problem without harming the resources we need for education and other key government services,” Coya said.
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Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” > Read more.

HSWCD to give away tree seedlings Thursday and Friday


Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District will hold its annual tree seedling giveaway March 30 at Dorey Park Shelter 1 from 2:30 to 6 p.m., and March 31 at Hermitage High School from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Studies show that mature trees increase property value, decrease summertime cooling costs by providing shade, slow erosion and reduce flooding. They also provide homes for birds, food for countless creatures, and playgrounds for children. > Read more.

Dog rescued, no one injured in Northside townhouse fire


MAR. 27, 11 A.M. – No one was injured by a townhouse fire that occurred early Monday morning in the 200 block of Knightsmanor Court, near the intersection of Azalea Avenue and Richmond-Henrico Turnpike.

The first Henrico Fire officials were on scene in less than four minutes and found heavy smoke and flames coming from the two-story townhouse. Firefighters from the first-arriving fire engine and ladder truck made their way to the townhome involved in fire and searched for victims through high heat and reduced visibility. > Read more.

Walk, ceremony to observe Crime Victims’ Rights Week

In observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 2-8), and to honor victims of crime in Henrico County and raise awareness about crime victims' rights and issues, Henrico County Victim/Witness will hold a commemorative ceremony and informative walk April 5. > Read more.
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

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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CharacterWorks, a non-profit after-school youth theater program, will present “An Enchanted Evening” to celebrate its 15th anniversary at 6 p.m. at Richmond Marriott Short Pump. Enjoy dinner, dancing, alumni performances and a silent and live auction benefiting CharacterWorks Theatre. Tickets are $85. Black-tie optional. For details, visit http://www.cworkstheater.org/events. Full text

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