The Triangle: News in 5 (Nov 22)

A high honor for Justice Kennedy from Colonial Williamsburg, unaffordable healthcare premiums in Virginia, a deadly incident at a holiday parade in Wisconsin + more.

Good morning, Historic Triangle!

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and we can expect cool fall temperatures for much of the week, with highs in the 50s most afternoons.

Last week, I wrote about the ongoing staffing shortages in Hampton Roads, which have hit workers in the retail, restaurant, manufacturing, healthcare and education industries particularly hard.

As I reflect on the many reasons I have to be grateful this holiday season, I’m reminded of my sincere appreciation for the essential and frontline workers in our community and throughout the nation. To all of you who have faced exasperating challenges for nearly two years throughout the pandemic: thank you.

It’s been another difficult year for many of us, but it is my hope that you will all have a wonderful holiday this week, and I’d love to hear about what you are feeling grateful for.

In addition, I’m working on a newsletter that will highlight some of the local holiday shopping opportunities at small businesses in the Historic Triangle. If you’d like to recommend a small business to be featured, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

And if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe to The Triangle receive each newsletter directly in your inbox.

As always, there’s a lot happening, but The Triangle is breaking down the top local, statewide and national news stories into a quick, five-minute read.

Let’s get started.

Local

1. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation presented its highest honor – the Williamsburg Award – to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

  • Kennedy, who served the nation’s highest court for three decades, received the award at a special dinner on Friday following his recent retirement from the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The only other person to receive the award was former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1955, the Associated Press reports.
  • Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and served the court for three decades. He became well-known as a voice of moderation and was widely respected among colleagues for his civil attitude and non-ideological approach to the law.
  • Kennedy joined the Colonial Williamsburg’s Board of Trustees in 2001 and became the longest-serving board member in the foundation’s history, retiring earlier this month at the Board’s November meeting.
  • “His opinions in every case are focused on the same two issues that our founders debated here at Williamsburg — and those two issues are personal liberty and the constraint of power so as to prevent tyranny,” said Carly Fiorina, chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Board of Trustees.

Justice Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

2. A parental rights proposal drew a crowd at the York County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

  • Thirty-two people signed up to speak during the citizens’ comment portion of the meeting. Residents on both sides of the debate presented impassioned arguments regarding a parental rights resolution presented by Supervisor Walter C. Zaremba of District 1 on Oct. 18.
  • The proposal, titled “A Resolution in Support of Parental Rights York County: Where America’s Freedom Was Won!,” was developed in response to parents’ concerns about the state’s cultural competency training. It argues that York County’s parents and taxpayers “believe that education must focus on academic subjects, and, without exception, should not include the promulgation of social experiments and/or opinions not based on fact.”
  • The resolution – which threatens to withdraw taxpayer funds if the district promotes certain cultural competency ideologies – is centered on § 1-240.1 of the Code of Virginia, which states that a parent “has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.”
  • Residents who spoke at the meeting were evenly divided on the proposal, and some urged both sides to find common ground. Lynda Fairman of the Tabb District spoke in favor of the resolution: “[The curriculum] teaches that all whites are oppressors and racists and succeed only because of White Supremacy,” said Fairman, referring to the state’s cultural competency curriculum. “Virginia’s rights of parents law, section 1-240.1, gives all parents the right to say no to this divisive ideology, that instead, we choose to teach our children to unite for freedom and justice for all.”
  • Sean Murphy of York County spoke against the proposal: “I am proud of our school board,” Murphy said. “I have two children, one that has graduated and another that will be graduating in a few years. They have not been indoctrinated, studied critical race theory or been subjected to any social experiments. They have been taught everything they need to become a productive adult in our society.”
  • After the lengthy citizens’ comment section concluded, Chairman Chad Green emphasized that the resolution will not be placed on the agenda until the Board of Supervisors meets with the schools to “have a meaningful conversation on this issue and other issues.”

3. A York County parent is alleging that a school bus driver tried to segregate students by race.

  • The mother, Jakieya Toliver, told WAVY News that she received a phone call from her sixth-grade daughter on Wednesday, Nov. 17, after a white bus driver “would not let the Black kids sit in the back of the bus.”
  • Toliver, a native of York County, alleges her daughter walked off the bus and alerted an administrator of the issue. Toliver says school staff attempted to calm students down after the incident, but the situation became “very rowdy.” She further states that Black students had to be picked up by their parents that afternoon, while white students were able to go home on the bus.
  • Katherine Goff, a York County School Division Spokesperson, said that a comprehensive investigation into the situation has been initiated. Goff said that while the district is in the process of implementing a surveillance video system for school busses, the bus involved did not have a camera on board. As a result, the investigation will rely on eyewitness accounts.

Statewide

1. The Supreme Court of Virginia has chosen a political analyst and university professor to redraw the state’s redistricting map.

