Another 38 special: inside the intense battle for a reliably red Virginia senate seat

BY: - March 22, 2021

What was expected to be a pretty predictable special election in Southwest Virginia has turned into a surprisingly intense fight in its closing days. Voters in Virginia’s 38th Senate District will elect a new state senator through 2023 on Tuesday. Incumbent Ben Chafin died on Jan. 1 from complications related to COVID-19. The district includes […]


‘Incredibly important to our long-term viability’: More rail investments coming to Southwest Virginia

BY: - March 3, 2021

Although the General Assembly approved a $83.5 million budget amendment this session, in part to extend passenger rail service deeper into Southwest Virginia, that doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t a train station or even a platform in the New River Valley. However, legislation from local lawmakers that is heading to the governor’s desk […]

A budget amendment is laying down the tracks for a Shenandoah Valley rail trail

BY: - October 19, 2020

When Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, introduced a budget amendment funding a study on creating a new 43-mile long rail trail in the Shenandoah Valley, the odds of the proposal making it into the final budget for the governor to sign looked slim.   After Wilt’s amendment was stricken from the House version of the budget, the […]

In Southwest Virginia, aging wastewater systems pose big problems for cash-strapped communities

BY: - October 15, 2020

Southwest Virginians have long looked beneath the surface of the rugged coalfield region for wealth and opportunity. But just below the asphalt and concrete of the communities that dot its ridges and valleys, the area’s aging and dilapidated wastewater systems are draining the coffers of localities already strapped for cash.  Across Virginia, water and wastewater […]

COVID-19 cases keep climbing at Virginia poultry plants; some members of Congress seek better protections

BY: and - May 5, 2020

COVID-19 cases continue to rise at Virginia’s Eastern Shore poultry plants, with Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday reporting more than 260 cases associated with two facilities run by Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms in Accomack County. “We are also still closely tracking cases in the Shenandoah Valley, which has a large number of plants — […]

COVID-19 pandemic is another strain for rural EMS services

BY: - April 22, 2020

Long country roads and a small, aging volunteer staff have been the norm for rural Virginia’s emergency medical services for years. But the current COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to stress staffing further, jeopardizing EMS providers’ ability to respond to other emergency calls. “That’s our biggest concern. If one of our members were exposed on […]

The State Corporation Commission

Regulators approve major electric rate increase for Old Dominion Power

BY: - April 16, 2020

The State Corporation Commission has approved a rate increase for the roughly 30,000 Southwest Virginians who get their electricity from Old Dominion Power, with the bump set to go into effect May 1.  In their April 6 order, regulators allowed the utility, which is the Virginia unit of Kentucky Utilities and the state’s smallest investor-owned […]

Even before COVID-19, tele-health was becoming a big part of rural Virginia health care

BY: - April 6, 2020

HARRISONBURG — Meagan Thurston wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked into Strength in Peers in December of 2019 for her first tele-psychiatry session, but she was willing to do whatever it took to get her children back. The previous summer, Virginia’s Child Protective Services had taken her five children, between the ages of […]

Why Floyd County burned bright for Bernie

BY: - March 6, 2020

FLOYD — On Super Tuesday, only three Virginia localities voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders over former Vice President Joe Biden in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary: Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Floyd County. For observers, the first two make sense: Charlottesville and Harrisonburg are home to the University of Virginia and James Madison University, respectively, and Sanders […]


Federal tax incentives for investment in economically disadvantaged areas find more traction in urban Virginia

BY: - February 24, 2020

In December of 2017, a Republican-controlled Congress made good on freshman President Donald Trump’s pledge to overhaul the U.S. tax code. It gave wealthy people and their businesses generous tax breaks and put the nation’s growing debt on steroids. Drafters of the new tax overhaul sought to incentivize a major infusion of capital into designated […]


The ‘city that cares’ is now Virginia’s second-largest

BY: - February 21, 2020

I bet you can name the largest city in many states across America. But what about the second largest? California’s is easy: San Diego trails Los Angeles. North Carolina? Many know Raleigh, the state capital, is No. 2 behind Charlotte.  What about Virginia? Spoiler alert: The city of Norfolk, long the second city to the […]

‘Raging granny’ faces music for pipeline protest: ‘Happy that I did it’

BY: - January 14, 2020

CHRISTIANSBURG — Activist and self-identified “raging granny” Glenna “Duff” Benjamin traveled to Montgomery County in September to lock herself to a sideboom pipelayer and block construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for five hours. On Monday, she returned to face the consequences of her act of non-violent civil disobedience. The 76-year-old Benjamin pleaded not guilty […]