The Triangle News in 5: York County teacher wins prestigious national award

Plus: Jamestown is now considered an endangered historic site, Dominion Energy plans to hike electricity rates and local infants are getting sick amid a nationwide baby formula shortage.

Good morning!

We can expect cloudy, cool and windy weather again today and tomorrow, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3. While the wind will start to calm down during the second half of the week, the chances of rain will increase as we head into the weekend.

The good news is that we should see nicer weather on Sunday for Pedal the Parkway and the Art at the River Juried Art Show. If you're looking for things to do this weekend, be sure to check out the community calendar of events I published yesterday. I've linked to it again at the bottom of this newsletter.

If you have questions, comments or a news tip, please reach out to me by hitting "reply" to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. A York County elementary teacher was surprised with a prestigious national award.

  • Taylor Walker Goodson, a third grade teacher at Coventry Elementary School in York County, was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during a schoolwide assembly on Wednesday.
  • Cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials and members of the media were present for the award ceremony. Goodson was one of only two teachers in Virginia and 60 teachers nationwide to receive the award. She joins another Hampton Roads educator, Kimberly Collins, who was honored with the award at Virginia Beach Middle School.
    • The Milken Educator Awards recognize early to mid-career teachers for their achievements and are often referred to as the "Oscars of Teaching." Goodson was honored for her innovative efforts to strengthen student literacy and her exceptional ability to motivate, inspire and engage her students.
  • "Taylor makes a difference in the lives of her students every day, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week than to join her and her entire school community to celebrate this well-deserved recognition from the Milken Family Foundation," Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a news release. "Taylor epitomizes all of the Virginia teachers we celebrate this week in her dedication to her students and in her commitment to academic excellence."
    • Longtime education advocate Oprah Winfrey congratulated this year's recipients in a video message, during which she thanked the educators for their "tireless work." U.S Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel also spoke to the honorees, noting that Milken Educators are incredible teachers who "inspire leadership and motivate students to excel."
  • In addition to the $25,000 unrestricted cash prize, Goodson and the other Milken Educator Award recipients will attend an all-expenses-paid Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles later this year.

Students envelop Milken Educator Award recipient Taylor Goodson in a congratulatory hug. (Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation.)

2. Jamestown has been named one of America's most endangered historic places.

  • Jamestown, the site of the first successful English settlement in America, was placed on a list of "11 most endangered historic sites" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The move was prompted by concerns about the threat of coastal erosion by the James River.
    • Predictive models show that much of Jamestown will be underwater within the next half-century if the current climate trajectory remains unchanged, according to Preservation Virginia, which owns the site.
    • “More than 125 years ago, the far-sighted founders of Preservation Virginia took on the responsibility to protect Jamestown Island from shoreline erosion caused by the James River. They saved the Church and location of the original fort,” Elizabeth Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia, said in a news release. “Ever since, we have protected Jamestown but now the environmental threats we face have become far more challenging.”
  • Over 3 million artifacts have been found at the site since 1994 when excavations began. The discoveries have played a critical role in shining a light on the lives of indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans and European colonists on Jamestown Island.
  • While measures that would help to alleviate erosion at the site have been identified including reinforcing the existing seawall that was built more than a century ago – the costs are expected to be significant. As a result, the Foundation has launched a call to action to Save Jamestown.
    • “Each major weather event increases the likelihood of irreversible damage to Jamestown’s priceless archaeological resources,” said Dave Givens, Director of Archaeology. “The next five years will be critical. If we miss this window the effort to save the site will become hugely more difficult.”
    • For more information or to contribute to the cause, visit historicjamestowne.org/savejamestown.

3. Dominion Energy wants to charge customers more for electricity, citing rising fuel costs.

  • Dominion Energy expects customers' bills to increase significantly amid a sharp rise in fuel prices, Virginia Mercury reports. The company filed an application asking state regulators to approve an increase in its fuel factor, which is the rate charged to customers to cover the costs of buying fuel for power plants.
    • Dominion, which is the largest electric utility in the Commonwealth, said it will need to recover $1 billion more in fuel costs than previously anticipated. The changes would go into effect by July 1.
  • The rate hike could cause customers' bills to increase by as much as 20%, according to WTKR News 3. However, Dominion has proposed spreading the cost out over a span of up to three years, which would result in smaller increases over a longer period of time.
  • If the SCC accepts Dominion's proposal, the average residential customer would see a monthly bill increase ranging from about $14.93 to $24.12 per month, depending on the length of time the paydown is spread out.
    • Under Virginia law, Dominion can increase rates to recover fuel costs but is not allowed to earn a profit by doing so.
  • “If natural gas prices continue to be this volatile in the future, Dominion customers are in for a hell of a ride,” said Will Cleveland, Southern Environmental Law Center. “And sadly the law places all of that fuel price volatility risk on the captive ratepayer.”
  • Electric bills are up nationwide due to rising natural gas prices prompted by supply chain challenges, the war in Ukraine and inflation, NBC News reports.
    • Customers are facing "some of the highest energy prices and electricity prices we’ve seen in recent memory, if not ever, depending on the geography,” said Julien Dumoulin-Smith, an analyst at Bank of America.

