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Trump targets Brazil, Argentina and France as part of trade fight

In Nation & World | Trump targets Brazil, Argentina and France as part of trade fight | Page A10

UVA, William & Mary pledge to be carbon-neutral by 2030

Two of Virginia’s top colleges are going to work together to fight climate change.

The University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary on Monday announced plans toward becoming carbon neutral by 2030, offsetting the schools’ greenhouse gas emissions with more renewable energy and other steps.

“Climate change is a real threat and is something that we should be taking action on,” said Calandra Waters Lake, William & Mary’s director of sustainability. “There is increasing evidence that we have a shrinking timeline in order to take that action, and although 2030 is ambitious, it is achievable. We believe it’s the appropriate thing to do.”

To do that, the universities said in a news release that they will share information with each other and collaborate on different initiatives.

For William & Mary, where the majority of the school’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity, that will mean looking at renewable energy. The university is considering a power purchase agreement that could result in 60% of the electricity used on the Williamsburg campus coming from solar farms.

“We believe we have an option to really address the largest source of our emissions, which is one of the reasons that we believe 2030 is so achievable,” said Waters Lake, who was hired in 2014 as the university’s first sustainability director.

Through the agreements, solar energy companies purchase, own and maintain the solar panels just like any other energy business. Colleges agree to buy the electricity produced by the solar energy system, normally for at least 25 years.

The agreements have helped lead a statewide K-12 movement toward solar energy. The number of Virginia K-12 schools with solar energy has nearly tripled in the past two years from 29 to 86, according to a report released last week by the Charlottesville-based advocacy organization Generation180.

William & Mary is also hiring a consultant to look at alternatives to natural gas for heating and steam production, an energy source that makes up roughly a quarter of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the news release.

The information from the planning and implementation of the initiatives will be shared with UVA.

In its own news release, the Charlottesville school said it will expand the number of plant-based meals offered to students, switching to sustainably raised meats and trying to reduce food waste, among other goals.

UVA’s governing board endorsed a plan in 2011 for the school to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2026 compared with 2009 levels, a goal the university is set to reach this year, according to the news release.

Cheryl Gomez, UVA’s co-chair of its sustainability committee, said that to meet the 2030 goal, it will increase how much it uses renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.

“UVA will seek to catalyze change to advance these new, ambitious sustainability goals in ways that create replicable and collaborative models to build bridges with our community and beyond,” said Andrea Trimble, the director of UVA’s Office of Sustainability.

UVA’s board of visitors is scheduled to meet Friday to consider the new sustainability proposal.

Off-duty Henrico officer helps revive 79-year-old man who collapsed at Cook Out in Short Pump

Henrico County police officer Jonathan Turner sprung into action last week when he saw a man had collapsed in the parking lot of the Cook Out restaurant in Short Pump.

Around 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday, the four-year veteran of the police division was off-duty, wearing plain clothes and had been spending time with his family when they pulled into the fast-food chain. Turner said his wife knew he would want to help and occupied their 3-year-old son while Turner did what he’s trained to do.

“Knowing me, she already had it lined up,” he said, recounting the story on Monday. “She was like: ‘Park the car, I’ll turn it off, get our son and go inside, and try to distract him from whatever’s going on.’”

Turner had previously helped a member of his church who had a seizure while he was off-duty, and has administered CPR twice while on-duty.

Several people were standing around the 79-year-old man, including his wife, but none knew how to perform CPR, Turner said, so he jumped in. Another person had called 911 and was relaying information from Turner to the first responders, who showed up minutes later.

“Seconds matter,” Turner said Monday.

The man had no pulse and was not breathing with Turner began CPR. But once the fire department took over with more advanced aid, they revived the man, whom his daughter identified as John Luck Jr.

Luck was taken to the hospital, where he spent two days in intensive care and a third day in recovery, his daughter, Lisa Gravitt, said in a phone interview Monday.

