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January 2014

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  1. Greensville County Deputy Missing

    Residents of Emporia and Greensville County are asked to be on the lookout for Greensville County Sheriff's Deputy Percy Lee House.  The last contact with the Sheriff's Office was 9:24 Friday morning.  Deputy House was last seen in the Skippers area.  As of publication time (10:15 pm Friday) there was still no word from Deputy House.

    The Greensville County Sheriff's Office issued a "Be On the Lookout" request to other law enforcement agencies early Friday Afternoon.

    Deputy House, 52, was last seen wearing a black "BDU" style uniform and is just over 6 feet tall, weighing 260, balding with hazel eyes.  He was driving a marked Greensville County Sheriff's Office Cruiser-2006 Ford Crown Victoria, Brown with yellow reflective stripes and missing the right front hubcap.  License Plate Number 110359L.

    Deputy House's medical history is not known.

    If you see Deputy Percy Lee House or a Greensville County Crown Victoria with a missing right front hubcap and the Local Government tag 110359L, please call the Greensville County Sheriff's Office at 434-348-4200 as soon as possible.

  2. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE CITE 500-PLUS DRIVERS FOR TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

    RICHMOND – In the first six months since Virginia’s texting-while-driving ban became a primary offense, Virginia State Police troopers have issued hundreds of citations for the violation. From July 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013, troopers stopped and charged 567 drivers for violating the state’s “texting- while-driving” law.

    During the 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session, legislators amended Code of Virginia 46.2-1078.1 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-1078.1) to make it a primary offense. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for the first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. The law applies to the operator of a passenger vehicle in motion and exempts law-enforcement and other first responders.

    Since the law went into effect, Virginia state troopers have been enforcing it just like any other primary offense. The trooper must observe the illegal conduct of the vehicle’s operator, thus providing the trooper with reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on that vehicle. Further investigation determines what, if any, offense(s) the driver will be cited for by the trooper. Troopers have the discretion to warn, summons or arrest a violator.

    “Driving distracted puts everybody at risk on a highway,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “According to preliminary data*, driver distraction accounted for 20 percent of all fatal traffic crashes on Virginia’s roads in 2013. That accounts for 131 lives lost last year because of a driver failing to pay attention while behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

    In addition, state legislators this past session also established Code of Virginia 46.2-341.20.5 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-341.20C5). The law prohibits anyone from texting while driving a commercial vehicle or a vehicle used to transport between nine and 15 passengers. The law does permit “texting when necessary to communicate with law enforcement or other emergency services.”

    Code of Virginia 46.2-919.1 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-919.1) prohibits the use of any wireless telecommunications devices by persons driving school buses.

  3. Sopko Named to Randolph-Macon Deans List

    Greensville County High School Alum Amanda Sopko has been named to the Randolph-Macon College Dean's List for Fall Semester, 2013.  Amanda is the daughter of Paul & Amy Sopko of Skippers. She is the 2011 graduate of GCHS. She is studying psychology.  She also plays softball for the college.

    As a Freshman (2012): earned Third Team All-ODAC honors as an outfielder… appeared in 24 games for the Jackets as a freshman… batted .400 with one homerun and 10 RBI… scored 10 runs on the season… stole a team-high eight bases… belted 24 hits and two doubles… registered a fielding percentage of .923 with 22 putouts and just two errors.

    Amanda hopes to become  a conservation officer, which  is a law enforcement officer that protects the wildlife and the environment that they live in.

    The notice from Randolph-Macon reads: "An achievement of this sort represents determination and commitment on her part and places her among the best students academically at Randolph-Macon. As an academic leader, she serves as a role model for the rest of the student body and should be justifiably proud of her performance."

  4. YMCA Preschool 100th Day!

    The YMCA Preschool celebrated it's 100th day on Wednesday, January 22.  Students kicked-off the celebration with a trip to Pino's Pizza.  The kids helped make their own pizzas.  Other 100th day activities included, a 100 snack, using a pretzel stick and crackers, linking 100 paper clips together and measuring with them, graphing M&M's, making a 100 Fruit Loop necklace, 10 sets of 10 exercises, and collecting 100 pennies from each child.  The money collected will be donated to the Emporia-Greensville Humane Society.  The children ended the week of activities with a trip to the Emporia Library to see the Ringling Brothers clown.  Despite the snow, the children had a great week celebrating being 100 days smarter!

     

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  5. Community Garden Boxes For Rent

    The Greensville/Emporia Extension Office has four community garden boxes available for rent! Please assist us in enhancing community beautification within our beloved community. Have you always wanted to grow your own produce but had limited space? Do you like gardening with others who enjoy your same passion? Adopt a box today!! Adopt a box fee of $50.00 will allow your organization to have their name on the garden box. A $25.00 non-refundable deposit is due to reserve your box and the remainder is due prior to planting.

    All seeds will be provided in addition to gardening tools, however, you are still welcome to bring your own seeds and tools if you choose. We encourage all participants to donate their produce to a group of their choice. Fall planting is scheduled from September to January and spring planting from March (or after last frost) to July. February and August are the months that all boxes will receive maintenance. The Greensville/Emporia Extension Office will provide each garden box occupant with a “Growing for You” packet full of valuable information that will assist you in your gardening endeavors. We are very excited about this project and look forward to growing with you!

    You may print the application here.  For more details please feel free to contact Brittany A. Council at 434-348-4233 or stop by the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at 105 Oak Sreet.

  6. Virginia Senate Committee Says ‘No’ To Dreamers

    By Chris Suarez, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- Virginia Senate legislation designed to give in-state tuition to undocumented childhood arrivals was defeated this past week by a Health and Education Committee vote of 6-7.   Senate Bill 249, patroned by Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, and known as the Virginia DREAM Act, sparked heated rhetoric  on whether state or federal legislators should be held responsible for immigration-related measures.  “Shame on the federal government and people from both parties,” said Sen. Thomas A. Garrett, R-Hadensville. “Whether it’s a failure to secure the borders or failure to acknowledge 12 million living, breathing human beings who are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I can’t vote on the bill because it’s unconstitutional. We can’t do this. It’s stupid.”

    Republicans on the committee questioned the legal status of Virginia residents who’ve received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a memorandum that advises U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grant undocumented people momentary pardon from being deported. The order was enacted by The Department of Homeland Security in 2012.

    When the bill was first debated this month during the higher education subcommittee meeting, Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Roanoke, pointed out wording within the Homeland Security directive, which only provides, “relief from removal from the country,” but does not clarify lawful status.  “I understand Senator Garrett’s position, but I think it’s not well-founded,” McEachin said. “This legislation wasn’t made to confer citizenship. All we’re trying to do is give them access to the public university system at an in-state cost.”

    Smith said undocumented arrivals could enroll in the commonwealth’s community college system as an alternative to enrolling immediately in a public four-year university.  Senate Democrats were unamused with that notion.  McEachin said such a suggestion was “draconian,” and designates a number of residents as “second-class citizens,” because they would be financially barred from attending more prestigious in-state universities.

    Members of the committee expressed frustration with similar measures repeatedly failing when introduced to the state legislature.   “We’ve been asking the federal government to do their job, but they’re not,” said Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston. “Meanwhile, we have a generation of students who’ve been deprived of a reasonably priced, higher-quality education. How long do they have to wait for the federal government to do its job? I think it’s our obligation to step forward and do ours.”

    Interest groups, such as the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, were vocal in their support of the bill. Many still are vested in the issue, planning to support similar legislation in the House of Delegates and looking toward next year.  American Civil Liberties Union paralegal Joseph Montana assured the ACLU’s support of the bill in the future, saying it is the commonwealth’s responsibility to support its residents and uphold social justice.  “If we wait around for someone else to do our work for us, we’re going to be waiting a long time,” Montana said.

    The official legal status of residents who’ve received federal deferred action is unclear, but Montana said he believes other Virginia statutes are evidence that a bill such as McEachin’s could exist and be constitutional.  “We weren’t asking for something that people with deferred action status don’t already have,” Montana said. “People with TPS (temporary protected status) are afforded in-state tuition and have the same rights as those with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status have. They’re allowed to have a driver’s license, they’re allowed to work in the United States and they’re lawfully present.” 

    Two other bills seeking in-state tuition await hearing in House committees. House Bills 59 and 88 are patroned by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, and Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, respectively.

  7. SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER CELEBRATES AMERICAN HEART MONTH

    EMPORIA, VA- Each year since 1963, the President of the United States has signed a proclamation declaring February as American Heart Month.  The purpose of American Heart Month is to raise awareness about our nation’s number one killer, cardiovascular disease.  In recognition of American Heart Month, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC)has scheduled a variety of events throughout the month of February. 

    Every Friday during the month of February from 10:00 AM – Noon, the public is invited to take advantage of FREE blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department of SVRMC.  BMI is a tool for indicating weight status in adults by dividing the weight of a person in pounds by the person’s height in inches.  BMI is only one factor used to predict risk and it does not diagnosis any disease or condition, although higher BMI calculations are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers increase.

    On February 7th SVRMC staff will join thousands of Americans nationwide in celebrating Go Red for Women day, and you are invited to join in the fun.  First observed, in February 2004, Go Red for Women is an initiative to raise awareness that heart disease is not just a men’s disease, but the number one killer of American women with more the deaths of more than 300,000 women attributed to cardiovascular disease annually.   The good news is that 80% of heart-related illness can be prevented by educating oneself on cardiovascular risk factors and making the right choices to protect one’s heart.  Go Red for Women provides women and men across the country an opportunity to wear red and unite in the national movement to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.  Anyone can participate in this life-saving awareness movement by showing off a favorite red dress, shirt, or tie.

    On Wednesday, February 19th, SVRMC will hold a FREE cholesterol screening from 7:00 – 9:00 AM in the classrooms, followed by a heart healthy continental breakfast.  Those wishing to participate are encouraged not to eat or drink anything prior to having their blood drawn.

    Hearth Month activities conclude with “Lunch and Learn” on Thursday, February 27th at noon featuring Sanquib Samee, MD, Cardiologist.  This FREE monthly educational series sponsored by Senior Circle provides an opportunity for the public to join a member of the SVRMC medical staff to learn about various health-related topics.  For additional information on “Lunch and Learn” or to reserve your seat, contact Tracy Mitchell, Senior Circle Advisor; at 434-348-4455 to reserve a seat (seating is limited and reservation are required). 

    If you would like additional information on National Heart Month or any of the activities scheduled at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, contact Sandy Webb, Director of Marketing, at 434-348-4447.

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  8.  Use the links in the box below to find articles by month.  Click on the month you wish to view and all articles published during that month will be displayed.  Articles will be displayed several at a time, with links at the bottom for skipping pages (or skipping to a specific page).

  9. Bills Seek E-cig Ban for Minors

    By Dana Carlson, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- Electronic cigarettes could be banned from the hands of minors as Virginia legislators in the House and Senate push for regulation.  In response to the growing number of young people experimenting with smokeless tobacco products, Virginia lawmakers have introduced House Bill 1111, House Bill 26, House Bill 218, Senate Bill 96 and Senate Bill 17 to prohibit people under the age of 18 from purchasing or possessing e-cigarettes.

    A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press release stated the percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes more than doubled to 4.7 percent between 2011 to 2012.   

    Data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey stated more than 1.78 million middle school and high school students had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.          "We have to start thinking about what we need to do as a society, what e-cigarette manufacturers need to do, what state municipalities and the federal government need to do," stated Dr. Tim McAfee of the CDC in an Associated Press interview.

    While the language of each proposed provision is slightly different, each bill summary defines electronic cigarettes as a vehicle of nicotine delivery.  HB1111, HB218 and SB96 specifically call for electronic cigarettes to be grouped beneath the umbrella of "tobacco products," which may lead to regulation similar to that of traditional cigarettes.

    HB26 has been incorporated into the Reeves bill, HB218, by a voice vote in the House along with SB17. Meanwhile, HB1111 has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law sub-committee for review.

    While lobbyists for the Medical Society of Virginia were poised to publicly endorse the ban of e-cigs to minors, a press release stated the group was pleased to see when bill patron Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Fredericksburg, presented SB 96. The bill -- which would prohibit minors from purchasing or possessing e-cigarettes or vapor products -- faced no opposition and was unanimously supported by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

    Additionally, HB218, introduced by Delegate Dave Albo, was endorsed by the House Courts of Justice Civil subcommittee and will next be considered by the full committee, stated MSV.  Delegate David Ramadan, R-South Riding, patron of HB26, stated in a WRIC interview that his bill was inspired by concerned parents who saw more young people experimenting with e-cigs. "Under 18 children were able to buy these cigarette looking products in malls and they have seen a trend in children starting to use it," Ramadan stated.

    The exploding e-cigarette industry is predicted to have earned more than $1 billion in annual sales for 2013, according to statistics verified by the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. Some local e-cig retailers already have prepared for the repercussions of growth by carefully marketing their products.  "As a company we welcome legislation," said Donovan Phillips, co-owner of the electronic cigarette specialty store and lounge, Avail Vapor in Richmond. "As far as the 18 and under situation, this industry needs this kind of legislation as it moves from the state of a novelty to a mainstream product."

    Avail Vapor, which has several store locations throughout Virginia, practices self- regulation to remain ahead of the curve. The brick-and-mortar business currently labels its products detailing all chemicals contained in e-cigarette cartridges, includes a warning label noting the risks of nicotine consumption. The label pointedly claims smokeless tobacco is addicting and is not an aid for smoking cessation. In addition to these precautions, Avail Vapor does not sell electronic cigarettes to minors.

    Ian Rawls, an e-cig user, stated on Facebook that the "vaping" trend has blown up in the Hampton Roads area during the last few months.  “Most of the places I go to when I pick up materials typically ID me," Rawls stated, adding that most of these shops have a sign reading: "Under 18 not allowed."

    "We know that nicotine is not good for the developing adult's brain, and we are concerned that experimentation with e-cigarettes may put our children also at risk for using cigarettes," McAfee stated. 

    Phillips said e-cigarettes offer a lifestyle alternative to a wide demographic of people whether it's a mother who is worried about second-hand smoke when driving her kids to school or someone in the military who doesn't want to smell like smoke.