The Dominion Energy headquarters is pictured in Richmond, Virginia. The company – which was acquired in 2020 by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway in a $10 billion deal – says consumers can expect to soon face significant rate hikes due to rising fuel costs. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

4. Local infants are getting sick amid a nationwide baby formula shortage.

  • A nationwide baby formula shortage is causing some local infants to become sick, a registered dietician with Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) told WAVY News.
    • Over the past few weeks, CHKD has been treating Hampton Roads-area babies for dehydration and failure to thrive, meaning the child is undernourished and not growing as he or she should.
  • Healthcare workers are urging parents not to dilute their babies' formula or substitute it with alternatives like Pedialyte, milk or juice in response to the shortage. Pediatric health experts are also strongly advising parents and caregivers against making their own formula, saying the mixture must contain a very specific nutrient profile to ensure proper brain development.
    • "I mean, it's nowhere to be found," Shannon Merritt-Castaneda told WAVY after she was unable to find formula at local stores or online. "It's very scary when you can't feed your child."
  • Stores like Walgreens, CVS and Target are limiting the number of baby formula products consumers can buy at one time in an effort to manage the shortage, according to CBS News.
    • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the FDA is "working around the clock" in an effort to address the baby formula shortage. Manufacturers also say they're working at full capacity to make as much formula as they can.
    • The shortage was spurred by the shutdown of a key formula production facility in Michigan earlier, which has been subjected to an FDA investigation amid reports of contaminated formula. Supply chain issues have also contributed to the problem.
    • “Unlike other food recalls, shortages in the infant formula supply affects a major – or even exclusive – source of nutrition for babies,” said Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association in a statement. “Inadequate nutrition could have long-term health implications for babies.”
  • Parents who are unable to find formula are urged to contact their child's pediatrician for advice. Virginia WIC also created a list of temporary formula substitutions as a guide, available here.

5. An investigation is underway after a young Navy sailor was found dead on board the USS Bataan.

  • Airman Amare Nazir Matthew Long, a resident of Hampton, was found dead on the ship on April 18, according to the Daily Press. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is currently investigating the situation and does not currently have any additional information to reveal.
  • Long, just 19 years old, was the first-ever recipient of the Mark Edwin Lee UNC Basketball Camp Scholarship, a program that sends students from Hampton Roads to a summer basketball camp in North Carolina, according to an April 26 Facebook post by the camp.
    • The camp called Long "an extremely dedicated brother, son, grandson and, most recently, sailor" and said his "passion for life, leadership skills, & infectious smile will long be remembered not only by family & friends, but by the community at large."
  • The news comes after three sailors from the USS George Washington aircraft carrier were found dead in less than one week in April, all due to suicide.
    • A total of seven deaths USS George Washington deaths have been reported by Navy officials in the past year alone, according to WTKR News 3. The events have spurred concern among many locals and prompted an investigation by Rep. Elaine Luria.
    • “I think it's very important to take a deep look and a broad look into the contributing factors behind these types of incidents,” Luria said.

6. Employees at a Starbucks in Newport News are planning to unionize.

  • The employees, who work at the location on 340 Oyster Point Road, sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz stating that they are in the process of unionizing, according to the Peninsula Chronicle.
    • “We have all witnessed the deterioration of our store’s conditions, inadequate training, and lack of transparency from Corporate. Through unionizing, we expect improvements in staffing, scheduling, pay, and labor hours," the employees wrote in the letter.
  • Duncan Young, a barista at the store who has been leading the effort, said that more than half of the store's employees have already signed union authorization cards, even though the National Labor Relations Board only requires 30% of the staff to sign the cards.
  • If the vote to unionize succeeds, the employees will be part of a new local under Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
    • The results of the unionization effort are expected to be publicly announced later this month, following an in-person election.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 14,126 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That's up from 11,789 cases that were reported last week. On the Peninsula, the highest numbers of new cases last week were reported in Newport News (+219) and James City County (+174), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 294 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 272 the week before), according to VDH data. 44 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (down from 112 the week before), according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 73.4% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 73.2% last week).

Lowest Gas Prices Today

Gas prices have risen by an average of 18 cents since last week in Hampton Roads, according to AAA Tidewater Virginia. Here are the lowest reported prices in the area today.

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

In the National News

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for his invasion of Ukraine during a military parade Monday, CNBC reports. While Putin did not attempt to declare victory, he claimed the war was necessary because the West was "preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea." Putin provided no evidence for the claims but used the speech to berate NATO and Ukraine's allies. Meanwhile, Russia is ramping up its missile strikes on the port city of Odessa, per CBS News.
  • The White House condemned demonstrations occurring outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices on Monday, saying that the justices "must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety," ABC News reports. The protests come in response to a leaked draft opinion that reportedly shows the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. While the court has confirmed the authenticity of the document, it stressed that the opinion does not represent a final ruling. Meanwhile, 40 states are considering implementing new abortion restriction measures, according to NBC News.
  • The U.S could see 100 million new Covid-19 infections this fall and winter, the White House warned last week. The estimate is based on several models, and experts say the spike in infections could lead to significant surges in hospitalizations and deaths. Scientists and public health officials told ABC News that the estimates reflect waning immunity and the fact that cases inevitably rise when people move indoors during cold weather.
  • Boeing is relocating its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia, according to Reuters. The U.S planemaker also plans to develop a research and technology hub near Arlington. "The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent," Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said. Gov. Glenn Youngkin also said the move will "attract even more talent to Virginia especially given [Boeing's] reputation for engineering excellence."

Events This Week

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

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Have questions, comments or suggestions? Want to submit an event for consideration? Please send me an email or reply to this newsletter.

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