The Triangle News in 5: Colonial Williamsburg to offer free admission in honor of Juneteenth

Plus: A new state budget deal would help widen I-64 between Williamsburg and Richmond, JCC is offering free active shooter training and fentanyl overdose deaths are up in Hampton Roads.

Good morning!

After several days of beautiful weather, we can expect warmer and muggier conditions through midweek, according to WTKR News 3’s Myles Henderson.

Fortunately, we should see cooler temperatures (in the low 80s) and lower humidity levels as we head into Friday and Saturday.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, I’ve reposted the link to my weekly community calendar of events at the bottom of this newsletter.

And as always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please hit “reply” to this email to reach out to me.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. Colonial Williamsburg will offer free admission in celebration of Juneteenth.

  • In honor of Juneteenth, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will offer free admission to the Historic Area and art museums on June 19 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. The event marks the first time in CW’s history that the entire museum will be open to the public at no cost.
  • The free admission day coincides with numerous other Juneteenth programs that will be offered in the area in coordination with the Juneteenth Community Consortium, which is comprised of organizations throughout Greater Williamsburg that share the goal of educating, commemorating and celebrating Juneteenth.
    • “This year we are honored to partner as never before with a broad spectrum of organizations to commemorate Juneteenth,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “By opening our doors to the community, we hope to share our educational spaces, programs and other resources with the widest audience possible.”
  • Juneteenth – also known as “Juneteenth Freedom Day” – is a federal holiday that marks the end of slavery in America and the emancipation of thousands of people.
  • A variety of special programming will be available throughout the day on June 19, including performances, walking tours and presentations at the Bray School Archaeological Project, First Baptist Church Archaeological Site and Custis Square Archaeological Project. See the full list of programming highlights here.

Adam Canaday drives a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg will offer free admission to all for the first time in its history on June 19, in honor of Juneteenth. The free admission day will feature a variety of special programming. (Photo by Julia Rendleman via Getty Images).

2. A new state budget deal would allocate millions to widen I-64 between Richmond and Williamsburg.

  • A state budget deal finalized last week – after months of wrangling – would allocate $310 million for a project that would widen Interstate 64 between Richmond and Williamsburg, the Daily Press reports.
  • The stretch that runs from Richmond through Hampton Roads currently only has two lanes on each side, whereas the other parts of the interstate consist of at least six lanes.
    • The narrower corridor is known as “the gap” because drivers often get stuck in traffic in the area. The current roadway isn’t designed for the number of cars that frequently pass through it today.
  • The entire widening initiative, which currently focuses on adding a third lane in each direction, is expected to cost $750 million, but state legislators say the proposed budget deal would go a long way in getting the project off the ground.
    • “This gets us started; it is a giant step,” said state Sen. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg.
  • Revenue from the new Central Virginia Transportation Authority – which uses surcharges from regional sales, gasoline and diesel tax – is also expected to provide funding for the project. Another source of funding for the project is revenue from the new Central Virginia Transportation Authority
  • Drivers recently told NBC 12 they’re fed up with the traffic on I-64, and they expect it to only worsen more as tourism picks up in the coming months.
    • “During the summer months, it’s just impossible. The traffic doesn’t really die down till the later evening,” one local resident said.
  • The interstate project has attracted broad support by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, who say the expansion will also reduce environmental issues caused by backed-up traffic and boost the economy.
    • “This is one of the biggest congestion points frankly not just in Virginia, but a huge congestion point all up and down the East Coast,” Warner said.

