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By:  Jack Forest, DO

EMPORIA, VA - The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ located just below the liver.  It plays an important role in food digestion by storing bile produced by the liver and providing it to the small intestine where it breaks down fat. The gallbladder generally goes unnoticed unless a patient experiences symptoms of a disorder, such as gallstones. Gallstones are like grains of sand or small rocks that develop in the gallbladder as a result of bile becoming chemically unbalanced. Only about 60 percent of people with gallstones experience symptoms, as they can develop and pass through the gallbladder and intestines without causing symptoms. However, when a gallstone is large it may become caught in the passageways, or ducts, of the gallbladder, pancreas or liver, resulting in extreme pain.

Gallstones generally fall into one of two categories, depending on the cause. Pigment gallstones develop when bile contains too much bilirubin, a naturally-occurring chemical normally removed by the liver. Pigment gallstones generally develop in individuals with liver conditions such as cirrhosis or sickle cell anemia. Another type, cholesterol gallstones, comprise 80 percent of all gallstones and consist mostly of undisolved cholesterol. Because most gallstones result from high levels of cholesterol, diet plays a very important role in the prevention of gallstone development.

Diets high in fats and cholesterol are a main contributor to gallstone development. However, cholesterol levels in your bile do not always correspond to cholesterol levels in your blood, especially since cholesterol-lowering drugs do not prevent gallstones even though they lower blood cholesterol levels. Crash diets that include too little fat, skipping meals, too few calories, rapid weight loss or going long periods without eating prohibit the gallbladder from emptying often enough or completely, increasing the risk of gallstone development.

In addition to diet, other risk factors for developing gallstones include gender, body weight, age and ethnicity. Women are more likely to develop gallstones because estrogen causes more cholesterol to be excreted in bile. Women who have high levels of estrogen in their bodies, such as those who are pregnant, taking birth control pills or on hormone therapy, are especially at risk. Overweight individuals may also have higher levels of cholesterol excreted into their bile. Individuals older than 60 years of age and those of Native American and Mexican-American descent are also high-risk groups.

If gallstones develop and cause symptoms, medical intervention is necessary in order to avoid permanent organ damage. Symptoms of gallstones often include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea especially after a high-fat or spicy meal, known as a “gallbladder attack.”  Seek medical treatment immediately if you experience these symptoms especially if accompanied by dark urine, fever, chills and/or yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, as this may indicate an obstructed bile duct, which can result in gallbladder rupture, a potentially fatal occurrence.

The most common treatment for gallstones is surgical removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is usually performed on an out-patient basis using the laparoscopic method, allowing most patients to return to normal activities within days. A person with a healthy liver can function normally without a gallbladder, however, lifestyle modifications such as limiting fat intake and increasing dietary fiber may be necessary for normal digestive function. Although surgery is the most common treatment for large gallstones and blocked ducts, non-surgical options to dissolve or break up the stones may be appropriate for individuals unable to undergo surgery due to complications such as cardiovascular conditions or liver disease.

If you experience signs or symptoms associated with gallstones or fall into a high-risk group, contact your physician to discuss treatment options and ways to minimize your risk.  It is important to seek medical care at the first sign of gallbladder attack or pain to avoid additional complications such as infections, duct obstructions or gallbladder rupture.

The information in this article was provided by Jack Forest, DO, who is certified by American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.  Dr. Forest’s practice, Southern Virginia Medical Group is located at 317 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Forest or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-336-1222.


USDA Extends ARC and PLC Deadlines

Farmers Have Until April 7 to Update Yields, Reallocate Base Acres, and Make Final Selections

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one additional week, until April 7, 2015, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015.

“This is an important decision for producers because these programs help farmers and ranchers protect their operations from unexpected changes in the marketplace,” said Vilsack. “Nearly 98 percent of owners have already updated yield and base acres, and 90 percent of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC.  These numbers are strong, and continue to rise. This additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make their decisions,” said Vilsack.

If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.Producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.

These safety-net programs provide important financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace. As part of the strong education and outreach campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in September, to date more than 5 million educational postcards, in English and Spanish, have been sent to producers nationwide, and more than 5,000 events with more than 430,000 attendees, including training sessions and speaking engagements, have been conducted to educate  producers on the programs. The online tools, available at, which allow producers to explore how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation, have been presented to more than 3,400 groups.   

Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency by April 7. To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find local offices, visit

The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

GCHS Track Team Wins first Meet

Windsor VA March 25, 2015-The boys and girls track team defeated Windsor, Southampton and Park View in the season opener of the outdoor track season.