    Chip Anderson, co-owner of RVA Vapes stated on Facebook that Big Tobacco has failed at buying itself into the e-cigarette market. As a result, Philip Morris USA (Altria), Reynolds American (RJR), and Lorillard, want to see e-cigs taxed the same way as cigarettes.

    Placing restrictions on the sale to minors could be the first step in stricter regulation and enforcement similar to that of traditional cigarettes.  "Big Tobacco has seen a 25-percent drop in sales in the last two years," Anderson stated. "And with "loyal customers" dying by the thousands daily, they don't wanna lose anymore."       

  10. Obituary-Milton “Lightening” Edward Harrell

    Milton “Lightening” Edward Harrell, 83, of Emporia passed away peacefully on January 28, 2014. He was predeceased by his parents Battle and Ada Harrell of Jarratt and his 10 siblings. He is survived by his wife Edith “Billie” Harrell; stepdaughters Rita Robinson Rowell and Kathy Robinson Drummond; grandchildren Betsy Rowell Mathews (Mark), Kimberly Rowell Borkat, Christopher Harris, Frederick Fisch, Jr., and Bradford Drummond; and 7 great-grandchildren.  He was a charter member of Brink Ruritan Club, served in the Army and National Guard, was a former security guard for Greensville Memorial Hospital and he loved his family, church and country music.  A visitation will be held 1pm, Friday, February 7thin Echols Funeral Home Chapel.  A memorial service will be held at 2pm following the visitation.  Interment will follow in Forest Hill Baptist Church Cemetery with military honors.  In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Forest Hill Baptist Church Cemetery Fund.  Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  11. Prepare For More Winter Weather

    Brace for another round of winter weather today, tomorrow and Thursday. In an e-mail message from Ken Ryals, Emporia's Emergency Services Coordinator, people were told to expect "Snow Potential of 4 to 6 inches “Plus,” from Tuesday through Thursday."  Ryals' message was followed closely by a Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service in Wakefield.  Everything from Greensville County eastward, including Virginia's Eastern Shore, is included in the warning.  Brunswick and Mecklenburg Counties are under a Winter Weather Advisory.

    The NWS posting predicts 3-5 inches of snow, with the heaviest coming on Tuesday evening.  Citizens are advised by the NWS to avoid travel if at all possible and to use extreme caution if driving becomes necessary.

    FORECAST UPDATE (1/28/14, 10:30 a.m.)

    From Ken Ryals: "Still forecasting 4 to 6 inches Snow accumulation, however some forecasters in North Carolina think we in Emporia can get more than that amount !! Forecasts indicate this should be a dry fluffy snow which will allow for quick accumulation, should begin late afternoon/early evening today and continue into Wednesday afternoon. Periods of moderate to heavy snowfall are expected to occur overnight. In addition, forecasts call for 15-25 mph winds with higher gusts. Low tonight of around 16 degrees with a high of 28 on Wednesday,  it’s going to be cold!  I would prepare for Snow this evening and tomorrow morning."

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  12. Tidewater Toll Revisions Criticized

    By Lauren McClellan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- Critics of the proposed Hampton Roads tolls are unsatisfied by the new governor’s initiatives reducing – and in some cases eliminating -- those tolls, which are scheduled to take effect Feb. 1.  This past week Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels would not charge tolls to emergency vehicles.  Earlier he also said the Commonwealth Transportation Board determined passenger-car-peak-period tolls would be reduced from $1.84 to $1 each way.

    However, members of Citizens for Accountability in Politics Political Action Committee, an organization concerning itself with Hampton Roads issues, say the tolls are fundamentally unfair because they were imposed by unelected officials.  “It’s good the tolls will be lowered, but that’s only for two years. Then the inflated tolls will resume,” CAPPAC members Roger and Glenna Cornett stated, in an email. “The contract should be voided. Period.” 

    The tolls are the result of a private-public partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings, which is described in a press release as the “private partner of VDOT for the design, construction, finance, operations and maintenance of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project.”  CAPPAC challenged the tolls in circuit court and won … but lost on appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

    The Cornetts say they are concerned about the cost of the project and the fact that the ERC, with the current contract, is entitled to a 13.5 percent profit each year. McAuliffe’s toll announcements have not changed their stance on the issue.  “They should have raised the taxes and all this mess with the tolls would not have come about,” the Cornetts stated.

    For the average driver, who uses these roads every day to get to and from work, those tolls hikes would have cost about $1,000 a year, according to a report by WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads.  The revised tolls will cost passenger-vehicle drivers $1 during peak times and 75 cents during all other times.  For truck drivers, the toll will be $4 during peak times and $2.25 all other times.   Passenger-vehicle drivers without E-Z Pass may pay as much as $2.25 per trip in 2014.

    Lowering tolls will cost the state $82.5 million over the next three years, according to a Jan. 16 Richmond Times-Dispatch article.  A press release from the governor’s office stated the funds, “will come from a combination of bonds and other funds that have not been assigned to specific transportation projects.”  For passenger vehicles, tolls will increase by 25 cents every year until 2017 … or when most of the new Midtown tunnel is completed.  Then, tolls will be a set amount agreed upon by the VDOT and Elizabeth River Crossings.

  13. SVCC co-sponsors Open House/Job Fair for Lignetics, Inc.

    Southside Virginia Community College’s Workforce Development Services is co-sponsoring an Open House/Job Fair for Lignetics of Kenbridge, Virginia.  Lignetics manufactures wood pellets for wood heating, firelogs and animal bedding.  Lignetics is seeking highly skilled individuals to fill positions as Front End Loaders, Industrial Electrician, Dryer Operator, and Industrial Maintenance Technician.

    The Open House/Job Fair will be held on Tuesday, February 11th from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Lignetics, Inc. located at 11068 South Hill Road in Kenbridge, Virginia.  This event is open to the public.  Any questions may be directed to Debra Smiley, Director of Workforce Development at 434-949-1060, debra.smiley@southside.edu or Robert Pritchett  with Lignetics at 434-676-4800.

  14. BRUNSWICK ACADEMY RECEIVES GRANT

    Brunswick Academy has received a $1,000 grant from the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance.  This grant is given to selected schools across the country in communities served by Exxon or Mobil Stations.  The grant was made possible by funding from Exxon Mobil Corporation in conjunction with Parker Oil Company.     Mr. Ed Lowe of Parker Oil Company presents the check to Mr. Brad Farmer, Head of School at Brunswick Academy.

  15. Adult Sickle Cell Program Topic of This Month's CHAT

    Dr.  Wally Smith, Professor of Medicine,  Director of VCU Adult Sickle Cell Program will be the featured guest for this month's CHAT at the Emporia Greensville YMCA. Dr. Smith will discuss Sickle Cell Disease and SHIP HU, a Sickle Cell Research Study in the area.  For information about the study, call VCU at 1-855-247-9531. 
     
    Please plan to attend today from 10-11 am

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  16. Obituary-Mary West "Molly" Sturt

    Mary West “Molly” Sturt, 91, of Jarratt, widow of Frederick Sturt, passed away Monday, January 20, 2014. She was preceded in death by a grandson, Elijah ‘Eli” Davis. Survivors include a son, David G. Sturt of New Jersey; a daughter, Ricci Sturt of Jarratt; five grandchildren, Patrick Sturt and wife, Yvonne of Michigan, Michael Sturt and wife, Jackie of California, Corie Davis of Emporia, Virginia, David H. Sturt of Texas and Brooke Sturt of Virginia; seven great-grandchildren, Samantha, Reme, Kailee, J.R. , Xavier, Trystan and Gia and two sisters, Dorothy and Margaret, both of Florida. The family will receive friends at her daughter’s home. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, 11620 Busy St., N. Chesterfield, Virginia 23236. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  17. Bill Aims to Prorate Waste Disposal Fees

    By Jackson McMillan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – A bill allowing Southampton County residents to pay monthly waste disposal fees as part of their electric bills is awaiting a hearing in the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee of the House of Delegates.

    House Bill 62, introduced by Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, would allow Southampton County to enter contractual agreements with light and power companies for the fee collection.  The bill would amend Section 15.2-2159 of the Code of Virginia to give Southampton County the same billing options that Accomack, Augusta, Floyd, Highland, Pittsylvania and Wise counties currently have.   “If the legislation is passed -- and if the county and the light and power companies may enter into contractual agreements -- consumers will pay (the waste disposal) fee in installments as opposed to a one-time annual fee,” Tyler stated in an email.

    Only residents who dispose of their solid waste at a county landfill or solid waste collection site would be charged the fee.

    Southampton County Board of Supervisors member S. Bruce Phillips, who represents the Capron District, said amending the code is not a hard push to impose any legislation on Southampton’s residents.  “This bill (HB62) is asking the General Assembly for authorization to give Southampton County the ability to enter agreements (with the power companies),” Phillips said. “It allows the board of supervisors to ask the people if they prefer monthly fees to an annual fee.”

    If the measure were passed, a monthly waste disposal fee of $16.67 would be added to Southampton County residents’ electric bill in lieu of an annual waste fee of $200.

    “The legislation does not obligate or require any light or power company to collect the fee,” Tyler stated. “It only provides that they may.”

  18. Homeschool Sports Access Banks on Senate Shakeup

    By Colin Kennedy, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND --After nearly a decade of debate, some Virginia legislators are hopeful homeschooled students will soon be allowed to participate in public school sports.  House Bill 63, which was proposed by Delegate Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, progressed through the House of Delegates’ Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee this past week and likely will be heard by the House Education Committee next week.

    This year’s version of the bill is identical to those that have failed by one vote at the Senate Education and Health Committee in recent years, Bell says, but there is reason for optimism this time around.  “For several years it has passed the House and been defeated in the Senate,” Bell said. “The Senate has always been a trouble, (but) we’ve got some changes in membership … so we’re hopeful we can get it out of the senate this year.”

    These membership changes could make all the difference in 2014. Two members of the Senate Education and Health Committee -- both of whom repeatedly voted against the legislation -- have vacated their positions.  Former Sen. Harry Blevins retired and former Sen. Ralph Northam recently was elected to serve as the commonwealth’s 40thlieutenant governor. So, assuming all goes well in the House, and the remaining 13 committee members vote along the same lines as in past years, the fate of HB63 may hinge on party politics inside the Senate chamber.

    The scale may have tipped in favor of the Democrats, who have traditionally opposed homeschool sports access, when Jennifer Wexton won Virginia’s 33rd Senate District race in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Mark Herring.  Though Democratic control of the Senate potentially could help determine which legislators are appointed to the Senate Education and Health Committee, Sen. John C. Miller, D-Newport News, says the issue extends beyond partisanship.  “Decisions have consequences and when a parent decides to homeschool their child, they are taking that child out of the public school and … away from all of the extracurricular benefits that a public school offers,” Miller said. “I don’t think that a homeschooled student should have the ability to pick and choose which activities of public school they’re going to participate in.”

    Right now, homeschoolers don’t have extracurricular choices because the Virginia High School League, which oversees all high school sports in the state, prevents homeschoolers from doing so.  Miller is a member of the Senate’s Education and Health Committee, who previously served as the Senate representative of the VHSL. He says he thinks HB63 would be unfair to students enrolled in the public school system because homeschoolers would need to meet fewer eligibility requirements to participate.  

    HB63, which is nicknamed the “Tebow” bill after the former NFL quarterback who was allowed to play in public school athletics as a Florida homeschooler, would prohibit the commonwealth’s public schools from being members of the VHSL unless the school alters its eligibility regulations to include homeschooled students.  Such a resolution would make Virginia the 24th state nationwide to give homeschoolers at least limited sports access, according to The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers.

    James Angel, the media spokesperson on legislative affairs for VA Homeschoolers, says he thinks the issue comes down to equal opportunity.  “We see this as a basic measure of fairness,” Angel said. “There’s really no good reason why homeschooled kids should not be allowed to partake in the activities that their parents, who are taxpayers, paid for.”  Ultimately, the taxpayers likely remain at the mercy of a 15-person senate committee that has defeated the same legislation several years running. More than 29,000 students statewide were homeschooled as of December 2013, according to the Virginia Department of Education, and Angels says he thinks this proposed legislation might finally have enough support.

    “We’re optimistic that this is going to be the year,” Angel said. “It’s an issue that comes up year after year, and sooner than later, it’s going to get through.  The full house committee is expected to hear HB63 this week, and the bill could reach the Senate by month’s end.

  19. Financial Fitness for the New Year Seminar Wednesday

  20. Reading with Ringling Kickoff Vide0

    Here is a short video slideshow of the Reading with Ringling event at the Richardson Memorial Library in Emporia on Friday Morning.  See a librarian if you would like to participate!  Children 2-12 can earn free circus tickets to the Barnum and Bailey & Ringling Bros Circus in Richmond at the end of February. 

  21. Trial date set for former Governor and First Lady

    By James Galloway, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- A trial date has been set for former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife Maureen for July 28, following a Friday arraignment at a Richmond federal courthouse. Both pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges.  Federal authorities say the McDonnells repeatedly asked Johnnie Williams, a Richmond area businessman, for loans and gifts totaling more than $165,000. The 43-page indictment alleges the McDonnells asked for money, clothes, golf fees, equipment, numerous trips and private jet rides in exchange for access to political clout.

    Prosecutors allege that McDonnell helped promote Anatabloc, the company’s new product. The indictment states McDonnell pitched Anatabloc during an official meeting March 2012 with the secretary of administration in which they would discuss the state employee health plan.  “(Robert McDonnell) pulled some Anatabloc out of his pocket,” the indictment states, “and told the secretary of administration and one of her staff members that Anatabloc had beneficial health effects, that he personally took Anatabloc and that it was working well for him.”

    The indictment states Maureen McDonnell traveled with Star Scientific in October 2011, speaking favorably of the product at corporate functions.  The report states that under Virginia. law, certain state officials and employees – including the governor and members of his staff – are required to annually file a standardized disclosure statement of their personal economic interests on or before Jan. 15 each year.  The indictment describes specific charges against Maureen, stating she intentionally avoided annual reporting requirements by transferring a total of 5,000 Star Scientific shares into newly opened brokerage accounts in the names of her five children.  “(Maureen McDonnell) further informed the broker that these transfers had to occur before year-end in order to avoid reporting requirements related to the ownership of Star Scientific stock,” the report states.