  • The decision comes after the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to come to an agreement after weeks of tense arguments surrounding the redrawing of the state’s congressional map.
  • In 2020, state voters passed a constitutional amendment to create the commission in an effort to develop a fairer approach to establishing voting districts. But the process was handed over to the Virginia Supreme Court when the commission could not come to an agreement by the state’s Oct. 25 deadline.
  • Sean P. Trende and Bernard N. Grofman will now serve as “special masters” responsible for redrawing the voting districts, Virginia Mercury reports. Trende, a Republican nominee, is a lawyer with degrees from Yale and Duke University and a senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. Grofman, nominated by Democrats, is a political scientist who teaches at the University of California. He was previously chosen to help Virginia redraw voting districts in 2015.
  • Per the Supreme Court’s ruling, the “special masters” are forbidden to consult with outside experts or political entities, and they must hand over the redrawn maps within 30 days. The maps, which will determine all of the state and Congressional office districts, will then be reviewed by the General Assembly.

The Supreme Court of Virginia. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)

2. Many Virginians are still unable to afford their health insurance premiums, a new report shows.

The 76-page report, which was presented to the state’s Joint Commission on Health Care on Tuesday, found that the state is continuing to have difficulty managing the cost of premiums in the health insurance market.

The cost of mid-level silver plans – which are the most common choice of Marketplace shoppers – increased by nearly 60 percent between 2016 and 2021 alone. The spike forced the average consumer to pay more than $200 extra per month, according to Virginia Mercury.

The Joint Commission also stated that more healthy young adults in the state chose to forgo marketplace insurance altogether due to the unaffordable prices. That only amplified the situation, leaving “a less healthy, higher cost group of Virginians, which further increased premiums.”

The Commission recommended numerous options for lawmakers to consider to address the rising costs, and the issue is likely to be high on the priority list for the upcoming General Assembly session. Nonetheless, the report emphasizes that the federal government’s actions will also play a key role in how the state moves forward.

National

1. A holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin turned tragic after a vehicle plowed into the crowd of bystanders, injuring more than 40 and killing 5.

The incident happened around 4:39 pm local time in Waukesha, according to ABC News. A red SUV associated with the incident has since been obtained by police and a person of interest was taken into custody, Police Chief Dan Thompson said at a press conference Sunday night. The suspect has now been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, according to Newsweek.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing gunshots amid the chaos. Thompson confirmed that an officer from the Waukesha Police Department discharged their weapon in an effort to stop the car, but none of the bystanders were hit.

Authorities are still working to identify victims and notify family members. Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in nearby Milwaukee said in a statement that it had received 15 patients by 8 pm and the situation was still “fluid and dynamic.” The superintendent of the School District of Waukesha sent out a letter to all parents to inform them that school would be canceled Monday.

I could see kids on the ground, little bodies on the street… I’m still in shock,” one witness told CBS Chicago after the incident. The witness also said that many of those harmed at the event were wearing parade costumes.

“Today we experienced a horrible, senseless tragedy,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly at a news conference Sunday night. “I can still see the smiling faces… I’m deeply saddened to know that so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.”

2. Covid cases in the U.S are up by 40% since October – and the 2021 death toll from the pandemic has now surpassed that of 2020.

  • The total number of deaths related to the virus reached 770,8000 this weekend, according to real-time data by Johns Hopkins. That’s more than double the 385,343 deaths reported last year. After ten weeks of declines, the nation’s seven-day average for new cases is nearing 90,000.
  • Cases are once again spiking throughout the nation ahead of the holidays, including in highly vaccinated areas of New England and the upper Midwest. According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is reporting more cases than at any other point in the pandemic. As many as one in ten cases in the U.S are now occurring there, even though the state only accounts for about 3% of the nation’s population.
  • Experts attribute the surge to waning immunity, the increased potency of the Delta variant and a return to more indoor gatherings. Some are also alleging that confusing public health messaging has further exacerbated the problem, The Wall Street Journal l Street Journal reports.
  • On Friday, the CDC announced it accepted an advisory committee’s recommendation to allow all adults to receive a booster dose. But some experts are criticizing the agency for sending unclear messages by saying only that adults over 18 “may” – rather than “should” – receive another shot, according to Axios. The new guidelines currently differentiate that only high-risk individuals “should” receive the booster.

Also in the nation:

  • Closing arguments are being held today in the trial of three men accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA.
  • President Biden announced this morning he will nominate Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to a second four-year term amid ongoing inflation concerns.

Local Covid-19 Update

Community transmission is currently listed as high by the CDC Covid-19 data tracker.

Hospitalizations : There are currently 846 hospitalizations in Virginia in the past week (+17 increase from one week ago) according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Cases and Deaths ️: There have been 10,623 new cases in Virginia in the past week and 277 additional deaths.

