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March 2016

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, August 21, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

  1. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE TROOPER & TWO CITIZENS SHOT AT RICHMOND BUS TERMINAL

    RICHMOND, Va. – A Virginia State Police trooper has died as a result of his injuries after being shot Thursday afternoon (March 31) at the Greyhound Bus station in the 2900 block of North Boulevard in the City of Richmond.  At approximately 2:40 p.m. Thursday, Virginia State Police Trooper Chad P. Dermyer approached a male subject just inside the front doors of the bus station. During the course of talking with the male subject, the male pulled out a handgun and shot the trooper multiple times. As the male subject continued firing his weapon, two state troopers, who were nearby, returned fire. The male suspect then moved into the terminal’s restaurant.

    The shooter continued to be combative as police took him into custody and EMS crews tried to render aid to him. He was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon. His remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for autopsy and examination. State police have confirmed the male subject’s identification, but are still in the process of notifying his next of kin. His name will not be released until next of kin is formally notified. The suspect’s handgun was recovered at the scene.

    During the course of the gunfire, two adult females inside the bus terminal were also shot. Both were transported to VCU Medical Center and are being treated for of non-life threatening injuries. No other law enforcement personnel or civilians were injured in the shooting. Trooper Dermyer was among approximately a dozen state police troopers participating in a specialized training on criminal interdiction practices. They had completed the classroom instruction and were conducting field practicals at the time the shooting occurred. Trooper Dermyer’s encounter with the male subject was part of the training. Trooper Dermyer was in uniform at the time of the shooting.

    Trooper Dermyer, 37, was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon. Trooper Dermyer, a Jackson, Mich. native, graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy November 2014. His original patrol assignment was to the Chesapeake Division’s Area 46 Office, which encompasses the cities of Newport News and Hampton. He had just recently transferred to the state police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit. Prior to joining the state police, Trooper Dermyer served with the City of Newport News Police Department and the Jackson, Mich., Police Department. Trooper Dermyer also served our nation for four years with the U.S. Marine Corps. He is survived by his wife and two young children.

    The City of Richmond Police Department immediately responded to the scene to assist State Police with securing the scene, interviewing witnesses and evidence collection. Additional law enforcement resources from the FBI, ATF, US Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, and Henrico County Police responded to the scene to assist, as well.

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  2. VSP Trooper and Gunman Dead After Shooting at Richmond Greyhound Station

    According to State Police Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police trooper Chad Dermyer, 37, has died as a result of his injuries after being shot at approximately 2:40 p.m. Thursday.

    During a training exercise at the bus station, Dermyer approached a male subject just inside the front doors of the bus station and while talking with the male subject, the male pulled out a handgun and shot the trooper multiple times.

    As the male subject continued firing his weapon, two state troopers, who were nearby, returned fire. The male suspect then moved into the terminal’s restaurant. The shooter continued to be combative as police took him into custody and EMS crews tried to render aid to him. He was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon.

    Flaherty said the suspect's remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for autopsy and examination and State police have confirmed the male subject’s identification, but his name will not be released until next of kin is formally notified.

    During the course of the gunfire, two adult females inside the bus terminal were also shot and both were transported to VCU Medical Center and are being treated for of non-life threatening injuries. No other law enforcement personnel or civilians were injured in the shooting.

    "Trooper Dermyer was among approximately a dozen state police troopers participating in a specialized training on criminal interdiction practices," Flaherty said. "Trooper Dermyer’s encounter with the male subject was part of the training. Trooper Dermyer was in uniform at the time of the shooting."

    Flaherty said Dermyer was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon.

    Dermyer is a Jackson, Mich. native who graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy November 2014. Flaherty said Dermyer had recently transferred to the state police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit. Prior to joining the state police, Trooper Dermyer served with the City of Newport News Police Department and the Jackson, Mich., Police Department.

    "Trooper Dermyer also served our nation for four years with the U.S. Marine Corps," Flaherty said. "He is survived by his wife and two young children. The City of Richmond Police Department immediately responded to the scene to assist State Police with securing the scene, interviewing witnesses and evidence collection."

    Flaherty said additional law enforcement resources from the FBI, ATF, US Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, and Henrico County Police responded to the scene to assist as well and the investigation remains ongoing at this time.

    A Binghamton University press release indicates a track team member traveling to the College of William and Mary was one of the civilians injured in today's shooting.

  3. REED Is 2016 SVCC Commencement Speaker

    Martha Reed has a passion for teaching.  This passion will undoubtedly be evident in her speech to the Class of 2016 of Southside Virginia Community College at the May 14th Commencement to be held at the Christanna Campus in Alberta at 9:30 a.m.

    Reed, Assistant Professor of Biology, has been a member of the SVCC faculty for 23 years.  She teaches Anatomy and Physiology, General Biology, Basic Human Biology, Foundations of Biology and has taught Dual Enrollment and Governor’s School classes. 

    A graduate of Randolph-Macon Womans College (Phi Beta Kappa), she received her Masters degree from Virginia Tech (magna cum laude).   During her tenure, she has received many awards including 2009 Virginia Community College Association’s Faculty Showcase 2009 and 2014, 2012 NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Excellence in Teaching and the 2015 Virginia Community College Chancellor’s Award in Community Service.

    “Teaching for me is a mission and not just a job.  I have the chance to change someone’s life every day.  Teaching at a Community College as compared to a larger university gives me the opportunity to get to know my students on a more personal level,” Reed said.

    Not only does she love teaching but her students also return the love.  In student surveys, they have said, “She was helpful and helps the student when needed.  Also cares about her students.  Absolutely love her as a teacher,” and “Mrs. Reed is always willing to go out of her way to answer any questions asked.”

    Reed also has a passion for mission work and she expects her students to become involved in community service projects also.  These have included Stop Hunger Now events, March of Dimes and Alzheimer’s Walks.  She has been on three international medical mission trips to Honduras and Guatemala.  She has also helped with mission trips to South Carolina to help the Edisto Indians and workied with the homeless in Atlanta.

    She is married to Dr. David Reed, resides in Blackstone, VA,  and they have two daughters Maggie (21) and Mary Preston (16).  Besides her mission work, she enjoys cooking, gardening, walking and spending time with her family at the beach.

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  4. A Day to Honor Our Doctors

    Submitted by Matt Tavenner, CEO, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center

    Health care is always changing, brought on by scientific breakthroughs, technological advancements, government regulation and reform. But there is one constant: physicians still shoulder the ultimate responsibility for a patient’s care whether it be in the emergency room, on the operating table or in a clinic. From the days of Hippocrates, doctors held the fate of their fellow human beings in their hands – and certainly in their hearts.

    It’s why we pause on Doctors’ Day each year to thank the men and women who made the decision to travel down that long road to becoming a physician. We at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) are grateful for the 80+ physicians who work in our hospital and clinics.  

    We celebrate and honor their commitment to their field, their patients and their community. Be it a primary care doctor fresh out of residency, or a veteran surgeon who continues to hone skills by adopting the latest technology, we thank you.

    It is so easy to marvel at the almost miraculous life-saving tools that medicine employs. And just as easy to become frustrated with medicine when chronic disease, terminal illness and horrific accidents win the battle over the doctor’s most drastic life-saving measures.

    It is too easy to forget that the physician – the healer, the comforter, the saver of lives – is a human. The same doctor who was triumphant in making a diagnosis in a perplexing case has to deliver the grim prognosis to the patient and his family.

    The pediatrician who is treating a severely injured or ill child has to go home to tuck in her own little ones.

    The longtime family doctor who has watched a patient evolve from a vibrant and active lifestyle to an aging, weakened state may be facing the same dilemma with his own elderly parent.

    On March 30 we take time to thank our doctors – newcomer and veteran, primary care and specialist -- for their unwavering care to the thousands of lives we at SVRMC touch each year.

    We acknowledge their lives outside the hospital though we realize that their chosen career path often makes it difficult to separate the two worlds. We appreciate the surgeon who ventures out in the middle of the night to perform a life-saving procedure. We thank the emergency room physicians and hospitalists for the personal sacrifices they make by staffing our facilities on weekends and holidays. We are grateful to those doctors who answer emergency calls from our hospital staff and patients while out for dinner with their spouses or during a child’s birthday party.

    The physicians who serve our hospital and clinics all have their own stories to tell, tales of heroic measures inside our walls and in their community. They are all part of the SVRMC family of physicians who work with us and the other members of our health care team of professionals to provide our region with outstanding medical care.

    We are fortunate to have these men and women. Today we acknowledge their contributions, sacrifices, skills and unwavering concern for our community.

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  5. State Corporation Commission Approves Dominion's Greensville Power Station

     

     

    RICHMOND, Va., March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) today approved Dominion Virginia Power's request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to build a state-of-the-art natural gas-fired power station in Greensville County.

    "We are pleased that the SCC has granted approval for the Greensville Power Station," said Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Generation Group. "This project will ultimately bring low cost, reliable electricity to our customers while saving them $2 billion over the life of the plants' operation, in addition to providing a major economic impact and good paying jobs for Southside Virginia."

     

     

    Customers will save $2.1 billion over the life of the power station through fuel savings versus the projected cost of purchasing electricity on the open market.

    Construction is expected to begin later this year on the $1.3 billion power plant on a site that straddles the Greensville/Brunswick County line. The power station will generate 1,588 megawatts of electricity and will be built on 55 acres. It is being constructed just a few miles from Dominion's Brunswick Power Station, which is expected to be fully operational next month.

    Construction at the station will create more than 1,000 jobs and approximately 45 full-time positions once on line in 2019. In its first year of operation, the station is expected to provide as much as $8 million in property taxes for Greensville County in Southside Virginia.  During the development and construction phase, the project will provide direct and indirect economic benefits to the Commonwealth of approximately $474 million, which supports on average approximately 460 jobs annually.

    "Greensville County will recognize significant benefits from the construction of the Greensville Power Station," said Peggy R. Wiley, Chairman of the Greensville County Board of Supervisors. "The impact on our economy, jobs and businesses in the region will help this community, and we look forward to working cooperatively with Dominion Virginia Power."

    The station will have low carbon intensity because it utilizes clean-burning natural gas, combined cycle technology and best available control technology to reduce emissions. It will also have lower water usage that will minimize the impact to rivers and streams. Dominion customers will also benefit from a reduction of Dominion's overall carbon intensity.

    Greensville Power Station is part of Dominion's plan for meeting demanding new air quality and proposed carbon dioxide emissions standards while keeping up with growing customer demand for energy. While there are no immediate plans for a solar facility in Brunswick or Greensville counties, solar is already part of the conditional use permit for this property.

    Dominion also sought recovery of its financing costs and funds used during construction through a rate rider that would become effective on April 1, 2016. It is estimated that the proposed Rider GV would increase the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity by 75 cents. According to published reports, this rate rider was approved and the rate increase will take effect the day after tomorrow.

    The Sierra Club has expressed concern over the environmental and financial impact of the project and issued a Statement on the SCC approval of Greensville Gas Plant from Glen Besa, the Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter: The State Corporation Commission decision today proves that there really is no electricity rate freeze. The SCC just allowed Dominion to raise our electricity rates and increase carbon pollution for a power plant we don't need. 

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  6. LANE CLOSURES TO BEGIN ON I-95 BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT OVER THE MEHERRIN RIVER

    Scheduled lane closures to start next week

    EMPORIA – As contractor crews prepare to demolish, remove and replace the existing two bridges over the Meherrin River on I-95, alternating, single-lane closures in the southbound direction on I-95 beginning Monday April 4, at 6:30 a.m. and continue for six weeks.

    Subsequent weekly lane closures will start north of the Exit 11 (Route 58) ramp, on Sundays from 6:30 p.m. through Fridays 5:00 a.m. to allow crews to widen shoulders and install barrier wall. Portable changeable message signs are in place to alert motorists of the weekly lane closures.

    The I-95 Bridge Replacement Project has been underway since January 2016 and is scheduled for completion in October 2019. The project will replace the two bridges, to include realignment of the south bridge and installation of storm water facilities. 

    There will be intermittent traffic shifts and single-lane closures throughout the duration of the project. For the majority of the project, two lanes of traffic will be maintained. To learn more, please visit http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/i95_bridge_replacement.asp

    Motorists are encouraged to visit www.va511.org, call 511, listen to Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) 1680 AM or call the Traffic Information Line at 757-361-3016 for current traffic and travel information. 

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  7. Sussex Residents Come Together for Tornado Survivor

    Left to Right:  Rufus Tyler, Jr., Charlie Caple, Jr., Rufus Tyler, Sr., Alton Owen, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Trenika Stringfield, Ann Dix. 

    The Improvement Association’s Head Start parent, Trenika Stringfield, lost her son, boyfriend, brother, and most of her personal belongings, including her vehicle, in the tornado that struck Waverly last month. Since then, The Improvement Association and several other community and state organizations have pulled together to help Ms. Stringfield try to put the pieces of her life back together and continue moving toward self–sufficiency. Ms. Stringfield is a student at John Tyler Community College pursuing her RN license and she stated that “I just want to finish school.” 

    In efforts to assist Ms. Stringfield in accomplishing her goal, Owen Ford in Jarratt, Virginia donated a 2005 white Buick Rendezvous with one year of service. “We are thankful to be a part of this and you won’t have anything to worry about for a year,” said Alton Owen. Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (Pastor Logan Tatum) donated $1,000 to assist with insuring the vehicle for at least 6months. The Virginia Head Start Association also sent a donation to help cover expenses to ensure that Ms. Stringfield is worry free with transportation to and from college.

    Rufus Tyler, Sr., the Executive Director at The Improvement Association orchestrated this special gift for Ms. Stringfield along with Delegate Roslyn Tyler. “Our mission at The Improvement Association is to move families toward self-sufficiency. Ms. Stringfield has shown amazing strength through surviving the tornado and losing her loved ones. Her main goal is to finish her education and our staff is committed to helping her do so.”

    “I just really want to say that in the whole tragedy, I have been blessed that God has been with us. People from all around the world have reached out to support us and I want to say thank you,” said Ms. Stringfield

    Head Start is a nationally recognized pre-school initiative that prepares children academically, socially, physically, and emotionally for Kindergarten and life-long learning. Parents are also provided the opportunity to further their education, obtain employment skills/resources, learn about their child’s development, and become more self-sufficient. To learn more about how you can participate in The Improvement Association’s Head Start initiative, contact our office at 434-634-2490.

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  8. Nurse Career Fair Set for April 13

    SOUTH HILL, VA– VCU Health CMH will be hosting a Nurse Career Fair on Wednesday, April 13 from 10:00AM – 7:00PM at the CMH Education Center located at 125 Buena Vista Circle in South Hill.

    As VCU Health CMH grows, so does the need for dedicated nurses.  Nursing opportunities for new and experienced nurses may be available in:  Medical-Surgical, Emergency, Oncology, Surgical Services, Long Term Care, Cardiac Intensive Care, Home Health/Hospice, Labor & Delivery (with completion of the new hospital that is currently under construction).

    To learn more about nursing at VCU Health CMH, or to view and apply for current opportunities, visit vcuhealth.org/careers/start-your-career-search or contact Terri Coker at 434-447-3151, ext. 3471 or terri.coker@vcuhealth.org.

    At VCU Health CMH, we are building a healthier community, together.

