What do we have after Presidents’ Day? Why, it’s Pancake Day! Others may note this 24-hour period as Fat Tuesday. But the real thing to sound off on today is that this is the 500th edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, which means that fans of Roman numerals would give it a D. I’m Sean Tubbs, and I’ll keep going with this experiment until I think it’s ready to really start the show. In the meantime, let’s get on to the information
On today’s show:
Ann Mallek announces she will seek a fifth term to represent White Hall on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors
The regular session of the General Assembly for 2023 is coming to and a look at recent action, including passage of a bill to extend the deadline for Virginia to comply with pollution reductions for the Chesapeake Bay
The Emergency Communications Center for the region reports its statistics for 2022
City Council is poised tonight to approve half a million dollars for a commercial kitchen and I take a look back at their first reading
First shout-out: Charlottesville Community Bikes
In this first subscriber supported shout-out, Charlottesville Community Bikes believes that bicycles can be a means to social change, addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion. They provide free bikes to adults who need one, and have a special program that provides free bikes to children. Want to learn more or support their work? Charlottesville Community Bikes currently is seeking matching funds for a grant from the Outride Fund. Visit charlottesvillecommunitybikes.org to learn more.
Mallek seeks fifth term to represent White Hall on Albemarle Board of Supervisors
Ann Mallek was first elected to the White Hall District on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors in 2007 when she defeated Republican David Wyant with 55.64 percent of the 5,307 votes cast that year.
Mallek ran unopposed in 2011 and 2015 but faced Republican Steve Harvey in 2019 and won 56.7 percent of the 7,728 votes cast that year.
It’s been many years since anyone sought a fifth term, but Mallek made her intentions known at a kick-off event Saturday at Crozet Library.
“With encouragement from local citizens and county leaders across the Commonwealth, I declare today to seek re-election for a last term representing the White Hall District,” Mallek said.
During her campaign speech, Mallek asked those in attendance to note that the population in 1950 was 26,650. Now the population is at 115,495 as of last July 1 as estimated by the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia. She said this campaign will be a lot like her first.
“Many top issues in 2023 are reminiscent of 2007 as residents worry about rapid residential development, increase in population, and community services that have not kept up from missing sidewalks and parks to the cost of housing,” Mallek said.
Mallek said that the next four years will include pivotal decisions about the county’s future and she encouraged people to get involved with plans that are underway such as the review of the Comprehensive Plan. She said her institutional memory is still needed especially on environmental issues.
“Debate will surely continue about the growth area boundary as it has since 1980 when it was created,” Mallek said. “Our urban surfaces growth area is limited to five percent of the county. Understand that expanding services costs a fortune, thus the growth area limits make financial as well as environmental sense.”
Last week, Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley filed paperwork to run for a second term in the Rivanna District. An independent, David Rhodes, has also filed paperwork but indicated in an email to Charlottesville Community Engagement that he may step aside if another candidate emerges.
Last November, Democrat Michael Pruitt announced his campaign for the Scottsville District seat. A person with an internet talk show has previously announced a bid for the Scottsville District, but has so far not filed any paperwork. Until then, no free publicity.
Emergency Communication Board releases productivity report
A public body charged with coordinating emergency responses for Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia met earlier today. These meetings are no longer available to view remotely, but the meeting packet is worth a review. (review the packet)
Of the five public safety agencies that participate, the Albemarle County Police Department is by far the busiest with the most calls in all months in 2022. For instance, ACPD received 5,901 calls for service in December compared to 3,051 for the University Police Department and 2,968 for the Charlottesville Police Department.
Overall in 2022, 54.28 percent of calls for service that came through the ECC originated in Albemarle with 25.59 percent from Charlottesville and 20.13 percent from the University of Virginia.
As for for people to run the ECC, there was a vacancy rate of 17 percent as of January 30 according to the packet.
Legislative round-up: 2023 session nearing a close
This newsletter aspires to cover as much of the General Assembly as possible but there aren’t many surprised in in the second year of a legislature divided where each party controls one House. There are so many other journalists working on this, but I do like to take a snapshot every now and then.
Today’s a significant day to do so because yesterday was the last day for committees to action on bills. Thursday is the last day for both Houses to take action on whatever legislation made it through. Saturday is the day all legislators go home until the April 12 session to respond to whatever Governor Glenn Youngkin does with all the bills sent his way.
