Sep 15 • 18M

September 15, 2022: Plane crash in Batesville; Rail strike averted; What races are up in Election 2023?

Plus: Are you prepared for a natural disaster?

 
1.0×
0:00
-17:46
Open in playerListen on);
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.
Episode details
Comments

We are now half way through the month of September and officially seven tenths of this year of 2022. There’s really no way of knowing how far we have left in terms of the rest of our lives. But we can say we are over 21 percent of the way through the century, or 21.7 percent to a bit more precise. All days seem to have some importance, and the point of Charlottesville Community  Engagement is to write down as much as possible while each of us go through our separate equations. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs. 

On today’s show:

  • A single-engine aircraft crashed near Batesville last night, killing the pilot 

  • A rail strike has been averted across the country, avoiding disruptions to passenger rail 

  • Albemarle County wants you to mark National Preparedness Month by creating a safety plan for disasters

  • A very brief update on the Cville Plans Together initiative 

  • It’s International Democracy Day and I have a quick round-up on what races voters can expect in 2023  

Whether you pay or not, sign up to get the newsletter in your inbox each time it comes out. Don’t forget it’s also a podcast with soundbites, music, and balanced levels.

First shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program 

In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: Have you been thinking of converting your fossil-fuel appliances and furnaces into something that will help the community reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP,  has launched a new program to guide you through the steps toward electrifying your home. Thermalize Virginia will help you understand electrification and connect you with vetted contractors to get the work done and help you find any rebates or discounts. Visit thermalizeva.org to learn more and to sign up!  

One killed in plane crash near Batesville

One person has died when a single-engine plane crashed in Albemarle County between Plank Road and Stillhouse Creek Road. That’s according to a release from the VIrginia State Police sent out this morning. 

“Shortly before 11:30 p.m., Albemarle County received a distress call from a pilot,” reads the release. “Despite efforts to direct the pilot to land at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, the private, single-engine aircraft was unable to make it.”

The pilot was the only occupant of the aircraft and the body was sent to the medical examiner’s office for identification. Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. 

According to a poster on Reddit who captured the incident, the plane was a Piper Saratoga that left Martinsville. 

Rail strike appears to be averted 

This week, Amtrak began to cut back service in advance of an anticipated rail strike across the country. However, negotiations early this morning resulted in an agreement between the National Carriers’ Conference Committee and three unions 

“The tentative agreements announced today follow the August 16 recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, which include a 24 percent wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024 — with a 14.1 percent wage increase effective immediately — and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments,” reads an update on the website of the National Railway Labor Conference

The tentative agreements avert the strike which was expected to begin tomorrow. However, the release states the three unions must ratify the deal. If you’re interested in the details, review the NRLC website for a history of how we got to here, including establishment of that Presidential Emergency Board. (read the executive order)

“I thank the unions and rail companies for negotiating in good faith and reaching a tentative agreement that will keep our critical rail system working and avoid disruption of our economy,” wrote President Joe Biden in a statement

The rail strike would have shut down the commuter rail known as the Virginia Railway Express, according to an article on Inside Nova from yesterday.  (read the story)

Albemarle Fire Rescue wants you to prepare for emergencies

September is National Preparedness Month, and Albemarle’s Deputy Fire Chief for Emergency Management wants you to create a plan for times when normality is disrupted.

“Emergency management is something that we have focused on for a number of years but lately we have really been kind of expanding our broadening that focus,” said Deputy Chief John Oprandy said. “What emergency management focuses on for the whole county government and the community is a preparedness for all types of hazards.”

View a PSA with Deputy Chief Oprandy on CodeRed

Increasingly these hazards are weather-related with both increased frequency and increased severity. This past January were a string of winter weather storms that shut down power in many communities for several days. Oprandy wants people to get ready for the next season. 

“People tend to forget and they tend to not be ready,” Oprandy said. “And when they are ready, they’re not as resilient as they’d like to be. Resilience, bouncing back, being able to recover quickly from those emergencies is what we’re after.” 

A key example of a sudden unplanned emergency is the derecho that hit on June 29, 2012 which killed at least two Albemarle residents and disrupted many lives. Oprandy said preparing for power outages is key. 

“The ice storm that we had back in January where suddenly we were without power and the damage to the grid locally was such that it was going to be days,” Oprandy said. “That was not predicted and so if you weren’t ready ahead of time, you’re not ready.”

An emergency checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency 

Oprandy recommends people to go to ready.gov which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are instructions on how to build a kit which should include enough food and water for three days, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, and more. 

“The food, there are kits that are available which are meals ready to eat,” Oprandy said. “You just add hot water.” 

But what about the hot water? Get a camp stove, Oprandy says. 

As part of his new position, Oprandy said one task is to help connect people in the rural area with resources. These areas are likely to be without power longer in the event of outages. 

“You know, we’re all in this together,” Oprandy said. “There’s nothing the county is going to be able to do to resolve this for everyone. We are all going to have to help each other in these times and so we’re working to build those networks and contacts ahead of times so that we can all be more resilient during a disaster.”

What about you? What are your plans? Anything you’d like to share? Do so in the comments. 

Leave a comment

Joint Council/PC meeting coming up on city’s future zoning

There are 12 days until Charlottesville’s City Council and Planning Commission will meet in a joint session to discuss the rewrite of the zoning code that is currently being drafted by staff and consultants hired as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative

“That meeting is about getting your feedback, your reactions, so we can move forward into the drafting phase,” said James Freas, the city’s director of neighborhood development services, at the Planning Commission’s meeting this past Tuesday. “That’s drafting the zoning ordinance itself as well as the map.” 

