It’s already feeling pretty hot out there, and it’s only going to get worse.
Tens of millions of Americans are facing extreme heat today, including all of Hampton Roads.
The National Weather Service in Wakefield issued a Heat Advisory for much of Virginia for Thursday. Highs will reach the mid-90s, and heat index values – which indicate what the temperatures will “feel like” – are expected to hit 105 degrees.
The temperatures will continue to rise as we close out the workweek and head into the weekend. An Excessive Heat Watch has been issued for our area for Friday and Saturday. Afternoon heat index values of up to 111 are possible.
The good news is that a cold front will move in Sunday, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3. Scattered storms and showers will be possible, and highs on Sunday will drop to the upper 80s.
The heat and humidity will continue to dip Monday, and highs will only reach the mid-80s.
Now to the news.
James City County’s Board of Supervisors voted to end a joint school contract with Williamsburg.
- Williamsburg and James City County have been operating a joint school division since 1955, but it appears they may establish separate school systems in the not-too-distant future.
- On Tuesday, the James City County Board of Supervisors voted to end the joint school operations contract with Williamsburg. The termination would go into effect at the end of the 2025-2026 school year.
- While James City County and the City of Williamsburg are separate government entities, they share many regional services, including the school division. About 10,000 students from the county and 1,000 from the city are currently enrolled in the joint school system.
- News of the contract termination comes after the Williamsburg City Council passed a resolutionin June to investigate the feasibility of creating an independent school district.
- “Depending on the City’s feasibility study conclusions, the County could have been left with as little as 13 months to plan for potentially displaced students and administrative logistics,” the Board of Supervisors said in a statement released Tuesday night. “Terminating the contract now gives the County two years to prepare and meet its obligation to protect the education, health, welfare and safety of County students.”
- The JCC Board of Supervisors also said it is willing to negotiate with the city for a new contract if both entities decide it is in the best interest of the students to continue to be part of a joint system. All current teachers and staff are expected to keep their jobs regardless of whether or not the school systems break off.
- In a podcast released by the county on Wednesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hipple said that while the board wishes Williamsburg the best, the city would be “leaving a premier school system” if they choose to move forward with the split. He also said the board felt the need to end the contract immediately due to time constraints.
- “We decided that we would go ahead and terminate the contract because there are a lot of items that we need to look through, and we didn’t want to wait until the last minute and let the city say that they were going to start their own school system,” Hipple said. “[It] is fine with us if they want to do that, it’s not an issue, but we have a lot of planning to do.”
- Hipple added that a system split would involve a lot of logistics and would need to be carried out carefully to avoid major disruptions to students, teachers and staff, particularly because the County would need to establish a new middle school.
- The City of Williamsburg responded Wednesday, saying that while the city has been considering an operational split, no final decisions have been reached on the matter.
- “While the County’s action does not change the City’s plan to thoroughly study the impacts of separation before making a decision, our study will now necessarily focus more acutely on what an independent school system may look like,” the City said in a statement. “Our intention continues to be to make a thoughtful and deliberate decision that puts the needs of students, families, and teachers first.”
- The city added that the public will be included in the decision-making process and reiterated that no changes would occur before the 2025-2026 school year. Updates on the situation will be posted to williamsburgva.gov/feasibilitystudy.
- WJCC school district currently includes three schools and an administration building located within the city limits, and 13 schools and a bus operations center in the county.
The Williamsburg James City County School Board and Central Office. (Photo by The Triangle)
2. More permanent outdoor dining is coming to Prince George Street in Williamsburg.
- The City of Williamsburg announced that construction work to create a more permanent outdoor dining configuration for Prince George Street has officially begun.
- The project started on Monday, July 24. Crews with the City’s Streets Division are currently working on installing the first of three bumpouts – which extend the sidewalk out into the street – in front of Amber Ox Public House on the 500 block of Prince George Street.
- The bumpouts are designed to occupy the same space that is currently being occupied by the temporary outdoor dining layout. The sidewalk, businesses and eastbound travel lane will continue to be open while the construction takes place. The City says it is actively working with businesses on Prince George Street to come up with a schedule that meets their needs.
- The new outdoor dining plan was discussed during a City Council meeting on Thursday, July 13. The design for the project was completed in-house and is considered “semi-permanent” because the asphalt below the dining area will remain in place in case the city needs to alter or remove the bumpouts in the future.
- Businesses on Prince George Street will be able to rent out the space in front of their restaurants for exclusive use by their customers for a cost of $5 per square foot per year. If they choose not to rent that space, it will become available for public use. Signs and color coding will be used to help the public differentiate between the rented spaces and the public seating areas. The City said businesses have reacted enthusiastically to the project.
- “I think we’re all excited about the response [from the businesses],” said Vice Mayor Pat Dent. “This rendering is more aesthetically pleasing than what we have there temporarily now.”
