Carriage Barn in the Historic Area.
Curious about the flowers you see blooming in Sky Meadows’ fields during the summer heat? Join Shenandoah Chapter Virginia Master Naturalist Paul Guay on a Botany and Bloom Series adventure, and discover the beauty and diversity of summer blooms. Begin in the park’s Carriage Barn with an informative presentation on summer-blooming flowers, their associated pollinators, tips and tricks for their identification, and more. Following the presentation, join an approximate 3-mile guided hike through the park’s flower-filled meadows, culminating at the Piedmont Environmental Council’s Memorial Overlook, a hot spot for a diversity of summer blooms. Bring water and lunch to eat along the trail, dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes.
October Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Julie Andrews, 88, singer, actress, born Julia Wells, Walton-on-Thames, England, 1935.
2 – Sting, 72, singer, born Gordon Sumner, London, 1951.
3 – Alicia Vikander, 35, actress (The Danish Girl), Gothenburg, Sweden, 1988.
4 – Clifton Davis, 78, Singer, actor (That’s My Mama), Chicago, IL, 1945.
5 – Jesse Eisenberg, 40, actor (Batman v Superman), New York, NY, 1983.
6 – Stephanie Zimbalist, 67, actress (Remington Steele), Encino, CA, 1956.
7 – Vladimir Putin, 71, President of Russia, St Petersburg (then Lenningrad), Russia, 1952.
8 – Rona Barrett, 87, gossip columnist, New York, NY, 1936.
9 – Tony Shalhoub, 70, actor (Monk), Green Bay, WIm 1953.
10 – Ben Vereen, 77, actor (Sweet Charity), singer, dancer, Miami, FL, 1946.
11 – John Nettles, 80, actor (Poldark), Cornwall, England, 1943.
12 – Josh Hutcherson, 31, actor (The Hunger Games), Union, KY, 1992.
13 – Ashanti, 43, singer, actress (Coach Carter), born Ashanti Sequoiah Douglas, Long Island, NY, 1980.
14 – David Oakes, 40, actor (The Borgias), Hampshire, England, 1983.
15 – Linda Lavin, 84, actress (Alice), Portland, ME, 1939.
16 – Barry Corbin, 83, actor (Northern Exposure), Dawson County, TX, 1940.
17 – Felicity Jones, 40, actress (Rogue One), Birmingham, England, 1983.
18 – Ne-Yo, 44, singer, born Shaffer Chimere Smith Jr, Camden, AR, 1979.
19 – Rebecca Ferguson, 40, actress (Dune), born Rebecca Ferguson Sundstrom, Stockholm, Sweden, 1983.
20 – John Krasinski, 44, actor (The Office), director (A Quiet Place), Boston, MA, 1979.
21 – Kim Kardashian, 43, television personality, Los Angeles, CA, 1980.
22 – Jesse Tyler Ferguson, 48, actor (Modern Family), Missoula, MT, 1975.
23 – Emilia Clarke, 37, actress (Game of Thrones), London, England, 1986.
24 – Monica, 43, singer, born Monica Arnold, Atlanta, GA, 1980.
25 – Midori, 52, violinist, Osaka, Japan, 1971.
26 – Keith Urban, singer, Whangarei, New Zealand, 1969,
27 – Troy Gentile, 30, actor (The Goldbergs), born Troy Farshi, Boca Raton, FL, 1993.
28 – Dennis Franz, 79, actor (Hill Street Blues), Maywood, IL, 1944.
29 – Winona Ryder, 52, actress (Stranger Things), born Winona Horowitz, Winona, MN, 1971.
30 – Grace Slick, 84, singer, Chicago, IL, 1939.
31 – Liv Lisa Fries, 33, actress (Babylon Berlin), Berlin, Germany, 1990.
Virginia Tackles Record-High Student Absenteeism
Governor Youngkin introduced Chronic Absenteeism Task Force as part of a broader initiative.
As the Commonwealth of Virginia faces alarming student absenteeism rates, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the creation of the Chronic Absenteeism Task Force, an essential component of the comprehensive ALL IN VA initiative. This ambitious program seeks to bolster learning recovery, focusing on Attendance, Literacy, and Learning.
