Newscast for January 14, 2019
Good morning, and welcome to another week of news headlines from in and around Greater Charlottesville. Today’s edition is brought to you by Court Square Tavern, a local institution since 1976. Court Square Tavern is open for lunch Monday through Friday, and for dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturdays. Come on and give us a try!
As the General Assembly prepares to enter its second week, action will continue on several pieces of legislation to improve and expand the 325 miles of Interstate 81 that travel through Virginia. The Roanoke Times reports on various proposals that are expected to be filed this session. Some legislators see tolls as the way to fund $2 billion worth of improvements, while others think the problem can be tackled through increases sales taxes and revenues. The only piece of legislation filed at the moment related to I-81 is from Delegate Dave LaRock, which would establish the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Transportation Commission. (HB2571). In related news, tomorrow the Virginia Department of Transportation will release the preliminary scores for the next round of road improvements in a process known as Smart Scale.
As legislation proceeds to approve casinos in economically distressed areas of Virginia, the Virginian Pilot reports that one native tribe is objecting to another’s plans to build one in downtown Norfolk. The Pamunkey tribe wants to locate the state’s first casino on waterfront land next to the city’s Harbor Park, but the Nansemond tribe claims the land actually traces back to their ancestors. The Pamunkey are the only one of Virginia’s seven federally recognized tribes who have the right to offer gaming on their lands, but the terms of a trust on their reservation east of Richmond bands the practice. The Nansemond claim the land the Pamunkey want to buy for their resort and casino is theirs. Meanwhile, there are several bills in the General Assembly that would allow casinos to operate in communities with higher unemployment figures than the state average. All are still awaiting action in their various committees.
Casino-related legislation: (HB2536) (SB1503) (HJ658) (HB1890) (SB1126)
The legal battle between Dominion Virginia Power and opponents of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline continues. On Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Appeals Court denied a request from Dominion to clarify a recent decision by the court to temporarily block an environmental permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In a statement released over the weekend, the utility defended the need for the pipeline and said its delay will slow the company’s growth. Meanwhile, opponents of the project are calling today on the Department of Environmental Quality to schedule a date for the State Water Control Board to reconsider a water certification permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Automation at parking garages at the University of Virginia have led to early retirement for several attendants. The Cavalier Daily reports that a decision by UVA’s Parking and Transportation department to move to a self-serve payment system for its garages, meaning that humans will no longer be paid to make change. The head of that department said employees were notified of the impending change last fall and were offered other positions at UVA. Two attendants profiled in the article opted instead to leave.
There will be at least one open seat in the Albemarle School Board race this year. Last week, Steve Koleszar said he would not seek a seventh term representing the Scottsville District on the board. The Daily Progress reports that Koleszar said it was time to “pass the torch” to a new generation. He said he served a sixth term in order to help select the new superintendent, Matt Haas. Neither White Hall District representative Dave Oberg or Rivanna District Jason Buyaki have not announced their plans. At-large member Jonno Alcaro will seek a second term as the body’s at-large representative. The school board has a seventh member elected by all voters, whereas the Board of Supervisors only has six members.
And finally today, a public meeting to get information about area transportation projects will still go on despite weekend snowfall. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization will present a draft version of the Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan, which is intended to assist Albemarle and Charlottesville as they build more “multimodal” pathways throughout the community. There will also be a change to give input on the Long Range Transportation Plan, a document required by the Federal Highway Administration. The event begins at 5:30 at the Water Street Center at 401 Water Street in downtown Charlottesville. Let us know if you went, and what you thought.
Monday, January 14, 2019