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Photo: Fireup611 Facebook

NEWS RELEASE: August 2, 2023 — The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. (VMT) and the Virginia Scenic Railway (VSR) are excited to jointly announce that the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive will be operating a series of specially scheduled passenger excursions later this fall within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The sleek and powerful Class J locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke by the Norfolk & Western Railway, were widely hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. The 1950 Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 is the sole surviving member of fourteen Class J locomotives produced and is owned and operated by VMT as a traveling exhibit, showcasing the legacy and craftmanship of Virginia’s railroad workers. The 611 will remain in Roanoke for preparation and maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspections. Following that work, public excursions behind 611 on the VSR track will begin.

The VSR is delighted to host these 611 excursions, which will be operating twice daily as the Shenandoah Valley Limited throughout October and November 2023. Upon boarding the train in Goshen, Virginia, guests will travel eastward through the fall foliage of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, into the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley where the train will pause without disembarking, to be joined by a pair of diesel locomotives for the return trip back to Goshen. We are delighted to help make this run possible,” says Steve Powell, President of the Virginia Scenic Railway. “We love trains and railroad history, and we look forward to partnering with the Virginia Museum of Transportation to host the legendary 611 and bring the steam engine roaring to life in the Shenandoah Valley. This is one of the prettiest routes around, and we are excited to share it.”

Tickets will be available for purchase by the general public in mid-August via Virginia Scenic Railway’s website (virginiascenicrailway.com). Seating options will include Coach, Premium Coach, First Class, and Dome Classes, ranging from $99.00 to $249.00 per seat. Sign up on VSR’s or VMT’s (vmt.org) website to be among the first to know when tickets are available. “We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Virginia Scenic Railway. These excursions will have a major tourism impact on the region and showcase Virginia’s Rail Heritage to visitors near and far.” said
Mendy Flynn, Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

611’s Excursion Schedule
The Shenandoah Valley Limited will depart at 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM on the following dates:
▪ October 6 – 8
▪ October 13 – 15
▪ October 20 – 22
▪ October 27 – 2 9
▪ November 3 – 5

On July 30, 2023 at approximately 9:00 a.m., Roanoke Police were notified of a person with a gunshot wound in the 600 block of King George Avenue SW. Responding officers located an adult male victim inside a vehicle with what appeared to be a critical gunshot wound. Roanoke Fire-EMS personnel arrived and pronounced the victim deceased on scene.


Details about what led to this shooting are limited. No suspects were located on scene and no arrests have been made at this time. This is an ongoing homicide investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what you know. You can also text us at 274637; please begin the text with “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

A driver suffering from gunshot wounds received first-aid before ultimately being sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Roanoke Police say the victim was discovered in a car just after 11 pm last night near Gilmer Rd. and Gainesboro Ave. NW. Authorities believe the shooting happened in the 2000 block of Liberty Rd. NW. No arrests have been made so far.

From Roanoke Police Department 7/18/23 — On July 17 at approximately 11:07 P.M, officers encountered a vehicle driver near Gilmer Rd. and Gainesboro Ave. NW suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers immediately administered first aid to control bleeding until Roanoke Fire and EMS arrived to assume care of the victim. The victim was transported to RMH for treatment of non-life threatening wounds. Officers determined that the location of the incident to be in the 2000 block of Liberty Rd NW. No arrests have been made at this time. The investigation is in its early stages and is ongoing.


NEWS RELEASE: The Virginia State Police investigation remains ongoing into the fatal officer-involved shooting in Clifton Forge, Va. Friday afternoon (June 30, 2023). 

The incident began shortly after 2 p.m. when the Clifton Forge Police Department received an emergency call for an ongoing domestic situation at a residence in the 1600 block of Oak Hill Ave. The police officers and an Alleghany County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the residence. Once inside, they encountered Leonidas R. Tamanini, 38, who began threatening them and then charged at them. One of the police officers discharged his department-issued handgun and struck Tamanini.
First Aid was administered to Tamanini at the scene. While being transported to a nearby hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. His remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy. Tamanini’s last known address was Williamsville, Va.
No law enforcement were injured during the course of the incident.