    Federal documents state Williams took Maureen on an April 2011 shopping spree in New York City, in exchange for a seat beside McDonnell at a political event. The document states Williams spent about $10,999 at Oscar de la Renta, $5,685 at Louis Vuitton and $2,604 at Bergdorf Goodman, and later sat next to the governor. 

    According to the indictment, Williams sought independent studies in July 2011 to lend credibility to Star Scientific’s new product, Anatabloc. But when he approached the Tobacco Commission – a state research institution – it refused to fund the research as requested by a for-profit entity.

    Among the gifts listed in the indictment was a custom Rolex watch inscribed with the words “71st Governor of Virginia.” Maureen McDonnell met privately with Williams to discuss ways the state could research Star Scientific’s Anatabloc. The indictment alleges Maureen complimented Williams’ watch, and asked him to purchase a similar watch she could give to her husband. Williams purchased the watch. On the same day Williams asked what she wanted inscribed on the watch, Maureen scheduled herself to attend an August 30 luncheon with state researchers.

    Text messages from 2012 between Bob McDonnell and Williams appear throughout the document, discussing share prices of Star Scientific.  “Good announcements lately,” McDonnell told Williams in a text, according to prosecutors. “Stock looks good. Hope all is well. You and (Williams’ wife) enjoy the 4th of July.”  In a text message sent to McDonnell, Williams reassured McDonnell that Star Scientific shares were continuing in a favorable trend.

    McDonnell denied helping Williams in a public address this past week, and said he has done nothing illegal; adding that his behavior is characteristic of many elected officials in his position.  “I will use every available resource and advocate that I have,” McDonnell said, “for as long as it takes to fight and prevail against these false allegations and the unjust overreach of the federal government.”

    Judge David Novak said Friday the McDonnell case will be tried in the courtroom and will not be tried in the media.  “The gamesmanship with the media ends now,” Novak said.

  22. Obituary-Johnny Cain

    Johnny William Cain (July 9, 1929 - January 16, 2014) was a native of Greensville County. He was the fifth child out of seven siblings born to the late Jonah Forrest and Alberta Adams Cain on July 9, 1929. On Thursday, January 16, 2014, the Angel of death touched Johnny and whispered off his terrestrial body for his celestial life where their is neither moth or decay.

    He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at a very early age. He was baptized and joined Rocky Mount Baptist Church in Emporia, Virginia. He was a dedicated church member and we knew he was going to be at Rocky Mount Baptist Church when the church doors swing opened. He remained an active church member even when his health began to fail. During his vibrant years, Johnny served on the Board of Trustees, as church custodian , treasurer and was the first President of the Rocky Mount Senior Choir. One could immediately identify his baritone voice when he sang his favorite song, "God is Able " during church services and choir anniversaries.

    His resume' of work experience included a faithful servant of God, Farmer, Logger and Mechanic. He finally retired from Franklin Braids Textile Company after 19 years of service of dedicated service as a mechanic.

    Johnny and Gladys was united in Holy Matrimony on September 23, 1952 in Emporia, Virginia. Johnny was married to the former Gladys Adams for 61 years and they were blessed with six children.

    Johnny (better known as Butt) can be remembered as a kind - hearted man who always enjoyed supporting his family , helping others and faithfully working in the church. Anyone who needed a ride to town, to make a housing repair, or needed a favor could always call on Butt. When you visited him at home, he was going to make sure you were comfortably and had plenty to eat. He was a man not rich in wealth, but rich in service and spirit.

    Johnny leaves to cherish his memories, his devoted wife, Gladys, two sons, Thomas (Pearly) Cain Emporia , Virginia, Lorenzo ( Darlene) Cain, Emporia, Virginia, three daughters, Delegate Roslyn (Rufus)Tyler, Jarratt, Virginia, Valerie (Carl) Neal, Woodbridge, Virginia, Barbara( Larry) Thomas, Freeman, Virginia. One son preceded him in death at the age of 3, Johnny Cain, Jr.

    Grandchildren: Takisha Carr (Torrance), Brian Cain, Rufus Tyler, Jr., Ronecia Tyler, Dazman Cain, Rosche Tyler, Carl Neal, Jr, Christian Cain, Rameka Tyler, Carl Neal, Jr., Shamaya Cain, Cain Neal.

    Great grandchildren: Kiyale Carr, K'hari Carr, Dazman Cain, Jr., Bria'Asia Cain, Amaiya Cain, Mackenzie Cain

    Siblings: Two brothers: Linwood Cain and Nathan (Ella) Cain of Emporia, Virginia.

    Two brothers preceded him in death, Thomas Henry Cain and Amos Cain both of Emporia,Virginia. Two sisters: Rosa Mae Powell, Emporia, Virginia and Plummer Brown, Baltimore, Maryland and host of relatives, nephew, nieces and cousins.

    The Virginia General Assembly adjourned on Friday, January 17, 2014 in the Memory and Honor of Johnny William Cain.

    He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

    Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2014 from the sanctuary of Rocky Mount Baptist Church at 1 PM where Reverend Arthur Vincent is the Pastor. Interment will follow at the Macedonia Baptist Church cemetery.

    The staff, of R.E. Pearson and Son Funeral Service, 556 Halifax Street Emporia, Virginia, is in charge of the arrangements. www.pearsonandsonfuneralhome.com

  23. Obituary-Gene Cooper

    Gene Cooper, 76, passed away on January 20, 2014. He was preceded in death by a daughter and a son.  He is survived by his wife Gail Cooper, 4 step-sons, a step-daughter, 10  step-grandchildren, 3 step-great-grandchildren, a sister and a brother.  A memorial service will be held  at Main Street Baptist Church, on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at 2 p.m.

  24. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday Supper

    On January 19, 2014, Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated hosted a Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday Supper at Saint Paul’s College John E. Thomasson Student Center in Lawrenceville, Virginia.  Veterans were invited and honored for their service to our country. Students from Greensville and Brunswick Counties middle and high school were inspired and encouraged to participate in an essay contest. The theme was “Empowering the Dream”.  In commemoration of Dr. King’s legacy, students responded to one of his famous quotes; “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  The essay composed of a response to the following questions:

    • In what ways did Dr. King’s belief in this quote change the world?
    • How would your school be different if the actions of administrators, teachers, and students were a reflection of this quote?
    • How would believing in and living by Dr. King’s quote improve your life now and into adulthood?

    This was an exciting day for Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  Concerted efforts were made to get a representative audience.  Well, it worked when 76 people attended the event.  The audience included 9 veterans and active military members and their families, three Emerging Young Leaders, seven of 86 essay participants, and 18 members of Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

    President, Belinda Evans, extended a cordial, warm, and hearty welcome.  The audience joined in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” followed with a purpose given by Grace Thompson, Co-Chairman of the Committee. Angelnet Stith, Co-Chairman, recognized the essay participants and announced the essay finalists.  Essay top winners, Julia Gilliam from Greensville High School and Jala Newchurch from Russell Middle School, shared their essays.

    Lameka Harrison, Mistress of Ceremony, saluted our veterans and active military members with a PowerPoint presentation of their legacy created by Pamela Pearson-Simmons, Technology Chairman.  The veterans had various ranks such as SP 4, SP 5, sergeant, master sergeant, captain, and major. They were each presented a framed certificate and a gift card. Alfreda Reynolds dedicated a solo, “God Bless America”, to the veterans and active military members. Donnell Sykes, a Greensville County High student, performed the TAPS. Alfreda Reynolds recognized the Emerging Young Leaders of Gamma Lambda Omega, and presented each with a token of love.

    The chapter service project entailed dining with the veterans and active military members. A huge basket of daily necessities such as toothbrushes, band-aids, and hair combs was raffled. Veteran Alphonsa Jones won the raffle. However, he presented the basket to the oldest veteran, Robert Williams, Sr. who is 93 years old. Mr. Williams’s name and photo are permanently entered at the National World War II Memorial in Washington DC. He was a member of the only black troop to land on the Normandy Invasion.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all. He challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what is ought to be. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, addresses social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.  Based on evaluations, the Sunday Supper was proven to be beneficial in “providing service to all mankind.”

  25. Secretary Vilsack Expands Strikeforce Initiative to Address Rural Poverty In Four Additional States

    PINEVILLE, Kentucky, January 17, 2014—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers today to announce the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's StrikeForce Initiative into four additional states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.  "The StrikeForce strategy of partnering public resources with local expertise is helping to grow rural economies and create jobs in persistent poverty communities," said Vilsack. "This is a strategy that is working in rural America and I am pleased that we continue to build on these efforts to bring assistance to areas that need it the most."  Vilsack also noted that the StrikeForce strategy is having concrete results in communities across the country.


    Since 2010, through StrikeForce, USDA has partnered with over 400 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 80,300 projects and ushered more than $9.7 billion in investments into rural America, including:
    The Farm Service Agency saw a 14 percent increase in the total direct farm loan applications received in StrikeForce areas since the beginning of the initiative.

    • In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the Farm Service Agency provided nearly $9.3 million to fund microloans in StrikeForce areas. Approximately 84 percent of the loans were provided to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.
    • Last year, the number of landowners applying for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs in StrikeForce areas increased by 82 percent over the previous year.
       
    • In FY 2013, the Rural Housing Community Facilities Program obligated a total of $68 million to fund hospitals, libraries and other projects in StrikeForce areas—a 4.5 percent increase over 2012.
       
    • Between 2012 and 2013, the Food and Nutrition Service doubled the redemption of SNAP benefits at farmers markets from $2 million to over $4 million in StrikeForce states—a more than 100 percent increase.
       
    • In 2012, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service increased the number of children in StrikeForce states receiving free or reduced price school breakfasts by 7.4 percent.
       

    "Through StrikeForce, we are able to reach people in new ways and bring resources to them directly," said Vilsack. "We are learning better ways to help communities leverage their assets and bring opportunity to their residents."  Today's expansion brings StrikeForce attention to more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs, tribal reservations, and Colonias in 20 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.


    USDA identifies census tracts with over 20 percent poverty (according to American Community Survey data) to identify sub-county pockets of poverty. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach.  StrikeForce is part of the Administration's commitment to addressing persistent poverty across America. Last week, President Obama announced the first five of twenty Promise Zones, including one in southeastern Kentucky, that target federal resources to cities, rural areas and Tribal communities suffering the worst poverty.


    Visit www.usda.gov/StrikeForce to learn more.
     

  26. House Kills Bill Limiting Overdose Prosecution

    By Chris Suarez, Capital News Service 

    RICHMOND -- Legislation protecting Virginians reporting drug overdoses was introduced earlier this month after years of lobbying by a Virginia Commonwealth University student organization, but the bill will have to wait to be heard during next year’s General Assembly.  Students for Sensible Drug Policywas the VCU group instrumental in helping introduce House Bill 557, Safe Reporting of Overdoses. The legislation sought to provide limited legal amnesty to anyone reporting a drug overdose. 
    The bill aimed to protect anyone experiencing or witnessing a drug overdose --whether from a controlled substance or synthetic cannabinoid -- according to VCU SSDP Co-president and Treasurer Rose Bono.   "According to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia, hundreds of people die every year from unintentional drug overdose,” Bono said. “This is an important issue to the public health of Virginia.”
    The bill also provided protections for minors suffering from an alcohol-related overdose, addressing an issue common to colleges and universities throughout the country.  “We’ve met parents and relatives of those who have died of overdose,” said the bill’s chief patron Delegate Betsy Carr, D-Richmond. “This (bill) is an attempt to save those lives.”
    The bill was heard in the Court of Justice subcommittee earlier this week. After deliberation, the subcommittee recommended “laying it on the table,” essentially ending discussion on the bill during this session of the General Assembly, according to VCU SSDP President Jurriaan Van Den Hurk.
    Bono and Van Den Hurk say the VCU group plans to continue addressing the issue in the future.  Bono says the drafting of this legislation has been in the works over the course of several years with help from former organization leaders and the national SSDP office.  After much lobbying and organizing, Carr adopted the issue by becoming chief patron of the bill. 
    The national SSDP office encourages its local chapters to lobby for regulations in their respective universities that would protect students experiencing overdoses. Because VCU falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Richmond, university officials told members of the SSDP they would have to appeal to city legislators to adopt a law for the commonwealth, according to Bono. 
    During the subcommittee meeting, Delegate Jackson Miller, R-Manassas motioned to table the bill, citing unintended consequences the bill could cause such as providing amnesty  to drug dealers selling far more harmful adulterated drugs.   "If someone was selling a bad batch of heroin and making people sick, and the police would show up at an overdose caused by that, the (police) wouldn’t be able to do anything about it,” Van Den Hurk said “They (subcommittee) said the bill wasn’t written well enough to account for those loose ends.”
    Van Den Hurk says the organization isn’t giving up on the issue. They will wait to see which members will take up leadership roles and shape a new policy to address the issue once he and Bono graduate this semester.

  27. Virginia Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Human Trafficking Bills

    By Kate Miller, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND — General Assembly members have introduced multiple anti-human trafficking bills for the current legislative session.  Delegate Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, and Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, introduced bills HB994 and SB453. This legislation would create a human trafficking stand-alone offense in Virginia. The term “human trafficking” currently is not defined by Virginia law.  Obenshain says this legislation would help Virginia law enforcement officers who struggle to find remedies to human trafficking.  “We have put together a comprehensive human trafficking statute,” Obenshain said, “to give law enforcement the tools necessary to address these offenses in a comprehensive way.”  Obenshain says Virginia is one of only two states that do not have a comprehensive human trafficking statute. 

    The Richmond Justice Initiative, a local faith-based, anti-human trafficking nonprofit organization, is advocating for the passage of HB994 and SB453RJI held its annual Lobby Day this past week at the General Assembly. During the Lobby Day, a group of about 45 RJI volunteers met with legislative representatives to advocate for the bills.  An anti-human trafficking press conference with bipartisan legislators was held in association with RJI.

    Obenshain, Comstock, Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria; Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Centreville; Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax; Delegate Watts, D-Annandale and Delegate Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, participated in the press conference.  Hugo says human trafficking is an important issue to both political parties.  It’s a family issue,” Hugo said. “It’s a human issue … and I don’t think partisanship has a role to play in this (human trafficking).” 

    Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax, introduced HB767, which would allow property used in connection with certain human trafficking crimes to be subject to forfeiture to the state.  Bulova says the bill is meant to combat the profit motive for traffickers.  “Law enforcement can take away your (human trafficker) assets,” he said. “So that under no circumstances will anybody ever be able to profit from this absolutely terrible crime.”  According to Bulova, immediate assets used in connection with trafficking as well as any profits or interest derived from those assets would be subject to forfeiture.

    Bulova says HB660 and HB1155 — other proposed bills dealing with asset forfeiture for human trafficking — would essentially have the same effect as HB767.  “The idea is to take the best from all of the versions (of the bill), bring them into one (legislative effort) and ensure that we’re going to the Courts of Justice Committee with a united front,” Bulova said.  Obenshain and Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, introduced SB454 and HB235. These measures would add individuals who solicit sex from a minor to the Sex Offender Registry.  “This crime would not exist if it weren’t for the demand for it,” Bell said. “Fewer women will be trafficked if we can have fewer men who are trying to have relations with them through prostitution.”

    Hugo introduced HB 485, which would add certain prostitution and abduction offenses as crimes for which attorneys may issue administrative subpoenas to obtain records for criminal investigations.  It is important to focus on electronic communication in the fight against human trafficking, according to Hugo.  “The street has now been replaced by the online world,” Hugo said. 

    Hugo also introduced HB486, which would require people currently mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect to also report suspected trafficking of children.  Hugo says such legislation has not been passed yet because of lack of awareness of the issue of human trafficking.  “I don’t think there’s any evil … on anybody’s mind,” Hugo said. “It’s just people haven’t thought that some people are that bad that they would try to do this (traffic) to young children.

  28. Dr. John Cavan Receives 2013 Margaret H. Traylor Distinguished Service Award from Brunswick Chamber

    Dr. John J. Cavan, Southside Virginia Community College President, received the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce 2 013 Margaret H. Traylor Distinguished Service award on January 8, 2014.   Dr. John Sykes, Jr., former Provost of the Christanna Campus introduced Dr. Cavan and presented facts about his years at SVCC

    His legacy includes years of record enrollment, innovative new programs, thousands of college graduates and the best served and largest service area in the state community college system, according to Dr. Sykes.   “His innovation and ability to formulate a strong offensive has enabled him to bring many educational opportunities to this rural area including Truck Driver Training, the largest dual enrollment program in Virginia, athletic teams who have done extremely well, the Middle College Program, Honors Program, associate degree nursing and practical nursing programs and strong transfer opportunities,” Dr. Sykes said.

    Dr.  Cavan began his presidency at Southside Virginia Community College in 1983 with a goal of moving the college into the 21st Century.  Dr. Cavan never forgot his roots and made a commitment to serve the under-served community and build a strong tradition of education for the region that he has come to love.  A graduate of Nicholls State University, he received his master’s degrees from Kean University and Yeshiva University.  He also completed the Ed.S.  and  Ed.D.  from Yeshiva’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and has completed postdoctoral study at Harvard University.

    Dr. Cavan held numerous administrative positions at Atlantic Community College in Mays Landing, New Jersey and Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York.  He has taught in the graduate school of George Mason University, George Washington University and Yeshiva University and been a guest lecturer at the Center for International Leadership in New York City. 

    Growth of centers offering college courses has been initiated by Dr. Cavan during his tenure with him promising to “take the college to the people at any place and any time.”  The college has two campuses, and many permanent  centers .  An avid basketball player, he has been named to two college basketball halls of fame and the athletic hall of fame for Newark, New Jersey.

    Dr. Cavan is as persistent in his athletic endeavors as he is in providing quality education to Southside Virginians.  A marathon runner, he has completed a total of 120 marathons including 18 Boston Marathons and 29 New York City Marathons.  Cavan has devoted his life to education and athleticism.  As the leader at Southside Virginia Community College he has approached the job with the same fevered commitment.  The college has experienced record growth during Cavan’s tenure and currently serves more than 8,000 students per year.

    He and his wife, Ann, reside in Kenbridge, Virginia.  They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.

    Photo Caption:  The Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce chose Dr. John J. Cavan as the recipient of the 2013 Margaret H. Traylor Distinguished Service Award.  Shown in the photo are (left to right) Linda Branson, Chamber President, Dr. Cavan, and Dr. John Sykes, Jr., past president of the Chamber and former Provost at SVCC.

  29. Reading with Ringling Starts Today!

    The Meherrin Regional Library System will kickoff Reading with Ringling Bros.! with a visit from a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®  clown on Friday, January 24th.  The clown will be at the Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at 11:00 am and the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at 2:00 pm. For more information contact the Brunswick County Library at (434) 848-2418 ext. 301 and the Richardson Memorial Library at (434) 634-2539.

     

    Earn Circus Tickets for Reading Books!

  30. Delegates Outline General Assembly Agendas

    By Quinn Casteel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- With the Virginia General Assembly underway, Prince William County delegates have begun pushing forward on the 47 bills of which the legislators are the chief patrons. During the first week of session, Delegates Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge; Luke Torian, D-Dumfries; Michael Futrell, D-Dumfries  and Jackson Miller, R-Manassas each highlighted one or more bills they are focused on enacting during the 2014 General Assembly session.

    Delegate  Miller, R-Manassas

    In addition to his service as Republican majority whip, Miller’s top projects will include participation on the newly-formed bipartisan ethics committee, mental health issues and House Bill 606, which deals with the number of judges assigned to different types of courts.

    The Virginia Supreme Court has completed a study of judges’ caseloads of throughout the state and found areas with higher populations such as parts of Prince William County had judges with large caseloads. Miller’s bill will try to re-allocate the number of judges in each district based on these findings.  “In one area of the state you have judges working their tails off like in Prince William,” Miller said. “And (in) other areas of the state they just simply don’t have the same caseload.”

    With the most recent census showing a 30-percent rise in the Prince William County’s population during the past decade, Miller said he thinks the services rendered through the state should reflect that increase.  “It’s going to be a very difficult bill because -- like with any re-allocation bill -- some jurisdictions are going to win … and some are going to lose,” Miller said.

    Delegate Futrell, D-Dumfries

    Veterans and current military families are among the strongest emphases for Prince William County’s newest delegate.

    One of Futrell’s top priorities, House Bill 777, would stop the state taxing of the retirement pay of veterans living in Virginia.  Similar pieces of legislation already have been passed in North Carolina and other “military-friendly” states. Futrell says passage of his bill would be an important step in keeping veterans and active military members in Virginia.  “Instead of going to Texas or California, the skills and things that they’re (the veterans) learning in the military, whether it’s leadership, management or science and technology, these are things that we can utilize right here in our commonwealth.” Futrell said.

    Futrell also has proposed House Bill 782, which would give a $1,000 tax credit to anyone purchasing a home from military personnel whom are scheduled for deployment.

    Aside from his focus on military families, Futrell also is working on implementing regional innovation councils aiming to bring more businesses to Prince William County.

    Delegate Torian, D-Dumfries

    With the population of Prince William County at 410,000 and growing, one of Torian’s main focuses is House Bill 685, which would distribute communications sales and use tax revenues across the state in proportion to the population of the jurisdiction. 

    According to the Virginia government website, communication sales and use-tax revenue distribution is based on the locality’s share of telecommunications and television funds, which are raised from various taxes such as the video programming excise tax.  “Our economic base is very important to us, so we need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re being fiscally responsible,” Torian said. “And we’re receiving the revenue that is reflective of our population growth.”

    Torian is another member of the bipartisan ethics group, for which he is taking a primary role in pushing forward House Bill 689. The bill would require legislators and lobbyists to file financial disclosure reports semiannually rather than just once a year.  “It brings greater credibility and accountability to what we’re doing,” Torian said.

    Del. Anderson, R – Woodbridge

    House Bill 997, which deals with proceedings for the removal and relocation of human remains, is of particular relevance to Anderson and Prince William County because of the recent dispute over the discovery of pre-Civil War remains at the Lynn family graveyard on the construction site of the county’s 12th high school.  Anderson proposed the bill with the goal of establishing a law that “more clearly defines the procedures” for making determinations about disinterring, relocating and reinterring the remains found in grave sites that happen to be in a construction zone.  “It created some community consternation,” Anderson said of the Lynn family graveyard situation. “I attribute that to the fact that there is a lack of concrete guidance for the local governments, and this bill will lay that out.”

    Additionally, Anderson said he plans to emphasize his work in a bipartisan group that will present six or seven government ethics bills. The series of bills will focus on what government officials can or cannot receive from third parties, and how these transactions are recorded.

    (Editor's Note:  This article, from the VCU Capital New Service, outlines the plans for State Legislators from Northern Virginia, and is included on this site because everything that happens in the General Assembly has implications for the entire state.)

  31. Exxon Mobil Grants

    The staff at Parker Oil Company have worked with Greensville County Schools for a number of years to secure grant funds for local schools from the Exxon Mobil Education Alliance Program.

    On January 9th, funds for 2014 were granted to Greensville Elementary School, Belfield Elementary School, E.W. Wyatt Middle School, and Greensville County High School. Grants of $500 were awarded to Greensville Elementary and Belfield Elementary Schools. One thousand dollar awards were presented to Wyatt Middle School and Greensville County High School. These funds are to be used for educational projects that support the schools’ ongoing efforts to provide high quality instructional services in Mathematics and/or Science.

    Thanks to friends of education at Parker Oil Company, this marks the 9th year schools have received the Exxon Mobil Grant funds. The grants were created to allow local oil companies, like Parker Oil, to invest in the future of their communities through the schools.  

    School officials express appreciation to Ed Low and the Parker Oil Company for demonstrating their commitment to public education through their diligence in working to acquire these grant funds for the schools each year.

    Pictured: Medicus Riddick, Assistant Principal, E.W. Wyatt Middle School; Ed Low, Parker Oil Company Representative; Mary Person, Principal, Belfield Elementary School; Curtis Young, Principal, Greensville Elementary School; the representative from Greensville County High School is Not Pictured.

  32. Greensville County Board of Supervisors Meet

    The Greensville county Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday evening, a day later than usual due to the Martin Luther King Holiday.

    The meeting opened with a closed session before the six p.m. public hearing on a Special Use Permit to allow for an in-home day care facility on Rigel Road.    Mr. Lin Pope presented the Board with several reports from not only from the Planning Department, but also from the the Greensville County Water & Sewer Authority, VDOT, and the Virginia Health Department.  It was noted that Estelle Walker, the applicant, was already licensed for a day care facility for up to 12 children in her home.  Mr. Pope relayed to the Board that the Planning Commission recommended issuance of the Special Use Permit.

    The only citizen to speak during the public hearing was Mrs. Walker, who said that she started this business "out of concern for the children," to teach them "what they need for school."  The Board passed the Special use permit before returning to regular session.

    During the regular session the Board approved staff to apply for a $25,000 grant for public safety vehicles, increased the funding for the Coyote Bounty by $2500, approved an open bid sale of the lumber from the old dumpster sites and adopted a resolution against Senate Bill #154 allowing hunting on Sunday.  The meeting was adjourned and followed by a meeting of the Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority.

    The only item for discussion, beyond the consent agenda, was the Moores Ferry Road water project.  Moses A, Clements, Director of the Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority advised the Board of the Preliminary Engineering Report from B&B Consultants.  Mr Clements outlined recommendations of B&B to be Converting the Community Water System already in place near the interchange of Interstate 95 and Moores Ferry Road (Exit 4) be modified to meet VDH requirements; the extension of the potable water system to serve an additional eight or nine single family homes in the area; and to increase capacity.  The cost of the project is estimated at $455,316.  It was noted in Mr. Clement's report to the Board that the increased revinue would not cover the debt service for the project, but added that the Authority has already identified a possible funding source and hope to have a commitment in the next 8-10 months.

    Mr. Clements also noted that the Moores Ferry Road issues stemmed from possible problems at the quarry.  After the issues arose, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy asked Vulcan to "self investigate."  The impartial ground water expert, paid for by Vulcan, found the company not at fault, citing mitigating circumstances in the area including multiple wells, low volume and poor water quality.  County owned wells in the area were not affected.  The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy took months to review the report before agreeing with Vulcan's expert; allowing no opportunity for the residents of the area to be made whole.  The Water and Sewer Authority has taken steps to ensure that the area residents do have access to potable water.  Unfortunately the Authority and the residents will likely bear the brunt of the cost to extend water service to all affected.

  33. Former Governor McDonnell to be Arraigned Friday

    Governor and Mrs. McDonnell were formally indicted on 14 Federal charges Tuesday afternoon.

    The 43 page indictment alleges the Governor McDonnell and his wife asked, multiple times, that Star Scientific CEO Johnnie R. Williams, Jr., for loans and gifts (including vacations, golf outings, clothes for both the Governor and Mrs. McDonnell, dresses and accessories for the wedding of the McDonnell’s daughter, and a $65,000 engraved Rolex for the Governor).  The gifts totaled more than $165,000.

    In exchange for these extravagant gifts, it is alleged that Mr. Williams received special treatment from the Administration: “The Governor and the Office of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia ("OGV") performed a wide range of official actions. Those actions included, among other things, appointing directors and key administrators of state departments, agencies, and boards; authorizing expenditures of certain grant funds; proposing a budget and overseeing the expenditure of state funds; conducting meetings and hosting events for the purposes of fostering Virginia business and economic development; directing other government officials to conduct such meetings and events; speaking at events in and outside Virginia about Virginia businesses and economic development; coordinating with state boards, commissions, and institutions, including universities, about uses of state labor and funding resources; and otherwise setting priorities and direction for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

    The charges returned by the Grand Jury include one count of Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Wire Fraud, three counts of Honest Service Wire Fraud, one count of Conspiracy to Obtain Property under Color of Official Right, six counts of Obtaining Property under Color of Official Right, two counts of False Statements and one count of Obstruction of Official Proceeding. If found guilty the Former Governor and Mrs. McDonnell face fines and penalties in the millions and decades in prison.

    Yesterday's indictment marks the first time in the history of the Commonwealth that a Former Governor has been formally charged with criminal activity.  Virginia prides itself on it's reputation for clean government.

  34. WINTER WEATHER WARNING

    The National Weather Service in Wakefield has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY from 1:00 this afternoon untin Midnight tomorrow. 

