Updated: 41 minutes ago
Updated: 55 minutes ago
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam is lifting the mask mandate for those who have been vaccinated starting at midnight. The date of when all restrictions were going to be lifted has moved forward by two weeks. Northam says all restrictions on capacity and social distancing are now set to lift on May 28, just before Memorial Day. This will give the state two weeks to get as many more people vaccinated before fully opening up. The restrictions were originally set to lift on June 15.
Updated: 58 minutes ago
GROTTOES, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia State Police identified a man who died after being shot by an Augusta County Sheriff’s deputy on Friday. On Friday afternoon, deputies were responding to a 911 call for somebody breaking into a home on Blue Fish Lane. According to VSP, deputies encountered a man who ran away from the home and into the woods behind it. The deputies followed the man, but at the wood line, investigators said Jeffrey Bruce, 48, turned around, wielding a knife and charged toward the deputy. The agency said the deputy shot Bruce and despite efforts by EMS, Bruce died. Virginia State Police are handling the investigation at the request of Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith. Smith said the deputy involved was placed on administrative leave, per procedure. The identity of the deputy was not released.
Updated: 1 hour ago
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As the temperatures warm up, more people will be jumping into Shenandoah Valley waterways, but a new report is making some think twice about doing so. Almost three-quarters of water quality monitoring sites in the Valley showed levels of E.coli last year, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. Levels so high that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wouldn’t consider them safe for swimming. “A lot of this pollution is coming from farms that allow their cattle to wade down into the streams and defecate directly into the rivers,” Tom Felton, the Director of Communications with the Environmental Integrity Project, said. “Also the over application of farm manure near the rivers means a runoff of a lot of waste into the waterways. That’s leading to very high bacteria levels.” Felton said state reports show agricultural runoff, including livestock operations and industrial-scale poultry operations, contaminated 71% of polluted rivers and streams in the Valley. He said other pollution could come from wildlife or even leaky septic tanks. “It does go up and down from year to year,” Felton said. “I’m not going to say it’s getting better or worse.” The number of waterway sites sampled for bacteria by Virginia is declining. An average of 70 places on waterways in the Valley were sampled between 2015 and 2018, but only 35 in 2019 and 25 in 2020. Some farmers have made efforts, like Bob Threewitts the owner of Twin Oaks Farm in Rockingham County. He has fenced his cattle out of Cub Run. “We were able to not only able to take some of the ground out of production and plant trees on it but also keep the stream banks preserved and the cattle out of the stream,” Threewitts said. In 2019, the Environmental Integrity Project and Shenandoah Riverkeeper released a report using aerial photography to document that only about 20% of livestock farms in Rockingham and Augusta counties had fenced their cattle out of streams and rivers. Partly in response to that report and in its own follow-up study, Virginia boosted its reimbursement rates for farmers who install fencing, leading to increased sign-ups for the fencing reimbursement program last year. Threewitts said fencing is expensive and takes time, but as support from the state grows more farmers are jumping on board with reimbursement rates between 85 and 100 percent. “The reimbursement of the cost-share programs is a big factor in it,” Threewitts said. “Putting up a fence is not a cheap proposition.” While an average of 290 farmers a year installed livestock fencing with partial state reimbursement from fiscal years 2016 through 2019, that number jumped to 692 in fiscal 2020 and is on a pace for more than 900 in fiscal 2021, according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Pelton said this study does not mean you should avoid all recreation on Valley waterways, but instead try not to put your head underwater. “If you’re staying in your boat, kayaking or canoeing, it’s safe, but what we’re saying is, this shouldn’t be an issue. We shouldn’t have to worry about jumping into the water,” Pelton said. “Virginia needs to do more.” The Environmental Integrity Project has interactive maps following waterways around the Valley and shows which ones it considers to be safe or unsafe for swimming. You can find that interactive map here.
Updated: 1 hour ago
NEW MARKET, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia Museum of the Civil War canceled its annual reenactment of the Battle of New Market earlier this year, but this weekend you can still take part in learning a piece of history. Saturday will mark the 157th anniversary of the Battle of New Market, and every year the annual reenactment brings in thousands of people from across the country to town. Lt. Col. Troy Marshall, director of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War, says the past two years have felt different without the large groups preparing for battle. “Feeling a little odd because we don’t have straw bail everywhere and tent footprints going up and that kinds stuff, we’re still going to mark and remember the battle of New Market,” Marshall said. Marshall says because it’s the anniversary weekend of the battle, the museum is still expecting a few hundred guests to stop by in New Market. He says the museum will still be offering tours and will be showing the 2014 film, ‘Field of Lost Shoes’, in their theater. “We’re also doing what I’m calling a progressive battlefield tour all this week,” Marshall said. “So if you come on Monday it’s going to be the battle narrative here but it’s also what is happening on Monday the 10th in 1864.” Businesses downtown are also still expecting some more foot traffic given the other opportunities to learn about the town’s involvement in the war. “The Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation is staging a living history event along the main street to tell more of a complete story of the Battle of New Market, how it affected town and those involved,” Jon Henry of the John Henry General Store said. Cannon firing will be part of the foundation’s planned artillery demonstration; traditions the town is trying to add for one of the countries longest annual reenactments. If you would like to participate in the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation’s events, you must register.
Updated: 1 hour ago
PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Vaccination efforts continue around the nation and as a new age group gets added to the list of eligibility, the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) and Valley Health are teaming up. The LFHD made stops at schools around the district this past week, including several in Shenandoah County, but did not invite children ages 12 to 15 just yet. The health district is working to make plans with Page County Public Schools. LFHD Director Dr. Colin Greene said word got out and if children between those ages showed up, they were still able to receive a vaccine. Clinics next week and on will include children ages 12 to 15. As far as demand goes, Greene said the LFHD is expecting modest turnouts. “It’s not the overwhelming crowds we saw back in January and February. Those are a thing of the past,” Greene said. “Time will tell what percentage, but the good news is that everybody that gets vaccinated is one less person that can spread this disease around.” Along with clinics popping up at schools, Greene said the LFHD hopes to bring some clinics outside local businesses for easy access. For information on COVID-19 vaccine opportunities, go to vaccineappointments.virginia.gov to sign up for health district clinics online. To search for other vaccine clinics provided by local pharmacies and healthcare providers, you can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call (877)-VAX-IN-VA.