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office is investigating the incident at the request of the Clifton Forge Police Chief. Once state police concludes its investigation, the criminal investigative findings will be turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for final review and adjudication. 

Updated on July 1st: The victim has been identified as Christopher Illes Csorba, 33 years old of Roanoke.

The cause of death is still under investigation. Mr. Csorba was last seen alive in the area of Walnut Avenue in Roanoke.  The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone with information on recent interactions with Mr. Csorba, to please contact our office at 540-483-3000.


Previously post on June 28th: At around 5:00pm on Tuesday, June 27th, 2023, the Franklin County E911 Center received a call for a deceased body located in the Hardy area of the Roanoke River. Units from various agencies responded to the scene. An unidentified victim was located in the water and has been transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke. Information is limited at this time pending results from the autopsy. This remains an ongoing investigation.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Virginia Conservation Police, Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire and Rescue, Franklin County Public Safety Fire and EMS units, as well as Bedford County Fire and EMS units for the organized response and assistance!

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin yesterday announced the labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 66.5 percent in May, the highest rate since July 2013. According to BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics (“LAUS,” or “the household survey”), the labor force in Virginia increased by 23,536 to 4,574,349. In addition, over 29,000 more Virginians were employed in May than April, with further decline in the unemployment rate to 2.9 percent.


“The labor force participation rate in the Commonwealth continues to grow as more Virginians get off the sidelines and find jobs,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “While we are encouraged by May’s strong employment numbers, we maintain our focus on creating a more competitive environment for business growth in the Commonwealth.”


With the continued increase of Virginians moving back into the workforce, Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 2.9 percent was a slight decrease from April and remained below the national rate, which increased to 3.7 percent in May.


According to LAUS, the number of employed residents increased by 29,462 to 4,440,015 in May. Throughout the month, the number of unemployed residents decreased by 5,926 to 134,334.


“Virginia’s unemployment rate fell to 2.9% in May and remains below the national rate,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “However, there remains uncertainty in the economy, which is why we are so focused on workforce development and individual advancement.”


“In May the labor force, labor force participation rate, and the number of employed Virginians all increased while the number of unemployed Virginians and the unemployment rate both decreased,” said Secretary of Commerce Caren Merrick. “We are pleased to see this continued growth and the impact of our economic development efforts.”


BLS publishes an additional employment figure from its Current Employment Statistics Survey (“CES” or “establishment survey”). Virginia’s CES employment rose by 6,900 to 4,146,900 in May and has increased by 91,500 to 4,146,900 since May 2022.


The CES survey uses payroll records of establishment employers and is designed to provide a count of jobs under which the employer pays unemployment insurance. The LAUS survey is based on household interviews conducted each month for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides comprehensive data on the labor force, including those who are employed and unemployed. Establishment survey data reflects changes for updated seasonal adjustment factors, and industry classification conversions (NAICS), as part of the annual benchmarking process.


The household survey only distinguishes between whether a person is employed or unemployed, whereas CES counts each employee that is on an employer’s payroll. CES excludes business owners, self-employed persons, unpaid volunteers and private household workers, and those on unpaid leave or not working because of a labor dispute.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for eleven industry sectors. In May, six experienced over-the-month job gains, and five experienced a decline. The largest job gain occurred in Professional and Business Services (+3,900) to 815,200. The second largest job gain occurred in Construction (+2,600) to 215,100. The third largest job gain occurred in Education and Health Services (+1,700) to 577,700. The other gains were in Information (+800) to 72,000, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+400) to 665,900, and Government (+300) to 728,900. The largest job loss occurred in Other Services (-1,700) to 193,900. The second largest job loss occurred in Manufacturing (-700) to 245,300. The third largest job loss occurred in Financial Activities (-200) to 216,200. The other losses were in Leisure and Hospitality (-100) to 409,700, and Mining and Logging (-100) to 7,000.


