After several days of very hot weather, we’re in for slightly cooler temperatures today. Highs will only be in the upper 80s, but it will still be very muggy, according to Meteorologist Maddie Kirker of WTKR News 3.
Rain and potentially severe thunderstorms are expected later today, and the high heat and humidity will return for the second half of the workweek. More scattered storms are also possible through at least Friday.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions for future newsletters, I’d love to hear from you. Please reach out any time by hitting “reply” to this email.
Now to the news.
1. A man is dead after an alleged home invasion in Williamsburg.
- One man has died after being shot in Williamsburg Monday afternoon. The incident occurred in the 300 block of Corvette Drive, not far from Queens Lake Middle School. The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene shortly after 5:00 pm.
- Information is still limited, but YPSO Public Information Officer Shelly Ward told WTKR the shooting seems to have occurred during a home invasion and attempted burglary. The man who was killed was reportedly the intruder.
“We have an ongoing investigation right now to determine the cause and the reason why [the intruder] was on the deck at that time,” Maj. Ron Montgomery told WAVY News. “The homeowner feels like this was an attempted burglary into his home, so at this point in time, we’re still investigating to determine exactly what happened.”
- Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the Corvette Drive area between 4:30 and 5:00 pm is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at (757) 890-4999. Police are also asking neighbors to check their home security cameras to see if anything looked “out of place” during that time frame. This is a developing story.
Deputies from the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s office responded to a shooting connected to an apparent home invasion in the 300 block of Corvette Street in Williamsburg Monday. A police presence remained in the area late into the night. (Photos by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).
2. Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists have begun excavations at the original site of one of the nation’s oldest Black churches.
- Archaeologists at Colonial Williamsburg have begun a months-long excavation effort at the original site of First Baptist Church to discover who was buried there. The historic church was founded in 1776 by free and enslaved Black worshippers and is one of the country’s earliest African American congregations.
- The project will play a key role in determining how the site is interpreted, commemorated and recreated so the public can learn more about this nationally significant church. A total of 41 burial plots have been identified, the AP reports. A private blessing was held by current members of First Baptist Church ahead of the excavations.
“Just imagine, just a couple of decades ago, nobody was interested, nothing was going on. We were just in the background, and now it is coming out and it’s overwhelming that my grandchildren and great-grands will know that we had an important part in the history of Williamsburg,” First Baptist Church member and descendent Jacqueline Bridgeforth-Williams told WAVY News. “If we uncover or unearth something that gets us that much closer to knowing them and knowing more about who they were, then this is a great thing.”
- The original church at the site was destroyed by a tornado in 1834. A second structure, which stood in place for a century, was built in 1856. It was razed in 1956 while Colonial Williamsburg – which now encompasses more than 400 structures – was expanding.
- If human remains are discovered in the plots, DNA tests and bone analyses will be conducted. Those efforts should reveal the person’s eye color, skin tone, genomic ancestry, age of death and quality of life.
- The remains will be brought to the Institute for Historical Biology on the campus of William & Mary for bone analysis, and the University of Connecticut will carry out the DNA testing.
- First Baptist Church members will guide the process so that any burials located can be protected and memorialized, according to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists have begun excavations at the original site of First Baptist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the nation. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).
3. A major Amtrak expansion into Hampton Roads is now complete.
- The latest milestone in a multibillion-dollar expansion project by Amtrak debuted this week, featuring additional trains offering service between Washington D.C, Roanoke and Hampton Roads. The new rail services are an extension of the Northeast Regional route along the I-95 corridor, according to the City of Newport News.
- The expansion means local residents will have new ways to get to major east coast cities including Washington, D.C, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
- Amtrak has restarted the Newport News commuter from Washington, D.C. – a service that was suspended earlier this year because of staffing issues. A third daily departure has also been added in Norfolk. The new Norfolk trip will depart mid-afternoon, allowing travelers to arrive at their destination in the early evening.
“With the addition of a frequency to Norfolk and the resumption of another roundtrip to Newport News, Virginians now have even more rail options when traveling from the Hampton Roads region to points north, including Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and even Boston,” said DJ Stadtler, executive director of VPRA.
- In 2020, former Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Amtrak would expand its service from Richmond to the Northeast Corridor as part of a $3.7 billion “Transforming Rail in Virginia Program.” The project is designed to connect the Northeast and Southeast corridors by rail.
4. Tourism is gradually bouncing back in the Historic Triangle.
- Tourism is slowly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels in Williamsburg, The Virginia Gazette reports. During a meeting conducted by the Williamsburg Tourism Council last week, representatives from local hotels, restaurants and tourism destinations in the area said they’ve seen an increase in the number of visitors they’re serving and have been able to hire more staff. Some organizations, including Historic Jamestown, even reported seeing higher numbers of ticket sales than ever before.
- Council members did, however, also report that they’re facing a number of challenges, including demands for increased wages, higher product costs caused by inflation and a plateau in tourism during the second half of the summer.
- Recently launched marketing campaigns are targeting people of all ages, including Gen X and Millennial couples and active, mature people and families, according to Victoria Cimino, the executive director and chief executive officer of Visit Williamsburg.
- Out-of-state tourism has been on the uptick in Williamsburg, with about 60% of visitors coming from other areas of the country. The Williamsburg Tourism Council spent $11.2 million on a marketing campaign targeting Boston and New York and is advertising across a variety of mediums, including cable, social media and radio.
5. Colonial Williamsburg will hold a one-of-a-kind “Ales Through the Ages” conference this fall.
- Colonial Williamsburg will host a unique history conference featuring some of the world’s top beer scholars this fall. Participants will journey through time to follow the crafting of beer from its primitive roots to its modern form.
