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VCU releases plan for high school graduation ceremonies

In the coming weeks 25 schools from Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and New Kent counties, Saint Gertrude High School and ECPI University will be holding their graduation ceremony at Siegel Center.

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With a total of 25 schools hosting their graduation ceremonies at Siegel Center wrangling the resulting traffic is no small matter.

VCU News outlines how the local authorities plan to deal with the crowds.

VCU Police and the Richmond Police Department will have additional staffing to direct traffic at more than a dozen intersections, including those near Exit 76B (Belvidere Street) off Interstate 95 and along Belvidere and Broad streets west to Hermitage Road. As in previous years, digital signs in the area will encourage local drivers to take alternate routes during peak travel times.

No parking signs will be posted along West Marshall Street, between Bowe and North Harrison streets, behind the Siegel Center; towing enforcement will go into effect on June 5. This area will be reserved for buses to drop off graduates.

CU Police is also working with the city to establish 20-minute parking zones on nearby streets to accommodate customers at local businesses.

To ensure that VCU parking subscribers can park safely and with minimal impacts, VCU Parking & Transportation will be relocating parking subscribers from the West Broad Street Deck between June 6 and 16. Reciprocal parking (for drivers with MCV Campus permits that can be used to park in the West Broad Street Deck) will not be permitted in the West Broad Street Deck until June 17.

Parking subscribers should have received an email from VCU Parking & Transportation outlining temporary accommodations.

Blue, red, green and yellow parking passes, issued by area schools, will be required for guests parking in assigned decks at VCU.

map of routes is available for download on the VCU website.

Parking information for VCU employees as well as graduation ceremony attendees is available on the VCU Parking & Transportation website, including directions for entry and exit from specific parking decks.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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State of Emergency and Road Closures for this Holiday Weekend

Monday is Federal Holiday but the Capitol grounds are expected to be crowded with protestors and those hoping to discuss issues with their representatives for Lobby Day.

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Monday is Martin Luther King Day and it is also Lobby Day at the Capitol. Lobby Day is traditionally a day where citizens and organizations meet with elected officials and share their viewpoints. This Lobby Day will be a bit different. The Gun Rights lobby is calling on hundreds of activists to descend upon the Capitol grounds to protest any legislation related to gun ownership.

The situation is considered volatile. So volatile that Governor Northam has declared a State of Emergency for Richmond beginning tonight (Friday) through Tuesday evening.

Governor Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency in advance of expected demonstrations on Capitol Square on Monday, January 20, 2020. Law enforcement intelligence analysts have identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend.

The Governor’s declaration prohibits all weapons, including firearms, from Capitol grounds, and will provide joint law enforcement and public safety agencies the resources they need to keep demonstrators, policymakers, and all Virginians safe.

This emergency declaration is temporary, and extends from Friday, January 17 at 5:00 PM until Tuesday, January 21 at 5:00 PM.

These fears of violence were given more credence when the FBI arrested three suspected white-supremacists that were planning on attending Monday’s rally. From the article, the armed men “planned to travel to a pro-gun rally next week in Richmond in anticipation of a possible race war”.

In addition to the weapons ban access to the Capitol grounds will be limited and several roads around the Capitol grounds will be closed (see map above).

 

JJ McNabb is a Fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and a contributor on anti-government extremism at Forbes. She has this excellent thread on Twitter on what has brought us to this point where a normal lobby day has turned into a State of Emergency and fears of violence.

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Downtown

Last Call for Storm Drain Art Submissions

Local artists you can make a difference in our watershed but your deadline for entries is February 2nd

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From RVAH2O

The deadline for submissions is fast approaching, and we’d love to see YOUR ideas for Richmond’s fifth annual Storm Drain Art Project. Local artists ages 18 and older are invited to submit storm drain designs between now and Sunday, February 2, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

We’re looking for art that paints a picture of how important it is to keep our river – and our drinking water – clean. All four finalists will receive a $400 stipend and publicity for their artwork on drains in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom.

