May 2011

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13 May 2011

Are Cell Phones Wasted On State Employees?

Virginia’s state government spends more than $6 million a year on the more than 11,000 cellphones it provides to public employees. But a chunk of that money may be wasted: During a recent six-month period, the state spent almost $1 million on 4,500 unused cellphones – phones that recorded zero minutes.

13 May 2011

Slave Names Will Be ‘Unknown No Longer’

This fall, the Virginia Historical Society will launch a free, searchable online database of Virginia slave names called “Unknown No Longer.” It will allow people, especially African-Americans, to trace their ancestry without compromising their privacy or paying fees.

13 May 2011

The Struggle to Commemorate Slavery

The Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality want to give the African Burial Ground in Richmond the respect it deserves. First, that means persuading Virginia Commonwealth University to stop using the site as a parking lot.

13 May 2011

How Effective Is Virginia’s Smoking Ban?

On Dec. 1, 2009, bars and restaurants across Virginia were ordered to put out their cigarettes or renovate their buildings to accommodate non-smokers. A year and a half later, how effective is the ban?

13 May 2011

For-Profit Schools Have High Loan Default Rates

Student loan default rates are especially high among people who attend for-profit colleges and universities. Federal officials have criticized some proprietary schools, saying they are more interested in collecting tuition dollars than in teaching students marketable skills.

12 May 2011

Help Storm Victims, Governor Urges

Gov. Bob McDonnell is encouraging citizens to provide aid for victims of the April tornadoes, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Virginia’s request for disaster assistance.

12 May 2011

Prepare To Be Prepared: Tornado Safety

An unusually active tornado season has wreaked havoc in Virginia and nationwide. On April 16, for example, tornadoes killed three people in Gloucester. Some simple precautions – mainly having a plan – can help keep you safe.

11 May 2011

New Laws Target Access to Abortion

It will be harder to get an abortion in Virginia because of two laws passed by the 2011 General Assembly. One law will prohibit certain private health insurance plans from covering abortions; the other will require clinics that perform abortions to meet hospital standards or shut down.

11 May 2011

She Is ‘Silent No More’; He Sees a TRAP

Anti-abortion activists are cheering and abortion rights activists are steaming over new laws that would regulate abortions in Virginia. A coordinator of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign says the laws will protect women’s health. But an official with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia says the laws are politically motivated and will restrict abortion access and decrease safety.

11 May 2011

Clinics Brace for Tighter Rules

By September, the Virginia Board of Health plans to announce the regulations that must be met by clinics that provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month. The clinics then will have until January to satisfy the requirements – or shut their doors.

11 May 2011

Audit Says VEC Needs More Staff

The state auditor of public accounts has found that the Virginia Employment Commission has been inadequately equipped to handle the increase in unemployment claims since the recession began.

11 May 2011

Pay Back Money, VEC Tells Workers

Delegate Donald Merricks, R-Danville, triggered an investigation in overpayments of unemployment compensation benefits by the Virginia Employment Commission. He did it after the VEC demanded that some workers pay back thousands of dollars they received.

10 May 2011

Law Boosts Sign Language, Deaf Culture

American Sign Language courses may grow in popularity and attract more students from different majors under a new state law. It requires Virginia’s public colleges and universities to accept ASL, which is used by deaf people, as a foreign language credit.

10 May 2011

A Teacher’s Hands-On Life Helping Others

Paige Berry is Virginia Commonwealth University’s sign language teacher in the Rehabilitation Counseling Department. She has worked for VCU for 29 years and dedicates her life to communicating with people who are deaf or deaf and blind.

09 May 2011

Census Sheds Light on Amelia’s Population

Amelia County’s population grew more than 11 percent, to 12,690 residents, during the past decade, according to the 2010 census. The population of Hispanics tripled, though in absolute numbers, they’re still pretty small (290). Amelia’s black population actually shrank during this period.

09 May 2011

Fighting Blight in Richmond’s Church Hill

Homeowners, public officials and community groups are fighting blight in Church Hill North — one of Richmond’s historic gems but a neighborhood known for high crime rates and vacant buildings. A new law will give the city another tool to fix decrepit homes that stick out like crooked teeth.

09 May 2011

Daunting DIY Project: Renovating Old Home

Greg Bristow was working as a heating and air conditioning technician in 2008. But when the economy gave way, so did the job market. Since then, he’s been renovating a 121 year old home in Church Hill.

09 May 2011

Hair Cutters Face Higher Licensing Fees

Virginia officials want a bigger cut when barbers, hair stylists and other beauty professionals get their state licenses. Barbers, cosmetologists and nail technicians now pay $55 for a cosmetology license, which is valid for two years. The state wants to raise that to $140.

09 May 2011

Cosmetology in Richmond: A Cut Above

In a time of economic hardship, high-priced haircuts, manicures and spa treatments may be thought of as a luxury. But in Richmond, the cosmetology is business is doing as well as ever. Some salons have even been able to grow.

08 May 2011

CNS Stories for April 11-May 7

Here are the stories we distributed between April 11 and May 7. Headlines include: “Social Services Board Votes Against Gay Adoption” … “Redistricting Could Cost Virginia $10 Million” … “Teachers at ‘Hard to Staff’ Schools May Get Bonuses” … “Library Documenting Rams’ Historic Run.”

07 May 2011

Many Students Unaware of Tax on Cars

Driving can be unpredictable and even nerve-racking. And there could be an added surprise involving your automobile when it’s off the roadways: a property tax on cars. Permanent Richmond residents must pay such a personal property tax. But what many college students from out of town may not know is that they are expected to pay it as well.

07 May 2011

Students Capitalize on Legislative Experience

Nantasha Williams spent the legislative session get lawmakers’ signatures on bills, helping constituents and researching information on complex issues. But Williams isn’t a legislator. She is a college student taking part in the Virginia Capital Semester program.

01 May 2011

Transsexual’s Smile Hides Pain-Filled Life

Dawn Storrud was born with a male body, but from around age 3, she says, she felt that deep down, she was female. As a result, Storrud said, she faced discrimination, harassment and even violence as a child and later as a transgender woman. Today, she advocates in Virginia for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.

01 May 2011

Virginia Mulls Shield Law for Journalists

Virginia has not yet enshrined in law one of Thomas Jefferson’s most ardently held principles: the protected role of a free press in a democracy. Delegate Barbara Comstock would like to change that. In the 2011 General Assembly, she introduced a bill to grant journalists limited protection from being compelled to disclose confidential sources.