Current Weather Conditions

 
Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia
 

May 2017

  1. Law updates vision screenings in schools

    By Taylor Mills, VCU Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – If students can’t see well, they can’t learn well. So Virginia has adopted a new state law to improve student vision screenings. The law will allow schools to partner with nonprofit groups and use digital technology in testing students’ eyesight.

    The law is the result ofHouse Bill 1408, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this year. The legislation, sponsored by Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, will take effect July 1.

    “The amendments fortify our efforts to modernize the code regarding vision screening and to deploy modern technology to benefit our schoolchildren,” Ware told his colleagues before the House of Delegates unanimously approved the bill in February.

    Under existing law, schools must test students’ eyesight. Ware’s bill updates the law to reflect advances in screening technology and to allow nonprofit groups to perform the tests.

    “The bill was amended to allow, but not require, vision screening through digital photo screening by a qualified nonprofit vision health organization,” Charles Pyle, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education, said in an email. “The bill was also amended to allow other screening methods by such organizations, provided that they comply with Department of Education requirements.”

    Under the bill, school districts are allowed to use qualified nonprofit vision health organizations, such as the Lions Club and Conexus for Healthy Vision, for mandated vision screenings. Students’ vision must be tested in kindergarten, in second or third grade, and in seventh and 10th grade.

    Conexus officials worked with Ware on revising the current law.

    “It really hadn’t been updated for, like, 30 years, so we were kind of involved early on in just trying to modernize the code and put in some definitions,” said Tim Gresham, CEO of the Richmond-based group. “Just kind of bring the code up to today’s standard; to include permissive language, to allow for the use of technology that is available today.”

    Gresham said Ware had been involved with Conexus in the past and had observed what the organization, formerly called Prevent Blindness Mid-Atlantic, was doing in Virginia schools.

    “So he was aware of the impact that we were having in public schools all across Virginia with our programs and as we modernized our vision screening process,” Gresham said. “It sort of stood in stark contrast with what a lot of school divisions were doing with traditional, old-school screenings.”

    Modern testing methods include digital photo screening, in which a camera takes images of a child’s undilated eyes. It can detect who is at risk for amblyopia (lazy eye) and other problems.

    Vision screenings can be critical to a student’s success in school.

    “If a child is not seeing well, they are just not going to perform well in a traditional classroom,” Gresham said. “A fourth of the public-school-age children in Virginia have a vision problem.”

    Ware’s bill gives schools more options to meet the state’s existing requirement to test students’ vision.

    “It really is giving these localities the permission to use an outside organization like ours,” Gresham said. “So over time, I would hope that most localities would move away from the old, traditional way of screening into a modern use of technology that is out there today.”

  2. Chamber to Bring Cycling Event to Farmville

    May 24, 2017 (Farmville, VA) – High Bridge Trail State Park, known for hiking, cycling and scenic views, continues to attract visitors to Farmville. On July 23 the Farmville Chamber of Commerce and High Bridge Trail State Park will bring even more excitement to the trail with the its first High Bridge Trail Roubaix Time Trial.

    “There’s never been a bike race in Farmville since I’ve been here,” Race Director Jordan Whiley said. “With the trail here, that should add interest in a cycling event.” Whiley, who’s been racing bikes throughout the state for over two decades, is finalizing plans for the July 23 event in Farmville which he hopes will attract cycling enthusiasts from across Virginia. “There’s a very active racing circuit throughout the state — several hundred riders that race regularly,” he added.

    The race, Whiley explained, is actually a time trial. “It will be held on the High Bridge Trail,” he continued. “ Cyclists will go out individually, race a section of the trail, and come back. The fastest rider in each age group will win.” The race is open to cyclists in the racing circuit as well as local participants, including those with physical disabilities who use hand cycles.

    Whiley teaches special education at Bear Creek Academy in Cumberland where he also serves as administrator. He sometimes rides his bike 19 miles to work. “I started cycling in my late 20s when I was a grad student at UVA,” he said. “I’ve been racing for the past 20 years.” Among Whiley’s racing credits are seven state championships in his age category and a 12th place finish in national competition last year in North Carolina.

