Bill to Ban Guns Near Polling Places Heads to Virginia Gov. Northam’s Desk

Legislation that would prohibit most people from possessing guns near a polling place passed the Virginia Senate on Thursday and is heading to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature.

If signed into law, House Bill 2081, sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, would prohibit knowingly possessing firearms within 40 feet of the locations beginning one hour before polls are open and an hour after they close. Violation would be a Class 1 misdemeanor if convicted, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2,500 or both.

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Bills for In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants Passes Virginia House, Senate

The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates passed their own versions of legislation that would guarantee in-state tuition for illegal immigrants residing in the state this week.

Under both bills, a person would be allowed to receive in-state tuition for public colleges and universities as long as the person meets all other necessary criteria, regardless of whether the person is residing in the country legally. The House version of the bill will be sent to the Senate and the Senate version to the House.

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Census Data Delays Could Impact Virginia’s 2021 Legislative Elections

Thanks to reporting delays with 2020 U.S. Census data, the timeline for Virginia’s newly implemented redistricting process and the 2021 elections for all 100 House of Delegates seats could be impacted.

On Wednesday, a Census Bureau official said the redistricting data for states may not arrive until July 30th or afterward.

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Northam Extends Virginia’s COVID-19 Restrictions

Virginia’s public gathering limits, daily curfews, face mask requirements and other COVID-19 restrictions will stay in place until the end of February, drawing concern from some members of the business community.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday he issued Executive Order 72, which extends and slightly modifies the state restrictions. Under the new restrictions, face masks will be required in not only indoor settings but also in any outdoor setting when a person cannot remain 6 feet away from other people.

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Senator McClellan Unveils Universal Child Care and Early Learning Plan as Part of Gubernatorial Campaign

Democratic candidate for governor and Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond City) released a plan central to her campaign last Friday that seeks to provide affordable and quality child care for every family with a kid under the age of five by 2025.

Under McClellan’s Universal Child Care & Early Learning Plan, Virginia families that make below or up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level would receive free child care, no matter the family size. While families making above that poverty threshold would have to pay for child care costs, but no more than 7 percent of their annual income.

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Legislation Abolishing Death Penalty Advanced by Virginia Senate Committee

Legislation to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday morning.

Introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), Senate Bill 1165 was reported out of the committee by a vote of 10-4, mostly along party lines with Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), chief co-patron on the measure, the only Republican who voted in support.

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FAKE NEWS: CNN Botches Story About Virginia Man Arrested at Police Checkpoint in Washington D.C.

Virginia man who was arrested at a police checkpoint in Washington D.C. over the weekend, has been released from custody following a brief court appearance.

Although initial news reports hyped the story, investigators said they do not consider Wesley Beeler, a security contractor who was working in the area, to be a threat to public safety.

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Additional Walgreens in Virginia to Offer Free COVID-19 Antigen Testing, Health Department Says

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced on Thursday that it is expanding its partnership with Walgreens to offer Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen COVID-19 testing for free at specific locations throughout the Commonwealth, according to a press release from the agency.

Before the expanded agreement only four Walgreens in the state were providing the drive-through tests, but now that number has increased to 15 select locations, the release said.

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Virginia Governor Expands Eligibility for Phase 1b COVID-19 Vaccinations

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has expanded the eligibility for Phase 1b of the state’s vaccination effort to include people 65 and up as well as those between the ages of 16 to 64 who have high-risk medical conditions, he announced during a COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday. 

“This means about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine,” the governor said. “That’s a major logistical effort and it is not going to happen overnight. Everyone will need to be patient; it’s going to happen as fast as it can be done.” 

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Commentary: Virginia Governor Flouts Law, Leaves GOP Senate Seat Vacant to Ensure Unchecked Progressive Dominance

Virginia’s state senate had a narrow Democratic majority, with 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Then, on Jan. 1, Republican State Senator Ben Chafin died. Virginia’s Democratic governor deliberately delayed filling the seat, so that progressive bills will be able to pass the state legislature more easily, and without being moderated by the amendment process.

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VDH launches Online Tool to Help Determine Virginians’ Vaccine Eligibility

With mass vaccination efforts now a month in, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has released a new online tool to help Virginians determine their eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine under the state’s multi-phase plan and when they can get it.