The boys score

102 GCHS

64 Park View

35 Windsor

24 Southampton

Robert Sykes won both the 1mile (5:03) and the 800m (2:12), Jordan Peebles won the high jump (6’6”) and the 110mhurdles (16.22), Cordarus Clayton won the shot put (42’) Stuart Dugger 120’7” Douglass Allen Jr 12:44, the boys 4x800m relay team of Nathaniel King, Chris Mason, Isaiah Hicks and Robert Sykes won with a time of 9:59

The girls score


72 Parkview

26 Windsor

18 Southampton

Lindsey Gordon recorded two first place in the 2mile (15:57) and 1mile (6:48), Arianna Phillips won the long jump (13’), Deja Mangrum won the shot put (25’9), Praisya Smith won the 300m hurdles (55.76) and Tenisha Broadnax won the 800m (3:03) the girsl 4x800m relay team of Brooklyn Mason, Haley Jones, Cahlia Allen and Tenisha Broadnax won in a time of 13:28

The track team will compete at home next Wednesday April 1, 2015, “ this was a good effort by my athletes for the first track meet considering we only had few practice days I was quite impress with the effort, however, we have a long way to go before conference, regional and states”, Coach Young said.

SVCC Chorus has "So Much to Sing About"

The Southside Virginia Community College Chorus (SVCC Chorus) has “So Much to Sing About!” and you are invited to attend. The SVCC Chorus is giving their annual Spring Concert on April 12th at 7:00 PM at the South Hill Presbyterian Church (free). Under the direction of Carol Henderson and with the assistance of Sally Tharrington on the piano, this year’s concert is featuring songs about the inspiration that develops from depths of our human spirit. We have “So Much to Sing About!”.

In the SVCC Chorus music, you will hear beautiful poetry that sings of our Faith, Love, Hope and Joy. After the cold, icy and snowy winter, the SVCC Chorus hopes to warm your hearts and inspire you as springtime is welcomed with beautiful music... we have “So Much to Sing About!”

In the spiritual, “I’m Gonna Sing!” by Andre Thomas, our spirit is told to “sing on!” “dance on!” as we sing of our Faith.  “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Gwyneth Walker is a resonating song of Hope.

Flutist Dee Pinnell joins the chorus for “Prayer Litany” a treasured anthem by Helen Kemp. Betty Edwards is a featured soprano soloist.  Gavin Honeycutt sings the tenor solos in a medley, “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” where we re-live the Joy of our younger years.  Other chorus members featured in the program are: Lloyd Farnsworth, Jimmy Martin, Kelli Lewis and Julia Hawthorne.

Other gentle gems: “Over the Rainbow”, “Gentle Annie”, a folk-like song by Stephen Foster; “Danny Boy” by Joe Flummerfelt and “Sing Me to Heaven”, will warm your hearts with remembered Love.

Carol and Sally reside in Mecklenburg County. Sally works at SVCC and also serves as the musician at Union Chapel United Methodist Church in Boydton. Carol serves as the musician at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Halifax and is also the director of the Lake Country Chorale, Inc. in Clarksville.

Come to the SVCC Chorus Spring Concert on April 12th ...we have “So Much to Sing About!” sponsored by the Southside Virginia Community College. The concert is free and is open for all friends, neighbors and families. South Hill Presbyterian Church, 914, Mecklenburg, Ave, South Hill, Va. 23970

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I’m clinging. Since I believe that love abides, How Can I Keep from Singing?”



Mason (May-May) Taylor Scholarship

In June 2014, the Mason (May-May) Taylor Scholarship was established in memory of Mason who was a fun loving and in the moment nine year old boy. This year a graduating senior from Greensville County High School (Emporia, VA) will be awarded with the scholarship in the amount of $500.00. Future scholarships will be awarded each year until his graduating class of 2022.  Details on how to apply to the scholarship can be found at or in the Guidance Office at GCHS. Applications can be submitted to:

Mason (May-May) Taylor Scholarship

2550 Chapmans Ford Road

Emporia, VA 23847





Are you interested in learning more about Law Enforcement? Are you interested in creating a spirit of  friendship and cooperation  between Law Enforcement and the citizens it serves? If your answer is YES, you may want to consider attending the Emporia Police Department's CITIZEN'S POLICE ACADEMY.

The Emporia Police Department's Citizen's Police  Academy  is a series of instructional courses presented by the Emporia Police Department to educate local citizens on the role of law enforcement in today's society.

