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Masks are REQUIRED IN PUBLIC and everyone is still strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and regular handwashing.

 

Career Opportunity

LPN

Job Posting #:  2020-13

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for youth located ten minutes north of Emporia, Virginia seeks Virginia licensed LPN. Full-time position.  Twelve hour evening/overnight shift (8PM to 8AM).

Starting Pay $23.00/hr. to $28.00/ hr. depending upon experience.  Compensation package includes employer matching 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision & life insurance.  JFBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screening and criminal background screening.  Position open until filled. EOE.

E-mail, fax, or mail cover letter & resume to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Job# 2020-13
Attn: Chris Thompson
E-mail: careers@jacksonfeild.org
Fax: (434) 634-6237

Secondary Math Teacher

Career Opportunity

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Virginia’s youth, then we want you to become part of our Team!  Private rural residential special education facility for teen girls and boys seeks a full-time secondary Math Teacher to teach Algebra I and II.  Math degree and experience teaching Algebra I and II preferred.  Will give serious consideration to candidates with a degree in a subject other than Math if the applicant possesses a Math endorsement from the Virginia Department of Education.  Qualified candidates should possess a current Virginia Teacher’s License with math endorsement.  Qualified candidates must possess the analytical and observational skills to make decisions which safeguard the health, safety, and educational plans of students in care. 

Competitive salary & benefits.  Compensation package includes employer matching 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision, & life insurance.  JFBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screen and criminal background screening.  EOE.  Position opened until filled. 

E-mail, fax or mail resume and cover letter to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Attn: Chris Thompson
Job # 2020-12
546 Walnut Grove Drive
Jarratt, Virginia 23867
 Fax: (434) 634-6237
E-mail: careers@jacksonfeild.org

Career Opportunity

Social Studies Teacher

 

Would you like to provide educational direction and instruction to Virginia’s disadvantaged youth in a small class setting?  A private rural accredited residential special education facility seeks experienced Virginia licensed secondary Social Studies Teacher.  Qualified candidates must possess the analytical and observational skills to make decisions which safeguard the health, safety, and educational plans of students in care.

Competitive salary & benefits including employer sponsored health, dental, vision, &life insurance and a 401(k) retirement plan with an employer match.

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services is an equal opportunity employer and drug free work place.  Applicants must satisfactorily complete criminal background, CPS, and drug/alcohol screenings.  Position Open until filled.

Mail, e-mail, or fax resume and cover letter to:

Chris Thompson
Re:  Job #: 2020-10
546 Walnut Grove Drive
Jarratt, Virginia 23867
Fax: (434) 634-6237
E-mail:  careers@jacksonfeild.org

“The Thanksgiving Way”

Did it only happen yesterday
Or perhaps a whole lot more
Whereby you received so many gifts
What you never had before.
 
Now did you just feel deserving
Or look to as a blessing from above
In essence did it help in any way
For you to show your love?
 
Thanksgiving is a day of Grace
That exemplifies to share
A day for you to show the world
How for others you do care.
 
Your cup don’t need to run over
No ample sure will do
Just include someone in the harvest
That may have less than you.
 
Yes open up your eyes and see
There are many with the need
Some for more clothing on their backs
And those who have the lack of feed.
 
It won’t take you a long time
For those in need to find
Yet don’t wait for their gratitude
Just because you were kind.
 
Yes many are quite humble
So will look at as a debt
Still way down deep they’re thankful
And appreciate to get.
 
You give of want and from the heart
And try to be sincere
One never knows in passing time
What you may need next year.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

The Godspeed Project at Jackson-Feild

A resident at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services (JFBHS) confided to Chaplain Robin Moore that prior to her placement she had no home and no place to sleep. The girl’s plight touched Moore’s heart and motivated her to act.

The Godspeed Project originated as a partnership between the Spiritual Care Program at JFBHS and Carson United Methodist Church in which the Women’s group graciously made and donated thirty pillowcases. Each pillowcase is unique and stitched with love; perhaps these ladies were thinking of their own children/grandchildren when they worked on putting the pillow cases together. The project seeks to supply each resident with a new handmade pillowcase to keep and take with them as they move on to the next place they will lay their head.

The Godspeed Project also includes an effort to partner with churches throughout the Greensville region to collect new, unused hard-sided suitcases to be offered to residents upon discharge so that they can pack their belongings instead of putting them into a trash bag, as is the case with so many youth.

Pillowcases and suitcases might seem insignificant, but they provide a sense of normalcy to those receiving and using them. They are tangible reminders to the youth that they are valued as human beings and will not be forgotten as they move on in their lives.

JFBHS welcomes churches and parishes to join in the Godspeed Project. If your church would like to help, please contact the Rev. Dr. Robin Moore at rmoore@jacksonfeild.orgor  434-594-7909.

Legal state marijuana sales could overtake illegal trade by year four

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia’s commercial marijuana market could yield between $30 million to $60 million in tax revenue in the first year, according to a new report by the state’s legislative watchdog agency.

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission released a report this month that explores how the commonwealth could legalize marijuana. The agency, however, did not give its take on legalization. Shortly after the report was released Gov. Ralph Northam announced that “it’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia.”

The state’s tax revenue could grow to between $150 million to more than $300 million by the fifth year of sales, according to JLARC. The revenue depends on the tax and demand of marijuana products. 

 Most states with commercial marijuana markets tax the product between 20%-30% percent of the retail sales value, JLARC said. Colorado, one of the most mature and successful U.S. marijuana markets, currently has a tax rate close to 30%, showing that while the tax may be high, the market could still be successful, said Justin Brown, senior associate director at JLARC. 

“But in reality, there's no magic rate that you have to use, and I think that's one thing that the other states' experience shows,” Brown said. 

Virginia decriminalized marijuana possession earlier this year. The substance is still not legal, but possessing up to an ounce results in a $25 civil penalty and no jail time. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. 

If the Old Dominion makes marijuana legal, it will follow in the footsteps of 15 states.

The legal marijuana market should overtake the illegal market in marijuana sales by the fourth year of legalization, JLARC said. The legal market could likely have two-thirds of sales by the fifth year of legalization. JLARC looked at the reported use rates compared to the use rates of other states to determine this figure, Brown said. 

