Colonial Williamsburg announced plans to break ground on a new archaeology center.
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has announced plans to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Colin G. and Nancy N. Campbell Archaeology Center. The event will be held on Friday, April 21 at 4 p.m., across the street from the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
- The new archaeology center will provide guests with an interactive window into the Foundation’s collection of 60 million artifacts as well as its current archaeological projects. It is expected to be completed in 2025 and will be open seven days a week.
- Colonial Williamsburg is considered the birthplace of historical archaeology – a subfield of archaeology that uses material culture to shed light on the development of the modern world. The Historic Area is now home to one of the world’s largest archaeological collections of 17th-through-early-19th-century artifacts from colonial America. In addition to showcasing these artifacts, the Campbell Archaeology Center will feature classrooms, exhibition space and a public archaeology teaching lab where community members will be able to physically engage with artifacts.
- “Only 40 percent of a project takes place at the excavation site. The other 60 percent happens in the lab,” said Jack Gary, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of archaeology. “Right now, our visitors engage with us in the field, but there’s no way for them to follow these projects to completion because we don’t have a facility that can accommodate them. This new archaeology center will change all of that.”
- The Center will be open in time for the commemoration of America’s 250th anniversary in 2026. It will join several other new sites on Nassau Street to become a major visitor corridor in the Historic Area. The Williamsburg Bray School will also open in September 2024, while the First Baptist Church and Custis Square Gardens will be opening in 2026.
- Funding for the center was provided in part by a gift from the late Forrest E. Mars. Jr, a former Colonial Williamsburg trustee and long-time donor. Additional funds are needed to complete the building’s construction and create an endowment for building maintenance the Foundation’s archaeology staff. More information about the project is available at colonialwilliamsburg.org/cac.
The mother of the Richneck Elementary student who shot his teacher is now facing charges.
- Deja Taylor, the mother of the 6-year-old Richneck Elementary student who shot his teacher on January 6, has been indicted by a Newport News grand jury, prosecutors announced Monday.
- Taylor, 25, of Newport News, was charged with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm loaded so as to endanger a child, according to a statement by the office of Newport News Commonwealth Attorney Howard Gwyn. That loaded firearm was ultimately used to shoot 25-year-old teacher Abby Zwerner at the school on January 6.
- The Commonwealth’s Attorney has also requested that the Circuit Court appoint a Special Grand Jury to continue the investigation into potential security issues that may have played a role in the shooting. That investigation would continue “as long as necessary” to determine if anyone else is criminally responsible for the shooting.
- “The safety and security of Newport News students is of utmost importance. The Special Grand Jury will investigate to determine whether additional charges against additional persons are justified by the facts and the law,” said Mr. Gwynn. “If the Special Grand Jury determines that additional persons are criminally responsible under the law, it can return additional indictments.”
- The six-year-old child himself will not be charged in the case because of his age, according to previous comments Gwynn made while speaking to the media.
- Some context: The announcement of the indictment and impending investigationcomes about a week after Zwerner’s lawyers announced a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News school system for its failure to prevent the shooting.
- “There were failures in accountability at multiple levels that led to Abby being shot and almost killed,” Zwerner’s attorney Diane Toscano said.
York County has released a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year – and it includes a reduction in taxes.
- York County’s proposed 2024 budget calls for a reduction in both real estate and personal property taxes for the upcoming year. The decision to reduce taxes was based on a study conducted by the County’s Budget Committee.
- Real estate makes up the County’s largest revenue source, with personal property tax accounting for the second-largest source of revenue. Still, County Administrator Neil A. Morgan determined it would be possibleto “achieve a responsible, balanced budget” while recommending a further reduction of the real estate and property tax rates.
- The Plan: The real estate tax rate would drop from 78 cents per $100 of value to 77 cents per $100 of value. This is the second year in a row that the budget cuts the real estate tax. Last year, it was reduced by one-and-a-half cents per $100 of value. The personal property tax would also be reduced from $4.00 per $100 of value to $3.90 if the proposal is adopted.
- The real estate tax reduction would reduce revenue by about $1 million, according to the proposal. The personal property tax adjustment would lead to an additional loss of $750,000 for fiscal year 2024. Nonetheless, Morgan said he believes the tax reduction is in keeping with York County’s commitment to remaining “the lowest taxed, major full-service locality in Hampton Roads.”
