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Governor Northam announces artifacts for new time capsule



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced on September 7, 2021, the artifacts for the new time capsule, crafted by Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale. The capsule will be placed in the concrete pedestal of Richmond’s Lee Monument.

Historians believe a copper time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the Lee pedestal on October 27, 1887. Records from the Library of Virginia suggest that 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the Confederacy.

The statue itself will be removed on Wednesday. On Thursday, the original time capsule will be removed and handed over to the Department of Historic Resources. This new time capsule will be put in its place in the statue’s base, as that will remain for the time being. Should it be removed later, the time capsule will be buried nearby.

“This monument and its time capsule reflected Virginia in 1890—and it’s time to remove both so that our public spaces better reflect who we are as a people in 2021,” said Governor Northam. “The past 18 months have seen historic change, from the pandemic to protests for racial justice that led to the removal of these monuments to a lost cause. It is fitting that we replace the old-time capsule with a new one that tells that story.”

The new capsule was crafted by Paul DiPasquale who also created Richmond’s Arthur Ashe monument and Virginia Beach’s King Neptune statue.

“The 1887 capsule we will remove this week offers us an incisive bite of time when the Lee Monument was erected. Now in 2021, this capsule gives future Virginian’s artifacts of the tectonic transition that has happened to us,” said DiPasquale. “The pedestal marks the past and has a new message for the future: we, all of us, are the New Virginia.”

Artifacts for the new time capsule were suggested by members of the public and narrowed down to 39 final choices by a committee that included historians from the Richmond region’s leading historical and cultural museums and members of Governor Northam’s cabinet. The committee included:

• Heather Anderson, Community Engagement Coordinator at Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
• Alaysia Black Hackett, Deputy Chief Diversity Officer
• Jamie Bosket, Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture
• Christy Coleman, Executive Director of Jamestown Yorktown Foundation
• Rita Davis, Former Counsel to the Governor
• Grindly Johnson, Secretary of Administration
• Julie Langan, Director of the Department of Historic Resources
• Bill Martin, Director of The Valentine
• Jennifer McClellan, Senate of Virginia, District 9
• Pamela Northam, First Lady of Virginia
• Alex Nyerges, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
• Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education
• Scott Stroh, Executive Director of Gunston Hall
• Andrew Talkov, Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture
• Dr. Sandra Treadway, Librarian of Virginia
• Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer

The 39 artifacts are intended to reflect the cultural moment in Virginia’s, and the nation’s, history. In the past year and a half, Virginia has faced a global pandemic and a deep reckoning with racism. Protests for racial justice, sparked by the death of George Floyd, led to the removal of statues originally placed to memorialize those who fought to continue a way of life that enslaved other human beings. The artifacts are a snapshot of that moment in time, capturing both the protests of last year and the pandemic. They include a vaccination card, a photo of a Black ballerina in front of the statue, a Black Lives Matter sticker, a face mask, and a poem written in Unified English Braille. A full list of time capsule artifacts is listed below.

“In the midst of demonstrations and reclaiming space, my photo of a Black ballerina at America’s largest Confederate statue made national headlines in June 2020, surprising and inspiring viewers,” said photographer Marcus Ingram, whose photo will be included in the time capsule. “I am thrilled to have my print, my piece of history, be included in the new time capsule that aims to represent the Virginia of today. I am hopeful that future generations will see my photograph and understand what we stood up for.”

Artifact List

• “Ballerina at the Lee Statue” photo taken on June 5th, 2020, captured and submitted by Marcus Ingram

• Expired Vial of COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine and CDC Vaccination Record Card suggested by Craig Fifer and contributed by the Virginia Department of Health

• National Geographic Special Issue “2020 in Pictures” with the cover image of Lee Monument in Richmond, VA suggested by Hope Wolf submitted by Connor Freche

• “Black Lives Matter” sticker submitted by Tangee Augustin and Abby Admete

• Collection of Michael Paul Williams’ Pulitzer prize-winning columns on Monument Avenue suggested by Michael Baker and contributed by Michael Paul Williams

• “Writing a new history” Kente cloth worn by the Commissioners of the Congressionally chartered 400 Years of African-American History Commission and Ghanian emissaries that participated in the 400th commemoration of 1619 at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, now part of Fort Monroe National Monument, submitted by Governor Ralph S. Northam

• “New Virginians” booklet with portraits of 24 immigrants whose interviews formed the core of the Library of Virginia’s 2020 exhibition, submitted by the Library of Virginia

