I worked as the lead political reporter in the Roanoke Times’ newsroom for more than seven years, but since leaving I really haven’t written a politics story (** well, aside from this Jan. 2014 Roanoke Business story about how western Virginia businesses make political contributions — but it’s more of a business story**).
That changed Saturday when the Washington Post published my story on former Virginia House Speaker Vance Wilkins’ attempt to comeback from political exile. Wilkins helped build a Republican majority in the state house, and in 2000 he became Virginia’s first Republican speaker. He resigned only two years later, one week after the Post published a story that he’d paid a former staffer $100,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim.
He’s quietly worked with a few candidates in Republican primaries but mostly had remained out of site in his Amherst County home. After a string of statewide Republican defeates, Wilkins re-emerged this spring to challenge Wendell Walker, a man who came up working with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority group in Lynchburg, for 6th District Republican Committee chairman.
The result, as reported yesterday after the convention: Wilkins failed.
Although he outperformed expectations of many Republicans I spoke to, but Wilkins ultimately couldn’t overcome Walker. The defeat means that although Wilkins may continue to be active in Republican politics, he won’t play nearly as central or public a role.
You can find my story in the Washington Post here, and you can find the follow-up (by Martin Weil, not me) here.
Mid-April saw the publication of the spring 2014 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, which includes my first work there.
I wrote the “How Tech Ticks” feature for the issue. “How Tech Ticks” uses a mix of graphics and text to illustrate research, facilities and other projects. My story looks at the Kimballton Underground Research Facility near the Ripplemead limestone mine in Giles County. It also breaks down a particle physics experiment conducted by Virginia Tech researchers there.
Additionally, Virginia Tech issued a news release announcing my hire there.
This month you can find my byline spread across five stories in three publications.
The most high-profile story runs in Delta Sky Magazine. The magazine’s new issue features a special section on the Roanoke and New River Valley region. Delta Sky Mag’s circulation is about 600,000 and the magazines are carried on all U.S. and international flights. I wrote a business profile that is paired with a travel feature by Jenny Kincaid Boone. You can read both stories online here.
Roanoke Business magazine runs three of my stories this month. I covered the Salem Red Sox, the reigning Carolina League champions, and how they use promotions, sponsorships and timing to create revenue. Bottom line: It takes more than a trophy to sell tickets to minor-league baseball games. That story included a sidebar on the Pulaski Mariners, which face similar challenges but in an even more rural atmosphere. Finally, I wrote a story profiling Franklin County, which matches its geographically diverse nature with an equally diverse economy. It looks at growing local companies like Homestead Creamery and international manufacturers like McAirlaids.
Finally, the spring issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, to be published later this month, will include an illustrated story on particle physics experiments conducted at Kimballton Underground Research Facility, a laboratory located in a working limestone mine 1,750 feet beneath a Giles County mountain.