So let’s look at the statistics. As of 8:50 a.m., a total of 731 bills have failed in the House of Delegates with another 205 pending. Over in the Senate, 383 bills failed to make it out and 257 are pending.
What are some of those bills? Here’s a handful that may find their way to a signature pen.
A bill to allow the Commonwealth Transportation Board to adopt a policy allowing surveillance equipment in the public right of way was approved by the House of Delegates earlier this month on a 80 to 19 vote. The Senate Transportation Committee recommended passage on a 11 to 3 vote with one abstaining. The full Senate dispensed with a Constitutional reading yesterday. The bill specifically prohibits the use of data collected to enforce speed limits, tolling requirements, or high-occupancy vehicle requirements. (HB1437)
A bill to extend the deadline for Virginia to meet the requirements of a pollution reduction program for the Chesapeake Bay passed the Senate on February 17 on a 39 to 0 vote. The original bill would have extended the date from 2026 to 2030 but the compromise date is 2028. The bill only narrowly made it out of the House of Delegates on a 52 to 47 vote. (HB1485)
A bill to allow localities more flexibility for the preservation of green space in urban areas is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. The House of Delegates passed (HB1510) on a 72 to 27 vote and the Senate Local Government committee moved it ahead on a 13-1 to vote on Monday.
Legislation to prevent intentional surveillance into buildings made it out of the Senate Judiciary yesterday. (HB1583)
A bill to make “organized retail theft” a Class 3 felony passed the House on a 52 to 47 vote and is now waiting for action in the Senate. (HB1885)
A bill related to the funding of school resource officers will go to a conference committee. HB1691 would allow flexibility in how law enforcement agencies could use those funds authorized last year. This passed the House on a 53 to 46 vote but passed the Senate on a 34 to 6 vote with an amendment. The House rejected the substitute last week and the Senate voted yesterday to insist.
Another bill heading to conference committee is one that would change the requirements for tenants to sign a statement of responsibilities. Read HB1735 for the details.
More in the future.
Second shout-out: Cvillepedia Edit-A-Thon on February 23, 2023
Any time you do an Internet search about Charlottesville, it’s possible that a result will bring up information that came from Cvillepedia. Cvillepedia is a community resource that contains thousands of articles about all kinds of things that have happened in Albemarle and Charlottesville. Did you know that you can make edits? Do you have something you would like to make sure it written about?
Join the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society in the Jefferson Room at JMRL’s Central Branch for a half-day edit-a-thon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The goal is to add more information about anything that happened between 1933 and 2023 to help fill in the gaps for an upcoming radio series on WCHV to celebrate that station's 90th anniversary this September.
One on one demonstrations
Opportunity for you to scan in information you'd like to share with the community
Meet with others interested in talking about and researching local history
Informal event with brief presentations on what cvillepedia is on the hour
If you want to know more, drop me a line! I’ll be there at the event, helping you to make history!
Council holds first reading of $500K payment to New Hill for BEACON kitchen
Tonight, Council will have the second reading of a proposal to give half a million to a nonprofit organization outside of the budget cycle for an economic development project.
“This is BEACON, which stands for Black Entrepreneurial Advancement and Community Opportunity Network,” said Yolunda Harrell, the CEO of the New Hill Development Corporation. “What we are seeking to develop is a shared-use commercial kitchen and incubator in Charlottesville.”
New Hill was formed in 2018 with the goal of strengthening the Black community in Charlottesville. Council agreed on a 4 to 1 in late 2018 to allocate $500,000 from a Council reserve fund for New Hill to create a small area plan for the Starr Hill neighborhood. The project was later converted to a vision plan which was endorsed by Council in April 2021.
The idea for the Beacon commercial kitchen came out of the plan and a new strategic plan for New Hill puts a greater emphasis on increasing economic opportunities.
“Essentially what we are saying is what if we could reduce financial barriers?” Harrell asked. “What if we could create at least 94 new jobs? What if we could add more diversity to the local food economy? And what if we could help stabilize existing businesses and support up to 70 businesses in one location?”
Members would be able to rent the space hourly or monthly, and would not have to purchase their own equipment. The kitchen would also help with packing of food products as well. Harrell said this can save entrepreneurs thousands.
“This project pays for itself,” Harrell said. “The investment that we’re asking you to make you’ll certainly get that back.”
