The Triangle: News in 5 (Mar 7)

Gas prices spike on the Peninsula, a new restaurant is opening soon in Williamsburg, parking fees could be coming to Buckroe Beach and a Newport News firefighter was named "Firefighter of the Year."

Good morning!

For the first time in quite a while, we’ll be able to enjoy a very warm (albeit windy) start to the workweek today.

Rain and a cold front will be moving in tonight, though, bringing a 20+ degree plunge in temperatures, according to News 3 meteorologist Myles Henderson. Looking ahead to the rest of the week, we can expect several more soggy days with cool weather.

In case you missed it, this week’s list of local events was sent out yesterday afternoon. I’ve linked to it again at the bottom of this newsletter.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or news tips, please email me at [email protected]. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Now to the news.

-Christin

Local & Statewide

1. Gas prices are ticking way up in Hampton Roads.

  • Gas prices are exceeding $4 a gallon at some gas stations throughout Hampton Roads, including on the Peninsula. The prices are breaking previous records that were set back in 2008, according to 13NewsNow. The surging costs come amid Russia’s intensifying invasion of Ukraine.
  • In Virginia, the average price jumped up to $3.98 today, an increase of nine cents overnight, according to AAA. The average price of gas in the state yesterday was $3.89.
    • Price increases compared to a week ago are even more striking. The average cost for a gallon of gas in Virginia was $3.43 last Monday, according to AAA. One year ago, the average price was just $2.64 in the Commonwealth.
    • In Hampton Roads specifically, the average price per gallon hit $3.95 Monday morning, on par with state averages.
    • The national average for a gallon of gas was $4.06 as of Monday morning.

A gas pump reads cash and credit card prices nearing $4 a gallon. Gas prices rose more than 40 cents a gallon in the past week at most locations; some broke the $4 mark. The prices are spiking due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. (Photo by Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

2. A new restaurant featuring Turkish, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine will soon be coming to Williamsburg.

  • The restaurant – to be named Meyhane – will replace the former Victoria’s restaurant at the Williamsburg Crossing shopping center, according to The Virginia Gazette. It’s being launched by Burcu Yesilcimen, the co-owner of Anatolia’s in New Town.
  • The restaurant will be open daily except on Mondays and will feature extended hours.
    • Lunch will be served from 12-3 pm Tuesday – Friday, and dinner will be offered from 5-12 pm. On weekends, the restaurant will stay open even later, until 2 am.
    • 15-minute belly dancing shows will also be featured several times during the evening on weekends, according to Yesilcimen.
    • “Our hours are somewhat different. We will be open on weekends until 2 a.m. I wanted a place where older adults could come after 9 p.m. and not be mixed with a student crowd like at other restaurants in the area,” Yesilcimen told the Virginia Gazette.
  • Yesilcimen is opening the restaurant alongside her husband, who will be a co-owner. She says the menu items are inspired by recipes made by their mothers and grandmothers. Customers can also expect several vegan specialties to be available.
  • Meyhane is tentatively set to open in April, pending approval of a liquor license.

3. New Town’s Nautical Dog is expanding to include a cat lounge.

  • The pet supply store will be expanding to add on a new cat lounge, which is expected to open this summer, the Peninsula Chronicle reports. The lounge will allow visitors to interact with adoptable cats – including those with special needs – from Heritage Humane Society.
  • “In addition to an expanded selection of merchandise for cats, we will have a large cat lounge with adoptable cats,” the company announced in a March 1 Facebook post.
  • The new addition marks Nautical Dog’s second expansion in the past year. Last summer, the shop acquired a neighboring empty storefront to begin offering a self-service dog washing station.

4. Nonprofit organizations serving residents of James City County can now apply for American Rescue Funds.

  • The funding was authorized by the James City County Board of Supervisors, WYDaily reports. Award decisions will be made based on the evaluations of the applications submitted and the availability of funds.
  • The covered period begins March 3, 2021 and ends December 31, 2024. Funds need to be incurred by December 31, 2024 and must be expended by December 31, 2026.
  • Nonprofits serving JCC can apply online, but the application deadline is coming up quickly: All submissions must be received by the County by Friday, March 18, 2022, at 5:00 pm.
    • The application can be accessed here.