    Picture Caption: (Left to Right) VCU Health CMH Registered Nurses, Lovellah Ballesteros, Michael Gallagher and Hope Alexander, are excited for other dedicated nurses to join the VCU Health CMH team.

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  9. Belfield Elementary Students Need Your Help to Succeed!

    Neighbors, my name is Mary Geist and I'm the librarian at Belfield Elementary School.  I would like to ask for your help with our DonorsChoose project.  Only $295 will get us to our goal and start setting up our Belfield FABLAB, a Makerspace for math, science and art, learning and building, creativity and collaboration. Please give now so that this year's fifth graders will get to join the Maker Movement. Click this link: Help our school join the Maker Movement to donate, or call me at Belfield Elementary (434-634-5566) to learn how your donation will help our students succeed. Thanks so much!

  10. Obituary-Billy Pat Rosseau

    Billy Pat Rosseau, USA-Ret, 93 of Emporia, departed this life surrounded by his family after an extended illness at his home near Purdy, Virginia. He is survived by his wife of 68 years Evelyn Wiley Rosseau and their children, daughters Brenda Rosseau , Pam Reilly and husband Joe of Williamsburg, son William Patrick Rosseau of Emporia, and grandsons Holden Rosseau of Greenville, NC and Brandon Rosseau of Jarratt, Virginia. His parents and siblings predeceased him by many years.

    Born in Richlands, Virginia, November 18, 1922 to Charles Baltzell and Olivia Hurt Rosseau the youngest of their five children, Bill grew up in the Williamsburg area, his father an early employee of the Restoration. He graduated from Matthew Whaley High School and attended the Apprentice School training as a shipwright in Newport News during the early years of WWII. Joining the Army Air Corps in 1943, he trained as a flight engineer on the B-17 Flying Fortress returning to the Pennisula to finish his apprenticeship at the end of the war. There he met his future wife Evelyn, a nursing student at Riverside Hospital. They married in December of 1947 and moved to Williamsburg where he attended the College of William and Mary. Serving in the National Guard he re-entered the Army in 1950 and was deployed to  Korea in 1952. Billy remained in the Army serving in the Ordinance Corps on the Sergeant Missile Project in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Fort Sill, Oklahoma and in Germany. He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer - 4 in August of 1968. Billy and his family moved to his wife’s childhood home outside of Emporia, Virginia building a home for his family. There he took up farming - a life-long dream and golf - a life-long passion. He loved the outdoors, his family, his country and his church. A member and former presiding elder of Aberdour Presbyterian Church his smile and gentle spirit will be missed.

    Services will be held at Owen Funeral Home, Jarratt, Virginia, 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 29th .  Visitation with the family will be one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at Aberdour Presbyterian Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Aberdour Presbyterian Church, 702 Allen Rd., Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com

  11. GCWSA TO SMOKE TESTING SANITARY SEWERS

    NOTICE

    TO ALL GCWSA SEWER CUSTOMERS

    SMOKE TESTING SANITARY SEWERS

    The Greensville County Water & Sewer Authority Maintenance crews will be conducting a smoke test of sanitary sewers of the Authority’s system in All areas of JARRATT and the 301 North Sewer System to the OTTERDAM SWAMP area from Monday, March 28th through Friday, April 1St. The test will assist Greensville County Water & Sewer Authority in locating brakes and defects in the sewer system. During the test, you might see smoke coming from vent stacks on buildings and from manholes and holes in the ground. DO NOT BE ALARMED. The smoke has a mild to no odor and is non-toxic, non-staining, and does not create a fire hazard and will dissipate in a few minutes.

    Before the Authority conducts the smoke test, please make sure there is water in all of your traps and floor drains and any unused sink and showers. If this is not done, smoke could enter your building through the drain. If you have dogs, birds, or other pets that will be confined alone in the building during the test, make plans for them in case the smoke comes in your house so it does not startle them.

    If smoke should enter your building during the test, it probably means there are defects in the plumbing that could allow DANGEROUS SEWER GAS to enter. Note the location of where the smoke is coming from and if you cannot determine the problem, call your plumbing inspector or plumber to get the problem corrected. OPEN ALL DOORS AND WINDOWS TO VENTILATE ANY SMOKE THAT ENTERS THE BUILDING.

    Please notify us before we conduct the test if you have any of the following situations:

    • A person who will be alone and is invalid or sleeping during the test.
    • Any individuals with respiratory problems who will be in the building.
    • Elderly persons who will be alone and might be alarmed or confused if they see smoke.

    If you have any of these situations or have questions regarding the smoke test, please feel free to call the office at (434)-348-4213.

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  12. VCU Health CMH Earns ACR Accreditation in Mammography

    South Hill, VA— VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation in mammography as the result of a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Mammography is a specific type of imaging test that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

    The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Parameters and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report that can be used for continuous practice improvement.

    The ACR, founded in 1924, is a professional medical society dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care. The College serves more than 37,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

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  13. Epilepsy Awareness Day in Emporia

    The Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia (EFVA) is organizing an Epilepsy Awareness Day on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 A.M. at the Fire House in Emporia, located at 209 Halifax St. Emporia, VA 23847. During the event, health workers will explain how to handle seizures and how to prevent epilepsy among children. Other professional staff will be available to answer questions from the audience. This event is open to everybody: teachers, parents, social workers, paramedics, etc.

    For more information about this event, you can call (757) 968 1224 or (804) 549 9875, and by email: efva.fc@gmail.com.

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  14. New Census Bureau Population Estimates Pinpoint Fastest-Growing Counties and County Equivalents in Virginia

    The U.S. Census Bureau reported today on where the heaviest population growth in Virginia was concentrated last year.

    The fastest-growing county or county equivalent in Virginia between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, was Loudoun County, whose population rose 3.3 percent over the period. Loudoun County was followed by Falls Church (3.0 percent), Greensville County (3.0 percent), Charlottesville (2.1 percent) and New Kent County (2.0 percent).

    With respect to numerical growth, Loudoun County added 12,135 people over the period, more than any other county in the state. It was followed by Prince William County, which grew by 6,715 people, Richmond (3,379 people), Fairfax County (3,189 people) and Chesterfield County (3,094 people).   

    Fairfax County is the most populous county in Virginia, with 1,142,234 residents, followed by county equivalent Virginia Beach and Prince William County.

    This information is based on annual population estimates for each of the nation’s counties, county equivalents, metropolitan statistical areas, and micropolitan statistical areas since the 2010 Census and up to July 1, 2015. Internet tables are available showing rankings and components of population change (births, deaths, migration).

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  15. WARNER & KAINE CALL FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO COMBAT DRUG ABUSE

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have called on Senate appropriators to increase federal funding to address the nation’s prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.  As the Senate Appropriations Committee drafts its FY 2017 spending proposals, Warner and Kaine joined 20 Senators from both sides of the aisle to express strong support for effective drug prevention and treatment programs that will save lives, reunite families and strengthen communities. 

    “As you consider spending priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2017, we are writing to request the highest possible funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant – a critical program distributed to all States that supports lifesaving substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services,” the Senators wrote. “In our view, the scope of this epidemic requires our continued focus and attention, and stemming its tide requires sufficient federal resources to help support state and local efforts.”

    Warner and Kaine have supported legislation at the federal level to strengthen prevention efforts and help prevent opioid overdose deaths, which outnumbered car accident fatalities in Virginia in 2014. Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill introduced by Kaine that would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and make naloxone more widely available in federal health settings.

    Full text of the letter:

    Dear Chairmen Cochran and Blunt, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, and Ranking Member Murray,

    Thank you for your leadership to address the nation’s prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.  As you consider spending priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2017, we are writing to request the highest possible funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant – a critical program distributed to all States that supports lifesaving substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services.   

    As you know, the nation is in the midst of an opioid abuse crisis.  The number of Americans aged 12 or older using opioids non-medically has reached approximately 4.5 million (SAMHSA, 2015).  Individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to be addicted to heroin, and prior prescription drug use appears to have been a common initial step on the pathway to heroin addiction, with 80 percent of new heroin users previously misusing prescription opioids (CDC 2015; SAMHSA 2013).  As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that over the last 10 years, heroin use has more than doubled among young adults ages 18 to 25.  Further, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there was a 6-fold increase in the total number of heroin-related overdose deaths from 2001 to 2014.  According to the CDC, in 2014, prescription opioid misuse and heroin addiction resulted in a total of 28,647 deaths.

    The opioid abuse epidemic has also placed incredible pressures on our nation’s substance use disorder treatment system.  Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data System (TEDS) show that in 2012, nearly one-third of all treatment admissions were for prescription opioids or heroin, up from 14.9 percent in 1992.  According to the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), 39 States reported increases in treatment admissions for heroin during the past year (NASADAD, 2015).  Further, according to SAMHSA, admissions to treatment for opioid pain relievers increased by a staggering 500 percent from 2000 to 2012.  It is clear that more must be done to support effective treatment and prevention programs.  

    The SAPT Block Grant, distributed to all States and Territories, provided treatment services for almost 2 million Americans in FY 2014.  In FY 2015, of clients discharged from treatment, over 72 percent were abstinent from illicit drugs and more than 83 percent were abstinent from alcohol.  The prevention funds included in the SAPT Block grant represent 70 percent of primary prevention funding managed by State substance abuse agencies. While the nation continues to grapple with an opioid abuse crisis of growing proportions, over the past 10 years, SAPT Block Grant funding has not kept up with inflation, resulting in a significant decrease in actual funding.    

    We were pleased to see included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 a significant increase in funding for prevention and treatment initiatives related to addressing opioid abuse.  In our view, the scope of this epidemic requires our continued focus and attention, and stemming its tide requires sufficient federal resources to help support state and local efforts.  As work moves forward on appropriations for FY 2017, we urge you to maintain the highest possible level of funding for the SAPT Block Grant.  While we understand the current constraints on federal spending, we strongly support sensible investments in effective prevention and treatment programs that will save lives, reunite families and strengthen communities.  Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

  16. Activists Are Teed Off at Dominion’s Gift to Environmental Official

    By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – A score of environmental activists practiced their putting Wednesday outside the headquarters of the state Department of Environmental Quality, highlighting the recent controversy over Dominion Virginia Power’s paying for DEQ Director David Paylor’s trip to the Masters golf tournament in 2013.

    The protesters, dressed in golf attire, displayed a Masters-inspired banner that read “Dominion & DEQ, a tradition unlike any other.” Meanwhile, other protest members boarded golf carts, shuttling between the DEQ office and Dominion’s headquarters several blocks away.

    On March 14, WAMU, a public radio station in Washington, reported that Dominion paid for Paylor to attend the Masters Tournament on April 13-14, 2013, in Augusta, Ga. On his financial disclosure statement filed with the secretary of the commonwealth, Paylor estimated the trip’s value at $2,370.

    Neither DEQ nor Dominion intervened in connection with the protest event that lasted for several hours Wednesday morning.

    “There was some activity in front of the building today. It did not cause any disruption,” said DEQ spokesperson Bill Hayden. “We really don’t have much to say other than to reiterate that Mr. Paylor’s golf trip had nothing to do with the Dominion permits that were recently issued.”

    But the protesters disagree.

    “Virginia’s top environmental regulator should never have considered accepting gifts, let alone a golf vacation, from Virginia’s top polluter,” said Drew Gallagher, field organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

    Over the past few months, the approval of two DEQ permits that would allow Dominion to discharge treated water from coal ash ponds into the Potomac and James rivers has drawn opposition from environmental groups, concerned citizens and some state legislators.

    The disclosure of Paylor’s 2013 trip to the Masters has become a focal point for environmentalists who perceive the approval of the coal ash permits as an indicator of the influence Dominion has over politicians and regulators alike.

    “I think what people see is business as usual – Dominion proposes something, and they get it despite massive overwhelming opposition,” Gallagher said.

    Gallagher went on to explain the inspiration for the satirical, golf-themed protest. He cited the sit-in demonstration earlier this month when 17 students from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition were arrested after occupying the DEQ lobby for three hours.

    “We have seen several arrestable actions recently, where people have been willing to put their body in harm’s way to highlight what they see as a flawed process,” Gallagher said.

    “That’s certainly an important part of effecting change, but sometimes people need to have a smile and a laugh. We thought that it would be good to take (the issue) in a lighter direction.”

    Paylor has declined to comment specifically on the WAMU story. However, in an earlier statement, he said, “The people who work at DEQ take their environmental stewardship obligations seriously, and recent accusations against DEQ’s integrity are baseless.

    “The quality of Virginia’s rivers and streams has improved dramatically over the years. DEQ will continue to write and enforce permits that protect Virginia’s environment in the consistent, thorough and responsible manner that Virginians deserve.”

  17. Job Fair Coming to Emporia

    A Job Fair will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia.  The Fair is free and open to the public. 

    Dress to impress, bring résumés, a photo ID, and copy of WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate.  The WorkKeys certificate will get you in the door at 1:45 p.m.

    Southside Virginia Community College Workforce Development and Student Development Services is partnering with Crater Business Services Team to sponsor this Regional Job Fair to serve employers in our locality.  Employers who are interested and have job vacancies should reserve a booth for this event by April 6, 2016.  Employers who reserve a booth will be treated to a luncheon at 12:30 p.m.  Contact Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026 or angela.mcclintock@southside .edu for reserving a booth.

    Elevate Virginia also sponsors this event.  Need a job; this is the place to be on April 13.

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  18. KAINE STATEMENT ON THE ATTACKS IN BRUSSELS

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement today on the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium:

    “Acts of terror have once again taken the lives of too many innocent people and brought a bustling capital to a halt. My heart goes out to the people of Belgium and I offer my strongest support to the Belgian and international authorities working around the clock to find those responsible for these horrific acts and to eliminate any additional threats. The attackers must be captured and held to account for the murder of innocent civilians.

    “From today’s attacks in Belgium to the recent attacks in Turkey and Ivory Coast, it’s clear that ISIL and other terrorist organizations remain a serious threat to the daily lives of many around the world. These attacks underscore the need for increased intelligence and security coordination among all nations to root out extremist violence and to fight back against those who seek to inflict harm on civilians.”

    “Just last week I met with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Denise Bauer to talk about the threats facing Europe, including from foreign fighters joining ISIL and returning to their home countries. We stand united with Belgium in confronting and defeating this threat.”

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  19. VIRGINIANS REMINDED TO ALWAYS BE ALERT TO SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

    RICHMOND, Va. – In the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, Virginians are being reminded of their continuing role in helping protect our Commonwealth and nation. The Virginia State Police echoes the U.S. State Department’s statements that at present, there is no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in Virginia or the United States.

    “Vigilance is essential in detecting and deterring suspicious activity of all kinds within our communities,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The Virginia State Police is always committed to working closely with our local, state and federal public safety partners in protecting those living, working and visiting our Commonwealth. But, we can’t do it alone. Therefore, we are simply reminding our citizens to maintain a level of awareness and report any suspicious activity you might find alarming or of concern.”

    In 2013, the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and National Capital Region (NCR) law enforcement launched the “See Something. Send Something.” mobile reporting app for suspicious activity. The Smartphone application enables concerned citizens to notify law enforcement of criminal activity by simply snapping and sending a photo or texting a message. The mobile App is available for download to the public free of charge. To see how it works, a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) is available on the Virginia State Police YouTube page.

