Monthly Archives: January 2010

Long Time No Post!

Rachel DePompa – bio | email    

I know, i know… long time no post! Ok, but it’s not my fault. I spent a week in Appomattox and Lynchburg and then got shuffled to Charlottesville. I’ve been drowning in sad, terrible stories. I didn’t have the energy, the will to write, the mental state or the time. (Excuses, I know, but the truth.)

Appomattox:

My trip west was difficult, trying and sad. I was in Blacksburg when Cho went on his murderous shooting spree at Virginia Tech, so naturally my station sends me to Appomattox.  I have experience covering a story like this, but it doesn’t make it any easier. So, much loss of life for no reason is still astounding.

Missing Morgan:

I was covering a funeral in Lynchburg for the Appomattox shootings on Monday and by Tuesday I was rushing to Charlottesville where a body was found. I knew instantly it was Morgan. I called her parents as they were on their way to identify their daughter’s remains. There was terrible sadness, but also much relief in their voices. I can’t imagine going three months not knowing where your daughter is or what state she’s in. I know they have found some peace finally having her body to bury.

Snow:

Remember when snow was a pure joy? You couldn’t wait to get outside and play in it.? Snowball fights, ice castles, frozen toes.? (I used to fight with my mom about how long I could stay out in it without freezing.) I remember hoping for snow on a weekend so we could enjoy it and then have extra days off from school. There was  nothing better. Oh what a difference adulthood makes! I now hate snow. I hate the word and I hate standing in it. Snow = work. There’s nothing worse than standing outside all day telling people not to drive because it’s dangerous. You freeze and you repeat yourself over and over and no one listens. Today I saw more than 100 abandoned, disabled and crashed vehicles. UGH!

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Filed under Sad Stories, Uncategorized

Wilder Sighting and Budget Woes

Rachel DePompa – bio | email      

Catching Up with Wilder:   

Yes, you read that headline right! I ran into former Richmond Mayor and Virginia Governor Doug Wilder today. I don’t have a lot to report, but I can tell you… He says he’s doing well, enjoying teaching, (he doesn’t miss his old job) and he’s working on a book that should be out later this year.  

On To Bad News Monday:  

I knew I was doing a budget update today, but the news just seemed to get worse as the  morning progressed. (I’ll start with the good news) The city’s projected budget shortfall for this year is far less than expected. It was thought to be at $10 million, but now is estimated to be $2.8 million.  Mayor Dwight Jones says, “This is largely a result of unanticipated improvements in real estate and sales tax performance as well as a better picture of State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).”    

Now to the bad news…. Next years budget is far worse than expected. There’s already a $30 million budget gap and that number could grow. Furloughs, position eliminations, layoffs and cuts to services are all on the table. Councilman Bruce Tyler told me today, “Yeah, there are going to be tough choices but quite frankly, I’ve watched fellow collegues have to go through that and it’s time for the city to do the same.” Council President Kathy Graziano said, ” The Individual is in the same boat as the government. Two years ago you went out to dinner three nights a week and had a great time. Now you don’t go out to dinner. Governments are in the exact same boat.” She went on to say, “It’s tough times. The money’s not there and we’ve got to figure out how we can best spend our resources.” Mayor Jones has also asked for more time to get his budget recommendations together. He normally presents his plan to City Council on March 5th, but he’s asking for an extra month so he can get a better handle on what the General Assembly does with taxpayer money.  

 And just when I thought I was done with budgets for the day, I went to see school Superintendent Yvonne Brandon who was delivering difficult news to teachers and parents today. She say the school system is $14 million in the hole for the 2011 budget and that number could grow to $23 million depending on what the General Assembly decides. She says every single RPS employee will have to be furloughed at least a day, possibly three. I learned today that one day of furloughs at RPS equals $900,000. Brandon says she’ll do everything she can to avoid layoffs. Classroom sizes will also increase by at least one student. Brandon will deliver her recommended budget cuts to the School Board next Tuesday. Both the Mayor and Superintendent will then seek public input on the cuts. It’s going to be a long couple of months at City Hall….    

 

   

   

    

    

   

  

 

 

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Filed under Budget, City Council, Doug Wilder, Dwight Jones, Richmond Public Schools

California State of Mind

Rachel DePompa – bio | email   

Back from vacation and boy is it rough!?! I ventured to sunny California for the first time last week and I had an amazing time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Richmond, but California was nothing like I expected. Just take a look at this photo….

Santa Barbara, CA

Isn’t it easy to see why the west coast has a reputation for being so carefree and laid back? If I woke up to a view like this everyday I’d be like that too. Plus, (not to rub it in) but it was low 70’s ever day and only dropped down to the 50’s at night. If you ever get the chance, go visit! It’s a great trip! But no worries, I’m happy to be home too. Flying back into the River City made me appreciate just how great our little city is! 🙂 From above, Richmond is beautiful, peaceful and welcoming.

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Filed under Not Richmond