Completing the process is relatively simple and should not take more than 5 minutes maximum. Here is a step-by-step rundown

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Virginia Health Facilities Had Advanced Knowledge of Unannounced COVID-19 Inspections, State Inspector General Says

State health facilities operated by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) were tipped off with advance knowledge on unannounced COVID-19 protocol inspections, according to a report from the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) released last Thursday.

The report claimed that DBHDS personnel shared detailed information regarding inspections with as many as 11 facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

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Retired Judges Select Eight Citizens to Serve on Virginia Redistricting Commission

A selection committee of five retired judges on Wednesday chose the eight citizens who will serve on the Virginia Redistricting Commission, completing the membership determination process for the newly-implemented body tasked with proposing plans for redrawing the Commonwealth’s 111 congressional and legislative districts.

The judges met for several hours on Wednesday morning and had to come up with the eight names from a pool of 62 finalists.

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Governor Northam Appoints Dr. Danny Avula to Lead Virginia’s Vaccination Program

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has appointed Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond City and Henrico County health departments, to lead the Commonwealth’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program.

Northam made the announcement during a coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, the first time he has provided updates on the virus to the public in the new year.

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Virginia Governor Candidate Kirk Cox Reportedly Says Biden Will be Next President

GOP candidate for governor and Virginia State Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) reportedly said Tuesday he does not stand with Republicans in Congress who plan to object to the Electoral College votes and that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. 

Cox’s reported comments were shared by Daniel Grimes, a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC29 in Charlottesville, in a post on Twitter. 

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Overview of Virginia’s Newest Laws in 2021

The new year is here at last and for Virginians throughout the Commonwealth, the arrival of 2021 means a number of laws passed by the General Assembly last year have now gone into effect and bring several important changes. 

Here is an overview of some new laws that Virginians should know about. 

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Vaccinations in Virginia Are Lagging Behind Distributed Doses

Coronavirus vaccination efforts by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) have been ongoing since December 15, but the number of administered doses is significantly less than the amount distributed throughout the Commonwealth.

According to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, as of Thursday, Virginia has distributed 388,100 doses, but only 64,882 have actually been administered so far.

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More Than 1,200 Citizens Apply for Virginia Redistricting Commission

The application window for citizens to apply for the Virginia Redistricting Commission closed on Monday and a final tally from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) showed that 1,238 Virginians are interested in serving on the extremely important and influential panel.

Just two weeks ago, however, only 88 citizens had applied for the commission since November 30 and Virginia Division of Legislative Services (DLS) Director Amigo Wade said they received 600-650 applications during the final days before the deadline.

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Richmond, Virginia to Start Accepting Proposals for Resort Casinos, Releases Expectation Document

With the release of the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) document, Richmond can now begin accepting submissions from established operators to build a resort casino in Virginia’s capital city.

Monday’s release of the RFQ/P marks the official start of the months-long competitive process to potentially bring a resort casino to Richmond in the coming years. The document outlines what the city expects from a proposal.

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Issue of Paid Sick Leave Returning to Virginia General Assembly in 2021

The debate over whether or not businesses should be required to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave will again be taken up by the Virginia General Assembly when it convenes for its regular session on January 13th.

After multiple bills calling for paid sick leave were killed by a Senate committee during this past summer’s special session, those same lawmakers are once again intending to offer legislation on the issue.

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Favorite Christmas Songs by State

Christmas Day has finally arrived and although many people’s plans may look quite different this year, there is one thing about the holiday season that can never be changed: catchy, calming and irresistible Christmas songs.

Whether a person listens to Christmas music all 365 days of the year or only starts once winter has set in, almost everybody has a favorite jingle that inevitably gets played more often around the holidays.

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Virginia’s Small Business Owners Share Their Bestselling Christmas Gifts for Last Minute Shoppers

If you’re anything like us, there’s somebody on your Christmas list who you still need to buy a gift for. The Virginia Star spoke with local businesses across the state to see what their most popular gifts were. Here’s what they told us…

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140,000 Doses of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive in Virginia

Roughly 140,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Virginia on Wednesday after the state had initially placed an order with the company last week, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said in a news release.

