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February 2015

  1. Obituary-Debbie Hitt

    Debbie Hitt, 57, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, February 25, 2015. She is survived by her daughter, Mechelle Otten and husband, Thomas; two grandchildren, Haley Hitt and Blake Hitt and two sisters, Donna Marietta and Deana Leaton. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the American Red Cross, 420 E. Cary St., Richmond, Virginia 23219. Online condolences may be made atwww.owenfh.com.

  2. Obituary-Irma Elizabeth Jarratt Bass

    Irma Elizabeth Jarratt Bass, widow of Wilbur Louis Bass, Jr., passed away Wednesday, February 25, 2015. She is survived by two sons, Billy Bass and Robert Bass; daughter, Jerrica Bass and a sister, Hazel Moody and husband, Jerry. She also leaves behind her beloved feline “furbabies”, Cleo, Mango and Eddie. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Sunday at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarrat, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Monday, March 2 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  3. USDA Provides One-Time Extension of Deadline to Update Base Acres or Yield History for ARC/PLC Programs

    Farmers Now Have Until March 31 to Update Yields and Reallocate Base Acres; Deadline for Choosing Between ARC and PLC also Remains March 31

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2015 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that a one-time extension will be provided to producers for the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres has been extended one additional month, from Feb. 27, 2015 until March 31, 2015.  The final day for farm owners and producers to choose ARC or PLC coverage also remains March 31, 2015.  

    “This is an important decision for producers, because these programs provide financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace. Producers are working to make the best decision they can.  And we’re working to ensure that they’ve got the time, the information, and the opportunities to have those final conversations, review their data, and to visit the Farm Service Agency to make those decisions,” said Vilsack

    If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by March 31, 2015, the farm's current yield and base will be used.  A program choice of ARC or PLC coverage also must be made by March 31, 2015, or there will be no 2014 payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.

    “These are complex decisions, which is why we launched a strong education and outreach campaign back in September.  Now we’re providing a one-time extension of an additional month so that every producer is fully prepared to enroll in this program, “ said Vilsack.

    Nationwide, more than 2.9 million educational postcards, in Englishand Spanish, have been sent to producers, and over 4,100 training sessions have been conducted on the new safety-net programs. The online tools, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc, allow producers to explore projections on how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation under possible future scenarios.

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

    To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office.  To find your local office visit http://offices.usda.gov.

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

  4. Budget Amendment Puts Brakes on Speed Traps

    By Sean CW Korsgaard, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The highway through Hopewell may not be paved in gold, but that hasn’t stopped the city from making a mint off it.

    Taking advantage of a two-mile stretch of Interstate 295 that passes through the city, the Hopewell Sheriff’s Department issues about 1,000 speeding tickets a month, according to AAA, the advocacy group for motorists. It says the speed trap generates over $1.8 million annually for city government.

    But a state budget amendment approved by the General Assembly would help curb such practices by Hopewell and other localities, AAA says. The amendment reduces the financial incentive for local police to write excessive numbers of tickets.

    “This amendment adjusts the formula by which local collections of fines and fees based on local ordinances may not exceed a certain threshold of the total collections of fines and fees beginning in fiscal year 2016,” according to a legislative note explaining the amendment.

    AAA Mid-Atlantic, which serves more than 3.4 million members from New Jersey to Virginia, has made Hopewell’s “Million Dollar Mile” the focal point of its effort against “policing for profit.”

    Currently, localities must return a portion of excess fine revenues to Virginia’s Literary Fund, which supports public education. Hopewell, for example, this year had to give the Literary Fund $86,000 – twice as much as any other locality, according to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts.

    However, under the existing formula, the amount of money that localities must remit is so small that it has little impact curbing “policing for profit,” AAA says.

    A new formula was included in House Bill 1400, a package of state budget amendments approvedThursday by the General Assembly. It is contained in amendments 3-6.05 #1c and 37 #1c, which were initially proposed by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax, and Del. Matthew James, D-Portsmouth.

    The new methodology will lower the threshold for determining whether local fine collections are excessive and will require localities to remit more of that money to the Literary Fund. The new formula will take effect July 1.

    AAA lobbied for the amendment. It sent emails to its 200,000 Virginia members, with a link to send emails to Virginia lawmakers – in particular to budget conferees – “to let them know policing for profit shouldn’t be happening, and to please shut it down.”

    “AAA has advocated for the safety of the traveling public for over a century and does not wish to condone speeding in any way,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA simply feels that speed enforcement should be conducted in areas where speeding is a documented problem or other safety concerns exist.”

    Hopewell employs 11 sheriff’s deputies working in 14-hour shifts to patrol 1.7 miles of interstate highway. Nearly three-fourths of the tickets were issued to out-of-state motorists, according to AAA. “These motorists are unlikely to come back to the area to fight their tickets but rather simply pay the associated fines and fees,” the group said in a statement last week.

    The Hopewell Sheriff’s Department could not be reached for comment. The Office of the State Inspector General looked at the situation in 2013 and reported, “The sheriff has stated that his intent is to slow down traffic on the interstate and make it safer for the traveling public.”

    Virginia ranks seventh in the nation for the number of traffic tickets issued per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    In addition, the agency says, Virginia is tied with Illinois for having the nation’s highest speeding fines – up to $2,500. Moreover, under Virginia law, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    “When the commonwealth raised its interstate speed limits a few years back, it failed to adjust the reckless driving threshold accordingly. So now, anyone caught going 11 mph over the posted speed on the interstate is subject to a reckless driving charge,” John Bowman, a spokesman for the National Motorists Association, said in an interview with Watchdog.org.

    “Congestion, coupled with speed traps, red-light cameras and aggressive traffic enforcement make Virginia a very difficult place to drive.”

  5. VSP fields 801 Calls for Service Between Midnight and 8 AM

    RICHMOND – Since midnight,  Virginia State Police troopers and dispatchers statewide have fielded  801 calls for service statewide. During the period statewide, Virginia troopers responded to 238 traffic crashes and 191 disabled vehicles. The majority of the crashes involved damaged vehicles only. There have no reported traffic fatalities.

    Motorists are still being advised to stay off the highways as secondary roads are slick and hazardous. For their safety, drivers are advised to delay travel until later Tuesday so VDOT crews can continue to treat and clear the highways.

    Drivers are also advised NOT to call 911 or #77 to find out about road conditions. These phone lines must remain clear for real emergencies. Call 511 for road conditions or click on www.511virginia.org.

    If having to travel, drivers are reminded to do drive to save lives (#drivetosavelives):

    • Clear off all snow from your vehicle – windows, roof, trunk and lights            
    • Add extra time to reach travel destination
    • Slow speed for road conditions
    • Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
    • Buckle up and don’t drive distracted
    • MOVE OVER for all stopped emergency vehicles, highway vehicles and two trucks.
  6. Virginia Designates Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day

    By Kelsey Callahan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The General Assembly has passed a resolution to designate every Jan. 30 as “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution,” in honor of the Asian American civil rights leader who challenged injustice during World War II.

    The Senate this week joined the House in unanimously passing House Joint Resolution 641, which establishes Fred Korematsu Day beginning next year.

    “Our nation’s history is full of unsung heroes who stood up to injustice to ensure that the promises embedded in our Constitution are not just empty words on paper,” said Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, who introduced the resolution.

    After the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941, Korematsu refused to comply with a presidential order that “required 120,000 permanent residents and American citizens of Japanese descent to leave their homes to be incarcerated in American concentration camps,” the resolution stated.

    It noted that Korematsu “was arrested and convicted, but fought his conviction because he believed it violated the basic freedoms guaranteed to him by the United States Constitution.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 1944. But the case was reopened and overturned in 1983.

    “The decision influenced the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which recognized that a grave injustice was done by forced relocation and incarceration of Americans citizens and civilian residents because of wartime prejudice,” the resolution said.

    In 1998, Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States given to an individual who has made a contribution to the security and national interest of the U.S.

    “Fred Korematsu was an American hero whose actions deserve a prominent place in our history. By recognizing his birthday in Virginia – a state that played such a crucial role in drafting our Constitution – we will remind future generations of what Thomas Jefferson warned, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” Keam said.

    Virginia will encourage schools to observe Fred Korematsu Day and use it to teach the importance of preserving civil liberties.

    Korematsu died in 2005. His daughter Karen heads the Korematsu Institute in San Francisco. She suggested that Keam sponsor the resolution.

    Six states – California, Hawaii, Utah, Illinois, Georgia and now Virginia – recognize Fred Korematsu Day.

  7. Senate OKs Limits on Use of License Plate Data

    By Kevin Lata, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would limit police retention of license plate data to seven days in an attempt to restrict government stockpiling of personal information.

    Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, proposed Senate Bill 965 as part of a broader effort to clamp down against government overreach into personal lives, an area he has targeted the past two legislative sessions.

    “The state should not use surveillance technology to collect information on its citizens where there is no discrete reason to do so,” Petersen said.

    Under current law, there is no limit on how long government agencies can store passive data collected by license plate readers.

    LPRs are typically mounted to police vehicles and standing structures such as traffic lights and bridges. They work by rapidly taking photos of license plates – at a rate of one per second, according to an LPR manufacturing company’s website. The technology can capture the data when vehicles are moving as fast as 100 mph.

    The devices help law enforcement agencies track down stolen motor vehicles and people connected to criminal investigations, including theft and kidnapping.

    Some police departments store their LPR data for up to a year. Civil liberties organizations believe that poses the potential for abuse. Supporters of the legislation included the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union – unlikely bedfellows who disagree on many issues but share concerns about unwarranted government surveillance.

    “The issue here is the limitations of the Fourth Amendment,” Petersen explained in a Facebook status. “It was written for a low-tech agrarian society, not today’s data heavy internet age.”

    He warned citizens to be careful because “we’re one click away from being watched.”

    Petersen received input from law enforcement agencies when drafting the legislation but encountered what he called a “philosophical difference about limits on state power.” The Virginia Sheriffs Association, the State Police, the Prince William County Police Department and other law enforcement groups opposed his bill.

    Petersen said he believes SB 965 strikes a balance between personal liberty and public safety.

    “This bill will protect Virginians from unnecessary and indiscriminate police data collection and retention,” Petersen said.

    A companion bill, HB 1673, was introduced by Del. Rich Anderson, R-Prince William. The House Militia, Police and Public Safety endorsed the measure on a 17-4 vote Friday. It is now before the full House of Delegates.

  8. Bill Would Help Taxpayers, Habitat for Humanity

    By Morgan White, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Delinquent property owners could settle their tax bills by donating their property to Habitat for Humanity or a similar nonprofit, under legislation moving through the General Assembly.

    The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity has pushed for the measure (HB 2173), which won unanimously approval from the House of Delegates last week.

    Known as the Habitat Bill, it would enable delinquent taxpayers to exchange their property for the taxes they owe, explained the legislation’s sponsor, Del. Robert Orrock Sr., R-Thornburg.

    “When the taxes exceed the value of the property, it’s awfully hard to get the property owner to come forward to do anything with it because he’s going to owe more than whatever he gets for the property,” Orrock said.

    He represents the 54th House District, which includes parts of Caroline and Spotsylvania counties. Orrock said a few situations in his district have underscored how donating a house in arrears on taxes to Habitat for Humanity can be a win for everybody – the property owner, the local government and the nonprofit group.

    “The delinquent taxpayer wins because he gets out from underneath and walks away at least clean. The county or city wins because they’re going to get properties back on the tax roll. And the Habitat for Humanity type group wins because they now have properties,” Orrock said.

    “They can just go forward with the construction project because they didn’t have to buy the land for it.”

    The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity has endorsed the bill.

    “This legislation will be particularly helpful to the greater Fredericksburg community, including the City, Stafford, King George, and Spotsylvania Counties, as condemned or undesired land can be put to good use in building Habitat homes, or other non-profit builders, with far less red tape helping the affiliate to achieve its 2020 vision,” the group said last week in a press release.

    The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity’s 2020 vision is to construct 20 news homes by that year. This would increase affordable housing in the area and would contribute to a healthy housing market. Habitat officials say the initiative would attract businesses and serve as a catalyst to transform neighborhoods and lives.

    The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity was one of 10 affiliates recognized by Habitat for Humanity International for legislative advocacy. (There are more than 1,500 Habitat affiliates in the U.S.)

    HB 2173 passed the House 100-0 on Feb. 10. It is now before the Senate Finance Committee.

    The bill is being co-sponsored by seven other legislators, including House Speaker William Howell of Fredericksburg.