“In the first year the minority of sales will be through the legal commercial market,” Brown said. “But then over time, particularly if supply and demand works out, you'll capture at least the majority of the full market through the legal market.”

JLARC said that if the General Assembly legalizes marijuana, the total sales tax would come out to around 25%-30%. This figure also came from the analysis of other states and how they taxed marijuana. 

The industry also could create over several years between 11,000 to more than 18,000 jobs, JLARC said. Most positions would pay below Virginia’s median wage. 

The revenue would cover the cost of establishing a market by year three, according to JLARC.

Northam said in a press release last week that his administration is working with lawmakers to finalize related legislation in preparation for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session, which starts Jan. 13. 

Racial equity obstacles in Virginia’s push to legalizing marijuana

By Brandon Shillingford, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Could legalizing marijuana in Virginia help address social disparities and inequities? That’s one of the topics the state’s legislative watchdog agency explores in a new report examining how the commonwealth could legalize marijuana. 

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission report was published shortly before Gov. Ralph Northam announced he will support legislation to legalize marijuana in the Old Dominion.

Virginia decriminalized marijuana possession earlier this year and reduced possession penalties to a $25 civil penalty and no jail time for amounts up to an ounce. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. 

Northam said legislation should address five principles including public health and social, racial and economic equity.

The report addresses the establishment of a commercial marijuana industry that protects minors, prosecutes illegal sellers and maintains the state’s medical marijuana program. JLARC director Hal Greer said the study also examines ways legalization could benefit individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by past enforcement of marijuana laws. 

“As a first step in that effort, we analyzed data on marijuana arrests across the state in the last decade,” Greer said. “The data revealed a deeply troubling finding that Black individuals are being arrested for marijuana offenses at a much higher rate than others.”

The commission found that from 2010 to 2019 the average arrest rate of Black Virginians for marijuana possession was more than three times higher than that of white residents for the same crime—6.3 per 1,000 Black individuals and 1.8 per white people. This is despite the fact that Black Virginians use marijuana at similar rates as white residents. The conviction rate was also higher for Black individuals with marijuana possession charges. 

Over the last decade, Virginia has made about 20,000 to 30,000 arrests each year for marijuana-related offenses. Legalization and decriminalization would reduce marijuana related arrests by 84%, according to JLARC. Civil possession offenses would no longer occur if marijuana was legalized. Arrests would only take place if large amounts were illegally distributed, said Justin Brown, senior associate director at JLARC.

Legalization would eliminate some marijuana laws and create new ones, which would decrease some aspects of police work and increase others, the report said. 

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, a nonprofit pushing for the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, wants laws to allow the expungement of marijuana convictions.

 “Our platform is really to be a line of defense between Black communities as we legalize marijuana,” Higgs Wise said. 

Higgs Wise said Marijuana Justice seeks to repeal prohibition of marijuana, repair or expunge criminal records of Black Virginians who have been arrested for possession and begin the process of paying reparations to Black communities. 

Higgs Wise said she grew up watching family members such as her father suffer the consequences of unjust drug laws. Higgs Wise’s father was in and out of prison for non-violent drug offenses, she said. 

“I’ve been a child watching my family just having to struggle with housing, employment,” Higgs Wise said. “My siblings and I are first-generation college students trying to do better for our own legacy and family legacy.” 

Proponents of social equity argue that communities most affected by marijuana law enforcement should benefit from the commercial market if it were legalized, the JLARC report said. These communities would likely be composed of mostly Black Virginians since they have been arrested and convicted at the highest rates for marijuana related offenses, according to Greer. 

Social equity initiatives could include community reinvestment programs, providing business assistance programs to individuals in these communities, and promoting entrepreneurship and employment in the industry. 

“It looks like legalization is more on the minds of people but I will tell you that folks are looking at marijuana legalization as a way to fill gaps within our budget rather than really working to divert the revenue of cannabis that will be coming back into the communities that truly deserve it,” Higgs Wise said.

Virginia could not legally set aside business licenses for minorities, according to the report. 

“The main challenge for preference programs is ensuring that preferences flow to the intended parties,” said Mark Gribbin, JLARC chief legislative analyst. “Race cannot legally be used as a criterion.”

Individuals with a marijuana criminal record could be given preference for business loans, discounts or other assistance, but that may include unintended beneficiaries such as wealthy college students arrested for marijuana possession, the report said. Business assistance programs also can target individuals based on residence, but that includes new residents that have moved to a gentrified area. 

Another option is to provide business assistance and support based on an individual’s residence and marijuana criminal record. However, that method excludes people indirectly affected by marijuana law enforcement, such as an “eviction because of marijuana-related conviction of an immediate family member.” 

Brown said that some of the ideas in the report such as promoting entrepreneurship among the Black community were based on programs that have been implemented in other states. 

“I think what we've seen from other states is, you probably need to do more than that so we had some assistance programs that could be paired with that,” Brown said. 

Mentorships programs could partner startups with larger businesses so they can share administrative services and work space. 

“The idea is to set up some more experienced business owners so they could mentor less experienced business owners and try to help them compete in the marketplace,” Brown said. “We had to have options related to the licensing component as well as the assistance component for those people who get licenses.”

A 2019 report from the Portland City Auditor revealed that nearly 80% of recreational marijuana tax revenue went to public safety, which included money for police and transportation programs. The auditor concluded that the city needed to improve the transparency of tax allocation decisions and results. 

“I’m not confident that the General Assembly is truly thinking about a racial equity model, rather than just a way to bring in more revenue and that's something the people are going to have to bring forward,” Higgs Wise said. 

Northam said that in addition to undoing harm caused by racial discrimination, upcoming legislation should also include substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities. The governor said that any legislation must include protections for Virginia’s youth, including age limits and mandatory ID checks. Northam also said that legislation should ensure the state collects appropriate and ongoing information on safety, health and equity.

Once the General Assembly begins in January, there may be another formal presentation to legislators who may draft legislation related to legalization. 

