Here are the week’s top stories.
1. Buc-ee’s, a “family-focused” travel center, is planning to open a location in New Kent County.
- Buc-ee’s, a Texas-based travel center chain known for its massive, “one-stop-shop” convenience stores, is planning to open a location in New Kent County.
- The 74,000-square-foot store will be the first of its kind to come to Virginia. It will be located on the exit 211 interchange off I-64 and will feature 120 fueling stations and 557 parking spaces, the New Kent County economic development department announced Monday. The location won’t be a truck stop as 18-wheelers aren’t going to be allowed on the property, according to the company.
- While the anticipated opening date isn’t until 2027, local residents are already getting excited about the new location. A New Kent County Facebook post announcing the future travel center was quickly shared nearly 4,000 times.
- What to expect: According to the company,the new Buc-ee’s won’t just be a typical travel center. Instead, the convenience store “is a one-of-a-kind destination” offering food, treats and unique merchandise. Founded in 1982, the unique chain has amassed a hugely loyal fanbase.
- “Buc-ee’s Travel Center is a family-focused travel center featuring a wide range of freshly prepared foods including home-crafted bbq, custom made sandwiches, fresh salads and fruits, baked goods, and sweets as well as a unique collection of gifts, housewares, clothing, and weekend get-away gear,” the company explained. “Buc-ee’s is open 24/7 and provides our guests with the cleanest restrooms and friendliest staff to be found anywhere; much less on I-64.”
- The center will also benefit the local economy by offering full-time employment with benefits to over 175 residents, with average wages starting at $16-$18 per hour.
- New Kent said it’s currently working with VDOT to iron out the transportation improvements required for the project, including coordination with the current I-64 widening project.
2. New details have emerged about a special event taking place this weekend at Colonial Williamsburg.
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has released additional information about a nationally significant event that will be held this weekend on Colonial Williamsburg’s historic grounds (March 10-12). As previously reported, CW will bring together VA50 representatives, key stakeholders and others for a special commemorative event, “A Common Cause to All.”
- The program commemorates the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the intercolonial Committees of Correspondence, drafted in Williamsburg on March 12, 1773. The committees established a vital network of communication that helped mobilize support for the Revolutionary movement among the 13 colonies.
- The Foundation has revealed that nearly 300 representatives from 34 states will be in attendance, including representation from all 13 colonies. Speakers will also be present, including Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes; Stacy Schiff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author; Carly Fiorina, a CW Board Chair; Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center; historians and others.
- The gathering will position Virginia at the center of the national conversation leading up to 2026, which marks America’s 250th anniversary. Throughout the weekend, attendees will discuss plans that are in progress for national conversations to connect local events throughout the United States, including various opportunities for teachers and students.
- “The VA250 Commission is honored to convene this esteemed group of historians and 250th planners from across the nation as we come together in collaboration and with a spirit of optimism, looking toward 2026 and beyond,” said Virginia Del. Terry L. Austin, chair of the VA250 Commission. “Standing with other states, we will affirm our commitment to a national commemoration that is multi-faceted, invites participation, and celebrates the American story, much of which began here in Virginia.”
- The weekend will culminate in a public ceremony. The best way for the public to capture the overall event is to go to the historic Raleigh Tavern on Sunday, March 12 at 1:45 pm, according to Colonial Williamsburg spokeswoman Ellen Peltz. The location is significant because the Raleigh Tavern is where the Committees of Correspondence were initially drafted by Virginians, including Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.
- The event will feature Fifes & Drums, an appearance by Thomas Jefferson and a reading of a new resolution that all the state representatives will affirm.
3. A Habitat for Humanity ReStore will be coming to Yorktown this spring.
- A new Habitat for Humanity location will soon be opening at 4824 George Washington Memorial Highway in Yorktown, right next to the Langley Federal Credit Union, according to Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg.
- The local Habitat affiliate already operates the two most successful locations in the state: one in Williamsburg and one in Newport News. Both of those stores rank in the top 25 among 900 ReStores nationally, and the Williamsburg location is the largest in the Commonwealth.
- “We believe we have found the perfect location for customers to shop that also has a convenient drive-thru drop-off for donations,” Green said. “We know there are a lot of generous people who would like to donate items as well as shop for good deals along the busy Route 17 corridor in Yorktown.”
- All items at ReStore locations are sold at a fraction of the retail price, usually 30-90% off. Like other ReStores, the Yorktown store will offer new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building supplies and more
- In addition to getting a great deal, ReStore customers support a good cause with every purchase. 100% of proceeds are used to support Habitat’s mission of building homes, communities and hope.
- The Yorktown store will be about 13,000 square feet. In comparison, the Williamsburg location on Jamestown Road is 40,000 square feet, and the Newport News store on Chatham Drive is 23,000 square feet.
- “We might be smaller, but we intend to make a big impact,” said Gary McFadden, manager of the new store. “Hello, Yorktown!”