A striking outcome of the extended school closures due to the pandemic is the near doubling of chronic absenteeism rates in Virginia classrooms. This concerning trend has sparked the formation of the task force, which will equip school divisions with resources and action plans to tackle these unprecedented absenteeism rates.
Governor Youngkin remarked on the residual effects of the pandemic, “Children must be in school to have any chance of recovering from the persistent learning loss… Our new Chronic Absenteeism Task Force was designed to get kids back in the classroom and back on track now.”
Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera shared alarming statistics, highlighting that “nearly one in five students in Virginia are missing more than 10% of the school year.” She added that there’s a clear correlation between chronic absenteeism and academic performance, with those absent regularly trailing by 25% in math and 18% in reading.
Virginia’s Department of Education has been proactive, recently concluding a two-week listening tour across all eight Superintendent Regions. The aim was to share details of the ALL IN VA plan with educational leaders.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons stressed the significance of regular school attendance, noting the clear message from superintendents: “Kids need to be in school.”
The Task Force will convene bi-weekly, delving into the root causes of chronic absenteeism, such as food scarcity, health and safety concerns, and transportation barriers. An essential aspect of their strategy is parental responsibility, focusing on tailored actions that address each school division’s primary obstacles to reducing absenteeism.
Following their sessions, practical solutions will be shared widely, ensuring immediate implementation and raising public awareness. Dr. Keith Perrigan, a prominent member of the task force, expressed his commitment to developing strategies that will provide ongoing support to families and students.
However, the initiative doesn’t stop at attendance. The ALL IN VA plan also encompasses strategies for accelerating literacy through Grade 8 and investing in intensive statewide tutoring initiatives. This holistic approach ensures that once students are back in classrooms, they receive the essential academic support they need.
The repercussions of the pandemic on Virginia’s education system are evident, but Governor Youngkin’s administration is determined to navigate this challenge head-on. Through the ALL IN VA initiative, and specifically the Chronic Absenteeism Task Force, the Commonwealth seeks to ensure students not only return to school but also regain lost academic ground.
Click here to read Governor Youngkin’s ALL IN VA plan.
Click here to access the Department’s ALL IN tutoring and resource page.
Click here to read Virginia’s 2022-2023 Standard of Learning scores.
Click here to view the ALL IN VA 2023 Annual Standards of Learning Assessment Rates Presentation.
Virginia’s Attorney General Opposes Planned Dulles Greenway Toll Hike
A Hefty Price for Daily Commuters: Proposed $2.00 Increase During Peak Hours.
If you’re one of the many Virginians traveling the Dulles Greenway, be prepared: your commute may get a tad costlier. The Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II) has put forward a proposal to jack up the tolls on this vital 14-mile stretch northwest of Washington, D.C. But not everyone’s on board with this increase, especially Attorney General Jason Miyares.
In a move signaling support for daily commuters, Attorney General Miyares has lodged a formal notice with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), indicating his intention to participate in TRIP II’s application process for the toll increase. His engagement in this case illustrates the office’s commitment to standing shoulder to shoulder with Virginia ratepayers, Northern Virginia’s denizens, and regular commuters who would be directly impacted by such a hike. A complete objection will be presented at a fitting moment down the line.
To break down the numbers, right now, Virginians are shelling out $5.80 during those bustling peak traffic hours and $5.25 during the more tranquil off-peak hours for a standard 2-axle vehicle. With TRIP II’s proposal, these tolls would jump to $8.10 and $6.40, respectively. That’s a sizeable leap for folks using the toll road, especially considering the cumulative cost over weeks, months, and years.
Speaking out on the matter, Attorney General Miyares voiced the struggles of the everyday commuter: “Traffic in Northern Virginia is a daily challenge, and rising inflation only adds to the costs of commuting to work.” He emphasized his office’s position of standing beside Virginia’s commuters, understanding their daily grind, and promoting fairness by pushing back against toll hikes. For Miyares, every penny earned by Virginians holds immense value, and his goal is to shield them from unwarranted financial strains.
The Dulles Greenway toll increase, while seemingly a matter of a few dollars, has a broader implication for the countless individuals using the road daily. As inflation continues to press down on households, any additional financial burdens can be distressing. Thankfully, with Attorney General Miyares stepping into the ring, Virginia’s commuters have a vocal advocate in their corner. It remains to be seen how this toll tug-of-war unfolds, but one thing’s certain: the fight for fair tolls has indeed heated up.