- Construction of the first bumpout on Prince George Street is expected to be completed by August 18. The second construction phase will encompass the 500 block of Prince George Street near Hound’s Tale and will run from August 21 to September 15. The final phase will include the 400 block of Prince George Street near Aromas. Construction on that final bumpout is estimated to be completed by January 2024.
- Some background: The plan to develop more permanent dining aligns with Williamsburg’s current Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes, which call for “invigorating a modern city,” in part by improving the seating areas on Prince George Street. Construction for the project will cost $250,000.
3. A man was arrested in connection with USPS driver robberies in James City County, and police are still looking for a second suspect.
- A 19-year-old man was arrested in connection with a string of alleged robberies of U.S. Postal Service drivers in James City County, and police are still looking for a second suspect.
- Dashawn Evans-McCloud of Virginia Beach is facing a litany of charges, including robbery, attempted robbery and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
- James City County Police responded to numerous reports of armed robbery involving USPS delivery drivers on Thursday. The alleged incidents took place at around 1:10 p.m. in the 900 block of Coleman Drive and around 2 p.m. in the 3700 block of Steeplechase Way.
- According to police, the same suspect and vehicle were involved in both incidents. About 30 to 60 minutes after the two James City County robberies, the suspect allegedly committed a similar robbery in Hampton against a USPS driver. James City County officers received crucial information from the Virginia Beach Police Department that allowed them to locate Evans-McCloud. He is currently being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail without bond. The case is expected to be prosecuted by USPS on the federal level.
- Residents living in the area expressed concern about the robberies.
- “We don’t really have crime in this neighborhood. A mailman being robbed, that could happen to any of the residents here. It’s concerning,” Amy Piggott, a Coleman Drive resident, told WTKR News 3.
- An investigation by Hampton Police Division detectives revealed that the vehicle used in the robberies was a rental vehicle that had been issued two days prior to Chanz L. Pough, who is believed to be 20 years old and has a last known address in Maryland.
- Anyone with information about Pough’s whereabouts are asked to contact investigator Logan English at 757-603-6033 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can also be submitted anonymously online at p3tips.com.
4. Matchsticks BBQ has permanently closed.
- Williamsburg restaurant Matchsticks BBQ Co., located in Midtown Row, has closed its doors after less than two years in business.
- “We are closed permanently. Thank y’all for helping me live out my dream,” a handwritten sign hung on the restaurant’s door states. In smaller letters, the sign advises customers to “Stay tuned.”
- Owner Matt Sileno said in a recent post on the Williamsburg Eat Local Facebook group that Matchsticks “wasn’t bringing in enough revenue to cover expenses.” Many supporters of the restaurant responded with sadness to the news.
- “We love Matchsticks and hope they can regroup and come back in another one,” patron Joyce Houff said in a comment.
- “It’s a very empty feeling when you lose your dream,” said another fan, James Kennedy. “We’ve been there, and it doesn’t ever fully heal… small businesses have so much to contend with.”
- Sileno opened Matchsticks in January 2022 after operating a popular truck locally for four years. He told the Virginia Gazette the food truck is also closed for good.
5. Planet Fitness is officially open in Williamsburg.
- After months of preparations, Planet Fitness has finally opened in New Town.
- In May 2022, Cushman & Wakefield announced that the gym began leasing the 26,357-square-foot space previously occupied by American Family Fitness. The gym originally planned to open its doors in late 2022, but the date was pushed back several times. The company said in a February social media post that the delays were related to problems obtaining construction permits.
- The new franchise is locally owned and operated by Williamsburg resident Michael Barnes.
- Want to check it out? The Williamsburg Planet Fitness is located at 5137 Main Street. The gym is open on Mondays from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 24 hours; Fridays from 12 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Membership plans currently start at $10 per month plus taxes and fees. For more information, click here.
6. Richmond International Airport is one of the most efficient in North America, according to a new global study.
- Richmond International Airport (RIC) was recently named the Most Efficient Airport in North America by the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS). The airport received the award on July 2, 2023, at the ATRS 26th World Conference in Kobe, Japan.
- The nod marked the first time the airport was honored byATRS, which is recognized as one of the most reputable aviation research societies in the world.
- “We are thrilled to win this award and we could not have done it without our fantastic team,” said Perry J. Miller, A.A.E., I.A.P, President and CEO of RIC. “We’ve been an economic engine for our region for almost a century – generating about $2.1 billion in economic impact per year – and it’s because everyone here is committed to delivering an extraordinary travel experience. We want the world to know what RIC and the Greater Richmond region has to offer.”
- The award was based on numerous performance indicators, including productivity and operating/management efficiency, airport charge comparisons and more.
- Despite its relatively small size, RIC has been working to enhance its offerings in recent years. In 2021, the airport began making facility updates to welcome international travel, and this year, it increased its direct service options by 36%. The airport was named the Best Little Big Airport in the world by Business Focus Magazine.
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