News in 5: Summer Breeze Concert Series returns to Williamsburg next week

The Summer Breeze Concert Series returns to Williamsburg on Thursday, July 13. The series will feature a variety of Americana, blues, jazz, country and brass bands curated in association with the Virginia Arts Festival. 

Here are the week’s top stories.

The Summer Breeze Concert Series returns July 13. (Photo by The Triangle)

1. The Summer Breeze Concert Series is kicking off next week.

  • The Summer Breeze Concert Series returns to Williamsburg on Thursday, July 13. The series will feature a variety of Americana, blues, jazz, country and brass bands curated in association with the Virginia Arts Festival. 
  • Concerts will be held on the Lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg every Thursday through August 17, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. All shows are free and open to the public.
  • Most of the acts in this year’s lineup don’t usually perform in Williamsburg. Empire Strikes Brass, the band slated to perform next week, is traveling in from Asheville, NC. Bill and the Belles, the country group that will close out the series this season, hails from Johnson City, TN.
  • Williamsburg’s Community Appreciation Day – which was postponed on July 3, 2023, due to weather concerns – will now be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 20. Good Shot Judy will perform afterward at 6 p.m.

The 2023 Summer Breeze lineup includes:

Local swing band Good Shot Judy will perform as part of the Summer Breeze Concert Series on July 20. (Good Shot Judy)

2. A 19-year-old died after drowning in James City County.

  • Officials say a man has died after drowning in College Creek Beach in James City County.
  • The victim, Otoniel Marroquin, 19, was swimming with his family before he was reported missing shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, WAVY News reports. The man reportedly went under the water and never resurfaced. 
  • Rescue crews recovered Marroquin’s body about 100-150 yards from the shoreline around 8:30 p.m. after an extensive search. Marroquin was not from James City County, according to officials.
  • College Creek offers sweeping, scenic views of the James River. As one of the few public access points to the James River, it is frequented by locals and visitors alike – especially on hot days.
  • Despite its popularity, the beach is notoriously treacherous. Its strong currents have led to multiple drownings in recent years. Signs near the beach warn of the potential dangers of swimming there, including hidden currents and a sudden drop-off. 
  • Previous drownings at College Creek: In 2018, a 25-year-old U.S. Navy sailor drowned at College Creek after he was swept up in the current and never resurfaced. Two years earlier, in 2016, a 27-year-old man drowned there while swimming with his friends. The beach also claimed the life of a Jamestown high senior in May 2012 and a 5-year-old girl in 2007.
College Creek in James City County. (Photo by The Triangle)

3. New evidence has emerged in a James City County hit-and-run that left a man dead.

  • New forensic information indicates that the car that struck and killed a James City County man in April was most likely a late model Honda with black or dark gray metallic paint, according to the Virginia State Police. The vehicle would have sustained significant front-end damage.
  • Andrew Davis, 64, of the 4800 block of Fenton Mill Road in Williamsburg, was struck by the vehicle from behind while walking his dog in the eastbound lane of travel on April 15. The operator of the vehicle kept driving and continued eastbound on Fenton Mill Road. Davis died at the scene.
  • Davis was a longtime employee of the 7-Eleven on Croaker Road and was described by loved ones as generous and kind. Davis’ family and friends have pleaded with the driver of the vehicle to come forward so they can find some closure amid his tragic death.
  • “We haven’t found the person who’s responsible for this,” Andrew Davis’ son, Gary Davis, told WTKR News 3 last month. “My family would love to have closure… and we would feel a lot better if that person would just come forward.”
  • State Police have reached out to the community seeking information on the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run, but so far, none of the leads have enabled investigators to identify the driver.
  • Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact the Virginia State Police at (757) 424-6800 or 
JCC family asks hit-and-run driver who killed father to come forward (WAVY News)

4. A bunch of new state laws went into effect on July 1. Here are some of the most significant.

Hundreds of bills were signed into law by Governor Glenn Youngkin earlier this year after they were passed by the General Assembly – and most of them went into effect on July 1. The new laws include:

  • Tougher restrictions on hemp-derived products: Synthetically made hemp products containing intoxicants like delta-8 THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that causes a high – can no longer be legally sold in Virginia. Such products were previously available at smoke shops and gas stations with few regulations in place. While the legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature, it has been controversial, with some business owners arguing the restrictions will dramatically reduce their revenue. Lawmakers say the bill was designed primarily to protect children, especially because delta-8 THC products often come packaged as edibles that may appeal to kids, including gummies, chocolates, candies and cookies. According to the FDA, national poison control centers received 2,362 exposure cases of delta-8 THC between 2021-2022, 41% of which involved pediatric patients. 
  • Notifications to parents about school bullying: School principals are now required to inform parents or guardians if their child is part of a bullying incident. The initial notification must be provided within one day, and updates on the status of any investigation must be given within five school days.
  • Expansion of the “move over” law: Drivers will be required to move over or slow down whenever possible for vehicles that are pulled over on the side of the road and have their hazard lights on, display road flares or use other warning signs. Prior to the passage of the new law, drivers only had to move over for emergency vehicles.
  • Ban on farmland purchases by foreign adversaries: Foreign adversaries will no longer be able to buy new farmland in the Commonwealth. The ban applies to nations like China and Iran as well as those deemed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce of conducting behavior “adverse to the national security of the United States.”
  • Age verification laws for adult websites: Virginia residents must now provide a government-issued ID proving that they are at least 18 years old in order to access websites containing pornographic content.
  • Tougher penalties for “swatting calls”: Under a new law, fake emergency calls made to police or other emergency personnel – also known as “swatting” calls – are a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If anyone is seriously injured during the response to the swatting call, the violator could be charged with a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If a person is killed because of the call, the violator could face a Class 5 felony, leading to up to 10 years in prison.
  • Firearm safety device tax credit: Those who buy a gun safe or other locking device to store a firearm will be eligible to receive a $300 tax credit
  • Ban on TikTok on government devices: State lawmakers and other public officials, including city council and school board representatives, are banned from downloading or accessing TikTok and WeChat while using state government devices or wifi networks. The ban also applies to any other applications run by ByteDance Limited or Tencent Holdings Limited, which Governor Youngkin described as “a channel to the Chinese Communist Party.”
  • Hospital Pricing Transparency: All hospitals in Virginia are now required to publish their prices online, thanks to the new Hospital Price Transparency Law. The law means that anyone who needs to have a procedure done in a hospital will be able to compare prices beforehand. Hospitals will be subject to financial penalties if they don’t comply.
Hospitals in Virginia are now required to post pricing information online, thanks to a new state law that went into effect on July 1. (Pixabay)

5. Tax holidays are now a thing of the past in Virginia.

  • Many Virginians have taken advantage of the state’s annual sales tax holiday weekend, which is usually held in August amid back-to-school sales. But the program will not return this year.
  • The sales tax holiday expired on July 1, 2023, under Virginia’s 2022 Appropriation Act. There are no signs of it being renewed.
  • Some background: In 2015, the General Assembly voted to offer Virginians one “Sales Tax Holiday” per year, which applied to school supplies, clothing and footwear, emergency preparedness items and Energy Star or WaterSense appliances. Prior to 2015, there were three different sales tax-free weekends per year, but different items qualified each time.
  • The sales tax rate is 5.3% for most of Virginia, but local governments are allowed to collect additional taxes per state law. In Williamsburg, James City County and York County, the general sales tax rate is 7%, which is higher than any other localities in the Commonwealth. Other cities in Hampton Roads have a 6% tax rate, including Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson and, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
  • “Nobody for the last two years has put in legislation to fix this. Last year, it was temporarily fixed in the budget,” Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach), told WAVY News regarding the renewal of the tax holiday. “It will not happen this year because nobody put in the legislation and the old legislation had a sunset clause.”

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