“Our goal was to basically give them a menu of things they could do, and they could do all of these things or they could do some of them or they could do none of them,” Brown said. “Hopefully we gave them enough information to at least help them understand the various trade offs there across all those options.”

CNS reporter Ada Romano contributed to this story. 

Traditional Thanksgiving off the table for many

By India Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Many Americans are grappling with ways to make one of the nation's most celebrated holidays safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Richmond resident Caroline Kaschak will feast at home to protect at-risk elders in her family. 

“It is just going to be my husband and I,” Kaschak said. “We are going to order in fancy takeout instead.”

Colleges like Virginia Commonwealth University are offering COVID-19 exit testing to students before they return home for the holidays. Some Americans still have scheduled traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with their families. 

“I plan on going to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving,” said VCU student Rickaya Sykes. “They live in the same town as me, and we are very close. If I am not at home, I am at their house spending time with them.”

The Centers for Disease Control recently issued guidance for gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is at home with people who live in the same household, the CDC said. Gatherings with family and friends who live outside of the home can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. 

The agency recommends that hosts limit the number of guests, disinfect surfaces and keep windows open to decrease coronavirus risk. For attendees, guidance includes bringing and eating food from home with their own utensils and staying out of the kitchen. 

COVID-19 cases and deaths have sharply risen in the past two weeks across the nation and in Virginia, according to the New York Times. Over the past week, there has been an average of 2,262 new cases per day in Virginia, an increase of 62% from the average two weeks earlier, according to the Times.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced a coronavirus mandate in Virginia to limit private gatherings and some public events to 25 people. The restrictions took effect Nov. 15, less than two weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The CDC urged Americans to consider alternative Thanksgiving Day activities such as virtual celebrations, eating meals outdoors, post-holiday shopping online and using curbside pickup. 

Virginia State Parks is encouraging families to gather at its 39 parks— which have remained open during the pandemic—over the Thanksgiving holiday. The “Opt Outside” promotion will be celebrated throughout the holiday weekend from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29. Visitors have a chance to win a $500 Virginia State Parks gift certificate if they submit up to five photos of their trip and enter it into the annual photo contest. The Virginia State Parks promotion started 10 years ago as “Green Friday'' to motivate families to visit the park instead of post-Thanksgiving shopping on “Black Friday.”

“Since the promotion started, we have seen more people visiting parks over the holidays,” said Tim Shrader, the eastern region field operations manager for Virginia State Parks. “You have all this family coming in, you probably need to get outside and enjoy each other’s company outside for physical and mental health.”

AAA released its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast, which anticipated at least a 10% drop in travel. The agency said that is the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008. In mid-October, AAA expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for the holiday. Now they say it could be lower given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and health notices.

The nation’s airports saw an uptick in travelers over the weekend, despite the CDC advisory to avoid traveling. The Transportation Security Administration reported almost 4 million travelers from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, but the rate of travelers was still much lower than at the same time last year.

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

Multi-Craft Maintenance Technician:  Troubleshoot, install, align, dismantle, repair and maintain industrial machinery and mechanical equipment for improved reliability and up-time. Help meet or excel production efficiency and quality goals through a quality maintenance program. Troubleshoot electrical systems that use 480-volt, 3 phase power, as well as lower voltages. Diagnose problems with 3 phase electric motors and motor starters that operate in these electrical systems. Work with Relay Logic control circuits and able to safely troubleshoot these types of circuits.  Job Order #2077854

Electrical Technician:  Programming, troubleshooting and maintaining advanced PLC/5 and Control Logix. Reading assembly drawings, schematics and equipment layouts. Maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing electronic circuits. Maintaining, troubleshooting, and replacing control devices. Understanding and using data to improve productivity. Adhering to all plant safety and environmental guidelines, policies and procedures. Assisting crew members and work in team environment. Helping meet or exceed production waste and quality goals.  Job Order #2077891

Accounts Payable Specialist:  Manage the full accounts payable cycle from receipt of invoices to payment; including coding invoices, matching purchase orders, obtaining approval, and entering the invoices into the accounting system. Ensure all accounts payable policies and procedures are adhered to including travel and related expenses, vendor approval and invoice processing. Receives, researches and resolves a variety of routine internal and external inquiries concerning account status, including communicating the resolution of discrepancies to the appropriate persons. Manage vendor files and record retention of all accounts payable documents, etc.   Job Order #2093259

THESE AND ALL JOBS WITH THE VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION CAN BE FOUND ONLINE AT

www.vawc.virginia.gov

The Virginia Employment Commission is An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

La Comision de Empleo de Virginia es un empleador/programa con igualdad de portunidades.  Los auxiliaries y servicios estan disponibles a dedido para personas con discapacidades

Gratitude and Wellbeing

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

In 2015, National Day Calendar established November as National Gratitude Month in the United States and Canada. The designation had been advocated by Stacey Grewal, author of Gratitude and Goals, who said “Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life.”

To help people incorporate gratitude into their lives, Grewal instituted a 30-day gratitude challenge. She explained, “Research shows that practicing daily gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress, and drastically improve our overall level of wellbeing."

After all the unexpected twists and turns 2020 has delivered, practicing an attitude of gratitude brings a much-needed respite from the daily news. I find myself especially grateful for family, friends, and colleagues.

I give thanks for being selected to serve Southside Virginia Community College as its sixth president. Our college is one of the most diverse institutions in Virginia, and our commitment to inclusivity and excellence helps every student shine. Their success stories are built on a solid foundation established by my predecessors who have shaped the college throughout its illustrious history.

SVCC celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Construction for the college’s first buildings began in Brunswick county in 1969, and the college opened to students in 1970. A groundbreaking ceremony for SVCC’s second campus in Keysville was held on October 30, 1970.

SVCC’s first present, Dr. Kenneth Dawson, brought with him experience gained through college and university leadership positions in Georgia and Kentucky. He also inaugurated our attitude of service, bringing with him a belief forged through personal commitments, including his work as a consultant to the American Red Cross in Liberia, West Africa.

Through the years, SVCC’s respect for diversity has had many advocates. The college’s fourth President, Dr. John Cavan remarked, “A mosaic of colors and shapes is pleasing to the eye. A mosaic of diverse people is pleasing to society.”