Former Loudoun County Superintendent Found Guilty
Scott Ziegler Faces Potential Jail Time for Retaliatory Teacher Firing.
A turn of events in Loudoun County as a jury declares Scott Ziegler, the former Loudoun County Superintendent, guilty. Ziegler was charged with a class one misdemeanor, specifically for the retaliatory termination of a school teacher.
The trial, which caught the attention of many, has been the subject of numerous discussions, given the implications it has for school governance and the potential consequences of mismanagement. Facing the weight of the jury’s decision, Ziegler might have to serve up to a year in jail or be liable to pay a fine of $2,500. His fate will be sealed on January 4th, 2024, when the court is scheduled to announce his sentence.
Loudoun County Public Schools and its School Board were unfortunately thrust into the media’s glare nearly two years ago, not for achievements, but controversies. The missteps and oversight from the school’s management resulted in what many believe was an unfair firing of a passionate and devoted school teacher, Erin Brooks. The trial and subsequent guilty verdict have offered a semblance of closure and justice to Brooks and those who supported her.
Attorney General Jason Miyares shared his perspective on the outcome, stating, “Justice has finally been served in Loudoun County. […] Today, my office brought a measure of justice for Erin Brooks.” Miyares further expressed gratitude for the jury’s decision and assured that his office would consistently stand as an advocate for victims, striving for justice and fairness.
The Loudoun County case, with its intricacies and implications, has been a stark reminder of the necessity for transparent and just governance in educational institutions. The outcome serves as a precedent, emphasizing the importance of accountability at every level of the educational system. As the community awaits the sentencing in January, many hope this verdict will pave the way for more equitable and just actions in schools across the country.
Equus Seals a $38.2M Deal: Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center Finds a New Owner
Affiliate of Silverman Group Acquires Prime Industrial Property in Front Royal.
In what can be seen as a significant move in the realm of real estate development and investment, Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. (“Equus”), a national heavyweight, declared the culmination of the development and subsequent sale of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center. This grand warehouse/distribution asset, stretching across 339,450 square feet and located conveniently along Route 522, has been acquired by SL Industrial Partners, an affiliate of Silverman Group, for a whopping $38.2 million.
At the moment of sealing the deal, the facility was fully occupied, with Iron Mountain Incorporated, a paramount figure in data storage and information management, holding a 10-year lease since May 2022. This strategic location, in close vicinity to the Virginia Inland Port—linked directly by rail to The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads/Norfolk, VA—and the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. /Baltimore metro region played a pivotal role in Iron Mountain’s commitment to a long-term lease.
Brimming with state-of-the-art amenities, the building parades a modern rear load design equipped with advanced throughput features. The design has the flexibility to accommodate dual tenants. Among the many features, it stands tall with 32’ clear height, 34 loading dock doors armed with up-to-the-minute facilities, and the potential for expansion to 55 dock door locations. Energy efficiency hasn’t been compromised either, with features like LED high bay lighting with motion sensors and a heat-load-reducing roof.
Dan DiLella Jr., Senior Vice President of Equus Capital Partners, commented on this successful venture, “The disposition of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Facility embodies the successful stride of the Equus industrial development program.” He further acknowledged the contributions of Colliers International and Jones Lang LaSalle in the leasing process and expressed gratitude towards the Warren County Planning Department for their unwavering support, deeming the project an economic triumph for the region.
The acquisition of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center by SL Industrial Partners is a testament to the evolving real estate landscape and the strategic importance of such developments in bolstering the economy. As businesses grow and the demand for advanced infrastructure rises, such deals are set to pave the way for future investments in the industry.
About Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. Hailing as one of the eminent real estate developers and investment managers in the country, Equus Capital Partners boasts an eclectic portfolio of office, multi-family, and industrial properties scattered across the U.S. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the firm has an expansive reach with regional offices in several states. Further details can be found on their official website www.equuspartners.com.
Judge Blocks Parts of New Maryland Gun Law That Goes Into Effect Sunday
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A federal court judge Friday blocked parts of a new Maryland law that limits areas where gun owners in Maryland are allowed to carry concealed or open-wear firearms just as it was set to go into effect on Sunday.