Shipments of Moderna’s vaccine, approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, as well as Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine are being delivered to healthcare facilities and health departments across the Commonwealth this week. The two vaccines are going to 96 “geographically diverse locations” in the state, according to the release.

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Arlington, Virginia Students Receiving More Failing Grades During Pandemic Than Before

Secondary students attending Arlington Public Schools (APS) are earning more failing grades during the coronavirus pandemic than in previous years, new data shows, further highlighting the negative impact virtual learning can have on certain students.

The data was presented in an internal report released online on Thursday that compared APS middle school and high school student’s quarter one grades from 2020-21 to quarter one grades from 2018-19 and 2019-20.

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Virginia’s Robert E. Lee Statue Removed from U.S. Capitol

Virginia’s statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed from its place in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol by a crew of workers overnight.

Every state is allowed to have two statues on display in the hall and Lee has stood along with President George Washington as representatives of the Commonwealth since 1909.

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CVS Begins Effort to Administer COVID-19 Vaccinations

CVS announced Monday that it has formally launched its program to administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and will begin its efforts in Virginia on December 28th, according to a press release. 

The company said that its teams will start administering doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week across 12 states – including Ohio, Connecticut, Florida and Oregon, among others – and expects to vaccinate a total of four million residents and staff at over 40,000 long-term care facilities through the program. 

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Commentary: Was Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax Falsely Accused?

At 9:00 am on Monday, February 6, 2019, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax’s meteoric political ascendency could not have been any higher or brighter.  Indeed, Fairfax was on the verge of being elevated to the highest office in the Commonwealth – Governor – due to the political blackface scandal that engulfed Governor Ralph Northam.  Indeed, if Governor Northam were to resigned – which many in the State Democratic Party where calling for – Justin Fairfax would automatically become the 74th Governor of Virginia.  

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Virginia to Receive Over 100,000 Fewer COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Than Anticipated

Virginia is now expected to receive just under 110,000 fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government than originally anticipated.

Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccination program, informed the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) late Thursday night, and now the state is preparing to get 370,650 vaccine doses by the end of December instead of the initial 480,000 projection, according to a press release.

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Department of Health: Virginia to Receive 480,000 Vaccine Doses by End of December

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced on Friday that the Commonwealth is preparing to receive 480,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December based on new information from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.  

As Governor Ralph Northam noted during a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted last week to officially recommend healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents as top priority for vaccination.

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Virginia Could Receive Vaccine Doses by Mid-December, Northam Says

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that initial doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in the state as early as mid-December.

During a coronavirus press briefing Wednesday afternoon, the governor shared details on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plans instead of implementing new statewide restrictions.

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Virginia Could Receive Vaccine Doses by Mid-December, Northam Says

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that initial doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in the state as early as mid-December.

During a coronavirus press briefing Wednesday afternoon, the governor shared details on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plans instead of implementing new statewide restrictions.

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Most Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes by State

Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with family and friends away from the everyday responsibilities such as work and school, but the holiday really centers around the large afternoon feast where so much food is consumed that a nap is usually required immediately afterward.

And everybody knows that Turkey is the mainstay of traditionally Thanksgiving meals, hence the nickname Turkey Day, but what about the side dishes? Which classic sides are more popular than others?

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Franklin County Board of Supervisors Vote to Keep Courthouse Confederate Statue

The Confederate soldier statue outside the Franklin County courthouse in the small town of Rocky Mount will not be moved after the county’s board of supervisors unanimously voted to keep the monument in its current location during a monthly meeting Tuesday.

The motion was put forth by Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson and seconded by Tommy Cundiff, Union Hall District Supervisor.

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Virginia Restaurant Owners React to New COVID-19 Restrictions

Governor Ralph Northam announced new statewide coronavirus restrictions last weekend, which went into effect Monday, that will impact a number of retail businesses throughout the Commonwealth.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” the governor said in a press release.

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Governor Northam Says He Supports Marijuana Legalization in Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Monday that he supports the legalization of Marijuana use for adults in the commonwealth.

“Legalizing marijuana will happen in Virginia,” the governor said during a briefing on Monday.