    In addition, Virginians traveling across the Commonwealth can expect to see overhead message boards advising motorists to, “Report any suspicious activity. Dial #77.” Dialing #77 on a cellular phone connects a caller with the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the travel advisory will run statewide through Thursday (March 24).

    NOTE:To report an emergency, please still dial 911 or #77.

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  20. Virginia’s Community Colleges to Locate Shared Services Center in Botetourt County

    RICHMOND – Virginia’s Community Colleges will open a shared services center in Botetourt County in July, 2016. The center, located at 147 Daleville Drive, was selected from among eight possibilities considered during a competitive bid process. The shared services center is a central component of a longer-term VCCS effort to increase efficiency by removing administrative burdens from Virginia’s 23 community colleges and the Richmond-based system office. The decision was announced, and the lease formally signed, during the regular March meeting of the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges.

    A few dozen people are expected to work at the shared services center when operations begin this summer. That number is expected to increase as operations and services are phased into the center. The facility is capable of housing nearly 200 employees.

    “This shared services center is an important part of our work in keeping faith with our students and taxpayers,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Increasing our efficiencies with regard to backroom functions means that we can direct more resources to the tools and strategies that directly touch our students and contribute to their success. We’re also excited to locate this facility in rural Virginia. We’re convinced that the many benefits of the region, especially its workforce, will make this center a success.”

    Jack Leffel, Chair of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors said, “The addition of the Virginia Community College System Service Center to our county is simply enormous. This will not only provide for savings to the system but also provide jobs for the local community.”  County Administrator, Gary Larrowe said, “Botetourt is working hard to deliberately identify opportunities that will allow all sectors of our community to be successful. The addition of the VCCS jobs will allow for additional growth and thus helps all of us in the Roanoke Region.” He went on to say, “We look forward to a long and lasting relationship with VCCS in Botetourt.” 

    Virginia’s Community Colleges are pursuing a shared services approach to its administrative processes after internal research indicated that moving some of those processes into a collaborative shared-services environment would increase the organization’s efficiency. The VCCS shared services center will be phased into operations with the goal of providing service to every Virginia community college and the VCCS system office in Richmond. 

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  21. Belfield Business District Meeting Canceled

    Business owners in the Belfield Business District were notified via e-mail late Tuesday afternoon that the meeting that the City had scheduled was canceled.  No reason was given for the cancelation.  The full text of the e-mail is below:

    All,
    The meeting in Belfield has been cancelled for Wednesday, March 23, 2016.  Thank you for understanding.  Please call if you have any concerns.
    Thanks,
    Jan

    To date, Emporia News has still not been granted access to the plans for the improvements on South Main Street or Halifax Street.  The contact person for access to those plans has changed, yet again, and e-mails to this contact have not been returned.

    Calls to City of Emporia Mayor Mary Person have also not been returned.

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  22. Virginia to Practice Tornado Safety and Test Warning Systems During Tornado Drill March 22

    RICHMOND, Va. — The Feb. 24 severe storm system that spawned eight tornadoes, caused five deaths and inflicted damage to more than 400 structures provided a stark reminder that tornadoes occur in Virginia. On Tuesday, March 22 at 9:45 a.m., the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS) will hold the statewide tornado drill, which is an annual effort to prepare citizens for tornado emergencies and test public warning systems.

    Last month, "many areas of the state were under a tornado warning, and some had to quickly get themselves, their families and co-workers to safety,” said State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “But an actual tornado warning isn’t the time to figure out where you should go or what to do to stay safe. We’re encouraging schools, employers and individuals to use the statewide drill on March 22 as an opportunity to test their tornado emergency procedures.”

    The drill will start at approximately 9:45 a.m. with a test tornado warning sent by the NWS to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radios. NOAA Weather Radios will sound a tone alert and show a test message (or flash to indicate a message) to simulate what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.

    “The deadly tornado outbreak on Feb. 24 was a reminder to all Virginians that tornadoes can occur any month of the year. When a tornado watch is issued for your area, you should prepare to seek safe shelter. If a tornado warning is issued for your location, seek shelter immediately,” said Bill Sammler of the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

    Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but participants can learn more and show their support by signing up at www.ReadyVirginia.gov. In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up for the drill.

    The City of Emporia will sound the Tornado Siren as part of this statewide drill.  The Tornado Siren will sound steadily for 3-5 minutes.  In a real emergency, this long siren will sound repeatedly.

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  23. Emporia Native George Brasswell to Sepak About New Book

    There are 2.3 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 400 million Buddhists, 14 million Jews, and 15 million Mormons around the globe. To read about their beliefs and practices is one thing. To go to their worship places and engage them is another. Come with the author to Iran to hear fiery sermons by ayatollahs in the mosques and to see the male worshipers beating their chests and crying and to Muslim women's prayer meetings in homes and at Saints' tombs as the veiled women cry for liberation. Come with the author in America to Hindu temples where followers worship before the deity Krishna chanting his name 16,000 times and worship before the symbol of a lotus flower out of which sprouts the Christian cross. Visit a Buddhist temple whose leader is a saffron robed monk from Sri Lanka who leads Americans in meditation before a golden statue of Buddha. Visit a Muslim mosque, a Jewish synagogue, a Baha'i center, a Moonie church, and a Mormon complex. Reading this book will make one feel one has traveled to India, Iran, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East. In reality their followers are next door neighbors. They are among your physicians, lawyers, merchants, and educators. George W. Braswell, Jr. D.D., D Min., Ph.D. has degrees from Wake Forest University, Yale University Divinity School, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Braswell’s were the first missionaries of the Southern Baptist Convention to Iran. He served on the Faculty of Islamic Theology of the University of Teheran. He retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Missions and World Religions from Southeastern Seminary. He now serves as Senior Professor of World Religions and Founding Director of the World Religions and Global Cultures Center of Campbell University Divinity School. Among his nine books on world religions and Iran are Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power; What You Need To Know About Islam and Muslims; andUnderstanding World Religions.

    Dr. George W. Braswell, Jr. will be preaching and speaking about his new book at Main Street Baptist Church on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at the 11:00 AM Worship Service. There will be a book signing after the service, with proceeds of the book benefiting the Braswell Scholarship Fund at Main Street Baptist Church.

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  24. VCU Falls to Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament

    By Bryant Drayton and Sarah King, Capital News Service

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Defeated, but not without a fight, VCU’s Cinderella run was halted at the hands of Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Chesapeake Bay Arena here.

    The 85-81 loss in front of a 14,000-deep OU crowd was a tale of two halves for VCU, as the Rams had a nightmarish start that led to a halftime deficit of 44-31. But VCU held Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield to just seven first-half points.

    “I think he just missed shots,” said senior Melvin Johnson. “In the beginning of the game, Korey (Billbury) and Jordan (Burgess) did a good job arriving on the catch, forcing him to take some tough shots.”

    The Sooners capitalized on a smaller VCU front court to start the contest, out-rebounding VCU 25-13 in the first half.

    The turning point of the contest came when head coach Will Wade decided to give two reserves – sophomore Mike Gilmore and junior Doug Brooks – a chance to make their presence known. The pair brought scrappy play, silencing the OU crowd with 3-point shots and pesky defense.

    “I just wanted to give us a spark,” Gilmore said. “I just wanted to keep this thing going for as long as I could.”

    Gilmore attributed his early play, then long run on the bench, this season to being passive and not ready to shoot the ball. He said he wanted to go in and fire at will, knowing he could knock down the key shots VCU needed to keep pace with OU.

    “We came back fighting; we had them on their heels the whole game,” Brooks said. “Basically we were out there just trying to play for each other and play for our seniors.”

    In his last performance wearing a VCU uniform, Johnson did all he could to keep his team alive. The Bronx native tallied 23 points, knocking down five big 3-pointers that brought the game back to VCU.

    “I think I had a pretty good career – a roller-coaster ride,” Johnson said. “But just coming into this year, I really blocked all distractions, really locked in.”

    Johnson was adamantly positive about the play of junior guard JeQuan Lewis, saying it’s Lewis’ team now and he expects him to get the team back to the NCAA Tournament next year and to go even further.

    “I just told JeQuan in the locker room, ‘Please keep working,’” Johnson said. “He’s a big-time player, as you can see. Next year he’s going to be extremely dangerous when he has the green light.”

    Lewis recorded his second consecutive 20-point outing in the Big Dance. The up-tempo guard registered 22 points on 9-15 shooting. He also had nine assists to add to the eight he had in the win against Oregon State.

    Lewis did it all for VCU in Sunday’s loss. Matched up with Jordan Woodward and Isaiah Cousins, two big guards for OU, Lewis held his own and was the catalyst behind the 14-point comeback in the second half that found VCU with its first lead of the game with eight minutes to play.

    “When we came out in the first half, we were a little slow and going with the motions,” Lewis said. “But in the second half, we didn’t come here to lose, so we had it in the front of our minds that we’re going to put up a fight.”

    No doubt VCU put up a well-fought match for what many considered an easy OU win. But the Sooners’ Hield was just a different breed.

    After recovering from just seven first half points, Hield, a senior from the Bahamas, rattled off 29 second-half points to lead his team to a win.

    “He’s just a phenomenal player – the best player I’ve seen in college basketball,” Wade said.

    As soon as VCU found a way to get back into the contest, Hieldhit a 3-pointer to silence the run and put a dagger in the hearts of the Ram fans that came out in support of their team in Oklahoma City.

    The Rams out-scored OU in the second half 50-41, but missed costly free throws at the end of the game, resulting in the narrow victory for OU.

    “I think this is the best one because it means a lot, because it’s the NCAA Tournament – big stage, win or go home,” Hield said when asked where this game ranked for him. “And you don’t get these moments back every time.”

    The Rams end the season 25-11 and co-champions of the Atlantic 10 division, in a year they were picked to finish fifth in the A-10. The season may have officially ended, but the legacy of Johnson and the play of his fellow senior Billbury will be a story for the ages.

    “I just came here having faith hoping everything will work out,” Billbury said. “I got more than what I expected, and I just can’t thank everyone enough for supporting me. It’s been crazy; it’s been a real nice ride.”

    Wade expressed his gratitude for the resilient play of his team this season, saying Sunday’s comeback performance was indicative of the mindset the Rams have portrayed all year.

    The game ended in a loss, but the team battled at the face of adversity. In front of a dominant OU crowd, VCU flexed its muscles, granting Sooner fans a moment to exhale when it was all said and done.

    “We’ve been that way all year,” Wade said. “We’ve been resilient, and we’ve always just battled, battled, battled.”

  25. First RWFD Yardsale a Success

    Roanoke Wildwood VFD & Auxiliary would like to take this time to THANK Everyone for making our first Yard Sale in 2016 held March 12th, another successful one.  It is always very encouraging to see the crowd gather as we, Volunteers for RWVFD & Auxiliary, work diligently to prepare our yard sales for opening!  It is very IMPORTANT to us that YOU, our participates, know how much we appreciate YOUR SUPPORT!

    To Everyone that made donations, delivered or picked up;  To Everyone that waited for our 9:00 opening;  To Everyone that came to search for just the right' treasure/s & bargains;  To Everyone that waited in line to check out their findings;  To Everyone that shared SMILES & Laughter while visiting with us - THANK YOU!!  It is YOUR continued SUPPORT that enables us to provide OUR Fire District with the Services deserved!!   Please mark your calendars now for our next Yard Sale scheduled for Saturday, June 4th!! We are looking forward to seeing EVERYONE again in June!!

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  26. Local Businesses Concerned Over Changes to Halifax Street

    Halifax Street Before:

     

    Halifax Street After:

    Bright and Early the morning of Thursday, 10 March, workmen showed up on Halifax Street to start “Beautifying” the street.  The first step in this “beautification” process was removing the planters that have been there for at least a decade.

    The planters, like those that were once on South Main Street, were a project undertaken by the Emporia Downtown Development Authority.  It is uncertain how the project was funded, but it is believed that the EDDA received enough donations to cover the cost of the entire project.  The only cost to the City was ongoing maintenance.  The City failed to keep their end of the bargain, failing to maintain the planters and failing to urethane the benches once a year.  While the planters on South Main became overgrown and unsightly, the business owners on Halifax Street stepped up and cared for their planters.

    Placing planters on South Main Street was not just some random act.  The planters were designed to project outward from the curb to help slow traffic. In addition to being bright spots in a business district, they were meant as a safety measure.

    Multiple Halifax Street business owners stated that they wished that the planters remain as part of the project.  According to the business owners, they were to have input on the changes to the street.  There were several meetings during the grant application process, but the business owners affected have not seen the plans for the project.  They were also not given warning before crews showed up and wrought havoc on the street and disrupted their business.

    These planters provided shade and benches.  At least one of the planters was a gathering spot for the community.  On any given pleasant day business owners, their customers and random pedestrians could be found visiting with one another.  Even after business hours, people could be found chatting on the benches.  Multiple business owners felt that the planters would have been a nice addition whatever was planned for Halifax Street.  One owner felt that the new project should build on what was already there.

    Crepe Myrtle trees and ten year old boxwoods, maintained by the businesses on the street rather than city employees, were removed and apparently given away.  The Crepe Myrtle trees were given to an unnamed farmer while the boxwoods were placed in a truck owned by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Rose.  City policy, as quoted when one business owner asked to purchase one of the benches, is that surplus City property be sold at public auction, which makes giving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of plant material away a violation of City policy.  City Administration has not commented on these allegations.

    In addition to the lack of notice and the concern over the plant material, there was concern about the lack of a schedule for the Main Street project (businesses on Halifax Street have not been made aware of the schedule for their project, either) and the loss of revenue incurred by the business on South Main Street.  The “Beautification” of South Main Street also started with the removal of planters.

    In conversations with several South Main Street business owners the next day, all but one confirmed that business was slower during the construction.  Only Faye Elliott claimed no loss of business, saying that there were days she closed early because of the noise; Mrs. Elliott added that she did not understand the concern from the neighboring businesses as they all have rear entrances, adding that about half of her business comes through the back door. 

    All of the businesses do have rear entrances, but in one case, there was no available parking behind the building and in another, customers may not have known where the rear entrance was.  There was also not enough notice to inform customers, as the businesses themselves only had one day notice before the project started.  In addition to the loss of revenue, there were awnings damaged; one business had to replace the glass in the front door after it was damaged.  To date, the damage has not been paid for.  The glass was replaced at the building owner’s expense, but the awnings have not been repaired or replaced. 

    The sidewalk on the west side of South Main Street was also improperly graded, directing water to the door of one business.  Instead of replacing the sidewalk in question to adjust the grade, a drain was added.  In a heavy downpour it is uncertain of the drain will prevent water from entering the business.

    Several months ago Emporia News asked for a copy of the rendering for the South Main Street Project.  The first response to this request was to be referred to the Assistant City Manager, Mr. Ed Daley.  Mr. Daley suggested that the renderings the City had might not duplicate well and that a digital version might be available from the architect.  After speaking with Mr. Daley on more than one occasion, the plans have still not been made available.  After the concerns on Halifax Street were aired, another e-mail was sent to the City Manager regarding, among other things, the renderings.  After that e-mail, sent on Thursday, 17 March, Emporia News was told that the plans would be available, at the Municipal Building from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.  When asked if Friday, 18 March, would work, the reply from Mr. Daley was one word: “Monday.”