From May 2022 to May 2023, the VEC estimates that total nonfarm employment in Virginia increased by 91,500 to 4,146,900, private sector employment increased by 76,300 to 3,418,000, and employment in the public sector increased by 15,200 to 728,900 jobs.


For the eleven industry sectors in Virginia over the year, ten experienced over-the-year job gains, and one experienced a decline. The largest job gain occurred in Education and Health Services (+24,900) to 577,700. The second largest job gain occurred in Leisure and Hospitality (+23,300) to 409,700. The third largest job gain occurred in Government (+15,200) to 728,900. The other gains were in Professional and Business Services (+12,700) to 815,200, Construction (+7,500) to 215,100, Other Services (+3,900) to 193,900, Information (+2,600) to 72,000, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+700) to 665,900, Financial Activities (+400) to 216,200, and Manufacturing (+400) to 245,300. The largest job loss occurred in Mining and Logging (-100) to 7,000.


TheVirginia Lottery has earned the highest level of accreditation under the Responsible Gambling Verification Program, a joint venture of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL).

Virginia’sPlay Responsibly program is now certified at the Sustaining level, making it one of a select group of U. S. lotteries whose commitment to responsible play is so recognized.

“We believe that the Virginia Lottery’s commitment to responsible gambling and presenting our products ethically and with integrity is second to none,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kelly T. Gee. “We work to raise awareness of problem gambling and highlight the resources in Virginia where someone with a problem can seek help.”

The Virginia Lottery has an extensive Play Responsibly program that produces public service announcements and brochures, uses social media and traditional media, and uses a variety of methods to encourage responsible gambling. It also shines a spotlight on the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline (888-532-3500), which was created by the Lottery in 1999. The toll-free line is currently run by theVirginia Council on Problem Gambling and funded by the Lottery.

Under the program, lotteries across the country are evaluated by a team of experts in areas of operation, including planning, employee training, retailer training, public education and awareness, product oversight, research and evaluation, advertising, and resources. A lottery must be judged proficient in seven of the eight areas.

There are three levels of certification under the program: Planning, Implementation and Sustaining. The Virginia Lottery earned certification at the Planning level in 2016, then advanced to Implementation level in 2020 and finally achieved Sustaining level in 2023. The accreditation is good for three years.

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) at Roanoke College interviewed 678 adult residents of Virginia between May 14 and May 23, 2023, in a survey addressing topics such as approval and favorability ratings for Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other political figures, the 2024 Republican presidential nomination field, a potential 2024 presidential election matchup, and attitudes related to national political anxiety. The survey has a margin of error of 4.43%.

Approval/favorability of political figures and direction of Virginia and country

Gov. Youngkin’s approval rating is down six points from February, with 51% of Virginians reporting that they approve of the way he is handling his job as governor (from 57% in February). Youngkin’s favorability rating is also down six points to 46% (from 52% in February). Significant partisan gaps in Youngkin’s approval and favorability continue from previous polls, with a 52-point gap in approval (34% of Democrats, 86% of Republicans) and 54-point gap in favorability (27% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans).

As for the Virginia General Assembly, 50% of Virginians approve of the way the legislature is handling its job (from 48% in February), including a 10-point partisan gap in approval (58% Democrats, 48% Republicans). When asked about whether things in Virginia are going in the right direction or are on the wrong track, 48% of Virginians report that things are going in the right direction, which is down 7% from 55% in February. There is a modest 12-point partisan gap, with 47% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans thinking things in Virginia are going in the right direction.

At the national level, President Biden’s approval and favorability ratings are up slightly to 42% (from 38% in February) and 43% (from 40% in February), respectively, though both changes are within the survey’s statistical margin of error. As for former President Trump, about six in 10 Virginians report an unfavorable view of him, which is up five points from February and is the highest unfavorable rating in our poll since January 2016. There are again substantial partisan gaps in favorability ratings for both Biden and Trump, including a 73-point gap for Biden (80% of Democrats, 7% of Republicans) and 65-point gap for Trump (11% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans). As for the U.S. Congress, Virginians’ approval rating is down about four points to 19% (from 23% in February and 27% in November). This is IPOR’s lowest-recorded approval rating for Congress since August 2021. One in four Virginians thinks things are going in the right direction in the country, while seven in 10 think things are on the wrong track, which is statistically unchanged from the last poll (27% and 69% in February, respectively). There is a 37-point partisan gap in Virginians’ belief that things in the country are going in the right direction (45% of Democrats, 8% of Republicans).

