Apr 16 • 14M

April 16, 2022: Good raised the most money in 5th District race in first quarter; Work continues to reopen Smith Aquatic Center

Plus: Wegmans to eliminate plastic bags by year's end

 
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Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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We are now halfway through the fourth month of the year, and when the clock strikes midnight later on, 29.77 percent of 2022 will have passed. Seven out of ten days of the year are still to come. Is this is a good place and time to take stock? That answer is up to you, but I can tell you that this is another installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Thanks for reading, and please send it on to someone else!

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On today’s program:

  • Campaign finance reports are in for candidates in the Fifth District 

  • An update from the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department

  • An area grocery chain is set to eliminate plastic bags 

  • A Jefferson Elm is planted on Grounds to mark UVA’s long term landscape architect

First shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign 

It’s springtime, and the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign wants you to know they are grassroots initiative of motivated citizens, volunteers, partner organizations, and local government who want to promote the use of native plants. This spring the group is working with retailers across the region to encourage purchase of plants that belong here and are part of an ecosystem that depends on pollination. There are plenty of resources on the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page, so sign up to be notified of lectures, plant sales, and more! 

Good leads in fundraising totals for 5th District candidates

Republican incumbent Bob Good has raised the most money among candidates seeking election to Virginia’s new 5th District for the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the Federal Election Commission, Good raised $152,092.13 in the first three months of 2022. His campaign spent $144,310.62 during the period and has spent total of $431,328.87 over the course of the campaign. Good has raised a total of $675,964.49 and had $376,792.76 on hand at the end of March. 

Republican Dan Moy raised $114,046 in the first quarter and spent $66,106.12, and has $47,939.88 to spend. He did not file a report for activity prior to this year. 

The Republican nominee will be selected in a convention at Hampden-Sydney College on May 21. 

On the Democratic side, Josh Throneburg raised $37,524.33 and spent $106,726.72 in the quarter and reported a $50,000 debt. He’s raised $307,678 over the course of the campaign, and had $149,037.30 in his account on March 31. This week the Democrats announced that Throneburg was the sole nominee who turned in enough qualified signatures to make the ballot for the June 21 primary.

Andy Parker failed to make the ballot for the Democratic Primary, but raised $178,314.37 between January 1 and March 31. He spent $26,010.45 and had $152,303.92 in the bank.  Park told reporters this week he is considering a challenge of the results.

A third Democratic candidate, Warren McClellan, raised $2,900 in the period and a total of $13,901.18 over the campaign.

A fourth Democratic candidate, Lewis Combs, dropped out of the race raised $5,155 in the period. Combs raised a total of $227,018 during his campaign and has disbursed $184,832, leaving $42,186.01 in his account as of March 31.

The new shape of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District

COVID-19 update

The Virginia Department of Health reported another 1,538 COVID-19 cases yesterday and a seven-day percent positivity of 5.4 percent. The total death toll over two years has now risen to 20,022. 

The VDH no longer reports data by localities on their dashboard, and the Blue Ridge Health District’s dashboard last reports data from April 13. However, an email update sent out last night shows 22 new cases in Albemarle this week, and 16 in Charlottesville. While those figures may be lower than the actual number due to at-home testing, there does not appear to be a significant public health threat from COVID at this time. 

“What we’re not seeing is a significant spike or a significant increase in case counts at the hospital of people diagnosed with COVID,” said Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology at the University of Virginia Medical Center. “Particularly with people diagnosed with severe COVID.  

Second boosters are now recommended for those over the age of 50 or those who are immunocompromised. Those who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and booster may want to consider a switch.

“In general, for most patients we’d recommend if they received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine initially, that we steer them towards a [messenger]RNA vaccine, the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” Dr. Sifri said. 

For more information on vaccinations, visit the Blue Ridge Health District website

Wegman’s to eliminate single-use plastic bags

As Albemarle County and Charlottesville both consider levying a tax on plastic bags, a major grocery chain has announced they will phase out their use by the end of this calendar year. 

“With this decision, the company’s goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags,” reads a press release on the company’s website.

Wegmans will begin to charge five cents per paper bag, with proceeds going to local food banks or United Way chapters. The company has already eliminated plastic bags in New York, where they were banned ini 2019 by that state’s legislature. Wegmans has also experimented with eliminating them from some stores around Richmond. The release makes the claim that making the transition will eliminate over 345 million bags from going into circulation each year. 

Albemarle County will hold a public hearing Wednesday evening on imposing a five-cent tax per bag. (staff report)

Charlottesville City Council will hold a work session on climate action at 4 p.m. on Monday.

Second shout-out goes to Camp Albemarle

Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”

Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting Donate to Camp Albemarle.

Charlottesville Parks and Recreation still seeking lifeguards; no date yet for Smith reopening

This week, Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board got an update on preparations underway to get the city’s pools and spraygrounds ready. 

“We are currently still developing our operational hours and what that’s going to look like at our outdoor facilities,” said Gator Batton is the interim manager of aquatics for the department. “The goal is to open Washington Park, Onesty, and Smith.” 

Of those three, only Washington Park opened last summer. Onesty Park didn’t open because of a shortage of lifeguards and Smith Aquatic Center has remained closed for the duration of the pandemic due to repairs to address air quality issues. 

Hours and operations will depend on having lifeguards in place, and Batton said there are currently 65 set up for the summer. 

“We have looked at some creative ways of recruiting and trying to bring in certified lifeguard staff as well encouraged current staff to stay with us throughout the summer,” Batton said. 

These include waiving fees for certification courses, $250 signing bonuses, and a second bonus at the end of the summer. The city is also looking to outsource operations of Onesty Pool and there’s a request for proposals on the street. 

Vic Garber, the deputy director of the department, said they need at least 25 more lifeguards for full operations this summer. 

Garber said testing has been completed at Smith Aquatic Center. 

“This included the filtration and chemical feed system,” Garber said. “We had National Pools do that. We basically passed that with flying colors.” 

Air qualities have been conducted by two different firms. 

“It should be totally sound from any type of chloramines or chlorine smell,” Garber said. 

Tests will continue to be conducted after the pool opens and people are using it. An opening date will be announced after the results of a third test. Garber also said the equipment in the fitness room is being replaced.

“When people come in, they need to smile and stay as long as they want and be happy,” Garber said. 

Batton said the hope is to have the spraygrounds at Belmont, Greenbrier, Tonsler, and Forest Hills Parks operational in less than a month. 

The goal is over the next two weeks to test out water features, balance water chemistry, and our project opening for those is May 14,” Batton said. 

Elm planted at UVA Lawn for Mary Hughes

The University of Virginia celebrated its founding Wednesday with a tree-planting ceremony to mark the career of retired landscape architect Mary Hughes. Hughes stepped down in January after serving in the position for over a quarter of a century. 

UVA Today reports that President Jim Ryan spoke at the event. 

“While at UVA, she expanded awareness of the landscape beyond the Academical Village, both developed and wild lands,” Ryan said. “She secured funding for a multiyear research project on the history of land-use and landscape design of the University Grounds, which resulted in summer internship opportunities for UVA landscape architecture students and enriched the cultural landscape curriculum.”

During her time as landscape architect, Hughes directed a study of local waterways and UVA stormwater system, which led to the creation of the Dell. Hughes also studied the history of enslaved workers and served on the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, which resulted in the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers. 

A Jefferson Elm was planted outside of Pavilion III in Hughes’ honor. For a full list of memorial trees on Grounds, visit the Office of the Architect’s website.

Retired landscape architect Mary Hughes shovels soil around the base of a Jefferson elm tree, planted on the Lawn in her honor. (Photos by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)