On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution commemorating the historical significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., was one of three senators sponsoring the measure. The trail is a 1,300-mile network of roads and paths that connect the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington; the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City; and the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection in Yardley, Pa. The trail also passes through parts of Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The trail reminds us to never forget that horrible day and to keep the nearly 3,000 Americans who died always front of mind.
It’s not too late to register for the RTD’s 78th Public Square on Wednesday. The event — titled “Can we overcome the opioid epidemic?”— will bring together local health officials and law enforcement to explore how the region is battling this scourge. Panelists include Dr. Danny Avula, health director, Richmond City Health District; Laura Totty, director, Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services; Edward “Loy” Senter Jr., fire and EMS chief, Chesterfield County; and Col. David Hines, sheriff, Hanover County. Thomas A. Silvestri, the RTD’s president and publisher, will moderate. The Public Square will take place at the newspaper’s downtown office, 300 E. Franklin St., from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free, but please register at Richmond.com/Public-Square.
Some good news that came out this week touts the success of the Chesterfield County jail’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (HARP). The recovery program is saving lives and significantly reducing recidivism among the inmates who have graduated. That success is translating into thousands of tax dollars saved for each inmate who doesn’t commit another crime and is returned to jail. According to the RTD news story by Mark Bowes, a Virginia Commonwealth University study of the jail’s recovery program reveals that the “900 people who have participated in HARP since its March 2016 inception had a recidivism rate of 45 percent, compared to the average national recidivism rate of 68 percent for those who didn’t participate in such a program.” According to Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard, who started the program, that reflects a cumulative cost savings to taxpayers of at least $20.8 million since the program’s inception. That’s great news and we congratulate Leonard and his staff.
Travelers are running out of time to get their REAL IDs. The Oct. 1, 2020, deadline for Transportation Security Administration-compliant identification is less than 13 months away. The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires minimum standards for verifying identity when states issue driver’s licenses, plus additional security enhancements. Federal and airport officials warn that less than half of air travelers have the compliant IDs. That could potentially cause chaos at airports and disrupt travel significantly next Oct. 1. You can check to see if you’re OK by looking for a star in the upper-right corner of your driver’s license. Unless you have a passport, military ID or other approved identification after the deadline, you might not be able to fly. If you’re planning to travel by air, please include a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the near future.
It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to frequent letter writer and Virginia Commonwealth University professor Ed Peeples. A longtime advocate for civil rights, Mr. Peeples’ active role in the civil rights movement spanned from 1955 through the mid-1990s and led him across the South. Mr. Peeples, who died last week at age 84, was born April 20, 1935, to a working class family in South Richmond. His life of activism began during college with one-man strikes against on-campus segregation. After graduation, he continued the fight for racial equality in a still-segregated Navy. Upon his return to Richmond, he continued to work toward equal rights for all, participating in countless sit-ins, demonstrations and protests. While teaching at VCU, he was instrumental in starting the school’s Afro-American Studies Program. He retired after a 30-year-plus career. His many well-written Letters to the Editor included commentary on corporate greed, racism and popular cultures. Richmond has lost a social rights warrior and The Times-Dispatch has lost a dear friend. We send our condolences to his family.
— Pamela Stallsmith and Robin Beres