News in 5: Parents speak out against ‘Non-Transportation Zones’ in WJCC schools

Some parents in Williamsburg and James City County are worrying about getting their children to and from school this year.

Here are the week’s top stories.

1. Parents are speaking out against “Non-Transportation Zones” in Williamsburg and James City County.

School zone warning sign on an asphalt road. (Photo by Josh Meeder via Pexels)
  • Some parents in Williamsburg and James City County are worrying about getting their children to and from school this year.
  • Per a new school division policy, students who live within a half mile of an elementary school are classified within new “Non-Transportation Zones” (NTZ) and are no longer eligible for school bus service. The radius of the zones extends to one mile for secondary students.
  • “If you live within a one-mile radius of your secondary school or half-mile radius of your elementary school, your child is in a Non-Transportation Zone (NTZ),” WJCC Schools explained in a memo sent to parents on August 18, 2023. “As a reminder, that means you are responsible for ensuring your child is transported to and from school daily.”
  • School resumed Monday for WJCC students, and affected parents and guardians say the policy is already causing a lot of stress. Some say they don’t have reliable transportation. Others claim they haven’t been able to adjust their work schedules to accommodate the morning and afternoon drop-off and pickup requirements. Several parents who have had to walk their children to school this week say the trek isn’t safe and is difficult for those with disabilities or certain health conditions.
  • “A lot of people in my neighborhood do not have vehicles,” Jenna Webb, who lives in Heritage Mobile Home Park, a designated NTZ, told 13 NewsNow. “I don’t know what to do.” 
  • More than 550 children live within the designated zones. Affected parents have begun to circulate a petition calling for WJCC schools to “bring the buses back.” The petition, which received nearly 300 signatures by Thursday morning, argues the lack of bus transportation is creating safety concerns for affected children due to “no crosswalks, no traffic lights or guards to help [kids] get to school.” 
  • A school division spokesperson said the district made the decision in part because of bus driver shortages, which have been an ongoing problem nationwide since the start of the pandemic.
  • WJCC’s next school board meeting will be held on September 15.
Parents push back against Non-Transportation Zones in Williamsburg and James City County (13News Now)

2. Williamsburg Regional Library has been named Virginia’s Library of the Year for 2023.

  • Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) has been named the 2023 Virginia Library of the Year by the Virginia Library Association. 
  • The award is given out annually to one library in the state in recognition of distinguished achievement in service. It takes into account several factors, including creativity and innovation in library programming, the development of community partnerships, the implementation of services that other libraries can emulate and job satisfaction for all employees. This year, WRL beat out 93 other library systems in Virginia to earn the recognition.
  • “This recognition is a testament to the collaboration and support of the local jurisdictions who fund this regional library system, the dedication of our wonderful staff and the Library Board of Trustees, the generous support from the Friends of WRL Foundation, and our tens of thousands of users who make the library a vibrant epicenter of our community,” said Library Director Betsy Fowler.
  • WRL is no stranger to recognition. It has been named one of the top public libraries in the country 12 times by Library Journal, and last year, the Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation was honored with the Virginia Library Association’s 2022 Friends of the Library Award. In April, the library’s director, Betsy Fowler, was also named among the top 50 women leaders of Virginia by Women We Admire, and weeks later, WRL won the Innovative Outreach Program Award from the Virginia Public Library Directors Association. 
  • The library’s impact: Over the past year, WRL enhanced its outreach programming by increasing digital literacy classes, adding opportunities for Spanish-speaking English learners, growing partnerships with local organizations, and expanding its Saturdays @ Frink programming to reach thousands of people. WRL’s popular Kiwanis Kids Studio, which offers accessible and family-friendly learning opportunities, also served 130,000 visitors in just one year. 
  • For more information about WRL, visit
Mother and child at the Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio. (Courtesy of Williamsburg Regional Library)

3. Howl-O-Scream has been nominated for ‘Best Theme Park Halloween Event.’

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been nominated by the USA Today Reader’s Choice Travel Awards for “Best Theme Park Halloween Event.”
  • Fans of the park can cast their votes up to once per day until Monday, September 18 at noon ET. The winning theme park will be announced on Friday, September 29.
  • Howl-O-Scream is up against 19 other Halloween events at theme parks throughout the nation. Competitors include Fright Fest at Six Flags; the Great Pumpkin Luminights at Dollywood in Tennessee; Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri; and Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia. Nominees are submitted by a panel of theme park experts.
  • Howl-O-Scream will return for the 2023 season on September 8 and will feature five new haunted houses, four new shows and the all-new DarKoaster this year. The event will be held on select nights through October 31.
  • You can cast your vote here.
Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. (Courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg)

4. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a ‘Counter Cultures: Rebellion’ event on September 2.

  • The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is gearing up to host a special program exploring the role of protest, rebellion and revolution and their impacts on 18th and 19th century Virginia.
  • “Counter Cultures: Rebellion” will be held on Saturday, September 2. The event will feature first-person portrayals of patriot/traitor Benedict Arnold in 1780, freedom fighter Gabriel Prosser’s wife Nan in 1800, suffragist Mary A. Nolan in 1917 and Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964. The program will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is offered in conjunction with the Reign & Rebellion special exhibition.
  • Chuck Two Bills will perform music of rebellion, and guests will be able to contribute their own mark to the “Walls of Resistance: Raise Your Voice” art project hosted by Steve Prince, Muscarelle Museum’s distinguished artist in residence. 
  • The event is included with admission to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Admission is $18 for adults, $9 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. 
  • For more information, click here
“Counter Cultures: Rebellion” will be held at The American Revolution Museum in Yorktown on Saturday, September 2. (Courtesy of the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation)

5. Hampton Roads is projected to experience the worst flooding on the east coast this year.

  • A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report predicts that Hampton Roads will have more days of high tide flooding than any other region on the East Coast.
  • NOAA’s annual high tide flooding outlook, which was released last week, projects that the region will see up to 19 days of high flooding, when water is 1-2 feet above daily average and can cover roadways and land that are usually dry. 
  • The frequency of flooding in the region has tripled since 2000, according to records kept by NOAA.
  • Staying prepared: NOAA has recently introduced a new online high tide flooding outlook resource, which is updated monthly. The resource allows residents to see what days are most likely to bring about dangerous flooding. To check out the tool, click here.

6. A man died in a single-vehicle crash in James City County on Monday.

  • A 30-year-old James City County man died in a car crash in Toano on Monday, and poor weather conditions may have played a role in the accident.
  • Emergency personnel responded to a single-vehicle crash on Forge Road between Diascund Road and Brickyard Road around 4:10 p.m., according to James City County Police. The crews found that a 2005 Chevrolet Colorado had veered off the road and crashed into a tree. The driver, Gordon Monroe Ivey III, died at the scene despite CPR and other life-saving measures, police said.
  • A preliminary investigation indicated that weather conditions were a factor in the crash. Heavy rain had been falling in the area Monday afternoon. The accident remains under investigation.
Emergency personnel responded to a single-vehicle crash in James City County on Monday. (Courtesy of JCCPD)

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