    We are expecting between 1-4 inches of snow followed by much colder temperatures with wind chills as cold as 5 degrees below zero.  Please use caution driving and dress appropriately when going outside. 

    More information can be found on the National Weather Service website HERE

    Tags: 

  35. Ethics Bill Aims to Reform FOIA Again

    By Quinn Casteel, Capital News Service     

    RICHMOND – Among the flurry of ethics reform bills being proposed throughout the Virginia General Assembly is Senate Bill 212, which would remove Freedom of Information Act exemptions for legislators and their aides.  The new FOIA bill, which is part of an ethics package authored by Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, would remove Delegate Tag Greason’s, R – Potomac Falls, House Bill 1639 less than a year after its approval.

    HB1639 also is known as the 2013 General Assembly FOIA Exemption Act. The measure officially added legislative aides to the exemption list of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.  Currently, General Assembly members and legislatives aides are exempt from Virginia’s FOIA act, which means their working papers and written correspondence are unattainable for public viewing. Petersen said SB212 would increase accountability in the Virginia legislature.   “We need as much transparency as possible, and then people can make up their own minds,” Petersen said. “(FOIA) has an incredible influence on people because it makes you realize, ‘Hey I’m under scrutiny at all times.’”

    House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, announced a bipartisan agreement pushing forward a plan for ethics reform.  This proposed legislation come following a financial controversy surrounding former Republican Gov. Robert R. McDonnell.  “The (FOIA) exemption has been broadly interpreted, and it’s now used for everything,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. “Anything that narrows that scope and keeps things in check is a good thing.”

    Delegate Luke E. Torian, D-Woodbridge, patrons House Bill 689, which would require legislators and lobbyists to file financial disclosure reports semiannually rather than annually. Along with the rest of the ethics legislation, the bill’s stated goal is to prevent another controversy by aiming for more government transparency.  “We just simply want to let the citizens of the commonwealth know that we’re operating with a tremendous level of integrity,” said Torian, one of an increasingly large group of bipartisan House members involved in ethics reform.

    Democrat Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as governor this past week, while McDonnell faces federal and state investigations regarding gifts received while in office. The Justice Department said in December a decision for or against indicting McDonnell could come as late as February.  Petersen said in the current culture there is a symbiotic relationship between donors and politicians.  “It may be that way in every government, but I think right now it’s more pronounced in Virginia because you have unlimited gifts, unlimited donations, and the transparency is minimal,” Petersen said. “It’s all self-reporting.”

  36. Senate Rethinks Uranium Exploration Guidelines

    By Eric Luther, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- A bill was tabled this past week that would require uranium exploration permit holders to reimburse the State Health Department for providing water supply analyses to residents near Southside drilling activities.  Proposed by Sen. Frank Ruff Jr., R- Mecklenburg, Senate Bill 547 mandated permit holders sample and submit an analysis of private wells within 750 feet of exploration activity to the Virginia Department of Health every six months to inspect water quality.

    The bill, which is being carried over until next year’s General Assembly session, required an easy-to-understand explanation of the test results. The legislation also necessitated a final sample be taken six months after each exploratory hole is plugged.  According to a press release, Ruff chose to postpone his bill after speaking with several stakeholders and Pittsylvania residents whom experienced problems with their wells after exploratory drilling occurred. Because necessary state reports given to families were technical in nature, Ruff says they did not understand the full health risks they faced.  “My goal is to get somebody at the health department to take that report and translate it into something people can understand,” Ruff said. “We hope we can have a more comprehensive way of looking at it.”

    Ruff says the bill in no way suggested future mining activity take place in the commonwealth.  “There was a bill last year to lift the moratorium,” Ruff said. “It was withdrawn at the last minute because there was no support for it.”

    Co-patron Sen. William Stanley Jr., R- Moneta, says water quality is a concern of everyone in Southside Virginia.  “Whenever drilling occurs there seems to be an alteration to the quality of water,” said Stanley, denoting an increase of lead in some surrounding wells. “Not only are we requiring a testing of that water … but also a disclosure of any changes in the water quality to the homeowner.”  Stanley says SB547 -- as it was introduced -- was intended to safeguard the health of Virginians from any adverse effects drilling for core samples might create.  “What we’re trying to do is protect the water of our people,” Stanley said. “It is one of our greatest natural resources.”      According to Stanley, Southside Virginia is home to some of the best watersheds in the country.

    Jack Dunavant, president of Dunavant Engineering and Construction in Halifax County, has opposed uranium mining in Virginia for more than 30 years. He says SB547 may have looked good on paper, but ultimately was not.  “I don’t know how you could craft it (a bill) so a lot of these people would understand it,” Dunavant said. “I don’t know how to alert people other than to tell them it (the level of contaminants) exceeds certain acceptable limits.”  The engineer says SB547 was a step in the right direction, but the legislation needs to impose further regulations on any company wishing to begin exploratory drilling.  “It’s an OK bill,” Dunavant said. “But they (permit holders) should be required to notify any adjacent land owner and anyone who has a well within 1,000 feet of the property line where they’re drilling.”  Dunavant says the overwhelming majority of Southside residents oppose any sort of mining in the area.  “I cannot see the state ever allowing mining to happen because of the long-term detriment,” Dunavant said. “The bottom line is it’s not a question of if  -- it’s (chemicals) going to get out -- but when and by what means.”

    Dunavant says if companies could mine without leaving behind tailings, no one would have a problem extracting uranium.  However, the technology simply does not exist.  “Most people don’t have the expertise to understand it,” Dunavant said. “This stuff is insidious. We have to be smarter about what we do.”  Stanley says SB547, as it was introduced, was a good consumer protection bill.  “Any mining -- if it ever occurred -- would have to be not only safe but not affect our livestock and our people,” Stanley said. “I would think water quality comes before profits. People come before profits.”

    An email was sent to a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health but it had not been returned at press time.

  37. Obituary-Jacqueline Paige Grizzard Sledge-Services Today

    Jacqueline Paige Grizzard Sledge, 79, of Emporia passed away on January 16, 2014.  She is survived by her husband Wilmer Sledge; stepchildren Buffy Lynn Long of Franklin, Va and Jodie Morgan Sledge of Magaretesville, N.C. and step-grandchildren Taylor Sledge and James Manley Long IV.  A graveside service will be held Monday, 2 pm, at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Adams Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, 24463 Adams Grove Rd, Emporia, VA 23847.  Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  38. EGRA Continues Regular Season Play

    The EGRA entered its second week of play this past Saturday.  All teams were eager to return to the hardwood after being off for a week. Their season continues through the first week in March, so be sure to come out and support these young athletes.
     
    Coach Tom Boone goes over his strategy before beginning
    the third quarter of the game.
  39. Two-Term Amendment Shelved Until 2015

    Jackson McMillan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – An amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that would allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms was put off until 2015, when the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates will consider it.  Senate Joint Resolution 7, introduced by Sen. John C. Miller, D-Newport News, states, “The authorization to serve two terms in succession shall be applicable to persons first elected to serve as Governor in 2017 and thereafter.”  Miller says postponing the legislation was a matter of practicality.  “Constitutional amendments have to be voted on and there has to be an intervening election,” Miller said. “Then they have to be voted on a second time. So, it just makes sense in the process to hold it (the amendment) over to 2015”

    The Virginia Constitution requires that amendments must be approved by a majority of the members of each house prior to and after an election. If the amendment were passed by the succeeding legislature, the measure would then be sent to voters.  Amendments such as SJR7 are introduced frequently in both legislative houses. Del. Harry R. Purkey, R-Virginia Beach, offered similar legislation every year of his delegacy (from 1994-2012). During the 2013 session, Senate Joint Resolution 276, introduced by Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Hadensville, passed through the Senate but later died in House committee.  Virginia is the only state in the country that still limits governors to a one-term limit.

    John Aughenbaugh, Ph.D., a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says imposing term limits on the governor is based on a combination of reasons.  “In part, it (the restriction is based on) culture and history,” Aughenbaugh said. “It reflects many of Virginia’s founding fathers’ belief that if government was going to have power, it (the power) should be in the legislative branch.  “(The other) part of it is the rather current fear by some that there is no good reason to change,” Aughenbaugh said. “They’ll (legislators) say, ‘Give me some solid administrative reasons and maybe I’ll consider it.’ ”

    Miller says the House of Delegates is jealous of the appointive powers of the governor.  “I think (tradition) is part of it,” Miller said. “We’re a citizen legislature, because (Thomas) Jefferson wanted us to go home at the end of session and be with people and not become a professional legislature.  So part of it is tradition, but we’re in the 21st century, and I think we ought to join the rest of the country and have governors that can serve consecutive terms.”

    Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, has been a long-term opponent of such legislation. He says allowing the governor to a second term would distract them (the governor) from fulfilling the duties of the executive branch.  “If we allow governors a second term, they would spend the first one maneuvering for their second term instead of focusing on their chief priorities,” Marshall said.

    Miller says he thinks a second term would give governors an opportunity to accomplish more of their agenda.  “I think if you get a good (governor), you ought to be able to keep him for a second term for continuity,” Miller said. “Trying to come in and form an administration and get the things you want to do done in a four year time span is difficult.”  Delegate Marshall disagreed.  “(The voters) elected you to be a good guy now,” Marshall said. “Not later.” 

    For the amendment to succeed, Aughenbaugh said he thinks the membership in the House of Delegates will need to change.  “With the current membership of the House of Delegates, I don’t think the chances (of passing an amendment like this) are that good, largely because those who are opposed tend to be small-government Republicans,” Aughenbaugh said. “Those people do care about this.”

    Miller says negotiations will have to continue in order for the measure to pass.  “If past history is any indication,” Miller said, “there’s going to have to be a discussion between the governor’s staff and House folks about what they’re willing to give up – if anything – and what they’re willing to accept.  “Sometimes around here, you just have to keep banging on the door until people catch up and see the wisdom of it,” Miller said.

  40. Bicycle-Passing Bill Advances

    By Lauren McClellan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The Virginia Senate Transportation committee recently has approved a bill increasing the distance at which cars must pass bicycles, from 2 feet to 3 feet.  Senate Bill 97, introduced by Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Fredericksburg, has been unsuccessfully introduced in the past by Reeves and a number of other Republican and Democratic legislators. 

    Previous opponents of the bill, including Sen. Charles W. Carrico, R-Galax, have cited enforceability issues as a reason for barring passage of the bill, saying that it is hard for drivers to know the difference between 2- and 3-foot distances while driving.  This bill would change the distance at which a car can pass electric personal assistive mobility devices (scooters and wheelchairs), mopeds and animal-drawn vehicles.  Twenty-two other states and Washington, D.C. have similar laws that say drivers must pass bicycles with at least 3 feet of room.

    The Virginia Bicycling Federation supports the bill and its members have been meeting with legislators to advocate for the bill’s passage.  "We had reps from the City of Virginia Beach speaking to the Senate Transportation Committee in support of SB97," stated Scott Cramer, board member of the VBF from Norfolk, Va.  "When city officials, not just cyclists, want to be seen as bike-friendly, that's a big step forward.”  To Cramer, the new bill would give cyclists another layer of protection from vehicles that have wide trailers or large mirrors.  Cramer also thinks that the passage of this bill would help the relationship between Virginia cyclists and drivers.  "It will help Virginia's standing as a bicycle-friendly state, since having a 3-foot pass law is a criterion from the League of American Bicyclists," Cramer stated in an email. "It sends a message to citizens -- drivers and cyclists -- that cyclists' space on the road should be respected."

     In 2013, the League of American Bicyclists rated Virginia the 16th most bike-friendly state.  The league provided feedback with their ranking, stating that Virginia should consider enacting a 3-foot passing law. In 2015, Richmond will host the Union Cycliste Internationale World Road Championships.  Lee Kramer, marketing and communications director for the event’s Richmond organizing body, thinks SB 97 could benefit all of the commonwealth.  “We hope this event is not (only) about bike racing, but making the region more bike-friendly for recreation and transportation,” Kramer said. “Any legislation that further supports (this) is a good thing as far as we’re concerned.”

  41. Student Group Designs Bipartisan Mental Health Bill

    By Colin Kennedy, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- Thirteen University of Virginia students have written proposed legislation that would require Virginia’s public universities to create and feature a webpage dedicated solely to mental health resources available to students at each institution. Delegate Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, is the chief patron of House Bill 206. Buthe says Legislators of Tomorrow, the group of U.Va. students responsible for the initiative, deserves all the attention. “I can’t take any credit (for) this bill,” Hope said. “They noticed that there is a lack of mental health awareness on college campuses, and they developed what I believe is a common-sense solution.”

    The bill, if passed, also would require incoming students to complete an online learning module, as well as an online assessment to test the students’ understanding of the content. Club co-founder Patrick MacDonnell says he considers HB206 a mental health awareness proposal that could help provide students, faculty and staff the information to save lives. “What we want to come from the bill is to prevent tragedies at colleges and universities,” MacDonnell said. “The (mental health) resources that are (currently) available, for the most part, are relatively good resources. The problem is that nobody knows about them.”

    The group recognized the lack of mental health awareness shortly after MacDonnell and his classmate formed the club last spring. Fed up with the lack of governing in modern politics, he and fellow freshman Jarrod Nagurka sought to create bipartisan legislation that would solve pertinent problems across the community and state. Now sophomores, the two 19-year-olds are planning a trip to Richmond, Va. to speak face-to-face with legislators about their club’s bill.

    Their trip to the state capital comes just more than two months after Virginia’s latest high-profile mental health crisis, which involved Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, triggered legislative reaction from the entire General Assembly. More than 60 mental health bills have been proposed thus far during the 2014 session. Yet MacDonnell says he thinks HB206, which was brought to Hope before the Deeds incident, is a “no-brainer.” “There certainly has not been any strong opposition,” MacDonnell said. “The vast majority of what we’ve gotten back from members of the General Assembly has been very positive.”

    At a time when just 13 percent of people approve of the job Congress is doing, MacDonnell says he thinks the passing of HB206 would show that government still works. He says he is cautiously optimistic that the bill will pass partly because it doesn’t require any state funding and it ultimately makes other funding more effective.Even though Hope says the General Assembly failed Virginians during the budgeting process after a 2008 mental health reform phase, he says he thinks HB206 is a step in the right direction. “We should be devoting the majority of our resources toward prevention because we know that, for people with serious mental illnesses, treatment works,” he said. “We just need to apply it in the right places and not wait for a crisis.”