I also appreciate the pioneering work done in many fields by the college’s dedicated faculty. Under the direction of Dr. John Adams, SVCC welcomed its first online students in 1998. Today, cybercourses and other distance-learning options continue to be an integral component of education, and I am grateful for the experienced leadership SVCC personnel bring to this task.

Dr. Edward Chernault established much of the groundwork for current workforce programming options. Dr. Chenault developed regional partnerships for identifying the skills and competency levels required by local employers, and he deployed the Work Keys System developed by American College Testing to document achievement. Today, Workforce Development Services at SVCC continue in this tradition by offering credentialling programs that lead to jobs with family-sustaining wages.

Additionally, I am grateful for all our students. They are amazing people who continue to work with diligence. I am also thankful for our graduates who serve the community as first responders, healthcare providers, truck drivers, information technology workers, powerline workers, electricians, HVAC technicians, members of our nation’s armed services, and more. Their leadership as engaged citizens in our everchanging world gives me hope for a bright tomorrow.

In short, I am so proud to be part of the SVCC family. Although we have been impacted by novel challenges during 2020, there is still so much for which to be grateful. I invite you to begin your own gratitude challenge. If you’re like me, it will indeed help you discover an increased sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE URGING MOTORISTS TO SLOW DOWN AND PUT SAFETY FIRST THIS THANKSGIVING

RICHMOND – For many Virginians, Thanksgiving is going to look different than in previous years, with social distancing and outdoor meals. But, the rules of the road have not changed - slow down, wear a seatbelt and don’t drive distracted. Whether traveling to the grocery store or to grandma’s house, the same rings true, put your safety and the safety of others first.

“With lighter traffic on the roads, there may be a temptation to speed and a false sense of security that leads to drivers and passengers not wearing their seatbelts,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “This year overall, state police have seen fewer crashes on Virginia highways but those crashes have been more deadly. Making sure you are driving the posted speed limit, driving for conditions and wearing your seatbelt are the best ways to stay safe on the road. Whatever your holiday celebrations look like this year, Virginia State Police want to make sure you arrive at your destination safely.”

To further prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. - Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. As part of the state-sponsored, national program, state police will be increasing its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period that begins at 12:01 a.m., Nov. 25, 2020 and concludes at midnight on Nov. 29, 2020.

The 2019 Thanksgiving holiday C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 490 individuals who failed to buckle up on Virginia’s highways. State police also cited 5,221 speeders and 1,798 reckless drivers. A total of 83 drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

There were eight traffic fatalities during the 2019 five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period and 12 traffic fatalities during the same period in 2018.

With increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

McEachin Statement on House Passage of National Apprenticeship Act of 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today released the following statement on the House passage of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, legislation to invest more than $3.5 billion over five years to create nearly 1 million additional apprenticeship opportunities in the United States:

"As our nation builds back  from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 crisis, it is critical that we provide opportunities to get more people back to work safely.

“Today I was pleased to support the reauthorization of the bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act, legislation that will accelerate our economic recovery by expanding access to apprenticeship opportunities which will connect workers across our country to stable, good-paying jobs. Together, we will secure these vital pathways for Americans of all backgrounds to gain the knowledge they need to compete in a global, 21st century economy."

About the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 

During a time of record unemployment, H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, invests more than $3.5 billion over 5 years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships. The proposal would create nearly 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities on top of the current expected growth of the apprenticeship system. It would also yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased workers productivity and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.

By increasing investments in the national apprenticeship system, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 will begin to bring America’s investments in apprenticeship more in line with countries around the world. The U.S. spends only about 0.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on workforce training and employment programs, while our peer industrialized nations spend roughly six times as much as a share of GDP.

This legislation is critical to expanding the nation’s workforce development system during our nation’s deepest economic decline since the Great Depression and to increasing diversity within the national apprenticeship system. This legislation does not authorize or fund the Trump administration’s “industry-recognized apprenticeship programs” (IRAPs).

55 PRIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT GRADUATE VIRGINIA STATE POLICE ACADEMY

The 55 members of the Virginia State Police 133rd Basic Session were presented their diplomas Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 at 10 a.m. in a special, physically-distanced, outdoor graduation ceremony at the state police Academy. In accordance with Governor Ralph Northam’s latest directives related to COVID-19, no family, friends or media will be in attendance. The class will be divided into three separately-spaced groups in the parking lot and will be streamed live via the Virginia State Police Facebook page.

“To the very day of their graduation, the dedicated men and women of this Basic Session academy class have demonstrated their ability to adapt, overcome and succeed,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Fortunately, we were able to livestream the occasion for families and friends to witness this significant milestone for their loved ones. Not only was this a unique setting for the ceremony, but this is also only the second time in the Department’s 88 year history an Accelerated Lateral Entry Program has been held.”

The Accelerated Lateral Entry Program only accepts pre-certified Virginia law enforcement officers with at least three years of active-duty experience at the local and/or state level. Each candidate for trooper must have been in good standing with their former law enforcement employer(s) and underwent an extensive background investigative and testing process. Collectively, the 133rd Basic Session accounts for 426 years of prior law enforcement experience.

The 133rd Basic Session trooper trainees received more than 300 hours of classroom and field instruction in nearly 50 different subjects, including defensive tactics, cultural diversity, bias-free and community relations, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival and crisis management. The members of the 133rd Basic Session began their eight weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy on Sept. 28, 2020. 

For their final phase of training, each Trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

State police is currently hiring for 2021 Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.