The ask for the city is $500,000 and the original idea was that half of that would come from contingency funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The other half comes from the city’s strategic investment. The project has already received some funding.
In late December, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a $50,000 grant from the Agriculture and Foresty Industries Development program for the project. New Hill also received an $189,000 grant last summer from the state’s Growing Opportunities fund from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
“It has gotten some grants already but it is in need of some additional funding to get it off the ground,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director.
The project would be located in Kathy’s Shopping Center in a warehouse that was formerly where Cavalier Produce was located. The space had been rented to Champion Brewing, who subleased a portion of it to Decades Arcade. That entity is moving to the Downtown Mall. Harrell said there would be space for 16 different businesses to work at the same time.
Harrell said the entire project will take a total investment of $2.3 million. The Community Investment Collaborative has agreed to a $500,000 loan and the rest comes from grants.
“Right now our funding gap is about $1.2 million,” Harrell said. “We want to make sure that this project is up and operational before the year is out because our community can’t afford to wait.”
York Properties would continue to own the property. The lease will last for up to 20 years according to Harrell.
Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said he had heard the presentation before and the funding had his support.
“When we talk about, you know, how to amend for some of the past practices of the city and this country, it’s programs like this that we should support but this is something that’s going to be a big benefit for the city,” Wade said.
Councilor Michael Payne said he also supported the project but was concerned about spending down American Rescue Plan Act funding that still remains.
“You know we saw [at the] last budget presentation that we’ve got almost no money so every time we’re wheeling away at our existing ARP money we’re reducing the flexibility we have and that’s my only concern,” Payne said.
For instance, Payne said Council may need to contribute to help the School Board purchase the county’s share of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center or supporting a new homeless shelter. Payne suggested using all of the funding from the strategic investment fund, which has already been augmented by $1 million from a previous ARP allocation.
Engel said there is a timeline to use the American Rescue Plan Act fund so a decision had been made to pull from that account. He said if Council wanted, he could do what Payne wanted.
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said the investment was appropriate for Council to make as a remedy.
“It helps get at some of the particular injustice that’s associated with Vinegar Hill from 60 years ago,” Snook said. “What Vinegar Hill did was to destroy a community that included a number of small businesses including a number of the kind of businesses that would benefit from this kind of a project.”
Second reading is tonight. It is not on the consent agenda due to some of the changes requested.
Reading material for this particular edition:
ACFR and Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team find mortar round, conduct controlled disposal, Isabel Cleary, NBC29, February 18, 2023
Norris announces candidacy for HD54, Gretchen Stenger, CBS19, February 19, 2023
Mortar found at Ivy Material Utilization Center, Staff Reports, Charlottesville Daily Progress, February 19, 2023
Thoughts on making it to 500
This is the 500th edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. I plan to go for another 500 if I am able to do so. Rather than look back, I’d rather look ahead and begin planning for where I hope to be then. It’s taken since July 16, 2020 to get this far, so I can imagine it will be at least another two years to get to double.
This doesn’t include the Week Ahead, nor special editions which happened when something big happens. I’m dedicated to being ready to report at any moment, though I am so hopeful I will be able to hire someone to assist me in the production before too long. That’s happening in the background.
This would not be possible without you reading or you listening and for all of those who feel this material is worth reviewing. I do not seek to push any agenda but instead to be a reporter doing the same basic work I was doing as a student journalist over 30 years ago. I believe there are good days ahead for reporting, and I’m glad to be part of whatever era we are in, working alongside others in the business.
Thanks to anyone who has contributed in any way that unlocks a shout-out, and in particular the Patreon supporters. When I knew I wanted to take a risk and go independent, people answered the call.
Thank you to Ting for their sponsorship as well. They’ve been around since about 250 or so. They came up with the idea of the unique of incentivizing paid subscriptions. If you pay through Substack, Ting will match your initial payment. This is an incredible boon. More on Ting at the very end.
Finally, so much gratitude to Wraki for composing much of the music you hear, with the exception of the very first opening track which was put together by P.J. Sykes. Today’s podcast debuts two new pieces from Wraki, including what will be used as the end music from now on.
In general, I feel pretty blessed to get to do this, and humbled. I always know I could possibly be wrong, so I work as hard I can to prevent that. I believe journalism can help build community, and that’s what all of this is about. Thank you for being part of it.