News to Know for July 3: Confederate statue removal paused for holiday; Historical marker mystery solved; Fireworks safety warning; Hottest day of 2020?

News to Know for July 3: Confederate statue removal paused for holiday; Historical marker mystery solved; Fireworks safety warning; Hottest day of 2020?
New historical markers are popping up in place of Confederate monuments across Richmond. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Before you fully settle into a long holiday weekend, here’s a quick look at the top headlines we’re following.

Hottest Day of 2020?

That could be what’s in store for today, but on the positive side, the humidity will be lower than normal.

Tomorrow, your Fourth of July plans could get a little wet, with a few showers and storms expected during the late afternoon and evening.

Mid 90s Friday then we settle into a typical summer pattern

Breaking Overnight

A Chesterfield family is safe, but two firefighters had to be treated after an overnight house fire.

House fire on W. Salisbury Road, Chesterfield
House fire on W. Salisbury Road, Chesterfield (Source: NBC12/Eric Everington)

Fire officials say the homeowner smelled smoke and found the fire in the garage. Everyone inside got out before the fire spread to the second and third floors. At one point, the flames were so intense, crews had to back out because the fire burned through the roof and they had to use a ladder truck to battle it from above.

Two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion. One was treated on the scene - the other was taken to Chippenham Hospital.

Confederate Statue Removals Paused

Work to remove confederate monuments are on hold for the holiday weekend, after three were removed yesterday.

The Matthew Fontaine Maury statue was taken down, less than 24 hours after Stonewall Jackson. Protesters already removed two - one of them was Jeff Davis located on Monument Avenue.

Mayor Stoney says 11 monuments will be removed in total - they are expected to pick up that process on Monday.

Crowds come out to see Murray Statue removed

Opinions vary on whether the Confederate monuments should go, but no one can disagree that what is happening is historic.

Stoney Defends Decision

The immediate removal in the City of Richmond was done against the advice of the city’s attorney who was worried about legal ramifications. However, Stoney defended his use of emergency powers to remove the monuments, citing public safety reasons.

“I think we’re on sound legal ground. we are in a state of emergency, and I believe that these monuments cause a public safety risk to people and property,” he said.

Mayor Stoney holding first briefing since removal of Confederate statues

Mayor Stoney holding first briefing since removal of Confederate statues >> https://bit.ly/3isLHBI

Posted by NBC12 on Thursday, July 2, 2020

Historical Marker Mystery Solved

As Confederate statues are being removed along Monument Avenue, citizens and those passing by may notice some new historical markers popping up in their place. An anonymous group known as ‘History is illuminating’ says they are behind the numerous plaques.

The group is made up of historians, local artisans, and concerned citizens. Here’s a look at the ones we spotted:

One of the new signs was placed in the median on Monument Avenue. It reads “Black Richmond in 1919,” another says “reproaching the Jackson monument.” Richmond Parks and Recreation said they do not have anything to do with the signs.

Real Richmond History

That’s what Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said will be taught in a new class during the 2020-2021 school year which will include an explanation of why the monuments are being removed.

“We’re going to tell the good, the bad and the ugly about the history of Richmond so that our young people and our staff know the story of Richmond and understand why we are where we are today,” Kamras said.

While it’s still unknown how schools will operate due to the pandemic, Kamras says the course will be offered either in person or online.

Missing Man Search

Right now, the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office is asking for help finding 88-year-old Clarence Gee, who is said to have walked away from his home on Bell Road yesterday morning.

The sheriff’s office says someone picked Gee up around 1 p.m. and gave him a ride to McGuire VA Medical Center. That person says they saw him go inside, but McGuire has no record of him being admitted or treated.

MISSING MAN: Powhatan deputies said Clarence Gee, 88, was picked up and taken to McGuire VA Medical Center and the...

Posted by NBC12 on Thursday, July 2, 2020

Gee is from Texas and has only lived in Powhatan for a few days. If you’ve seen him, call 804-598-5656.

Coronavirus Alert

There are nearly 250 outbreaks at those facilities, 82 of which are in nursing homes - with dozens of others at assisted living facilities.

More than 500 people have died due to outbreaks in Virginia nursing homes, accounting for about one-third of all deaths across the state.

Last Day for FREE Hand Sanitizer

Reservoir Distillery says today is the last day it will offer free hand sanitizer to the public. The distillery says it’s given away more than 2,000 gallons of sanitizer to the public at no cost during the pandemic.

Reservoir Distillery says it’s given away more than 2,000 gallons of sanitizer to the public at no cost during the pandemic.
Reservoir Distillery says it’s given away more than 2,000 gallons of sanitizer to the public at no cost during the pandemic. (Source: Reservoir Distillery - Facebook)

You can pick up a free bottle today between 1 and 5.

Unemployment Benefits

The Virginia Employment Commission has launched the application portal to the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits program.

Thousands of Virginians have been waiting months for this unemployment benefits extension program provided by the federal CARES Act. The program provides up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who have already exhausted their benefits.

Payments to recipients are scheduled to start next week and will be retroactive. Find the portal here.

Fireworks Safety

Before you set off any fireworks, make sure they’re actually legal. In Richmond, they’re not. If you ARE in an area they are allowed, watch out if you’re using hand sanitizer - it’s flammable, and you could get burned.

Since many displays are on hold this year, people might be tempted to create smaller firework shows of their own and experts are worried. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Some Displays Still Happening

While the coronavirus pandemic is causing a number of Independence Day celebrations to be canceled or modified, some are still on - including the Flying Squirrels show at the Diamond and Henrico’s Red, White & Lights event at Dorey Park.

RVA Parenting: A Socially Distant Fourth!

‘Hamilton’ on Disney Plus

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to start celebrating, because Hamilton premieres on Disney Plus TODAY!

The film version features the original cast, during a broadway performance filmed over three days in 2016.

Its theatrical release was initially set for October 2021, but due to the pandemic, Disney decided to release the film early on its subscription streaming service.

Final Thought

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington

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