Charles Fishburne | Community Idea Stations

Join us on         

Charles Fishburne

Charles Fishburne's picture

Charles Fishburne is a correspondent for WCVE Public Radio. He brings over 40 years experience as a broadcast journalist and news executive in Richmond, Washington D.C. and New York. Charles was also a long-time television news anchor and news director in Richmond.

Articles by Charles Fishburne

Dry Conditions Continue, So Do Forest Fires Across State

Latest reports indicate that fire in the Shenandoah National Park has now scorched about 6,000 acres, and there are dozens of fires still burning across the state. Two weeks before the end of Spring Fire Season and conditions do not look good.

We talked with Ed Stoot, Western Regional Forester, where dozens of fires in eight counties were keeping firefighters busy.

One firefighter was hospitalized with exhaustion.

No homes or structures have been damaged at last report, but thousands of acres have burned.

Commonwealth Transportation Board Approves $43.7 Million Dollar Contract for Richmond Pulse Project

Richmond’s ambitious plan for a rapid transit line down Broad Street got an infusion of cash from the state yesterday (4/20) that keeps the program alive.

It was an unusual partnership in which the state basically agreed to pick up the tab on the difference between the original projected costs and the final contract numbers.

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane said the Commonwealth Transportation Board signed off on a $47.3 million dollar design-build project, even though it was $11.5 million above original estimates. Only the state will pay more.

Virginia’s Consolidated Labs Designated ZIKA Test Site

The Commonwealth of Virginia is now able to test for potential Zika virus outbreaks and get the results more quickly.

Virginia’s Division of Consolidate Laboratory Services announced this week that it has now been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to function as a test site.

Before, all suspected blood samples were send to CDC for testing with results sometimes delayed two to three weeks, now it will take only days.

Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes and sexual activity and causes a mild illness, which can cause birth defects.

Coalition in Ashland Begins Effort to Provide Housing Options for Long-Term Motel Guests

A Coalition in Ashville will begin to help the town’s long-term motel guests find better places to live.

It has been a problem for years, people who had no other place to go. Now, Town Council has passed an ordinance restricting motel and hotel stays to 29 days, that ordinance goes into effect in July, and beginning in six weeks, a grass-roots coalition of faith and community groups will try to help them relocate.

The Coalition called Ashland Open Door has raised money, an executive director has been hired by Hanover Safe Place.

Wildfires in State Worsen With Low Humidity, High Winds, High Temperatures

Richmond Firefighters had to deal with brushfires in the Stratford Hills Area late yesterday, and it is part of a statewide problem with thousands of acres still burning in the West.

The biggest single fire is at the Shenandoah National Park with 3,000 acres burning, but worse is in far Southwest Virginia where fires are spread among half-a-dozen counties.

A high school in Buchanan County had to be closed.

The last few days have seen more fires in Pulaski, Russel and Bland Counties, with no end in sight.

State Revenues Up in March, Governor Optimistic About Final Quarter

State Revenues were up 7.5% in March over the same time last year, and state officials are hopeful it will help meet the annual budget forecast.

Governor McAuliffe says the revenue performance puts the state government in good position for the final quarter of the fiscal year, but there is still concern that payroll income taxes continue to lag behind projections. The final quarter is heavily influenced by payments of non-witholding taxes, generally paid by professionals and stock investors, and it is a volatile number.

Chesterfield County Approves $810 Million Dollar Budget, No New Taxes

The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors has unanimously adopted an $810 million dollar budget that includes no new taxes. It is a 3% increase over last year’s budget, and strengthens public safety staffing, restores library hours and reduces class sizes in public schools.

The tax rate will remain the same at .96¢ per hundred, but many residents will pay more because of higher assessments.

Planners had forecast a budget deficit in 2017, but identified $7 million in savings to achieve a balanced budget.

Petersburg School Board to Introduce New Superintendent

The Petersburg School Board is set to name a new superintendent today (4/13).

It is a challenging job. Only one of the city’s seven schools has ever been fully accredited, and the system has turned over three superintendents in eight years. And the system is dealing with the same financial crisis that is affecting the entire city.

Former Superintendent Joseph Melvin resigned under pressure in October.

School board members have said they want a leader who can help transform the district and plan to introduce their new superintendent today at 2:00 p.m.

Henrico Board of Supervisors Approves 1,000 Home Subdivision

The Henrico County Board of Supervisors has approved a major housing development just west of Virginia Center Commons. HHHunt plans to build 450 single-family homes, 300 townhouses and 285 apartments in what it calls the River Mill subdivision, with some of the lots along the Chicahominy River.

The 250-acre development is just west of Virginia Center Commons and lies along the path of a planned four-lane extension of Woodman Road.

Construction of the development is scheduled to begin next year.

Richmond City Council Members Submit Budget Amendments To Increase School Funding

Richmond City Council members appear ready to move on increased funding for public schools. Most council members said yesterday (4/12) they have submitted budget amendments that would increase money for the school district, over the mayor’s proposed flat funding for fiscal 2017. Three of them would provide the full $18 million dollars more that was requested by the school district.