• General Assembly Acts of Assembly from the 2020 Special Session submitted by Senator Jennifer McClellan

• Virginia is for Lovers “pride” pin and sticker submitted by Virginia Tourism Commission

• “the protagonist” poem in uncontracted Unified English Braille written and submitted by Laura Minning

• “Better Together” LED Board coded by middle school girls at Patrick Henry Community College and submitted by Amanda Broome

• VA Ratify ERA sash and ERA 2020 pins submitted by Christine DeRosa and Julia Tanner

• “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” pink heart print found on Broad Street in front of the Institute of Contemporary Art on May 30, 2020, after a night of protests in Richmond, created by Studio Two Three and submitted by the Teele-Jordan Family

• Election Officer Badge for 2020 General Election submitted by Stephanie Hunter

• “Monument Avenue” Hip Hop Album by Noah-O and Taylor Whitelow suggested by DeMario Spurlock and contributed by Noah-O

• Prayer beads left by a family member who passed away from COVID-19 submitted by Tanzing Lahdon

• Danville Public Schools “First Lady” face mask submitted by First Lady Pamela Northam

• Photos of the June 4, 2020 press conference announcing the removal of the Lee Statue taken by Jack Mayer and submitted by Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam

• Steel railroad spike talking piece found near African Ancestral Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom and used to promote conversations on racial healing, submitted by Coming to the
Table RVA

• Photos and fliers from “Stop Asian Hate” protests in May 2021 submitted by Shawn Soares

• Program and video from the dedication of Arthur Ashe Boulevard featuring a keynote from former Congressman John Lewis submitted by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture

• Letter describing VUUs history and commitment to the Richmond community-written and submitted by Virginia Union University’s Student Government Association President Joydan Lyons Parker

• Photo of the Virginia State Police at 14th and F Street NW in Washington helping DC Metro Police Department patrol the city for unrest after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, submitted by Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam

• Essays and poems from Arcadia Middle School students reflecting on the experience of being a student during a pandemic submitted by the Eastern Shore Public Library

• Senate Resolution Commending the League of Women’s Voters agreed to by the Senate on February 6, 2020, to commemorate LMV’s centennial and the centennial of the 19th amendment, submitted by Deb Wake

• “Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Monument is Coming Down, Thanks to Me and Black Women Like Me” July 10, 2021, Teen Vogue article written and submitted by Zyahna Bryant

• Hard copy of the Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa Igloria’s work “Dear America” presented during Governor Ralph. S. Northam’s commemoration of Juneteenth in 2021 at Fort Monroe submitted by Luisa Igloria

• Gifts from the dedication ceremony from the Mattiponi and Pamunkey nations, hand-painted gourd rattle, and handcrafted earrings with sturgeon scale and beading, submitted by First Lady Pamela Northam

• Booklet which outlines Virginia’s first One Virginia Plan for Inclusive Excellence submitted by Dr. Janice Underwood

• “Rumors of War Wasn’t a Rumor” photo lithographic plate with oil-based ink & sealant created by Marshal Turner, Jade Gibbens, and Studio Two Three and submitted by Studio Two Three

• Copy of the LGBTQ Richmond Walking Tour created by Blake McDonald submitted by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources

• First Presbyterian Church Session 2020 minutes approving the formation of a Dismantling Racism – Building The Beloved Community Advisory Group, submitted by Amy Starr Redwine

• Video of the One Commonwealth Many Virginians: Uniting in Interfaith Prayer for Healing and Unity event submitted by the Governor Ralph S. Northam’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

• Piece of tarp from the unveiling of Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War Statue and photos from the unveiling event, submitted by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

• Document describing selected student submissions from the Governor’s Inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest submitted by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources

• “Post-Colonial Love Poem” by 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry Winner Natalie Diaz suggested by Dana Chesser and submitted by Natalie Diaz

• New Legacy Postcard created and submitted by Marc Cheatham and Noah Scalin

• List of artifacts in the previous capsule as described in a Richmond Dispatch article dated October 26, 1887, submitted by the Library of Virginia

• Photo collage of individuals who contributed artifacts to the new time capsule and thank you note submitted by Tori Feyrer


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Former delegate suing state Democratic Party over nomination and more Va. headlines



The State Capitol. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)


• Former Democratic delegate Cheryl Turpin is suing the Democratic Party of Virginia and the state, challenging the constitutionality of a $5,000 filing fee the party imposed for candidates interested in running for an open state Senate seat. “They’ve created a situation where they’ve admitted someone has been given a nomination because they paid the money for it,” said Democratic attorney Paul Goldman, who’s working with Turpin on the suit.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A note Chesapeake Police found on the phone of the Walmart shooter was “filled with complaints about co-workers and ramblings about his phone being hacked.”—Virginian-Pilot

