Across Virginia

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Watch for a wide-ranging area that includes the Roanoke region. It is mainly for higher elevations along and near the Blue Ridge, where winds could gust up to 60 miles per hour. The watch is in effect from Thursday evening through Saturday morning.

From the National Weather Service: .HIGH WIND WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY MORNING… The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a High Wind Watch, which is in effect from Thursday evening through Saturday morning. * Locations…Mountains and foothills of southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina. * Hazards…Very strong to damaging wind. * Winds…Northwest 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. * Timing…Starting Thursday night and continuing into Saturday morning. * Impacts…Numerous downed trees and power outages likely. Minor structural damage possible. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A High Wind Watch means there is the potential for a hazardous high wind event. Sustained winds of at least 40 mph…or gusts of 58 mph or stronger may occur. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, says it has complied with a judge’s order to remove the black shrouds installed over two Confederate monuments after a white nationalist rally last summer. Charlottesville tweeted that city staff removed the shrouds Wednesday morning. A day earlier, a circuit court judge said they had to come down. The decision came during a hearing in a lawsuit against the city over its attempts to remove the monuments. Separately, The Daily Progress reports another city statue of a surveyor and soldier was hit with graffiti Tuesday. The graffiti said, “I can’t breathe.” Those were the last words of Eric Garner, a black man who died after a New York police officer’s chokehold. His words have become a rallying cry in the national debate over policing, brutality and race.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A judge in Virginia has ordered the city of Charlottesville to remove the black shrouds that were installed over two Confederate monuments after a white nationalist rally last summer. Local news outlets report Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore gave the city 15 days from the time an official order is signed to remove the tarps. They currently cover statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The tarps have been removed several times since being put up in August as a sign of the city’s mourning of the deadly violence at the August rally. Moore’s decision came during a hearing in a lawsuit against the city, which is seeking to remove the monuments. The city said in a statement that it is disappointed by the ruling but will respect the court’s decision.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A Virginia lawmaker held up an image of a hammer and sickle behind a freshman Democratic legislator affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America during a finance committee session.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, apologized on the House floor for displaying the Communist symbol on a tablet behind Del. Lee Carter, D-Prince William, earlier that day, while the latter criticized the philosophy behind legislation offering tax breaks to corporations creating jobs in economically depressed areas. Carter’s ideology has often been a target of Virginia Republicans, but Keam’s display highlights the tensions between mainstream Democrats and the left. Carter defeated an incumbent Republican delegate last year, despite no major support from the Democratic caucus.
Carter later pointed out on Twitter that communism, socialism and democratic socialism are separate ideologies.

From Virginia Tech: February 26, 2018 — Gov. Ralph Northam will address Virginia Tech’s Class of 2018 during University Commencement exercises to be held on Friday, May 11, continuing the tradition of inviting new Virginia governors to deliver the commencement address. The University Commencement ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field. A complete schedule of commencement ceremonies and additional commencement information can be found on the commencement website. “We’re pleased Gov. Northam graciously accepted our invitation to speak to our graduating students,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “His leadership in medicine, business, and government makes him an ideal choice to inspire our graduates during the commencement celebration.” Since 1990, first-year Virginia governors L. Douglas Wilder, George F. Allen, James S. Gilmore III, Mark R. Warner, Timothy M. Kaine, Robert F. McDonnell, and Terence “Terry” McAuliffe have delivered the commencement address at Virginia Tech.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Northam graduated from Virginia Military Institute and Eastern Virginia Medical School. Before his inauguration as the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in January, Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state senator, and lieutenant governor. As governor, Northam is working toward ensuring that every Virginian has the opportunity for good health, a good education, and a good job.

Northam and his wife Pamela Northam have two adult children: Wes, a neurosurgical resident in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Aubrey, a web developer in Richmond.

Photo: History.com

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The History channel’s series “American Pickers” will soon be filming in Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot reports that a film crew from the documentary show has plans to head to the state this spring to hunt for “unique antique collections and interesting stories” behind the items. The newspaper says anyone interested in appearing on the show should contact americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 1-855-OLD-RUST. Any kind of business or museum is not eligible.

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Military Institute has announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will speak at its graduation exercises on May 16. Tillerson concluded a career of more than 40 years in the petroleum industry before retiring as chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil at the end of 2016. He was sworn in as Secretary of State in 2017. Tillerson is a former member of the Boy Scouts of America’s executive committee and served as the national president of the Boy Scouts from 2010 to 2012. Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, superintendent of VMI, cited Tillerson’s career in managing an international energy company and as Secretary of State. He said Tillerson’s success and his long record of service “will resonate especially well with our graduates.”

The cost of a controversial natural gas pipeline planned to run through Virginia is expected to increase by more than $1 billon. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Duke Energy is a 47 percent partner in the 600-mile (1,000-kilometer) Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Duke CEO Lynn Good said in an earnings call Tuesday the estimated total project cost is now at least $6 billion because of delays in the permitting process. Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby could not confirm the new estimate but said Dominion’s financial disclosure next week would have more information. Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert says the higher cost means Virginia and North Carolina utility customers will pay more. Duke anticipates the project’s cost to increase by up to $1.5 billion before its expected 2019 completion date.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Even with new support from key GOP leaders, Medicaid expansion in Virginia still faces serious roadblocks. That includes a fierce intra-party squabble among Republicans and strong disagreement among expansion supporters on how to pay for it.
Those divisions were on display Thursday as both chambers of the GOP-controlled General Assembly debated whether Medicaid expansion should be included in the state budget. The House favors Medicaid expansion and the new hospital tax, which the Senate opposes.
Anti-expansion lawmakers and advocates also came to the Capitol to lobby House Republicans who previously opposed expansion but now support expanding the publicly funded health care program for the poor with work requirements and copays.
Republican Corey Stewart, a GOP U.S. Senate hopeful, held a news conference where repeatedly insulted Republicans who support expansion.