    Colleges and universities are the ideal place to apply such preventative services, Hope said, and he deems the proposed legislation a bipartisan solution to a truly nonpartisan issue. Club member Ben Rudgley says Legislators of Tomorrow has received some criticism. However, the group elected not to disclose which conservative representative voiced his concern about the bill. “There was one person who didn’t want to be the co-patron of the bill,” Rudgley said. “But we believe now that was a result of a misunderstanding.”

    Several members, including Rudgley, will use their time in Richmond next week to meet with any uncertain legislators and express why this proposal is so important and worthy of bipartisan support. Delegate Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, officially signed on as the co-patron of HB206 this past Thursday, according to his office assistant, but Yost declined to comment.

    Though a date has not been set, the bill is scheduled to be heard by the mental health subcommittee of the Courts of Justice committee before the session ends. For now, MacDonnell and Rudgley urge any supporting citizens to call their local representatives and voice their opinion. “People should call their delegates,” MacDonnell said. “The best way we can make sure that this bill will pass is by getting everyone involved. We can’t do it alone. (People) can make a difference.”

  42. Obituary-William A. "Bill" Partridge-Services Today

    William A. “Bill”Partridge, 72, of Drewryville, passed away Wednesday, January 15, 2014. Mr. Partridge was the son of the late Allen and Mildred Partridge and was also preceded in death by brother, Eddie A. Partridge and brother-in-law, Ronnie Lumsden. He is survived by his wife, Sandra M. Partridge; three daughters, Michele P. Reedy, Monica P. Flickinger and husband, Marc and Jennifer P. Barnum and husband, Nathan; son-in-law, David L. Reedy; six grandchildren, Murphy Nicole Reedy, Hayden Lee Reedy, Hannah Michele Reedy, Mackenzie Paige Flickinger, Murfee William Flickinger and Eli Allen Barnum; one sister, Sarah P. Savedge and husband, Buddy; two sisters-in-law, Nancy E. Partridge and Linda M. Newsome; a brother-in-law, Frankie Newsome; four nephews and three neices. Bill was a retired farmer and was a charter member of Drewryville Volunteer Fire Department and a past president of Drewryville Ruritan Club. He served on the J. R. Horsley Soil and Water Conservation District and on the Board of Southampton Academy and was a past member of Little Texas Hunt Club. The family will receive friends at his home in Southampton County. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, January 18 at Calvary Baptist Church, Emporia, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Calvary Baptist Church, Emporia, Virginia or to the American Cancer Society or to the Southampton Home Health and Hospice, Franklin, Virginia. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  43. Obituary-Janice Marie Barnes Short-Services Today

    Janice Marie Barnes Short, of Emporia, Virginia, formerly of Richmond, Virginia passed away peacefully on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.Janice was born May 29, 1948 and lived a very fruitful and inspiring life. She was blessed with three children and four grandchildren. Her life changed November of 1997 when she had a heart attack and had many complications but she defied the odds. She survived many obstacles that came her direction and instilled those traits in her children and grandchildren as well. Janice endured more pain and suffering than many were aware, yet she always had a smile on her face and always wanted to make sure her family was taken care of and she always put others’ needs above her own. In 1998, Janice decided to give her life to Christ and was baptized at Forest Hill Baptist Church by Pastor Terry L. Corder. She began a new life, an everlasting life and began placing her worries and pains in God’s hands. The family would like to thank Dr. John Prince, Jr., Dr. Adel Bishai and staff, SVRMC staff, MCV CICU and Palliative Care staff and Lifestar Ambulance Service, Inc. for the care, attention and support through the years. May God bless each and every one of you as you care for the loved ones of others. Janice was preceded in death by her parents, Harvey and Margaret Barnes. She is survived by her three children, Troy Reickard, Tammy Jasper and husband, Eric and Teresa Ferguson and husband, Clay; grandchildren, Amber Jackson, Taylor Reickard and her mother, Allison, Tyler Ferguson and Tori Ferguson; one sister, Patsy Johnson and husband, Randy; two brothers, Jimmy Butner and wife, Patricia and Ricky Kinzer and wife, Jeanne; a number of nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews dear to her heart; the Short Family whom she also held dear through the many changes in life and a special family friend, Gerri Joyner and sons, Doug and Chucky and also her beloved pet friend, Shadow. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt. A celebration of Janice’s life will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, January 18 at Forest Hill Baptist Church with interment to follow in the church cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  44. Bill Proposes Animal Cruelty Registry for Virginia

    By Jessi Gower, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND -- An online animal cruelty registry will be established in the Commonwealth of Virginia this month if Senate Bill 32 is passed.  Although several states have enacted third-, second- and first-offense felony animal cruelty laws, New York is currently the first and only state to pass an animal abuse registry bill.  Chief Patron of SB32, Sen. William Stanley, R-Richmond, says now is the time for Virginia to pass its own registry bill.  “I think a registry of this nature is long overdue in Virginia,” Stanley said.

    Many animal rights groups across the country have shown support for bills dealing with animal cruelty registries, but there are groups who are known to have reservations about such registries.  The Humane Society of the United States has criticized such legislation and says a public online registry isn’t the way to deal with those convicted of animal felonies.  “Experience has made clear that such individuals would pose a lesser threat to animals in the future if they received comprehensive mental health counseling,” the humane society blog stated.  “Shaming them with a public Internet profile is unlikely to affect their future behavior- except perhaps to isolate them further from society and promote increased distrust of authority figures trying to help them.”

    Stanley disagrees and says he believes the registry will not only help to stop animal cruelty, but will also help to prevent it.  “I think sunlight is the best antiseptic,” Stanley said. “Sometimes people will think twice before they commit a crime, knowing that it would be on public display.”  If the bill passes, 782 individuals who already have been convicted of felonies against animals would be automatically listed on the public online registry. “The best way is to allow the public to know who these very serious felons are,” Stanley said. “So they can prevent animals from getting into the hands of the wrong people.”

    In 2011, Delegate Daniel Marshall, R-Danville, proposed similar legislation with his House Bill 1930.  Kristen Howard, executive director for The Virginia Crime Commission says the commission reviewed this study but did not make any recommendations on the bill because of a lack of endorsement for the bill.

  45. DR. CAVAN’S 2014 CALENDAR IS A HIT

    A year’s worth of mandela art featuring institutes of higher education and bound together in a glossy calendar has garnered much praise for the creator.  Dr. John J. Cavan’s Higher Education in America 2014 Calendar features colleges and universities throughout the world depicted through his artwork. 

    Mandala is an ancient art form from the Sanskrit word for “circle” and features symmetrical geometric designs that serve as cosmograms and focal points for meditation, according to Mandala Designs by Martha Bartfeld, copyrighted by Dover Publications, Inc., in 1997.  Dr. Cavan’s mandala’s feature college colors and mascots and designs of more than 200 of these colleges.

    This year’s calendar features 144 institutes of higher learning including Southside Virginia Community College, Harvard University, the University of Virginia, North Carolina State University, University of Michigan, Murray State University, James Madison University, University of Delaware, Johns Hopkins University and the College of William and Mary just to name a few.  Dr. Cavan sent calendars as gifts to the presidents of colleges featured and other colleagues and received a grand response.

    Drew Faust, President of Harvard, emailed that he appreciated that his college was included in the calendar.  W. Randolph Woodson, Chancellor of North Carolina State University, wrote, “I look forward to enjoying your work throughout the year and seeing our nation’s institutes of higher education portrayed in such a beautiful manner.”

    Cornell University President David J. Skorton noted that the designs were interesting and was also pleased Cornell is included in this year’s calendar.  The College of William and Mary is featured in the month of January which was noted in the thank you from that college’s President W. Taylor Reveley, III.

    Others who responded with notes included presidents from Emory and Henry College, Averett University, Randolph-Macon College, Campbell University , St. John’s University,  the University of the Ozarks, Coastal Carolina University and the Admissions representative from Johnson and Wales University.

    This is the third in a series of calendars designed by Dr. Cavan.  This year features the most colleges and universities.  The president of St. Joseph’s University noted, “I enjoyed looking through the pages of the calendar, Dr. Cavan, and was thrilled to see Saint Joseph’s University among your work.  I did, however, wonder if you are aware of the longstanding rivalry between St. Joseph’s University and Villanova University.  We are situated side by side in the month of November.  Of course, I am joking, but I did get a laugh out of seeing that.”

    The calendar offers an interesting and new perspective on the colleges and universities we all love to hear about and cheer for in sports situations. 

    Dr. Cavan is the President of Southside Virginia Community College and has presented his artwork to many people throughout the nation including our nation’s presidents, governors, chief justices, senators and college presidents.

  46. Mask Bill Revamps 1940s Felony Law

    By Liz Butterfield, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND — Cold pedestrians and cyclists may be relieved to cover their faces without risk of arrest if a bill on the wearing of masks passes in the Virginia General Assembly this spring. House Bill 542 aims to change a law regarding the wearing of masks and facial coverings to charge only those covering their face with the intent to do harm.  Under current law, it is a Class 6 felony to be caught wearing a mask in public or in private places in Virginia.

     Chief patron of the bill Delegate Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, said she learned about the law after a citizen approached her with a personal concern.  The man told McQuinn he was stopped by a policeman while crossing the Martin Luther King bridge last winter and was asked to remove a protective mask.  McQuinn said she looked into the issue and was surprised to find the law had not been amended since its creation.  "I'm trying to fix that so that people are able to wear a mask and protect themselves from very extreme weather,” McQuinn said, “but yet also make sure that those who are concerned about anyone doing mischief will also not be negatively impacted.”  The law probably was created in the 1940s in order to prevent members of the Ku Klux Klan from wearing facial coverings, McQuinn said.

    McQuinn’s bill amends the old law to reserve felony charges only those cover their face with the intent to commit a crime.  However, the proposed changes are causing some pushback from some business community members who are concerned the bill may cause an increase in mask wearing around their business.  "I've gotten some push back on the bill from the business community that is concerned about someone coming, wearing a mask and going into a store or a bank or something and robbing it,” McQuinn said. “That's not what I'm trying to do. I’m not trying to impact them (businesses)."  McQuinn said she is in the process of adding amendments to the bill to compromise with her opponents, including adding a possible condition on winter months and extreme temperatures.

    River City Women’s racing member Ann Hardy says she supports the bill because it eliminates a potential hardship for cyclists. Although not frequently enforced, the old law put cyclists who wear a balaclava, a winter mask that covers the neck and face from winter elements, at risk of arrest, which “almost borderlines ridiculous,” Hardy said.  "They (cyclists) would be for the bill because it changes it to include language that specifically says there has to be an intent to conceal your identity,” Hardy said. “Anybody that partakes in outdoor activities in the winter weather would benefit from this legislation.”

     After the bill is amended, it will be reviewed by the House Committee for Courts of Justice.

  47. SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER NAMES NEW DIRECTOR OF LABORATORY SERVICES

    John W. Summerville, MD, was recently appointed Medical Director of Laboratory Services at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC).  Specializing in anatomic and clinical pathology, Dr. Summerville examines blood, fluid and tissue samples to diagnoses various diseases by looking for specific factors that are either lacking or present in the sample.  Once all testing on a sample is complete, he reports the findings to the physician who ordered the study.  As Medical Director, Dr. Summerville is also responsible for the accuracy of all laboratory tests performed at SVRMC.  Although patients may never meet him face to face, the services provided by Dr. Summerville are vital to our medical community. 

    Dr. Summerville received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He attended medical school at University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, WI followed by a residency in anatomic pathology and a fellowship in surgical pathology at Stanford University in Stanford, CA, and a residency in clinical pathology and a residency in hematopathology at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Summerville is certified by the American Board of Pathology - Anatomic and Clinical and a Diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners. 

    For more information on pathology services offered at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, call 434-348-4800.

  48. SVCC Offers Pesticide Application Training

    Southside Virginia Community College is offering a new non-credit course designed to deliver training to earn a Private Pesticide Applicator Certification.  This Private Pesticide Applicator Certification training covers categories in 90-Food, Fiber, Forestry Products and Commodity Production Pest Control and 91-Ornamental Production Pest Control.  

    Classes will consist of an in-depth review of all chapters within the core manual followed by the private pesticide applicators test.  This training will be held at the SVCC Southside Virginia Education Center located at 1300 Greensville County Circle in Emporia.  Class meets every Monday beginning February 10th through March 31st from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.  Cost is only $89 which includes textbook and certification card.  Pre-registration for this course is required by contacting Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026 or angela.mcclintock@southside.edu

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  49. Obituary-Lorraine W. Norwood-Services Today

    Lorraine W. Norwood, 73, of Emporia, widow of Shelton A. “Sonny” Norwood, passed away Monday, January 13, 2014. She is survived by her daughter, Tammy Lynch; son, Shelton A. Norwood; two granddaughters, Ashley and Kaitlyn Lynch; two sisters, Mary Poarch and Joyce Moore and a number of nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Friday, January 17 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  50. Virginia Inaguration Shrouded in History and Tradition

    We all know that an event like Inauguration Day is a pretty big deal; weather it is for the President or a Governor, everything changes on that day.  While the White House staff spends a January morning every four (or eight) years moving President out of the house and another President into the house during the course of a few speeches and a parade, things are a little different here in Virginia. 

    Inauguration Day in Virginia is full of Pomp and Circumstance, Military Bands and official functions.  Men wear Morning Dress (as prescribed by the Constitution of Virginia), and women wear fancy hats.  There is a Prayer Breakfast at St. John's, a motorcade from the Jefferson, a lot of build up for the swearing in of the Commonwealth's top three officials and a speech.  All of this is followed by a Parade for the new Governor.

    What most of us don't know is that Virginia Governors have a sense of humor, too, and traditionally leave little pranks for the new Governor.  Mark Warner left a cardborad cutout of himself in the shower to surprise Tim Kaine (it is mentioned in many articles about Gubernatorial Pranks that the cardboard cutout was clothed, like we would suspect otherwise).  Tim Kaine left cell phones hidden in the Executive Mansion to perturb Bob McDonnell.  What Bob McDonnell left for Terry McAuliffe, though, takes the cake.  Not only was there an alarm clock hidden in a drawer, set to make all kinds of noise at four in the morning, but the new Governor was greeted by a full size stuffed bear when he opened the bathroom door.

