News in 5: Williamsburg Meals on Wheels pleads for immediate help to avoid waitlisting those in need

Plus: Fourth of July took a violent turn in Newport News, West Nile Virus was detected in York County and Thomas Nelson Community College is holding a grand rebranding event next week.

Good morning!

It’ll be a scorcher today. All of the Peninsula is under a heat advisory from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm this evening. Temperatures will get up into the high 90s, and afternoon heat indexes are expected to be around 105 degrees.

There’s also a chance for thunderstorms this evening, some of which may be severe, according to WTKR News 3 Meteorologist Myles Henderson. The summer-like conditions will continue throughout the rest of the week, with several more chances for storms through Saturday.

As always, if you have questions, comments or suggestions, please reach out to me by hitting “reply” to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels needs immediate assistance in order to continue meeting community demand.

  • Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels is facing a desperate financial situation and needs additional funds immediately to continue providing for community members in need, according to the organization’s executive director, Catherine Upton.
  • Upton appeared on a WMBG Radio segment last week to emphasize that the organization is facing astronomical cost increases amid rising food prices. She emphasized that Williamsburg Meals on Wheels has no way to pass on those additional food costs, as 90% of their clients are unable to afford any costs of the meal.
    • “Our food costs have more than tripled,” Upton told the station. “Our milk, in one month, is $1,000 more than it was last month. Our food costs – no matter how frugal we are – are $11,000 more than they were last month.”
  • In a plea sent out to the community, Upton explained that if the organization is unable to quickly raise an additional $50,000, it will have no choice but to begin waitlisting local residents in need of meals, The Virginia Gazette reports.
  • Founded in 1974, Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels delivers hot, nutritious meals free of charge to senior citizens, people recovering from surgery and disabled individuals who are struggling to cook their own food.
  • During the summer, the organization also provides meals for children who are out of school and living in motels or Section 8 housing.
    • Prior to Covid, Williamsburg Meals on Wheels was delivering meals to 50 children per day, but they’ve now reached maximum capacity and are delivering to 245 children per day, according to Upton. The organization had to institute a waitlist for children for the first time ever, and there are already more than 100 children on the waitlist.
  • Compounding the situation is the fact that gas prices have risen dramatically in recent months, making it more costly to deliver food to those in need.
    • “Our volunteers are what keeps our program going,” Upton told WMBG radio. “We are blessed that Monday through Friday, they show up to deliver more than 500 meals right now during the summer, and during the regular year, they’re delivering 250 meals per day. They do this with their own cars, paying for their own gas. It’s a challenge right now because so many of our volunteers are retired, living on fixed incomes.”
  • While the organization previously worked with a catering group, that contract ended during the pandemic, and the organization is now preparing all of its own meals in addition to delivering them.
  • How to help: Williamsburg Meals on Wheels is seeking more volunteers. Those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out a brief form on the organization’s website. Additionally, the organization is asking people to donate, which can also be done on their website: williamsburgmealsonwheels.com.
  • Later this summer, Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels is also planning to open its own social enterprise operation – a local café called Good Food Provisions. 100% of the sales proceeds will be used to fund nutritious meals for the organization. Residents can support Meals on Wheels’ important work by making purchases at the new café.
    • The café will feature craft coffees, teas and soda products; sandwiches and salads; and freshly baked items, including cookies, cakes and seasonal items using fresh ingredients from local farms, according to the organization’s website. It will be located in Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, where Williamsburg Meals on Wheels currently operates.

A senior man prepares to heat up a meal delivered by Meals on Wheels. Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels – which provides nutritious, hot meals to seniors, disabled persons and children out of school living in motels or section 8 housing – is in immediate need of additional funding in order to avoid waitlisting community members. (Photo by Getty Images).

2. Fourth of July took a violent turn in Newport News when six people were shot Monday night into Tuesday morning.

  • Monday was a day filled with fireworks and patriotic fun for many in Newport News, but the city was rocked by a series of shootings starting later that night.
  • Two juveniles were shot Monday evening, and one of them is suffering from life-threatening injuries, according to WAVY News. The call for the shooting came in at about 10:20 pm at the intersection of 25th Street and Wickham Avenue, police say.
  • Less than two hours later and just a block away, police were called to a triple shooting on Madison Avenue where one woman and two men were shot. One of the male victims was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
  • Then on Tuesday morning, police were called to investigate reports of another shooting around 6:45 am in the 600 block of J. Clyde Morris Boulevard near the intersection of Jefferson Avenue. The male victim in that shooting died after being transported to the hospital.
  • All three shooting incidents remain under investigation, and police are stepping up patrols in those areas of the city.
  • Newport News City Councilman Dave Jenkins reassured residents that a new program the city recently rolled out will help curb crime, WTKR News 3 reports.
    • “We are working on any ideas that we can come up with to stop the gun violence,” Jenkins said. “We are committed to being proactive.”

3. A James City County teen was killed Saturday night after his vehicle struck a tree.

  • A 19-year-old James City County resident died in a single-vehicle accident Saturday night.
    • According to police, the driver, Ranen Gibson, was traveling west on Ironbound Road in a 2010 Mazda 6 when the car ran off a road and struck a tree.
  • James City County Police and Fire Departments responded to the crash around 9:50 pm. Gibson was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