  9. Obituary-Willie Mae Poarch

    Willie Mae Poarch, 89, of Stony Creek, widow of William N. Poarch passed away peacefully Saturday morning, February 21, 2015. She was the daughter of the late Willie B. and Florence Mae Winfield Stainback and was also preceded in death by a grandson, Willie Upton, daughter-in-law, Joyce Poarch and son-in-law, Earl Upton. Mrs. Poarch is survived by two sons, Rives Poarch and friend, Dana of Kill Devil Hills, NC, David Poarch and wife, Bambi of Stony Creek; two daughters, Lillian Jarratt and husband, Floyd of Sparta, GA and Doris Upton and husband, Jimmy; sixteen grandchildren; thirty great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter; five sisters, Grace Grizzard and husband, Pete, Goldie Cox and husband, Conrad, Emily Andre and husband, George, Marie Schnitz and husband, Mike and Florence Scott; four brothers, Francis “Johnny” Stainback and wife, Minerda, Rufus Stainback and wife, Peggy, Carroll Stainback and Albert Stainback and wife, Phyllis and numerous nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, February 24 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Hlaifax Rd in Jarratt where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 25. Interment will follow at Winfield Family Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Concord United Methodist Church. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  10. YMCA Preschoolers Learn About Dental Health

    YMCA Preschoolers learn about "Dental Health" 

    with Dr. Swenson and  Mrs. Trisha

        

        

        

    Tags: 

  11. Assembly OK’s a 2-Song Solution

    By Cort Olsen, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The House of Delegates joined the Senate on Tuesday in approving both “Our Great Virginia” and “Sweet Virginia Breeze” as official state songs. But will Gov. Terry McAuliffe sign the legislation into law?

    The House voted 81-15 in favor of a bill to designate:

    • "Our Great Virginia” as “the official traditional state song.” The song combines the melody of “Shenandoah,” a ballad from the 1800s, with words by New York lyricist Mike Greenly. This song is the preference of House Speaker Bill Howell.
    • “Sweet Virginia Breeze” as “the official popular state song.” This is an up-tempo pop tune by Richmond musicians Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett.

    The measure designating the state songs is Senate Bill 1362, which was approved 37-1 by the Senate on Feb. 10. It represents a compromise: Originally, SB 1362, sponsored by Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, included only “Sweet Virginia Breeze.” But it was amended to incorporate SB 1128, which sought to designate “Our Great Virginia” as the state song.

    A third song – “Virginia, the Home of My Heart,” by Richmond singer-songwriter Susan Greenbaum – had been in the running. But the bill promoting that song died in the House Rules Committee two weeks ago.

    Greenbaum said she is still hopeful for her song. “It isn’t over, from what I have been told,” Greenbaum said. “The governor still hasn’t signed any of the songs into law yet.”

    Virginia has been without a state song since “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” was retired in 1997 for its racist lyrics.

    When it comes to the songs, the votes at the Capitol don’t exactly mirror the votes on social media.

    On YouTube, for example, “Sweet Virginia Breeze” has been played more than 42,000 times, with about 200 likes and three dislikes. The folksy “Virginia, the Home of My Heart” has been played about 12,000 times, garnering 140 likes and five dislikes. “Our Great Virginia” also has been played about 12,000 times, with 50 likes and 21 dislikes.

    About 4,800 people responded to an online poll in which Capital News Service asked, “What’s your No. 1 choice to be Virginia’s next state song?” About 56 percent preferred “Sweet Virginia Breeze”; 41 percent, “Virginia, the Home of My Heart”; and 2 percent, “Our Great Virginia.”

    The remaining 1 percent of the respondents suggested other songs, like “Virginia Pride” by David Tuck, “Rolling Home to Old Virginia” by The Press Gang and even “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

    Several people who took the unscientific poll criticized “Our Great Virginia,” saying it evokes Missouri rather than Virginia. A plurality of the comments extolled “Virginia, the Home of My Heart,” calling it heartfelt and dignified. Many other people said they enjoyed “Sweet Virginia Breeze” because it is upbeat and catchy.

    Some respondents said Virginia voters should decide the issue. “Please put this on a ballot and let the PEOPLE NOT THE POLITICIANS decide what their state song should be. After all it’s THEIR state song isn’t it?” one person wrote.

    But a few respondents supported the two-song solution. One person commented, “Why not two state songs? I vote for ‘Sweet Virginia Breeze’ for the fun one and ‘Our Great Virginia’ for the one to play at funerals.”

  12. Rep. Scott: Let Independent Panel Draw Districts

    By Ali Mislowsky, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, says the General Assembly should take some of the politics out of redistricting by having an independent commission redraw political boundaries.

    When legislators themselves do redistricting, they have a personal interest in protecting their political future and their party, Scott said. That’s why he’d prefer that redistricting be done by a bipartisan or nonpartisan panel.

    “It would still be partisan, but the difference is that it’s not personal,” Scott said in an interview after speaking to political science students and faculty Monday at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    “When you’re doing it in the General Assembly and the people affected are sitting right across the aisle from you or right in front of you ... interpersonal relationships start getting into it.”

    The boundaries of Virginia’s only African American majority district were declared unconstitutional last year by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

    “The unconstitutionality was, they found that race was a prominent factor in drawing the lines,” said Scott, who has represented the 3rd District since 1993. He added that the district was challenged for violating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, “which says you can’t dilute minority representation.”

    Scott’s district has been challenged for doing just that. Its shape resembles a Rorschach inkblot: The 3rd District includes Portsmouth and Petersburg and parts of Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond – all areas with large African American populations. As a result, black voters have a smaller presence and less influence in surrounding districts.

    The General Assembly has been tasked with drawing new district lines. Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, plans to wait until the Supreme Court makes a decision in the case. Scott said that could take a while.

    “The Supreme Court has not taken action on it because there is a similar case in Alabama,” Scott said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We just have to wait for that Alabama case.”

    During this legislative session, more than a dozen measures were introduced to address the problem of “gerrymandering,” a term to describe the manipulation of district boundaries to suit partisan political interests.

    Several sought to establish an independent redistricting commission, either by law or through a constitutional amendment. Other bills tried to prohibit the General Assembly from using political data or election results in redistricting.

    The Senate passed three redistricting reform measures – but every attempt died in the House Privileges and Elections Committee.

    Partisanship may always be a part of the redistricting process. But an independent panel may offer a better shot than legislators at producing a fairer outcome, Scott said.

    “Anybody that would be interested in it usually has some political interest,” he said. “It’s just hard to get politics out of it, but you can get the personalities out of it. And you can get kind of objective standards, which makes it a little more likely that you’re going to get a result that better reflects the community.”

    The U.S. District Court has given the General Assembly until Sept. 1 to redraw the 3rd District – unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules earlier. If the Supreme Court rules before then, the deadline will be 60 days after its decision.

    “It is wasteful for the General Assembly to devise a redistricting plan without the views and instructions of the Supreme Court,” the District Court said.

  13. McAuliffe Signs Dominion Bill into Law

    By Matt Leonard, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – After weeks of debate, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law Tuesday a bill that will allow Dominion Virginia Power to forgo biennial base rate regulation by the State Corporation Commission while freezing electric rates for five years.

    Dominion and other advocates of the legislation say it will help Virginia comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by 2030.

    Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, sponsored Senate Bill 1349, which was approved 32-6 by the Senate and 72-24 by the House. Wagner issued a statement thanking McAuliffe for signing the bill.

    “I also encourage the governor to stand strong for Virginia and oppose any effort by the EPA to hold Virginia to a higher or different carbon dioxide emission standard than our neighboring states,” Wagner said.

    He said Virginia is more severely affected by emission cuts than its neighboring states. The EPA has called on Virginia and nearby states to reduce emissions by these amounts:

    • Kentucky: 18.3 percent
    • Maryland: 36.5 percent
    • North Carolina: 39.7 percent
    • Tennessee: 38.8 percent
    • Virginia: 37.5 percent
    • West Virginia: 19.8 percent

    Under SB 1349, Dominion will agree to freeze its base rates, which make up just over half of customers’ electric bills, for five years. During this period, the State Corporation Commission will not be able to conduct biennial reviews to see if the company has earned excessive profits. Past reviews have resulted in refunds to customers.

    While critics say the legislation benefits the utility more than consumers, supporters say it will help keep electric rates stable during a time of uncertainty.

    “This legislation will keep Virginia’s electric rates the lowest in the mid-Atlantic and among the cheapest in the nation, it will protect thousands of jobs and will provide certainty as businesses plan to locate, grow and expand in the commonwealth,” Wagner said.

    He also said the bill calls for completion of a solar power facility in Virginia by 2020. McAuliffe cited that aspect of the legislation in a statement Tuesday.

    “When this bill was introduced, I expressed concerns about several of its provisions. However, after working with the General Assembly to make several key changes, I have concluded that this legislation represents a net positive benefit to Virginians and to our economy,” McAuliffe said.

    “This bill will make a dramatic expansion of Virginia’s renewable energy economy possible and will lead to lower energy bills for many families who may be struggling to keep up with their energy costs today.”

  14. Proposed Budget Boosts Employees’ Pay

    By Morgan White, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginia teachers, state troopers and other state employees would all receive pay raises thanks to a state budget agreement moving toward approval in the General Assembly.

    Teachers would see a 1.5 percent pay raise while State Police officers and other state employees would receive a 2 percent increase under the conference report crafted over the weekend by House and Senate negotiators seeking to amend the state’s 2014-16 budget. Final votes may be held as early asThursday, General Assembly leaders announced Monday.

    Sen. John Watkins, R-Chesterfield, said Virginia was fortunate to have thousands of committed state employees whose day-to-day work is integral to the efficient and effective operation of government.

    “This conference report provides them with a well-deserved pay raise and includes funding to address compression for senior employees. It is my hope that this budget shows we are just as committed to them as they are to Virginia.” Watkins said.

    The final budget conference report will be put on members’ desks and online Tuesday morning, allowing for a 48-hour review period that House and Senate leaders established as a goal earlier in the session. The report:

    • Includes a $129.5 million prepayment to the state’s rainy-day fund, which would restore the balance to $429 million
    • Provides $153.5 million in funding for a comprehensive compensation package for state employees, State Police officers, state-supported local employees, teachers and college faculty
    • Includes $42 million in additional funding for higher education
    • Spends about $1 billion less in general funds than the two-year budget originally adopted last year
    • Eliminates $11.7 million in fees proposed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (including restaurant inspection and saltwater fishing license fees)

    The negotiators included Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Chairman S. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

    Jones and Stosch issued a joint statement saying, “Since the end of last summer’s budget stalemate, we have sought to develop a new sense of collaboration and candor in the budget process. We worked together to adopt a supplemental budget last fall, taking unprecedented action to protect our state’s AAA bond rating during a period of deep uncertainty.”

    They said they hoped the agreement can gain broad, bipartisan support in both chambers.

  15. House OKs Transporting Loaded Shotguns

    By Ashley Jordan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginians who have a concealed handgun permit could legally transport loaded shotguns in vehicles under a bill that passed the House of Delegates on a split vote Thursday.

    Delegates voted 62-34 in favor of Senate Bill 1137, which would exempt concealed carry permit holders from local ordinances that bar the transportation of loaded shotguns or rifles. Republicans generally favored the measure, while Democrats opposed it.

    State law now says, “The governing body of any county or city may by ordinance make it unlawful for any person to transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road, or highway within such locality. Any violation of such ordinance shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $100.”

    Existing law exempts law enforcement officers, military personnel and “any person who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business.”

    SB 1137, introduced by Republican Sen. Thomas A. Garrett of Hadensville, would add, “The provisions of this section shall also not apply to lawful concealed carry permit holders.” The bill cleared the Senate on a 25-13 vote on Feb. 2.

    Supporters of the legislation said it would be beneficial to hunters who might want to travel from one site to another with their rifles pre-loaded.

    Opponents, like Democratic Del. Scott A. Surovell of Mount Vernon, said the bill is potentially dangerous.

    During Wednesday’s House session, Surovell said the legislation conflicts with safety advice from gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.

    He said loaded shotguns on the road could be problematic in high traffic areas like Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. He cited several occurrences in which loaded shotguns were used in road rage incidents around the country.

    “We are legislating a policy here that the manufacturers disagree (with), that our hunter education courses disagree with, that has been proven to cause altercations and death in traffic situations,” Surovell said. “It’s just bad policy, and we are basically legislating people to do something other than we teach them.”

    Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, also opposed the bill. He said that for him, the issue was not about guns in traffic but about a locality’s right to set policy.