The Maryland Gun Safety Act of 2023 prevents gun owners from taking firearms into schools, hospitals, government buildings, businesses selling alcohol or cannabis, stadiums, museums, racetracks, and video lottery facilities.
However, in a lawsuit opposing the legislation filed in the U.S. District Court for Maryland, Judge George Levi Russell III issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the provisions pertaining to where alcohol is sold, near public demonstrations, and in private establishments without the owner’s consent. The suit was filed by Susannah Kipke of Pasadena, the wife of Del. Nicholaus Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, and the Maryland Rifle and Pistol Association.
The ruling means that gun owners may continue to carry their weapons in bars, restaurants, demonstrations, and on private property without the owners’ consent as the lawsuit progresses.
“Today’s injunction is a win for public safety in Maryland,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Hershey, R-Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline and Cecil. “Maryland Democrats continue to pass unconstitutional laws to strip away the rights of law-abiding citizens while trying to pass it off as public safety legislation.”
The portion of the law that was blocked requires business owners to give express permission or a clear and conspicuous sign indicating that firearms are allowed on the property. The injunction reverts back to the previous law, in which businesses would have to state if they ban firearms.
“There needs to be a clear line where guns are and are not allowed in public,” said Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the law, which began as the bill SB1. “Senate Bill One (The Maryland Gun Safety Act) clearly delineates between the places where firearms are allowed and where firearms are not allowed.”
Waldstreicher referred reporters to the state Attorney General’s Office for comments on the judge’s ruling.
“We are pleased that the court upheld many of SB 1’s common-sense provisions aimed at keeping Marylanders safe from the scourge of gun violence. The Office of the Attorney General will continue to vigorously defend all provisions of SB 1,” said Jennifer Donelan, a spokesperson for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
The remainder of the bill will go into effect as planned on Sunday. Certain individuals are exempt from the law, including law enforcement, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, an employee of an armored car company, or a person who has retired as a law enforcement official in good standing from a law enforcement agency.
The bill was prompted by The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. That ruling rendered Maryland’s previous concealed carry law unconstitutional.
The court’s 6-3 decision in Bruen overturned a New York gun law requiring “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry concealed weapons in public places, declaring it unconstitutional.
Waldstreicher’s bill was written to fit the restraints outlined in the Bruen decision and is part of Gov. Wes Moore’s “all-of-the-above” approach to public safety, he said.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen really weakened what was a strong concealed-carry permitting law in Maryland,” said Ellen Ginsberg, a volunteer state legislative lead for the Moms Demand Action Maryland. “This is a really important step to make sure that Marylanders and families in Maryland have places where they can meet and gather without the risk of a firearm changing their lives forever.”
Opponents consistently questioned the constitutionality of the law, saying it failed to meet the standards in the Bruen decision.
“The bill will do little to curb the rate of violent crime in Maryland,” said House Republicans in a letter to Moore. “The members of our Caucus are willing partners in making Maryland safer. Senate Bill 1 is not the way.”
Opponents of SB1 often cite the proliferation of illegal guns as an argument against The Maryland Gun Safety Act, arguing that it only makes it harder for legal gun owners to defend themselves.
“In my humble opinion, I just think that when we were thinking about illegal guns on the streets, I’m not sure that this was the best posture to move in,” said Sen. Cory V. McCray, D-Baltimore City, one of three Senate Democrats who voted against the bill.
Gun ownership is a heavily regulated space, and legal gun owners with a significant amount of training are not the immediate problem, according to McCray.
Waldstreicher responded that tackling the issue of illegal guns is not hindered by the Maryland Gun Safety Act.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Waldstreicher. “We can both respond to Bruen in a constitutional and responsible way, as well as pass legislation and policies to get illegal guns off our streets.”
From 2011 to 2020, the rate of gun deaths increased by 46% in Maryland, compared to 33% nationwide, according to Everytown For Gun Safety.
Waldstreicher said he’s not done tinkering with the state’s gun laws, given the tragic statistics, and he is already looking toward the next legislative session in January.
“There are a series of next steps that involve earlier youth intervention, cracking down on illegal weapons entering our community from other states,” said Waldstreicher, “enforcing against ghost guns as well as gun manufacturer liability.”
By TOMMY TUCKER
Capital News Service