    In the High Bridge event, cyclists from age 7 and up are eligible to enter. “As long as you can ride a bike, you can come out and try it,” Whiley added. “Folks too young to be what we call master athletes (35 and older) or too young to be juniors (under 18) will be categorized by skill level from 5, which is beginner, to 1, the professional cyclists.”

    An awards ceremony will follow the race at the Farmville caboose across the street from the High Bridge Trail entrance on Main Street. Prizes will include medals, cash and merchandise. “The Farmville Chamber is sponsoring the event with help from Centra Southside,” Whiley said. “The Friends of High Bridge Trail granted the use of the trail, Uptown Café will provide food for volunteers, and Mainly Clay will help with awards.”

    Other local businesses, including Third Street Brewing Company and Outdoor Adventure Store, also plan to donate prizes for the event. Whiley has worked at the Adventure Store tuning bicycles since last summer. “The bike job is something I do part time,” he noted.

    Also in his spare time, Whiley is part of the Waterworks Players and sings in the Summer Garden Opera. “Singing, acting and cycling are my three main pastimes,” he added.

    Whiley is pleased with local response to his idea for a cycling event in Farmville. “My hope is that when people come to the award ceremony in town they’ll see there are many nice places to eat, and some may spend the night in a local motel,” he said. “Generally these races are beneficial to businesses in the area.”

    Farmville Chamber Director Joy Stump is equally enthusiastic. “This event is utilizing High Bridge Trail State Park in a new way,” Stump said. “We believe it will highlight our great community. It’s an event that has potential to grow every year.”

    For more information or to register for the High Bridge Trail Roubaix Time Trial, visit bikereg.com and enter the race name in the search bar

  3. CASE Names 2017 Distinguished Service Award Winners

    WASHINGTON, DC — The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has announced the 2017 recipients of its Distinguished Service Awards. The awards honor individuals and organizations for extraordinary service in education and the field of educational advancement, which includes alumni relations, fundraising, communications and marketing.

    CASE will recognize seven recipients at a luncheon on Monday, July 17, 2017, in conjunction with the CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement in San Francisco.

    The 2017 CASE Distinguished Service Award winners are:

    Jerry Davis, recipient of the E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award.

    With 40 years of service, Davis is one of the longest-serving college presidents in the United States. He served as president of Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky from 1977 to 1988 and is now president of College of the Ozarks in Missouri. Throughout his career as an institutional leader, Davis has had a significant impact on the field of advancement, especially in fundraising. Under his leadership, Alice Lloyd raised almost $18 million, built 15 buildings and realized a capital asset growth of 253 percent-from

    $4.7 million to $16.8 million. And during his nearly 30 years at the College of the Ozarks, he has transformed the college into a debt-free institution with a $500 million endowment. In 2009, he established the College of the Ozarks' Patriotic Education Travel Program, which has so far paired 324 students with 154 war veterans for trips to battlefields around the world where the veterans once fought. The college funds these trips, and no cost is passed to the students or veterans. He is widely respected for being a visionary who also cares about the details. The E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award is supported by a generous contribution from the consulting firm Marts & Lundy.

    T. Denny Sanford, recipient of the James L. Fisher Award for

    Distinguished Service to Education. Sanford is chair and CEO of United National Corp., and owner and founder of First Premier Bank. During the past two decades, Sanford has given more than $1 billion to charitable causes. His support of various education initiatives have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly in his native South Dakota, where he has gifted millions of dollars to the state's public institutions. This includes a $70 million gift in 2006 to help turn South Dakota's Homestake Mine into a deep underground lab. The Sanford Underground Research Facility allows students from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Black Hills State University and the University of South Dakota to gain a hands-on research experience.

