Author: Randi B. Hagi
In the mid-2000s, Sarah Morton, a young attorney, and Vanessa Keasler, a law clerk and soon-to-be attorney, joined the Harrisonburg office of Blue Ridge Legal Services, a nonprofit civil legal aid organization. As they began picking up cases, they discovered a pattern of complaints against one local landlord mistreating his tenants, particularly women. It would take over a decade of work, along with their team — and the intervention of the U.S. Justice Department — before that pattern would result in consequences for the landlord, Gary T. Price.
Preschoolers through 2nd grade students — as well as 6th graders — could be back in classrooms as soon as March 22, as the Harrisonburg School Board voted unanimously in Tuesday’s meeting to approve a revised reopening plan.
Speaking to college students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2015, Stan Maclin patiently, yet powerfully, explained the pervasive legacy of systemic racism. The group had crowded into a barber shop in downtown Harrisonburg, with sunlight filtering through the beige, lacy curtains. He traced America’s history of slavery and injustice up through the decades to policies in Harrisonburg, such as the urban renewal projects that razed the homes and businesses of Black residents in the city’s northeast neighborhood in the 1950s and ‘60s.But Maclin imbued his talk with optimism.
Members of the Harrisonburg City Council expressed concerns about and, in some cases, outright opposition to a proposed expansion of the Middle River Regional Jail as the jail’s leader made his pitch Tuesday night. While the council didn’t take any vote on the issue, the discussion signaled that jail officials might have an uphill climb to convince Harrisonburg to kick as much as $1.2 million more a year for the city’s share of a nearly $40 million expansion.
K-12 teachers are among those next in line for vaccinations in Harrisonburg, as the Central Shenandoah Health District moves into phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Getting them all immunized over the next few weeks will take the coordinated effort of the school division’s team of 10 nurses, who have now been trained through Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps as COVID-19 vaccinators.
Hiring a city housing coordinator, attracting higher paying employers, providing more incentives to developers and establishing a housing trust fund were among the 17 recommendations consultants suggested Tuesday to the Harrisonburg City Council.
To open 2021, the Harrisonburg School Board selected Kristen Loflin as its new chairwoman and Nick Swayne as vice-chairman, then moved forward Tuesday with efforts to further define roles for school resource officers and to prevent harassment in schools, among other business.
After the Harrisonburg City Council re-elected them to their positions for another two years on Monday, Mayor Deanna Reed and Vice-mayor Sal Romero outlined in interviews with The Citizen their shared priorities for the coming months, including recovering economically from the pandemic, encouraging affordable housing and building the second high school.