“He’s home recovering,” said Gravitt, adding that since the family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner was delayed, they celebrated Sunday. “He’s improving a little bit every day. All he can talk about is wanting to thank [Turner].”

Once firefighters took over, Turner said he went into Cook Out to eat with his family, ordering what he called “his staple” — barbecue, hush puppies and a quesadilla.

The day after the incident, Gravitt took to Facebook hoping to find Turner and thank him for saving her father.

“I had no idea it would go viral like that,” she said.

The post has been shared more than 100 times, and made it to the police division’s top brass, who called Turner.

“It’s usually a bad thing when they call,” he said. But when he heard about Gravitt’s post, Turner responded to her via Facebook.

“A lot of times, we’re not able to follow up with medical situations, just because of privacy issues and things like that,” Turner said in the interview Monday. “It was a lot of talking back and forth, realizing how much divine providence was involved in the whole situation, to making our 3-year-old go out even though he didn’t want to, to leaving the park a few minutes early, to pulling into the parking lot what I think is mere seconds after he had his medical incident.”

Gravitt agrees Turner was in the right place at the right time for a reason.

“It was a stranger that just appeared out of nowhere and saved my dad’s life. He was there and they were gone,” Gravitt said of Turner. Of first responders, in general, she said: “They deserve more credit than they get sometimes. They are there to serve the community, and that’s what he did.”

To being called a hero, Turner said: “I’m just doing what any other officer or firefighter would have done in the exact same situation. You’re just doing what you’re trained to do.”

Turner and Gravitt both spoke of the importance of CPR. Gravitt said her mother plans to get certified.

Turner plans to reunite with Luck once he’s feeling better and to bring his wife and son. The couple have tried to shelter their son from some aspects of Turner’s job, but a few days after the incident, the boy asked about “the man who wasn’t feeling well.”

“It was great to tell him that he’s feeling better,” Turner said.

Richmond School Board holds special meeting focused on rezoning

The Richmond School Board held a special meeting Monday focused entirely on rezoning that included a two-hour-plus final public hearing dominated by discussion of “pairing” schools.

The School Board, which was scheduled to finally vote on new school zones at the meeting, had not done so by press time.

“This has been a daunting task — a huge undertaking,” School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page said of the rezoning process at the special meeting, held in the auditorium at E.S.H. Greene Elementary School in the city’s South Side.

As of 10 p.m., board members had not yet reached consensus on new boundaries and how to address:

  • extensive overcrowding in South Richmond;
  • a projected 6.6% enrollment increase over the next decade, from 24,390 students this year to 25,993 in 2028-29; and
  • a school system in which three schools — Linwood Holton, William Fox and Mary Munford — enroll roughly 70% of the school system’s white elementary school students.

To address the latter, the board is considering pairing schools, which would combine schools to make one attendance zone and send students to one school for some grades and the other school for other grades. Pairing was included in two of the four rezoning proposals recommended to the School Board by a rezoning special committee.

In one of those proposals, students would go to Linwood Holton Elementary for third through fifth grades, while Ginter Park and Barack Obama elementary schools would serve students in kindergarten through second grade.

Mary Munford Elementary would have students in third through fifth grades, and students would attend George W. Carver Elementary for kindergarten through second grade. Fox and John B. Cary elementary schools also would be combined, with students going to Fox for kindergarten through third grade and Cary for fourth and fifth grades.

In another proposal, students would go to Munford through second grade, and then Cary for third through fifth grades.

Like it has been throughout the rezoning process, pairing was a hot topic at Monday’s final public hearing.

“Education policy changes alone aren’t going to change our racist society, but it’s a darn good place to start,” said Kim Gomez, one of the 1st District representatives on the special committee.

Paula Katz, a teacher at Mary Munford, said: “I disagree with this social experiment at the expense of our children.”

During the special session, several board members indicated support for a plan that does not pair schools, but redraws school lines across all parts of the city.

The plan — officially called Proposal Y — would fill the new Greene Elementary, which is being rebuilt to fit 1,000 students, as well as a new middle school on Hull Street Road and a replacement for George Mason Elementary.

