After several years in the making, the riverfront park is finally on its way to becoming a reality.
On a rainy Friday morning, local officials broke ground on the ambitious project during a ceremony at the park’s 4-acre future site between King Memorial Bridge and the upcoming Dan River Falls development at the former White Mill building.
Blair Constriction is the contractor for the $12.68 million project.
“It will be a place not only to view and interact with the river, but a place to gather as a community for social and recreational activities,” Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones said during the event attended by local officials and community leaders.
“We are about to break ground on the most meaningful, most impactful and most fun public improvement project recommended in our award-winning River District redevelopment plan,” said City Manager Ken Larking.
It received financial support from foundations, the state, businesses and private donors totaling more than $7.1 million, Larking pointed out. The site of the park is also special because “this is the spot where Danville was founded many years ago,” he said.
“It [the riverfront park] will be the setting for millions of memories for people of all ages and backgrounds,” Larking said.
The park will include a street-level entrance on its southeast side — from Main Street and Memorial Drive — with an “artistic feature” to lure visitors. Those entering the park will then step down to a water feature — an interactive fountain and spray pad.
That area drops down about 10 feet and leads to a circular lawn. Open green space makes up a large portion of the park, which also would feature a staging area that could be used for small performance events. There would be an elevated walkway/viewing pier stretching about 20 to 25 feet above the park and part of the Dan River.
In the northern portion of the park close to the river, the Riverwalk Trail would snake across the park, bordered by green space. The trail would be 20 feet wide. A step-down terrace would lead to the river’s edge.
A small children’s play area would be at the western side of the park.
Parks are one way to attract people to the community and retaining residents here, said Diana Schwartz, CEO of the River District Association.
“In order for us to continue drawing people in, bringing our kids back and keeping people here, we have to have a high quality of life and a high quality of place, and parks are one of the ways to do that,” Schwartz said.
State Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville, said of the project, “With the beauty of the river, the beauty of the people here, it can be a great, great attraction for a lot of people from a lot of areas.”
PHILADELPHIA — New pants to replace Alex Morisey’s tattered khakis will have to wait. There’s no cash left for sugar-free cookies either. Even at the month’s start, the budget is so bare that Fixodent is a luxury. Now, halfway through it, things are so tight that even a Diet Pepsi is a stretch.
“How many years do I have left?” asks 82-year-old Morisey, who lives in a Philadelphia nursing home. “I want to live those as well as I can. But to some degree, you lose your dignity.”
Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents are locked in a wretched bind: Driven into poverty, forced to hand over all income and left to live on an allowance as low as $30 a month.
In a long-term care system that subjects some of society’s frailest to daily indignities, Medicaid’s personal needs allowance, as the stipend is called, is among the most ubiquitous, yet least known.
Nearly two-thirds of American nursing home residents have their care paid for by Medicaid and, in exchange, all Social Security, pension and other income is rerouted to go toward their bill. The personal needs allowance is meant to pay for anything not provided by the home, from a phone to clothes to a birthday present for a grandchild.
One problem: Congress hasn’t raised the allowance in decades.
“It’s really one of the most humiliating things for them,” says Sam Brooks, an attorney for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, which advocates for nursing home residents and has urged an increase in the allowance. “It can really be a point of shame.”
Especially when an individual has no close relatives or no one able to financially help, the allowance can breed striking need. When Marla Carter visits her mother-in-law at a nursing home in Owensboro, Kentucky, the scene feels more 19th-century poorhouse than modern-day America. With just a $40 allowance, residents are dressed in ill-fitting hand-me-downs or hospital gowns that drape open. Some have no socks or shoes. Basic supplies run low. Many don’t even have a pen to write with.
“That’s what was so surprising to us,” Carter says, “the poverty.”
Medicaid was created in 1965 and a 1972 amendment established the personal needs allowance, set at a minimum of $25 each month. Had it been linked to inflation, it would be about $180 today. But regular cost-of-living increases were not built into the allowance and Congress has raised the minimum rate only once, to $30, in 1987.
It has remained there ever since.
Some politicians have tried to fix the problem, including Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia who in 2019 introduced a bill to raise the minimum allowance to $60 and cement annual increases tied to those for Social Security. It didn’t even get a hearing.
“I was shocked,” Wexton says. “It’s about dignity for these people.”
Faced with federal inaction, states have taken it upon themselves to raise allowances. Even so, most remain low. A majority of states — 28 — have allowances of $50 or less, according to a state-by-state survey by the American Council on Aging. Just five states grant residents $100 or more each month, including Alaska, which stands alone in offering $200 monthly, the maximum under federal law. Four states — Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina — remain at the $30 minimum.
“As soon as I get it, it’s gone,” says Chris Hackney, a 74-year-old resident of a nursing home in Durham, North Carolina, who spends his $30 monthly allowance on body wash, toothpaste, deodorant and some items his facility used to provide but has cut back on, wipes and diapers.
Down the hall, 56-year-old Janine Cox gets an occasional bag of chips from the vending machine and scrimps to add to the collection plate at church. Her neighbors are even worse off. “It’s like a fight for them to survive another day,” she says.
With no financial wiggle room, nursing home residents find what little freedom they have evaporates even more, putting out of reach the chance to take a taxi to see a friend, to get lost in a newly purchased book, or to escape the monotony of the cafeteria with some take-out food.
Even after two years of institutionalized life, it is a confounding truth for Morisey.
With each $45 allowance he receives, a monthly juggling act begins.
Can his razors last a bit longer to put off refills? Can he squeeze a bit more out of the Fixodent tube? Has he cut corners enough to get some aftershave or peanut butter crackers?
“It’s the little things,” he says. “You don’t think about these things until you no longer have them.”
He is a lifelong Quaker, has always cherished living simply, and accepts his situation with a smile. But it doesn’t seem too much, he says, to ask for a soda.
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A 13-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2022 death of a 4-year-old sibling, the Danville Police Department reported Friday morning.
Authorities wrote in a news release that the charge was lodged after "the juvenile’s confession earlier this week about suffocating the victim." That confession came following an ongoing investigation.
The names of the juvenile suspect and victim were not disclosed.
At about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 3, Danville Police Department investigators and members of the crime scene responded to a home on Annhurst Drive where the 4-year-old was found in a room without a pulse, Matt Bell, a spokesperson for the department, confirmed to the Register & Bee.
Annhurst Drive is an area off Franklin Turnpike in the northern part of the city.
The young child also was not breathing.
The 4-year-old was taken to Sovah Health-Danville and then airlifted to another — unidentified — medical facility. The child later died, police said.
The juvenile facing charges was arrested in another jurisdiction, but police did not say where.
The suspect will be transferred to W.W. Moore Detention Center in Danville pending trial.
The Danville Police Department did not provide answers to questions from the Register & Bee including where the teenage suspect is currently located and where the confession occurred.
"Due to the nature of the incident involving juveniles, the press release that was sent is all the information we are going to be able to release," Bell told the Register & Bee in an email.
Under Virginia law, authorities must shield the identity of juvenile victims of homicides.
Bell also cited Virginia code to not reveal the name of the suspect.
"The court shall require all law-enforcement agencies to take special precautions to ensure that law-enforcement records concerning a juvenile are protected against disclosure to any unauthorized person," the code states. "The police departments of the cities of the Commonwealth, and the police departments or sheriffs of the counties of the Commonwealth, as the case may be, shall keep separate records as to violations of law committed by juveniles other than violations of motor vehicle laws."
The law also states "Such records with respect to such juvenile shall not be open to public inspection nor their contents disclosed to the public unless a juvenile 14 years of age or older is charged with a violent juvenile felony."