RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia state senator says it’s time to decriminalize marijuana. Sen. Adam Ebbin, an Alexandria Democrat, has introduced a bill that would eliminate jail time for possession of the drug and make it punishable by a maximum $100 civil penalty. Ebbin said Thursday at a news conference that criminalization of marijuana has failed. He says it makes nonviolent, regular citizens criminals and burdens Virginia with $67 million in law enforcement costs annually. The measure faces an uphill battle. The House of Delegates has routinely killed decriminalization bills in the past.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Humane Society of the United States says a months-long undercover investigation at the private Natural Bridge Zoo found abuse and neglect leading to the deaths of a giraffe and other animals. The Humane Society outlined the allegations Thursday, focusing as well on what it called the persistent mistreatment of tiger cubs. The society says the cubs were hit and punched starting when they were 6 weeks old. The Humane Society investigation also found a critical lack of veterinary care, crowded conditions and filthy cages, among other unsafe conditions. The society said it has filed complaints with state, local and federal officials. In a written response, Natural Bridge Zoo owner Karl Mogensen called the allegations “slanderous” and “vicious propaganda” aimed at soliciting donations. He also denied the accusations.
The Appomattox Town Council has changed its schedule to meeting only once of month. Council members will no longer be meeting twice a month; the change to a single monthly meeting is being implemented this year. Sources say, Council will not hold workshop meetings like it did in years past; however, council will still hold regular session meetings on the second Monday of each month with the exception of holidays or otherwise specified. If a meeting is cancelled due to inclement weather, council will meet the following night. The 2015 Council Meetings begin on Feb. 9.
Sweet Briar College is exploring options to stay viable in the future. Sweet Briar is at a crossroads as school leaders look at ideas to help the college survive and thrive amid challenging times for small, private liberal arts schools in the United States. The New Era Progress reports the college has contracted with the Art & Science Group to conduct market research about possible ideas to grow enrollment. Completion of the market research study is expected in the late Spring; according to the article, the strategic plan includes the possibilities of partnering with other schools.
The Town of Altavista is pursuing an emergency notification system. Town staff are in the process of gathering more information and working out a contract for the system, that officials say, will have comprehensive notification process, with the ability to inform citizens before, during and after events, whether emergency or non-emergency. 911 information the town already has for residents and businesses could be moved to the new system. The Altavista Journal reports, the town may need to do a campaign to collect other contact information. According to the article, Bedford and Lynchburg are already using the system.
Work has begun on a second phase of renovation on Wright Hall at the campus on Randolph College. The five-story building was constructed in 1909…this is the first renovation of the building since 1994. It is one of six residence halls at Randolph. Officials expect the renovations to be complete by Aug. 1.
Many Appomattox businesses are attending workshops to prepare for sesquicentennial visitors. April 12th marks 150 years since the Civil War ended with a surrender at Appomattox Court House. Stephanie Keener, program specialist for the Region 2000 Small Business Development Center told WDBJ-7 the workshops will include tips on how to provide better customer service and reach tourist through social media. The workshops begins today and will be held every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. through March 12th.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s yacht tax break appears safe for another year. The Republican-controlled Senate Finance Committee killed a proposal Wednesday from Sen. Adam Ebbin to end the favorable treatment enjoyed by owners of expensive boats. The state sales tax on watercraft is 2 percent with a $2,000 cap. That means no additional tax is imposed on a boat’s value over $100,000. Noting that yachts can cost millions of dollars, Ebbin told the committee the disparity is unfair. The Alexandria Democrat said the wealthiest boat owners benefit the most. Ebbin’s bill would have raised the tax rate to 4.15 percent with no cap. The measure would have raised an estimated $6 million a year in revenue. Augusta County Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger said a higher tax might drive yacht owners out of Virginia.