News in 5: Williamsburg's first-ever cat lounge is now open

Plus: A missing person case in Newport News is now a homicide investigation, JCC approved the use of vouchers for a housing development and a new speakeasy experience is coming to Busch Gardens.

Good morning!

We’re in the midst of our hottest week of the year, according to meteorologist Patrick Rockey of WTKR News 3. Temperatures may reach 100° this week, and heat indexes could exceed 110° when the humidity is factored in.

A storm threat is also possible for Thursday, and some storms may be strong to severe, bringing heavy downpours and gusty winds. Unfortunately, it looks like the rain won’t cool things down for long.

Erin Miller
Jul 20, 2022 ·

Other than this awful heat, there’s a lot happening, so let’s get to the news.

-Christin

1. Williamsburg’s first-ever cat lounge has opened in New Town.

  • Schwartzy’s Cat Cove – the first space of its kind to ever come to Williamsburg – opened to the public on Saturday, July 16. It’s located in an expanded section of The Nautical Dog, a pet supply store owned and operated by local resident Amanda Wilbourne.
  • The Cat Cove offers a cozy spot for people to hang out with adoptable cats from Heritage Humane Society. It features seating areas for human visitors and provides plenty of space for the cats to roam, play and relax, including colorful cat perches that extend high up on the walls.
    • Guests can also shop at a newly-expanded cat supply section in the store.
  • The lounge is named after Wilbourne’s much-loved shop cat Schwartzy, who was adopted nine years ago from Heritage Humane Society. He was a special-needs senior cat, but Wilbourne said he won over everyone who came to the store. Schwartzy passed away three weeks before the business opened in its current location, but Wilbourne continues to honor his memory.
    • “We hope to bring awareness to special needs cats, and you will often see special needs cats in Schwartzy’s Cove. The reality is, special needs cats are purr-fect too,” The Nautical Dog’s website states. “Next time you are searching for the perfect animal, remember: they are ALL perfect.”
    • Among the Cat Cove’s currently available adoptable cats are Oyster and Prawn, two bonded brothers who are looking for a home together.
  • The Nautical Dog is open Monday-Saturday, 10 AM – 7 PM, and Sunday, 10:30 AM – 5 PM. For more information, visit the store’s website.

Schwartzy’s Cat Cove has opened in Williamsburg. (Photo by The Triangle).

2. A Newport News woman was reported missing Sunday. Now, her husband has been charged in her murder.

  • A Newport News man has been charged with first-degree homicide in the death of his wife, Shanita Mikell Eure-Lewis, 35. Virginia State Police had issued an Ashanti Alert for the woman Sunday, saying she was in “extreme danger” after she suddenly disappeared. She had last been spotted near Gethsemane Baptist Church on Roanoke Avenue shortly after the church’s first service.
    • “She was here Sunday. We talked, joked and she said she was going to get her sons and coming back, so we expected her to come back,” Vera Riddick, the wife of the church’s pastor, told WTKR News 3. But Eure-Lewis never returned. Police Chief Steve Drew said Monday that Eure-Lewis’ husband, Adrian Lewis, was a person of interest in the case.
  • Adrian Lewis, 49, was taken into custody early Tuesday morning at Dulles Intl. Airport, where he was preparing to board a plane bound for Jamaica, WAVY News reports.
    • Homeland Security Investigations special agents assisted in Lewis’ arrest, according to U.S Customs and Border Protection.
  • While police haven’t found a body and Adrian hasn’t yet confessed, Chief Drew said there was enough evidence to issue a warrant for the man’s arrest.
    • Shanita’s sister told police she spotted Adrian’s truck parked next to a dumpster in a parking lot Sunday afternoon, where he was disposing of several items. When police arrived to search the dumpster, they recovered a shovel with dirt, as well as a brown purse and sandals belonging to Shanita, according to court documents.
    • A criminal complaint filed in the case also states that Shanita had removed all the guns from the home she shared with Adrian on July 14 and brought them to her sister’s house. She also left her two children with her sister until the morning of July 17, the same day she disappeared. A mutual friend of the couple also reported that the night before Shanita went missing, Adrian sent him a text message threatening to kill Shanita if she cheated on him.
  • “My heart goes out to Mrs. Eure’s family, especially her children, as well as the Gethsemane Baptist Church community,” Chief Drew said. “We are doing everything we can to find her and bring her loved ones some closure.”

