Jan 3 • 8M

January 3, 2021: Livable Cville want solutions for Fifth Street Extended; Bills filed in the General Assembly to limit voting, require school resource officers

A condensed Winter Weather edition of the program to start the year

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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 close to perihelion, the point at which the earth is closest to the sun. There are 169 days until the summer solstice, when the northern hemisphere experiences its longest exposure to that same sun. This cosmic background may not be relevant for what you’re about to read, but these are relevant facts to your existence. Every episode of Charlottesville Community Engagement intends to deliver many more. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs.

Charlottesville Community Engagement enters 2022 with a desire and hope for more subscribers. Sign up for free and decide later if you’d like to chip in!

On today’s show:
  • A check-in with Virginia’s COVID surge

  • In the wake of a fatal crash on Fifth Street Extended, the advocacy group Livable Cville wants solutions 

  • A review of new bills filed for the 2022 General Assembly, including more restrictions on voting

Let’s begin today with two more Patreon-fueled shout-outs. The first comes a long-time supporter who wants you to know:

"Today is a great day to spread good cheer: reach out to an old friend, compliment a stranger, or pause for a moment of gratitude to savor a delight."

The second comes from a more recent supporter who wants you to go out and read a local news story written by a local journalist. Whether it be the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, NBC29, CBS19, WINA, or some other place I’ve not mentioned - the community depends on a network of people writing about the community. Go learn about this place today!

COVID update

Virginia set another record for the number of new COVID cases reported on Sunday with 19,506. This morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports another 7,967 new cases and a seven-day percent positivity of 27.9 percent, or more than one in four tests. The number of deaths reported has not increased as steeply. 

The Blue Ridge Health District reports another 139 cases and the percent positivity is 20.7 percent today.

On Friday, the company Novavax filed data with the Food and Drug Administration in a bid for emergency authorization for their COVID vaccine. The European Union and the World Health Organization have both granted the emergency authorization for a vaccine that uses “recombinant nanoparticle protein-based COVID-19 vaccine with Matrix-M adjuvant.” Learn more in their press release.

Today’s snow has closed the Blue Ridge Health Department as well as the Community Vaccination Center. Charlottesville City Hall remains open, as does the Albemarle county office building. However, people are urged to phone first before traveling there. The Albemarle County Fire and Rescue Department and Police Department are urging people to stay home. (Edit: City Hall announced its closure shortly after publication)

As of this recording, Dominion Energy reports about a third of its customers in Charlottesville are without power and about half of customers in Albemarle are also without power. Stay up to date with their outage map.

Fatal crash on Fifth Street extended

A crash in the 900 block of Fifth Street Extended late Saturday night has killed a Richmond woman, according to a report from CBS19 News. That’s prompted the group Livable Cville to call on Charlottesville City Hall to move forward with planned solutions. A series of fatalities in 2020 led to a petition drive that led to a conversation on City Council that November of that year at which traffic engineer Brennan Duncan offered several recommendations including lowering the speed limit. Livable Cities wants to know why none of them have been implemented. 

A useful resource is a map provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation that provides information on all crashes in the Commonwealth. Here are some of the fatalities in the data: (access the map)

  • One person was killed and another was injured on November 22, 2016 at the intersection of Harris Road and Fifth Street Extended in an angle collision involving three vehicles. Alcohol and speed were involved in the daytime crash. 

  • Another crash at that intersection on July 18, 2020 killed another person and injured a second in an angle collision between two vehicles that took place in the daytime. Alcohol and speed were involved in the crash.

  • A sideswipe collision at night involving three vehicles on August 30 north of Bailey Road on the southbound lanes killed the driver of a motorcycle. Speed and distracted drivers were a factor.

  • A single-vehicle crash on October 10 at night in the northbound lane just south of the Cherry Avenue intersection killed one and injured another when the vehicle struck a tree. 

For other coverage:

New bills

The General Assembly meets for its 2022 session in nine days with Republicans taking over control of the House of Delegates and the Democrat retaining a majority in the Senate.

  • Incoming Delegate Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) filed legislation requiring all localities to have a school resource officer hired by a local law-enforcement agency. (HB37)

  • Delegate Kelly K. Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) filed a bill requiring deputies appointed by constitutional officers to be subject to the same restrictions on holding other offices. (HB38)

  • Incoming Delegate Phillip Scott (R-Spottsylvania) filed a bill to limit absentee voting to two weeks before an election. (HB39)

  • Scott also filed a bill to ensure that no child be required to participate in the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness program. (HB41)

  • Delegate Anderson also filed a bill creating a new category of “improper driving” in state code. (HB42)

  • Delegate Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) would require localities that seek to allow retail sale of marijuana to hold a referendum first. (HB43)

  • Delegate Ware also filed a bill limiting voting rights by requiring photo-ID and ending the permanent list for absentee ballots. (HB46)

  • Delegate Matt Fariss (R-Rustburg) filed a bill allowing localities to hold non-binding advisory referenda once a year without seeking a charter amendment or permission from the General Assembly. (HB48)

  • Fariss also filed a bill extending Scenic River status to an additional 44 miles of the James River running through Nelson, Appomattox, and Cumberland counties. (HB49)

  • Stealing catalytic converters would be a class six felony if another bill from Delegate Fariss were to pass and be signed into law. (HB51)

More to come in the weeks ahead. 

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