    “The localities should have an opportunity to pass an ordinance as to whether or not they feel it is appropriate,” Carroll said. “They are the ones who are issuing the concealed weapons permits. They should be the ones to determine whether or not they feel it’s appropriate.”

    Carroll said loaded long guns in vehicles represent a threat to officers’ safety. He referred to an incident in which a rifle accidentally went off and shot a state trooper while he was assisting a vehicle in an accident. The loaded rifle was jostled during the crash and went off, killing the officer.

    “We think it’s a safety issue for the public,” Carroll said. “It’s a safety issue for the law enforcement officers. And we think the law is fine the way it is and should say the way it is.”

    How They Voted

    Here is how the House voted Thursday on SB 1137 (“Loaded rifle or shotgun; regulation of transportation”).

    Floor: 02/18/15 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (62-Y 34-N)

    YEAS – Adams, Anderson, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Bloxom, Byron, Campbell, Cline, Cole, Cox, Davis, DeSteph, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Ingram, Joannou, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Morefield, Morris, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Scott, Stolle, Taylor, Villanueva, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yost, Mr. Speaker – 62.

    NAYS – Albo, BaCote, Bulova, Carr, Filler-Corn, Futrell, Herring, Hester, Hope, James, Keam, Kory, Krupicka, LeMunyon, Lindsey, Mason, McClellan, McQuinn, Morrissey, Murphy, Plum, Preston, Rasoul, Rust, Sickles, Spruill, Sullivan, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Watts, Yancey – 34.

    NOT VOTING – Hugo, Lopez, Minchew, Simon – 4.

  16. Prehypertension Carries High Risks

    A low number doesn’t necessarily mean good health

    About 73 million U.S. adults age 20 and older – one in three people – have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And because there are no symptoms, one-third of these individuals don’t know they have it. For this reason, high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer.” Hypertension directly causes some 50,000 deaths in the United States each year, and is a contributing factor in about 300,000 additional deaths.

    High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is a blood pressure reading above 140/90 mmHG. If your blood pressure doesn’t fall into this category, don’t assume that you have a clean bill of health. 

    Prehypertension – a blood pressure between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89mmHG – increases the odds of developing high blood pressure and the diseases that come with it: heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Years ago, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg wasn’t a cause for concern. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute established the category of prehypertension to warn people whose blood pressure readings put them at risk for hypertension and other serious health problems. In fact, prehypertension can triple your risk of heart attack and can develop into hypertension, if left untreated, according to the AHA.

    The only way to know if you’re at risk is to get your blood pressure checked. The two numbers in your blood pressure reading show how hard your heart is working. The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is beating, and the lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

    While the causes of 95 percent of high blood pressure cases are unknown, the good news is, it’s one of the most common and preventable conditions related to heart disease. Although some risk factors – such as age, heredity and race – are beyond your control, a few simple lifestyle modifications or medication, if necessary, can control your risk.

    Lifestyle factors that you can modify include your diet, activity level, weight and stress. Other factors may surprise you, such as lack of sleep, low potassium intake or taking birth control pills. Some medications, such as antidepressants, cold medicines and hormones, can also trigger a temporary rise in blood pressure.

    Pay attention to the sodium level in your diet, and make sure your sodium intake is within reasonable limits (1,500 to 2,400 mg per day) by minimizing processed meats and frozen foods and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that a higher intake of low-fat dietary calcium and dietary vitamin D – not vitamin supplements – can decrease the risk of hypertension. Also, limit your alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.

    Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly is key – being overweight is a major contributor to high blood pressure. If you have prehypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. Losing just 10 pounds can significantly reduce your blood pressure. In addition to dropping pounds, The Mayo Clinic recommends that patients watch their waistlines. Men are considered at increased risk if their waist circumference is greater than 40 inches and women, if their waist measures more than 35 inches.

    Finally, see your doctor regularly to keep a close check on your blood pressure – as well as other health issues that can impact your heart health.

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  17. Delegate Tyler's Report from the Virginia General Assembly

    On the first day of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly Session, it was a privilege to offer the opening prayer at the Annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast with over 900 hundred Virginians in attendance.  For the expeditious, short forty six day session, House of Delegates Representatives introduced 978 bills and the Senate introduced 825 bills by the first day of session. The Virginia General Assembly has now reached the midpoint of the 2015 legislative session known as the “Cross Over”.  I would like to inform you of the most important legislative actions and update you on my legislation that was passed by the House of Delegates and the Senate. 

    HB 1400 (Budget) – The House passed a  budget bill that did not go far enough to in addressing the areas of pre-k education, increasing teacher’s salaries to the national average or expanding Medicaid that would assist 400,000 Virginians with health care insurance and creating over 30,000 jobs in the process.  However, the proposed budget did include $55 million dollars for a 1.5 percent raise for teachers and employees and an additional pay increase for other state employee.  Additionally, the starting salary ($28,035) for correctional officers was increased by $1000.00 which will benefit new correctional officers employed by the Department of Corrections. The final budget has not been approved. It is now in the conferee committee and will receive the final vote on next week.

    Listed below is my legislation that has passed the Senate and House and will become law following veto session and July 1, 2015 after signature of Governor McAuliffe

    HB 1288- will allow the Town of Branchville Council Members to be elected in the 2015 November General Election for 4 year terms.    

    HB 1374– will allow all disabled veterans with service connected disability to purchase a disabled license plates. Under current law only 100% disabled veterans were allowed to have the special disabled veteran license plate.

    HB 1484– will conform the state code to allow all Board of Supervisors and municipalities to approve their school budget by May 15 of each year.

    HB 2255– the state has approved a parcel of land that was owned by the Department of Corrections to the Town of Lawrenceville to maintain their water booster and storage tank for future economic development.

    Additionally, My budget amendment was included in the state budget to restore the revenue of $190,000 for the coyote control program that is a serious problem in our rural counties.

    We have only a week left in session if we finish on time. It is a pleasure to serve you in Richmond. As, always please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have any questions. 

  18. Governor Signs Law Allowing Uber, Lyft to Operate

    By Kevin Lata, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – After operating under a temporary agreement for the better part of a year, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft now have a law allowing them to transport passengers in Virginia after Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that sets licensing procedures and standards for drivers.

    “I am proud to sign this legislation, which supports innovation in our transportation system while also protecting the safety of citizens across the commonwealth. Virginia is leading the way on attracting and supporting innovative companies in every sector of our economy,” McAuliffe saidTuesday.

    The signing of House Bill 1662 and Senate Bill 1025 formalizes an interim agreement that the governor and Attorney General Mark Herring reached with the taxi-like companies last summer. The agreement allowed the services to conduct business until the General Assembly could reach a consensus on how to regulate them.

    Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon, one of the sponsors of HB 1662, said, “Now that this legislation will become law, Virginians can take advantage of this new technology with assurance that reasonable safety and liability measures are governing its use.”

    To request a ride, users open the company’s app on their phone and select a pickup and drop-off location. Within minutes, a driver can be at their door ready to drive them to their destination.

    The law requires that drivers be screened to ensure they pass criminal background checks, have a clean driving record and aren’t in the sex registry database. Drivers must be 21 and have at least a $1 million liability insurance policy.

    Those requirements are nearly identical to the process the company uses to screen prospective drivers around the world.

    Herring said Virginia can serve as a model to states looking to develop their own regulations for transportation network companies.

    “As other states grapple with regulation of TNCs and the emerging sharing economy, they should look to Virginia, where we have found the balance between safety, passenger protection and innovation,” Herring said.

    “This law will strengthen our economy, give consumers more transportation options, and further cement Virginia’s reputation as a national leader for pro-business policies and reasonable regulation.”

    The new law represents a welcome turn of events for ride-sharing services, which were banned by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles last spring. The DMV fined Uber $26,000 and Lyft $9,000 and threatened to fine their drivers up to $1,000 for not complying with the ban.

    The standoff between the companies and the DMV prompted McAuliffe and Herring to forge the interim agreement.

  19. Obituary-William Aarron Griffin, Jr.

    William Aarron Griffin, Jr. age 79 of Warfield, Virginia passed away peacefully February 18, 2015.He is survived by one sister Peggy Malone Hobbs and her husband Alfred T. Hobbs, Jr., one niece Tara
    Malone-Menendez, her husband Joe Menendez, nephew Wesley C. Newsome Jr. and wife Linda, Darrell WayneNewsome, Christopher Edward Malone and wife Susan. Great niece Laurie Harrup and husband Chad. Amanda Newsome,Ashley Newsome, Taylor Newsome, Hayley Newsome, Olivia Lee Menendez, Dylan Newsome, Claire Elizabeth Malone, AnnaCatherine Malone. He was dearly loved by his family and friends and known to them all at W.A.
     
    Visitation will be Friday February 20, 2015 at Williams Funeral Home in Lawrenceville, Virginia from 6:00 pm to 8:00pm.Funeral services will be Saturday February 21, 2015 at 2:00pm at Williams Funeral Home followed by a intermit in BethelCemetery in Alberta, Virginia.
     
    In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Emporia-Greensville Humane Society, Inc. 113 Baker StreetEmporia, Virginia 23847.
     
    Williams Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
  20. URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE

    FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA FOR  LAWRENCEVILLE....EMPORIA......WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST FRIDAY...

    A WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST FRIDAY.

    * LOCATIONS...CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL VIRGINIA...INCLUDING THE   EASTERN VIRGINIA PIEDMONT...THE NORTHERN NECK OF EASTERN   VIRGINIA AND THE RICHMOND METRO AREA.

    * HAZARD TYPES...DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILLS.   * TEMPERATURES...FALLING TO 3 BELOW TO 5 ABOVE ZERO TONIGHT.  * WIND CHILL...ZERO TO 5 BELOW ZERO THIS AFTERNOON...5 TO 10 BELOW

    TONIGHT-THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.

    * IMPACTS...FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA MAY OCCUR IF PRECAUTIONS   ARE NOT TAKEN. FROZEN PIPES COULD BE A PROBLEM DUE TO THE COLD TEMPERATURES.

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  21. Obituary-Arlys Martin Gutshall

    Arlys Martin Gutshall, 82, of Emporia, passed away Tuesday, February 17, 2015. She was the widow of Robert A. Gutshall and was also preceded in death by one son, Kenneth Gutshall and eleven brothers and sisters. She is survived by a son, Philip Gutshall and wife, Terry; four grandchildren, Krystal Featherstun and husband, Ryan, Rusti Moore and husband, Shane, Amanda Gutshall and Bobby Walton and wife, Rebecca; four great-grandchildren, Trent Walton, Taylin Moore, Trevor Walton and Adalyn Moore; one sister, Arbutus Bright and a number of nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, February 21 at First Christian Church, 427 Ruritan Dr, Emporia, Virginia. Interment will be in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at church one hour prior to the service. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  22. Obituary-Joanne Spizzirri

    Joanne Spizzirri, 63, of Jarratt, passed away Tuesday, February 17, 2015. She was the daughter of the late Louis Spears and Esther Spizzirri and was also preceded in death by a niece, April Francis. She is survived by four brothers, Tom and Maggie Spizzirri, Ron and Nancy Spizzirri, Rick Spears and Fred and Sherry Stewart; three sisters, Nancy Lewis, Sara and Stan Parter and Sharon and Brian Schubert and a number of nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held 3 p.m. Saturday, February 21 at St. Richard’s Catholic Church. Private interment will be at Augusta Memorial Park, Waynesboro, Virginia. The family will receive friends at church one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to St. Richard’s Catholic Church, 117 Laurel St, Emporia, Virginia 23847 or to Samaritan Helping Hands Home, P.O. Box 148, Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  23. Happenings at YMCA Preschool

    Preschoolers traveled to the Valentines VA Post Office where they mailed handmade Valentine cards to some special people!  Kids enjoyed purchasing their stamps and sticking them on their letters!

    Front L to R: Gabriella Thompson, Carsen Watson, Levi Jones, Ellie Renner, Julianne Mitchell.  Back: Bryson Allen, Mason Jones, Emerson Vaughan, Kerington Mayle, Sawyer Wrenn, Winfield Allen

            

    Levi Jones mailing a Valentine to Minnesota!                     Julianne Mitchell sent her Valentines, too.





    Carsen Watson, Gabriella Thompson, Sawyer Wrenn, Levi Jones, Ellie Renner, Winfield Smith, Julianne Mitchell

    Back: Emerson Vaughan, Bryson Allen, Kerington Mayle, Mason Jones, Ms. Kathy Fajina, Postmaster

    PRESCHOOL GOES RED FOR WOMENS HEART HEALTH!