• The youngest victim of the Walmart shooting was a 16-year-old who, according to a family friend, had just started working at the store to help his family.—Associated Press

• Gov. Glenn Youngkin says he still plans to pursue more tax cuts in the upcoming legislative session but will proceed cautiously due to fears of an economic recession.—Washington Post

• A woman who was jailed for 10 days after the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office confused her with someone else agreed to a $150,000 settlement, according to state insurance records. The deal allowed the investigator involved in the case to deny liability.—Roanoke Times


by Staff Report, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia skill-game lawsuit pushed back again over disputed budget amendment



The closely watched legal fight over skill games in Virginia is unfolding at the courthouse in Greensville County. (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)


EMPORIA – In the hundreds of pages of legal documents filed in a Southside Virginia courthouse as part of a closely watched gambling lawsuit, an image from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” succinctly captures what the surrounding legalese is about.

It shows the android character Data standing at a craps table in a spaceship casino, using superior robotic precision to throw winning dice rolls over and over.

Theoretically, a human could try to become so skilled they achieve similar dice mastery, a gambling consultant working with the state of Virginia wrote. But in the real world, no matter how much players want to believe they’re in control, a dice roll is fundamentally a matter of chance, not skill.

The notion that profit-seeking companies would design betting machines that the most skilled players can beat every time is a similarly far-fetched idea, according to two gambling experts Virginia hired to help defend its ban on so-called skill games, the slots-like devices widely available in truck stops, sports bars, and convenience stores despite lingering questions about their legality.

The state’s experts contend that the skills required to play the games are either so trivial they only require a toddler-level grasp of tic-tac-toe patterns or so advanced players would need superhuman abilities to win on skill alone consistently.

“If players COULD readily beat the game in this manner, then one should expect that they WOULD be doing so regularly,” consultant Mark Nicely wrote in an algorithmic breakdown of a dragon-shooting game that he says requires players to solve complex equations in their head as rapidly as three times a second. “However, the fact that these machines are reported to generate tremendous profits for their operators speaks to their inability to be beaten by human achievable skill.”

A gambling expert hired to poke holes in the skill-game ban came to a sharply different conclusion, saying Virginia’s new laws “turn the history of the control of gambling on its head” by criminalizing far more than what lawmakers intended.

“The reach of the new law is enormous,” wrote I. Nelson Rose, a professor emeritus at California’s Whittier College. “Virtually every game, both in the real world and online, would be outlawed.”

Over months of legal wrangling, the state government and the skill-game industry have filed reams of documents in the Greensville County Circuit Court in a case that touches on free speech, the nature of video games, legislative privileges, the origins of pinball, lobbying ethics, whether Virginia’s Indian tribes are beyond the reach of court subpoenas, the gambling norms of ancient Rome and Pac-Man.

But before the court gets to any of that, the judge has to resolve the more mundane matter of whether the General Assembly’s habit of tucking unrelated legislation into the state budget has gotten so bad it violates the Virginia Constitution.

A difficult-to-enforce ban

Since the summer of 2021, skill machines — many of which feature the same spinning reels and nine-square layout as slot machines but require players to take some action to complete a winning pattern — have officially been banned in Virginia. But that policy decision is proving stubbornly difficult for the government to execute due to strong opposition from the industry and its small-business allies.

The legal challenge pending in Greensville, brought by Southside Virginia truck stop owner and former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler, led to a temporary court injunction late last year blocking state officials from enforcing the ban. Sadler, who is now running for the Virginia Senate as a Republican, and his attorney, state Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, say the state’s ban is an overbroad and improper attempt to crack down on smaller local establishments that pose competition for big gambling interests planning to build full-blown casinos. In their telling, the law singles out a specific type of game they say isn’t all that different from anything found in an arcade.


According to court filings, Emporia’s Sadler Travel Plaza, part of the lawsuit challenging Virginia’s skill-game ban, has had the machines for roughly two decades. (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)


The clear difference from the state’s perspective is that skill machines pay out in cash or cash-equivalent credits, whereas successful play of regular arcade games might mean free plays, a plush toy, or tickets redeemable for merchandise at a prize counter. According to the state, the government has a clear interest in maintaining a state-sanctioned and regulated gambling industry, and devices it sees as unregulated and illegal slot machines undercut that effort and pose risks to Virginians playing machines that have gotten little vetting to ensure they work as advertised.

