Budget cuts: How Rockbridge area schools are coping: Every spring, school systems across Virginia draft their budgets. And every spring, administrators, teachers and school board members warn that raises are at risk, the school drama program could be cut and the price of a school lunch might go up again. Is it really worse this year?
Sex offenders in the Rockbridge area: For nearly two decades, convicted sex offenders have been required to check in with police and provide their addresses for publicly available registries. The U.S. Census says 36,000 people call the Rockbridge area home. Ninety of them are registered sex offenders. They are carpenters, mechanics, housewives, fathers and husbands.
Raising the bar: University law school requires students to practice: Angelia Travis sobbed through her first meeting at the Community Practice Legal Center. The 40-year-old mother of four kids wanted a divorce from her abusive husband. "I was scared, beat down and emotional," she said. "I was worried about losing my kids because I didn't make a whole lot of money." Three and a half years later, Travis got her divorce, with help from students at one of six clinics at W&L's law school.
The Chesapeake Bay: An uncertain future: The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans 64,000 square miles and six states, from central New York to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation rated the bay a 31, or a D+, in 2010. The bay suffers from chronic nutrient pollution and low oxygen. Populations of bay oysters have crashed to less than 1 percent of their historic highs. Federal and state governments have spent more than $5 billion trying to clean up the Chesapeake.
Poor Diet: Not enough food, and the wrong kind: Just about everybody loves to eat, but most of us take our meals for granted. For hundreds - maybe thousands - of people in the Rockbridge area, though, getting enough food, and getting the right foods, is a constant struggle. Some make a little too much money to get government assistance. Others, stranded in remote areas without reliable transportation, resort to convenience stores.
Unemployment: The Story Behind the Numbers: The national recession affected every corner of the economy. But some were affected more than others - and the discrepancies highlight the socioeconomic division within the Rockbridge area. There are local efforts to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, but the lower-income people that these efforts are aimed at don't seem to be taking notice.
House Mountain: Protecting a Rockbridge County Icon: For decades, House Mountain, the imposing landmark that dominates the western horizon for much of Rockbridge County, was almost taken for granted as a place where people could enjoy being outdoors, hiking, camping and hunting. But when hundreds of acres of the mountain went up for sale in 1988, people in the community realized that they could lose it, and they united in an effort to protect the land.
Black in Lexington: In the mid-20th century Lexington's black community made up more than 30 percent of the city's population. Today that number has shrunk to less then 10 percent, and residents say that's because there are few opportunities in the city.
Portrait of Rockbridge: Who are we? How have we changed? How are we changing? The numbers don’t say everything, but they do say a lot. The Census Bureau’s latest snapshot of the Rockbridge area is a study in contrasts.
Building on the Past for a Brighter Future: Lexington's period architecture and Civil War history draw tourists by the thousands. Restoration of its downtown buildings - some dating to the 18th century - has been going on for nearly four decades. But neglected properties still give parts of downtown an abandoned look. The city's biggest structure, the R. E. Lee Hotel, could hold the key to a wide-open downtown revival.
Helping Heroes Heal: Over the past few decades, the Department of Veterans Affairs has worked to improve the care it provides to those who defended our country. How has the VA Medical Center in Salem worked to improve access for those in remote regions, educate veterans about eligibility, accommodate growing numbers of female veterans and reach homeless veterans?