City_COUNCIL (copy)

At a previous City Council meeting, Mark Finks, theater manager for Court Square Theater, gave a presentation about the theater at the meeting. 

Activists push city to adopt Second Amendment sanctuary trend

A swarm of gun rights activists parading orange “Guns Save Lives” stickers on their shirts crammed council chambers to advocate for a resolution that would declare Harrisonburg a sanctuary city for the Second Amendment.

The resolution states that City Council wouldn’t use public funding to execute prospective gun control measures such as universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and red flag laws, which temporarily authorize police to seize firearms from a person deemed a danger to themselves or others. The document carries no legal weight but would send a message of opposition to legislators in favor of gun control initiatives.

The issue wasn’t open for public hearing. Councilman George Hirschmann requested to put the item on the agenda so the public could hear where the council currently stood on the issue, but council members sat in prolonged silence when discussion opened. Displeased murmurs broke out among the crowd in response. Mayor Deanna Reed quieted the crowd, saying it was the council’s time to deliberate.

 “No, this is our time,” a heckler bellowed from the back of the chamber. “You work for us.”

The meeting item follows a wave of requests across Virginia for cities and counties to label themselves as opposed to gun regulation in response to proposed legislation in the Democrat-controlled state government. According to NBC 10 WSLS, 102 cities and counties across the state have approved some type of resolution. Last month, thousands of resolution supporters in Rockingham County, which cocoons Harrisonburg City, attended the meeting where Board of Supervisors members unanimously approved the measure.

Councilman Chris Jones, though a gun owner, said he disagrees with the resolution because it “falsely accuses” the state government of acting unconstitutionally.

“It breaks my heart as a Virginian because … I feel like we’re the state that can actually get this right, and I don’t think we’re really trying to merge our progressiveness with our core values,” Jones said.

The swarm of supporters promptly filed out of the chambers after Reed closed the item.

“Remember your oath of office, all five of you,” Jeffrey Mayfield, Chairman of the Harrisonburg City Republican Committee, said as he marched out.

Council embraces first phase in the Environmental Action Plan

Two years after the City Council established the Environmental Performance Standards Advisory Committee (EPSAC) to develop the city’s environmental goals and projects, the council unanimously approved phase one of a three-part Environmental Action Plan (EAP).

The EAP is a guide for city leaders and community members to address the “ambitious actions” required to mitigate environmental degradation due to climate change. The first phase extensively identifies in 71 pages the city’s goals, benefits, strategies, tasks and responsible parties. Phase one’s focus areas are buildings and energy, land use and green space, regional food systems, sustainable transportation, waste reduction and recycling, and water resources

Phase two will involve inventorying city and community activities to “provide a snapshot in time of greenhouse gas emissions” and measure progress toward achieving goals, according to the EAP. Phase three will establish date-specific target percentage reductions or increases.

The council’s adoption of the EAP doesn’t immediately create new regulations. Further environmental action will depend on the Council’s appropriation of funding.

$6.2 million allocated to new high school construction

City Council approved a supplemental appropriation of $6.2 million for the construction of Harrisonburg’s second high school. The money will provide interim funding for the Public-Private Education Infrastructure and Education Act agreement until a permanent financing solution is established. 

Over $400,000 of the supplemental funding will go toward the General Capital Projects Fund, and the remaining $5.7 million will be added to the School Capital Projects Fund.

Adam Fletcher, the city’s director of planning and community development, said Nielsen Builders Inc., the company constructing the new school, will be sending invoices to the city at the end of the month.

Contact Brice Estes at estes2ba@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.