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McAuliffe declares state of emergency citing potential impact from Tropical Storm Hermine

The remnants of Hurricane Hermine are expected to impact Virginia by Saturday.

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Governor Terry McAuliffe today declared a state of emergency and urged residents of the Commonwealth to prepare for significant storm impacts generated by remnants of Hurricane Hermine, which has the potential to bring severe flooding, dangerous storm surge and damaging winds to eastern portions of Virginia, forecasters predict. In Richmond, impacts are expected to be constrained to heavy rains and potentially gusty winds.

“We are strongly encouraging everyone in Virginia to prepare for the possibility of damaging winds, downed trees, power outages and flooding in much of the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have been briefed by the National Weather Service and my emergency team, who are tracking this storm and monitoring for the potential that it will reconstitute as a nor’easter with significant rainfall, life-threatening storm surge and flooding. I urge Virginians to limit travel as the severe weather arrives and evacuate if recommended by officials. We hope this storm passes quickly through our Commonwealth, but our top priority must be to ensure the safety of our citizens and their families.”

The state of emergency allows additional personnel and resources to be made available should the need arise. The declaration ensures a coordinated state response to support local initial response and recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time and paperwork required to get equipment and supplies where they are needed most.

“Public safety personnel are coordinating state efforts to track the storm and respond to any emergencies,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “We encourage the public to exercise good judgement and stay up to date by following the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on social media.”

Hermine's forecasted track as of mid-day Friday (Image: NOAA)

Hermine’s forecasted track as of mid-day Friday (Image: NOAA)

Today’s executive action means:

  • The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is at increased readiness with emergency response team members monitoring the storm and ready to coordinate the state’s response. The Virginia Emergency Support Team will be fully activated tomorrow morning and will provide 24-hour coverage for as long as needed.
  • The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is coordinating conference calls between the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.
  •  The Virginian National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty and plans to alert them on Friday. They are scheduled to be staged and ready for duty by early Saturday morning at key locations in the Hampton Roads area. Expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation through high water as well as providing chain saw teams for debris reduction.
  • Virginia Department of Transportation crews have begun full preparation for a significant weather event expected to impact the Commonwealth over the next few days. VDOT crews are ready to clear roads and ensure roads are safe for travel.
  • With this being a holiday weekend, Virginia State Police already have an increased presence on highways across the Commonwealth to manage increased volumes of traffic, and to expedite response to crashes and disabled motorists. The Virginia State Police Swift Water Rescue Team is on stand-by.

The declaration also activates the provisions of state law on price gouging so that state agencies can address verified reports of price gouging of necessary goods or services.

Stay with us for storm updates throughout the weekend as forecasts or conditions change.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Senate panel shoots down bill that would make mask and vaccine mandates illegal

Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

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Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

The measures, proposed by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, drew unanimous support from Republicans on the Senate’s General Laws Committee.

“It’s time to give people the freedom to breathe and the freedom of choice,” Chase told the panel.

Her bills would have prevented schools, businesses and other public places from requiring people to wear masks or disclose their vaccine status.

Witnesses who spoke in support of the legislation said they opposed masks for a variety of reasons. One mother told lawmakers that masks gave her child nightmares. One man said that masks gave him seizures. A third witness said masks made her dizzy.

“We are being discriminated against,” said Doris Knicks, who spoke to the panel remotely.

On vaccines, Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a practicing OBGYN, called it “egregious and a complete violation of an individual’s right to privacy” for businesses like restaurants to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We shouldn’t be using this as a litmus test for people to be able to get into stores,” she said.

Democrats on the panel noted vaccine requirements are not unique to COVID-19 and said businesses should have the authority to take steps to keep their employees safe.

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Community

Venture Richmond Offering Up 10k Broad Street Tenant Recruitment Grants

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022.

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From Venture Richmond

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022. Venture Richmond is partnering with the Metropolitan Business League (MBL) to help recruit existing small, women, and minority (SWaM) and immigrant-owned businesses to ­fill street-level vacancies in the area.

​The new businesses will join many galleries, retailers, restaurants, and small businesses who already call Broad Street home, as well as businesses that attract thousands of out of town visitors annually like Quirk Hotel, Richmond Marriott, the Hilton Hotel, and the Convention Center. Gather, co-working space, has a location in the area. A popular neighborhood happening is RVA First Fridays Artwalk which is a monthly celebration of the arts and galleries along and around Broad St. This section of Broad Street is also a part of Richmond’s Arts District and adjacent to Jackson Ward, near the VCU Monroe Park Campus and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) to the west and City and State offices and VCU Health to the east.

THE CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

  • Eligible once the business has moved into the space and opened for business by May 15, 2022.
  • Veri­fied 1-year minimum lease
  • Lease street-level space on Broad Street between Belvidere and 5th streets
  • New business to Downtown, not the relocation of an existing business in the General District/BID.
  • Existing businesses in the General District, who want to open an additional location on Broad Street.
  • Existing businesses located outside of the General District, who want to open another location/outpost on Broad Street.
  • Types of qualifying businesses include retailers, restaurants, makers, entrepreneurs, startups, and other creative businesses.
  • One $10,000 reimbursement grant per storefront, if a group of small businesses wanted to share space there would only be one grant available for the group.
  • Only eligible once
  • Availability based on ­first come fi­rst served

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE, CONTACT:

Micah White

Business Development Manager

The MBL

804-356-9298

[email protected]

Lucy Meade

Director Economic Development & Community Relations

Venture Richmond, Inc.

804-248-8372

[email protected]

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Downtown

Virginia lawmakers propose decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

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By Ned Oliver

Two Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation that would end felony penalties for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, citing the drug’s growing acceptance in medicinal contexts.

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

The legislation would reduce the penalty for possession — currently a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to a $100 civil fine.

Sens. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, and Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The bill would put Virginia at the forefront of a nascent decriminalization movement that has primarily been limited to cities, including Washington, D.C. So far, Oregon is the only state to legalize medicinal use of psilocybin, an active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

The bill likely faces long odds, especially in the House of Delegates, where the newly reinstated Republican majority has historically resisted efforts to loosen drug laws. That said, Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who leads the chamber’s Courts of Justice Committee, said he is open to hearing arguments in favor of the legislation.

“That is not something we’ve taken up before,” he said. “I’d be interested in hearing what (Adams) has to say.”

Even if the legislation were to pass, the drug would remain illegal, albeit with reduced penalties. That makes it unlikely medical providers in Virginia would embrace psychedelics as a treatment option, but Adams said it would nonetheless be a step in the right direction.

“If we decriminalize it, it allows people to learn,” she said. “It doesn’t egg people on (to use the drug). It tries to open the door for us to continue to study the positive effects on people’s mental health going forward.”

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