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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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.
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For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will present the Dominion GardenFest of Lights nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 25 to Jan. 9 (closed Dec. 24-25). This year’s theme will explore "Living Color" and show how the world's kaleidoscope of colors speaks to people, impacts nature and influences culture. Visitors will see colorful translucent butterflies in flight, stained glass-inspired illuminations, sparkling white light transformed into a brilliant rainbow, floating flowers opening and reaching toward “sunlight,” fields of brightly colored blooms waving in the moonlight, illuminated spheres dancing in the sky, among other displays. The event features more than a half million lights, botanical decorations, trains, holiday dinners, family activities and more. Admission is $5 to $13. For details, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text

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