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VPM Daily Newscast January 26, 2021

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Hosted by Benjamin Dolle, episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.

Listeners can subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, and Spotify.

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Tuesday, January 26, 2021:

  • State officials have fenced in the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, renamed  Marcus-David Peters Circle this summer by Black Lives Matter protesters. Officials say they put up the fencing in anticipation of removing the statue, though it’s unclear when that will happen. Advocates are criticizing the decision, saying it’s a barrier to the community they’ve built around the divisive monument. 


  • The first case of the fast-travelling B-1-1-7 variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Virginia. The variant first emerged in the United Kingdom late last year. Available COVID-19 vaccines are expected to protect against this variant. 


  • Government officials say employers can mandate that their employees get a COVID-19 vaccine. But, that might not make sense for employers outside of education, health care and long-term care. Employers can also provide small incentives, such as gift cards or paid time off, to employees who get vaccinated. 


  • Mandatory minimum sentences may soon be a thing of the past in Virginia. A bill to end the sentencing mandate cleared its first Senate committee Monday. Advocates say the sentences are ineffective and do not act as a deterrent to crime. The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association opposes the bill, because it removes a mandatory minimum for assaulting an officer. 


  • Virginia absentee voters may soon no longer need a witness present. The state Senate voted to remove the witness requirement on Monday on a party-line vote. Republicans have criticized the effort, saying it may lead to voter fraud, though studies have found no widespread evidence to back up that claim. 


  • A bill to give bicyclists new safety protections is making its way through the Virginia legislature. The bill would allow cyclists to ride side-by-side, require drivers to change lanes when passing people on bikes and let cyclists treat stop signs as yield signs. That last element has been shown to reduce accidents in other states, but the Virginia State Police are opposing it. 


  • Chesterfield County is seeking community input on a revitalization project near Rockwood Park. Officials hope to bring in investment for mixed-use housing and create a more walkable and bike-friendly space around the park. Residents can submit comments at through Feb. 1. 


  • A Navy SEAL who pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military jury. Chief Special Operator Tony DeDolph, a SEAL Team 6 member, was charged with manslaughter following the killing of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar during a hazing incident. DeDolph’s attorney says he plans to appeal the decision.
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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