The Triangle News in 5: York-Poquoson makes a difference in Ukraine

Plus: Williamsburg is lacking performing arts spaces, a Hampton official has resigned amid racism claims and Busch Gardens might be adding new attractions.

Good morning!

We had a chilly start to our week, but much warmer weather is on the way, according to News 3 meteorologist Maddie Kirker.

We can expect temperatures to reach up into the 80s midweek. Rain and some storms may move through Thursday afternoon and evening, bringing in cooler but still pleasant weather – with highs in the 60s and 70s – for Easter weekend.

There are a bunch of events happening in the area this week. If you missed my community calendar (sent out Sunday), I’ve linked to it again at the bottom of the email.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments or news tips – or just want to introduce yourself – please reach out to me by hitting “reply” to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is donating equipment to help support Ukraine.

  • The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office (YPSO) responded to a call for action by the Lynchburg Sheriff’s Office, which is collecting body armor, safety equipment and medical supplies to help Ukrainians in their fight against Russian invaders, YPSO announced on their Facebook page Thursday.
  • Deputy Hollie Flowers made the trip to Lynchburg last week, delivering over 40 units of surplus body armor.
    • While the Lynchburg department is serving as a collection point for donations, “many Law Enforcement agencies in our area have helped in the effort,” YPSO said in the Facebook post.
  • According to WSLS News 10, the Lynchburg Sheriff’s Office has collected more than 700 pieces of donated equipment from 26 different law enforcement agencies that support the cause. The supplies will be shipped overseas through a partnership between the department and a nonprofit organization called Lift Up Ukraine.
    • “[W]e’re going to continue to do this either until there’s no longer a need or we run out,” Lynchburg Sheriff Don Sloan said.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office donated 40 surplus units of body armor to help make a difference in Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office).

2. Williamsburg needs more performing arts spaces, a recent study shows.

  • A recently-published report by the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission (WAAC) concluded that there is a “critical lack of space” for local performing arts groups, according to The Virginia Gazette.
  • The findings were based on the results of a survey conducted late last year. The report determined that while the lack of venue space has been a problem for a while, the situation further worsened amid the pandemic, as many existing spaces have closed or reduced their availability.
    • “Not all venues are open right now and it’s hard to plan for the future,” Susan Releford of the Williamsburg Women’s Chorus told the Commission.
  • Naama Zahavi-Ely, the artistic and general director at Opera in Williamsburg, told the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission that some performing arts groups – like operas – need to be able to put on shows in traditional theatres.
    • Zahavi-Ely emphasized that while artists can create beautiful operas in “unusual spaces” like museum display rooms or general-purpose community spaces, “it is the audience which needs a stage, decent acoustics, comfortable seats with clear sight lines, bathrooms, lobbies, and good access – in other words, a theater.”
  • The Kimball Theatre is one of the only suitable venues in Williamsburg for groups in need of a traditional theatre, according to Zahavi-Ely. But it’s been leased by William & Mary since 2017 and is booked by the university for much of the year. The Williamsburg Regional Library theatre is also often overbooked and has limited capacity due to its size, WAAC noted.
    • “Our review… leads the commission to conclude that our community has a vital need for a theatre space that is large enough to accommodate our opera, theater, and dance companies; one that is located in an area convenient to restaurants and parking and that is independently operated rather than under the control of another institution or attraction,” the report states. “Sustaining artistic endeavors is a valuable component of a healthy economy, especially in an area that must constantly offer something new to potential (and returning) visitors.”

The Kimball Theatre on Duke of Gloucester Street is one of the few suitable venues in Williamsburg for performing arts groups in need of a traditional theater, the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission concluded after a recent study. The Commission’s recently-published report says there is a “critical lack of space for theater, orchestral and dance groups” amid a venue shortage that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

3. Habitat for Humanity is taking applications for its First-Time Homebuyer program.

  • Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg is currently taking applications for its First-Time Homebuyer Program, WYDaily reports. The program makes it possible for families to purchase a home with a zero-interest equivalent, 20- to 30-year mortgage. Mortgage payments also won’t exceed more than 30% of the buyer’s income.
  • The local Habitat affiliate was formed in 1985 and has built and renovated over 210 houses in our community since its founding, according to its website. The organization is working to create a world “where everyone has a decent place to live.”
  • The program is seeking buyers for homes that will be built in Williamsburg, Charles City County, Newport News and Hampton in 2022 and 2023. Applications will continue to be accepted until 4:00 pm on April 29, 2022
    • Applicants must have lived or worked for at least a year in Hames City County, Williamsburg, York County, Poquoson, Newport News, Hampton, Charles City County, or New Kent County. Income and credit history requirements must also be met, and applicants must be willing to partner with Habitat to put in 300 hours of volunteer work on various Habitat projects, like helping other families build a home.
  • Completed applications – which must include supporting documents and an application fee – can be dropped off or mailed to the Habitat Program Office (1101 Warwick Blvd. in Newport News). They can also be dropped off in person at the Charles City County Administrator’s Office or Charles City County School Board Office drop box.
    • Applications can be printed here. For more information, visit Habitat’s website.

