WMRA Feature

Randi B. Hagi

With all Virginia schools closed for the rest of the academic year due to COVID-19, the Harrisonburg City Public Schools have decided to continue the program they started last week to provide bags of free food for all their students under age 18. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

As folks stay home to avoid contracting or transmitting COVID-19, some are turning to fostering cats for companionship, which is good news for nonprofit animal rescue Cat’s Cradle. But others are having to give up their pets, for the same reason. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

A local Harrisonburg nonprofit has been providing and promoting social well-being to the citizens of Rockingham County for years.  Hope Distributed provides relief to low-income individuals and families with food and clothing in a dignified and respectful manner. 

Randi B. Hagi

As Virginia adapts to life with COVID-19, many local businesses are scrambling to operate in creative ways in an effort to stay open. But one small business owner says that he may stand to gain some customers, thanks to social distancing. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

Monday, March 23, Governor Northam announced new steps to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Virginia. K-12 schools will now remain closed for the remainder of the academic school year, recreational and entertainment business must close until at least April 23rd, and public gatherings above 10 people are now banned. 

One of WMRA’s community news partners is The Citizen, an online news source focusing on Harrisonburg.  WMRA’s Bob Leweke spoke with publisher Ryan Alessi about how they’ve been covering the virus outbreak, including the latest story in The Citizen, an interview with one of the three people in the Harrisonburg area who has developed COVID-19.

Beginning Friday [March 20], Bridgewater Retirement Community is among the facilities limiting access to the public in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  WMRA’s Bob Leweke spoke with Crista Cabe at BRC.

In a press release issued Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Virginia Department of Health's Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) confirmed two additional positive cases of COVID-19 in Harrisonburg, VA. James Madison University announced that one of the cases is a JMU student. The student lives off campus, is self-isolating, and recently traveled overseas. Any individuals who were potentially exposed are being contacted.

This brings the total confirmed cases in Harrisonburg to three, other details regarding the new cases have yet to be released. 

In a press release issued Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Virginia Department of Health's Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) confirmed three additional positive cases of COVID-19 in Charlottesville, VA. Kathryn Whitestone Goodman, Communications & Public Relations Manager with VDH added that two of the new cases are in the City of Charlottesville and one is in Albemarle County. TJHD is investigating each case to determine how the individuals got COVID-19. Any individuals who were potentially exposed will be contacted.

This brings the total confirmed cases in the Charlottesville region to four, and details regarding the new cases have yet to be released. 

ZeWrestler via Wiki / Creative Commons

Augusta County has declared a state of emergency in response to the threat to public health and safety from the Coronavirus.  The declaration allows the County to make decisions quickly concerning emergency actions.  Tim Fitzgerald is the Augusta County Administrator.

In a press release issued Monday, March 16, 2020, the Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Charlottesville, VA. The University of Virginia also issued a statement identifying the individual as a member of the UVA community.

Randi B. Hagi

The Rocktown Rollers, Harrisonburg’s women’s roller derby team since 2009, recently hosted a “Derby 101” at Funky’s Skate Center to give any “derby-curious” folks an opportunity to lace up some skates and get on the track. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

Virginia health officials on Saturday (March 14) reported the state’s first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 70s in eastern Virginia who died of respiratory failure after acquiring the virus through an unknown source.

In a statement on Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Northam has odered all K-12 Schools to close March 16th - March 27th. It is a measure intended to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia.

In a press release issued Thursday evening, March 12, 2020, the Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Harrisonburg, VA. 

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, March 12, 2020, Governor Northam declared a state of emergency for Virginia. The declaration includes a ban on state employee out-of-state travel, recommended limits on public gatherings and plans to implement telework policies. 

The Johnson Collection / Public Domain

When indigenous people living in the valley and Central Virginia first encountered Europeans they had already established communities with social and political standards with rich cultural traditions. Award-winning historian and professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, Gregory Smithers, will discuss the history of Native Southerners at WMRA's Books & Brews March 10 and 11, 2020.

Tuesday is the biggest primary day of the 2020 race, when 14 states are holding contests with 1,357 delegates at stake. Follow NPR's coverage for the latest news, analysis and results.

Get the latest on Virginia's primary races for president, Senate and House.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Bridget Manly

Several local groups are quarreling over a proposed African American History Center in New Market, which raises the question: how important is equity when telling history? WMRA’s Bridget Manley reports.

2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the giants of classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven. 

Randi B. Hagi

In Part One of this report, Harrisonburg resident Ruth Toliver recalled when her husband’s childhood home on Myrtle Street was destroyed as part of urban renewal projects in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Many homes in the predominantly African-American neighborhood were destroyed, and families uprooted.  Some never came back. In this second report, WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi explores the legacy of that project, more than 50 years later.

From the Sullivan Papers, Special Collections, James Madison University

Courtesy JMU Accounting Dept.

The IRS started accepting tax returns on January 27.  And low-to-middle income filers in our area can get free help preparing and filing their returns at several locations.  WMRA’s Bob Leweke reports.

At 61, Harrisonburg resident Russ Eanes decided it was time to finally check something off on his bucket list - hiking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain.  Russ will speak about his journey at WMRA's Books & Brews on February 11 and 12 .  WMRA’s Chris Boros spoke with Russ about why this adventure was so important to him.

Mike Tripp

Over the past couple of months, a local chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign has taken root in the Shenandoah Valley, gaining members as they seek to promote change. WMRA’s Mike Tripp has the story.

Randi B. Hagi

On January 3rd, a group of United Methodist leaders publicly announced a plan for the denomination to divide, based on disagreements over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay people as pastors. If that plan is approved at the denomination’s General Conference this May, it would give regional conferences and individual churches the option to leave and join a new “traditionalist” denomination. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports on how local Methodist leaders are reacting.

Randi B. Hagi

Activist groups gathered in cities around the world on Saturday [Jan. 25] to show their opposition to the conflict between the U.S. and Iran, in which they see the United States as the aggressor, particularly after the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian general. The Shenandoah Valley Antiwar Coalition held one of those rallies in Harrisonburg. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

Courtesy of JMU Creative Media

In Harrisonburg, James Madison University began a week-long series of events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Monday night [Jan. 20] with a ceremony featuring former PBS Newshour host Ray Suarez. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn Reports.

Randi B. Hagi

The Rockingham County school board is considering closing down Linville-Edom Elementary School, in light of the more than $8 million it would cost to renovate the school. Superintendent Oskar Scheikl says the school’s fate will be decided later this spring. In response, a passionate group of parents, staff, and alumni have organized a campaign to save the little school they love. WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.