- The opening date for the new location has not yet been revealed, but the Yorktown ReStore is looking for volunteers to help with renovations before the grand opening. Community members and youth 16 and older who are interested in volunteering can contact Gary McFadden by email.
- The Yorktown location will accept drop-offs and free donation pickups, which are expected to be available soon.
4. A York County man has died after crashing into a school bus loaded with Hampton High School students.
- A 26-year-old man from York County has died after rear-ending a school bus carrying students from Hampton High Schoolearly Sunday morning.
- State police were called to the scene at 1:45 a.m to investigate a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 64, east of Route 99, in York County. The school bus was carrying 20 students, as well as a teacher and the driver.
- No major injuries were reported at the scene among anyone who was aboard the bus, according to state police spokesperson Michelle Anaya. A few parents later said their children received minor injuries.
- Police say Austin D. Hermann was driving a 2022 Chrysler Pacifica eastbound on I-64 when he drove into the rear of the bus, a 2022 International 300. He died upon impact. A passenger in the vehicle was also injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. That person was identified as 20-year-old Collin Hermann. The eastbound lanes of I-64 remained closed until 7:38 a.m.
- Investigators are still working to determine whether alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash. Anaya said the driver was wearing his seat belt and was not speeding at the time of the accident.
5. The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank urgently needs donations.
- The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank is in “desperate need of food donations,” the organization said in an Instagram post last week.
- The substantial rise in need comes amid an uptick in demand spurred by inflation, compounded by the loss of Emergency SNAP Allotments, which expired for all Virginians on Feb. 16, 2023.
- In an interview with WAVY News, Foodbank CEO Karen Joyner said the organization has already been feeling strained since the start of the year.
- In January, the Foodbank saw a 30% increase in demand. While February’s data is not yet available, Joyner expects the level of need will only continue rising.
- Emergency SNAP allotments were originally put into effect in March 2020 when the Covid-19 public health emergency was declared, and this March marks the first time in three years that they will be unavailable.
- The Foodbank is especially seeking donations of pantry items such as cereal, canned meals, peanut butter, jelly, and healthy snacks, like granola bars.
- Joyner said seniors, households with children and people with disabilities will be most impacted. She added that many people are also living paycheck to paycheck and may suddenly find themselves food insecure if they experience an emergency or accident.
- Households that receive both SNAP benefits and social security may find that the payment they receive starting in March is even lower than what they received pre-pandemic due to a 2023 cost of living adjustment that went into effect in January, News 8 reports. That’s because the adjustment increased the amount seniors receive from social security, which may in turn push them into a lower SNAP benefit bracket.
- For more information about donating, visit the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank’s website.
6. A massive fire broke out at a historic Hampton University building Monday; no injuries were reported.
- Students, faculty and staff were evacuated from Hampton University’s administrative building – known as Palmer Hall – after a two-alarm fire broke out Monday. The historic building, reportedly constructed in 1882, has long been a beloved feature of the HU campus.
- Though the fire consumed the building, everyone made it out safely, and there were no injuries, according to Hampton University officials. The extent of the damage to the building is still currently being assessed.
- According to WAVY News, the blaze is believed to have been spurred by an electrical fire. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
- The university’s president, Darrell K. Williams, hosted a town hall for students, faculty and staff Tuesday to discuss the fire.
- “As president, I was very proud of the way the Hampton family responded when one portion of the campus was experiencing a bit of a crisis,” he said in a news release. Williams also said the university plans to “work diligently” to restore the 140-year-old building.
In the National News
- A Girl Scout cookie black market? Supply chain disruptions have led to a shortage of Girl Scout cookies this year – and now they’re being sold at black market prices. In some parts of the country, popular cookie varieties like Thin Mints and the new Raspberry Rallies sold out within just days, according to NewsNation. While the cookies usually sell for $4-$7 per box, they’re now being listed on websites like Ebay for outrageously high prices, often more than $20 per box. One seller is offering a lot of 12 boxes for $499. Many people have taken to social media to report that they can’t find their favorite variety, and some troops have resorted to cutting their cookie season short. A Girl Scouts representative also explained in a statement to CNN that the organization is deprived of critical proceeds when people buy the cookies from third-party vendors.
- U.S government takes on TikTok: Senators from both parties are working together in a joint effort against TikTok, Politico reports. A bipartisan group of 12 senators introduced a bill Tuesday that would enable the federal government new powers to restrict, and possibly even ban, technologies originating from China and five other countries considered adversaries of the U.S. The bill, called the RESTRICT Act, is sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D).
- NTSB to investigate Norfolk Southern: The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into Norfolk Southern Railway’s safety practices in response to five major accidents dating back to 2021, the agency announced Tuesday. The special investigation was launched after a disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio sparked fears about poor air and water quality. Another collision also led to the death of a conductor in Ohio Tuesday. “Given the number and significance of recent Norfolk Southern accidents, the NTSB also urges the company to take immediate action today to review and assess its safety practices, with the input of employees and others, and implement necessary changes to improve safety,” the NTSB said in a statement.
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