5. Hampton is considering charging for parking at Buckroe Beach.

  • The city is mulling charging a “nominal” fee to park at any of the more than 500 spaces designated for the Buckroe Beach area, according to The Daily Press. The changes wouldn’t take effect until at least next year, however.
  • The idea was discussed during Mayor Donnie Tuck’s virtual town hall meeting last Tuesday. The city says free parking would still be available farther away including at Jones Middle School, where an air-conditioned tram would be available to take people to the beach.
  • Residents had mixed reactions to the proposal, with many initially opposing it.
    • Pros: Some expressed support for paid parking, saying it could help ease overcrowding in parking areas, especially during peak times and special events.
    • Cons: Those who are against the plan say paid parking could cause cars to park in surrounding neighborhoods, clogging up the streets. The city said it would consider implementing a residential permit program to prevent that.
  • Hampton is also carrying out a $6 million renovation project at Buckroe Beach, which is expected to be completed before the 2022 beach season starts.
    • The project will lead to enhanced access for individuals with mobility limitations, including a ramp and mat on the sand as well as a chair that transports people to the water.
    • Other upgrades will include repairs to the boardwalk, improved boardwalk lighting and new benches and landscaping.

Families watch the Groovin’ by the Bay Concert at Buckroe Beach Park. The City of Hampton is considering implementing paid parking for the more than 500 parking spots (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

6. A Virginia teacher has been suspended after voicing support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • The substitute teacher, John Stanton, works for Arlington Public Schools, NBC News reports. Stanton made national headlines last week after telling a middle school classroom that he “personally support[s] the logic of Putin.”
  • Stanton also told students to read as many news sources as they can, including Sputnik News, which is considered by the FBI, CIA and NSA to be a “state-run propaganda machine.”
    • Stanton also currently writes for Pravda, a Russian state newspaper.
    • Upon his suspension, however, he said the comments were taken out of context.
  • In an email to the school board, parents expressed concern over Stanton’s perceived “advocacy of political positions” and “Russian propaganda.” School officials would not comment on the status of Stanton’s employment moving forward.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 9,281 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s down from 13,825 last week. The highest numbers of cases in Hampton Roads were reported in Virginia Beach (+190) and Chesapeake (+150), according to WTVR.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 251 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week, according to VHHA data. 419 Covid-19 related deaths also occurred in the state last week, according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 72.1% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 71.9% last week).

Good News

A firefighter from Newport News has been recognized as Virginia’s Firefighter of the Year.

  • The Governor’s Fire Service Award was given to Lieutenant Andrew Zysk, who has served with the Newport News Fire Department since 2011, according to The Daily Press.
    • Zysk is a training officer and also volunteers at a camp for children who survive burns from house fires.
  • “Colleagues say there is no finer training officer and no person of higher character than Lieutenant Andrew Zysk,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a news release. “His genuine care for the well-being of each recruit is obvious, and is a natural expression of his high character and altruism.”
  • Zysk was one of only two people to receive the 2021 Firefighter of the Year award from the governor. The Governor’s Fire Service Awards were created in 2002 to recognize excellence among Virginia’s fire service professionals.

Nationwide

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing into its second week. Here’s the latest:

  • Russia announced another cease-fire with humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee, but Ukraine rejected the offer – decrying it as “immoral” – after it emerged that the routes lead directly into Russia or its ally Belarus, Reuters reports. The last two cease-fire arrangements were not upheld.
  • Despite pressure to denounce Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, China doubled down on its support for Russia Monday, calling the country its “most important strategic partner,” according to ABC News.
  • Ukrainians are facing a humanitarian catastrophe as hundreds of thousands are without power and water and are running out of food, medicine and basic supplies, PBS News reports.
  • More than 10,000 people in Russia have been detained at anti-war protests in the last 11 days, according to BBC News.
  • The Ukraine war is also threatening the world’s food supply and could further inflate grocery prices. That’s because Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s leading suppliers of staple grains – including wheat and corn – a report by Gallup explains.
  • The UN says more than 1.7 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, per Axios.
  • Russia has also reportedly begun recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that 20,000 foreign fighters are flocking to Ukraine to fight against Russia.
  • Russian troops have taken full control over the Ukrainian city of Kherson – and they’ve implemented a curfew with a “shoot to kill” policy for those who violate it, CNN reports.

Events This Week

Miss this week’s listing of upcoming local events? Click here to see it.

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