The pro-skill game side insists the state is targeting certain games because of their aesthetic resemblance to slots, which they say is a free speech violation based on the “adult” vibe of the games. The state contends the games aren’t a form of expression because they lack the storylines and characters present in most other video games. And regardless of any First Amendment-protected messages, the games might communicate, the state says, the law targets the wagering activity, not the games themselves.

The case was supposed to be heard in May, but it was pushed back to early November due to the correct assumption the General Assembly would try to toughen the ban through the state budget approved in June.

The November trial date was also pushed back, leaving the machines completely unregulated for at least another month as another General Assembly session approaches. The upcoming session could complicate the case given Stanley’s status as a sitting lawmaker with privileges that let him postpone court dates when the legislature is in Richmond.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 5, when retired Judge Louis R. Lerner is expected to rule on the state’s latest effort to dismiss the legal challenge.

The ‘one object’ rule

Though the broader issue remains the distinction between games of skill and games of chance, the two sides are now battling over the General Assembly’s effort to pass budget language with a direct bearing on the lawsuit, according to court records reviewed by The Virginia Mercury.

Working with lawyers affiliated with leading skill-game company Queen of Virginia and one of the nation’s top free-speech attorneys, Stanley is arguing the General Assembly violated a constitutional rule requiring all bills to have “one object” stated in the legislation’s title. The pro-skill game team argues the 2022 budget provision on skill games was a rushed, opaque attempt to broaden the reach of a law that carries criminal penalties.

“The public should not be expected to read hundreds of pages of the Budget Bill over [the] Memorial Day holiday in order to determine what new crimes the General Assembly is considering,” Sadler’s attorneys wrote in a Nov. 14 filing. “Nor should the public be surprised by such new crimes becoming effective 10 days after being signed by the Governor.”

Attorneys for the state say gambling policy is relevant to the state budget because efforts to create a state-sanctioned gambling industry have a direct tie to state tax revenues. If the court were to side with the skill-game industry, state lawyers wrote in their Nov. 14 filing, it would upend 200 years of precedent in how the “one object” rule has been interpreted.

“Gambling is germane to the budget,” wrote Assistant Attorneys General Erin McNeill and Calvin Brown. “Furthermore, it is simply good public policy to allow lawmakers to cure a potential constitutional defect in a previously-passed statute, even if that good medicine is delivered in an amendment to the budget.”

The budget amendment specified that skill games are considered illegal gambling and got rid of an earlier exemption for “family entertainment centers,” which the industry had attacked as an unconstitutionally discriminatory distinction based on how businesses market themselves to the public. The idea that skill games should be OK in a bowling alley or family-friendly arcade but not in a bar or a truck stop, the plaintiffs argued, contradicted claims the crackdown would prevent minors from having access to the loosely supervised machines.

In an attempt to paint the state as hypocritical, the skill-game industry tried to pull the arcade/restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s into the litigation, filing a subpoena seeking a detailed accounting of how the ticket-based prize system works at its four Virginia locations. Attorneys for Dave & Buster’s filed a motion to quash the subpoena, saying it has nothing to do with the issues in the lawsuit.

“Dave & Buster’s does not host or allow gambling in its locations,” the company’s lawyers wrote. “It seems apparent from the face of the subpoena that Plaintiffs do not know what they are looking for but are ‘fishing’ for some as yet unknown information that they think Dave & Buster’s may or may not possess.”

Fights over subpoenas

The skill-game industry is using aggressive legal tactics to try to get the ban nullified, sending numerous subpoenas in August to state agencies, state officials, and other gambling interests. The subpoenas seem aimed at substantiating theories the anti-skill game budget amendment came at the request of competing casinos.


Skill games in a Richmond corner store. The games popped up in gas stations, convenience stores, and bars around the state before they were outlawed. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)


The effort included a request for documents from Sen. Janet Howell, a high-ranking Democratic senator who plays a key role in crafting the budget as chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. The subpoena requested all of Howell’s communications concerning skill games with several other legislators, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office, Attorney General Jason Miyares and his office, the Virginia Lottery, and a dozen entities affiliated with casinos.

Responding on Howell’s behalf, the attorney general’s office said the subpoena should be quashed due to legislative privileges that prevent “exactly this type of intrusion into the legislative process.”

