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Taste & Tour at Halifax Farmers Market

Prizery has fairy tale characters as you’ve never seen them before

Nichols granted four more years as Mecklenburg County school superintendent

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Opinion

Tea leaf country

Here’s your election factoid for the day: The last time Virginia Democrats held a June primary contest for governor, in 2009, eventual nominee Creigh Deeds won with just under 50 percent of 319,168 votes cast.

Clear cut

With all the trimming, hemming and hawing that occurs in politics, it’s rare to experience a moment when clarity prevails and the depravity of segments of our so-called leadership is laid bare for all to see. Such a moment arrived late last week in Richmond when the House of Delegates — defying reason, compassion and plain good sense — rejected $125 million in federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment benefits in Virginia. The House vote, cast mostly along party lines, would have been deplorable even in the best of times. But with a terrible economy putting jobs at risk across the Commonwealth, the delegates’ action is nothing short of astounding. Let them eat cake indeed.

Member of the gang

A sage person once observed that the less said the better, but this is advice that I’ve never really been able to take to heart and I don’t blame Ted Bennett for struggling with the concept, either. Bennett stunned the political cognescenti (well, some anyway) by announcing Sunday that he was dropping out of the race for House of Delegates. After saying he would run to succeed the outgoing Clarke Hogan, Bennett took about three weeks before deciding that life in retirement wasn’t so bad, and besides, he didn’t have as much time for politics as he previously thought.

Bad company

Somehow I get the feeling that the 2009 elections won’t be as fun as a barrel of monkeys. In the governor’s race on the Democratic side there’s a decent chance the party nominee will be Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and a notable Friend of Bill and Hillary. Nothing against the Clintons, but the last thing Virginia needs is for a big-money, Wall Street-lovin’ Democrat to take over the state party and call the shots in Richmond. Ugh. On the Republican side you’ve got the presumptive nominee, former Attorney General Robert McDonnell, who is slick, smart and smooth but also holds extreme views on social and economic issues that to my mind make him a poor choice for our next governor. My hope is that one of the other Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race — State Senator Creigh Deeds, my first pick, or former Delegate Brian Moran, also a perfectly acceptable choice — will emerge as the Democratic nominee in the June 9 primary. But about that we shall simply have to see.

Limits of science

The uranium mining subcommittee of the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission is moving forward with a study of the health, environmental and economic impacts of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County. No surprise there. The subcommittee this week issued a draft report that lists the topics of study for a scientific commission, just the sort of bureaucratic action you’d expect in what promises to be a long, arcane, occasionally tendentious thrill ride to Armageddon.

Mixed message

Two weeks ago I wrote a lengthy front-page article on the dual enrollment program at Halifax County High School that I hope fairly laid out its pros and cons. So, folks with limited patience might ask: What’s the bottom line? The answer is, alas, complicated. Some people will tell you that college-level classes at HCHS are all sizzle and not much steak, and others testify to the benefits that kids and families have reaped from dual enrollment—usually measured in dollars-and-cents savings on future higher ed costs, the result of students racking up community college credits while still in high school. Everyone’s experience is different. No one has a monopoly on the truth, and seemingly everyone has an anecdote to share. What I ended up with was a mixed picture on the college-level academic program at Halifax County High School — in marked contrast, it should be noted, to the official line that dual enrollment at HCHS is proof of Halifax County’s commitment to providing a world-class education for our kids.

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