    Front : Sawyer Wrenn, Julianne Mitchell, Gabriella Thompson, Levi Jones, Ellie Renner

    Back: Bryson Allen, Emerson Vaughan, Kerington Mayle, Mason Jones, Carsen Watson

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  24. Minimally Invasive Surgery

    By Jack Forest, DO; EMPORIA, VA - Minimally invasive surgery, also known as endoscopic, laparoscopic, or arthroscopic surgery, uses technology to limit cutting while accomplishing the same goals as traditional surgery. While minimally invasive procedures result in less scarring and shorter recovery times, they come with other risks which a patient should be aware of if a doctor recommends the procedure.

    Minimally invasive surgery is called “minimally invasive” because fewer and smaller incisions are made. Using specialized techniques and miniature cameras and light sources, a surgeon makes a series of small incisions or a single small incision rather than a large incision. The cameras and lights allow the surgeon to see inside to perform the surgery, which results in less blood loss, fewer surgical scars, and less recovery time. Patients who have minimally invasive surgeries are able to leave the hospital and perform regular activities more quickly than patients who have conventional surgery.

    Minimally invasive procedures can be performed for various types of heart surgeries, many colon and rectal surgeries, as well as gastroenterological, gynecological, neurological and orthopedic procedures. Specialized doctors and tiny tools make the large range of minimally invasive surgeries possible. The specifics of the surgeries vary as much as what is being operated on but, in most cases, small cameras allow the surgeons to be precise with these small instruments by projecting images from inside the body onto large screens.

    Minimally invasive surgery is often more time-consuming and delicate than traditional surgery. This, though, still depends on the surgery being performed. For instance, the removal of a gallbladder or appendix is one of the most commonly practiced minimally invasive surgeries. These are often completed quickly and are as safe as traditional surgery. Surgical removal of cancer, though, can be more challenging with minimally invasive surgery. It has had less testing than the surgeries to remove the gallbladder and appendix. If your doctor suggests a minimally invasive surgery, ask for specifics and check to see if it is one that is well established or if it is still in the testing stages. Factors such as the patient’s health and history also come into play in the decision to perform minimally invasive surgery. If the patient is sick or weak, minimally invasive surgery may not be the best option because of the long operating time.

    Minimally invasive surgeries vary in their incision sizes, operating times, and the tools used. Ask your doctor how often he or she has performed the surgery and the success rates. Ask how familiar your nurses and anesthesiologists are with minimally invasive procedures. Ask how long it will take to recover. Some minimally invasive surgeries can be done as outpatient procedures and others require a hospital stay; be sure you know which you will be having. Minimally invasive surgery can be a wonderful option for some patients and for some procedures; but like any surgery, it is important to learn about your surgery beforehand, since being informed will help smooth the surgery and recovery process.

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

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  25. Local College Presidents Meet Governor McAuliffe

    Dr. Paul Conco (Left) President of Paul D. Camp Community College, and Dr. Al Roberts (Right) President of Southside Virginia Community College, met with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (Center) during the Virginia Community College Systems Annual Legislative Reception held February 11, 2015 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

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  26. VSP fields 3,300+ Calls for Service Since Monday Afternoon

    RICHMOND – From 4 p.m. Monday through 12 p.m. Tuesday, Virginia State Police troopers and dispatchers statewide have fielded 3,363 calls for service statewide. During the period statewide, Virginia troopers responded to 1,035 traffic crashes and 1,023 disabled vehicles. The majority of the crashes involved damaged vehicles only. Due to vehicles losing control on slick roadways, two VSP troopers have been struck and injured. There have been two weather-related fatal traffic crashes in Virginia.

    Loudoun County Fatal Crash: Monday night at 10:05 p.m., Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash in Loudoun County on Route 15 near Route 50. A 2000 Nissan Pathfinder was traveling south on Route 15 when the driver lost control. The Nissan slid into the northbound lanes and collided with a 2005 Kia Sedona. A backseat passenger in the Nissan Pathfinder, Javier Alexander Anzora, 40, of Purcellville, Va., was transported to Cornwall Hospital where he later died. Anzora was not wearing a seat belt. (This is all I have on the crash…no add’l detail on the driver or any other injuries)

    Wythe County Fatal Crash: Virginia State Police Trooper J. Graham responded to a single-vehicle crash in Wythe County. The crash occurred at 12:50 p.m. Monday (Feb. 16)0 on Interstate 81 at the 58 mile marker.  A 2006 Ford F-250 pickup truck was southbound on I-81 when it ran off the right side of the road and into the median where it overturned. The driver, Donald R. Taylor, 63, of Chilhowie, Va., died at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt.  A passenger 16-year-old female passenger was wearing a seat belt. She was not injured in the crash. It was snowing at the time of the crash and the interstate was snow-covered.

    A State Trooper was struck Monday evening while investigating a traffic crash. At 8:13 p.m., Trooper Carnell Draughn Sr. was seated inside his vehicle on I-264 at a crash scene in the westbound lanes just east of Frederick Boulevard in Portsmouth. A vehicle lost control and struck the trooper’s car. The trooper was transported to Chesapeake General Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He was released later Monday evening.

    VSP Trooper M.J. McSellers was treated and released today after being involved in a crash early Tuesday morning. Trooper McSellers had responded to a single-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes of I-495 at the 45 mile marker in Fairfax County.  He had pulled in behind the crashed vehicle when a northbound pickup truck lost control, spun out and struck the trooper’s patrol car in the rear. Trooper McSellers was seated inside his patrol car at the time of the crash and tried to steer his vehicle away from the disabled vehicle in front of him. But, the impact of the crash pushed his patrol car into the original car and then into the Jersey wall. The driver of the original vehicle was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

    Motorists are still being advised to stay off the highways as secondary roads are slick and hazardous. For their safety, drivers are advised to delay travel until later Tuesday so VDOT crews can continue to treat and clear the highways.

    Drivers are also advised NOT to call 911 or #77 to find out about road conditions. These phone lines must remain clear for real emergencies. Call 511 for road conditions or click on www.511virginia.org.

    If having to travel, drivers are reminded to do drive to save lives (#drivetosavelives):

    • Clear off all snow from your vehicle – windows, roof, trunk and lights            
    • Add extra time to reach travel destination
    • Slow speed for road conditions
    • Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
    • Buckle up and don’t drive distracted
    • MOVE OVER for all stopped emergency vehicles, highway vehicles and two trucks.

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  27. Obituary-Mamie Beryl Browder Harrison

    MAMIE BERYL BROWDER HARRISON of Emporia, Va., age 82, was called home by the Lord on January 28th, 2015.  She was predeceased by her husband, James Weaver Harrison and sister Josephine Sparks.  She is survived by her only child, Cynthia Harrison Caldwell, and her husband Orris Franklin Caldwell, Jr. of Raleigh, NC, two sisters, Doris Hobeck, and Carroll Williams, sisters-in-law, Hazel Ferguson, Polly Wray and most notably, sister in law and lifetime best friend Peggy Allen and  Godson, Richard Darrell Allen.  She is also survived by several nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly.  Additionally, she is survived by numerous friends and family, who willingly sat by her bedside in her final days.  Further, she is survived by her “foster” grandson, Jonathan Eric Allen, who always held a special place in her heart. 

    Beryl worked for Farmer’s Home Administration in Greenville County and was the only woman to ever hold the title of County Supervisor without a college degree at that time.  After her retirement, she and Peggy enjoyed many fun filled trips with her sister and her husband, Carroll and Thurman Williams.

    She was a devoted wife, mother, aunt, sister, and friend. Her legacy, by far, was her sweetness and grace toward others and her willingness to help in any way possible. She was an amazing seamstress and often made Cindy’s clothes which they designed together until she was no longer able to sew.  She loved sewing, sunbathing, sleeping and most of all shopping.  Beryl was the most loving, devoted mother and best friend a daughter could ask for.  Even her last wish was to help others, by donating her body to research.

    A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 1:00 at Calvary Baptist Church on Main Street in Emporia, Va.

    The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to your preferred Alzheimer’s or Diabetic Research charity.

  28. Governor McAulliffe Declares State of Emergency Due to Winter Storm

    Virginians Advised to be Prepared for Storm Conditions

    RICHMOND - With Virginia's impending snow storm, it's best to plan ahead now. Virginia State Police is advising all motorists to delay travel plans for tonight and/or Tuesday morning, as roads will be treacherous. With the forecasted freezing temperatures, any snow and ice accumulations are expected to stick around for a few days. So it is important to prepare your home, family, and vehicle in advance.

    If you do have to travel, then please keep these tips in mind:

    Make sure you and your car are properly equipped:

    • Make sure your vehicle has ample antifreeze, the windshield is clean and you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.
    • Check to make sure the headlights are clean and in working order. In Virginia, state law requires you to use your headlights when operating your windshield wipers.
    • Verify that the tires have tread and are properly inflated.
    • Have your battery tested, to avoid being stranded in the cold with a car that won't start.
    • Equip your car with a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, warm clothes, bottled water, snacks, and a blanket.
    • Remember to have sunglasses in the car, as the glare of the sun off of snow and ice can be more intense in the winter than it is in the summer.

    Perhaps the most important of all: Remember your cell phone, so you can call #77 to reach State Police in case of emergency. Bring your phone charger, too!

    Slow down and drive to save lives (#drivetosavelives). ALWAYS wear your seat belt, as this will minimize injuries in case you lose control on icy road conditions and slide off the highway.

    Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and unnecessary lane changes. These maneuvers can cause your vehicle to lose traction and can launch you into an uncontrollable skid, leading to a collision.

     

    Do not tailgate as you will need additional space between vehicles for safe stopping and maneuvering on slick roadways.

     

    911 and #77 are for emergencies and NOT road conditions. Please call 511 or go towww.511virginia.org for road conditions and closures. 911 and #77 need to remain open for real emergencies.

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  29. Obituary-Dorothy Hogarth Harrison

    Mrs. Dorothy Hogarth Harrison, 91, of Jarratt, widow of Herbert Calvin Harrison, passed away Thursday, February 12, 2015. She is survived by her son, Robert Calvin “Bob” Harrison and wife, Maida of Waynesboro; her daughter, Shirley Harrison Snow and husband, Richard of Spotsylvania; three grandchildren, Robert C. Harrison, Jr. of Staunton, Rena S. Sharpe and husband, Paul of Midlothian and Corey L. Oster and husband, Scott of Chesapeake; six great-grandchildren, Emma Harrison, Lannie O’Brien, Tyler O’Brien and Paul, Aaron and Brandon Oster; one sister, Virginia H. Blythe of Emporia and a brother, William Thomas “Billy” Hogarth and wife, Mary of St. Petersburg, FL and a number of nieces and nephews. Mrs. Harrison was preceded in death by one grandson, Brian Kenneth Harrison and a sister, Margaret Hogarth Ferguson. She was a member of Aberdour Presbyterian Church where she had served as organist for over 75 years. A funeral service will be held at Aberdour Presbyterian Church 2 p.m. Monday, February 16 with interment to follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at church prior to the service beginning at 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Aberdour Presbyterian Church. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

  30. Letter-Train Noise Disrupts Visit

    Dear Editor-

    I was here visiting family from out of state, and have noticed the last several times I have visited that trains now blow their whistles at all crossings.  When I first started visiting Emporia it did not seem that train traffic was nearly as loud. 

    I assumed that Emporia was a nice quiet city, but it is not.  City Leadership should very seriously explore making Emporia a quiet zone, so that those people living near the rail road tracks are not sleep deprived, which in itself can lead to traffic accidents.

    A person should be able to visit family in Emporia without needing to get a hotel room across town or in Roanoke Rapids in order to simply sleep through the night.  Emporia has a very nice downtown area, but who in their right mind would want to sit outside at the Bank in an attempt to enjoy a meal or a cocktail with a train going buy every half-hour?

    I have been in town during the Peanut Festival and the train whistles have even disrupted that great event, drowning out the music in the park and disrupting the fireworks.  It cannot be healthy for those at events in the park to have those whistles blown so close to unprotected ears.

    If Emporia was once a quiet zone and crossings have been closed in an effort to restore that quiet zone, why is that designation not in place?  Who dropped the ball?

