In brief: Tiki terror, teacher trouble, and more

Work crews removed the statue of General Stonewall Jackson from its concrete pedestal on Richmond’s Monument Avenue earlier this month. PC: Eze Amos Work crews removed the statue of General Stonewall Jackson from its concrete pedestal on Richmond’s Monument Avenue earlier this month. PC: Eze Amos

Statue disposal

Many of Richmond’s Monument Avenue Confederate statues are gone, but debate over their removal continues, and people have wondered where the toppled statues are being stored. This week, some sharp-eyed Richmonders noticed a large collection of monument-shaped tarps standing around the city’s wastewater treatment plant. It’s about as close as you can get to literally flushing the things down the toilet.

PC: Castle Hill Gaming

Prime real estate

It looks like a slot machine. It plays like a slot machine. But actually, it’s a “skill game.” Now, these games are legal in Virginia—and there are more than a dozen lined up in a glamorous former bank building downtown. The space is currently home to high-end steakhouse Prime 109, which was shuttered by the economic crash. The new scene inside the building has left some in town wondering if there’s a swanky casino in Charlottesville’s future.

Prime 109 boss Loren Mendosa insists that “right now there’s not much to talk about.” Sure, it could be a casino eventually, but Mendosa says things are happening fast, and he has “no idea what the actual thing would look like.” Still, he’s rolling the dice on the idea.

The Prime team hurriedly carted the machines into the space at the 11th hour. On July 1, all previously installed skill game machines became legal, though the law change doesn’t allow new machines to be installed. “If we don’t have the machines installed by June 30th, there’s no chance of even talking about it,” Mendosa says.

“It’s definitely not [a casino] right now. Who knows?…It might be a lot of different things,” he says about his restaurant full of quasi-gambling machines.

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Quote of the week

“When you go outside and say, ‘I can’t breathe with this mask on; I’m gonna take it off,’ try breathing with COVID.”

—area resident Stacey Washington, who contracted the virus after taking her mask off at a family Fourth of July celebration.

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In brief

Teacher troubles

On July 9, Albemarle County schools laid out plans for in-person reopening this fall. It quickly came to light, though, that the plan had been created without getting feedback from ACPS teachers, reports The Daily Progress. Teachers and staff have since circulated an open letter advocating against in-person instruction, calling the proposal “unequivocally unsafe for Albemarle County staff and families.”

Party’s over

As coronavirus cases increase every day, Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker urged local residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, and stay home as much as possible, among other safety precautions, in a press conference on Monday afternoon. Walker also denounced the large gatherings being held around town—including parties on UVA’s frat row.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker reminded residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, and stay home. PC: Eze Amos

New faces

Norfolk Delegate Jay Jones and Alexandria Delegate Hala Ayala have announced 2021 campaigns for lieutenant governor of Virginia, joining Jennifer Carroll Foy and Jennifer McClellan—both running for governor—as the third and fourth people of color under the age of 50 to announce a Democratic run at statewide office. Meanwhile, Terry McAuliffe still lurks in the wings, having pulled almost $2 million into his PAC this spring.

Tiki terror

Early Monday morning, two local activists awoke to find blazing tiki torches in their yards—an eerie reminder of the KKK rally held nearly three years ago at the University of Virginia. (Another activist found an unlit, discarded torch.) The act was “without a doubt intentional,” according to a Medium post by Showing Up for Racial Justice.

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