3. JCC Police and Fire Departments will offer active shooter and ‘Stop the Bleed’ training.

  • The James City County Police and Fire Departments are teaming up to lead a course on Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (C.R.A.S.E) and ‘Stop the Bleed,’ a training that covers basic first aid for active shooter situations.
    • The decision to offer the training was made in response to recent national events, the departments said in a news release. The course is designed to empower citizens to make a difference during potentially life-threatening situations.
  • The combined course will be offered on Wednesday, June 22 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at the JCCPD Law Enforcement Center, located at 4600 Opportunity Way in Williamsburg. The training is free to attend and open to anyone 18 and older.
  • While the course is currently full, those interested in signing up are encouraged to keep an eye on the signup form to see if any slots become available. A James City County spokesperson also told The Triangle that in light of high demand, additional active shooter trainings may be offered in the future, but no dates have been set yet.
    • To sign up or check for openings, click here.

4. Drug overdose deaths – spurred by fentanyl – spiked again in Virginia last year.

  • Drug overdose deaths in the state are continuing to climb, according to a concerning new report issued by the Virginia Department of Health. After jumping by a staggering 42% in 2020, overdose deaths increased by an additional 15% in 2021 – with fentanyl continuing to drive the vast majority of deaths.
    • “Fentanyl (prescription, illicit, and/or analogs) caused or contributed to death in 76.5% of all fatal overdoses in 2021,” the report explains.
  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the CDC. As a result, even tiny amounts of the drug are known to be lethal. Drug traffickers are further amplifying the problem by mixing fentanyl with other illicit substances – like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine – to further increase its potency.
  • The highest rates of fatal overdoses in Hampton Roads last year occurred in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, according to The Virginian-Pilot. An analysis by the Virginia Department of Health also broke down the number of overdose rates per city. According to that data:
    • James City County saw a total of 6 drug overdose deaths (4 from fentanyl). In York County, there were 6 deaths (5 from fentanyl). Williamsburg had 2 deaths (1 from fentanyl).
    • Overdose deaths also doubled in Poquoson, from 2 in 2020 to 4 in 2021. Three of those deaths were caused by fentanyl.
    • In Newport News, a total of 75 overdose deaths were reported, 66 of which were from fentanyl. In Hampton, there were 52 deaths, 48 of which were caused by fentanyl.
  • Charles Wilcox, regional vice president and board member of the Northern Region Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals, told The Virginian-Pilot the worsening overdose crisis appears to be connected to the pandemic’s impact on mental health as well as a lack of addiction and mental health treatment centers.
  • A recent study by Kaiser Permanente also found that the rise in fentanyl deaths can be attributed to the fact that the drug is highly addictive and easy to smuggle from the southern border.
    • “Substance use in general has increased and become more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sarah Leitz, MD, chief of addiction medicine for Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon.

5. The ‘ZOOM IN on Newport News’ photo contest has returned for its 13th year.

  • Residents of Newport News and visitors alike are invited to submit up to five images to the city’s 2022 ‘ZOOM IN’ Photo Contest, which began on June 1, 2022, and runs through October 31, 2022.
  • This year’s theme is “H2O in NN.” Of the 120 square miles that make up Newport News, 51 square miles are comprised of water, the city explained in a news release. That means there are plenty of opportunities for contestants to snap the perfect shot featuring water.
  • The contest, sponsored by the Newport News Tourism Development Office, is open to both professional and amateur photographers. A grand prize winner will be chosen to receive a $500 award, and an honorable mention prize – featuring VIP passports for four people to enjoy attractions in Newport News, valued at more than $100 – will be given out to the runner up.
    • “We envision entries ranging from stunning waterfront sunsets to massive naval vessels going in for repair at Newport News Shipyard – and everything in between. Even the aquariums at the Virginia Living Museum are suitable backdrops for your submissions. If it includes water in Newport News, consider it entry-worthy!” the city said in a news release.
    • Photos submitted may also be used in Newport News Tourism publications and on the city’s tourism website.
  • Winners will be selected by a panel of judges. While the city previously required all contestants to be 18 or older, the age minimum was lowered to 12 last year.
  • Full details and guidelines for the contest – as well as suggestions and examples of past entries – can be found here.

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6. Williamsburg celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with bagpipes, a beacon lighting and other fanfare.