    Exhausted in Emporia-

    M. Hardy

  31. Obituary-Burley Mahood Braswell

    Burley Mahood Braswell, 91, of Emporia passed away on February 13, 2015.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Thelma Moore Braswell.  He is survived by his sons, Dennis Ray Braswell and wife Romine and Stephen Craig Braswell; granddaughter, Candace B. Gordon and husband Keith and one great-granddaughter Caitlyn Gordon.  A visitation will be held on Sunday, 2pm, at Word of Life Assembly of God Church followed by a funeral service at 3pm.  Interment will follow in Emporia Cemetery.  Memorial contributions may be made to Word of Life Assembly of God Church, 707 Brunswick Ave, Emporia, VA 23847.  Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  32. FINAL OPEN ENROLLMENT EVENT FOR 2014-2015

    Enroll Virginia hosts a Last Chance for Health Insurance Enrollment Event

    Emporia, VA, February 8, 2015– To celebrate the end of the 2014-2015 Marketplace Open Enrollment Season, Enroll Virginia is hosting an open enrollment event for the public on February 14 & 15th, the last day of the enrollment period. This “Last Chance for Health Insurance” will be an opportunity for anyone who does not yet have a health insurance plan for 2015 to get help with their application. There will be certified navigators and in-person assistors present from 12 pm to 5 pm at the Virginia Legal Aid Society’s office, 412 S. Main St, Emporia VA 23847, to assist people in applying for health insurance plan and exemptions. Interested persons are encouraged to call ahead of time to schedule an appointment, though walk-ins will be welcome.

    "We’re hoping that this is going to be an opportunity for those last few people who haven’t yet gotten enrolled to do so before the Open Enrollment Period closes," said Holly Ortiz, an Enroll Virginia In-Person Assistor

    While some people might be eligible for Special Enrollment Periods (if they have a change in life circumstance such as a move, loss of a job, getting released from incarceration, getting married, etc ), most people need to enroll in health insurance by February 15th if they want to have coverage in 2015. If people choose not to enroll, the individual shared responsibility payment, the tax associated with not having health insurance, will be $325 per individual or 2% of family income (whichever is greater) for 2015.

    If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Elise Brown at 434-221-3369 or email at elise@enroll-virginia.com.

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  33. Cub Scouts Learn About Raptors

    Cub Scout Pack 209 held a wildlife conservation program on Saturday, February 7. The scouts enjoyed a presentation by Karen and Larry WhiteEagle-Fisher of Thunder Eagle Wildlife, who specialize in rehabilitating raptors (birds of prey). During the presentation they learned about owls common to Virginia and met Patch and Roswell, Eastern Screech Owls and Squirt, a Barred Owl, all of whom were saved by Thunder Eagle Wildlife. Afterward, the scouts built Purple Martin Bird Houses as a service project to maintain habitat for local birds. These bird houses will be donated to Greensville Elementary School to promote ongoing knowledge of wildlife conservation.

        

        

        

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  34. Jackson-Feild Promotes Two Staff Members

    Ms. Shadhri Stith has been promoted to Senior  Residential Services Supervisor.  She has 17 years of service at Jackson-Feild and has worked in a variety of capacities. In her new role she will supervise the residential program . This includes program development  and supervision of  the children and staff members.

    Ms. Stith has rendered outstanding service and is well liked and respected.  She is very dedicated to the mission of Jackson-Feild and to the children it serves.  She works tirelessly to ensure that children receive the services they need to heal from severe emotional trauma.

      

    Mr. Gary Bryant has been promoted to Program Coordinator for Darden Cottage. He has been a residential counselor for almost four years.  He will be responsible for the operation of this cottage which serves adolescent boys.

  35. GP Donates to Greensville Elementary School

    The employees of Georgia Pacific are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by helping others. They feel that volunteerism is part of our heritage and strive to make a difference by supporting our community.  Georgia-Pacific sees education as the key that unlocks every person's potential. In an effort to develop the next generation of Americans who will carry on Dr. King's legacy, the employees made a generous donation of school supplies. The donations will provide our students with many needed resources. These supplies are greatly appreciated by all staff and students.

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  36. Dr. Hurt Publishes Article In Educator’s Journal

    The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Editorial Board is pleased to announce the publication of the article “Utilizing Student Passions and Interests to Create a More Meaningful Research Experience,” by Dr. Joyce F. Hurt in the Winter 2015 issue of The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin.  Dr. Hurt is an English Instructor for the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia and adjunct faculty member at Southside Virginia Community College.

    In the article, Dr. Hurt discusses the juniors in her dual enrollment classes describing how incorporating students’ interests and choices into the regular research process created a new enthusiasm for researching, writing and sharing with peers.  She notes that the projects chosen by the students were as diverse as the students themselves and topics included Nazi Germany and Jehovah’s Witnesses; Polynesian Tattoos; Pat Summit; Athena; Pirates; Scuba Diving; Ice Hockey; Human Trafficking and Criminal Profiling; among others.

    Dr. Hurt is a member of Delta Alpha Chapter, Virginia.  The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is a professional honorary society for women educators with over 82,000 members in approximately 2504 chapters in 17 countries worldwide.  It focuses the collective energies of an international organization to achieve the greatest good for everyone involved in all fields of education—students, instructors and administrators.  The Society promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education through seminars, workshops, conferences, scholarships and the publication of members’ research and writing.

    Delta Kappa Gamma was founded by Dr. Annie Webb Blanton, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and eleven other educators from throughout Texas.

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  37. House Passes Ethics Bill

    By Benjamin May, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill that would limit gifts accepted by Virginia politicians to $100.

    Delegates voted 93-6 for the measure, which was sponsored by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.

    HB 2070 is the House’s answer to problems concerning ethics rules for public officials. Gifts accepted by politicians became a hot topic after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted of corruption charges in 2014.

    “This legislation builds on the substantial reforms passed last year,” Gilbert said. “It will improve transparency, hold elected officials more accountable and hopefully restore some of the public’s trust in government.”

    The $100 cap on gifts would apply to travel and other “intangible” items as well.

    “We set a $250 gift cap last year, but it was clear after hearing from citizens across the commonwealth that the public demanded more,” Gilbert said. “The $100 gift cap is a reasonable and clear limit that is easy for the public and elected officials to understand.”

    Limiting gifts is not the only thing the bill does. HB 2070 requires public officials to electronically file their disclosure forms. Electronic filing would save money and time for the politicians and the state’s Conflict of Interest Advisory Council, an ethics panel legislators created in 2014.

    “We are enacting a strict gift cap, strengthening independent oversight and making our financial disclosure system more accessible and transparent,” said House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford.

    HB 2070 includes a measure that Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed last year. It would prohibit the governor from accepting campaign contributions from companies knowingly seeking grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives for businesses moving Virginia.

    Both the House of Delegates and the Senate are considering ethics bills. They have similarities but also differences.

    For example, under HB 2070, knowingly filing false information through the electronic database would be a class 5 felony. This is a harsher punishment than the Senate bill provides. Under SB 1424, knowingly filing false information through the database would be a class 6 felony.

    How They Voted

    Here is how the House voted Tuesday on HB 2070 (“State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act, General Assembly Conflicts of Interests Act”).

    Floor: 02/10/15 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (93-Y 6-N)

    YEAS – Adams, Albo, Anderson, Austin, BaCote, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Bloxom, Bulova, Byron, Campbell, Carr, Cline, Cole, Cox, Davis, DeSteph, Edmunds, Farrell, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Futrell, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Herring, Hester, Hodges, Hugo, Ingram, James, Joannou, Jones, Keam, Kilgore, Knight, Kory, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lindsey, Lingamfelter, Lopez, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Mason, Massie, McClellan, McQuinn, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, Morrissey, Murphy, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Preston, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Rust, Scott, Sickles, Spruill, Stolle, Sullivan, Taylor, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Ward, Ware, Watts, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker – 93.

    NAYS – Hope, Krupicka, Plum, Rasoul, Simon, Surovell – 6.

    NOT VOTING – Fariss – 1.

  38. Vaccination is the Key to Preventing the Spread of Measles

    Emporia, VA - Measles, a highly contagious virus, is making a comeback. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 102 cases of the measles in 14 states were diagnosed in January. The majority of these cases have been linked to a measles outbreak at an amusement park in California.

    Although measles were eliminated in the United States in 2000, the CDC said that in 2014 the US experienced the greatest number of measles cases since being declared eliminated, with 644 cases in 27 states. The majority of these cases were in people who were not vaccinated.

    “Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of measles,” said Fitzgerald Marcelin, MD, who is certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.  “CDC research shows that one dose of the measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if someone is exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97% effective,” he said.  

    Measles is still common in other countries and travelers with measles continue to bring the virus in the US. An outbreak can occur with the disease reaches a community where groups of people are unvaccinated. To prevent the spread of measles, the CDC recommends that every child receive a first dose of the measles vaccination (MMR) after reaching the age of 12 months. A second dose is recommended for 4- to 6- year-olds. Vaccination is also recommended for adults who do not have evidence of immunity to the measles.

    If you have questions about the measles vaccine, speak with your primary care provider or contact your local health department.

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  39. House OKs Parental Choice Savings Accounts

    By Sarah Drury, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The House of Delegates passed a bill on Tuesday to permit the parents of special-needs students to obtain state funds that could be used toward private school tuition or home instruction.

    Delegates voted 57-42 for the measure, which proponents touted as empowering parental choice but critics saw as a step toward a voucher system.

    HB 2238, sponsored by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, initially applied to children with disabilities, children in foster care and children of active-duty military personnel. The version that was passed applies only to a student who “is identified as having a disability and is receiving or is eligible to receive services from a school division.”

    Under HB 2238, the parents of such students could open a Virginia Parental Choice Education Savings Account. Their local school board then would deposit into the account an amount equal to 90 percent of the state’s portion of the division’s per-pupil expenditure – the cost of educating the child in a public school setting.

    This money could be put toward private school tuition, fees, textbooks, college entrance exams, tutoring services or educational therapies.

    “While we have excellent public schools in Virginia, they are not always the best option for children with special learning needs or unique challenges. Cost is the biggest factor preventing families from choosing a better option for their child,” LaRock said.

    “Education savings accounts give families facing that cost barrier other choices so that they can best meet the educational needs of their children.”

    Under the legislation, parents of eligible students would access the money with a debit card. If money remained in the account when the student graduates 12th grade, it could be put toward college. Any funds not used for educational purposes within four years of the child’s high school graduation would be returned to the state.

    LaRock’s bill was co-sponsored by 17 fellow delegates and four senators – all of them Republicans. The Virginia Education Coalition, an alliance of conservative activists and organizations, also supported the measure.

    Opponents included the Virginia School Board Association and the Virginia Education Association, representing the state’s teachers. They fear that the bill would divert money from public schools to fund private education. Some have likened the bill to an education voucher system.

    How They Voted

    Here is how the House voted on Feb. 10 on HB 2238 (“Virginia Parental Choice Savings Account; established”).

    Floor: 2/10/15 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (57-Y 42-N)

    YEAS – Adams, Albo, Anderson, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Byron, Cline, Cole, Cox, Davis, DeSteph, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Hodges, Ingram, Joannou, Jones, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, O’Bannon, Orrock, Peace, Pogge, Poindexter, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Scott, Stolle, Taylor, Villanueva, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Mr. Speaker – 57.

    NAYS – BaCote, Bloxom, Bulova, Campbell, Carr, Filler-Corn, Futrell, Helsel, Herring, Hester, Hope, James, Keam, Kilgore, Kory, Krupicka, Lindsey, Lopez, Mason, McClellan, McQuinn, Morrissey, Murphy, O’Quinn, Pillion, Plum, Preston, Rasoul, Rush, Rust, Sickles, Simon, Spruill, Sullivan, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Watts, Yancey, Yost –42.

    NOT VOTING – Hugo – 1.

  40. Obituary-Alice Allen Moore

    Alice Allen Moore died February 7, 2015, in Southside Regional Medical Center, Petersburg, VA.  She was born February 11, 1926 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.  She was employed at Emporia Manufacture Company which later became Miller Homes in Emporia, VA for many years.  She was a life-time member of Calvary Baptist Church all her life where she taught children’s Sunday school for 40 years and was active in GAs, WMU and Senior Circle.

    She is survived by one daughter, Ann Moore Connell and husband, Carl Connell, two grandchildren, Andrew Connell and Lesley Nunn and husband Patrick Nunn, three great grandchildren, Drew Connell, Harper Nunn and Van Walker Nunn.  Four sisters Margaret Watson, Jeannette McArdle, Joyce Majer, Martha Harris and one brother Eddie Allen.

    She was predeceased by her husband of 37 years Ira Moore, her parents, Frank and Lucy Allen, one brother  Frank Allen, Jr., three sisters Lois Taylor, Eleanor Stone and Peggy Myrick.