The plaintiffs also tried to subpoena the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, which is involved in a project to open a casino in Norfolk by 2024. In a response noting Virginia has recognized the Pamunkey since “colonial times,” lawyers said the tribe is “cloaked with sovereign immunity” that keeps its tribal government records off limits to the state government’s courts.

“Accordingly, this Court has no subject matter jurisdiction over the Tribe,”  wrote the tribe’s lawyer, Betty S. W. Graumlich of Reed Smith.

A more narrowly tailored subpoena to the Virginia Lottery raised specific questions about the role of the Eckert Seamans law firm, which previously represented both Queen of Virginia’s parent company, Georgia-based Pace-o-Matic, and a Pennsylvania casino venture with an adversarial interest in the legality of skill games. The subpoena claims a deeper conflict existed in Virginia because Eckert was also consulting for the Virginia Lottery, which had taken aim at the skill-game industry for allegedly eating into lottery ticket revenues. The Lottery subpoena sought documents to shed light on whether any of Pace-o-Matic’s “confidential information and proprietary data” made its way to the Lottery as the state tried to eliminate skill games.

It’s unclear how much information the subpoenas turned up. In a filing, last month, pro-skill game attorneys indicated the state defendants named in the suit — Youngkin, Miyares and the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority — had “uniformly refused to produce any documents” detailing their communications on skill games.

Dueling experts

The two legal teams are also battling over what type of expert testimony should be permissible if the case advances to trial, a dispute that has led to both sides’ expert reports already being filed in court as evidence.

In a report prepared for the attorney general’s office by Spectrum Gaming Group, consultant Michael Pollock pointed to a YouTube user named “JeffTheHokie” who has published how-to videos purporting to show his system for beating Queen of Virginia’s games.

Much of JeffTheHokie’s content focuses on ways players can improve their chances with a “Follow Me” mini-game that lets players win back their wager plus 5% if they can repeat a 20-step randomized pattern. The expert report notes that JeffTheHokie says the mini-game is “made slow and boring on purpose” and “you would have to be Rain Man” to do it by memory alone, a reference to the 1988 movie in which an autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman helps his brother win big by counting cards in Las Vegas.

“JeffTheHokie is the exception that makes the rule,” Pollock wrote in his report. “To assume that players would endeavor to master a complex system in order to win back their bet plus five percent is absurd, and it is clearly antithetical to the business model embraced by the operators and suppliers of these machines. … Building on that theory, such players, could bankrupt the house.”

In a pair of reports filed for the plaintiffs, Rose, the Whittier College professor emeritus, said Virginia is confusing a skill versus chance distinction that’s been well understood for centuries, noting that ancient Roman authorities only loosely enforced anti-gambling rules due to “Romans’ intense love of dice games.” Early pinball machines were once considered a form of illegal gambling, he said, until the addition of player-controlled flippers, which made them games of skill. Because classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Galaga award free lives, Rose wrote, they too could potentially be construed as illegal skill games in Virginia.

He suggested the defense experts were applying a “Goldilocks test”  by claiming some skill games are illegitimate for being too easy and others for being too hard.

“Different people have different levels of skill. One person may be better at golf than another,” Rose wrote. “It may be virtually impossible for some of us to play a round of golf under par, but that does not mean that golf is not a game of skill.”


by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Solar and roofing company to expand in Virginia, creating 400+ new jobs



Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that SmartRoof, one of the East Coast’s leading roofing companies, will invest $350,000 to expand in Fairfax County. The company will relocate from its current location in McLean to occupy 25,000 square feet of office space at 11091 Sunset Hills Road in Reston. Virginia successfully competed with Maryland for the project, which will create over 400 new jobs over five years.

“SmartRoof is an innovative, Virginia-founded company that is changing the standard of service in the roofing industry, and it is exciting to see one of our homegrown businesses thrive and expand,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “With one of the nation’s largest transportation networks, a skilled workforce pipeline, and a pro-business climate, the Commonwealth is an ideal location for SmartRoof to reach its growing customer base.”

“We are proud to partner with companies like SmartRoof that support high-quality job creation in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “This Virginia company has built its business based on exceptional quality, customer service, and rapidly evolving product offerings, and we look forward to supporting SmartRoof’s continued growth in Fairfax County.”

“SmartRoof’s mission is to positively impact lives through roofing and solar,” said Joshua Jerge, CEO and Founder of SmartRoof. “This starts with our employees and ripples through the local communities where we work. We were founded in Virginia and are excited for the opportunity to keep our headquarters in Fairfax County and improve the lives of Virginians for years to come!”