  • The historic Wren Building at the College of William & Mary was lit up in red, white and blue as the community came together to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Thursday, June 2. The event was part of a worldwide celebration that commemorated Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of service as the leader of the British commonwealth.
    • Queen Elizabeth, 96, visited Williamsburg twice: once in 1957 and then again in 2007.
  • More than 40 bagpipers – including performers from the Williamsburg Pipes and Drums and members of bagpipe bands from five other states – came together to perform at the ceremony, which drew hundreds of guests.
  • The event, which emphasized the longstanding connection between the Williamsburg Community and Great Britain, also featured music by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, a beacon lighting and remarks from local dignitaries, including Williamsburg Mayor Doug Pons. Delegate Amanda Batten also read proclamations recognizing the ceremony on behalf of Governor Glenn Youngkin.
  • The ceremony in Colonial Williamsburg was one of few in North America registered with the British Crown and was “one of the largest gatherings of bagpipes outside of the United Kingdom celebrating the Platinum Jubilee,” according to the governor’s proclamation, read by Batten.
    • “Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Virginia share unique historic ties, particularly in the historic areas of Jamestown, Yorktown, Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary,” the proclamation further stated.
    • See clips from The Triangle‘s live coverage of the event here and here.

A cutout of Queen Elizabeth was featured at Colonial Williamsburg in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Thursday, June 2. (Photo by The Triangle/Christin Nielsen).

Lowest Gas Prices Today

Gas prices have risen by more than 20 cents in Hampton Roads in the past week, according to WTKR News 3. Here are the lowest reported prices for today. (I filled up at the Valero in Williamsburg last night.):

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

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 19,887 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s down from 22,523 cases that were reported during the previous week.

Most of the Peninsula, including James City County, York County, Poquoson, Hampton and Newport News, have now moved into the “medium risk” category on the CDC’s updated Covid-19 community levels map, meaning people at high risk for severe disease should take special precautions, such as wearing a mask. The highest numbers of new cases in Hampton Roads last week were reported in Newport News (+331), Hampton (+231), James City County (+224) and York County (+122), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 342 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (down from 433 the week before), according to VDH data. 48 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 38 the week before), according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 73.7% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (no change from 73.7% last week).

In the National News

  • Another deadly weekend: At least 13 people were killed and dozens of others injured in mass shootings across the U.S over the weekend, CBS News reports. The incidents included a chaotic situation near a nightclub in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 14 people were shot early Sunday morning and three others were hit by vehicles while trying to flee the scene. In Philadelphia, two men and one woman were also killed Saturday when several people shot at a crowd in a popular nightlife area. In Clarendon County, South Carolina, five teens and a twelve-year-old were wounded during a shooting at a graduation party on Saturday, and one adult was killed. Two separate shootings also occurred in Arizona over the weekend, where three people were killed and ten were injured.
  • A new Covid vaccine?: A new Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Maryland-based biotech company Novavax could soon be available to Americans, Reuters reports. The two-dose shot employs a more traditional technology that’s been used for decades to combat influenza, Hepatitis B and other diseases. Authorization of the jab could help improve vaccine uptake among Americans who cannot or will not take the existing mRNA vaccines. Advisers to the FDA will review data Tuesday to consider whether to approve the vaccine for emergency use in the United States. The shot is currently available for use in 170 other countries.
  • More Russian threats: Russian state TV presenters issued a series of warnings against the West over the past week, claiming the Kremlin is ready to retaliate on a large scale if NATO continues its support for Ukraine, Newsweek reports. In the latest threat, close Putin ally Vladimir Solovyov told Russia-1 that Putin is prepared to unleash a “massive nuclear strike” that only “mutants” will survive. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine “dead cities” after weeks of devastating fighting in the region.
  • Several states hold primaries: Primary elections will be held in seven states throughout the country Tuesday, including New Jersey, California, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi and New Mexico.

Events This Week

Miss this week’s community calendar of upcoming local events? You can find it here.

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