Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For April 29

By Brian Carlton

April 29, 2021

The NAACP calls for resignations in Windsor, work will continue on I-81, no more masks for Fairfax County and we talk about early voting.

Daily Number

1963– On this date in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Johnson v. Virginia. Ford T. Johnson Jr. had been convicted of contempt in Richmond’s traffic court because he refused to sit in segregated seating. He appealed up through the system with help from the NAACP, finally reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled that Johnson couldn’t be held in contempt for refusing to comply with unconstitutional segregation rules and overturned his conviction. 

“Such a conviction cannot stand, for it is no longer open to question that a State may not constitutionally require segregation of public facilities,” the justices wrote. 

Isle of Wright NAACP Call For Resignations

The Isle of Wright chapter of the NAACP says it’s time for Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle to go. They want him fired, as well as Windsor Officer Daniel Crocker. The demand comes after a series of events over the last two weeks. 

First, the Windsor Town Council said they supported their police department. Then Chief Riddle said while his officers made mistakes in the Dec. 5 traffic stop, he thought they did a lot of things right as well. 

“The recent actions and statements by the officials of the Town of Windsor and the Chief of Police regarding the horrendous traffic stop that occurred between Lt. Nazario and officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez have outraged our community and our nation,” the NAACP chapter said in a statement. “In recent days, the police chief and other town leaders have focused more energy on salvaging the town’s tarnished image rather than doing meaningful work to bridge the racial divide and heal the community. We have now lost complete confidence in Chief Riddle and his ability to lead the Windsor Police Department.”

Riddle fired Gutierrez the day after the traffic stop video went viral. Crocker, meanwhile, is still employed by the department. The NAACP chapter wants that to change.

Our earlier story details the traffic stop they mention here and its aftermath. 

More I-81 Improvements Will Start Construction Soon

Let’s get a show of hands: how many people have sat in traffic on Interstate 81, barely moving an inch every few minutes? On Wednesday, members of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s I-81 Committee explained how they plan to solve that problem. 

In 2020, VDOT finished 19 of the 64 planned improvements to I-81. Now it’s time to ramp up the rest of the project. Currently, four of the 45 remaining improvements are under construction. Another nine improvements will start within this year. By improvements, we mean things like widening the road’s shoulders and adding truck climbing lanes. 

And yes, we know that won’t solve the traffic problem. The biggest part of the almost $3 billion project will handle that. VDOT officials want to add a third lane for traffic on each side.

But there’s a negative with the positive. That means come fall, expect to see plenty of delays on either side of I-81, as work begins on that third lane. 


Question of the Day: What Should Richmond’s Council Focus On?

No More Masks For Fairfax County Athletes

Fairfax County high school athletes will no longer have to wear masks while competing in outside sports. The district made that announcement Wednesday, saying that includes all current Virginia High School League sports that practice and play outdoors. To be clear, however, that doesn’t mean they’re going completely mask free. All student athletes in the district must wear a mask at all times when they’re not competing. 

“This includes when on the sideline, going to and from practice, when huddled as a group during stoppage of play, or as stated, any time not actively engaged in physical exertion,” the district said in a statement.

Coaches always have to wear a mask. The same goes for all indoor sports athletes.  

Virginia Republicans Change Course on Early Voting

Virginia Republicans will hold an unassembled convention to choose their statewide candidates next month. That part we know, as it’ll take place May 8 at 30 locations across the Commonwealth. Only chosen delegates will cast a ballot to pick the Republican nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Now the Republican Party has reverse course, however, and will let some delegates vote early if need be. 

If a delegate can’t make it Saturday due to religious obligations, then they can vote absentee. Party officials made that decision earlier this week, a few days after originally rejecting it. The issue came up because the convention falls on a Saturday. That’s a problem for Orthodox Jews and others who observe the Sabbath. Several candidates for governor, including Del. Kirk Cox, Glenn Youngkin, Amanda Chase and Peter Doran, spoke out against the restriction, getting the state party to reconsider their decision. 

Wednesday’s Trivia Answer: That Left a Sour Taste

We asked you on Wednesday what fruit was used by the Romans as a general antidote. The answer is the lemon.

Until they invaded other areas, lemons and citrons were the only citrus fruits known to Roman society. As a result, they were reserved for the wealthy. It’s about like how early Americans treated pineapples. According to the National Library of Medicine, the earliest Roman records talk about using lemons as antidotes for ‘poison and venom’.

Interesting enough, by 700 A.D., Egyptians also discovered lemons and started using them in the embalming process.

Bristol Lands Amazon Distribution Center

The economy of one Southwest Virginia city got a shot in the arm Wednesday. Amazon announced it’ll be setting up a distribution center in Bristol, near Interstate 81. A statement sent out by Amazon says wages will start at $15, with “hundreds of new jobs” coming into the area. 

A question about specifically how many jobs would be added went unanswered as of Wednesday night. In the statement, Amazon officials say the distribution center will be active by this fall, ready for the 2021 Christmas season.

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