    City Manager Brian Thrower was given an opportunity to respond to the concerns of the Halifax Street Businesses and the improper disposal of surplus City property, via e-mail.  Mr. Thrower has not yet responded.

    Businesses on Halifax Street were notified on Tuesday, 15 March, of a meeting to discuss the project.  This notice came days after the removal of the planters. This meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 23 March, at 5:30 pm at the Chamber of Commerce.  Some businesses owners will boycott the meeting as a form of protest, others will attend.  Nearly everyone asked felt that it was too late to have an informational meeting; especially after the damage was done.

    Update.  Emporia City Manager Brian Thrower has responded to some of the message sent to him Thursday.  After asking me to see Mr. Daley's response about photographing the plans for the projects, Mr. Thrower added this:

    "As far as the trees you reference below, it was the contractor’s responsibility to remove and dispose of them.  As far as I am aware, they were going to be hauled away as construction waste regardless."

    What is surprising to several people is that the plant  material in question and the plant material from South Main Street were not recycled into one of the many green spaces in the City.  The Boxwoods and Crepe Myrtle from Halifax Street could have been used to help hide a rather unattractive privacy fence added to the Bloom Brothers lot.  If the plant material that Mr Thrower considers "construction waste" is good enough to transplant to farms and residences in other localities, surely it would have been good enough for the median renovation on North Main Street.  On average, Boxwood the size of the plants removed cost $200 to buy new.  Just in the before photo above, there is about $1200 of "construction waste," not including the Crepe Myrtle Trees (a 12 foot Crepe Myrtle runs $215)  Even if all of these projects are grant funded, any waste of public monies is wrong.  In a time when we see our water/sewer/sanitation bills increased every year to cover shortfalls, someone should have seen the benefit of recycling plant  material to another project. If sources are correct, and these planters were donated to the City at no cost, tearing them up and disposing of the plantings as "construction waste" is like telling the businesses that donated them to "pound sand." 

    In addition to the plant material, the old granite curbs from South Main Street could have been used to create benches that had some historic significance.  There was a large pile of granite slabs in the staging lot for the South Main Street project, what happened to them?  Were they considered "construction waste" as well?

    Concern has been raised that this article could be read as accusing Mrs. Rose of wrong doing.  Quite the opposite is true.  It was never stated that Mrs. Rose actually took the material herself, but that it was given to her in seeming violation of City policy.

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  27. Ukrainian Visitors Say ‘Dyakuyu’ (Thanks!)

    By Bailey Tyler, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – At first glance, the posse of young adults seemed to be tourists, but these visitors were not here just to sightsee. They approached the Virginia State Capitol building, chatting in a language that was hard to place. One member of the group was Iryna Degtyarova.

    “We were looking around and didn’t believe that we were in America,” she said, trailing off in laughter.

    Degtyarova and her colleagues from Ukraine had traveled about 5,000 miles to visit Richmond and learn about government and education in America. The five visitors were educators and emerging political leaders who were selected to participate in Open World, a foreign exchange program funded by the U.S. Congress.

    The Ukrainian delegates spent a few days in Washington, D.C., and then a week in Richmond earlier this month, meeting with state and local officials, touring the Virginia Capitol, visiting schools and witnessing the presidential primary elections on Super Tuesday.

    The Ukrainians were hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University and community volunteers. This was the fifth year that VCU has hosted an Open World delegation, and the second year the delegates have been from Ukraine.

    The goal of the program is to bring young leaders from post-Soviet countries to the United States to expose them to American governance, democracy and free enterprise, according to FHI 360, a nonprofit group that helps administer Open World on behalf of the Library of Congress.

    During their week long stay, the Ukrainians participated in a whirlwind of activities. They:

    • Discussed primary, secondary and higher education issues with Anne Holton, Virginia’s secretary of education
    • Met with numerous legislators, including Sens. Bill Stanley and Bryce Reeves, who recognized the group during a session of the Senate
    • Toured the Virginia Capitol, the Library of Virginia and the Governor’s Mansion, where they met with first lady Dorothy McAuliffe
    • Visited the newsroom of CBS 6 (WTVR) to see how reporters covered the presidential primary elections on Super Tuesday
    • Discussed transparency in government with officials at the Virginia Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council and the Virginia Public Access Project
    • Visited Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies and Overby-Sheppard Elementary School in Richmond

    Three units at VCU collaborated in hosting the group: the Global Education Office, the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, and the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.

    Jeff South, the Robertson School’s director of undergraduate studies, said that while the Ukrainians experienced American culture, the Americans learned about Ukrainian culture.

    “I’d say it benefits VCU as much as it benefits – probably more than it benefits – the visiting delegates from other countries,” he said.

    Before coming to Richmond, the Ukrainians had an orientation in Washington, D.C. Degtyarova, a postdoctoral researcher for the Department of Law and European Integration in the National Academy of Public Administration in the city of Dnipropetrovsk, said she felt overjoyed to arrive in the United States for the first time.

    Degtyarova joined the program because she wanted to learn about American governance and higher education. She said Ukrainians and Americans have a positive relationship.

    “The United States are the great supporter in the way of reforming our lives, in every sphere,” Degtyarova said.

    Another delegate was Yuliia Epifanova, an assistant professor of civil law at V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Epifanova said her goal for the week was to learn more about America’s education system and compare it with Ukraine’s.

    “If I learn more for Ukraine, it will be great,” she said.

    The delegates spent their nights with host families, who were mostly VCU faculty – or retired faculty in the case of Steve Saltzberg. Saltzberg, the former director of the VCU Computer Center, and his wife Sheila Chandler, hosted two of the delegates: Epifanova and Nataliia Lukova-Chuiko, an associate professor of cybersecurity at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University.

    Saltzberg and Chandler have been a host family for Open World for years. Saltzberg said he appreciated that this year’s delegates were fluent in English.

    “We’ve hosted Russian, which was our biggest challenge,” Saltzberg said. “Google Translate does wonders.”

    Staying with a host family gives delegates a window into American culture, and vice versa.

    “It gives us a different view about what the planet we live on is like,” Saltzberg said. “Seeing our city, our Richmond, through their eyes gives us a different perspective about what our city is like.”

    The other Ukrainian delegates were Oksana Kozak, the press secretary to a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Yurii Khalavka, an assistant professor at Yurii Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University. The group was accompanied from Ukraine by a facilitator, Vyacheslav Zub.

    The delegation returned to Ukraine with new knowledge of the United States and experience with its people.

    The day before they left, the Ukrainians showed their appreciation to the Richmond community by preparing borscht – a thick soup made with beets – and other dishes from their homeland. At the cooking demonstration at a residence hall at VCU, Epifanova said her stay in the United States was a great experience.

    “We’ve learned, and it is something to improve Ukraine,” she said.

  28. Iasiah Stephens Wins Silver at National Indoor Track Championship

    Isaiah Stephens competed in the National Indoor Track Championship held in Landover, MD on March 12-13, 2016.  Isaiah won the Silver Medal in the shot put in his age division.  He is ranked #2 in the USA in the indoor shot put.  He also earned the title “All American”.  Isaiah is a seven-time “All American”.  His 2016 indoor track season has come to an end, but outdoor track is approaching fast.  Please continue to support Isaiah Stephens on his track journey at www.gofundme.com.

    Isaiah and his mother would like to give thanks to all for your support. Special blessings and thanks to his coaches, Les Young and Bill Cain for their time and training.

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  29. Public-Private Partnership among Commonwealth of Virginia, Microsoft and Dominion Delivers Additional Solar Energy to the State

    Public/private partnership will promote the growth of affordable solar energy

    Richmond, Va. -- Today, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT) and Dominion Virginia Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D), announced a partnership to construct a new facility and bring 20 megawatts of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia—enough energy to power 5,000 homes.

    “This agreement is a tremendous step forward in our ongoing effort to make Virginia a leader in the renewable energy economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “This partnership will help lower carbon emissions in Virginia and diversify our energy portfolio, while growing the solar and data center industries in Virginia. This is a prime example of the type of creative thinking and public-private cooperation we need to build a new Virginia economy.”

    “By investing in these projects and partnering with states and utilities, Microsoft can provide long-term certainty needed to expand the amount of renewable energy available on the grid,” said Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft. “We are pleased to play a role in this project, as it will bring new, additional clean energy onto the grid in Virginia.”

    Dominion Virginia Power will construct the facility on land it already owns in Fauquier County, adjacent to its Remington generating station.

    “This forward-looking partnership will assist us in our continued commitment to increase the renewable energy available to serve our customers in Virginia,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Resources, Inc. “Microsoft and the Commonwealth play key roles in making this large-scale solar project possible, and we look forward to working with them.”

    The project is anticipated to be in service in late 2017, subject to regulatory approval.

    Dominion committed to 400 MW of solar in Virginia by 2020. Microsoft has previously announced agreements to purchase 175 megawatts of wind energy in Illinois that fully powers their Chicago data center with wind energy and 110 MW of wind energy in Texas that powers their San Antonio data center. 

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  30. KAINE, PORTMAN, BALDWIN, CAPITO INTRODUCE BILL TO REDESIGN HIGH SCHOOL WITH GREATER CTE FOCUS

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience by making courses more relevant to students’ future careers. The bill would provide federal funding forpartnerships between school districts, employers and institutions of higher education  in Virginia and other states that integrate high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs into high schools. Recently, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation (SB 336/HB 895) championed by Governor Terry McAuliffe that will change graduation requirements to focus more heavily on career readiness and work-based learning opportunities.

    “To grow the most talented workforce in the world, we need to equip students with the skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” said Kaine. “A high school education should prepare students for any pathway they choose, whether that’s attending a four-year university, earning credentials from a community college program or getting a high-skilled job after graduation. Our bill would provide federal fundingto support schools as they redesign curriculum to incorporate impressive CTE programs like the ones I’ve visited at schools across Virginia.”

    “Far too many young people don’t have an opportunity to gain the skills and experience get a good paying job,” Portman stated. “The CTE Excellence and Equity Act would help give more high school students the opportunity to participate in high quality CTE programs that provide college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.”

    “The only way we can meet workforce readiness challenges effectively, is if we have strong public-private partnerships that are supported by a Congress working across party lines,” said Baldwin. “There is a growing belief among both parties that Career and Technical Education is one of the most effective vehicles for responding to labor market changes and the workforce readiness needs of business and industry. This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting CTE students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”

    “By promoting career and technical training in high school, we can better prepare our students for the workforce of today and the future,” said Capito. “As West Virginia continues to grapple with high unemployment, it is critical that we do everything possible to prepare our workers for the jobs of the 21st century and create an environment in West Virginia where businesses want to invest. The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is a positive step in the right direction.”

    TheCTE Excellence and Equity Act would provide federal funding through a competitive grant programto support innovative approaches to redesigningthe high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships. The bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which is expected to be considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this year.

    “There is a mismatch between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “This bipartisan legislation casts a wide net, bringing in employers, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates to make the high school experience more engaging for students and more relevant to today’s job market.”

    The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is supported by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Skills Coalition, the Society for Women Engineers and the Opportunity America Jobs and‎Career Coalition.

  31. VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month

    Photo Caption: (Left to Right)W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Mary A. Harris, Environmental Services Technician,  the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for February.  There to congratulate Mary was Todd Howell, Vice President of Professional Services and Tim Baskerville, Environmental Service Director.

    Mary has been employed at VCU Health CMH for six years.  Her dedication and work ethic are just two of the qualities that make her a wonderful asset to VCU Health CMH.  The nomination form submitted on her behalf stated, “Mary never complains, always smiles, and always left the building spotless.  That is the trait of an exemplary person.  We thank Mary for making us look good!” ”Mary has gone above and beyond to keep our building clean.”  “Mary always takes her job seriously; she is a great asset to our department.” 

    In addition to the award certificate, Mary received a STAR Service lapel pin, letter of commendation from Administration, a $40 gift certificate, and a parking place of her choice for the month.

    Tags: 

  32. Erin go Bragh, Y’all! How Irish Is Virginia?

    Capital News Service

    About one in 10 Virginians claim Irish ancestry, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s approximately the proportion for the nation as a whole.

    But the statewide average is deceptive. In some Virginia communities, the proportion of residents with Irish roots is much higher – and in other communities, it’s non-existent.

    For example, Nottoway Court House, in Southside Virginia, has a population of 78 people – and 45 of them are descended from Ireland, the Census Bureau estimates. In more than 30 communities, at least 20 percent of the residents trace their roots to Ireland.

    Here in Emporia, 240 of our 5,682 citizens, or 4.2% of the population have roots on the Emerald Isle.  No data was provided for counties.

    At the other extreme, the bureau’s data indicate that more than 50 communities in the commonwealth may have no residents with ties to Ireland.

    At the county level, Mathews and Fauquier counties have the highest percentage of residents with Irish ancestry – about 17 percent. Then come Bath and Clarke counties at around 16 percent. In contrast, about 2 percent of Petersburg’s residents can trace their background to Ireland.

    Among the 50 states, Massachusetts has the highest proportion of people with Irish ancestry – 22 percent. Virginia ranks No. 34, at 10 percent.

    In a press release for St. Patrick’s Day, the Census Bureau noted that about 11.5 percent of the population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame, claim Irish ancestry. At least 190 towns and 40 cities and counties in Virginia can top that.

    Virginia even has a town called Dublin, in Pulaski County. About 500 – or 19 percent – of its approximately 2,600 residents have Irish roots.

  33. VCU Unveils $50.8 Million Library Renovation

    By Sarah King, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – When Virginia Commonwealth University opened Cabell Library in 1970, enrollment was about 17,000 students. Forty-five years later, enrollment had doubled at the university – but the library was still the same size. As a result, VCU had less library space per student than any other university in the state.

    That changed Tuesday, when VCU President Michael Rao, Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, University Librarian John Ulmschneider and others formally presented the newly completed, $50.8 million Cabell renovation.

    “Every decision about this new building has been made with students first,” said Sue Robinson, public affairs specialist for VCU Libraries. “We've held student forums. They voted on furniture, were polled on types of workspaces they liked. We knew they were desperate for more study rooms for collaborative work.”

    Robinson said the changes include an innovative media new workshop in the library basement, with 3-D printers and other cool tools. The workshop is free and open to all students and faculty.

    The Cabell renovation-construction project, which started in December 2013, added 93,000 square feet to the facility and improved 63,000 square feet of previously existing space. The library features an expanded 3,400-square-foot Starbucks, 3,000 student seats (double the previous number) and 175 more silent study seats.

    “What we really are celebrating is the future,” Rao said during the opening ceremony of the library. “I still think of libraries as medicine for the soul.”

    To make the project happen, the university used $50.8 million in state funds and $6 million in private funds from the library’s endowment. No student tuition money was used.

    To help fund furnishings and other items not covered by the state, the Cabell Foundation, a philanthropic organization in Richmond, awarded a $1 million challenge grant to VCU Libraries. The library system will get the money if it raises $1 million in new gifts and pledges by June 30, 2017.