133rd  BASIC GRADUATING CLASS

 

133rd Basic Graduate                                                                         Assignment               

Austin Kenrick Anders                                                                         Franklin County

Dylan Wade Billiter                                                                             Tazewell County

Jonathan William Bloom                                                                    Chesterfield County

Christopher Stuart Boblett                                                                  Franklin County

Bryce Alan Campbell                                                                          Henrico County/Richmond

Jesse Bethlynnie Campbell                                                                 Bath County

Jason Gregory Carico                                                                          Bland County

Jermell Lamonte Chatman                                                                  Arlington County

Dylan Storm Coleman                                                                         New Kent County

Rickie Lewis Compton, Jr.                                                                   Halifax County

Scott Thomas Craig                                                                            Rockingham County

Zachary Ryan Davis                                                                             Rockbridge County

Peter Lawrence Dayton                                                                      Lunenburg County

Matthew James DeMoss                                                                    Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Michael Anthony Dunford                                                                  Giles County

Tyler Steven Easter                                                                             Franklin County

Andrew Thomas Ehrhard                                                                    Shenandoah County

Jonathan Thomas Fitch                                                                       Rockbridge County

Michael Floyd Fury                                                                              Fluvanna County

Nicholas Ryan Graham                                                                       Hampton/Newport News

Jeffery Todd Hackney                                                                         Giles County

Corey Michael Hall                                                                             King George County

Joel Riley Hodges                                                                                Franklin County

Matthew Ryan Hoppes                                                                       Bedford County

Mario Jamar Hunter                                                                           Isle of Wight County

Kenneth Wayne Joyner                                                                       Campbell County

Christopher Scott Kesler                                                                     Orange County

Ryan Thomas King                                                                              Roanoke County

James Clifton Kirkland                                                                        Campbell County

Seth Walker Layton                                                                             Henrico County/Richmond

Adam Eugene Martin                                                                          Mecklenburg County

Paul David McMillan                                                                          Botetourt County

Tyler Clifton Miller                                                                              Augusta County

Justin Randall Myrick                                                                          Pittsylvania County

James Henry Newby                                                                            Pittsylvania County

Alison Amber Nowacki                                                                        Richmond County

Matthew Joel O’Dell                                                                           Franklin County

Meet Ravjibhai Parbadia                                                                    Prince William County

Charles Hugo Parsons, III                                                                    Rockbridge County

Ronnie McCoy Pearce, Jr.                                                                   Sussex County

Joseph Christian Rader                                                                       Augusta County

Michael Lee Rogers                                                                            Henrico County

Barry Alan Schell                                                                                 Highland County

Sean Christopher Scott                                                                       Chesterfield County

Eric Byron Smith                                                                                 Page County

Gary O’Neil Smith                                                                               Henrico County/Richmond

Paul Anthony Sprouse                                                                        Rockbridge County

Matthew Prescott Stafford, II                                                             Bedford County

Joseph Michael Utt                                                                             Franklin County

Daniel Colby Vaughan                                                                         Henrico County/Richmond

Michael Dale Wade, II                                                                         Franklin County

James Douglas Waller                                                                        Bath County

Dylan James Welsh                                                                             Botetourt County

Charles Hubert Wheeler                                                                     Caroline County

Alison Jean Willis                                                                                Rockingham County

Governor Northam Signs Revised State Budget That Makes Key Investments, Provides Critical Relief During COVID-19 Pandemic

Budget includes eviction moratorium, support for utility customers

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed House Bill 5005, Virginia’s revised biennial budget. The Governor called the General Assembly into special session on August 18 and has worked with legislative leaders to enact a spending plan that protects key priorities, preserves the Commonwealth’s financial options, and addresses critical challenges that Virginians are facing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This budget gives us the tools we need to contend with the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to our partners in the General Assembly their work in crafting a revised spending plan that protects the most vulnerable Virginians, stays true to our shared values, and puts the Commonwealth in a strong position to weather this public health crisis.”

The signed budget finalizes previously announced funding allocations that Virginia received under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including:

  • Vaccination Program: $22 million for the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccination preparation and planning through the end of 2020
  • K-12 Schools: $220 million for COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in K-12 public schools, with all 132 school districts receiving at least $100,000
  • Higher Education: $116 million to support ongoing COVID-19 response at public colleges, universities, and medical schools and $22 million for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to provide payments to private institutions of higher education
  • Child Care: $65.8 million to increase access to child care and continue child care incentive grant program established in April
  • Small Business Assistance: $70 million to establish the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund providing grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the pandemic and $30 million in additional funds to continue the program
  • Broadband Accessibility: $30 million to fast-track broadband projects in underserved localities
  • Home Health Workers: $73 million to provide hazard pay to home health personal attendants who served high-risk populations during the early months of the pandemic
  • Workforce Training for Unemployed Virginians: $30 million to established the Re-Employing Virginians initiative providing scholarships to individuals who enroll in programs in high-demand fields
  • Rent and Mortgage Relief: $12 million to expand the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program launched in June
  • Food Banks: $7 million to help Virginia food banks meet increased demand for food assistance
  • Medicaid Day Support Providers: $25 million to fund monthly retainer payments for day support programs that provide services for Virginians with developmental disabilities.
  • Free Clinics: $3 million to reimburse members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for COVID-19 expenses

Utility Shutoff Protections

The budget signed today includes $100 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to support jurisdictional and municipal utility customers facing financial hardship due to the public health crisis. It also directs the State Corporation Commission to establish an application process for distributing the funds to utilities so they can efficiently provide direct assistance to eligible customers.

The budget also puts in place a moratorium on utility disconnections, including water and electricity, which will remain in effect until the Governor determines that the economic and public health conditions have improved such that the prohibition does not need to be in place or until at least 60 days after the declared state of emergency ends. The budget includes protections for utility providers dealing with revenue shortfalls and establishes a repayment plan to give customers the opportunity to pay off back debt over a longer period.

Eviction Protections

The budget prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020, which is stronger than current federal protections. Landlords and tenants must cooperate and apply for rental assistance through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. After January 1, 2021, the budget requires landlords and tenants to work together to access rent assistance, including through the RMRP, before proceeding with an eviction.

A full list of legislation signed by the Governor during the special session can be found here.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SECURES $113 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH APPLE OVER IPHONE THROTTLING

~ Herring alleges Apple concealed a product defect in its iPhones by installing a software update that reduced performance; Virginia to receive more than $2.6 million as its share of the settlement ~

RICHMOND (November 18, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has secured a $113 million settlement with Apple, Inc. regarding Apple’s alleged 2016 decision to throttle consumers’ iPhone speeds to address unexpected shutdowns in some iPhones. Attorney General Herring joins a bipartisan coalition of over 30 state attorneys general in reaching this settlement with Apple. Under the terms of the agreement, Apple will pay Virginia $2,648,658.22.