“It’s great to see SmartRoof growing their presence in Fairfax County and adding hundreds of new jobs,” said Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “Our climate change resilience will be powered by solar and other alternative forms of energy, and SmartRoof is helping to lead that effort in both residential and commercial locations. We’re proud to have their headquarters here and look forward to their continued innovation.”

“Congratulations to SmartRoof on their expansion in Fairfax County,” said Senator Janet Howell. “SmartRoof is a fantastic example of an innovative company that doesn’t just add significant value to Fairfax County’s economy; their focus on giving back to our community is very welcome and appreciated.”

Headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia, SmartRoof uses technology to make homes smart, so customers can simplify their lives, save money on energy, and clean up the environment. Founded in 2016, SmartRoof has quickly grown to become the country’s top 50 roofing company. SmartRoof services Northern Virginia, Maryland, Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern Jersey, Northern Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Florida and has helped transform the lives of over 7,500 customers.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to secure the project for Virginia. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.

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VRE Santa Trains returning Dec. 10 after 2-year absence



The Virginia Railway Express has announced that its popular “Santa Trains” will return on Dec. 10 following a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 13 festive holiday-themed trains will depart from five VRE stations: Burke Centre, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Spotsylvania, and Woodbridge, VRE stated in a news release.

Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as their elves, will be on the trains visiting with families and listening to children’s Christmas wishes. They will also be handing out goodie bags. VRE said in a news release that the Santa Trains are a way to promote rail safety and Operation Lifesaver’s “Look, Listen and Live” campaign, according to VRE.

Beginning Monday, Nov. 28, at 10 a.m. Santa Train tickets can be bought online for $6 or in-person at select locations for $5. Each location will sell tickets only for the train station that corresponds to its location. According to the news release, online tickets generally sell out in less than five minutes.

VRE recommends creating an account at before tickets go on sale to expedite the checkout process. A direct link to VRE’s Santa Trains Eventbrite page and details about vendor locations and purchasing tickets can be found at

Santa Train rides are 75 minutes long and are scheduled at various times throughout the day, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The latest train ride each day is at 3:30 p.m.


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Attorney General Miyares urges Virginians to stay vigilant, highlights Identity Theft Passport Program



Attorney General Jason Miyares released a video about his Office’s Identity Theft Program, as Virginians are more likely to spend time online buying gifts for family and friends during this holiday season. This time of year sees an increased risk of scammers hacking into accounts and stealing consumers’ personal information.

Virginians struggling with identity theft can apply for an identity theft passport. The passport serves as an identification source that helps protect Virginians from potential crimes committed under their stolen identity.

Click here to learn more about the Attorney General’s identity theft passport.


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Mass shooting at Chesapeake Walmart kills seven and more Va. headlines



The State Capitol. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

• Seven people are dead after a shooter opened fire in a Walmart in Chesapeake late Tuesday. The shooting comes just over a week after a University of Virginia student shot five former football teammates, killing three.—Associated Press, Virginian-Pilot

• Democratic Del. Sam Rasoul of Roanoke is renewing a push to let 16-year-olds register to vote and cast ballots in local elections. The change, which would require a constitutional amendment, would keep the voting age at 18 for legislative and statewide offices.—WRIC

• Richmond’s School Board voted to rename three schools named for lesser-known Confederates. “When you … attend a school that’s named after someone you have pride in, it definitely can affect how you feel about that building and whether you feel welcomed or not.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Virginia agencies say they’ve put in place new tools and strategies for the winter season after last year’s January snowstorm debacle left 48 miles of Interstate 95 paralyzed and thousands of motorists stranded overnight.—Washington Post

• Virginians Thomas Jefferson and Mary Randolph were the nation’s biggest early champions of macaroni and cheese. The universally beloved dish, which one survey found was Virginia’s favorite Thanksgiving side, may have been developed by Jefferson’s enslaved chef James Hemings.—Cardinal News


by Staff Report, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Upcoming Events

4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Nov 29 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Nov 30 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
5:00 pm Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Nov 30 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Meet your Local Authors and Purchase Books for the Holidays You’re invited to our very first Holiday Book Fair! We will provide space for you to display your books and have a chance to interact with[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Nov 30 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 1 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 1 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 2 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 2 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
6:00 am 66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Dec 3 @ 6:00 am – 1:00 pm
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Veterans,  Law Enforcement, and Fire and Rescue on duty in uniform eats free!
8:00 am Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Dec 3 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Food, Crafts, Bake Sale! Still seeking crafters and vendors: 6 foot tables $15.00, 8 foot tables $20.00.