Katie Collett WAVY/Fox43
Jul 19, 2022 ·

3. James City County Supervisors approved the use of vouchers for an affordable housing development.

  • At its Tuesday, July 12 meeting, the James City County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve housing vouchers for Powhatan Terrace, one of two affordable housing developments that will soon be built in the County.
    • The Supervisors heard from assistant social services director Barbara Watson, who explained that the project could not move forward unless the vouchers were approved. While the James City County office of housing does not currently have the ability to provide project-based vouchers, Watson said the Hampton Redevelopment Housing Authority has offered to provide the vouchers.
  • Supervisor Michael Hipple expressed concern that the vouchers could be given to Hampton residents rather than residents of James City County. But Watson said priority would be given to those who live or work in James City County.
    • “Every effort will be made to encourage the [Hampton Redevelopment Housing Authority] and housing partnerships to give priority use of the housing vouchers to James City County residents and/or to those who work in James City County,” Watson said.
    • Two housing developments, Powhatan Terrace and Blaine Landing, requested project-based vouchers in order to qualify for a federal tax credit. But because the vouchers are not available through the County, the developers had to seek them elsewhere.
  • The Powhatan Terrace development will consist of 36 units, which will be rented below market rate. It will encompass 16.5 acres of land located at 1676 and 1678 Jamestown Road and “addresses the well documented need for affordable rental housing in the County,” according to a resolution adopted by the county in April 2021.
  • A Workforce Housing Task Force analysis conducted in 2019 concluded that more affordable housing is needed in James City County.

“There is a need for housing at more diverse price and rent levels in James City County. Workers in many jobs that are critical to the well-being of the local economy and community cannot afford housing in the County,” the Task Force stated in the report. “Without a focus by James City County on expanding housing options, young workers and families will have a hard time staying in the community, employers will have an increasingly difficult time finding and retaining workers, and traffic congestion will get worse.”

  • While James City County has 154 housing choice vouchers which they provide to individual applicants, they have no project-based vouchers – which are assigned to specific units, according to The Virginia Gazette. There are currently 369 people on the County’s waiting list for housing choice vouchers.

4. Some Seaview Lofts residents say they’ve been left homeless after the City of Newport News stopped paying for their temporary hotel stays.

  • Residents who lived at the now-condemned SeaView Lofts apartment complex in Newport News expressed dismay after the City announced it would stop paying for most hotel rooms Thursday, even though the building remains condemned.
  • The city says it has spent more than $100,000 so far to temporarily house the residents. Newport News City Manager Cynthia Rohlf said the judge overseeing the case has ordered SeaView Loft’s owner to reimburse the city for the cost of housing the tenants. However, there is no guarantee the owner will follow through.
    • “There is no indication, based on the owner’s actions to date, that the city will recoup the monies spent, and at this point, it appears that the situation could continue indefinitely,” Rohlf said in a statement.
  • The owner of the complex – SeaView LLC. – fixed a boiler that was broken, but the building’s elevators remain broken, according to WTKR News 3. The judge overseeing the case will not reverse the condemnation order unless at least one elevator is up-to-code.
    • “I’m going to be homeless. It’s insane,” 20-year-old resident Aniyah Moore told 13NewsNow. Other residents mentioned that some families with children have been forced to sleep in their cars.
  • During a status hearing Thursday, an attorney for the property owner said the elevators are still being worked on, and the owner hopes they will be fixed by July 25. A new hearing is set for July 26 at 8:30 am.