- The new budget proposal also includes a recommendation for a 5 percent increase in compensation for employees, plus an additional annual amount of $750 for all employees in good standing. That increase is meant to allow employees’ income to keep up with inflation.
- The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for the coming year will focuson reinvesting “in both the County’s and YCSD’s infrastructure,” according to Morgan. The majority of the 2024 to 2029 capital plan involves repairing and replacing existing equipment, emphasizing that many of these replacements will ultimately save the County money in the long-run. The budget also prioritizes providing “strong support for the York County School Division (YCSD) by providing additional resources for mental health and security initiatives.”
- Citizens are invited to attend a public hearing on the budget on April 18 at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of York Hall at 301 Main Street in Yorktown. The final adoption of the budget is slated to take place on May 2. The meeting will also be aired live on WYCG-TV Cox Cable Channel 46, Verizon Channel 38 and online at www.yorkcounty.gov/tv.
- See the full budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 here.
Williamsburg Regional Library’s director was named among the top women leaders in Virginia.
- Betsy Fowler, director of Williamsburg Regional Library, was recognized as one of the Women We Admire “Top 50 Women Leaders in Virginia” for 2023. Fowler received the nod for her dedicated approach to library leadership for the past four decades.
- “I am honored to be selected for this year’s list of Top 50 Women Leaders of Virginia,” Fowler said. “This recognition reflects the work of many people including the amazing library staff, dedicated volunteers, many library supporters, and the strong support of local government leaders.”
- Fowler’s accomplishments: Since stepping up to lead WRL in 2017, Fowler has spearheaded a wide range of innovative projects and programs, including the development of the groundbreaking Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio at the James City County Library. She contributed to several award-winning community initiatives, including a mobile hotspot program that provided internet access to families during the pandemic. She also helped oversee a collaboration with William & Mary Libraries that established a new cooperative model for college and public libraries.
- Women We Admire is a news organization that recognizes the achievements of exceptional women while inspiring others to aim high and continue their journey toward reaching their full potential.
Say hello to California Tortilla.
- California Tortilla is now open for business in Williamsburg. The new fast-casual restaurant moved into a 2,500-square-foot space in Midtown Row and is located at 201 Monticello Ave. Unit 4115.
- The location marks the ninth in Virginia for the brand. It’s operated by franchise owner Tejas Patel, who launched a hotel business in Williamsburg three decades ago.
- “I’ve been in the hospitality business for 30 years. Hospitality is in my blood, and as a foodie, nothing makes me happier than knowing that we are serving fresh and healthy food to our customers while using the best quality products,” said Patel.
- What to expect: California Tortilla’s menu features freshly-made tacos, burritos, bowls, salads, quesadillas and more. Guests can choose from a variety of proteins, veggies, toppings and salsas. For those looking for an extra kick, the menu includes over 75 hot sauces. Service was impressive on opening day, considering how busy the restaurant was.
- The location is running specials and giveaways all week long. To stay in the know about those deals, sign up here.
- California Tortilla will be open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and online ordering will soon be available. For more information or to see a menu, visit californiatortilla.com.
A Williamsburg woman was killed in a James City County crash.
- An 80-year-old Williamsburg woman has died following a two-vehicle crash in James City County, officials said. The accident occurred at approximately 3:13 p.m. on Wednesday.
- Mish Kara, the driver of a 2013 Honda CRV, rear-ended a 2016 Volvo tractor-trailer while traveling in the right lane, according to state police.
- Kara lost control of the vehicle upon impact and ran off the roadway onto the shoulder. The vehicle came to rest on its side, and Kara died at the scene.
- The driver of the tractor-trailer was not harmed in the crash. Police said neither alcohol nor speeding were contributing factors.
Williamsburg police are looking for vandalism suspects.
- The Williamsburg Police Department is seeking the public’s help in identifying two vandalism suspects.
- Police responded to the 300 block of W. Francis Street for a report of vandalism on April 1 at about 2:20 a.m.
- Graffiti was discovered on a historic building as well as on the tunnel wall that connects Lafayette Street and 1st Street during an investigation into the situation.
- Anyone with information about the incident or either of the suspects is asked to contact Inv. Heather Ziegler at 757-220-6238. Tips can also be submitted anonymously or click here.
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