“For years, Apple willingly and knowingly concealed defects in its iPhone models, going as far as to install a software update to intentionally hide those defects,” said Attorney General Herring. “Apple did not tell consumers that the software update reduced the performance of their phones, and, in fact, profited off the intentional slowdown when consumers upgraded their phones because of the reduced performance. I will not allow businesses like Apple to take advantage of Virginia consumers and I’m glad that we were able to reach a settlement that holds them accountable for their deceptive conduct.”

Based on the multistate investigation, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues allege that Apple discovered that battery issues were leading to unexpected shutdowns in iPhones. Rather than disclosing these issues or replacing batteries, however, Apple concealed the issues from consumers. Apple’s concealment ultimately led to a software update in December 2016 that reduced iPhone performance in an effort to keep the phones from unexpectedly shutting down. 

Additionally, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues allege that Apple’s concealment of the battery issues and its decision to throttle the performance of consumers’ iPhones led to Apple profiting from selling additional iPhones to consumers whose phone performance had, in fact, been slowed by Apple. In his Complaint, Attorney General Herring alleges that this conduct violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Under the settlement, Apple will pay Virginia $2,648,658.22. In addition to the monetary payment, Apple also must provide truthful information to consumers about iPhone battery health, performance, and power management. Apple must provide this important information in various forms on its website, in update installation notes, and in the iPhone user interface itself. Apple also recently entered into a proposed settlement of class action litigation related to the same conduct, and under that proposed settlement Apple will pay out up to $500 million in consumer restitution.

The settlement, in the form of a Consent Judgment, will be filed for approval with the Richmond City Circuit Court.

Joining Attorney General Herring in this settlement are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and the District Of Columbia.

SOCIAL SECURITY Spouses’ Benefits Explained

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Understanding how your future retirement might affect your spouse is important.  Here are a few things to remember when you’re planning for your retirement.  Your spouse’s benefit amount could be up to 50 percent of your full retirement age benefit amount.  If you qualify for a benefit from your own work history and a spouse’s record, we always pay your own benefit first.  You cannot receive spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses).

If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, your own retirement portion remains reduced.  When you add spouse’s benefits later, the total retirement and spouses benefit together will total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more about this at www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If your deceased spouse started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to you.   The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive.  Generally, the limit is the higher of:

  • The reduced monthly retirement benefit the deceased spouse would have been entitled to if they had lived, or
  • 82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Knowing about these benefits can help you plan your financial future.  Access a wealth of useful information and use our benefits planners at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.

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Virginia leaders seek input on Lee statue replacement in U.S. Capitol

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- State leaders are seeking public input on what individual should replace a statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee located in the U.S. Capitol. 

A commission appointed by the state legislature will hold a virtual public hearing Tuesday to help determine a replacement. The Lee statue is one of two that represent Virginia in the Capitol. The other is a statue of the nation’s first president and also a Virginian, George Washington. 

The Lee statue is one out of 13 in a section of the Capitol known as the Crypt. Each of the original 13 colonies is represented by a statue. Legislators passed a bill in the spring allowing a committee to determine if the statue should be removed and recommend a replacement. The commission decided in the summer to remove the statue and will recommend a replacement in December or when the commission concludes its work. A date has not been set to remove the statue, said Randy Jones, public information officer for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 

The statue must honor an individual that is dead and is a notable historical figure or known for civic or military service, according to VDH. The person must be a U.S. citizen but exceptions will be made for Indigenous people who lived in the nation before it was formed. 

For years there has been an increasing call to remove Confederate statues, which accelerated amid demonstrations after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost 8 minutes, while Taylor died after police opened fire while serving a warrant. A legal battle is pending over the removal of the Lee statue in Richmond. It is one of the last memorials in Richmond honoring Confederate leaders after protesters knocked some down, and others were removed by the city. 

Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have called for the removal of the Lee statue in the Capitol. 

“The Lee statue in the Capitol should be replaced,” Kaine said in a statement. “There are many compelling candidates for a replacement statue and [I] have full confidence the commission will pick someone representative of our history.”

 Citizens have already suggested possible replacements for the Lee statue in the Capitol that can be viewed on the DHR website. Suggested substitutions include former Virginians, such as:

  • James Armistead Lafayette, a former slave from Virginia that later became a spy for the Continental Army in the American Revolution. 

  • Dr. Robert Russa Moton, second president of Tuskegee University following the death of Booker T. Washington. The Moton Museum, a National Historical Landmark in Farmville, is named after him.

  •  Maggie L. Walker, a former educator and businesswoman who advocated against racism and sexism. She was the first African American woman to create a bank. 

  • Roger Arliner Young, the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in zoology. 

  • Pocahontas, An Indigenous Virginian and daughter of Chief Powhatan.

A number of people have nominated former Secretary of Defense and Gen. George C. Marshall. Marshall was not born in Virginia but graduated from the Virginia Military Institute. 

 Jennifer Oh, a Virginia resident who leads Capitol tours said in a letter that she opposes a statue honoring Marshall. She said the understanding behind the removal of the Lee statue is to have a “Virginia representative that symbolizes a life of inclusion.” Oh wrote that Marshall’s career does not reflect inclusion or support of minorities. 

The commission will also appoint a sculptor to create the statue with preference given to a Virginia-based sculptor. Eight members serve on the commission: Edward Ayers, a professor at the University of Richmond; Colita Fairfax, a professor at Norfolk State University, Sen. Louise Lucas D-Portsmouth; Fred Motley, a storyteller and performer; Anne Richardson, chief of the Rappahannock Tribe; Margaret Vanderhye, a former delegate who previously led the Virginia Commission for the Arts; and Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton. Julia Langan, DHR director, will serve as a non-voting member. 

The public hearing will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants can register to attend or speak at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources website. People can also email suggestions to USCapitolCommission@DHR.virginia.gov until Nov. 27.

