Cheesy Westerns, bongs and labor shortages: understanding Va.’s hectic pandemic job market

BY: - August 24, 2021

LYNCHBURG — The Texas Inn sits at the end of Main Street in Lynchburg, an 86-year-old beacon for late-night drunk food with a menu centered around a Depression-era chili recipe and a grease-laden sandwich known as the Cheesy Western. And for more than a decade, you could find Jacob Johns happily working the flat-top grill […]


Fluctuating work week: the devil’s in the details

BY: - August 24, 2021

By Kim Bobo Late one night during the General Assembly’s special session this month, when the Senate was working on its budget amendments, senators approved Amendment 132 offered by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, by voice vote, which usually means it is not expected to be a close vote. The amendment was described as simply conforming […]

Virginia lawmakers already discussing speeding up retail marijuana sales

BY: - August 17, 2021

Virginia lawmakers are already discussing speeding up the three-year delay between marijuana legalization last month and the beginning of retail sales. “We have legalized the use of marijuana, but we have not legalized the actual purchase of marijuana,” said Del. Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria, during the inaugural meeting Tuesday of the legislature’s Joint Commission on Cannabis […]

How Virginia plans to spend $700 million on broadband expansion

BY: - August 16, 2021

Virginia lawmakers agreed to devote $700 million in federal pandemic aid to broadband expansion, a sum of money they say will allow them to connect every household in the state to high-speed internet. The money is a victory for rural localities that view high-speed internet access as critical to their survival but have struggled to […]


Could Virginia Rail Express serve as a second Metro?

BY: - August 13, 2021

Commuters who drive I-95 between Fredericksburg and D.C. will not be surprised to hear that they face the consistently worst traffic in the nation. After decades of lane widening have only worsened congestion due to induced demand, Governor Ralph Northam’s administration has doubled down on increased train service as a faster, cheaper, and greener way […]

Virginia school bus drivers left in limbo as state demands they pay back unemployment benefits

BY: - August 10, 2021

Thousands of school bus drivers around Virginia who turned to unemployment benefits to weather the pandemic are being asked to pay the state back — a financial demand drivers say has filled them with anxiety, stress and dread. “How the hell am I ever going to come up with over $7,000 for the state of […]


Equipping the working poor with new resources for a better path forward

BY: - August 10, 2021

By Glenn DuBois, Ph.D. It’s time we’ve had a frank talk about ALICE. After all, we have come to understand more and more the critical role that ALICE plays in Virginia’s economic health and prosperity, and after years of applying that learning toward strategies designed to help ALICE overcome generational inertia, we have reached an […]

Mercury reporter wins prestigious environmental reporting award

BY: - August 5, 2021

The Mercury’s Sarah Vogelsong took first-place honors in a prestigious contest that recognizes outstanding environmental journalism. Vogelsong won first-place in the “Outstanding Explanatory Reporting, Small” category in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Awards for Reporting on the Environment contest. The winning entry was “Virginia’s Clean Energy Transition,” a five-part series on the landmark Virginia Clean […]

Virginia moves to restart eviction protections after federal moratorium lapses

BY: - August 3, 2021

Virginia Democrats are moving to restart state-level eviction protections one month after allowing them to lapse. The step comes as a federal eviction moratorium ends and President Joe Biden’s administration chastised states for not implementing their own moratoriums. “There is no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress […]

Unemployment benefits aren’t the only thing keeping workers at home

BY: - July 27, 2021

Business owners, chambers of commerce types and some local officials around Virginia swore that ending enhanced unemployment benefits – of $300 a week from the federal government – would propel folks back into the workforce who’d been home during the pandemic.  The commonwealth should play a figurative Scrooge, these folks said, because places including restaurants, […]


The first step in fighting poverty is cutting the compassion deficit 

BY: - July 26, 2021

Randy was everyone’s friend in our high school days, but somewhat in the background, never too close. Handsome, easygoing and smart, he navigated a precise path that made him popular with faculty and classmates from whom he carefully hid a painful secret. That Randy Lamb grew up in grinding rural poverty was something I did […]


How to bring the ‘missing middle’ to Virginia housing development

BY: - July 23, 2021

Standalone house or an apartment? When looking for a place to call home most folks know what type of housing they want, but what if there were more choices on the market? Last month Norfolk’s city council approved a Missing Middle Pattern Book full of free designs and schematics for dozens of so-called “middle housing”: […]