4. After a two-year rebranding initiative, Thomas Nelson Community College is now Virginia Peninsula Community College.

  • Thomas Nelson Community College officially changed its name to Virginia Peninsula Community College on July 1. The college, which is based in Hampton and also has a campus in Williamsburg, began to explore the idea of rebranding after conducting research into the history of its namesake.
    • Thomas Nelson Jr. was a Revolutionary War hero who signed the Declaration of Independence and served as the fourth governor of Virginia – but he was also a slaveholder. In the summer of 2020, the State Board for Community Colleges urged local advisory boards to consider the appropriateness of their names, saying they should “reflect the values of inclusive and accessible education.” In February of 2021, Thomas Nelson’s local board voted unanimously to change the college’s name.
    • “Hundreds of names were suggested as the College began consideration of a new name,” said Thomas Nelson President Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon. “Narrowing the list of suggestions down to three was no small task. However, when speaking with diverse groups of students, faculty, staff, and alumni about the new name, one theme continued to emerge – ‘Virginia Peninsula Community College represents me.’ I believe we have identified a name that is welcoming, inclusive and representative of our unique region.”
  • Four other community colleges in the state are also undergoing name changes. John Tyler will become “Brightpoint,” Lord Fairfax will now be known as “Laurel Ridge,” Dabney S. Lancaster will be renamed “Mountain Gateway” and Patrick Henry will become “Patrick & Henry” in recognition of the counties it serves.
  • The college will hold a grand rebranding event on July 12. The free event is open to the public and will feature games, music, food, giveaways and more.
    • Visitors will be able to connect with college representatives to learn about current academic and workforce development programs. The event will also be live-streamed on the college’s website and on social media. For additional details about the rebranding event, click here.

Virginia Peninsula Community College
Jul 01, 2022 ·

The college is closed July 4 in observance of Independence Day.
https://bit.ly/3QXeWxr

5. York County is warning residents to take precautions after mosquitos in the area tested positive for West Nile Virus.

  • While no cases of West Nile Virus in humans or animals have been reported by York County residents so far this season, some recent tests conducted by York County Mosquito Control Division were positive for West Nile Virus, WYDaily reports. The positive cases were identified in Lower York County.
  • Mosquito Control identified the virus in samples taken during routine testing for common mosquito-borne illnesses. The division conducts comprehensive efforts to control the local mosquito population through the use of larvicides and spray between late spring and early fall.
    • Mosquito Control urges residents to apply insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when possible to reduce the risk of being bitten and contracting a mosquito-borne illness.
    • Residents can also pick up free mosquito dunks – a natural mosquito control product – from the Public Works office, Tabb Library or Waste Management Center.
    • The county also offers free yard inspections to help residents identify areas of standing water. Mosquito fish – which eat up to 300 mosquito larvae per day – are also provided by the county free of charge for use in ornamental ponds or other areas of permanent standing water. Those interested in either of these services should contact Mosquito Control directly.
  • Additional information about West Nile Virus is available through the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC.

6. Hundreds of Newport News residents were forced out of their homes after their apartment complex was condemned ahead of the holiday weekend.

  • 200 tenants at Seaview Lofts apartments in Newport News were given just two days to vacate after city officials deemed the 15-story building unsafe, according to WTKR News 3.
  • The scene became chaotic Friday when the building was officially condemned, and distraught residents had to leave immediately. While the city is providing hotel rooms through at least July 11 for those forced out, residents say the situation has been incredibly stressful.
  • A Newport News city spokesperson said the city has filed more than a dozen charges against the owner of the building dating back to April due to code violations, but the problems were never addressed. Neither of the building’s two elevators are working, and the city was made aware of numerous electrical hazards and other potential dangers.
  • In addition, the owner owes the city $70,000 in water bills, The Daily Press reports. The building is managed by BlueRise Group, a New Jersey-based company. A spokesperson from the management company declined to discuss the building’s condemnation.
  • If the issues are fixed and the building passes inspection, the condemnation will be lifted and the residents can return home. While residents were told the repairs could be made quickly, there has been no definite timeline.
    • Over the holiday weekend, $20,000 was raised by the Coalition of Concerned Clergy (CCOC) and Congressman Bobby Scott to help provide financial assistance to the displaced residents of Seaview Lofts, according to WTKR.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

All prices shown are per GasBuddy. To check the latest prices based on zip code, click here.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases:VDH reports that an additional 19,654 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s up from the 17,379 cases reported during the previous week. The highest numbers of new cases on the Peninsula last week were reported in Newport News (+427), Hampton (+405) and James City County (+206), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 273 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 195 the week before), according to VDH data. 111 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 66 the week before), according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 74% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (no change from last week).

In the National News

  • Highland Park Parade Shooter Charged: The suspected gunman who carried out a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, IL has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, according to CBS News. The suspect, 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole if convicted. At least 38 people were injured – including an 8-year-old child who is in critical condition – and seven people were killed. Two of the victims who died, Kevin and Irina Mcarthy, were parents to a 2-year-old boy who was left orphaned after the violent incident. Authorities say there is evidence the suspect spent weeks planning the shooting in the affluent small town, which is about 25 miles north of Chicago.
  • Supreme Court Rules on Greenhouse Gas: The U.S Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the EPA does not have the authority to cap greenhouse gas emissions, the Virginia Mercury reports. The 6-3 decision was a victory for the Republican-led states that brought the challenge – including West Virginia, Alaska, Georgia, Montana, Nebraska and 14 others – and will limit President Biden’s ability to carry out climate initiatives.
  • Jackson Sworn In: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday to become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, the AP reports. The court is currently in the midst of its summer recess, so Jackson will not begin the bulk of her work until October. She joins three other women – Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor – marking the first time in history that four women will serve together on the court of nine.
  • Covid Remained Third Leading Cause of Death in 2021: A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that Covid was the third leading cause of death in the U.S in both 2020 and 2021, according to Axios. The data shows the pandemic exacted a tremendous toll even after vaccines became widely available and was responsible for 1 in 8 deaths during the past two years. Covid also led to increases in other causes of death like heart attacks and strokes, partially because some Americans delayed seeking medical care due to concerns about the virus.

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Events This Week

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