    In his speech at the opening ceremony, Ulmschneider indicated that more funds would be divided up. Half would go into the library’s endowment, and half would go to building stations for nursing mothers, providing accommodations for deaf people and creating an interfaith meditation area.

    “VCU has created one of the country’s most outstanding academic libraries,” Ulmschneider said.

    Robinson said the library’s busiest study months are October and April. Last October, more than 63,000 people visited Cabell in one week.

    Cabell Library is located in the physical center of VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. Over the past decade, use of the library has doubled to more than 2 million visitors a year. That is 500,000 more visits than the Library of Congress gets.

    Cabell was already the busiest academic library in Virginia, but according to Ulmschneider, use of the facility has increased by 30 percent since the new addition opened to students at the start of the academic year.

    Robinson said that according to preliminary projections, the expanded and improved Cabell Library may receive as many as 2.5 million visitors in 2016.

    “Most important thing of all is the students love it. It’s not me, it’s the students that matter, ” Ulmschneider said. “And they are filling this place like you uncorked a bottle in the water.”

  34. Obituary-Eugene F. Rae

    Eugene F. Rae died peacefully in Virginia Beach on March 1, 2016 at the age of ninety-three.  He is survived by his wife Jeanne Preston Rae, his children Eugene F. Rae Jr., Mark N. Rae and Nancy R. Delach and six grandchildren.  His first wife, Margaret Newcomb Rae, died in 2006. Eugene was born on September 9, 1922, at Meadow Bank Farm near Emporia, Virginia. He attended Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Virginia.  He served in the U.S. Army in World War II in the Pacific rising to the rank of Major.  After the war, he joined the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, where he spent his entire career and specialized in international projects, serving the company in Switzerland, Vietnam and Iran.  In retirement, he returned to Meadow Bank Farm.  He enjoyed his family, his friends, his farm, his horses and his dogs. A visitation will be held at Echols Funeral Home in Emporia, Virginia, 5:00-6:00 pm on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. A funeral service will be held at Grace Church in Purdy, Virginia at 1:00 pm on Thursday, March 10, 2016. A memorial service will be held at Galilee Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach at 2:00 pm on Friday, March 18, 2016.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Eugene’s memory to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  35. GO (Gwaltney Online)

    Gwaltney School students at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services who are discharged from Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health services prior to earning their high school diploma or GED certificate now have the opportunity to complete their education through our new GO – Gwaltney Online - program.

    Students at Gwaltney School are enrolled and withdrawn according to their individual situation.  They often arrive – or leave – in the middle of a semester.  For students nearing the age at which they may no longer attend high school, such interruptions can be damaging to their ability and desire to complete their education.

    Dr. Bowling, Director of Education, and Ms. Denise Moss, Individual Student Alternative Education Coordinator, developed GO.  Using the web-based curriculum called Odysseyware, students who have left Jackson-Feild may take elective subjects and GED preparation courses.  We mail textbooks and educational materials to participating students, and – through Odysseyware – follow their progress on a daily basis.  Ms. Moss is available via telephone to provide assistance as needed to help students understand and complete the course assignments.  When a student has completed the online GED prep course and is ready to take the test, Ms. Moss makes the arrangements for the student to take the test in his or her home locality.

    As of press time, five students have earned their GED certificate by participating in GO.  This innovative approach is only one of our many commitments to our students.  By completing their education through GO, our students are able to go out into the world and live independent, successful lives.

  36. Environmental Official Got Gifts from Dominion

    By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The water might drain from Dominion Virginia Power’s coal ash ponds, but the plot has thickened. Documents brought to light this week show that the director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, David Paylor, accepted gifts from Dominion in 2013, including a trip to the Masters golf tournament in Georgia.

    WAMU, a public radio station in Washington, reported Monday that Dominion paid for Paylor to attend the Masters Tournament on April 13-14, 2013, in Augusta, Ga. On his financial disclosure statement filed with the secretary of the commonwealth, Paylor estimated the trip’s value at $2,370.

    Dominion also paid for a $1,200 dinner for Paylor and nine other people at O’Tooles Irish Pub in Augusta on April 13, 2013, WAMU reported.

    Data from the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project confirmed that Dominion reported providing gifts to Paylor in 2013. Dominion reported spending $4,492 for Paylor and Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, to attend the Masters. Both men also were at the dinner at O’Tooles. The cost of the dinner was $1,236, Dominion’s gift disclosure said.

    Armed with this new information, environmental activists are demanding action against what they perceive as a problematic relationship between Dominion and Virginia government.

    The activists want the state to revoke permits that Paylor’s agency granted to Dominion to drain treated wastewater from the utility’s coal ash pits in Fluvanna and Prince William counties into the James and Potomac rivers. Environmental groups also are calling for an investigation into the release of untreated coal ash water into Quantico Creek last spring.

    “For months, Paylor misinformed the public about Dominion’s secretive and potentially illegal dumping of nearly 30 million gallons of untreated coal ash wastewater into Quantico Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, in May 2015,” the Chesapeake Climate Action Network alleged.

    Coal ash is the residue left over from burning coal. It is commonly stored in retaining ponds on site of coal-fueled power plants. Potentially toxic concentrations of heavy metals inherent to coal ash include arsenic and mercury.

    “Dominion’s influence over Virginia’s General Assembly has been apparent for years, but now it appears to extend to the same regulators entrusted to police the company’s pollution,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “David Paylor vacationed on Dominion’s dime while he was simultaneously entrusted with protecting the public from Dominion’s pollution. This is a stunning conflict of interest.”

    Paylor and the DEQ have declined to comment specifically on the WAMU story. However, the agency referred Capital News Service to a statement DEQ released last week after two lawsuits challenging the management of coal ash wastewater in Virginia were settled.

    “The people who work at DEQ take their environmental stewardship obligations seriously, and recent accusations against DEQ’s integrity are baseless,” Paylor said in the statement.

    “The quality of Virginia’s rivers and streams has improved dramatically over the years. DEQ will continue to write and enforce permits that protect Virginia’s environment in the consistent, thorough and responsible manner that Virginians deserve.”

    DEQ and Dominion officials maintain that the company’s plan for treating and releasing the water in the coal ash ponds is environmentally sound.

    “DEQ is pleased that Dominion has voluntarily agreed to go beyond federal and state regulatory requirements to further enhance protections for Virginia waters,” Paylor said in last week’s statement.

    “DEQ has full confidence that its discharge permits fully protect water quality, aquatic life and human health. The permits issued for Dominion’s Bremo and Possum Point power stations, like thousands of similar permits DEQ has written in the past four decades, meet strict federal and state requirements for water quality.”

    Despite such assurances, environmental activists questioned the ethics of Paylor’s acceptance of the gifts.

    “The decisions Paylor is making now will have a huge impact on the health of Virginia waterways and citizens for years to come,” Tidwell said. “How can we trust he is putting the health of Virginians above the profits of Dominion?”

    The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition also criticized the relationship between Paylor and Dominion.

    “A majority of communities, ourselves included, who organize against these environmental injustices do not have the political or monetary power to send politicians to the Masters, or pick up their bar tabs,” said Laura Cross, a student at the University of Virginia.

    Last week, 35 members of the coalition occupied the lobby of the Department of Environmental Quality in downtown Richmond for three hours, demanding a meeting with Paylor. Cross and 16 other students were arrested.

    In 2014, the General Assembly passed an ethics reform bill that limited gifts for public officials to $100. The law apparently would have prohibited the size of the gifts Paylor received from Dominion in 2013.

    Dominion officials defended the company’s practices.

    “Politics is not a spectator sport,” David Botkins, a spokesman for Dominion, told WAMU, which is based at American University. “Our employees and our company participate in [it] just like every other industry, business, nonprofit and organization out there. That’s how democracy works.” He added that “Folks who lose on the policy side will tend to throw rocks at us because of the political contribution issue. I think it’s unfair.”

    Since 2005, Dominion has contributed about $7 million to political parties, candidates, and political action committees in Virginia, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. The week before the 2016 legislative session began on Jan. 13, Dominion contributed $105,000 to Virginia political party committees – $55,000 to Republicans, $50,000 to Democrats.

    During the session, which ended last week, Sen. Scott A. Surovell, D-Fairfax, introduced a bill to require coal ash to be excavated and moved off site to landfills away from major water sources.The measure, Senate Bill 537, died in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. The vote was 7-7 vote, with Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, abstaining.

    According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Dance has received about $23,000 in campaign contributions from Dominion during her 12 years in the General Assembly.

    In January, the State Water Control Board, part of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, approved permits for Dominion to begin draining millions of gallons of treated water from coal ash ponds in Fluvanna and Prince William counties.

    Surovell was in attendance along with about 100 opponents to the permits during the vote. He said Dominion’s plan was unsettling to more than just hardcore environmentalists. “You’re not just hearing concerns from the environmental community,” the senator said. “You’re hearing concerns from major institutions saying, ‘Let’s slow this down, let’s get this right.’”

    Nissa Deanwas one of the State Water Control Board members who voted to grant the permits to Dominion. She is the Virginia director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. WAMU reported that in 2015, Dominion’s charitable foundationgave the alliance two grants – one for $25,000 and the other for $20,000.

    After the board approved Dominion’s permits, environmental groups such as the James River Association and Potomac Riverkeepers continued to protest. Represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, these groups planned to appeal the permits for the “dewatering” of coal ash ponds at the Bremo Bluff and Possum Point stations.

    Last week, the James River Association agreed not to appeal the Bremo permit after receiving assurances from Dominion that the utility will take extra steps to ensure that wastewater will contain little if any heavy metals or other hazardous chemicals. In 2015, the association received a $50,000 environmental grant from Dominion.

  37. Virginia Cooperative Extension motivates Greensville/Emporiaresidents to Get Moving! with a web-facilitated, statewide 8-week program

    By Donna Daniel, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent 

    GREENSVILLES/EMPORIA March 14, 2016 -  Most Virginians want to stay fit, be physically active, and eat a healthier diet, but have difficulty finding the time, energy, and motivation to get moving. FitEx (www.fit-ex.org) – is an 8-week physical activity program developed by Virginia Cooperative Extension.  It helps Virginians improve their exercise habits, diet, and overall quality of life in a fun and challenging way.

    Greensville/Emporia residents who are interested in FitEx or have questions about the program or are interested in signing-up should visit the website at www.fit-ex.org or contact Donna Daniel, Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent at ddaniel@vt.edu or 434-348-4223 before April 2nd (registration deadline). The program begins on April 3rd and lasts until May 28th.

    FitEx encourages all participants to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking, running, yoga, or biking on five or more days of the week. “This adds up to at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, the amount of aerobic physical activity recommended for adults by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” said Samantha Harden, Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise at Virginia Tech. Over the previous iterations of FitEx years, over 2,000 FitEx participants increased their physical activity by an average of 54 minutes per week and have eaten over 70,000 cups of fruits and vegetables per week - that’s 560,000 cups over the duration of the program!

    FitEx encourages co-workers, friends, and family members join together in teams of six. Each team has a captain who helps the group set goals for its personal achievement.

    The program also includes a nutrition component that promotes increased fruit and vegetable consumption.  Prior to participating in last year’s FitEx program, less than 30% of adult participants were meeting the national recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, but by the end of the program, well over 70% of participants were meeting the recommendations.

    About Virginia Cooperative Extension

    Virginia Cooperative Extension (www.ext.vt.edu/) brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to the people of the commonwealth. Through a system of on-campus specialists and locally based agents, it delivers education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community viability, and 4-H youth development. With a network of faculty at two universities, 107 county and city offices, 13 agricultural research and Extension centers, and six 4-H educational centers, Virginia Cooperative Extension provides solutions to the problems facing Virginians today.

     

    If you are a person with a disability and desire assistance or accommodation, please notify the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at (434) 348-4223 during business hours of Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

     

    Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

  38. Environmentalists Challenge Dominion’s Greensville Gas Power Plant

    Clean energy advocates challenged the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality today to require Dominion Virginia Power to build a solar-gas hybrid plant, if the utility is to build any power plant at all in rural Greensville County.

    “We really question the underlying need for this power plant,” said Glen Besa, Director of the Sierra Club in Virginia, “but that question is before the Virginia State Corporation Commission which has yet to decide.”

    In granting an air pollution permit, DEQ is required to determine what constitutes the “best available control technology” to limit pollution emissions. Environmentalists are calling on DEQ to require Dominion to build a solar-gas hybrid power plant to minimize the use of natural gas.  

    “Dominion can reduce costs to its customers and reduce its air pollution considerably by relying on solar and only using gas when necessary,” said Hannah Wiegard, Virginia Campaign Coordinator with Appalachian Voices.  “This would minimize the expansion of fracking as well as  the need for more infrastructure like the controversial gas pipeline Dominion is proposing.”

    “Dominion’s current plans to meet future energy needs in Virginia rely primarily on natural gas and would result in greater than a 60% increase in carbon pollution over the next 25 years,” said Monique Sullivan, Field Director with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The group opposes the construction of the plant. “If we are to meaningfully address climate change, we need to be reducing carbon pollution, not increasing it.” 

    While the environmental groups are challenging the need for the power plant before the SCC, they say that if a plant is built, the legal requirement for “best available control technology” points to the use of solar panels to reduce the use of gas.  Hybrid solar power plants have been built and are being built in Florida and New Mexico.  The declining cost of solar makes these hybrid plants competitive. In fact, in Dominion’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan, the utility concluded that solar was the most cost effective means of meeting future energy needs. 

    Evan Johns, an attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, which is representing the environmentalists in the DEQ permit proceeding said: “By Dominion’s own admission, solar is the most cost effective means of generating electricity, and we are calling on DEQ to require Dominion to reduce carbon as well as nitrogen oxides and other pollutants by minimizing gas use and using solar panels.”

    The Greensville County Power Station would be located at 2500 Rogers Road, in Greensville County, Virginia. DEQ held a hearing on the Greensville gas power plant at 6:30 PM, Wednesday, March 15, 2016 in the Greensville County Board Room, Greensville Co. Gov’t Bldg., 1781 Greensville County Circle, Emporia, VA. The public comment period on the plant is open and closes on March 31, 2016.

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  39. VCU Makes NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed

    By Bryant Drayton and Sarah King, Capital News Service

    NEW YORK — Just hours after St. Joseph’s robbed VCU of its second consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament title in a double-digit loss, the Rams had an opportunity to celebrate in Brooklyn.

    VCU’s season isn’t over yet — the Rams made the NCAA tournament for the sixth year in a row as a 10-seed on Selection Sunday, following a tough 87-74 loss to the Hawks  in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The Rams now face 7-seed Oregon State on Friday in Oklahoma City.

    “We feel a lot better even though the loss is still kind of fresh,” said senior and Oklahoma native Korey Billbury. “I’m excited to get back and play in front of my home town.”

    Billbury’s tone was markedly different after the team learned they were an automatic bid in the tournament than just hours prior after the A-10 championship loss.

    The transfer player was one of the Rams’ prime offensive assets against St. Joe’s, registering 19 points and a spot on the A-10 All-Championship Team.

    “We knew what we were supposed to do,” Billbury said after Sunday’s final game. “It wasn’t them, it was us.”

    First-year head coach Will Wade was confident his team would make it to the tournament, even just minutes after the loss in the A-10 final, but said he was thrilled to know the team would be competing in Oklahoma next week.