The Emporia Police Department will begin it's next Citizen's Police Academy on  March 26th, 2015 .  Any citizen who is age 18 or older should contact the Emporia Police Department at 434-634-2121, (Ext-6), or email ( You can also fill out the short application on their brochure (DOWNLOAD HERE) and take it to the Dispatch Window at the EPD.The citizen will then be advised of the application process and be considered for enrollment The following is a summary of the Citizen's Police Academy enrollment and curriculum.


 Prior to the beginning of the Citizen's Academy,  the Police Department will make applications available.  Anyone interested can at any time call the Police Department or email me at (  An application brochure will be provided for you. The first fifteen applicants accepted will be notified of the date when classes will start.  There will be no charge for the course.There will be certain requirements to attend. The following are the requirements:

 1.  Must be a legal resident, property owner or work  or conduct business  in the City of Emporia.

 2.  18 years of age or older.

 3.  Have no Felony Record or Misdemeanor Record involving Moral Turpitude, or violent crimes.

 4.  Have a good driving record.

 5.  Present positive Identification, (Drivers License, ID card, Birth Certificate, etc.

 Selection of qualified applicants will be on a first  come first serve basis.  Applications will be numbered as they are received. The first fifteen applicants that qualify will be selected to attend the CPA.  Each applicant accepted will be notified by letter and will be contacted by phone to determine their intention to attend.  This process will be repeated until fifteen applicants are accepted.  Applications who qualified but were not selected will be held until the next CPA and will be among those first accepted.



~ Event provides overview of admissions process to students, parents & school counselors ~

Senator Mark R. Warner (VA) will host his annual Virginia Service Academy Day onSaturday, March 28th from 10:00am – 1:00pm at the Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville.   The event will offer students, parents and school counselors a comprehensive overview of the United States service academies and their admission processes. 

Attendees will have an opportunity to meet with officials from the five federal service academies, as well as representatives from ROTC programs, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Military Institute. Representatives from many Virginia Congressional offices will also be available.

“One of my most rewarding responsibilities as a Senator is nominating Virginia’s exceptional young men and women for admission to our country’s service academies,” Senator Warner said. “I am proud to be able to connect students and their families with these opportunities.” 

The Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Military Academy, and Naval Academy require a two-tier admission process of highly-qualified individuals; an applicant must meet the rigorous admissions requirements of an academy as well as receive a Congressional nomination to be accepted into an academy.

Registration for Academy day and information on the nomination process for the service academies is available on the Senator’s website  You may call the Vienna office at 703-442-0670 with any questions.



Educators Prayer Breakfast

Petersburg, VA –     Educator Dominion blogger, elementary school teacher and author, Toni Young, will be hosting the third and final Educators Prayer Breakfast for this school year on Saturday, May 2, 2015 from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. at Zion Apostolic Christian Memorial Temple’s Lower Dining Hall,  1601 S Youngs Road, Petersburg, VA.  Doors open at 8:30 a.m.
This event is designed especially for men and women who are currently employed or have retired from any position within the public or private educational setting in the Petersburg and Richmond Tri-Cities area and all neighboring counties. This includes, but is not limited to, teachers, specialist, administrators, superintendents, substitutes, food service, bus drivers, volunteers, child care center workers, college professors etc.
Educator Dominion seeks to empower and encourage believers in the Word of God to improve the quality of education in their city or county through the power of consistent, specific and bold unified prayer. 
The cost of the event is $8.00 and includes a light continental breakfast.  Cash or check payments will be accepted on the day of the event. However, you must RSVP to reserve a space.  Seating is limited.  

For more information, please contact Toni Young at 757-537-3948 after4 p.m.



C3’s Kid’s Meals Application Open for Summer Meals

Franklin, VA. For the 5th summer, Cover 3 Foundation will be a sponsor of the USDA Summer Feeding Service Program. Application deadline for C3’s Kid’s Meals is April 10, 2015.

Through sponsorship of the USDA Summer Feeding Service Program, C3’s Kid’s Meals provides free, healthy and balanced breakfasts, lunches, snacks and suppers to all children attending a qualifying site within 60 miles of Franklin, VA. Qualifying sites may include day care centers, recreation centers, churches, schools, summer camps, open park sites, and community centers. Acceptance and participation requirements for the Program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the same course of the meal service.

All returning sites and new sites must complete the preliminary online application found at no later than April 10. If you want to partner with C3’s Kid’s Meals to provide healthy and balanced meals to children at your center and have questions, please contact Cover 3 Foundation at 757-562-2252 or email


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