In advance of the meeting, there will be a list of changes made to the Zoning Diagnostic and Approach report that is the main reason for the September 27 meeting. 

Freas said longtime city planner Brian Haluska has a new position as Support Services Manager.

“So in that role he will be overseeing our customer service functions, our new online permitting system, and our data services functions,” Freas said. 

This is all in advance of the full reopening of City Hall on October 3. 

Second Shout-out is for the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards 

In today’s second subscriber-supported shout-out, an area nonprofit wants you to know about what they offer to help you learn how to preserve, protect, and appreciate! The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards have an online class coming up on September 20 where you can learn to select, plant, and care for trees. Two days later on the morning of September 22, there’s a one-mile urban tree walk in Belmont with a focus on tree identification and noteworthy information. Either would help prepare you for the Fall Tree Sale coming up on October 1, specializing in native trees, some of which are hard to find at commercial nurseries. For details on all, visit charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org/

Celebrating democracy around the world while looking at upcoming races

Today is the International Day of Democracy according to the United Nations. 

“Now more than ever Democracy is backsliding, civic space is shrinking, distrust, mis- and disinformation are growing while threats to the freedom of journalists and media workers are expanding by the day,” reads the website for the day. 

Here in the United States, there are 54 days until the next federal elections. In Virginia, most local and state elections won’t be held until next year. Earlier this month, elected officials in Albemarle and Charlottesville both marked the occasion with resolutions that state the day is intended to raise public awareness of human rights. 

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that the will of the people is the basis for the authority of government,” said Donna Price, Chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. (Albemarle resolution)

“And whereas on the International Day of Democracy we are called to review the state of our democracy, promote its principles for the protection and effective realization of human rights, and create an environment for greater citizen participation, equality, security, and development,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. (Charlottesville resolution)

Let’s check in at the local level and see when the next elections are. There are three seats up on the Charlottesville City Council in November 2023,  as the terms of Snook, Councilor Sena Magill, and Councilor Michael Payne expire. All Councilors are elected at large with no specific geographic representation. 

There are also three seats up on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, where all six elected officials represent a specific district. Up for election again are Rivanna District Supervisors Bea Lapisto-Kirtley, White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek and Scottsville District Supervisor Donna Price. 

Price has announced she will not seek a second term, nor will she run for the General Assembly. Price had originally declared candidacy for the redrawn 55th House District, which now includes most of Albemarle County as well as northeast Greene and western Louisa. She announced recently she will retire from elected office at the end of the next year rather than pursue the seat. 

The incumbent in the former 58th District, Republican Rob Bell, is a candidate in the new 55th according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Two Democrats are currently in the race to challenge Bell. They are:

  • Amy Laufer, a former member of the Charlottesville School Board and the Democrat in the 2019 Senate race in the former District 17 

  • Kellen Squire, an emergency room nurse and the Democrat the 2017 58th District Race

The 54th District contains the city of Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle County’s urban ring. Delegate Sally Hudson is the incumbent and currently faces no opposition from within her own Democratic Party or the Republican Party. 

There’s an open seat in the 56th District that covers part of Fluvanna County and many other localities within Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. There’s also an open seat in the 53rd District, which covers part of Nelson County as well as Amherst and Bedford counties. 

Here’s the new Fifth Congressional District. Want to learn more? Subscribe to my Fifth District Community Engagement to learn more about what’s happening as local government meetings.

As for the Fifth Congressional District, Republican Incumbent Bob Good faces Democratic challenger Joshua Throneburg.  As of June 30, Good had raised $848,271 to Throneburg’s $446,579. The next deadline to file reports is October 15 for activity through September 30. So far there is no debate or candidate forum scheduled between the two candidates. 

There’s also the Virginia Senate, in which all 40 seats will be up in the next election in redrawn districts. Incumbent Senator Creigh Deeds has represented the 25th District which spans from Bath County to Charlottesville, but he plans to run again in the new 11th District which covers all of Albemarle and Charlottesville as well as all of Amherst and Nelson counties. A portion of western Louisa is in the the new 11th.

There’s also an open seat in the new 10th District, which covers the rest of Louisa County as well as Fluvanna County and many other localities in the 5th Congressional District. Four Republican candidates are currently in that race, including Louisa County Supervisor Duane Adams. Check out the Virginia Public Access Project for more on those four choices


The final words of episode #431

Don’t worry! There will be an episode #432 and will hopefully come out tomorrow. There’s so much happening and so much going on, and I need to acknowledge the Virginia Public Access Project in the work they do to assist all of us keep an eye on who’s running for office and who is paying their way. 

A democracy can only function if people are paying attention, and my hope is that the work and my colleagues who write up information will help many eyes and ears see and hear a bigger picture. I encourage you to learn as much as you can and maybe one day you’ll want to run for office? 

This particular assemblage of information is a service of Town Crier Productions, a company I formed in 2020 to help me get back to work I felt was important to do. The main way to support is to sign up for a paid subscription through Substack. If you do, Ting will match your initial payment. We’re halfway through the month, so this would be a good time to step up.

I am grateful to those who you have done so so far, and I understand those that cannot do so. If you’re under the age of 25, you qualify for a free complimentary one-year subscription that will give you full access to everything published here as it comes out. I’ve got several dozen of these to give out, so let me know. 

And if you sign up for Ting through this link in this newsletter, you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 Downtown Mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY to get those benefits. Thank you, Ting! 

Music in the podcast version comes from a musical entity known as Wraki, a musical entity you can sample more of if you purchase the album Regret Everything on Bandcamp. Pay what you want! Thank you, Wraki!