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Mobile Sports Betting Update: Virginia Lottery Reviewing 25 Applications for Permits

As part of a larger, ongoing process to bring mobile sports betting to the Commonwealth, the Virginia Lottery announced last week that it is currently reviewing 25 applications for permits, according to a news release. 

Since legislation that allow for expanded gaming in the state was passed by the Virginia General Assembly last spring and became effective July 1st, the lottery has been working for months to implemented mobile sports betting as well as casinos. 

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Northam Restricts Large Groups, Night Drinking, Expands Mask Mandate Ahead of Thanksgiving

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced new coronavirus restrictions Friday, only a few weeks ahead of Thanksgiving.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” the governor said in a statement.

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University of Virginia Extends Its Optional Credit Grading Policy for January-Term and Spring Semester

The University of Virginia (UVA) announced Monday the school is extending the optional credit grading policy, originally implemented this fall, for all undergraduate and certain graduate classes during January-term and the spring 2021 semester.

Provost Liz Magill made the announcement in a letter to students, which included details on how the grading policy will work.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 6

Welcome to the Friday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

We are in Election Day +2, and the nation is currently still awaiting results in several key battleground states.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 5

Welcome to the Thursday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

Election Day has come and gone, and the nation is currently awaiting results in several key battleground states.

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Virginia House Delegates Candidate Nick Freitas Talks Confidence With Absentee and In-Person Voting Numbers

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Virginia House of Delegates member Nick Freitas to the show to weigh in on the current ground game and enthusiasm for Trump that he was seeing in Virginia.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 3

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

Today is the day. It’s Election Day! If you haven’t already voted, GO VOTE! In Virginia the polls open at 6 a.m. and the line, if there is one at your polling place, closes at 7 p.m.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 2

Welcome to the Monday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 24 hours until the polls close on November 3.

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Virginia Military Institute Board Unanimously Votes to Remove Stonewall Jackson Statue

The Virginia Military Institute’s Board of Visitors has unanimously voted to remove the school’s Stonewall Jackson statue from campus.

The move comes after Kaleb Tucker and other black alumni started a campaign for the statue’s removal, citing racism at the institute experienced by black cadets. The board concurred on forming a diversity office and diversity and inclusion panel, The Washington Post reported.

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Sean Perryman: It’s Time For a New Generation of Leaders to Emerge

Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Sean Perryman does not want to use the position as a stepping stone or to be just another cog in the political machine. Instead, he is aiming to lead the Commonwealth by solving key issues currently facing the majority of Virginians.

“Sometimes people look at lieutenant governor as a role where if you sit quietly and don’t offend anyone then you can become governor. I have no interest in that,” Perryman said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “I am going to be very vocal on a set of policies and values that we should be championing, and let the chips fall where they may. I am not going to stifle myself or take a position to further political ambitions, I am going to do what I think is right.”

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Governor Signs Executive Order Allowing for Return of High School Sports in December

After months of uncertainty in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Virginia high school sports will finally return in December.

On Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam cleared the way for high school sports to resume and for the Virginia High School League (VHSL) to proceed with its Championship +1 schedule when he signed the fourth amendment of Executive Order 67, adjusting statewide restrictions on recreational sports.

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Virginia Mandates Police Receive Anti-Racism Training, Bans No Knock Warrants

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed over a dozen police reforms into law, including mandated anti-racism training for law enforcement and a ban on no-knock warrants.

Senate Bill 5030, which was passed Wednesday, “creates statewide minimum training standards” on “awareness of racism” and “biased profiling,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. The ordinance makes the Commonwealth the third state in the nation to ban no-knock raids, and the legislation also forbids local departments from acquiring “grenades, weaponized aircraft and high caliber rifles” in an effort to demilitarize, Northam’s team wrote.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 31

Welcome to the Saturday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially three days until the election on November 3. Early voting in Virginia closes at 5 p.m. TODAY.

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Confederate Flag Along I-95 Removed for Highway Construction Project

The Virginia Flaggers have removed their large Confederate flag from its prominent location in Stafford County along Interstate 95 after the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) acquired the land for construction of the Rappahannock River Crossing project.

Measuring at 20-feet tall and 30-feet wide, the controversial flag flew attached to its 80-foot pole since May 2014, nearly six and a half years, and was almost impossible to miss from both sides of the highway.

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