  • Submit your design using the template on the RVAH2O website.
  • Help promote the goals of the City of Richmond’s RVA Clean Water Plan – a five-year roadmap for reducing pollutant discharges into the James River, starting with wastewater, stormwater and the combined sewer system.

ENTER TODAY!

Don’t wait – visit RVAH2O.org or call 804.646.8131 for details and submission rules.

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Hundreds trek to Capitol to support environmental bills

Hundreds of clean energy supporters trekked to the State Capitol this week demanding Virginia move away from reliance on carbon-based energy, invest in alternative energy supplies and lower rates for customers.

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By Jeffrey Knight

Hundreds of clean energy supporters trekked to the State Capitol this week demanding Virginia move away from reliance on carbon-based energy, invest in alternative energy supplies and lower rates for customers.

At the rally, hosted Tuesday by the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund and other environmental organizations, participants pushed for Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an effort to cap and reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

Gov. Ralph Northam supported the initiative in his 2020 budget proposal by including $733 million in new funding for the environment and clean energy.

“In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand–and having both is what makes our Commonwealth such a great place to live, work and play,” Northam said in a press release.

Organizations lobbied for bills that seek to depart from a reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. One focus was House Bill 1526 and its counterpart Senate Bill 851 known as the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

These bills would develop mandatory standards, annual timelines and call for specific reductions of carbon emissions with the goal to hit 0% by 2050. The bills also push for offshore wind operations and solar energy generation.

“I’m 100% for environmental issues,” Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake, and co-patron of SB 851, said to supporters of the bill during the rally. “If I have to stand alone for environmental issues, I will do it alone.”

After supporters met with legislators they reconvened at the nearby St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where they heard speakers champion environmental justice and steps to combat climate change.

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, took to the podium during the rally to address coal ash, a by-product of burning coal in power plants that contains arsenic, mercury, and other metals.

“Most of our environmental impacts, not only of climate change but also with coal ash and pipelines, are in our most vulnerable communities,” Carroll Foy said to the audience.

Dominion is Virginia’s main energy supplier, with 2.6 million customers in Virginia and Eastern North Carolina, according to its website. The energy giant has been moving away from coal production, but environmental advocates worry that closure of Dominion’s coal ash ponds will affect nearby communities. They want Dominion to haul away the coal ash, versus cap it in place.

Advocates also said that the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline that Dominion and other utility companies want to build as they tap into alternative energy sources will compromise communities and deviate from a zero-carbon future.

“There will be 35 years of non-renewable energy if the pipeline continues,” said

Corrina Beall, legislative and political director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.

The Environmental Justice Act (HB 704 and SB 406) patroned by Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, and Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond, respectively, would require state agencies to review proposed environmental policies with regard to the impact on low-income communities, communities of color and vulnerable populations and calls for “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people.”

Supporters at the rally also pushed for the Fair Energy Bills Act (HB 1132), patroned by Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones, D-Norfolk, and Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan. The bill calls for lower rates from energy suppliers like Dominion Energy, who reportedly overcharged Virginians $277 million more than they were allowed in 2018.

SB 966 restored the SCC’s ability to conduct earnings reviews to determine whether Dominion Energy had collected more money than required. If so, the extra revenue could be reinvested in electric distribution grid transformation as well as solar and offshore wind projects at no extra cost to the consumer.

“What makes more financial sense is for the money to be reinvested, which allows the customer to get the benefit of the project without any additional rates,” said Rayhan Daudani, manager of media relations for Dominion Energy.

He said that customers get a “great value” with rates 6.8% below the national average, along with increased investment in renewable energy and a transformed energy grid. Dominion said it plans to invest $750 million between offshore wind projects and smart meters that provide better grid service.

“Our mission is to keep those prices low, build the nation’s largest offshore wind project, continue to provide solar energy across the state and keep the lights on for our customers,” Daudani said.

The offshore wind project is set to be the largest in the U.S. with enough energy to power up to 650,000 Virginia homes, according to a recent Dominion Energy press release.

So far none of the bills supported by clean energy advocates have passed committee.

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