Vaccinations : 64.4% of all Virginians are now fully vaccinated (up from 63.6% last week.

Schools : According to WJCC Schools, there are 29 students that have tested positive and are in isolation this morning. 149 students are in quarantine. Among staff, five have tested positive and are in isolation and three are in quarantine.

YCSD reports that there are 11 active positive cases among students and/or staff. YCSD does not report quarantine information.

Good News

Organizations throughout the Historic Triangle are providing meals to families in need for the holiday season.

  • The Virginia Gazette reports that Grove Christian Outreach Center will be providing about 200 Thanksgiving baskets to families in the Grove community who have pre-registered from 10 am to 1 pm Monday. Meanwhile, FISH, which serves James City County, upper York County, and Williamsburg will also be open to provide food assistance on Monday and Tuesday from 10 am – 4 pm. Those planning to stop in for assistance are asked to call ahead.
  • Additional Thanksgiving food distribution events took place over the weekend. The Williamsburg Police Department held two Stuff the Cruiser food drives to accept donations of food that will be distributed to local families ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Pet food and supplies for Heritage Humane Society were accepted, too. The Virginia Peninsula Food Bank also hosted its 25th annual Mayflower Marathon holiday food drive on Saturday and Sunday in Yorktown. And on Saturday, the James Maloney Foundation, funded by Williamsburg Pottery, hosted a drive-thru event to give out 1,500 turkeys to local families.

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Events This Week

Multiple Days

Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia – American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (200 Water St.). 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Friday & Saturday, 11/26-11/27. Learn about culinary practices and cooking techniques from the 17th and 18th centuries during a two-day event.

Santa Claus Comes to Newtown – Outdoors at the Gazebo near Opus 9 in Williamsburg. Nov. 26 – 28 and every Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4-19. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Williamsburg Christmas Market – Corner of Francis St. & S. Boundary St. (P4 parking lot). Fri. & Sat. 11:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sun. 11:00 am – 6:00 pm. Village-style setting similar to that of a traditional European Christmas market featuring local vendors, snacks and more. Organized by local nonprofit CultureFix.

Live Holiday Music in Merchants Square – Williamsburg. 3:00 – 5:00 pm. Live Holiday Music in Merchants Square – Friday, Nov. 26 (3:00 – 5:00 pm) and Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27-28 (1:00 – 5:00 pm). Featuring fife & drum performances, carolers and strolling musicians.

Calls from Santa – for residents of James City County & Williamsburg. Sign up to receive a call from Santa on Tuesday, Dec. 7! Available for children 9 and under. Register here by Tuesday, Nov. 30. Free.

Ice Skating at Liberty Ice Pavilion – Duke of Gloucester St. in Williamsburg. Open daily Nov. 19, 2021 – Feb. 27, 2022, including holidays. See the full daily schedule here.

Talk of the Town: Christmastide Tours – Colonial Williamsburg – 10:00 am daily, Nov. 25, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022. $15 per ticket with CW admission or a good neighbor pass. (Note: Tours sell out and tickets should be purchased in advance).

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Nov. 12, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022. Hours and ticket prices vary; see website for details.

Wednesday, Nov. 24

Come Ye Thankful People Come – 4:30 – 5:30 pm. Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg. Join Kelly Kennedy and John Turner for an hour of tunes, poems and readings related to Thanksgiving and harvest time. $10 with art museum admission or a Good Neighbor pass.

Thursday, Nov. 25

Turkey Trot – Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg. 8:30 am. Run, walk or trot – this event is for everyone. Prices varies depending on the track chosen. See website for details.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at Jamestown Settlement Cafe’ – 11:00 am – 4:00 pm; available on a first-come, first-served basis. Includes traditional Thanksgiving turkey and sides, dessert and a beverage. $19.95 for adults; $9.95 for children 12 and under. Museum admission not required to dine in the cafe’.

Friday, Nov. 26

Merchants Square Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony – Merchants Square in Williamsburg. 5:30 – 8:30 pm.

Saturday, Nov. 27

Williamsburg Farmers Market – New location in the Francis Street parking lot (401 Francis St.) 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. Features local products including fresh seasonal produce, meats and seafood, baked goods, handmade soaps and more.

Walking Tour of Yorktown – begins at Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters in Yorktown (411 Main St.). 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. Walk through Yorktown’s historic streets and learn about historically significant residents like William Rogers, Thomas Nelson, Jr., and Dr. Daniel Norton. $10, free for children under 12.

Gingerbread Display Open House – Williamsburg Lodge. Visit the lodge this annual tradition to view the 2021 gingerbread house display in the lobby designed by in-house pastry chefs. Holiday treats will be available for purchase, and children can send letters to Santa.

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Shop for pecan pies, cranberry sauce, and more during this Saturday’s Harvest Market.

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