    Remains rest at Echols Funeral Home, Emporia, where family will receive friends on Monday, February 9 from 5 to 7 pm.  Funeral services will be held 3 pm Tuesday, February 10 at Echols Funeral Home Chapel with burial in Emporia Cemetery.  Family suggest contributions be made to Calvary Baptist Church or Greensville Rescue Squad.

    Pallbearers:  Carl Connell, Andrew Connell, Brian Allen, Rick Watson, John Watson and Troy Watson.

  41. VIRGINIA ORGANIZING RESPONDS TO RIDICULOUS HOUSE OF DELEGATES HEALTH CARE PLAN

    Richmond, Va.—Virginia Organizing State Governing Board member Denise Smith responded to the Virginia House of Delegates proposal to include funding for “healthcare safety net” programs in the state budget today:
    “This ridiculous non-solution to health care is a shame and a disgrace to all Virginians. About 400,000 hard-working Virginians need health care and are already paying for it with their federal tax dollars. The House of Delegates is proposing these same people pay with their state tax dollars to fund free clinics instead. I know from experience that free clinics only cover limited circumstances, and do not always cover necessary treatments. Free clinics are great, but they are not a substitute for primary care and health insurance. Virginians need real, quality, affordable health care. Virginians need Medicaid expansion, not a Band-Aid solution to real problems.
    “Does the House of Delegates think Virginians won’t recognize that they are proposing we pay twice—once at the state level and once at the federal level—and still not even cover the 400,000 Virginians that would qualify for expansion? Do they really think that throwing extra Virginian tax dollars at free clinics will solve the problem of working people not having access to affordable health insurance?
    “Virginia Organizing calls on the Virginia General Assembly to reject this terrible, incomprehensive plan and expand Medicaid for the working Virginians who are doing everything right, but being let down by political posturing against Obamacare.”
  42. SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER ANNOUNCES JANUARY EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

    (EMPORIA, VA) – Latoya Vaughan has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2015.  Ms. Vaughan, who has been employed at SVRMC since March 2011, is Lead Pharmacy Tech. in the SVRMC Pharmacy. 

    Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for January was Commitment to Co-workers.  Ms. Vaughan was nominated by SVRMC’s Pharmacy Director and a pharmacy co-worker who wrote, “Latoya relentlessly demonstrates an exceptional work ethic.  If something needs to be done and she is aware, she either does it or assigns it to someone. She is always smiling and laughing while maintaining a work appropriate attitude.  Latoya is very knowledgeable about the pharmacy and its role throughout the hospital making her a huge asset to the team.  She can be called the “Go-To” lady.  She shows commitment by demonstrating leadership in teaching, checking, and supporting the team. She has the ability to work with everyone in the facility with an even tempered, professional attitude. Latoya quietly goes the extra mile to make a difference and to make the department more efficient.  She is largely responsible for the development of the most effective pharmacy tech team SVRMC has ever had.”

    As SVRMC’s January’s Employee of the Month, Ms. Vaughan received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers in the Pharmacy, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.

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  43. Obituary-Cecil Wade Allen

    Cecil Wade Allen, Sr., 87, of Emporia, passed away on February 8, 2015.  He is survived by his wife, Nell Allen; 2 sons and their spouses; 5 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.  A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, 11am, at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.  Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  44. Obituary-Ruby Wrenn Rawlings

    Ruby Wrenn Rawlings, 83, “MeMa “ to her beloved grandchildren went to her Lord and Savior on February 7, 2015. She was employed at the Greensville County Clerk’s Office in Emporia for fifteen years.    She was preceded in death by her husbands, Ernest H. Rawlings, Jr. and James A. Dunn; son James A. Dunn, Jr; and siblings Mary Lee Pearson, Burton Wrenn, and Jean Ciletti.  She is survived by her son William Barry Dunn and wife Stacy; grandsons Nash and Lance Dunn; siblings Elvin Picano and husband Michael, Margaret Thrower, Frances Matson, Linda Joyner, Reid Wrenn and wife Sarah; and many nieces and nephews.  Friends may call on the family at Echols Funeral Home, Emporia, on Monday, February 9, 7-8:30pm.  Funeral services will be held Tuesday, February 10 at 11am at the funeral home.  Interment will be at Adams Grove Baptist Church.  Guests will be welcomed for a gathering following the services at First Presbyterian Church in Emporia.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or First Presbyterian Church.  Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  45. One Person Can Make a Difference

     

    Lane Whitehead raised an impressive $916.00 thanks to generous donations and support from our local community. Lane and Crew were completely sold out by 4:45!! 

        

        

  46. The Emporia / Greensville Neighborhood Watch Meeting TUESDAY!

    Come out to meet and greet the new Police Chief Rick Pinksaw of the City of Emporia, he will be here to introduce himself and his plans for the City. There may be a short question and answer session.

    We would like to invite anyone from Emporia, Jarratt, and Greensville County to attend the meeting.  

    The meeting will be on Tuesday, February 10 at 7:00 PM. At the Greensville County Ruritan Club off Hwy 58 West.

    Note; In case of inclement weather meeting will be postponed and rescheduled at a later date.

    All are welcome to come to our meeting and bring someone with you.  For additional information call Francis Drummond 434-634-2428 or Lynwood Matthews 434-634-6902

  47. Free Seminar on Heart Health

    Petersburg, VA – Join Dr. Michael Wood as he talks about heart health in honor of American Heart Month. Dr. Wood has more than 23 years of cardiothoracic experience and is the Medical Director of the Center for Heart and Vascular Care at Southside Regional Medical Center.

    This seminar will be held on Thursday, February 26 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. at the Petersburg Family YMCA located at 120 North Madison Street in the multi-purpose room. Light refreshments will be served. There is no cost to attend and RSVP is not required.

    This seminar is provided by Southside Regional Medical Center and the Petersburg Family YMCA.

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  48. Found-

    A black male, King Charles small breed dog. He was found on Halifax Street in front of Picture Perfect.
     
    The Emporia-Greensville Humane Society has the dog and will hold until the ownerIs found.
     
    Please call 804 731 8987
  49. The Countdown’s On for the Next State Song

    Listen to each of the contenders here:

    “Our Great Virginia” – at http://youtu.be/pa9u5HwBm_Y

    “Sweet Virginia Breeze” – http://youtu.be/NAQ_W_M8oQ0

    “Virginia, the Home of My Heart” – http://youtu.be/0n14yDv2V3Q

    After you listen, take the Capital News Survey  at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/va-state-song and vote for  your choice!

    By Cort Olsen, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The curtain is closing on the General Assembly’s chance to select a new state song for Virginia this legislative session.

    At the start of the session, three tunes were proposed as Virginia’s official song. But the bills that would designate a new state song are languishing in committees, and if they’re not acted on byTuesday, they’re dead for this session.

    The General Assembly has been holding auditions for a new state song since “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” was retired in 1997 for its racist lyrics. The entries currently before the assembly are:

    • “Our Great Virginia,” by Mike Greenly – That is the choice of House Bill 1427, sponsored by House Speaker Bill Howell, and Senate Bill 1128, introduced by Sen. Charles Colgan, D-Manassas. The song is a ballad that evokes “Shenandoah.”
    • “Virginia, the Home of My Heart,” by Susan Greenbaum – Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, is pushing for this song in HB 2203. It is a folk song by Greenbaum, a popular Richmond-based singer-songwriter.
    • “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett – Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, is seeking to designate this as the state song in SB 1362. It is an upbeat pop song by a pair of professional musicians, also based in Richmond.

    The Senate bills are before the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee; the House bills have been assigned to the House Rules Committee. Neither panel has held hearings, and a crucial deadline is approaching: By Tuesday, any bill that has not been passed by its house of origin is dead.

    If a song had the inside track, it might be “Our Great Virginia”: The House speaker rarely sponsors legislation – and when he does, it typically concerns weighty issues like the state budget. This is Howell’s only bill for 2015. Moreover, Howell chairs the House Rules Committee.

    In an interview in his office, Howell said he was carrying HB 1427 as a favor to a friend – Dr. James I. Robertson, a history professor at Virginia Tech and executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission.

    Robertson explained in a telephone interview that he raised the idea at a meeting of state officials: “I brought the subject up that Virginia badly needs a state song. Several of the state’s legislators encouraged me to move forward with it.”

    Robertson felt only one melody could make someone think of Virginia – the song “Shenandoah” (often called “Oh Shenandoah”).

    “It’s a folk song. It has been in Virginia for over 200 years. It’s so old, nobody knows who wrote it or where it started,” Robertson said. “It’s a part of Virginia’s culture and its folklore, so we had to use it.”

    Through networking, Robertson contacted a lyricist in New York named Mike Greenly. Greenly, a former executive for Avon Products, is a freelance speechwriter for corporate executives.

    “I discovered I had a passion for writing song lyrics, because back when I was at Avon, we used to use songs for our sales meetings,” Greenly said.

    He found that writing song lyrics was more fun than doing corporate marketing. He has since worked with two composer-partners to write songs for the public – and some of his songs, such as “I Will Carry You,” have landed on the Billboard Music Dance Charts.

    Greenly has written lyrics for songs that have benefited charitable causes such as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He was the lyricist for “Always My Angel,” which honored the victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

    Greenly said a state song should express pride in one’s state. And when it comes to feeling proud about where they live, “I’m guessing Virginians would be at the upper end of the scale,” he said.

    But pride may not prod Virginia lawmakers into picking a state song this legislative session. If all the state song bills die by the middle of the next week, maybe the tune that sums up the issue best would be by Simon and Garfunkel – “The Sounds of Silence.”

     

     

     

     

     

  50. That painful sore throat - Could it be a cold, strep throat or tonsillitis?

    By: Tejas Raval, MD

     

    EMPORIA, VA - During cold weather, it’s not unusual to get a scratchy throat – and sometimes the surefire comforts of chicken soup, hot tea and a warm blanket don’t make a difference. When sore throat symptoms persist, you often wonder if it’s from a cold, strep throat, or tonsillitis. A sore throat can often simply be caused from the common cold – or it can be more serious, requiring antibiotics to make the nagging pain go away.

    A sore throat can often be the first sign of a cold. In this case, the sore throat usually gets better or goes away after the first day or two and is often followed by other cold symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache, nasal congestion and sometimes fever.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for a sore throat caused by a cold virus, but there are things you can do to minimize discomfort and get better more quickly. To speed healing of your sore throat and cold, be sure to get enough rest, and remember that a healthy diet and plenty of fluids also help to speed healing.

    Although over-the-counter cold medications may relieve cold and sore throat symptoms, the benefits are minimal. Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can offer relief from the aches and pains of a cold and sore throat. Sore throat sprays and lozenges can also soothe the throat and numb the pain temporarily.  Antibiotics should not be used to treat a cold virus and sore throat, since antibiotics are effective only against bacteria.

    Strep throat, which is caused by Streptococcus bacteria, is a major cause of sore throat and tonsillitis. With strep throat, the pain is often more persistent and severe. While a cold goes away on its own, strep throat usually requires antibiotics.

    Strep throat spreads through close contact with an infected person and/or sharing an infected person's personal items. If not treated properly, strep throat can cause more serious illnesses, such as rheumatic fever, a disease that may harm the heart valves.

    Symptoms of strep throat include sudden sore throat, loss of appetite, painful swallowing, red tonsils with white spots, fever and headache.  Physician can easily diagnose strep throat by examining the patient and performing a strep test, a painless test that looks for Streptococcus bacteria. If you have clear signs of strep throat, your doctor will most likely start you on an antibiotic treatment in order to kill the bacteria causing the infection. With proper treatment, strep throat can usually be cured within 10 days.  If after 10 days you don’t feel any better, let your doctor know right away. Also, even if you feel better after a day or two, never stop taking the prescribed antibiotic until the full dosage is taken. The bacteria can still be alive, even if you are feeling better.

    Sometimes, other bugs cause tonsillitis. If, like strep throat, the tonsillitis infection is bacterial, then antibiotics are given. However, if the tonsillitis infection is viral, antibiotics will not help. The virus will just need to run its course for the sore throat to go away.

    Symptoms of other tonsillitis infections are very similar to those of strep throat.  They include sore throat, bad breath, fever, hoarseness, painful swallowing, swollen lymph glands in the neck and swollen tonsils that may have white or yellow spots.  Only with an exam by your doctor will you know whether your tonsillitis is caused by a virus or bacterium.

    For either type of infection, be sure to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, use a vaporizer, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. Eating soft, soothing foods such as ice cream, milk shakes and soup will also make your throat feel better.