    “Give our guys credit they rallied,” Wade said. “Korey came to us for one season now he gets to play in the tournament in his home state.”

    While for Billbury, the first round of the NCAA tournament signifies a homecoming and for Wade, a big moment as a first-year coach -- it is perhaps most symbolic for senior Melvin Johnson, who will be competing in his fourth-straight NCAA tournament.

    “Hearing our name called, guys were excited and smiling again,” Johnson said. “It’s a relief to see our name up there as an automatic bid. You have to be really fortunate to be in this position.”

    Former head coach Shaka Smart’s team, 6-seed the University of Texas Austin, will also be competing in Oklahoma City on Friday against 11-seed Northern Iowa — meaning if VCU and Texas were to brush paths it could potentially happen in a Sweet 16 matchup.

    In the meantime, the Rams are preparing one day at a time. Wade said the team will be sure to get some well deserved rest before turning its attention to March Madness.

    “It’s nothing special as the way you prepare,” Johnson said. “It’s not like it’s the World Series. It’s just big time basketball.”

    Oregon State finished 19-12 on the season and Beavers return to the tournament after a 26 year hiatus from being selected.

    “They are a good team, we will need to play well but we are excited about the opportunity,” Wade said.

  40. Smoking in a Car With Kids Soon May Be Illegal

    By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – If the governor adds his signature, Virginians could be fined $100 for smoking in a car in the presence of children.

    The Senate joined the House by giving final approval to a bill that would make smoking in a motor vehicle with passengers younger than 8 a violation punishable by a civil penalty of $100.

    The violation would be a secondary offense, meaning it would affect only individuals who have already been pulled over by police for a traffic violation or other offense.

    The Senate passed House Bill 1348 in a vote of 27-12 on March 3. The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Terry McAuliffe. If signed, the law would take effect July 1. McAuliffe has until April 11 to act on the legislation.

    The bill’s sponsor, Del. Todd E. Pillion, R-Abingdon, is a pediatric dentist. In support of the legislation, he has cited the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, especially on developing lungs.

    When the bill was debated before the House, some delegates voiced opposition to the measure. “We have a tendency here to tell everybody how to live. We tell them what to do, how to act,” said Del. Riley E. Ingram, R-Hopewell.

    The legislation defines smoking as any lighted cigarette, pipe or cigar.

    “It is unlawful for a person to smoke in a motor vehicle, whether in motion or at rest, when a minor under the age of eight is present in the motor vehicle,” the proposed law states.

    Pillion said the bill covers passengers younger than 8 years old because these children already are legally required to be put in car seats. He said this requirement could assist police officers in determining a child’s age.

    The House voted 59-38 in favor of the bill on Feb. 12.

    Though subject to a $100 fine, individuals found guilty of violating the law would not face court costs or demerit points on their driving record.

    Revenue from the fines would go into the state’s Literary Fund. This program provides for low-interest loans for school construction, technology funding and support of teacher retirement.

     

    How They Voted

    Here is how the Senate voted on HB 1348 (“Smoking in motor vehicles; presence of minor under age eight, civil penalty.”)

    Floor: 03/03/16  Senate: Passed Senate (27-Y 12-N)

    YEAS– Alexander, Barker, Chafin, Chase, Dance, Deeds, DeSteph, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, McEachin, McPike, Miller, Norment, Petersen, Saslaw, Stuart, Sturtevant, Surovell, Vogel, Wexton – 27.

    NAYS– Black, Carrico, Cosgrove, Dunnavant, Garrett, McDougle, Newman, Obenshain, Ruff, Stanley, Suetterlein, Wagner – 12.

    RULE 36 – 0.

    NOT VOTING – Reeves – 1

  41. VCU Health CMH Now Offering Self Requested Mammograms

    SOUTH HILL, VA– In order to enhance direct patient access to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s screening mammography services; beginning April 1,2016, patients can schedule their screening mammogram without a physician’s order.  Patients can call 434-774-2450 and speak with one of VCU Health CMH’s Patient Access Representatives to schedule an exam. 

    Callers should be prepared to provide information including their regular health care provider, when and where their last mammogram was performed and insurance information. It is also important for patients to inform VCU Health CMH of their regular health care provider so the hospital will know where to send the screening results. 

    If a potential patient does not have a regular healthcare provider to send their results to, they can choose from our list of providers.  Patients currently experiencing problems or with a history of breast cancer will still require a physician’s order to schedule their diagnostic mammogram.  Our Mammography department is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and ready to provide the residents of southside Virginia and northern North Carolina with their breast imaging needs. 

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  42. VCU Offense Stalls in A-10 Tournament Loss

    By Bryant Drayton and Sarah King, Capital News Service

    NEW YORK – VCU’s lack of offensive tempo put an abrupt halt to head coach Will Wade’s dream scenario of accomplishing an Atlantic 10 tournament title in his first championship game against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday.

    The Hawks defeated VCU, the reigning A-10 tournament champions, in an 87-74 game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – a tough conclusion to VCU’s wins against UMass in the Friday quarterfinals and Davidson in the semis on Saturday.

    “Our guys have fought all year,” Wade said. “To St. Joe’s credit, they showed up ready to go.”

    The Hawks came out firing, led by Isaiah Miles and DeAndré Bembry. The St. Joe’s offense shot 64.8 percent from the field, connecting on 35-54 shot attempts. VCU’s usually stingy defense couldn’t find an effective answer to stopping the two A-10 studs.

    “Miles and Bembry were phenomenal tonight,” Wade said. “They absolutely killed us.”

    Miles registered 26 points and 12 rebounds on the afternoon. The 6-foot-7 athletic forward was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. His frontcourt partner Bembry went on to tally 30 points, five rebounds and four assist, and was named to the A-10 All-Championship Team.

    Offensively, VCU senior Korey Billbury and junior JeQuan Lewis were the Rams most productive assets.

    Lewis recorded 19 points and seven assists – his best outing of the weekend. Billbury continued his hot tournament shooting with 19 points and a spot on the A-10 All-Championship Team.

    Matched against Bembry for the majority of his time on the court, Billbury found himself in a dogfight to gain position on drives to the basket.

    “We knew what we were supposed to do,” Billbury said. “It wasn’t them, it was us.”

    The Rams’ offense shot a promising 41.2 percent from the field, but another poor shooting day from 3-point territory was the reason VCU was unable to shorten the Hawks’ lead for the entirety of the game. The Rams connected on only seven of their 29 attempts.

    At the 8:32 mark in the second half, the Hawks’ Papa Ndao was given a flagrant-1 for mouthing-off to the official after a foul was called against him. As he walked to the bench, Ndao raised his arm in dismay at the official, said something again and was thrown out of the contest.

    Ndao ejection was the break VCU fans were waiting for all game.

    “We were able to get (the point deficit) within single digits and I was proud of the way our guys battled,” Wade said. “Maybe if one of those three’s had fallen when we got it back to seven or nine might have been a different deal.”

    Two questions face a dejected VCU awaiting the Selection Sunday decision: what seed and location will the Rams get, and how is the health of senior Melvin Johnson, who limped off the court as the buzzer sounded during Friday’s quarterfinal matchup against Davidson?

    Johnson had only five points on 2-7 shooting from the field. VCU will need their top assassin at 100 percent to fortify the Rams’ hopes of making a NCAA tournament run.

    VCU is rumored to be an eighth seed in the tournament, and the Rams could find themselves playing in the ideal Raleigh East Coast region.

    “We’ll be ready to go wherever they send us,” Wade said. “We need to rest a little bit and get ready to go later on this week.”

    Selection Sunday, when the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee reveals which 68 teams have made the field for the basketball championships, airs on CBS at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

  43. Obituary-Bettie Elizabeth Lynch Floyd

    Bettie Elizabeth Lynch Floyd, 92, of Emporia, widow of William Luther Floyd, passed away Thursday, March 10, 2016. She is survived by two sons, Lawrence Floyd and wife, Ann and Thomas James Floyd; daughter, Ann Floyd Barnes; five grandchildren, Muzette Strickland, Joseph Rogerson, III, Blake Barnes, Stephen Floyd and Stacie Floyd; five great-grandchildren, Dalton Rae, Cameron Beatty, Emma Zblewski, Evan Floyd and Sloane Floyd; brother, Joseph E. Lynch and wife, Janice; two sisters, Ruby Lucy and Frances Council and husband, Sidney and a number of nieces and nephews. The funeral service will be held 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13 at Independence United Methodist Church with interment to follow 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.

  44. Obituary-Eileen Sexton Wood

    Eileen Sexton Wood passed into heaven on March 7, 2016. She is preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband of 56 years, Charles Merritt Wood; her parents, Leo and Rose Sexton and sister, Clare Wells. She leaves behind her loving daughters and family, sister, Barbara Simpkins of Dunnellon, FL.; daughters, Charlene Fox of Maitland, FL., Linda Parker and husband Freddie Parker of Emporia, VA., Susan Wood-Hempstead and husband Norman Hempstead of Miami Springs, FL., and Janel Schaffer and husband Alan Schaffer of Jupiter, FL.; grandchildren, Derek Olszewski, Keith Otto, Marlena Thompson and Scott Gunn all of Florida, Dustin Shaffer of Colorado, Shelby Wyatt of Emporia, VA. and Cheryl Lowry of Rochester, MN. A memorial service will be held in her home of 50 years in Miami Springs, FL. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  45. SENATE PASSES BILL KAINE COSPONSORED TO FIGHT OPIOID ABUSE EPIDEMIC

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine praised passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that will help expand opioid abuse prevention and education efforts. The bill takes a comprehensive approach toaddressing a crisis that claimed more lives in Virginia in 2014 than vehicle crashes. It also includes a bipartisan amendment that Kaine introduced to help protect seniors who are vulnerable to medication abuse.  

    “Across Virginia, we continue to see the tragic consequences of opioid abuse on our communities. I hear from parents who lost children to overdoses, law enforcement officers who face increased drug-related crimes, and people coping with addiction who struggle to get help. Their stories led me to fight this epidemic at the federal level andwe saw today that there is a strong consensus in the Senate that we must act. This bill will increase drug treatment services to help get people back on their feet and give first responders and law enforcement the resources they need to save lives. I look forward to continue working in the Senate to advance commonsense legislation that can build on the measures in today’s bill,” Kaine said.

    Kaine’s amendment to protect seniors from medication abuse was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and is based on legislation he introduced last August called the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act. The amendment, which is included inCARA, authorizes Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription plans to utilize a patient review and restriction tool, or ”lock-in” measure. This measure would help identify individuals at risk of addiction, connect them with resources, and restrict them to one pharmacy and one provider when accessing controlled substances. Kaine, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a field hearing in Loudoun County last month to examine the ongoing fight against opioid misuse and abuse among older Americans.

    Kaine has been a leading voice in the Senate on the importance of addressing the opioid abuse crisis that has had a harmful impact on Virginia communities. Last November, he introduced the Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, a bipartisan bill that would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug Naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and would make it more widely available in federal health settings. The bill is scheduled to be marked up by members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee next week. He is also a cosponsor of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, bipartisan reform legislation aimed at providing safer and more effective pain management services through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).

    Nationwide, heroin and opioids account for approximately 25,000 deaths per year. CARA will expand the availability of Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement. The overdose antidote has reversed more than 26,000 overdose cases between 1996 and 2014. CARA will also support additional resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals struggling with substance use disorders, expand drug take-back efforts to promote safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescriptions, strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, and launch prescription opioid and heroin treatment and intervention programs.

  46. The Costs and Value of Higher Education

    According to U.S. Census Data, only 24.5% of people older than 25 years in 1940 had completed high school. At that time, people without a high school diploma could still earn family-sustaining wages. By the mid-1960s, more than half of all people over the age of 25 held a high school diploma, and increasingly that credential was needed to secure stable employment.  Today, a high-school education isn’t enough. Employers often demand postsecondary credentials.

    Many recent studies have reported that people with any level of higher education generally have a greater earnings potential than others. Research also shows that they have better perceptions of personal health and well-being, demonstrate increased levels of volunteerism, and are more likely to vote.

    Although these benefits are known, a crisis looms over America’s higher education system. Indebtedness for education loans currently totals more than $1.2 trillion. This is more than the amount owed on all credit cards combined. It is more than the total amount owed on auto loans. In fact, student debt is the second largest category of debt in the United States. Only mortgage debt surpasses it. Increasingly, college graduates are unable to achieve independent lifestyles or make the types of purchases (such as cars and homes) that have traditionally been associated with moving the economy forward.

    Community colleges play a vital role in creating a solution. Virginia’s community colleges offer high-quality academic programs at tuition rates that are generally less than half those charged by other types of public higher-education institutions. Furthermore, students who can pursue their studies while still living at home save on room and board charges, and these added fees can nearly double the cost of attending a four-year college or university.

    Here at Southside Virginia Community College, we offer a comprehensive array of accredited post-secondary programs that lead to Associate in Arts and Science degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, and other industry-recognized credentials. For students who plan to continue an education path leading to baccalaureate and advanced degrees, SVCC simplifies the process through transfer and guaranteed admissions agreements with more than 20 other colleges and universities. Additionally, SVCC’s dual enrollment program allows high-achieving students to meet the requirements for high school graduation while simultaneously earning college credit. For students and their families, this represents a chance to reduce future college expenses.

    If you have questions about admission, visit SVCC’s website at www.southside.edu or call one of the two main campuses: the Christanna Campus in Alberta (434-949-1000) or the Daniel Campus in Keysville (434-736-2000). To learn more about financial aid solutions that do not rely on loans and indebtedness, call SVCC’s financial aid office at 855-877-3943. For details about dual enrollment, call 434-736-2080. Early registration for the Fall 2016 semester begins on April 1.

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

  47. Children’s Pavilion Consolidates Pediatric Care

    By Sarah King, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Brianna Burke was one of the youngest people at a ceremony outside a new facility of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU on Wednesday – but the gregarious 10-year-old undoubtedly had one of the most important jobs.

    Alongside Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao and other public officials, Brianna unabashedly cut the pink ribbon at the grand opening for the Children’s Pavilion at 1000 E. Broad St.

    The $200 million, 15-story facility boasts 640,000 square feet, 83 exam rooms and 600 parking spaces. It will have more than 350 doctors, nurses and other experts specializing in the care of young patients. The pavilion will open to children and families on March 21.

    “It was awesome,” Brianna said grinning after the ceremony. She especially likes the pavilion’s playful features, such as an interactive floor and kid-friendly lighting.

    “When you’re in the waiting room, you can step on the fish and they’ll run away,” Brianna said. “And there are chandeliers you can bang on and they make music. And there’s an outside part, and lots of windows and really big comfy chairs in the infusion room.”

    The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is a network of facilities, some located on Brook Road in North Richmond and others on the VCU Medical Center campus in downtown Richmond. The Children’s Pavilion, five years in the planning, is the newest part of that network. The facilities are part of VCU Hospitals, the teaching hospitals associated with the Medical Center.

    John Duval, the chief executive officer of VCU Hospitals, said the vision for the pavilion was informed by a changing health-care landscape. Experts saw that the demand for outpatient children’s health services has outpaced the need for inpatient care. Indeed, outpatient services make up 90 percent of all pediatric care.