In the city’s North Side, Ginter Park, Holton and Barack Obama all would give and take some students to make the schools more diverse. The biggest impact would be felt by Holton, which would send 76 students to Obama and 118 students to Ginter Park, according to the plans recommended to the board by the special committee.

About 1,000 elementary school students total would change schools.

Under Proposal Y, John Marshall High School would send 130 students to Thomas Jefferson High, the biggest change at the high school level in any of the plans.

New zones are set to take effect at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Dominion lays out initial plans for coal ash disposal in Chesterfield County, three other sites

Dominion Energy on Monday revealed its working plan for the excavation and disposal of the legacy coal ash buried in four sites across the state.

The utility’s plans include recycling ash from pits in Chesterfield County and Chesapeake, said Mark Mitchell, Dominion’s vice president of generation construction, in an interview. Dominion is studying an on-site landfill for the ash at Bremo Bluff in Fluvanna County.

The utility is studying recycling and an on-site landfill for the ash at Possum Point in Prince William County.

Lawmakers earlier this year backed legislation compelling the utility to excavate its 27 million cubic yards of coal ash — a toxic byproduct of burning coal — and move it into modern landfills. They also ordered Dominion to recycle at least a quarter of it from two or more sites.

The deal allows Dominion to recover from ratepayers the full cost of the project, estimated at $2.4 billion to $5.7 billion, including financing costs and a profit. Lawmakers estimate the project will add up to $5 to the monthly bills of average households for the next 15 to 20 years — as much as $1,200 over two decades.

More than half of Dominion’s coal ash remains buried inside two storage ponds in Chesterfield, near a power plant that borders a recreation area along the James River.

The area, which includes Henricus Historical Park and a boat ramp, is accessible through a road that cuts through Dominion’s power plant — Coxendale Road — which the utility is hoping to use to transport the ash from the pits where it sits to a modern landfill on the other side of the power station.

The utility is in conversations with Chesterfield officials to find alternate access points to the park and boat ramp, which may include a new way into the area and relocation of the boat ramp. Mitchell said the county is conducting a feasibility study but that early estimates showed the project could cost $50 million to $70 million.

Mitchell said the utility would pay for the cost of the infrastructure excluding any other funding Chesterfield can secure for it.

If the projected cost proves too high, Dominion would seek alternate ways to transport the ash, such as a bridge over Coxendale Road.

The entirety of the project in Chesterfield is expected to conclude in 2033 — the longest timeline of any of the sites.

At its site in Chesapeake, where 2.2 million cubic yards of coal ash are stored, Dominion plans to excavate the ash and remove it by rail or barge. The utility hopes to recycle most of that ash.

Exactly how the ash will be recycled remains to be determined, Mitchell said. He said the company will publish a request for proposals in the coming months for “high volume” recyclers that can commit to removing a large portion of the ash at a steady rate.

Mitchell said that more than 30 companies have approached the utility with interest in low volumes of the ash — requests that would be granted once larger contracts are secured.

Dominion expects the project in Chesapeake to conclude in 2024. Plans for the ash in Bremo and Possum Point are less clear.

At Bremo, where 6.2 million cubic yards of coal ash are buried, Dominion is studying the possibility of a new landfill adjacent to the power plant. Construction of the landfill would start in 2022, and the project would conclude in 2029.

As for Possum Point, where 4 million cubic yards of ash are buried, Mitchell said, “No decision has been made.” He said the utility is exploring an on-site landfill or removing the ash by rail. Mitchell said Dominion is in talks with the neighboring community, which has been vocally opposed to heavy truck volume near the site.

Dominion has no timeline for the project.

A bright start to the holiday season

JOE MAHONEY/times-dispatch

Three-year-old Mallye Beasley met Santa at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at The Jefferson Hotel on Monday as her dad, Kemper, gave her a boost and her mom, Becky, recorded the moment. It was the 33rd year for the festivities, the start of Richmond’s Christmas season.