Posts by Brandy Simpson
Driving the windy narrow road up Bull Run Mountain, no one would dream that this would be the location of one of the longest operating organic farms in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Yet as I pulled up to Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm, I was pleasantly greeted by sprawling fields, lush with fresh vegetables. During my sit down with Leigh Hauter, who runs Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm, I was surprised to learn that the farm grows a selection of over fifty different types of crops. While over fifty crops may seem like a daunting number of crops to keep track of, Leigh was able to point out various crops and their harvest dates with ease.
In a study released on Tuesday, it was reported that the blue crab is making a huge population comeback in the Chesapeake Bay. While many are rejoicing the near doubling of the blue crab population, others have voice frustration with the findings of Tuesday's report. Namely, Virginia crabbers have been the most outspoken.
Although state tuition increases are 7.9% this year, compared to 10.6% last year, many students and schools alike are displeased with the low amount of state funds being allocated to Virginia's public higher education system. A report released on Monday revealed that a total of $97 million of state revenue was used this year to counteract tuition and fee increases for students. This $97 million of state revenue only accounts for 51% of the cost for student, meaning that students are responsible for the other 49% of the cost. With the state goal of contributing 67% to state education costs, this contribution of 51% is a historic low for Virginia.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service stated that it is looking to cut down on costs by closing approximately 3,700 post offices across the nation. In Virginia alone, 95 post offices have been targeted for closure. After a thorough review of its network, the Postal Service estimated that it will save close to $200 million a year by closing underperforming post offices. Over ninety percent of the post offices deemed as underperforming generate less than $27,500, while costing over $100,000 in operation costs. The trouble with this announcement for many Virginians is that a lot of the postal workers will lose their jobs if their post office is closed.
On Tuesday, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia has a $311 million revenue surplus. Yet, in spite of this surplus, Gov. McDonnell stated that Virginia's credit rating could be lowered. Due to the ongoing financial trouble in Washington, Virginia, along with four other states, is in danger of having its AAA bond rating downgraded by Moody's Investors Service. If the national borrowing limit cannot be raised above $14.3 trillion, Moody's Investors Service potentially could lower the national government's credit rating. If this occurs, then Moody's Investors Service will decide the fate of Virginia's credit rating within 10 days.
Although the downsizing and termination of government projects across the nation is swiftly becoming a trend, there remains hope for one important state project. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell reiterated at a meeting on Monday, alongside Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, that the fifteen year plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay will push forward full steam ahead.
With one glance at recent Virginia political news, there seems to be a common, yet unusual thread: France. For both the uranium mining industry and the tobacco industry, France is playing a major role in significant approaching Virginia political decisions.
For decades, the tobacco industry fueled the economy in Southside Virginia. In recent years, this has changed, as a result of increased regulation and ill health effects, and reduced consumer demand. The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission was created through a settlement with the tobacco industry, with the goal of spending these funds to rebuild the Southside economy.
With massive downsizing in 2008, mental health hospitals across Virginia have found it difficult to recover from budget cuts. A great number of patients in need of treatment have been turned away as a result. This act is quickly becoming a trend that is warranting its own name: "streeting". In a report released this month, the state Office of Inspector General for Behavioral Health and Developmental Services estimated that approximately two hundred mentally ill patients were turned away from Virginian mental health facilities.
With plans for a Surry County coal power plant swiftly becoming closer to a reality, the need for alternative clean energy options is greater now than ever before. Proposed in 2009 by the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), the coal power plant was expected to need at least fifty permits before construction could begin. Now in 2011, the ODEC developers are reaching the final stages of permit approval from state and federal agencies.