5. Edmarc Hospice for Children will soon expand into Williamsburg and the surrounding region.

  • Edmarc, a Portsmouth-based nonprofit organization that provides in-home care services for children with life-threatening illnesses, will soon expand into Greater Williamsburg, The Peninsula Chronicle reports.
    • In a news release, the organization stated that it is planning to move its services into Charles City, Gloucester, Mathews, James City County, New Kent and Williamsburg. The expansion will make it possible for families in the area to have access to a physician-directed care team 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    • Edmarc serves more than 300 families in the Hampton Roads area every year. The organization recently received a $2 million grant from the Commonwealth.
  • The move will also bring jobs to the area. Edmarc is already beginning to hire people to work in its new Williamsburg office, according to the organization’s Facebook page. The new location could open by the end of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023.
    • “Our vision is a community in which every child and family in need has access to pediatric hospice services and palliative care,” said Edmarc Executive Director Debbie Stizer-Brame.
    • Edmarc’s founders emphasize that unlike adult hospice – where life-saving treatment is discontinued and the end is inevitable – Edmarc works to offer hope to the children and families it serves. The organization’s services make it possible for children with serious illnesses to stay in their homes, and families are not billed for any of the support they receive.
  • Amy Lugand, a Hampton resident whose daughter received services from Edmarc after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, said she’s grateful to the organization for the much-needed support it provided to her family.
    • “They didn’t talk about death and dying,” Lugand told WAVY News. “They talked about ways they could help Taylor’s quality of life. Edmarc really is that hope for this journey, a friend to walk with you. It’s something everybody should have in their life if they have to go through this.”

6. A new speakeasy experience is coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg this month.

  • Bürgermeister’s Hideaway, a new immersive bar experience, will be opening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on July 20, WAVY News reports. The new “hidden” spot will offer chef-curated cocktails and beverage flights in a setting inspired by a centuries-old secret speakeasy.
    • Featured seasonal drinks currently include a strawberry basil spike lemonade (also available in a non-alcoholic version), a watermelon jalapeno margarita and a chocolate hazelnut banana martini. Beer and wine are also available.
  • Guests must reserve a time to visit Bürgermeister’s Hideaway, which can be done on Busch Gardens’ website. Those who book before July 22 will receive 20% off their reservation. Normal prices are $50 per person and include timed entry to the hideaway bar and one drink flight.

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Lowest Gas Prices Today

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Local Covid-19 Update

New cases:VDH reports that an additional 21,244 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s up from 18,349 cases reported during the previous week. The highest numbers of new cases on the Peninsula last week were reported in Newport News (+390), Hampton (+377) James City County (+166) and York County (+125), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 272 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 237 the week before), according to VDH data. 61 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (down from 110 the week before).

Vaccination rate: 71.8% of Virginians are fully vaccinated.

In the National News

  • Record Heatwave Hits Europe and U.S: Europe is in the midst of an unprecedented heatwave that has killed more than 1,700 people so far and may kill many more, Axios reports. The U.K experienced record-breaking temperatures that soared above 104 degrees Fahrenheit Monday, and temperatures in some areas of the country are 36 degrees higher than average. The situation is particularly concerning because most people in European countries do not have air conditioning in their homes. In Britain, less than 5 percent of all homes have air conditioning units, according to a 2021 report by the British Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. Meanwhile, more than 100 million people in the U.S will be under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories this week, according to Reuters. Meteorologists say the dangerously high temperatures will extend into next week.
  • New Covid Vaccine on the Way: A fourth Covid-19 vaccine has been cleared by both the FDA and CDC and will soon be available for U.S adults over the age of 18. The shot, which has been in the works for more than two years, is manufactured by Maryland biotech firm Novavax. It’s based on a protein subunit technology that’s been used for more than three decades in vaccines to prevent illnesses like the flu and whooping cough. Novavax’s vaccine was more than 90% effective at preventing illness during trials when the alpha variant was dominant, according to CNBC. Data also shows that it produces a strong immune response against omicron and its subvariants. The vaccine is expected to begin rolling out to the public within the next few weeks. “If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
  • Fury in Uvalde: Parents lashed out at school board officials in Uvalde, Texas Monday night in response to a scathing 80-page report released Sunday by state lawmakers, according to CBS News. The report outlines widespread failures in the handling of the Robb Elementary school shooting, saying the response was filled with “egregiously poor decision making” by all levels of law enforcement, including 91 state troopers. Parents were particularly angry that the school board refused to fire Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated School District Police Chief. Arredondo wasted crucial time searching for a key to the classroom during the incident and did not treat the situation with appropriate urgency, the report showed. “Shame on you! Shame on you!” parents of slain children and teachers chanted at the meeting Monday night.

Events This Week

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