Author: Liesl Graber

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At NENA meeting, schools staff discuss equity, districting policy with a concerned audience

At last Thursday’s Northeast Neighborhood Association meeting, Schools Superintendent Michael Richards spent an hour answering questions from community members about districting and programming after the city opens a second high school in the fall of 2022. Most of the discussion addressed concerns about equity raised by some after the school board announced earlier this month that the new high school will offer specialized STEM programs while the existing high school will emphasize fine arts.

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City, county staff continue working to define and fill new justice planner role

Voting to fund a new justice planner position, as the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County did earlier this year, was just step one. Now, City Manager Eric Campbell, County Administrator Stephen King and their respective staffs are playing administrative catch as they make good on that promise by actually developing a job description and hiring someone to do it.

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Peer-based substance abuse treatment program pitched to local criminal justice authorities gets a mixed reception

Depending who you ask, there’s different ways to read the silence that met a Richmond nonprofit leader’s pitch to the Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB) early last month. Whatever the interpretation, no discussion followed an offer from John Shinholser, president of the McShin Foundation, of up to $200,000 in matching funds to implement a peer-based program to combat substance abuse and lower recidivism in the jail downtown.

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Efforts to change how Virginia public universities ask about prospective students’ criminal histories spread to JMU

Two-thirds of former inmates stop filling out college applications when they see a question about criminal history, according to one survey. Now a student group at JMU is working to change that, and JMU is tweaking how it asks about criminal histories of prospective students — all an offshoot of broader efforts in Virginia and across the country.

Amid concerns about potential citizenship question, area leaders make case for how and why the Census counts

For every member of the community who doesn’t participate in the upcoming census, Harrisonburg could miss out on $2,000 in federal funding. That’s the message Census Bureau officials are taking across the country, including to Harrisonburg.

Virginia’s Green New Deal can be built on common ground between people of all political stripes, activists say

Virginia environmental activists, in an initial effort to lay groundwork for a state-level Green New Deal, urged residents of the Shenandoah Valley to find areas of agreement among people of disparate political philosophies in order to spark policy changes necessary to halt climate change.

‘Trying to do the right thing.’ How Hburg’s new police chief approaches the job — and his role as a youth basketball ref

When Eric English was kid, he identified two roles he said he would never take on: becoming a police officer and officiating basketball games. After 29 years of police work — including his last five months as chief of the Harrisonburg Police Department — and 15 years of experience refereeing youth basketball games, that declaration from his younger self makes him chuckle.

Police chief wants officers to better connect with the community. Here are some ways he plans to do it.

As Harrisonburg Police Chief Eric English outlined his policing philosophies and answered questions from about 30 community members at his first town hall meeting Monday, he kept returning to a central theme.

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