2024 GOP presidential nomination and hypothetical general election matchups

The Roanoke College Poll asked Virginians’ opinions about the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race, such as who they would most prefer to be the Republican nominee for president, as well as their second-choice preference. The poll provided a field of candidates , including Trump, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Among Republicans, the candidates they would most prefer to be the Republican nominee for president are Trump (48%) and DeSantis (28%), with all other candidates in the single digits. Virginia Republicans’ preference for Trump as the first choice is up nine points from February (39%), while the first-choice preference for DeSantis remains unchanged at 28%. We also asked respondents who their second choice would be for the Republican nomination. Among Republicans, the most popular second choices are DeSantis (24%), Pence (20%), Trump (19%), Haley (11%) and Scott (10%), with all other candidates again in single digits.

The poll also asked Virginians who they would vote for if the presidential election were held today in a potential matchup between the two leading candidates in both political parties – Biden and Trump. Biden currently has a 16-point advantage over Trump at 54% to 38%, which is a significant change from our February poll that had Biden at 47% and Trump at 45%. The change is due to a shift among independents, where Biden currently has a 21-point advantage over Trump. As a comparison, our February poll had Biden and Trump in a statistical tie among independents.

Political Anxiety and Attitudes about the National Government

Since 2016, IPOR has been tracking Virginians’ national political sentiment using an index of political anxiety, which is constructed using six questions that measure Virginians’ attitudes about (1) trust in the national government, (2) citizens’ ability to influence government, (3) whether their side has been winning more often than losing, (4) satisfaction with how government is working, (5) whether the country’s best years are ahead or behind, and (6) whether Americans are united or divided in facing our most important challenges. We last reported results of the political anxiety index in November 2022.

Approximately 79% of Virginians report trusting the government in Washington to do what is right only some of the time or never, which is statistically unchanged from November. A slight majority (52%) thinks that ordinary citizens can do a lot to influence the federal government, which is down six points from November. The poll finds that six in 10 Virginians (61%) think their side is losing more than winning in politics today. Fewer than half (41%) believe that the country’s best years are ahead of it, while a majority (55%) believes its best years have passed. This represents a nine-point change for both responses from our November poll, and it is the highest percentage of Virginians who have reported that the country’s best years are behind us since IPOR started asking this question in 2016. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Virginians are dissatisfied or angry with how the federal government is working, which is unchanged from November. A large majority of Virginians (84%) also continues to see the nation divided regarding the important issues facing the country.

IPOR’s Political Anxiety Index has a maximum possible value of 300 and minimum possible value of -300, with higher values representing greater degrees of national political anxiety. The graph below displays trends in the Political Anxiety Index from 2017 through our current May 2023 poll, including the overall trend and the trend disaggregated by party affiliation. For additional party differences on the six questions, see the selected crosstabs at the end of the topline document linked at the end of this release.


One of the consistent findings we have reported previously is that the party differences in national political anxiety reflect party control of the White House. In other words, Virginians tend to report higher levels of political anxiety when the current president is not aligned with their political party. Currently, Republicans (red line) report a higher degree of anxiety in our index with a value of 154.5, which has remained relatively stable during the Biden administration. Democrats (blue line) report a lower degree of anxiety with a value of 2.2, which represents a 38-point increase in anxiety among Democrats from our November poll. While overall national political anxiety (grey line) has remained relatively stable for most of the time IPOR has tracked the index, there has been a gradual increase of approximately 50 points since early 2021.


“The main takeaway from our May poll is that more Virginians are reporting concern about the direction things are going in Virginia and in the nation,” said Bryan Parsons, senior political analyst at IPOR. “We also see this reflected in our Political Anxiety Index, which is up overall and among Democrats since the last time we measured it in November. We see a drop in the number of Virginians who think citizens can do a lot to influence government, as well as an increase in those who think the country’s best years are behind us. These factors are part of Virginians’ higher levels of pessimism about the commonwealth and nation.”