Spiritual Development Amidst a Global Pandemic

 

For 165 years, spiritual development has been a fundamental cornerstone at Jackson-Feild (JFBHS). Today, COVID-19 restrictions have necessitated imagination and ingenuity on the part of our Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Robin Moore, to fulfill the spiritual needs of the children.

Chapel services had to be modified to meet safety procedures by having five different services—one per cottage. The pandemic has created new opportunities such as “The Gathering Place”, a specially designed haven resembling a cozy den. With two fish tanks to foster an environment of mindfulness, residents can relax and gather in small groups to share what is on their minds.

Life Guidance sessions are provided for residents to meet individually with the Chaplain for spiritual advice and comfort.

Residents find reassurance through the Chaplain’s prayer wall. Numerous residents have traced their hand print knowing that when she sees it, she will pray for them.

Guided meditation sessions are provided to assist residents with fears, anxieties, or to celebrate happiness. Yoga sessions, when requested, follow the teaching philosophy and practice in the Hatha yoga tradition. Hatha yoga can offer a full-body practice with a strong emphasis on the full integration of body, mind, and spirit.

The Chaplain also coordinates the care of the JFBHS’s three companion dogs with the help of residents. These dogs provide unconditional love for the children who enjoy and appreciated their love and attention.

VCU Health CMH Update

For our patients — your safety is our top concern.

Because of the increase in positive COVID tests throughout our service area, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is tightening visitation guidelines for the hospital, the C.A.R.E. Building, Clarksville Primary Care Center and Chase City Primary Care Center effective Friday, November 13, 2020.

“We are taking these necessary precautions to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Scott Burnette, CEO at VCU Health CMH.

He continued, “We are asking people to continue to practice physical distancing – as in do not interact with others closely unless absolutely necessary. It is recommended that people keep at least six feet of distance from others to provide additional safeguards against the Corona (COVID) virus. Washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds is also vital in combating the virus.”

Burnette said many precautions have been implemented to make sure VCU Health CMH is doing everything possible to confront the challenges the Corona virus presents. Following is a list of restrictions, all done to help prevent the spread of the virus.

  • All visitors must be screened and provided an armband or badge.
  • All visitors must be masked at all times.
  • Visitors must comply with physical distancing guidelines in all common areas.
  • To avoid overcrowded lobby waiting areas, visitors are encouraged to remain in their vehicle except when they are visiting a patient.
  • All visitors are required to use hand sanitizer upon entering the facility and frequently during their stay.
  • If patient clinical needs dictate no visitors (i.e. chemotherapy), visitors are encouraged to remain in their vehicle. Visitors must maintain appropriate physical distancing in all waiting areas.

For Inpatients at CMH:

  • Visiting hours remain 8 AM until 8 PM
  • Non-COVID patients are allowed 1 visitor per day.
  • A visitor will be allowed to leave the premises and re-enter the same day provided they have a hospital visitor badge on with the current date. They will not have to be rescreened.
  • If a visitor re-enters the same day without a hospital visitor badge, they will have to be rescreened.
  • Front lobby personnel are required to ask visitors, who are leaving, if they plan to return. If they do not, the hospital visitor badge will be removed.
  • Surgery patients may be accompanied by 1 adult companion.
  • Pediatric Surgery patients should be accompanied by 1 Parent/POA/Guardian.
  • Pediatric patients - 1 adult visitor (18 yrs. or older) at a time, allowing one to spend the night. Parent/POA/Guardian made trade off. No more than two visitors per day.
  • Labor & Delivery – 2 adult visitors (18 yrs. or older) at a time, allowing one to spend the night. No more than two visitors per day.

For outpatients being seen in the hospital, C.A.R.E. Building, Chase City Primary Care Center and Clarksville Primary Care Center

  • Only patients may enter the hospital, C.A.R.E. Building, Chase City Primary Care and Clarksville Primary Care, except for patients needing assistance, who may be accompanied by 1 adult companion.
  • Patients 18 and under may be accompanied by 1 adult. All patients and companions must wear a mask.

For the Emergency Department at VCU Health CMH:

  • Only patients may enter the Emergency Department, except for patients needing assistance, who may be accompanied by 1 adult companion.
  • Pediatric patients are allowed 1 adult companion. Parent/POA/Guardian made trade off.
  • Exceptions to the visitation rules for specific incidents will be in accordance with ED policy or permission from the Administrative Representative.

The Hundley Center

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken action to aggressively respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  In order to comply with CMS mandates, nursing homes nationwide implemented restrictions and The Hundley Center at VCU Health CMH complied by suspending all visitation. That visitor restriction remains in place.  Residents have access to a private phone in their rooms.  To reach a resident, please dial (434) 584, followed by the number 4 and the three digits of the resident’s room number.  Our goal of protecting the health of each resident is of the utmost importance during this unprecedented situation.

You can make a child’s Christmas wishes come true.

 

 

The Christmas season is especially hard for most of the children at Jackson-Feild. What is supposed to be a time of unity and joy brings back memories of past Christmases filled with sadness and heartache.

Jackson-Feild’s staff makes every effort to ensure that the children will have Christmas memories that they will cherish for lifetime. We are seeking your help with our Adopt-a-Child program. Interested persons can adopt all or part of a child’s Christmas list. Due to COVID-19, only cash contributions will be accepted. Gifts will be ordered online by Jackson-Feild staff.

Jackson-Feild also organizes a special meal and activity every day during the twelve days of Christmas. The children are unable to go home or receive any visitors due to COVID-19 which will be especially trying for them.

If you would like to help, please send your check to Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services, 546 Walnut Grove, Jarratt, VA 23867, go online to www.jacksonfeild.org or contact Tod Balsbaugh (804)869-3505.

Please share the spirit of Christmas by helping Jackson-Feild bring joy and happiness to the children.

When you sit down with your loved ones on Christmas day, please know that you created a lifetime memory for a child who needs your help.

