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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FirstComp Insurance Company, Markel Corp. named top insurance carriers


Two Glen Allen-based insurance carriers have been named among the top such companies in the nation.

Markel Corp. and FirstComp Insurance Company (now owned by Markel) are among 38 carriers recognized on the Insurance Business America list of the top insurance carriers in the country. > Read more.

Walmart honors Citizen’s ‘Top Teachers’ during grand opening


The much-anticipated new Walmart Supercenter in Eastern Henrico opened to busy crowds last week, and company officials welcomed a special group of shoppers, too. > Read more.

‘It’s such a blessing’


On Independence Day, a Brazilian-born Henrico resident took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance on the steps of the Virginia Historical Society and felt peace finally settle around her.

Jeanette Hamlett’s journey to U.S. citizenship is a story of faith and love, which she told with her husband, John Hamlett, by her side. > Read more.

Preschoolers give pillows to families in need


A group of preschoolers from Chesterbrook Academy Preschool donated 56 pillows to local families in need at the Housing Families First shelter. The shelter is always in need of pillows and linens as, since families take the donated ones with them to their new homes.

Housing Families First provides shelter and support for homeless families and assist them in finding a permanent housing solution. The shelter serves people year-round, said Terri Iguina, operations and volunteer manager at Housing Families First. > Read more.

Dairy Queen’s Blizzard sales July 27 to benefit Children’s Hospital of Richmond


Dairy Queen’s 13th Annual Miracle Treat Day – Thursday, July 27 – will raise fund to benefit sick and injured children being treated at Children's Miracle Network hospitals throughout the United States. Locally, $1 or more from every Blizzard Treat sold at participating locations will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Last year, the event raised more than $14,400 for the hospital. > Read more.

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West Broad Village will host Movies on the Lawn starting around 9 p.m. at “The Pad” next to Aloft. The movie will be “The Princess Bride.” Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Movies will continue every other Friday throughout the summer. Admission is free. For details, visit http://www.westbroadvillage.com. Full text

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