“While half of Virginians approve of the job Youngkin is doing as governor, his approval and favorability ratings are down a bit since our last poll. Our recentConsumer Sentiment Report showed that Virginians are increasingly optimistic about the economy, so it may be a surprise that the public does not appear to be rewarding the governor with a higher job approval rating. However, a lot of research links public optimism about the economy to favorable evaluations of the president, which we find in a slight uptick in Biden’s approval and favorability ratings (within our margin of error). The consistent story of Virginia and national politics, however, continues to be the way partisanship shapes how the public evaluates political leaders, which is reflected in substantial gaps between Democrats’ and Republicans’ approval of both Youngkin and Biden.”

“While former President Trump’s unfavorable rating is the highest our poll has recorded since January 2016, Trump remains Republicans’ most popular first choice for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis again trails Trump as Republicans’ first choice by double digits, but the field of second-choice candidates is wide open with Republicans expressing preferences for additional candidates such as former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.”

“Our poll shows that Biden has an edge over Trump when we ask Virginians who they would vote for if the 2024 presidential election were held today. This is a significant change from our February poll and is mostly occurring among independents. There are several factors that could be driving this change, such as Biden’s slight improvement in favorability, Trump’s higher unfavorability, the shift among independents, and various events in the political news cycle since February. However, this poll, like any other, is just a current snapshot in time. We are still very early in the presidential election cycle. There is a lot of campaigning left to do for prospective presidential candidates, and it is not uncommon for early polling on matchups like these to be fluid for quite some time.”


Interviewing for the Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, between May 14 and May 23, 2023. A total of 678 completed interviews came from random telephone calls to 399 Virginians, and 279 responses were drawn from a proprietary online panel of Virginians. Telephone interviews were conducted in English. Cellphones constituted 57% of the completed phone interviews. Marketing Systems Group provided the telephone dialing frame, and Lucid, LLC facilitated the online panel.

Questions answered by the sample of 678 respondents are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.43% at the 95% confidence level. This means that in 95 out of 100 samples like the one used here, the results should be at most 4.43 percentage points above or below the figure obtained by interviewing all Virginians with a home telephone or a cellphone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher.

Quotas were used to ensure that different regions of the commonwealth were proportionately represented. The data were statistically weighted for gender, race and age. Weighting was done to match Virginia data in the 2021 one-year American Community Survey (ACS). The design effect was 1.383; the reported margin of error above reflects this design effect.

On June 3, 2023 at approximately 2:30 a.m., Roanoke Police were notified by the City of Roanoke E-911 Center of a report of shots fired in the area near 5th Street and Harrison Avenue NW. Officers located an unresponsive adult male inside a vehicle in the 600 block of Harrison Avenue NW. The man appeared to have a critical gunshot wound. Roanoke Fire-EMS personnel responded and pronounced the man deceased.


Details about what led to this shooting are limited. No suspects were located on scene and no arrests have been made at this time. This is an ongoing homicide investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what you know. You can also text us at 274637; please begin the text with “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.


Jason Miyares

RICHMOND, VA –Attorney General Jason Miyares joined an 18-state coalition suing the Biden Administration over its proposed new Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule. 

The federal government has characterized the new rule as a means for continuing to regulate immigration following the expiration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Title 42 public health order. Title 42 previously granted authorities a greater ability to bar immigrants from crossing the border during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in reality, the new rule only worsens the problem by redefining previously illegal border crossings as “lawful pathways.”

“This plan proposed by the Biden Administration does little to deter illegal immigration, and, instead, provides the Cartels with a makeshift manual on how to circumvent and exploit our immigration regulations,” said Attorney General Miyares. “ Encouraging more border crossings without congressional approval will merely worsen the chaos and tragedy taking place at the border, and promote further fentanyl and human trafficking that is tearing apart Virginia’s communities.”

Attorney General Miyares was joined by Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.