News in 5: Williamsburg named among best cities in U.S. by Travel + Leisure

Here are the week’s top stories.

1. Williamsburg has been recognized as one of the top U.S. cities by Travel + Leisure.

  • Williamsburg is among the “best cities in the United States,” according to Travel + Leisure magazine.
  • The magazine’s annual “World’s Best Awards” for 2023 list Williamsburg as #11 among 15 cities that travelers rank as their favorite in the nation. The awards are kind of a big deal: they’re “considered the travel industry’s most trusted rankings,” according to the magazine’s editors.
  • The winning cities were determined by nearly 165,000 votes that were cast in an extensive survey through a secure website. Readers rated cities based on specific criteria, including sights and landmarks, friendliness, culture, food, shopping and value. Respondents could choose a rating ranging from excellent to poor for each characteristic, and the final scores are based on averages of those responses.
  • Williamsburg stood out to readers for its ability to bring “history classes to life” while also offering other amenities, including “hiking, camping and great restaurants.” The magazine also noted that nearby Jamestown and Yorktown offer “a lot to see and do.”
  • Other top-ranked cities: Charleston, South Carolina won the top spot on the list for the second year in a row. Most of the other cities on the list are much larger than Williamsburg, such as New Orleans, Louisiana (#3); Honolulu, Hawaii (#6); San Diego, California (#13); and Boston, Massachusetts (#14). Alexandria received the #9 spot on the list as the only other city in Virginia to be included in the awards.
  • The complete results of Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards appear in the August edition, which hit newsstands on July 21. The magazine reaches over 16 million readers every month.
  • Williamsburg has been getting a lot of national attention in recent weeks. The city was recently named among the best cheap vacation destinations in the United States by U.S. News & World Report last month.
    • “This Virginia town is both affordable and educational,” editors of the U.S News & World Report wrote in their rankings.
    • Yorktown’s Sounds of Summer Concert Series also receives a shoutout in the publication’s rankings, with readers advised to “take advantage of the free outdoor concerts in Yorktown” if visiting during the summer.
  • Some other recent national mentions for Williamsburg:
    • The Today Show aired a segment on July 7 about the excavation of the historic First Baptist Church. 
    • Southern Living published an article on July 23 about some of Williamsburg’s most charming features.
    • Forbes Magazine ran a feature story on July 24 about dining options near Colonial Williamsburg.
Guests take in the sights and sounds of Colonial Williamsburg while on a horse-drawn carriage ride. (Photo by The Triangle)

2. William & Mary has instituted a new clear bag policy for sporting events.

  • William & Mary Athletics announced that it will implement a new policy to regulate the size and type of bag that can be carried into the college’s sports facilities in the upcoming 2023-2024 year.
  • Affected facilities include Busch Field, Kaplan Arena, Martin Family Stadium, Plumeri Park and Zable Stadium.
  • The clear bag policy will be implemented in conjunction with the William & Mary Police Department and is “consistent with many of the venues in the CAA and other non-conference venues W&M will compete at throughout the season,” the college said in a news release. The policy is designed to improve public safety by making it easy for security staff to identify the bag’s contents. It also supports the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
  • Fans should plan to familiarize themselves with the new policies before arriving at venues to avoid unnecessary delays at security checkpoints.
  • Football season-ticket holders will receive one clear bag per account. A limited number of bags will also be available for sale as the 2023-24 competition season gets underway. In addition, approved bags can be purchased online from the William & Mary Spirit Shop.
  • Approved bags include:
    • Clear tote bags made of plastic, vinyl or PVC that do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
    • One-gallon clear plastic zip-style bags
    • Small purses or clutch bags that do not exceed 6.5″ x 4.5″
    • Medical or diaper bags – diaper bags must be accompanied by a child
  • Types of bags are that will not be permitted include:
    • Backpacks 
    • Printed or tinted plastic bags
    • Cinch or drawstring bags
    • Fanny packs
    • Camera or binocular cases
    • Large purses or bags
  • A full list of prohibited items can be found here. Fans won’t be allowed into the venue with a non-approved bag and will be asked to return the items to their vehicle. 
(WAVY News 10)

3. A teenage boy from Gloucester died in a boating accident on the York River.

  • A 16-year-old boy was killed Sunday after he collided with a pontoon boat on the York River while jet skiing, according to the Virginia Marine Police. The incident happened near Machicomoco State Park.
  • The boy was identified as Brycen Wermter, a junior at Gloucester High School. 
  • Wermter was enjoying a family outing on the water at the time of the accident, police say. His stepfather was operating the pontoon boat, and his mother was also on the boat. Wermter’s family members pulled him out of the water after he went under and brought him to the Gloucester Point boat ramp. The Gloucester County Volunteer Fire and Rescue attempted to provide first aid, but he was declared dead at the scene.
  • “His personal watercraft struck the pontoon boat that was operating close by,” said Zach Widgeon, a Virginia Marine Police spokesman. “The 16-year-old operator, after striking the pontoon boat went underneath the pontoon boat, was injured, and was retrieved out of the water by the occupants of the pontoon boat.”
  • Wermter played for the Gloucester High School Dukes football team and was remembered by his coaches and teammates as a hard worker with a “bright smile.”
  • The crash remains under investigation. Police say alcohol is not believed to be a factor. No charges are pending at this time.
Brycen Wermter. (Photo via Facebook)

4. Verizon has completed upgrades to its network in Hampton Roads.

  • Verizon has finished making major upgrades to its network in Hampton Roads as part of a large-scale, multi-year redesign, the company said in a news release. 
  • The upgrades will allow Verizon to “stay ahead of exponential data usage increases, upgrade the technology in the network and pave the way for personalized customer experiences,” according to the company.
  • The redesign project included deploying new cell sites to extend coverage and capacity in local communities. It also increased the capacity on fiber optic cables to accommodate new services, including wireless internet for homes and businesses. 
  • 91% of people in Hampton Roads now have access to 5G service from Verizon. The company said its engineers deployed “5G Ultra Wideband Service” throughout the region to allow for “extremely fast speeds and massive capacity.” Median download speeds have increased by 22% for most Hampton Roads customers since last year, the company said.
  • “Our network engineers work tirelessly to ensure we can provide the most reliable connections across Hampton Roads,” said Kevin Smith, Vice President of Network Engineering and Operations for Verizon. “We will continue to unlock the power of 5G for our customers with better connectivity for their phones, homes and businesses, as part of our ongoing commitment to this community.”
  • In addition to improving its cell phone service and expanding the availability of home and business internet services, the upgrades will benefit public safety agencies in the area through Verizon Frontline, which is utilized for mission-critical situations. 
Verizon trucks in York County. (Photo by The Triangle)

5. A woman who was reported missing from James City County has been found.

  • A James City County woman has been found safe after Virginia State Police issued a Silver Alert on August 1, urgently asking for the public’s help to find her.
  • Mary Dellinger, an 85-year-old woman with dementia, was reported missing from First Colony on Tuesday evening. She was located in Portsmouth at around 5 a.m. on Wednesday, James City County Police confirmed. 
Mary Dellinger, a James City County woman who was reported missing Tuesday, has been found safe. (Photo courtesy of the James City County Police Department)

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