     

     

    The Bear, from a display in the Patrick Henry Building has been returned home safely.  Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office.

  51. RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY BRINGS Reading with Ringling Bros.! LIBRARY READING PROGRAM TO the Meherrin Regional Library System

     

    Library Reading Program Allows Kids to DREAM BIG and Earn Circus Tickets!

     

    Kids, are you interested in reading some cool library books?  Are you interested in earning a circus ticket at the same time?  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® and area libraries will be hosting some serious fun with Reading with Ringling Bros.!. The Richardson Memorial Library in Emporia and Brunswick County Library in Lawrenceville will be participating in the program. 

    The reading program is easy and fun for kids to participate.  The best part is that beginning January 24th kids can earn a Ringling Bros.® circus ticket by simply doing their library reading!  Children from ages 2 to 12 simply need to enroll with the library staff, who will give kids everything to start their library reading.  This unique library reading program will encourage children not only to read, but also to discover, dream and learn! For more, visit www.ReadingWithRingling.com.

    Want to learn what it takes to soar on the flying trapeze or just what goes into those cream pies that the clowns throw?  Or maybe learn some fun facts about one of the more than 100 cities the mile-long circus train visits or how to teach your old dog a new trick?  It’s easy!  Just visit your local library and enjoy the magic of reading.

    The Meherrin Regional Library System will kickoff Reading with Ringling Bros.! with a visit from a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®  clown on Friday, January 24th.  The clown will be at the Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at 11:00 am and the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at 2:00 pm. For more information contact the Brunswick County Library at (434) 848-2418 ext. 301 and the Richardson Memorial Library at (434) 634-2539.

  52. Nationally recognized comedian to speak at free community cancer event

     

    Cancer survivor and comedian Scott Burton to keynote Connected by Cancer and Beyond, a free conference for cancer survivors, patients and caregivers in Southside Virginia

    Headlining comedian and bestselling author Scott Burton is slated to be the keynote speaker at Connected by Cancer and Beyond, a free program for cancer survivors, patients and caregivers on Saturday, January 25 from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Workforce Development Auditorium at Southside VA Community College at 109 Campus Drive in Alberta, Va. Burton, a stage IV cancer survivor who has worked with famous comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, has turned his cancer fears into strengths and now focuses on using his experiences to benefit others affected by cancer.

    “We are delighted to have such a dynamic and well-known national speaker for our event,” says Vivian Taylor, health information coordinator at VCU Massey Cancer Center and coordinator of the Cancer Resource Center of Southern Virginia in Lawrenceville. “We have several additional guests hosting breakout sessions, and we expect this to be a very entertaining and educational event.”

    In addition to Burton’s keynote address, the event will include breakout sessions hosted by health care professionals from Emporia, South Hill and other areas in Southside Virginia, including:

    • “What do I do now…that I have finished my cancer treatment?” by Paul Goetowski, M.D., director of radiation oncology at Community Memorial Healthcenter (CMH) Cancer and Specialty Care
    • “Cancer and restorative therapy” by Lesley O. Horne, speech and language pathologist at CMH
    • “Colon cancer awareness and early detection” by Theopolis Gilliam, Jr., M.D., gastroenterologist at Emporia Medical Associates
    • “Ten tips for family caregivers” by Bill Humphreys, founding member of Partners in Healthcare and part of the Crater Caregivers Coalition
    • “Nutrition for cancer survivors” by Ratia Kirby, health information program coordinator at VCU Massey Cancer Center and Halifax county nutritionist

    Tzann Fang, M.D., medical director at CMH Cancer and Specialty Care will also be available for brief one-on-one confidential consultations throughout the entire conference.

    “As a resident of the Emporia Greensville community I have seen the collaboration of multiple organizations whose purpose is to improve the quality of life and health of our area,” says Marilyn S. LeGrow, community outreach coordinator for VCU Massey Cancer Center. “I am happy to see resources and research projects becoming increasingly available for community-based participation, and I am honored to be included in the planning of Southside Virginia’s first cancer survivor and caregiver’s conference.”

    For more information about the conference or to make reservations, please contact Vivian Taylor at the Cancer Resource Center of Southern Virginia at (434) 848-4850, or email vjtaylor@vcu.edu. This event is  sponsored by The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and VCU Massey Cancer Center.

    (Editor's Note:  See a sample of Scott Burton's story in this video:

  53. Obituary-James P. Wilson, Jr.-Services Today

    James P. Wilson, Jr., of Emporia, VA, died peacefully Saturday, January 11, 2014 at home after a long illness. Jim was life-long educator in Virginia. He began his career as the band director at Newport News High School, where his bands won numerous awards around the state. He became a school administrator in 1969 and served as an assistant principal and principal at several high schools in Virginia. He retired as principal from Greensville County High School in 1988. After retirement, he taught at Southside Virginia Community College for 10 years. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Barbara. He is also survived by his daughters Stephanie Vassar (Tim) of Glen Allen, VA, and Meg Lumpkin (Brent) of Emporia and his four grandchildren:  Rachel Vassar, Mason Lumpkin, Isaac Vassar, and Haley Lumpkin. The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to his caregiver, Joy Mallory, and to Crater Community Hospice. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Thursday, January 16 at Owen Funeral Home in Jarratt, VA.  Visitation will be 1 hour prior to and 1 hour after the service. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 108, Emporia, VA 23847.  Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  54. Pancake Breakfast Today

    Pancake Breakfast for local Veteran's American Legion Post #46 - Emporia, VA. Pancake Breakfast on January 18th, 2014 at Applebee's from 8am to 10am. You will be served or take out is available. (2) Large Pancakes, (2) Sausage Patties, Butter, Syrup and choice of Coffee, Milk, Soda or Juice for $6 per plate. Contact: Lee Seymour - 434-430-5000 or any member of Post #46 for your tickets. Monies to be used to supplement the cost of fruit baskets for our local veterans located in local Home Health Care Facilities.
     

  55. Virginia Localities Seek Stormwater Program Delay

    By Kate Miller, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND — Some local governments want the General Assembly to delay the July 1, 2014 deadline for establishing local stormwater runoff programs by one year.  Delegate Brenda Pogge, R-Williamsburg, said she would support the delay because many localities are not prepared to establish stormwater programs by July.  “My heart goes out to the plight of some of these smaller localities because they only have one option,” Pogge said. “And that is to increase taxes on all their population in order to do this (introduce storm-water programs) as quickly as they’re being mandated to.”

    In November, the members of the Virginia Association of Counties, which represents all 95 counties of Virginia, voted unanimously for the one-year delay.  Larry Land, the director of policy development for VACo, stated in an email the Department of Environmental Quality — which runs the current stormwater program for the state — determined in August 2013 that localities would inherit all existing renewal permits for stormwater runoff.   Land stated renewal fees filed between April and June 2014 would be remitted to DEQ instead of localities.  “DEQ has not established any procedure to send fee revenues to localities,” Land stated.

    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a conservation group, opposes the delay.  Chuck Epes, assistant director of media relations for  the Richmond office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, stated in an email CBF’s top priority is to “hold the bay states accountable for meeting deadlines, goals, etc.”  Epes says the commonwealth has provided $35 million in funding this year to help localities establish the programs.   Stormwater runoff management is a key Chesapeake Bay conservation issue. According to CBF, stormwater becomes polluted as it flows from streets, parking lots and roofs. As the water travels, it becomes contaminated by pollutants and enters waterways that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.

    The General Assembly voted for the July 1, 2014 deadline for the new programs in 2012.  Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the DEQ, says the state will be responsible for approving the local plans and making sure local governments meet all requirements.  “The reasoning behind it (implementing local programs),” Hayden said, “was to enable the local governments who know their situations best to deal with them on their own with some oversight from the state.”

    Delegate Edward Scott, R-Culpeper, the chairman of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, says he is not sure a delay will be possible. He says stormwater-runoff management is a regulatory process that begins at the federal level.   “Inevitably, we’re going to have to address stormwater to satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency,” Scott said. 

    Scott also says the General Assembly may be able to ease the regulatory burden of the programs by considering which governmental entity should be responsible for program management.  “I think we’re going to see a large number of bills on this topic from a lot of different directions,” he said.

    Agricultural runoff is another part of the issue.   “We are cautiously watching all the stormwater legislation and have no position at this time,” Associate Director of Governmental Relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Wilmer Stoneman stated in an email. “The legislation will be amended several times; we’ll get involved only as necessary.”

    Charles McSwain, the director of economic development for Northampton County says his county is on schedule to establish a new stormwater-runoff plan.  “I’m hopeful that we can implement it (the plan) in a way that’s reasonable so that it’s not overbearing on the … economic development,” McSwain said. “I think it’s our job at the local level to put balance between what’s practical and realistic to make good progress and the rules that are in place.”

    (Editor's Note:  Articles about the General Assembly are included on Emporia News as decisions made at the Capital will be felt here, at the local level.)

  56. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE MOURNS LOSS OF SERGEANT IN HENRY COUNTY TRAFFIC CRASH

    RICHMOND – With heavy hearts, Virginia State Police are still investigating the cause and circumstances surrounding a crash involving a revered Department supervisor. Saturday’s death of Sgt. J. Michael Phillippi became the Department’s 60th line of duty death.

    At approximately 2:20 a.m., Saturday (Jan. 11, 2014), the Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about a vehicle crash in the county on Chatham Road/Route 57, approximately 170 feet west of Route 9728/Pennrail Road. The crash investigation has confirmed that the blue, unmarked Chevrolet Impala was eastbound on Route 57 when it ran off the right side of the road and struck a highway sign. The car then crossed back over Route 57, ran off the left side and struck an embankment. The car suffered minimal damage, which suggests that it was not traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of impact.

    When rescue crews arrived, they found Sgt. Phillippi still seated inside the crashed patrol car wearing his seat belt. State police were immediately notified and responded to the scene. Phillippi was transported to Martinsville Memorial Hospital, where he died a short time later. His remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for autopsy and examination.

    “Highly respected for his leadership, strong character, integrity, and dedication to mission, Sergeant Phillippi was totally loyal to the troopers he supervised and mentored, and the community he served,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “His death is being felt across the Commonwealth and especially within the Henry County-Martinsville region, where he has spent the past several decades on patrol.”

    The Virginia State Police Salem Division Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash. The incident, to include the cause of death, remains under investigation at this time.

    Sgt. Phillippi, 65, was working the overnight supervisory shift for the Salem Division at the time of his death. He has spent the majority of his 42 years with the Department assigned to the Virginia State Police Area 42 Office, which encompasses the City of Martinsville and the counties of Henry and Patrick. A native of Gate City, Va., he joined the state police May 1, 1971, and was promoted to sergeant in February 1990. Sgt. Phillippi is survived by his wife.

  57. Senate Deliberates Weekend Jail Sentencing

    By Eric Luther, Capital News Service

     

    RICHMOND -- A new bill aiming to amend and reenact the Code of Virginia requirements allowing individuals guilty of misdemeanors and certain nonviolent felonies to serve nonconsecutive jail sentences has been proposed by Sen. William Stanley Jr., R-Moneta.  Senate Bill 167 seeks to remove a code provision stating a criminal sentence of nonconsecutive days only be issued on the basis of allowing a convicted individual to retain employment.

    Aaron Houchens, a spokesman for Stanley, says the senator is removing this language to allow certain convicts to serve sentences on a weekend basis.  “The real intent of this bill is to permit those convicted of crimes, (who) may be looking for a job, seek employment or care for their children, and still have the ability to serve weekend time,” Houchens said. “It’s not just to gain employment in that regard.”

    Sen. George Barker, D- Alexandria, who serves on the House Committee of Rehabilitation and Social Services, says there are certain family situations where added flexibility is beneficial to others if an individual serves his or her sentence over a longer period of time and is not incarcerated for 30 straight days.  “It may be that you’re taking care of kids, grandma or somebody else on certain days, and can serve your jail time on other days,” Barker said. “This (bill) provides a little more flexibility to the judge in issuing a sentence.”  Barker says the bill will make sure families are not suffering unduly as a result of the individual’s offense.

    “It does promote things are that are good for the individual and their families long term,” Barker said. “It is much more likely they can stay in school, work or deal with family situations.”  However, the bill does not extend itself to all types of nonviolent wrongdoing, according to Barker. For example, some drug crimes are not considered physically violent but still are categorized as violent felonies.  Barker also says the proposed legislation only applies to sentences of one year or less being served in a local jail.  “In a significant felony, an individual does not go to a local jail,” Barker said. “If your sentence is for a year or more you are sent to state prison. This bill would not apply then.”

    To offset the cost of additional weekend  jail staff, Houchens says those electing to serve weekend sentences should expect to pay for the cost of their keep when reporting for incarceration.  “Typically there is a cost associated with weekend jail time,” Houchens said. “More activity on the weekend leads to the need for more deputies to run maintenance and retain peace and stability in the jail.”

    Joe Szakos, executive director of Virginia Organizing Project, says his organization is committed to making sure there are community-based programs that serve everyone, including those who have made a mistake sometime in their life.  Instead of sending people away in an isolated way, Szakos says it is important to think about how we can have them serve their sentence as close to home as possible.  Szakos also says if passing SB 167 means more people keep their jobs, then passage is the right thing to do.

    “We want to applaud Sen. Stanley for trying to figure out ways to keep people in the community,” Szakos said. “So they can keep their jobs and serve their sentence at the same time.”

    SB 167 currently is awaiting deliberation from the House Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services.

  58. Local Citizens Attend Inauguration Ceremony and Richmond Inaugural Ball

    On Saturday, January 11, despite the rain and wind, several citizens from Emporia, Brunswick,  Sussex and Southampton attended the swearing in of the Commonwealth of Virginia's 72nd Governor, Terrence R. McAuliffe.  Also sworn in were the new Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.  The short ceremony, which is actually a Joint Session of the General Assembly, was followed by a Native American blessing, performed by seven of Virginia's Tribes and a Parade. 

