December 30, 2020: Blanding runs for Virginia Governor; Trustees get update on JMRL operations

  
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Today’s show comes with support from the Piedmont Environmental Council, who will celebrate their 50th year in 2022, which is soon to be only next year. Check out PEC’s website at pecva.org or their Facebook page to learn more about what they do and why. Tell them you learned about them on this program.

In today’s show:

  • James Madison Regional Library Board of Trustees wraps up the year

  • The sister of a slain Richmond man runs for Virginia Governor 

  • A sinkhole opens up 

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There are another 4,088 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Virginia Department of Health today. The statewide seven-day average for positive tests is now at 12.7 percent. In the Blue Ridge Health District, there are another 77 cases reported today. That’s 25 from Albemarle, 17 from Charlottesville, 13 from Louisa, 12 from Fluvanna, six from Greene and four from Nelson.

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The sister of a man killed by Richmond police in May 2019 has announced a bid for Virginia Governor. 

“Hello Virginians, my name is Princess Blanding, and today I am grateful to announce my candidacy for Governor of Virginia as a nominee of the newly-formed Liberation Party,” Blanding said in a video posted to her Facebook page. Her brother Marcus-David Peters was shot by police in the evening of May 14, 2019 on I-95 after a taser blast did not subdue him. 

Richmond’s Commonwealth Attorney issued a ten-page report in November which cleared officers. Blanding is running to push for further reform. 

“Since the murder of my brother, Marcus-David Peters, I stood alongside community members and fellow organizers as we fought tirelessly for changes that would put community care and safety first for all Virginians.”

Blanding joins a race with several Democrats and Republicans who have already announced. On the Democrat side, that includes former Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senator Jennifer McClellan as well as former Governor Terry McAuliffe. On the Republican side, Delegate Kirk Cox and Senator Amanda Chase have announced their candidacies. 

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A sinkhole opened up Monday in the median on U.S. 29 north of Seminole Trail, and crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation temporarily closed the left lanes of both northbound and southbound traffic. They used large stones known as rip-rap to repair damage caused. This is an issue VDOT also dealt with in the same general area in 2007 when a leaking drainpipe undermined the integrity of the earth underneath the roadway. (June 2007 Charlottesville Tomorrow article)

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A familiar face returned to the Board of Trustees of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on Monday. Tony Townsend of Albemarle County was introduced by Board President Marcia McDuffie of Nelson County. 

“Tony was on the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2011 and served as president for two years,” McDuffie said. “After that he was on the Friends of the Library Board as well and served as president there.” 

McDuffie also pointed out that Townsend is the administrator of a website called the Patrick O’Brian Compendium, which tracks the work of the author of the Master and Commander series. 

As 2020 winds down, JMRL director David Plunkett gave an update on the system’s transition to its Tier 3 level of service, which allows for in-person browsing by appointment only. The library briefly closed under Tier 5 in mid-march before gradually restoring service. But JMRL offers more than just books. 

“Since July 1, since the beginning of the new fiscal year, JMRL has put on 295 virtual programs that have been attended by 5,333 people,” Plunkett said. “Circulation for JRML materials since July 1 through the end of November [has been] 424,677 items.”

Plunkett said 43 percent of circulation has been of digital materials. The system has also helped to provide Internet service to those who don’t have it at home. 

“Since the pandemic began, a little over 42,000 people have signed on to use JMRL wi-fi,” Plunkett said. “42,000 people.” 

Slowly people are beginning to return to in-person service by appointment. 

“Since September and through the 23rd of this month, Central Library has had 66 appointments made, Gordon Avenue has had 39 appointments made, Northside has had 175 appointments made, Crozet 744, Scottsville 38, Nelson 790, Louisa 464 and Greene 590,” Plunkett said. “So if you think of those as being in groups of either 1, 3, or 5 at a time to keep distances safe, it’s really been a lot of work to get there.”

Plunkett also talked about the financial aspects of COVID for the library. They’ve spent about $50,000 this quarter on PPE and other supplies. There are also no fines at the moment, and fines help pay for new equipment. 

“No revenue effectively is coming in to the equipment fund right now,” Plunkett said. “JMRL has not bought any of the equipment that made it into this year’s budget except for COVID-related expenses basically in the first six months of this fiscal year.”

Plunkett and trustees have been meeting with localities about the next fiscal year budget. He described the meeting with Charlottesville officials as “honest.”

“Charlottesville as you might have seen in the news is having some issues with the meals and lodging tasks, nobody expected this pandemic to go so long so the revenue that has come in what they were expecting for this current fiscal year,” Plunkett said. “So they are meeting ends as best as they can and as they think about next year they’re really looking at flat funding for most of their agencies and partners.”

Calendar 2021 is the centennial of public library service in Charlottesville. Plunkett said JMRL will work with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society on an exhibit. 

“We’re also working with filmmaker Lorenzo Dickerson on a short film about the history of library service here in the region tentatively called Free and Open,” Plunkett said. “We hope to explore the growth of the institution locally and to confront and discuss the history of the segregationist past of the institution.” 

Plunkett and Dickerson will discuss this project on January 27 at a panel held by the ACHS. 


Thanks for reading!