Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Wednesday, April 7

By Brian Carlton

April 7, 2021

Lawmakers return for marijuana vote, Shentel announces layoffs and school districts offer different plans.

Daily Number

1927 – On this day in 1927, A T & T held the first public demonstration of a “television transmission.” How did that work, you ask? Then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover stood in front of cameras in Washington D.C. and his image was sent to a tv set in New York by telephone lines. 

General Assembly Returns For Marijuana Vote

Will Virginia legalize marijuana this year? Members of the House and Senate return to Richmond today to make that decision. Starting at noon today, the General Assembly will take up Gov. Ralph Northam’s amendments from their recent session. Northam released his amendments to SB 1406 and HB 2312 earlier this month, 

The original bills legalize simple marijuana possession on July 1, 2024. Northam’s amendment moves that up. Specifically, it would allow adults to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis, without intent to distribute, on July 1 of this year. Dogwood’s Brian Carlton detailed all the changes Northam requested right here

We’ll be live tweeting the session and you can follow along on our Twitter feed

Shentel Announces Hundreds of Layoffs

We got some bad news this week in the Shenandoah Valley, as a regional telecommunications company announced layoff plans. Shenandoah Telecommunications Company, also known as Shentel, issued a statement Tuesday about an “organizational restructuring plan.” 

Company officials said they plan to lay off an estimated 340 employees or 30% of their workforce, after agreeing to sell their wireless assets to T-Mobile. 

“Approximately 90% of the reductions are employees who support wireless operations and who will not automatically transfer to T-Mobile as part of the transaction,” the company said in a statement. 

That leaves 860 people to handle Shentel’s broadband and other operations across a six-state area. 

More School Districts Return to Class

A look at school districts across Virginia as of Monday, April 5.

For thousands of Virginia students, Tuesday marked the first day of in-person learning in several months. Fairfax County schools expanded some of their in-person classes to four days a week on Tuesday. To begin with, the schedule is available only for students who have the most learning challenges. The administration at each school determine who’s in that group. 

Then beginning April 20, all students whose families asked for in-person instruction to increase will start the four-day week. Currently the district is operating on a hybrid schedule, with just two days of in-person instruction. 

Two other districts are taking a different path. Alexandria students, for example, just returned from spring break. As a precaution, the kids, which had been on a hybrid schedule, will return to remote learning for two weeks. Then it’s back to the classroom.  

The doors are wide open, meanwhile, for Falls Church students. As of Tuesday, all students return to school for the first time since March 13, 2020. Those whose parents want them to remain virtual have that option for the rest of the school year. 

Sovah Health Plans Danville Expansion

While some companies are struggling with layoffs, others are expanding. Sovah Health announced plans Tuesday to renovate and expand its Danville emergency room. The Southern Virginia hospital chain will spend $12 million on the project, adding a 7,000 square foot expansion. That means more patient rooms and a central workstation for employees to use. The emergency room’s ambulance bay and waiting room also get relocated in the deal. 

This isn’t something that’ll be finished or even started for a while, Sovah Health officials expect construction to start in the third or fourth quarter of this year. They added it also might be a fairly long project, as this could take a few years to finish.

What Did Democratic Candidates Talk About Tuesday Night?

Who Won Tuesday’s Debate?

They answered questions, raised new ones and generally argued amongst themselves for an hour on Tuesday. But who actually won the Democratic debate? Here’s a look at our latest poll. Click on the link to vote. Voting will remain open until 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s Trivia Answer: It’s A Horse’s Life

For Tuesday’s question, we talked about the earliest vacuum cleaner operations. Instead of using electricity to travel automatically, it used a specific animal. What kind of animal was involved? The answer: A horse.

The vacuum pump was created in 1654 in Germany by Otto Von Guericke. Those early designs used horse-drawn carriages to move from Point A to Point B. The horses would literally pull up to a window, at which point the vacuum would be pushed through (assuming the window was open, of course.)

Dogwood Continues Its #ThisIsVirginia Series

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