News in 5: New fee signs on Colonial Parkway anger locals

Good morning!

We can expect warm weather with highs in the 70s for the rest of the week through Saturday. Temperatures for the next three days will be about 14-16 degrees above normal for this time of year, according to Meteorologist April Loveland of WTKR News 3. There could be spotty showers on Saturday.

Sunday and Monday will be cooler, with highs in the 60s. Rain chances increase Monday.

Unfortunately, the pollen season many of us dread is also back in full swing. We’ll see high to very high pollen levels on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and medium-high levels on Saturday.

Now to the news.


Colonial National Historical Park
Colonial National Historical Park. (Photo by The Triangle)

1. New fees signs have been installed along the Colonial Parkway, and many locals aren’t happy about them.

  • Newly installed fee signs are popping up along the Colonial Parkway, and they’re generating frustration and confusion among many locals.
  • Colonial National Historical Park recently announced the arrival of the signs on their Facebook page, saying they’re designed to “make paying the entrance fee easier and more convenient.” The signs allow travelers to scan a QR code to purchase daily admission ($15) or annual admission ($45). Guests can also stop at the visitor center for “more options.”
  • But the park emphasized that the entrance fees are required “for recreation anywhere within Colonial National Historical Park,” including Yorktown Battlefield, the Colonial Parkway and Jamestown Island.
  • Entrance fees are per person – not per car – though children ages 15 and under are admitted free. Those with annual passes are allowed to be accompanied by up to three guests, according to the National Park Service’s website. Nonetheless, many residents argued that it doesn’t make sense for locals to have to pay to take a short walk or snap some photos.
    • “Is this a joke?” one resident asked in response to Colonial NHP’s Facebook post. “Don’t we already pay via our taxes?”
    • “I remember stopping on the Parkway after it had snowed one winter and taking some beautiful pictures along the James River,” another person commented. “There’s no way I’d pay $15 to do that, though. What a shame.”
  • A Colonial National Historical Park staff member responded on the Facebook post to confused residents by confirming that the fees do indeed apply to everyone, including locals. They clarified that the fees are required for anyone using the park for “recreation purposes” but won’t apply to people who are just driving through.
  • Those riding bicycles through the park solely for commuting purposes will not need to pay a fee, but anyone who rides a bike there as a form of recreation will be required to pay up, the park stated.
    • “[It] would be recreation if you stopped at the pulloff to enjoy the view,” Colonial NHP explained. A fee must then be paid. “Otherwise, if you kept on going through the parkway, ending your journey outside the park, that would be through traffic. No entrance fee required.”
  • Colonial NHP also said fee compliance will be enforced by “park law enforcement staff.” They added that under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80% of the fees collected are used to “improve visitor services and fund critical deferred maintenance projects in the park.” The remaining 20% of fees support similar efforts at parks that don’t collect an entrance fee. 
  • Additional information about the park’s fees is available here. The Triangle reached out to the National Park Service for comment, but they have not yet responded.
New fee signs at Colonial National Historical Park state that all visitors must have a valid entrance pass. (Photo by The Triangle)

2. Two Newport News inmates escaped from the city jail, then went to IHOP.

  • Two inmates dug a hole using a toothbrush and metal object and successfully escaped through a cell wall at the Newport News City Jail Annex Monday night.
  • Arley Vaughn Nemo and John Michael Garza broke out of the jail facility at approximately 6:00 p.m., according to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office. Jail staff noticed the men were missing around 7:15 pm when they failed to show up for a head count.
  • How it happened: Garza and Nemo were able to “exploit a construction design weakness utilizing primitive-made tools constructed from a toothbrush and metal object,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Those tools facilitated the men’s access to untied rebars between the walls. Once they accessed the rebar, they used it to complete their escape.
  • Nemo, 43, of Gloucester, has a long history of run-ins with the law, records show. Last year, he was wanted by the Williamsburg police for grand larceny and other charges after he broke into a vehicle on Richmond Road and stole more than $1,000 in property. He was taken into custody on October 6, 2022, by the Newport News police department. Garza, 37, of Hampton, has been in custody since December 19, 2022, for contempt of court, failure to appear and probation violations. Upon their escape, both men were considered “armed and dangerous,” police said.
  • Police found Nemo and Garza at an IHOP in Hampton around 4 a.m. Tuesday and took them into custody. The two men were reported to police by other patrons at the restaurant.
    • “I’m thankful for the citizens who observed Garza and Nemo at the IHOP and notified law enforcement,” Sheriff Gabe Morgan said. “It reinforces what we always say: ‘See something, say something.'”
  • A Newport News facility management engineering team will now inspect the facility to identify areas of weakness that need to be reinforced to prevent future breakouts. The Sheriff’s Office said that for security reasons, they will not discuss the situation any further until all weaknesses are identified and secured.
  • The two men may now be charged with new felonies and could face up to an additional 10 years in jail for their escape, according to 13NewsNow. Both are due back in court on May 22 for a preliminary hearing.
A hole was dug into the wall through which Garza and Nemo escaped. (Photo provided by the Newport News Sheriff’s Office)
Garza (left) and Nemo (right). (Newport News Sheriff’s Office)