    Ellen Sullivan, recipient of the John Lippincott Award for Global

    Advancement and Support of Education. Sullivan most recently served as executive director of international advancement at Boston College, and has been appointed director of international advancement at Phillips Academy as of June 1. She has worked in university advancement for almost 20 years and has been an active member of CASE since 1998. Throughout her career, Sullivan has shared her fundraising expertise by volunteering as a faculty member at conferences across six continents and serving as a trustee on the CASE board, chair and vice chair of its international committee and co-chair of the CASE International Advancement conference for three years . She has also played a key role in elevating the advancement profession's profile in Latin America; most notably, she secured funding to help underwrite early operations in the region. In addition, Sullivan was a primary catalyst in maintaining and advancing CASE's engagement efforts in Africa.

    Thomas C. Tillar, recipient of the Frank L. Ashmore Award for Service to

    CASE and the Advancement Profession. Tillar is special assistant to the dean at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, his alma mater. He began his career in 1971 at Virginia Tech, advancing to the position of vice president of alumni relations in 1995. During his 40-year career in alumni relations, Tillar instituted groundbreaking organizational changes, including integrating the alumni association into central administration, transitioning the annual fund into a centralized university development, opening a satellite office in Washington, D.C., and shifting alumni chapters from a dues-based system. Throughout this time, he was active in advancing the alumni relations profession at institutions and serving as a mentor, role model and member of the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations.

    Lawrence Bonchek, M.D., recipient of the Distinguished Friend of

    Education Award. A cardiothoracic surgeon for more than 50 years, Boncheck invented two commercially marketed surgical medical devices. His dedication to Pennsylvania's Franklin & Marshall College began in 1987. Since then, he has been an active volunteer and philanthropic leader of the institution.

    Bonchek served as a trustee of the board, and later, as board chair from 2010 to 2016. In 2003, he was inducted into the Founders Society for a $1 million gift, and his support has contributed to scholarships, academic buildings and institutes. In addition, Bonchek helped develop a residential life program and an instiutional talent strategy for student recruitment that has resulted in both robust admission growth and a significantly stronger academic profile of the college.

    John and Mary Lou Barter, recipients of the Ernest T. Stewart Award for

    Alumni Volunteer Involvement. John and Mary Lou Barter have served Alabama's Spring Hill College as trustees, administrators, and the College's most significant living donors. Together, they boast a combined 28 years of service as members of the Spring Hill College Board of Trustees. Mr. Barter, former president of AlliedSignal Automotive, served as chair of the board from 1998 to 2002, and Mrs. Barter co-chaired several subcommittees and presidential search committees during her tenure. Throughout the institution's most economically challenging years, the couple guided the College to financial stability by dedicating 19 months to hiring a new president, reforming the College's budget, instilling best practices, and eliminating $27 million in debt through a critical strategic initiative. The Barters dedicated these 19 months of time, talent, and treasure entirely pro bono, including their weekly commutes to and from their home in Charleston, SC.

    About CASE

    The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

    CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE América Latina, 2011).

    Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,670 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in more than 80 countries around the globe. This makes CASE one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational associations in terms of institutional membership. CASE serves nearly 81,000 advancement practitioners on the staffs of its member institutions and has more than

    17,000 professional members on its roster.

    To fulfill their missions and to meet both individual and societal needs, colleges, universities and independent schools rely on—and therefore must foster—the good will, active involvement, informed advocacy and enduring support of alumni, donors, prospective students, parents, government officials, community leaders, corporate executives, foundation officers and other external constituencies.

    CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with all of these constituencies by providing relevant research, supporting growth in the profession and fostering support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.

    Tags: 

  4. New laws seek to enhance driver safety

    By Yasmine Jumaa, VCU Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In 2015, a driver with severe vision problems hit and killed a bicyclist in Hanover County. The motorist was “basically legally blind,” recalled Del. Hyland “Buddy” Fowler, who represents the county in the Virginia House.

    Now the state is about to implement two new laws to help prevent such tragedies. One will require motorists to have a wider field of vision, and the other will encourage health-care professionals to report motorists who have medical problems that may impair their driving. Fowler sponsored both bills, which will take effect July 1.