- The conference will be offered both virtually and in-person, Nov. 11-13. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with a lineup of international guests including authors, maltsters, brewery owners, social media influencers and entrepreneurs.
- In-person participants will have the opportunity to attend an opening reception hosted by Aleworks Brewing Company, which will feature historic brews the company developed in collaboration with Colonial Williamsburg. There will also be a lunch on Saturday, accompanied by 18th-century theatre along with historically-based brews. To wrap it all up, a post-conference gathering will feature guest speakers from Historians on Tap at Virginia Beer Company. Tickets to the Virginia Beer Company event will be available for $20 for in-person attendees.
- Those who register for the conference by July 31 will receive $25 off in-person or virtual-only registration. In-person registration is $275 per person and includes the welcome reception, Saturday lunch and access to the lectures. Virtual-only registration is $100 per person and includes access to lectures through the conference’s streaming platform. All registrants will also receive a 7-day ticket voucher to Colonial Williamsburg’s Art Museums and Historic Area, valid for redemption through May 31, 2023.
- A limited number of virtual and in-person conference scholarships will also be available to students, museum and non-profit professionals and emerging brewers with an application deadline of Sept. 20.
Colonial Williamsburg will offer a one-of-a-kind “Ales Through the Ages” history conference this fall. (Photo courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).
6. Lidl is permanently closing one of its locations in Newport News.
- Lidl, a European-based discount grocery store, is permanently closing its Newport News store located at 11076 Warwick Blvd., the Peninsula Chronicle reports. The store, which first opened in August 2017, will be shutting down on July 31.
- A Lidl company spokesman said the decision to close the store was made because the location was “underperforming.” The closure, he said, will “allow us to focus on the successful growing store network” in Virginia. All employees impacted by the store’s closure will reportedly be offered a position at a different location within Lidl’s network.
- There are currently 33 Lidl stores in Virginia, nine of which are in Hampton Roads. After the Warwick Boulevard location closes, the grocer will continue operating its existing stores on the Peninsula, which include one in Hampton (200 West Mercury Boulevard) and one other in Newport News (11880 Jefferson Avenue).
7. York County is accepting grant applications for American Rescue Plan funds.
- York County is offering a one-time grant opportunity for local nonprofits. Eligible organizations are invited to apply for a project-specific, reimbursable grant award of up to $5,000.
- Those interested in applying should take action quickly, though: The county began accepting applications on Monday, July 25, and the review process will begin on August 15.
- Grants will be distributed according to eligibility until all funding is disbursed, according to a news release by the County. To qualify for consideration, organizations must submit a completed application as well as supporting documentation. The Grant Committee will award grants to the organizations they believe will have the greatest impact on local residents.
- To qualify, applicants must be an active State of Virginia registered Nonprofit 501(c)(3), must have been in operation for at least three years and must provide services directly to the York County community. Awardees will be required to submit all receipts for reimbursement at the time of the award notification. For additional details about the program or to apply for the grant, click here.
Lowest Gas Prices Today
All prices shown are per GasBuddy. To check the latest prices based on zipcode, click here.
Local Covid-19 Update
New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 21,149 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Cases have essentially held steady compared to the 21,244 cases reported during the previous week. The highest numbers of new cases on the Peninsula last week were reported in Newport News (+435), Hampton (+311) James City County (+223) and York County (+118), according to WTVR News 6.
Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 249 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 272 the week before), according to VDH data. 66 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 61 the week before).
Vaccination rate: 71.8% of Virginians are fully vaccinated.
In the National News
- Interest Rate Hike Looms: The Federal Reserve will likely increase interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point again this week, according to Bloomberg. Repeated interest rate hikes have already led to an economic slowdown, causing the housing market to cool while unemployment claims tick up. Nonetheless, some experts believe the Fed will have to inflict continual pain on the economy in order to rein in inflation. “[Our] model sees a 100% probability of recession in the next 24 months,” Bloomberg economists Eliza Winger, Anna Wong and Yelena Shulyatyeva said in a statement.
- Inflation Woes Continue: The number of Americans struggling to pay their bills is now exceeding its 2020 peak, according to a new US Census Bureau survey. Four in ten adults reported that it has been somewhat or very difficult to cover their expenses, implying that more than 90 million American families are struggling. At the same time, about half of older Americans said they’re unable to afford essential expenses, according to a new report by the University of Massachusetts-Boston. The data takes numerous factors into account, including the cost of health care, housing, food and transportation, The Hill reports.
- Russia to Cut Gas to Europe: Russia announced it will cut gas supplies to Europe starting Wednesday, dealing an economic blow to countries that have supported Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian missiles are striking Black Sea coastal regions, according to Reuters. The attacks raise doubts that Moscow will stick to a U.N-brokered agreement to allow Ukraine to resume exporting grain. Ukraine is one of the largest suppliers of wheat in the world, but tens of millions of tonnes of grain are currently trapped in the country due to Russian blockades. The situation has worsened global supply chain problems, increased food and energy prices and driven 47 million people into “acute hunger,” according to the World Food Programme.
- Yosemite Wildfire Rages: A massive wildfire is burning across more than 17,200 acres in Yosemite National Park, Axios reports. The blaze has forced thousands of people to evacuate, destroyed 55 structures and caused the closure of a highway near Yosemite. While firefighters have unleashed 300,000 gallons of water on the fire, it is currently only about 16% contained. Smoke from the blaze is also causing poor air quality in Yosemite, according to a statement from the park.
Events This Week
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