    The pavilion is divided into more than 10 clinical and diagnostic pods, each specializing in a different area of care. The facility consolidates a number of outpatient services – such as specialty clinics, surgery, radiology, dialysis, lab testing and infusions – under one roof.

    “Why come to Virginia? Because we now have the best children’s outpatient facility in the United States of America,” McAuliffe said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The connection between healthy children, a healthy workforce and a healthy economy cannot be overstated.”

    VCU officials say the pavilion is the largest and most advanced outpatient facility in the region. It will provide comprehensive care for children with medical problems and more flexibility for parents like Nicole Houser, Brianna Burke’s mother. Houser and Brianna have been traveling to Richmond from their home in Hampton for the past two and a half years.

    “We come to the hospital about once a month – sometimes a little more than that,” Brianna said. “Then I get my infusions, and I go to dermatology, and sometimes they check my heart.”

    Houser said until now, Brianna’s appointments required a long day of travel in the car, then more commuting back and forth across the VCU Medical Center campus for various appointments. Houser said this is especially taxing for Brianna, who uses a wheelchair, and at times proved dangerous in poor weather or bad traffic.

    “But my sisters always help me and play with me,” Brianna said. “Sometimes I play teacher because they say, ‘Brianna, can you teach me math?’ But now they have a waiting room where they can play while me and mommy go to the doctor.”

    The Children’s Pavilion includes the Ronald McDonald House Sibling Center. It will accommodate the brothers and sisters of young patients – like Brianna’s 8-year-old twin sisters, who often take part in her daylong trips to Richmond.

    VCU officials said the pavilion will enhance the reputation of the university’s medical school and hospitals.

    “It is part of the recognition that ours is a nationally premier medical center that’s on par with the best in the country,” Rao said. “But most importantly, it is a place that makes a profound difference in the lives of children and their families.”

    Houser said her daughter has come a long way since coming to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

    “I know Brianna’s medical condition is not by the textbook and her team’s collaborative efforts show that they’re dedicated to her,” Houser said. “(They) are much more than nurses, patient advocates and physicians – (they’re) a godsend and Brianna’s guardian angels.”

  48. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to Host March Blood Drive

    Emporia, VA – According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This adds up to about 36,000 units of red blood cells that are needed to meet the daily demand. 

    Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center will host an American Red Cross Blood Drive on Monday, March 28th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms, 727 N. Main Street, Emporia. Whether veteran or first-time donor, the process is quick (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes from start to finish) and easy, and each donation could save up to three lives. Donors are required to provide either a driver’s license or two other forms of identification, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate. 

    For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Becky Parrish at 434-348-4485 or visit redcrossblood.org.

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  49. WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE MORE THAN $23 MILLION TO COMBAT HOMELESSNESS IN VIRGINIA

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that over $23 million will be awarded to promote ending homelessness in Virginia though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) Program.

    “I’m very pleased Virginia will receive this funding to combat homelessness in the Commonwealth,” Sen. Warner said. “This funding will help individuals and families return to self-sufficiency and strengthen our communities.”

    “We must stay vigilant in the fight to end homelessness, and today’s federal funding will aid the efforts of many organizations across Virginia who are on the front lines providing help and shelter to those most in need,” said Kaine.

    A total of $23,471,202 has been awarded to state and local entities and non-profit organizations in the following localities and the surrounding areas through HUD’s CoC Program:

     

    Northern Virginia will receive$9,908,859;

    Hampton Roads will receive$6,423,287;

    Richmond will receive $5,088,482;

    Roanoke will receive $749,718;

    The Shenandoah Valley will receive$367,876;

    Charlottesville will receive $298,090;

    Lynchburg will receive $293,363;

    Fredericksburg will receive $218,909;

    Southwest Virginia will receive $122,618

    The CoC Program is designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by non-profit providers and state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families to minimize the trauma and dislocation; promote access to and utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness. More information on today’s grant awards is available here.

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  50. Virginia’s Community Colleges Celebrate Fifty Years of Progress; Promise for the Future

    Community members asked to share their stories

    RICHMOND —Virginia’s Community Colleges are marking the 50th Anniversary of the statewide system of comprehensive community colleges in 2016 with a year-long observance that celebrates the progress of the past 50 years as well as the promise of the future.

    And one part of that year-long observance is to ask community members to share their stories regarding what community colleges have meant for them.  A web landing page has been created to collect those stories at 50.vccs.edu, and they will be shared later in the year at events commemorating the system.  Community members are welcome to share stories from a student, family, business, or government perspective, past or future, about how community colleges have benefited the community – and student lives.

    Virginia’s Community Colleges were created by the General Assembly in 1966 to provide comprehensive institutions that addressed unmet needs in higher education and workforce training. By 1972 there were 23 community colleges located across the state in a master plan that put access to quality higher education within a short drive of every Virginian.

    Since then, Virginia’s 23 colleges have served well over 2.6 million people, awarded more than 575,000 credentials and associate degrees, and launched countless numbers of transfer students into bachelor programs, advanced degrees and successful careers.  

    In 2016, Virginia’s Community Colleges are celebrating tremendous gains while enthusiastically looking forward to the profound difference community colleges will make in Virginia’s new economy over the next half-century.

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  51. YMCA Preschooleers Celebrate Birthday of Dr. Seuss

      YMCA Preschoolers enjoyed a visit from the Children's Librarian, "Mrs.Crystal" in celebration of the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

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  52. Senate Panel OK’s Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

    By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In an 8-7 vote along party lines, a Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill to prohibit the Virginia Department of Health from funding Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill Monday.

    The eight Republicans on the Senate Committee on Education and Health voted in favor of House Bill 1090; the panel’s seven Democratic members voted against it.

    HB 1090 states that the Health Department “shall not enter into a contract with, or make a grant to, any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where non-federally qualified abortions are performed.”

    That means the state would cut off funds for organizations that offer abortions that are not eligible for matching funds under Medicaid. This would include any abortion outside of cases of rape, incest, or “gross fetal anomalies.”

    The bill has been amended so that it would not affect licensed hospitals that perform non-federally qualified abortions.

    The bill’s sponsor, Del. Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst, has said his bill would “defund Planned Parenthood and redirect funds to more comprehensive health care for women.”

    Dozens of supporters of Planned Parenthood attended the Senate committee meeting on Thursday to testify in opposition of HB 1090. The committee limited public comment and requested that individuals submit written testimony instead.

    Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, a nonprofit advocacy group, spoke out against the committee’s decision. “No politician should decide for a woman which health care provider she can or cannot see, but today eight state senators decided they know better than women and their doctors,” Scholl said.

    The Virginia Department of Health does not fund abortions for any reason outside of the Medicaid exceptions. Supporters of Planned Parenthood say HB 1090 would effectively cut off state funding for its services such as family planning counseling, birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

    The House passed the bill on a 64-35 vote on Feb. 16. Afterward, Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, called on senators to reject it.

    “This bill cannot become law,” she said. “The intent of this bill is clear – to shame and coerce women from accessing safe and legal abortion and ban access to Planned Parenthood.”

  53. ARE OUR SCHOOLS READY FOR DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS

    22 states have officially endorsed digital textbooks, and the White House has set a deadline of 2017 for all students to use electronic materials. Most school divisions continue to use hardback text books due to the expense associated with new technology and internet accessibility. In Virginia, Henrico, Chesterfield, Arlington, Albermarle Counties and the City of Alexandria school divisions are the only areas providing laptops for their students. According to the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, American students must be prepared to compete in the 21st century and they cannot miss out on the opportunity of the digital textbook.

    SB 740 was introduced this year in the General Assembly which (1) creates a legal standard for school systems who uses electronic textbooks in the classroom, (2) requires any school system to have a plan to ensure that every child will have a digital device to take back and forth to school and (3) for each school using electronic textbooks to have a fiber optic connection to the school by July 1, 2019.

    SB 740 failed in the state education committee with a 10 to 9 vote. However, next year it will be introduced again. School systems must plan for the 21st century with electronic textbooks and digital devices.

    I voted against SB 740 due to the fiscal impact it will have on local governing bodies. However, I am concerned because all children deserve an equitable education. Will the schools in Southside Virginia be ready to provide digital devices for their students by 2017? School Boards are you in the process of developing a plan? I would like to hear from you regarding this issue.  Please feel free to contact my office in Richmond at 804-698-1075 or email delrtyler@house.virginia.gov.

  54. Where Is Our Unity?

    By: Dr. Ricky R. Hurst, Pastor, Main Street Baptist Church

    Where is our unity? When I listen too much to political candidates shouting hateful and vulgar things at each other, I realize that our society is sliding quickly toward a stormy future. I also realize that it’s not completely their fault. They are simply the barometer which records the true atmospheric pressure of our nation. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Some are guilty, but all are responsible.” If we are honest, we must admit that we are all guilty and responsible! We all are guilty of selfish pride, greed, exclusivism, and prejudice. And, we are all responsible for the state of our community.

    How guilty and responsible are we for the Greensville-Emporia community? This where we live, work, play, shop, eat, and worship. Truly, everything we do and don’t do, and everything we say and don’t say has an effect on the atmospheric pressure of our community. The word community contains another very important word, unity. Jesus Christ gave us a golden rule for the building of community: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). Unity is that place where we take responsibility for ourselves and one another. It is where we hear God whispering to us: “Where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:9). Our brothers and sisters live with us, work with us, play with us, shop with us, eat with us, and worship with us. We are all responsible for one another.

    There is a place in our community where I see a calm and beautiful atmosphere of humanity, compassion, and solidarity. It is a place that fosters unity. It is a place where brothers and sisters of our community gather together, regardless of their ethnic, gender, economic, and social backgrounds. It is a place where people come together to pray for community. It is a pavilion where God shelters us in the storms of disunity (Psalm 27:5). Join us, rain or shine, under the Pavilion of the Veterans Park in Emporia, at 8:30 AM, on the First Sunday of Each Month. 

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  55. House Panel Blocks Equal Rights Amendment

    By Rachel Beatrice, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – A handful of men and women who want Virginia to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment rallied outside a committee meeting room at the General Assembly, holding signs that read “Equal Means Equal” and “ERA.”

    But the House Privileges and Elections Committee decided to shelve the ERA, which would guarantee women and men equal rights, for another year.

    “This is the fifth year in a row we have passed [the amendment] with bipartisan support in the Senate. And on crossover, you see that it’s not only ignored but completely obstructed,” said Eileen Davis, co-founder of the group Women Matter. “At what point are you simply obstructing the democratic process? We’re not giving up.”

    The ERA would put in the U.S. Constitution a guarantee that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Congress proposed the amendment in 1972 and gave the states 10 years to ratify it. It was never added to the Constitution because it was not ratified by the necessary 38 states.

    Virginia would have become the 36th state to approve the ERA under Senate Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Scott Surovell of Mount Vernon and Jennifer Wexton of Leesburg.

    The resolution, which cleared the Senate on a 21-19 vote on Jan. 26, maintained that the ERA still could be ratified despite the expiration of the 10-year ratification period set by Congress.

    After its approval by the Senate, SJR 1 crossed over to the House, where it was assigned to the House Privileges and Elections Committee. That panel already had killed an identical measure – House Joint Resolution 136, sponsored by Del. Mark D. Sickles, D-Fairfax. On Friday, it did the same to the Senate counterpart.

    Sickles and other ERA supporters were disappointed.

    “I’m for equality for everybody,” Sickles said. “The only sure way to have secure equality is through the Constitution.”

    According to Sickles, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “said that women aren’t protected under the Constitution.”

    “He was a big supporter of amendments and amending the Constitution: If you wanted to change something or find some right you didn’t think was there, amend the Constitution. This is the way we need to go under his philosophy,” Sickles said.

    Opponents of resolutions to ratify the ERA say the measures are pointless because the ratification deadline passed on June 30, 1982. But the resolutions’ supporters disagree.

    “There are other constitutional amendments that have lain dormant for years and years,” said Del. Jennifer Boysko, D-Herndon. “And they have gotten traction and eventually passed as well.”

    In particular, ERA supporters cite the 27th Amendment, about compensation for members of Congress. That amendment was submitted to the states in 1789 and wasn’t ratified until 1992.

    “We shouldn’t have to wait for any of our fundamental rights,” Sickles said. “But it’s been our history. Look how long it took us to stop Jim Crow and segregation – and we’re still having lingering effects of that today.”

    Another issue is that many young women do not even know the ERA hasn’t been ratified, Davis said. “Many think everything is fine.”

    But everything is not fine, Boysko said. “There are studies that show that a man and a woman – equal in grades in graduate school – get out, go to the same firm and within five years, the man is making 20 percent more than she is.”

    Davis said that more than 70 percent of Americans believe the ERA has already been ratified. That misconception is even more prevalent among people under 40.

    “When we get the word out, there’s going to be a huge outcry,” said Davis, who has urged members of the House of Delegates to approve the resolution. “But part of the reason word’s not getting out is because it’s being suppressed in this chamber.”

    Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, supports the ERA and its ratification. “In 2016, what kind of signal are we sending that we do not want women to be equal in the eyes of the Constitution as men? We should be well past this debate.”

    Danette Fulk, a Republican and military veteran who was among the ERA supporters at Friday’s hearing, likened the issue to the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including newly freed slaves.

    “The 14th Amendment was passed in 1868,” Fulk said. “But it took 100 years to come up with the walls – the legislation that supported that foundation. We’re a little bit flipped. We’ve had some of these walls built that can be torn down, but we don’t have the foundation. The ERA would be that foundation.”

    Sickles is unsure whether he will continue to sponsor an ERA ratification resolution next session. But he assured the activists, “It doesn’t matter who the patron is” as long as someone keeps pushing the issue.

    Sickles is confident the ERA will eventually be ratified. “A big shift is coming in our country,” he said. “We have a cultural grand canyon now on so many social issues.”

  56. Isaiah Stephens Takes Gold Medal in Shot Put

    On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Lazers Track Club member, Isaiah Stephens won a gold medal in the shot put with toss of 37' 2”.  He competed in the Boo Williams Annual Indoor Championship meet in Hampton, VA. Stephens has earned his second perfect season as an indoor track competitor.

    On March 12-13, 2016, he will be competing in the AAU Indoor National Championship in Landover, MD. Isaiah’s desire is to put is hometown “Emporia” on the map once again by bringing home the “GOLD”. 

    Please support Isaiah in his 2016 Track and Field Season by visiting www.gofundme.com. Search for Isaiah Stephens-2016 Jr. Olympics and make your donation.

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  57. Emporia-Greensville Civic Center Foundation to Disband

    The Board of Directors of The Emporia-Greensville Civic Center Foundation, Inc. has voted to wind up in preparation for dissolution of the foundation.  In 2001 when the foundation organized, the dream was to save the 1934 WPA auditorium, an historic structure, located on Main Street in the heart of downtown Emporia. The mission was to save the auditorium as a gathering place to serve the community through education, entertainment and social functions. Years of studying other readapted uses of restored auditoriums in other communities, allowed us to realize first-hand how the quality of life of these small towns was impacted positively. Our dream and mission is not to be.

    Through the years, many proposals were presented by developers but the board of directors thought each was not in the best interest of the community, therefore, each was refused.

    There was much anticipation for the restoration of the auditorium when the City of Emporia became the owner of the auditorium. Now, foreseeing no effort for restoration, the board has decided dissolution of the foundation is in the best interest of its donors.