    Everyone gathered again that evening for the Richmond Inaugural Ball at VCU's Siegal Center.  Those in attendance were George Morrison, Chair of the Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee; Delegate Roslyn Tyler;  Rufus Tyler; Yvonne Rose, Chair of the Southampton County Democratic Committee (and former LA for Delegate Tyler); and Cyliene Montgomery, Member of Brunswick County Democratic Committee.

  59. Neighborhood Watch Meeting-TODAY

    There will be a neighborhood watch meeting on 1/15/14, at 7:00 P.M. at the Jarratt Fire Department in the meeting room.  Jean Cobb with Juvenile Probation & Parole Services will present a short program about the juvenile system in Virginia and what her office staff duties are.  Please plan to attend and bring a friend to this very important meeting.  All residents in Jarratt, Greensville and Sussex counties are welcome.  For additional information please contact Dana Kinsley (434) 637 -7553.

  60. McAuliffe Inauguration Renews Campaign Promises

    By James Galloway, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Tight security and steady rain Saturday did not dampen the spirit or the campaign promises of Democrat Terry McAuliffe as he became Virginia’s 72nd governor.

    McAuliffe, who has never held elected office, won this past November’s nationally watched election against conservative, Tea Party-endorsed Republican candidate Ken CuccinelliMcAuliffe succeeds Republican Bob McDonnell as governor.

    McAuliffe’s national supporters include President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, for whom McAuliffe raised funds.  Clinton was in prominent attendance at the inauguration, as were his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

    McAuliffe took the oath of office in a formal morning suit from Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser.  The entire event took place in front of the historic Capitol building designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785 to resemble a Roman temple.

    Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell, R-Fredericksburg, opened the ceremony by reminding the audience of about 1,500 people they were not supposed to be using umbrellas.  Members of the audience were searched by security -- men in trench coats and flat-brimmed hats -- sometimes more than once at the same checkpoint.

    “Members and guests are reminded that you’re not supposed to be using your umbrellas,” Howell said, as it rained, heavily at times. “But if you don’t think you’re blocking anybody else’s view, it’s OK with me.”

    McAuliffe’s inaugural address echoed themes from his campaign, including expansion of Medicaid, women’s rights and gay rights.  “The Virginia way” is the national model for fiscal discipline,” McAuliffe said. “We are one of the best states to do business because we have worked together to minimize regulations and to keep taxes low.”  He also called the commonwealth’s business model “a tradition we should be so proud of.”

    McAuliffe thanked former Gov. McDonnell for his leadership, noting a smooth transition into his first day as governor.  Near the end of the speech, McAuliffe reminded the public that he was about to issue an executive order putting a $100 limit on gifts to himself and other politicians.  After the ceremony, McAuliffe signed Executive Order No. 1, prohibiting workplace discrimination, with new protections for transgender people.

    McAuliffe previously had told a room of reporters in December that he “would be inclined” to issue an additional executive order allowing fee waivers for Freedom of Information Act requests that fall under the “public good.” Such provisions exist in federal law but not in Virginia law.  Such an executive order would protect the public from prohibitive costs associated with filing a FOIA request, which can have a chilling effect on disclosure.

    The new governor is facing a 20-20 Republican-Democrat split in the Virginia Senate.  He noted the value of bipartisan consensus, and again congratulated McDonnell on a job well done, referencing a major transportation bill passed with bipartisan support the previous year.

    A 19-gun salute by the Virginia Army National Guard, airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard and members of the Virginia Defense Force preceded a series of appearances by religious leaders, who blessed the inauguration with ceremonial dance and speeches.

    Representatives from Virginia’s 11 American Indian tribes performed a blessing march and stopped to play drums in front of the governor. Rabbi Jack Moline of the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria gave McAuliffe his blessing in a speech.

  61. Committee Assignments Shape Mason’s Focus

    By Jackson McMillan, Capital News Service

     

    RICHMOND — New delegate Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, said education was his top priority coming into office, but his committee assignments have broadened his focus, as shown by the legislation he has introduced.  Mason was appointed Wednesday to the committees of House Courts and Justice and Counties, Cities and Towns. “I’m essentially going to be getting a master’s degree in legal education over the next 60-70 days,” Mason said. “I think that the participation on committees -- particularly one as important as Courts -- will help shape the direction of my focus.”  According to Mason, while education is important, he wants to use this opportunity to cement his new legislative role.  “I’m going to have to focus a lot of time just towards trying to be a smart, competent member of (the Courts) committee,” Mason said.

    Mason also said he stands by his belief in early childhood education partly because of his own personal experience.  “I’m the father of a 5-year-old daughter who started kindergarten this year, and upward of 20 percent of her class came to school with no foundational education,” Mason said. “I think children of all levels in society (should have) access to early childhood education.” In addition to early childhood education, Mason is addressing issues ranging from scamming seniors online to mental health with his proposed bills this session.

    Delaying individual school grading

    Mason has introduced House Bill 618. A summary of the bill states that its passage would   delay the “dates by which the Board of Education is required to implement the A-to-F individual school performance grading system.”  He says his intent is to amend and improve the way schools collect and quantify performance data.  “Rather than trying to start a big fight and throw (the legislation away),” Mason said, “my goal is to just delay it for a few years. (The Board of Education) just changed the testing standards. So, let’s get three years of data and get the superintendents to sit down with the board and come up with formulaic ideas that will adequately grade our schools.”

    Protecting seniors from web fraud

    A risk sales specialist at Visa, Inc., Mason explained how his own experience influenced other bills he has introduced in the House.  House Bill 619 would increase the penalty for computer fraud of $200 or more from a Class 5 felony to a Class 4 felony if the victim is 65 or older. The increase would allow judges to impose the offender with a minimum prison term of two years instead of just one year. “While my background has some bearing, (HB 619) really came as much as anything out of the campaign,” Mason said.  Mason says he spoke with many seniors in his district who he said he believed were victims of online scams. “Twenty years from now, most seniors will have been on computers all their life,” Mason said. “Now we’re in that gray area where seniors are getting exposed to the Internet but are not quite as savvy as someone who has grown up with it.”

    During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, only 10 offenders were convicted of felony computer fraud. Currently, victim age cannot be identified by available data.  The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission issued a fiscal impact statement in December that stated, “while the impact on community corrections resources cannot be quantified, any impact is likely to be small.”

    HB 619 was referred to the House Courts and Justice Committee.

    No excuse absentee voting

    Another bill Mason introduced is House Bill 622, which would allow in-person absentee voting without providing an excuse. “I think our goal should always be more people participating in the process,” Mason said. “Not fewer.”

    Emergency custody orders

    House Bill 621 would allow a magistrate to execute a 48-hour emergency custody order for a person suffering from -- or is suspected of suffering from -- mental illness. Mason says introducing this legislation is not an attempt to seize on the Creigh Deeds tragedy. (Sen. Deeds, D-Bath, was attacked in November by his son after unsuccessful attempts to have him committed to a mental hospital. His son then committed suicide.)  “What I want to do is help our community service boards who have to deal with these people that need our help,” Mason said.

    (Editor's Note:  While Mr. Mason is not our Delegate, this article was included here as many of these bills would effect us here in Emporia-Greensville should they be passed into law.)

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  65. Gamma Lambda Omega Invites Students to Enter MLK Essay Contest

    Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated invites students attending a middle or high school in the counties of Brunswick and Greensville to be a part of the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday Supper Essay Contest.

    The theme is “Empowering the Dream.” In commemoration of Dr. King’s legacy, students will respond to one of his famous quotes: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." The essay will comprise of a response to the following questions:

    1.       In what ways did Dr. King’s belief in this quote change the world?

    2.       How would your school be different if the actions of administrators, teachers, and students were a reflection of this quote?

    3.       How would believing in and living by Dr. King's quote improve your life now and into adulthood? 

    The deadline to enter is January 14, 2014. The essay participants will be recognized at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday Supper to be held on January 19, 2014. Each participant will receive a prize and the top three winners in each category will receive an award.

    Criteria

    ·  Must be a student attending a middle or high school in the  counties of Brunswick and Greensville;

    ·  Submit essay no more than two pages in length (typed double spaced, 12-font);

    ·  Student, not adults, should write the essay. Counselors and parents may assist but the words and thoughts must be the student’s;

    ·  Include student’s name, grade and telephone number on upper right corner of essay;

    ·  Categories include middle and high school;

    ·  Essay will be judged on clarity, grammar and how well the essay is developed;

    ·  Essay must be received by January 14, 2014.

    Instructions

    ·  Mail completed essay to Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter, P.O. Box 905, Lawrenceville, VA, 23868 and/or give the essay to the contact person in the participating school.

    ·  All participants will receive a prize. First, second and third place winners in each category will receive an award. The top winner in each category will read his/her essay during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday Supper on January 19, 2014.

    ·  For more information, contact Mrs. Grace Thompsonat 434-532-5861 orDr. Angelnet Stith at 434-637-0631.

     

  66. SVRMC Offers Assistance with the Affordable CAre Act

    There’s still time to sign up for health insurance coverage and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center can help.

    If you’re uninsured, there’s still time to sign up for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace and avoid the penalty.

    The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty. The penalty will be applied to your annual taxable income for each month you don't have health insurance after March 31, 2014, the last day to enroll.

    Based on household income and dependents, you may be eligible for health insurance coverage at no cost through Medicaid. Or, you may be eligible for new health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace – and financial help from the government towards the cost of premiums may be available.

    “This is where Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center can help the uninsured in our community,” said Eric Lachance, SVRMC’s Chief Executive Officer. “With many people lacking access to a computer or just needing help to maneuver through the enrollment website, our application counselors can help. We can assist individuals and their families evaluate the available health plans and determine if they’re eligible for Medicaid or other insurance options,” he said.  To make an appointment for sign-up help, contact Nicole Mitchell at 434-348-4406.

    All health plans on the Marketplace must offer a comprehensive set of benefits, and individuals cannot be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Some of the available health benefits include preventive care and wellness services, doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital and emergency department care, lab services, pediatric services – and more.

    Even though Virginia has chosen not to expand Medicaid, there are still many individuals in our community who qualify for Medicaid coverage,” explained Lachance. “We can help screen these individuals and if they qualify, we can enroll them at any time, with health coverage beginning immediately.”

  67. Obituary-Edward Ray (Eddie Buck) Davis

    Edward Ray (Eddie Buck) Davis, age 83, went home to Heaven on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  Born in Rocky Mount, he was the son of the late Van Jefferson Davis and Iva Bell Pridgen Davis.  He was also preceded in death by his wife, Rena Bell Davis and several siblings.

    Eddie Buck loved to play his music and in his early years, he enjoyed playing for his church family at Vick’s Chapel.  He later moved his membership to Shenandoah Baptist Church.  A true family man, he loved his family and home but mostly he loved the Lord and serving Him.  Eddie Buck worked at Burlington Mills for many years and then went to work at Tharrington Industries until his retirement.

    He leaves behind two sons, Dawsie Davis and wife Lori of Rocky Mount and Stanley Davis and wife Dale of Emporia VA; four grandchildren, Dennis Davis, Chris Jobe, Benjamin Davis and Nathaniel Davis; two great-grandchildren; and two nephews, Jerry and Timmy Davis.

    The family will receive friends 7:00pm to 8:30pm Thursday, January 9, 2014 at Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home.  A service to remember Eddie Buck will be held at 2:00pm Friday in the funeral home chapel with Rev. Glenn Hill and Pastor Tim Parker officiating.  Burial will follow in the Davis Family Cemetery.
    In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Shenandoah Baptist Church Building Fund, 3894 Shenandoah Drive, Rocky Mount NC 27803.

    Arrangements entrusted to Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home, 1130 N. Winstead Avenue, Rocky Mount NC 27804.  You may share memories and condolences with the family by visiting www.wheelerwoodlief.com.

  68. Holiday Sanitation Schedule for the City of Emporia

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  69. The New Emporia News

    Firstly, let me encourage you to thank Bruce Campbell for founding this site and publishing a new page seven days a week for nine years.  I, in turn, will join you in wishing Bruce and Phyllis much happiness in this new phase of their lives.  It will be a joy for them to be close to family in Myrtle Beach.

    The "new" Emporia News will not be all that different from Bruce's site.  In fact, the only major changes will be the page design.  I will continue to publish the same type of stories that Bruce did.  The change in page design will make it easier to view the site on all of your devices, so you can read Emporia News on your laptop, tablet or smartphone with ease.  The design changes will also make it easier to navigate, as every story will be "tagged" with one or more topics and the date of publication.  Tags will appear just below each story and are each clickable.  Headlines are also clickable links to a page with only that story, which will make it easy to share a specific story with friends or family.

    As always, Emporia News welcomes your stories, either by e-mail or using the submission forms (there are links at the bottom of the page).

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  70. Submission Form

    Use this form to submit information to Emporia News.  Images are currently accepted only via e-mail, and may be sent as a reply to your confirmation e-mail or sent diretly to news@emporianews.com.

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  71. Calendar Events

    Use this form to let Emporia News know of any and all upcoming events.  Events will be displayed as a public Google Calendar that is viewable on the Emporia News Website, the Google Calendar site and can even be added to your own Google Calendar if you use that service.  If you are sending information only postings, that should not be added to the public calendar, please check the "Private" box on the form.

    At this time, images cannot be added to the calendar, but if your event has a registration form, a link to that form may be provided.

    Please use sentence case (no all lowercase and NO ALL UPPERCASE.)

    Emporia News reserves the right to edit your submission for content, length, grammar and the correction of typographical errors.

    Spamming this form will not be tolerated.  Your IP address is collected with this form.  If your submission is spam, your IP address will be blocked.

Emporia News

Stories on Emporianews.com are be searchable, using the box above. All new stories will be tagged with the date (format YYYY-M-D or 2013-1-1) and the names of persons, places, institutions, etc. mentioned in the article. This database feature will make it easier for those people wishing to find and re-read an article.  For anyone wishing to view previous day's pages, you may click on the "Previous Day's Pages" link in the menu at the top of the page, or search by date (YYYY-M-D format) using the box above.

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Emporia News welcomes your submissions!  You may submit articles, announcements, school or sports information using the submission forms found here, or via e-mail on news@emporianews.com.  Currently, photos and advertisements will still be accepted only via e-mail, but if you have photos to go along with your submission, you will receive instructions via e-mail. If you have events to be listed on the Community Calendar, submit them here.

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