4. An official in Hampton has resigned after being accused of making racist comments.

  • David Dietrich, who served as the Chair of the Hampton Electoral Board, has resigned from his position after allegedly writing a racist social media post, according to WAVY News.
  • Dietrich initially expressed defiance in the face of calls for him to resign, but he ultimately caved to pressure amid demands from the governor.
    • “As governor, I serve all Virginians. I won’t accept racism in our Commonwealth or our party,” Youngkin said in an April 9 Tweet.
    • A spokesman from Youngkin’s office confirmed to WAVY that Dietrich did indeed resign following the governor’s comments.
  • The social media post in question surfaced last week. In a news release, the Republican Party of Hampton stated that Dietrich used “abhorrent and unacceptable racist language that has no place in our Party or our Commonwealth,” in the post. The organization also posted a screenshot of the post on its Facebook page.
  • A.C Cordoza, Republican 91st District Delegate, also issued a statement condemning Dietrich’s comments. “Racial discrimination and bigotry have no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dietrich should resign,” he said.
  • The Chair of the Hampton Republican party also told WAVY that Dietrich has been removed from the Hampton GOP and his membership fees were refunded.

Twitter
See @JonDowding’s post on Twitter.
twitter.com/JonDowding

5. Busch Gardens might be opening two new attractions in the near future.

  • While specific details have yet to be revealed, Busch Gardens is looking to add the new rides to the Germany section of the park sometime within the next few years, the Peninsula Chronicle reports.
  • Theme park representatives will request a Height Limitation Waiver extension at the James City County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 12.
    • The extension request is for three years, making it plausible that the park is hoping to open at least one of the new rides for its 50th anniversary in 2025.
  • Electrical and plumbing permits have also been filed in James City County seeking to “install electrical system per plans for BG 2023 ride” and to renovate the plumbing “within old Dark Castle” for the new ride.
  • Online communities geared toward fans of the theme park are speculating that the new ride will be an indoor, family roller coaster designed to replace the former DarKastle building, which closed down in 2018. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has so far refrained from confirming the claims.

6. Hampton Roads residents now need to type in “757” when making local calls.

  • The change went into effect on April 9 amid the introduction of a new area code: 948. Residents who make calls to existing 757 numbers without typing in the area code won’t be able to connect to the call, according to WAVY News.
    • Residents and businesses that already have 757 phone numbers will still be able to keep them.
      • “No one’s 757 phone number will change,” the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) explained in a news release.
      • The Virginia SCC recommends that people update all cell phone contacts to include the 757 area code if they haven’t already done so.
  • The changeover won’t impact the price of a call, cell phone coverage areas or the costs of other rates or services, according to the SCC. All calls that were previously considered local will remain local.
  • Nonetheless, some residents aren’t happy about the addition of the new area code.
    • “I’m so used to the ‘757.’ It’ll be weird seeing a 948 or anything other than 757 for this area,” said one Virginia Beach resident, Dana Askew.
  • The 757 area code is currently used throughout most of Hampton Roads, including Williamsburg, York County, James City County, Newport News, Hampton, Gloucester, Surry, Isle of Wight, Franklin, Smithfield, Southampton, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
    • One other note: if you change your phone service any time after May 9, 2022, you might be assigned the new 948 area code, according to WAVY.

Good News

The Gloucester Daffodil Festival returned for the first time since the start of the pandemic – and it was quite a hit.

  • The popular outdoor event was canceled for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the annual festival made a big comeback for its 36th year, drawing a total of more than 25,000 people during the weekend of April 2-3, Gloucester’s Department of Community Engagement and Public Information announced in a news release.
    • Vendors who participated in the event said their sales were higher on Saturday alone than they were at the end of the full weekend in 2019.
  • “We could not have been more pleased with how things went this weekend,” said Katey Legg, Director of Gloucester’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, who noted that countless volunteers helped make the event possible. “And by the looks on everyone’s faces, it seemed like our visitors were ecstatic about getting outdoors and back to enjoying the festival.”
  • A number of awards were also presented during the two-day event. See the full list here.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

All gas 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 5,669 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s up from 3,809 last week. On the Peninsula, the highest numbers of cases were reported in Newport News (+60), Hampton (+45), and James City and York Counties (both +28), according to WTVR.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 256 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 214 the week before), according to VHHA data. 131 Covid-19 related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 86 the week before), according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 72.9% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 72.7% last week).

National news to know

Events This Week

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

The event list has been updated to reflect a correction. The originally published newsletter included a listing for the “Williamsburg Friends of IANDS March Meeting.” That event should have been listed as “Williamsburg Friends of IANDS April Meeting.”

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