    If the tonsil infection does not respond to antibiotics or occurs repeatedly – or if the tonsils interfere with sleep and breathing – your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy, the surgical removal of the tonsils.

    For any sore throat conditions, call your doctor if you experience nausea or vomiting, earache, headache, skin rash, painful joints, shortness of breath, dark urine or chest pain.

    The information in this article was provided by Tejas Raval, MD, Board Certified in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.  Dr. Raval’s practice, Southside Regional Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists, is located at 317 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Raval or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-632-1685 

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  51. USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Key Dates for New 2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

    Land Owners Can Update Yield History and/or Reallocate Base Acres through Feb. 27, 2015;

    Producers Select the Safety Net Program Best for Their Operation

    Beginning Nov. 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new programs, designed to help producers better manage risk, usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.

    “The ARC and PLC programs are a significant reform in the farm safety net,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini. “FSA wants to keep producers well informed on all steps in the process. We will continue our outreach efforts and maintain resources online to help them understand the new programs before they come in to make decisions for their operations.”

    Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:

    • Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015: Land owners may visit their local Farm Service Agency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.
    • Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.
    • Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
    • October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.

    USDA leaders will visit with producers across the country to share information and answer questions on the ARC and PLC programs.

    USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time. USDA provided $3 million to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), along with the University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education) to develop these online tools.

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

    Today's announcement was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

    Key Dates

    Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015

    Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015

    Mid-April through Summer 2015

    October 2015

    Land owners make base reallocation/yield updates

    Producers make election between ARC/PLC

    Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years

    Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed

  52. There’s still time to sign up for health insurance

    Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Can help



    EMPORIA, VA - If you’re uninsured, there’s still time to sign up for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace and avoid the penalty. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most Americans were required to have health insurance coverage beginning in 2014.  For the first time during the 2015 tax season, Americans must prove they had qualifying health insurance, or an approved exemption, in 2014 as required by law, or face a tax penalty. 

    To be compliant with the ACA in 2015, individuals must enroll in a qualified health insurance plan before the last day of the open enrollment period, February 15, 2015.  Those who fail to obtain insurance by the deadline or without an approved exemption will have a penalty applied to his/her annual taxable income for each full month without health insurance in 2015. The penalty fee is $325 per adult, $162.50 per child – up to $975/family or 2% of family income, whichever is higher. Additionally, those without insurance will also be financially responsible for all of medical costs throughout the year.

    The good news is that some individuals, based on household income and number dependents,  may qualify for financial assistance from the government – or subsidies – towards the cost of the premium and other financial obligations like co-pays or deductibles.

    “This is where Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center can help the uninsured in our community,” said Joe Wilkins, Interim CEO.  “With many people lacking access to a computer or just needing help to navigate 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.

    In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. In some states, the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level.

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

    2015 open enrollment runs through February 15, 2015. To make an appointment for enrollment assistance for the Health Insurance Marketplace or Medicaid, contact the enrollment counselors at SVRMC at 434-348-4406.

  53. Never Too Late To Start A New Career

    George Garratte finished high school in 1976.  He went back to school in 2014 attending Southside Virginia Community College’s Truck Driver Training School and now works for Swift Transportation Corporation as a Commercial Driver.

    Currently completing his orientation period with the company, Garratte will receive his own truck soon through Swift and probably will drive over-the-road in the 48 contiguous states.  Today, Swift generates over $4 billion in revenue and operates nearly 18,000 trucks.

    During his lifetime, Garrette has worked for Toll Brothers in Emporia and also worked as a freelance landscaper in Baltimore.  At age 57, he notes he was the oldest student in his trucking class but this did not stop him from becoming class president. 

    He returned to his native Emporia to seek employment and saw a flyer about the SVCC Truck Driver Training class that was being offered locally at night. 

    “I decided that this is what I am going to do, to go to school,” Garrette said.

    He visited the Southside Virginia Education Center located in Greensville County and worked with a counselor, Shelia Harper.  Garrette notes that he was taken step by step through the process of enrolling in class.  The class itself offered a great deal of one-on-one instruction and he notes that it was a great experience.  He credits Willie Crawley, Instructor, with helping him to be successful and also, “I give the glory of my success to God”, Garrette said.

    With a new start and a new career, Garrette also has plans to marry this year.  Success stories start at SVCC, stories like Garrett’s are happening every day.  Visit www.southside.edu   Truck Driving will be offered again in Greensville County during the spring.  For information, call 434-292-3101.

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  54. Budget Amendment Would Boost Guards’ Pay

    By Kelsey Callahan, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Joined by a group of prison guards, two legislators Tuesday called for a budget amendment to increase the salaries of correctional officers in Virginia.

    Democratic Dels. Patrick Hope of Arlington and Kaye Kory of Falls Church said officers at the state’s correctional facilities deserve a pay increase and better working conditions. The lawmakers said their proposed amendment to the state budget would boost correctional officers’ salaries by 5 percent.

    The last pay increase officers received was in 2007, Hope said at a press conference. He said he has seen firsthand what the officers must endure and the dangers they face dealing with potentially violent offenders.

    “There is no reason why we have people in law enforcement that should be eligible for food stamps or other types of government programs,” Hope said.

    Don Baylor, an organizer for the Virginia chapter of the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, also spoke at the press conference in support of the budget amendment. He said correctional officers who take on more than one job to make ends meets are putting themselves at risk because they get tired and working at a prison requires their full concentration and attention.

    Baylor also said the men and women in the profession are dealing with higher stress levels and have higher suicide rates than most veterans returning from war.

    Also at the news conference were three officers from Sussex II State Prison of the Virginia Department of Corrections. All three officers said they struggle with financial obligations and all have children to care for.

  55. Local Foundation for Alzheimer’s Caregivers Receives Charity Status

    Newport News, VA – The Garner Foundation, supporting caregivers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, has received their non-profit charity status (501c3) from the Internal Revenue Service. The Garner Foundation, founded by Karen Garner, was formed in October 30, 2013. Karen, a mother of 2, is the wife of Jim Garner, who was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009, at age 48.

    In February 2013, faced with the uncertainty of the disease and her family’s future, Karen began to write about her family and Jim in her blog, Missing Jim. Through her blog, she was contacted by many people who needed help and support. She and her family also needed the same help and support. But there was nowhere to turn. After becoming involved with advocacy and fund-raising, supporters approached Karen about starting her own charity. Karen took all suggestions very seriously and two years later, The Garner Foundation was birthed.

    The Garner Foundation’s mission is to enhance financial and service support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and other Dementia patients. The Foundation has three major focus areas; Elder Care Attorney Services, Respite Care Services, and Make a Memory Trips. Through these programs, Karen and her board of directors and supporters, aim to improve the quality of life not only for the patients with these terrible diseases, but their families as well.

    Since their 501c3 status was approved in July 2014, Karen and her board of directors have been hard at work planning and programming for the upcoming year. You can learn more about The Garner Foundation by visiting their website at www.garnerfoundation.org. You can also read Karen’s blog at www.missingjim.com.

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  56. House OKs Bill Inspired by #SaveJosh

    By Morgan White, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The House of Delegates on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation aimed at making it easier for terminally ill patients to obtain investigational drugs before they have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    House Bill 1750, sponsored by Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale, was inspired by Josh Hardy, a Fredericksburg boy battling a rare disease.

    “This legislation was inspired by the Hardy family’s #SaveJosh campaign, as they fought to get their 7-year-old boy access to a lifesaving treatment that wasn’t yet approved by the FDA,” Ransone said.

    “Josh eventually got the treatment, and he’s looking forward to celebrating his ninth birthday next month, but this fight isn’t just his and it’s not over. This legislation will give other families who have exhausted all other treatment options the opportunity to access developmental drugs that could save the life of their loved ones.”

    Josh’s family sought brincidofovir, which was developed by Chimerix, a biopharmaceutical company in Durham, N.C. The company initially said it couldn’t give Josh the drug because it hadn’t been adequately tested in clinical trials and approved by the FDA. Thanks to a social media campaign that prompted about 17,500 from around the world to sign an online petition, the drug was given to Hardy to help combat an infection.

    House Speaker Bill Howell, who represents the Fredericksburg area, agreed with Ransone’s comments.

    “I have heard heartbreaking stories from families and patients struggling to get access to a potentially life-saving treatment and sometimes, tragically failing. This legislation will help them in their fight, and I’m proud to support it,” Howell said.

    Aimee Hardy, Josh’s mother, was the main force behind the #SaveJosh campaign. She said she was hopeful that the legislation would help families in need of investigational drugs.

    “No family should have to suffer a loss if there is a drug in existence that could make a difference,” Hardy said.

    Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Fredericksburg, is sponsoring a companion measure – SB 1222 – in the upper chamber. His bill is awaiting action by a subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health Committee.

  57. Obituary-Marilyn Syble Fannon

    Marilyn Syble Fannon, 88, widow of George Henry Fannon, passed away Tuesday, February 3, 2015. She is survived by her daughter, Patricia F. Warf and husband, James; granddaughter, Kelly Warf Harvey and husband, Alan; grandson, Kenneth Allen Warf; two great-granddaughters, Jordan Elizabeth Harvey and Jillian Dawn Harvey; one great-grandson, Joseph Evan Harvey; two brothers, James W. Sexton and Bobby Bruce Sexton; three sisters, Ardney Moore, Eliza Robinson and Phronsie Miles and a number of nieces and nephews. Syble was preceded in death by three brothers and two sisters. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Thursday, February 5 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Friday, February 6. Interment will follow at High Hills Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Jarratt Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 562, Jarratt, Virginia 23867 or to High Hills Baptist Church, P.O. Box 296, Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be made atwww.owenfh.com.

  58. Free Joint Pain Seminar at Southside Regional Medical Center

    Petersburg, VA – If you suffer with chronic joint pain, consider attending a free joint pain seminar offered by The Center for Advanced Joint and Spine Care at Southside Regional Medical Center. At these seminars, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon will provide the latest information on non-surgical and surgical treatments for hip and knee pain. The seminar will also help individuals with arthritis determine when it’s time to consider total joint replacement. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

    2015 Community Class Schedule:

    Tuesday, February 17 at 5:30 p.m.

    Tuesday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m.

    Tuesday, August 18 at 5:30 p.m.

    Tuesday, November 17 at 5:30 p.m.

    To make your reservation, call Lisa Mears, RN, Orthopedic Service Line Director, at 804-765- 5652 or email Lisa_Mears@chs.net.

    Tags: 

  59. Laseter Arrested in Sting Operation

    Jason M. Laseter, son of local retired minister Rev. Dr. Walter Laseter, has been arrested for allegedly sending explicit images of himself and videos of himself engaged in sex acts to a person the believed to be a 14 year old girl.  Reportedly, he also asked her to engage in online sexual activity.

    Laseter is currently being held without bond in the Southwest Regional Jail in Abington, Virginia after being charged with 12 felonies.  He was arrested Monday on six counts of indecent liberties with a child and six counts of use of communications systems to solicit sex acts with a child.  Laseter was charged and arrested as part of a undercover operation ran by the Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff's office.

    Police enlisted the help of Laseter's former roommate and current neighbor, James LoftisLoftis moved out after finding sexually explicit photos of men on Laseter's computer. According to Loftis, police asked him to call when Laseter arrived home.  Loftis has noticed the police knocking on his Laseter's door for the last two months before finally asking him to call last week.

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  60. SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER HONORS PRINCE, SQUIRE AND WALKER

    EMPORIA, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) recently held a dedication reception to formally name each of the three classrooms located within the facility after a founding member of the Greensville Memorial Hospital medical staff who also practiced at SVRMC.  On Sunday, January 25 2015, SVRMC unveiled markers in each classroom officially naming them The John S. Prince, Sr., MD Classroom, The Peter W. Squire, MD Classroom and The Thomas A. Walker, MD Classroom in the company of more than 100 family, friends and invited guests.

    Those assembled were welcomed by Joseph D. Wilkins, Interim Chief Executive Officer at SVRMC.  He opened by thanking the honorees for their contributions to healthcare in Emporia/Greensville, and contemplated that SVRMC would not be in this community today were it not for visionaries such as themselves who were compelled to pursue the establishment of a hospital late in the 1950’s. 

    After the welcoming address, a son of each of the honorees, all of whom followed their fathers into the practice of medicine, addressed the crowd with a brief history of his father’s education, military service, medical training and family stories about growing up with a physician father, and how that impacted their decisions to go into healthcare.