3. A Yorktown middle school student won a statewide art contest.

  • A Grafton Middle School student, Allie Beatley, learned this week in a surprise ceremony that she is one of three students in the state to win the Virginia Lottery Thank a Teacher Art Contest. Her artwork will be featured on thank you notes to be distributed to teachers statewide during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8-12, 2023.
  • Allie, a seventh grader, was one of nearly 700 students who entered the competition. The state selected one winner from the elementary, middle and high school level, and Allie was the winner in the middle school category. Students who participate in the contest are asked to submit artwork celebrating teachers.
  • Allie’s artwork features a drawing of a school along with the saying, “We’ve never seen your cape or masks, but we see your superpowers every day. Teachers are the real heroes!” She was awarded $200 gift card for the win. Grafton Middle School also received $1,000 from the Virginia Lottery and $1,000 from The Supply Room for their art department, for a total of $2,000.
  • Allie is the third York County School Division (YCSD) student to win the award since the contest was started in 2017. Last year, a fourth-grade YCSD student, Nitha Nithin of Coventry Elementary School, won in the elementary school category. Contest winners are selected from a panel of judges. 
Allie Beatley’s winning artwork. (Photo courtesy of The Virginia Lottery)

4. A York County man was arrested after a Williamsburg shooting left 3 men injured.

  • Williamsburg Police Department is investigating after a shooting left three men injured early Sunday morning.
  • Police responded to the 700 block of Scotland Street around 1:54 am to find three men – two 24-year-olds and a 25-year-old – suffering from gunshot wounds. The men were transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. All three are expected to survive.
  • William & Mary police sent out a Tribe Alert to all students and staff around 3:30 am, stating that shots were fired near Paul’s Deli Restaurant. Officials confirmed that none of the individuals who were injured were students. The cause of the altercation has not been revealed.
  • Investigators arrested 21-year-old Alvin Lapenze Jackson Jr. of York County later that morning around 10:30 am, police said in an update. He was taken into custody without incident and transported to Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.
  • Jackson was charged with nine felonies, including two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of malicious wounding, three counts of shooting a firearm in a public place causing injury and three counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
  • The shooting remains under investigation. Anyone with details about the incident is asked to contact the Williamsburg Police Department at 757-220-2331. Tips can also be submitted anonymously here
Alvin Lapenze Jackson. (Photo provided by the James City County Police Department)

5. Abby Zwerner is speaking out for the first time since the shooting at Richneck Elementary School.

  • Abby Zwerner, the Richneck Elementary School teacher who was shot by a six-year-old student in January, opened up about the ordeal for the first time Monday in an NBC News interview. 
  • In an exclusive interview that aired Tuesday on the “TODAY” show, the first-grade teacher described how she rushed her students to safety but was unable to protect herself from the child with the firearm.
    • “I just wanted to get my babies out of there,” Zwerner said.
  • Zwerner explained that she had to undergo four surgeries after the shooting left her with a collapsed lung and a severe wound to her left hand. She added that she still doesn’t have full function of the injured hand and must now undergo occupational therapy that leaves her physically and mentally exhausted.
    • “Some days are not so good… where I can’t get out of bed,” Zwerner explained. “But, you know, for going through what I’ve gone through, I try to stay positive.”
  • See the full interview below.
EXCLUSIVE: Virginia teacher shot by 6-year-old student tells her story to TODAY – YouTube

6. A school bus crash in James City County led to multiple injuries.

  • A school bus driver was transported to the hospital following a crash with a pickup truck in James City County Tuesday morning, police say.
  • The crash occurred at the intersection of South Henry Street and Humelsine Parkway around 9:20 a.m. The bus was carrying 19 students at the time of the accident and was heading toward Matthew Whaley Elementary School.
  • Two students sustained minor injuries. No other injuries were reported. Most of the students were moved to a different bus after the accident.
  • Police say they do not believe the bus driver is at fault. No additional information is currently available.

In the National News

  • FED hikes interest rates again: The Federal Reserve increased its interest rate by a quarter-percentage point Wednesday, even though it acknowledged that the higher rates could intensify economic turmoil within the banking system. “The events in the banking system over the past two weeks are likely to result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses, which would in turn affect economic outcomes,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said during a news conference. Powell also sought to reassure Americans that it’s safe to leave their money in their banks, the AP reports. Powell said the Fed is committed to fighting high inflation, and that could lead to additional rate hikes in the future.
  • Putin and Xi pledge to shape world order: Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a two-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday in a strong show of solidarity against the West, NBC News reports. While Xi hardly mentioned the Ukraine conflict, he did say that China maintained an “impartial position” on the war. “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes,” Xi told Putin before he departed. Xi also referred to Putin as his “dear friend,” and the two said relations between their nations are the best they have ever been. On the Kremlin’s website, Putin wrote that he and Xi are “working in solidarity on the formation of a more just and democratic multipolar world order.”
  • CDC warns of drug-resistant fungus: Health officials are sounding the alarm about a drug-resistant fungus that is quickly spreading, USA Today reports. The emerging fungus, Candida auris, was described by the CDC as an “urgent threat” due to its rapid rise and spread throughout healthcare facilities nationwide. The pathogen can infect the bloodstream, causing death in more than 1 in 3 patients in such cases. It is often resistant to antifungal medications and can be difficult to identify without specialized technology. There are currently 40 cases in Virginia, according to WTKR.

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