Governor Northam Announces New Statewide Measures to Contain COVID-19

Includes limit of 25 individuals for in-person gatherings, expanded mask mandate, on-site alcohol curfew, and increased enforcement

RICHMOND—As COVID-19 surges in states across the country, Governor Ralph Northam today announced new actions to mitigate the spread of the virus in Virginia. While the Commonwealth’s case count per capita and positivity rate remain comparatively low, all five health regions are experiencing increases in new COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” said Governor Northam. “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”

Governor Northam shared a new video to update Virginians on the additional steps the Commonwealth is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is available here.

The following measures will take effect at midnight on Sunday, November 15:

  • Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor. 
  • On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart. 

Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly-reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May. While Southwest Virginia has experienced a spike in the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, all five of the Commonwealth’s health regions are currently reporting a positivity rate over five percent. Although hospital capacity remains stable, hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35 percent in the last four weeks.

On Tuesday, Governor Northam announced new contracts with three laboratories as part of the Commonwealth’s OneLabNetwork, which will significantly increase Virginia’s public health testing capacity. Contracts with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, and Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk will directly support high-priority outbreak investigations, community testing events, and testing in congregate settings, with a goal of being able to perform 7,000 per day by the end of the year.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five and sixth amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven will be made available here

For information about COVID-19 in Virginia, visit vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

VSU Offers Free Tax Workshop for Farmers

Virtual Workshop is Planned for Nov. 19

Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) is hosting a virtual “Filing Farm Taxes” workshop for farmers and ranchers. Participants will learn tax management skills for their farming operations. Even if farmers hire a tax preparer to file their farm taxes, there is important information they need to know as producers.
 
The guest speaker is Darrell Tennie, who specializes in agriculture taxes and is founder and chief executive officer of The Tennie Group, LLC in Knightdale, North Carolina. Tennie will share information on farm-related tax topics, including new tax laws and changes, completing Schedule F, recordkeeping, reporting business expenses and deductions, managing enterprise sales, social security management, managing wages and working with nonprofits.
 
The workshop is open to the public, and will be held Nov. 19 from 9:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, and click on the event. YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR ZOOM MEETING LINK IN THE CONFIRMATION EMAIL. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A LINK, PLEASE EMAIL smallfarm@vsu.edu.

 
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office at smallfarm@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-3292 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.
 
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

 

Southside Virginia Community College is part of new Re-Employing Virginians (REV) Initiative

REV is a new $30 million initiative to support workforce training for unemployed or underemployed Virginians.

Governor Ralph Northam announced on October, 30th that the new Re-Employing Virginians (REV) initiative for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will provide up to $3,000 in tuition funding to train individuals in a high-demand field at Southside Virginia Community College and other community colleges across Virginia.   

Governor Northam announced that Virginia is allocating $30 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to help Virginians whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis pursue workforce training in a high-demand field. The REV initiative will provide scholarships to eligible individuals to enroll in a workforce or community college program in five essential industries, including health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education.

“Virginians who have been furloughed, had hours reduced, or lost a job because of the pandemic are struggling and wondering what the future holds,” said Governor Northam. “Investing in programs that help people develop skills in high-demand fields is a win for workers, employers, and our economy. As we focus on recovering from the impacts of the global pandemic, the new REV initiative will give Virginians the resources they need to get back on their feet and help ensure that our Commonwealth emerges from this public health crisis even stronger than we were before.”

The initiative will provide one-time REV scholarships of $3,000 to register in a qualifying full-time workforce program and $1,500 to register part-time or in a short-term, noncredit training program.

“There has never been a better time than now to start your educational journey at Southside Virginia Community College.  The REV initiative, along with other funding and scholarships available, will allow students that are eligible to incur little or no out of pocket cost for the Spring 2021 semester.  Our belief that everyone should be given an opportunity to acquire an educational foundation that develops and extends their skills and knowledge is part of the college’s mission and this new initiative will help support our mission,” said SVCC President, Dr. Quentin R. Johnson.

“Even with high unemployment rates, many employers are still struggling to find the talent they need in critical sectors,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “The REV scholarships will help close the skills gap between the jobs open and the Virginians in search of a new career path.”

“More than 70 percent of Virginians who have filed for unemployment have some college or less,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Increasing educational opportunity for those who have recently lost jobs will build resiliency in the Commonwealth’s workforce, equip Virginians with the credentials they need to get back to work, and move Virginia closer to our goal of being the best-educated state by 2030.”

“If you have lost your job, or seen a reduction in your hours and paycheck, Virginia’s community colleges want to help you,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. “The REV initiative offers you another way into the short-term credential and degree programs that prepare you for a high-demand career. These opportunities will be more affordable than ever before thanks to these grants, and we look forward to helping individuals and families who want to move forward, beyond the unexpected challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Interested individuals should contact SVCC as soon as possible to apply before the December 14, 2020 enrollment deadline. To find out more information and apply, visit: southside.edu/re-employing-virginians, or call (434) 949-1021.

Sign Up for Medicare Part B Online

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

For many people, signing up for Medicare Part B doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of home.  Please visit our Medicare Part B webpage at secure.ssa.gov/acu/ophandler/loginSuccess  if:

  • You’reenrolled in Medicare Part A.
  • You would like to enroll in Part B during the Special Enrollment Period.

You can complete form CMS-40B (Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B [Medical Insurance]) at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms-Items/CMS017339 and CMS-L564 at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS-L564E.pdf (Request for Employment Information) online.

You can also fax the CMS-40B and CMS-L564 to 1-833-914-2016; or return forms by mail to your local Social Security office.  Please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if you have any questions. 

 Note:  When completing the forms:

  • State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
  • Submit oneof the following types of secondary evidence by uploading it from a saved document on your computer:
  • Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
  • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
  • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
  • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
  • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
  • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

 Please let your friends and loved ones know about this online, mail, or fax option.

Library Increases Hours

Beginning Monday, October 5th, Meherrin Regional Library System increases hours open to the public. New hours are Mondays 10:00 am - 6:00 pm and Tuesdays – Fridays 9:30 am - 5:00 pm. Contact free and after hour locker service will remain available and bookdrops are open. Patrons must wear face coverings when visiting. Other restrictions may apply. For questions, please contact the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at 434-848-2418, ext. 301, Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at 434-634-2539 or visit www.meherrinlib.org.

 

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