Friday, October 23, 2009

In Case You Missed Gov. Kaine's Announcements

In all the distractions about sleeping pilots, revival of the public option, and the beautiful weather keeping us busy outside, you may have missed several interesting and important press releases from Governor Tim Kaine. Each, in their own way, are good news for Virginia.
The Governor announced that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation approved 17,000 acres to be placed under conservation easements. Also, the Roanoke City Council agreed to support plans to establish two perpetual conservation easements on Mill Mountain and the surrounding 600 acre park. In 2006 Governor Kaine announced a goal of preserving 400,000 acres within 10 years. To date, about 350,000 acres of open land has been preserved. The Governor has led in the creation of 12 natural preserves, six new state forests, two new state parks, and three wildlife management areas.
Governor Kaine also announced that 119 bridges across the Commonwealth will be replaced or repaired using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Many of these bridges are in the Shenandoah Valley and western Virginia including six in Rockingham, three in Augusta, three in Rockbridge, and 17 in Nelson. Most are obviously smaller bridges but all were deficient and, if left unattended, would become unsafe. The contracts, to private contractors, will total $50.7 million = jobs, paychecks, boosts to local economies. The Commonwealth is receiving $694.5 million in highway funding from AARA.
Governor Kaine also released his statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009. He is absolutely right that federal recognition of the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Tribe – Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe is long over due.
Two years after the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, it is especially tragic that these tribes still have yet to receive equal status with the 562 other Federally Recognized Tribes in the United States.
Now is the time to honor their heritage.
Virginia’s Tribes are unique. Unlike most tribes that obtained federal recognition when they signed peace treaties with the United States government, Tribes in Virginia signed their peace treaties with the British Monarchy. Hostilities between the Tribes and the European settlers effectively ended in 1677 with the Treaty of the Middle Plantation, yet these Tribes continued to be tested by centuries of racial hostility, state-sanctioned coercive actions, and systematic mistreatment.

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