    John S. Prince, Jr., MD spoke of his father, John S. Prince, MD, who explained that his father never earned the Sr. behind his name until he, John Prince, Jr., came back to Emporia to practice medicine, and the office and hospital staff needed a way to distinguish one from the other.  At that time, they became Prince, Sr. and Prince, Jr.  Dr. Prince, Jr. said that his father was born and raised in Stony Creek.  In 1940, he entered Virginia Polytechnic Institute where he earned a starting position on the baseball team.  After the United States entered World War II, Dr. Prince, Sr. entered the Navy where he served until 1946 earning the rank of lieutenant.  He returned to Virginia Tech. for his post graduate and pre-medical training before entering the Medical College of Virginia where he earned his Doctor of Medicine and completed his internship.  In 1953, Dr. Prince and Dr. Peter Squire established a general private practice in Emporia, where they worked together until their retirement in August 2013. Dr. Prince was among the local physicians who spearheaded the initiative for a hospital in the community.  Through his efforts, in part, Greensville Memorial Hospital opened its doors in 1961.  Dr. Prince was a Charter Member of the GMH Medical Staff and served three terms as Chief of Staff.  After the hospital moved in 2003, he continued as an active member of the medical staff.  Dr. Prince had been married the former Jane Holland for 60 years, and together they have four children and five grandchildren. 

    R. Hall Squire, MD began his remarks by saying that Peter W. Squire, MD is affectionately known by, pretty much everyone including his patients, as Peter.  He went on to say that his dad was born in 1926 in Fairmont, West Virginia.  His family moved to Greensville County, Virginia when he was five years old, and he attended and graduated from Greensville County High School where he was the President of his class during both is Junior and Senior years.  In 1943, he entered Hampden Sydney College where he was captain of the football team and a member of Theta Chi Fraternity.  During World War II, Dr. Squire earned the rank of Ensign in the Amphibious Forces Pacific Theater, and continued to support the war effort as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve after returning to Hampden Sydney in 1946.  In 1948, Dr. Squire began his medical school training at the Medical College of Virginia where he later received his Doctor of Medicine.  After completing his internship at Stuart Circle Hospital in 1953, Dr. Squire joined Dr. John Prince, Sr. in opening Prince Squire Medical Center.  At that time, Family Practice was not an officially recognized ‘specialty’.  Doctors who provided general care were called General Practitioners and there was no Board that governed these providers.  In 1969, The American Board of Family Practice was born and officially recognized as the 20th primary medical specialty.  Having met the requirements to sit for this Board during his training, Dr. Squire successfully completed and earned his status as a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice in 1971, eighteen years after completing his medical training.  When GMH opened its doors in 1961, Dr. Squire was a founding member of the medical staff and the hospital’s first ever Chief of Staff.  Dr. Squire made the transition to the SVRMC medical staff in 2003.  Dr. Squire and his wife, Nancy, married in 1953 and have four sons and ten grandchildren.

    Tributes to the honorees were concluded by Stephen T. Walker, MD, son of Thomas A. Walker MD.  Dr. Stephen Walker said that his father was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Mecklenburg County, VA.  His first job was as a clerk at the five and dime.  Times being what they were, he used the income from this job to pay his way to Lynchburg College and to get back and forth, he hitch hiked.  In his final year at Lynchburg College, his boss at the five and dime encouraged him to pursue a career in medicine.  Knowing that Dr. Walker did not have the financial means continue his education, his boss offered to co-signed Dr. Walker’s student loans so that he could attend medical school.  This being resolved, Dr. Walker then faced his final semester crammed with the usual courses along with all the required course work needed to be eligible to attend medical school the following year.  He persevered and graduated Lynchburg College in 1953 where he received the highest alumni award, the T. Gibson Hobbs Memorial Award for service to church, community and alma mater.  Dr. Walker attended Medical College of Virginia, where he completed his medical school education in 1957 and his internship in 1958.  His first practice after completing this training was in Stony Creek, VA.  In March of 1961, Dr. Walker received an invitation from J. B. Kiser, MD to join the medical staff of Greensville Memorial Hospital.  He joined a practice in Emporia with J. B. Adams, MD and Avis Adams, MD, and later helped form Emporia Medical Associated where he practiced until his retirement in December of 2012.  Like his peer, Dr. Walker continued to be a vital member of the medical staff of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center for the remainder of his career.   Dr. Walker and his wife, Barbara, have two daughters and one son, all of which followed their father into the medical field, and five grandchildren. 

    In closing, Joe Wilkins thanked the three honorees for their contributions to healthcare in the community, as well as the active roles they each have played in their families, churches and various volunteer organizations.  Those assembled were invited to share refreshments and join Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center in celebrating these great men.

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  61. Restricted Drivers May Go to Job Interviews

    By Benjamin May, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – License restricted? You still would be able to drive to a scheduled job interview under a bill approved by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and sent to the full chamber for consideration.

    The committee Wednesday approved a bill allowing Virginians with restricted driver’s licenses to travel to and from scheduled job interviews and the Virginia Employment Commission for the purpose of seeking employment.

    Senate Bill 1148, sponsored by Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R-Montross, received a unanimous endorsement from the panel.

    Also Wednesday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed a measure that would have created harsher penalties for repeat offenders who have been convicted of drunken driving and are caught driving without a license.

    SB 958, introduced by Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr., D-Accomac, called for a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days for repeat DUI offenders driving without a license. Under the bill, the vehicle owned by the offender would have been subject to seizure and forfeiture.

    However, the committee defeated the bill, 4-9.

  62. GOP Chairman Hopes to Unite Party

    By Matt Leonard, Capital News Service

    As the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, John Whitbeck wants to unite a frayed political organization and increase its fundraising efforts.

    Whitbeck, an attorney in Loudoun County, was elected by the party’s State Central Committee at its Jan. 24 meeting in Falls Church. He ran unopposed after Aaron Wheeler, pastor of a Baptist church in Chesapeake, dropped his bid for state party chairman.

    Upon his election, Whitbeck took over immediately, saying he had long been preparing for the job.

    “As some of you know, I have already started my work on behalf of the RPV,” Whitbeck said in his acceptance speech. “In the last few weeks, I have traveled around Virginia meeting with grassroots folks, leaders in the business community and Republicans from every corner of our party.”

    From that traveling and his early days in office, Whitbeck said, two priorities emerged: party unity and fundraising.

    Whitbeck is taking the reins of a party that has at times seemed torn between mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party. He hopes the “Republican creed” will help unite these two groups.

    The creed voices support for free enterprise, frugal budgeting, a strong military and other issues popular with conservatives.

    “That’s why Dave Brat had so much support from all around the party,” Whitbeck said of the new congressman who knocked off Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in Central Virginia. “Because he campaigned simply on the Republican creed.”

    Whitbeck said winning an election is much easier with a united party, but another important factor is fundraising.

    During 2016, a presidential election year, he hopes to boost fundraising by the RPV to between $4 million and $5 million. He said fundraising fluctuates from year to year, but the party anticipates bring in about $3 million in 2015.

    As a swing state, Virginia will be an important battleground for those campaigning for president.

    The Republican National Committee “will be helping us a lot in setting up our structure in Virginia,” Whitbeck said.

    He hopes Virginia will draw a lot of big names for fundraising. Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, has already been announced as keynote speaker at the RPV Commonwealth Dinner on Feb. 24 in Richmond.

    “That is going to raise a ton of money for the party,” Whitbeck said.

    Technology will also be a key component in the party’s success in Virginia, he said. In the U.S. Senate race last fall, Republican nominee Ed Gillespie made effective use of technology in almost upsetting incumbent Democrat Mark Warner.

    “If you look at the exceptional campaign run by Gillespie, you had innovative digital technology being used and innovative ideas on how to use technology,” Whitbeck said.

    Whitbeck said he has already begun reaching out to donors who in the past supported Republicans like Gillespie, Bob McDonnell and George Allen.

    Pat Mullins, 77, preceded Whitbeck as party chairman. He announced his retirement just after the November election; it took effect after Whitbeck was elected.

    “We’ve had our highs and lows – winning elections and losing elections – and regardless of the outcome,” Mullins said in an email that publicly announced his retirement. “I’m more convinced than ever … that the people of Virginia and the citizens of the United States are desperately seeking consistent conservative governance.”

    Whitbeck is looking forward to the 2016 presidential race. As the new face of Virginia’s GOP, he said a financially strong RPV will be crucial in turning Virginia red after it voted twice for Barack Obama.

    “A strong RPV could’ve made the difference for Ken Cuccinelli,” Whitbeck said. “A strong RPV could’ve made the difference for Mitt Romney.”

  63. Most Virginians Say Bullying Is Serious

    By Kevin Lata, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Half of Virginians view bullying and harassment as a “very serious problem” at school, and another third think it is “somewhat serious,” according to a statewide poll.

    The Commonwealth Education Poll, conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, found that most respondents think the problem is worse today than when they were younger.

    Certain groups were more likely than others to see bullying as a very serious problem. They included minorities, women, residents of South Central Virginia and Tidewater, lower-income individuals, people with a high school education or less, and Democrats.

    Robyn McDougle, interim executive director of VCU’s Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, said people often answer these questions with their own experiences in mind. Bullying might be viewed more seriously by people who have been bullied or whose children have been bullied.

    In recent years, state officials have taken bullying more seriously.

    In 2013, the Virginia Board of Education released a report advising school districts on how to combat bullying. It defined bullying as “the systematic and chronic inflicting of physical hurt or psychological distress.”

    The General Assembly has addressed the issue as well. In 2013, for example, legislators directed school boards to include in their student codes of conduct a prohibition against bullying.

    In the current legislative session, Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, introduced a bill authorizing school principals to request a meeting with parents so they can receive bully prevention training. House Bill 1537 also sought to allow juvenile courts, at the request of the school board, to mandate that parents receive such training.

    However, on Jan. 19, a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee shelved McQuinn’s proposal.

    McDougle can understand why. She said such laws can be hard to implement: “The question becomes, what happens if the parent doesn’t comply? You can’t deny the child education.”

    Like the state, the federal government also has taken steps to curb bullying. Among other things, it has created a website called www.stopbullying.gov.

    According to the site, victims of bullying are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and academic problems. These effects can be long-lasting and even follow children into adulthood. Both youth bullies and their victims are at a greater risk for suicide-related behavior.

    Is Bullying a Serious Problem in School?

    Respondents

    Very serious

    Somewhat serious

    Not too serious

    Not at all serious

    All adults

    50%

    37%

    8%

    3%

    Whites

    44%

    41%

    9%

    3%

    Minorities

    61%

    29%

    5%

    3%

    Women

    57%

    34%

    4%

    2%

    Men

    41%

    40%

    12%

    4%

    High school education or less

    56%

    34%

    5%

    3%

    College degree or more

    43%

    43%

    9%

    2%

    Northwest Virginia

    42%

    40%

    11%

    4%

    Northern Virginia

    45%

    39%

    9%

    3%

    Western Virginia

    49%

    40%

    6%

    3%

    South Central Virginia

    56%

    34%

    6%

    1%

    Tidewater

    56%

    32%

    8%

    4%

    Family income below $50,000

    57%

    33%

    2%

    6%

    Family income $100,000 or more

    42%

    41%

    11%

    3%

    Democrats

    55%

    37%

    5%

    2%

    Republicans

    42%

    40%

    11%

    4%

     

    Source: Commonwealth Education Poll 2014-2015. It involved interviewing 806 Virginians 18 or older by telephone between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3. The poll has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. Complete results of the poll are at  www.cepi.vcu.edu/publications/polls/

  64. Obituary-Martha Moore Williams

    Martha Moore Williams, 91, of Richmond, went to be with the Lord on January 30, 2015. She was preceded in death by her son, George E. Williams, Jr.; and her husband of 72 years, George E. Williams, Sr. (John). She is survived by two daughters, Jane Denzler and husband, Richard and Cathy Carter and husband, Ernie; four grandchildren, Heather Rose (Andy), Rich Denzler, Chris Carter (Pam) and Elizabeth Meagher (Sean); and two great-grandsons, Austin and Sebastian Rose. She was preceded in death by five sisters and one brother and is survived by two sisters,  Dorothy Coleman and Betty Gregory. Mrs. Williams was a loving, caring and devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She was a member of Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church for 63 years, where she served as a Sunday School teacher and helped establish the deaf ministry.  She was known for her ministry to the deaf throughout Virginia.  Her family will receive friends on Monday, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bliley's-Staples Mill Road. There will be a private burial. A memorial service will be held 12 noon Tuesday at Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church, 2300 Dumbarton Road, Richmond, VA 23228 in the chapel, followed by a reception.

 

 

 

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