    Daily as we pass the still standing auditorium, the dream and mission remains in our hearts and minds.

    Many individuals, graduating classes of the past, organization, businesses and corporations have contributed to the Capital Campaign. The Board of Directors is deeply thankful for their trust and patience as we pursued our vision and mission. As we start the wind up procedure, Capital Campaign donations will be returned to the donors.

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  58. Job Fair Coming To SVCC Alberta

    Job Fair 2016 is coming to Southside Virginia Community College in Alberta on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.  Sponsored by SVCC Workforce Development, Elevate Virginia, Lake Country Business Solutions and SVCC Student Development Services, this offers free admission to all job  seekers.

    Early entry at 1:45 p.m. is offered with proof of your WorkKeys CRC.  Be sure to dress to impress, bring plenty of resumes, photo ID and WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate.

    Many employers are planning to attend and may get more information by contacting Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026.

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  59. Prospective Power Line Workers Climb to New Heights

    March 1, 2016 was a Super Tuesday at Southside Virginia Community College’s Occupational/Technical Center at Pickett Park in Blackstone, but not for reasons related to the nation’s primary elections. Dignitaries from around the Commonwealth gathered to celebrate the launch of SVCC’s Power Line Worker Training School and to honor the students enrolled in its inaugural class. Under the banner “Climbing to New Heights Together,” the event brought together many of the people involved in partnerships that made the new program possible.

    In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Roberts, President of SVCC, said “Meeting the workforce needs of our region is a monumental task, and no single agency or organization can do it alone. Our success is dependent upon the collaborative engagement of leadership across the Commonwealth.”

    Dr. Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, explained how the VCCS and SVCC worked in collaboration with key partners to make the program a reality. Commitments from the Virginia Maryland Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives membership, along with a grant received through the Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions, provided the foundation.

    John C. Lee, Jr., President and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, was among those on hand. He spoke words of encouragement to the students, reminding them, “Thomas Edison, a man those of us in the electric industry hold in high regard, once said, ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work.’” He continued, “Here at SVCC’s Power Line Worker Training School, opportunity is dressed in fire retardant clothing, wearing a hardhat, a set of climbing hooks and a tool belt, and make no mistake about it… represents hard work.”

    The Power Line Worker Training School offers tremendous opportunities for students and electric utilities. Graduating students receive credentials that confer a significant advantage in the utility job market, giving them entry into a career path that leads to a well-paying occupation. Electric utilities gain potential employees trained in safety and with the skills necessary to enter the profession at a time when many current line workers will soon be eligible for retirement.

    Jeff Brown, Director of Workforce Services for the Governor’s Office, called the establishment of the school “a no-brainer” saying it fit into the New Virginia Economy plan and that there is nothing much more important than sources to power our nation.

    Keith Harkins, SVCC’s Vice President of Workforce remarked on the urgency he felt from industry partners concerned about their large number of pending line worker retirements. Mr. Harkins also commented on the outstanding career opportunities students will have upon completing the program. “This program allows students to train for a career in 11 weeks! There are just not many opportunities like that out there today. “

    Calling the new school “the perfect public/private partnership,” Jeff Edwards, CEO of Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC), said that SEC and the Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative felt fortunate that the site is located nearby and that it offers an outdoor laboratory for real life skills. He claimed that students “will stand out in job applications.”

    The school program runs 11 weeks. Clyde Robertson, a 42-year veteran lineman serves as instructor. He is assisted by Brad Wike. Students learn essential pole climbing skills and also earn commercial driver’s licenses and OSHA certification. Those in the inaugural class will graduate in May.

    Enrollment for the next class, beginning on July 11, 2016 is currently underway. To be eligible, prospective students must hold a high school or equivalency diploma and be able to qualify for a CDL license. For more information, contact Susan Early at 434-292-3101.

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  60. Obituary-Billy Edward Davis

    Billy Edward Davis, age 83, of Dolphin, Va. passed away March 1, 2016.  He is the son of the late Andrew Jackson and Kelsie Lee Davis.  He is preceded in death by his wife, Shirley Harrison Davis; his brother, Andrew Jackson Davis, Jr.; and son-in-law Robert Peebles.  He is survived by four children, Andy Davis and wife Rosemary, Trena Peebles, Sheryl Thomason and husband Ricky, and Lesia Allen and husband Jeff; his grandchildren, Bobby Peebles and wife Jennifer, Kevin Peebles and wife Ashley, Michelle Sasser and husband Clay, Tara Peebles, Kelsey Medlin and husband Mike, Betsy Sam and husband Wayne, Chris Davis and wife Jackie, Jonathan Davis and wife Tina, Michael Davis and wife Whitney, and Katherine Davis;  his great grandchildren, Tiler Peebles, Aaron Peebles, Haley Peebles, Caleb Sasser, Ashleigh Sasser, Kullen Peebles, Annsley Peebles, Maggie Medlin, Jackson Medlin, Aidan Sam, Ava Sam, Emma Davis, Drew Davis, and Savannah Davis; his sister, June Love Davis Harris; and special friend, Irene Mayton.  Funeral services will be conducted 2:00 p.m. Friday at Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville with interment at Oakwood Park Cemetery, Lawrenceville.  The family will receive friends Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Williams Funeral Home.  Memorial contributions may be made to The Gideons International, P.O. Box 272, South Hill, Va.  23970 or the Emmanuel Bible Institute (India Ministry) c/o Mecklenburg Community Baptist Church, PO Box 359 South Hill, VA 23970. Checks can be written to MCBC with Emmanuel Bible Institute on the subject line.  Online condolences may be made at www.wmsfhva.com.

  61. Clinton, Trump Win in Virginia

    By Diana DiGangi, James Miessler, Matt Chaney and Margaret Carmel, Capital News Service

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trounced Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary election on Tuesday, and billionaire businessman Donald Trump narrowly defeated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the Republican contest.

    With almost all precincts reporting, Clinton received more than 64 percent of the 780,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary. Sanders got 35 percent.

    More than 1 million Virginians voted in the Republican primary. Trump got nearly 35 percent of the votes, followed by Rubio at almost 32 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at about 17 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at about 9 percent.

    Interviews at polling places in Richmond underscored the issues and other factors that motivated voters to support or oppose certain candidates.

    Young and old voters turned out in droves at the Randolph Community Center polling place (Precinct 504), about 10 minutes from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus. Several voters cited fear of a Trump nomination as their reason for coming out to vote.

    “Honestly, as a woman, I’m terrified of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becoming president,” said Kirsten Schlegel, a VCU senior who voted for Clinton. “I’m terrified of our rights being taken away.”

    Paula Johnson voted for Clinton as well, and said it was important to her to “select someone who’s going to represent us well, like when it comes to picking the new Supreme Court justice.”

    At the Dominion Place polling station (Precinct 206), also near the VCU campus, many young people supported Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist.

    “It’s my first time being able to vote, and so I wanted to come out because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Brianna Frontuto, a VCU student, said. “I voted for Bernie Sanders because his policy platform lines up exactly with what I believe in. He’s defending students, and that’s hard to find in candidates.”

    Among Republican voters at the Dominion Place, several young people came out in support of Rubio.

    “Rubio is the only one I feel morally conscious to support,” Adam Stynchula said. “He’s a safe bet.”

    Voters at the Tabernacle Baptist Church polling location (Precinct 208) voiced similar sentiments.

    Chelsea, a woman in her 20s who declined to give her last name, said, “I voted for Marco Rubio because he’s a very optimistic candidate. He’s very articulate about a lot of values that I believe in and I hate Donald Trump. And so, I really wanted to get my voice out there for a positive candidate who has a real vision for America’s future.”

    Some voters said they usually cast ballots in the Democratic primary, but they participated in this year’s Republican election because of their dislike for Trump.

    “I normally vote Democratic, but I actually voted Republican in this because I wanted to make sure that Donald Trump is not on the ballot,” said a student named Jamie. “I just think it’s kind of tight this year with the way things are playing out ... At first I started out thinking, that’s kind of a joke, Donald Trump. But now it’s looking close.”

    Statewide, however, Trump topped Rubio by winning Hampton Roads and the southern and southwestern parts of the state.

    Virginia Republican leaders gathered in Old Town Alexandria just outside of the nation’s capital as the votes rolled in. As a battleground state that has voted blue in the last two election cycles, all eyes are on Virginia.

    “Republicans cannot win the White House without winning Virginia,” said John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. “We’re looking at how our candidates performed tonight to see how they turned out voters, what the enthusiasm is, and what their ground game looks like. We’re going to have to fight to win Virginia.”

    Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who made a stab at running for president himself, said this election will set the tone that the Republican Party will take moving forward.

    “The leading candidates are going to have to demonstrate to the American people that they can govern,” Gilmore said. “Or maybe not. Maybe this year they’ll just have to demonstrate that they can be a voice for anger or resentment.”

    Regardless of how they voted, many Virginians said it’s important for people to exercise their voice at the ballot box.

    “Honestly, it’s just every vote counts,” VCU student Sean Barnett said at the Dominion Place polling station. “People think that because so many people are voting at one time that your vote is insignificant because it’s such a small percentage. If everyone’s thinking that, there’s a lot of people that aren’t getting their voice heard. It does seem insignificant, but it does count.”

    At Tabernacle Baptist Church, Kyle, a doctor in her early 30s, said, “I don’t think you can complain unless you pick a choice.”

    After casting his vote at Dominion Place, William Smith added, “It’s a privilege and a pleasure. I feel it’s my duty as an American.”

  62. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Primary

    By Rachel Beatrice, Capital News Service

    I personally sent for an absentee ballot for the Virginia primary election. However, I quickly became ambivalent. I have to have a witness? Wait … can this witness be anyone?

    Then came the paranoia: Will my ballot actually arrive at the election office on time, or even at all? Will my vote actually count?

    The pressure was too much. I had to vote in person.

    The instructions clearly stated that if I changed my mind and wished to vote in person, I could still do so as long as I did not open envelope A – the actual casting of my ballot.

    I followed the instructions for when one changes their mind.

    On Tuesday morning – Election Day – I was in line at the Earlysville Fire Department, at 283 Reas Ford Road in Albemarle County, ready to vote. I had my absentee envelope ballot in hand and unopened.

    “State your name and address,” the woman declared.

    I did so as I handed her the envelope and explained the situation.

    She nodded and smiled and said I needed to speak to the chief election official.

    I sat in a chair next to another voter who had his back to me. The chief was next to him on the phone. Another woman was on the other side of the chief.

    I asked myself, are they both waiting for the chief?

    This seemed to be taking longer than I expected. Much longer. And I needed to get back to Richmond and to class.

    After about 10 minutes, I asked, “Excuse me, what exactly is happening here?”

    The chief muttered something, half-glanced at me, then got back on the phone. This time it was about my voting, or lack of voting, situation.

    I quickly realized that the chief election official at the Albemarle County District 5 polling office had no idea what he was doing.

    Neither did three other election officials who were present. “Maybe it’s this bottom,” one official asked the other –referring to the computer screen in front of them. Apparently, according to their computer, I had already cast a ballot.

    “Will that vote count then?” I asked.

    “No.”

    I have to admit that I did not maintain complete composure. It had been 20 minutes.

    The election official told me to calm down and that he was trying to figure out the situation.

    “People face disenfranchisement in this country, and this is starting to border on that,” I told him.

    By this time, another woman at the polling station also was denied the right to vote and asked to sit where I was sitting.

    Is this the twilight zone? I asked myself.

    The election officials were smiling and not really concerned that I am concerned that I may not get the chance to exercise my right to vote. It seemed that no one in the entire building could figure out a glitch in the computer matrix to allow me to actually cast my ballot in-person at this very moment.

    After 30 minutes, the chief was more livid at the situation than I originally was. Turns out the tech guy was overwhelmed with calls and wasn’t available.

    After 45 minutes, I was finally able to cast a provisional ballot and assured that it would count in the election results that day.

    And the chief election official ended up hugging me.

    It’s a happy ending to my voting nightmare, but many others are not as lucky. I just hope my vote counted.

  63. Local Primary Election Results

    Democratic Presidential Primary-Emporia City

    Hillary Clinton 404
    Martin O'Malley 2
    Bernie Sanders 52
    Total Votes 458

    Democratic Presidential Primary-Greensville County

    Hillary Clinton 832
    Martin O'Malley 4
    Bernie Sanders 85
    Total Votes 921

    Republican Presidential Primary-Emporia City

    Donald Trump 179
    Marco Rubio 104
    Ted Cruz 39
    Ben Carson 35
    John Kasich 18
    Jeb Bush 5
    Chris Christie 1
    Carly Fiorina 1
    Total Votes 382

    Republican Presidential Primary-Greensville County

    Donald Trump 371
    Marco Rubio 160
    Ted Cruz 91
    Ben Carson 44
    John Kasich 23
    Jim Gilmore 2
    Lindsey Graham 2
    Jeb Bush 1
    Chris Christie 1
    Total Votes 695

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  64. CAREER READINESS CERTIFICATE PREP COURSE AVAILABLE LOCALLY

    The Career Readiness Certificate can prove to employers that you can do the job.  This Pre-Course for this testing is available locally at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia.

    According to Natalie Slate, Director of Economic Development for Greensville County, “The ACT NCRC not only assists individuals, it also helps assure employers that the people they hire and promote have the skills necessary to succeed. Having a skilled and trained workforce is vital to attract business and industry to our area."

    The Virginia CRC is a credential designed to provide evidence that an individual is ready for work with respect to fundamental standards or workforce literacy. 

    Prep courses will be offered in Emporia on March 16 from 8 a.m. until 12 noon, April 20, 2016 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and May 25 from 8 a.m. until 12 noon.  Pre-registration is required by calling Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026 or email angela.mcclintock@southside.edu

    Testing dates are available the second Tuesday of each month through June at the SVEC.  Tests begin at 9 a.m. and pre-registration is also required through Angela McClintock.

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  65. All About Breast Cancer

    Community Out-Reach Education

    South Hill – Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in women in the United States.  What causes breast cancer?  How can you reduce your risk?  How is breast cancer treated?  How do you live with breast cancer or support a friend or loved one who is facing this diagnosis?

    If you are seeking answers to questions like these you should attend March’s C.O.R.E. (Community Out-Reach Education) Program at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital to learn more about the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

    This FREE program will be on Tuesday, March 15th at 6:00 p.m. in the VCU Health CMH Education Center Auditorium at 125 Buena Vista Circle in South Hill.

    Dr. Monica Morris will be the speaker for the program.  Dr. Morris is a graduate of Stanford University and Baylor College of Medicine.  She completed her residency in Radiation Oncology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998.  She has been in practice with VCU and UVA since then.  Dr. Morris was named a “Top Doctor” by US News and World Report/Castle Connolly.  She is board certified in therapeutic radiology by the American Board of Radiology.  Dr. Morris is in full time practice at the VCU Health CMH Solari Radiation Therapy Center located at 750 Lombardy Street in South Hill, VA.

    Reservations are not required for this program; however, they are recommended.  For more information or to register to attend, please call (434) 774-2550 or visit www.vcu-cmh.org.  Entrance to the VCU Health CMH Education Center Auditorium is to the left of the main hospital entrance.

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