    “The folks at the Virginia Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons took a look at the vision requirements and came to me and said, ‘You need to do better for the public safety issue,’ and wanted to know if I’d carry a bill in the House, which I told them I’d be glad to do,” said Fowler, whose district includes parts of Hanover, Caroline and Spotsylvania counties.

    House Bill 1504sets new standards for obtaining and keeping a driver’s license or learner’s permit. It will increase the minimum field of vision that a driver must have in Virginia from 100 degrees to 110 degrees. That means drivers must have a greater ability to see what is on the periphery as well as what is in front of them.

    “Being able to see properly and being able to scan the roads is a very important part of safe driving,” said Brandy Brubaker, public relations and media liaison for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

    HB 1514,alsocarriedbyFowler, gives doctors and other health-care professionals civil immunity if they report patients who have vision or other medical problems that may impair their ability to drive safely.

    The law will protect health-care practitioners from legal action if they tell DMV that they believe someone has a disability or impairment and shouldn’t be driving. For instance, the motorist could not sue the physician for violating practitioner-patient confidentiality.

    “With that act of good faith, if they report somebody to the DMV to be examined, and if they suspect that the person shouldn’t be driving for legitimate health reasons, they will be protected from a legal situation,” Fowler said. He believes the law will foster “a greater reporting of folks that probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel.”

    DMV officials said they already protect the identity of people who tell the agency that somebody may be an unsafe driver because of vision or health concerns.

    “We get these reports from law enforcement, family members, maybe even neighbors, and we are prohibited to release information on the source for those medical reports that we receive,” Brubaker said.

    When DMV receives such reports, she said, “We review cases of drivers who may have health or medical conditions that would impair or hinder their safe driving.”

    Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico County sponsored companion bills to Fowler’s legislation: SB 1229was identical to HB 1504,andSB 1024wasthesameas HB 1514. The General Assembly approved all four bills during its 2017 session.

  5. Schools must test for lead in water

    By Ben Burstein, VCU Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, safe drinking water is a high priority nationwide, especially for children. Beginning July 1, schools in Virginia will be required to test their potable water for lead.

    Senate Bill 1359, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on March 20, seeks to ensure that local school boards test the drinking water in schools and that it meets federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that the level of lead not exceed 15 parts per billion.

    Del. Kaye Kory of Falls Church is especially concerned about the water in older school buildings that may have lead pipes.

    “The water that comes to the school from the water supplier can be fine, and still, because of the pipes inside the school, there will be lead in the water that children drink,” said Kory, who co-sponsored the bill. (The chief patron was Sen. Jeremy McPike of Woodbridge.)

    The new law requires testing in all schools but puts an emphasis on schools built before 1986. Each school board must decide how to implement the law. Currently, schools are not required to test for lead.

    Testing could be especially important for older school districts in lower-income areas with a deteriorating infrastructure, Kory said.

    Testing for lead is complex: The tests must be conducted multiple times and at multiple locations, such as drinking fountains and faucets. If tests find high levels of lead, the school may have to replace pipes and take other actions, including providing bottled water for students and teachers. The problem cannot be fixed overnight.

    Kory believes the new law is a step in the right direction to make sure the next generation of Virginians grows up healthy.

    As seen in Flint, lead can be harmful to the human body, especially in children. Low levels of lead do not affect the body immediately, but prolonged exposure can damage the nervous system and cause other problems, including learning disabilities and hearing impairment.

    Dr. Rutherfoord Rose, a toxicologist and professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, said lead poses a particular problem for young children whose nervous system is still developing.

    “The critical point of lead exposure, even though you don’t want it in anybody, is really before they get to school,” Rose said. Most cases of lead poisoning come not from drinking water but from products that contain concentrated levels of lead, such as paint.

    Whether the risk is marginal or not, parents are still concerned about lead exposure in their child’s school. Parents naturally want their children to have safe drinking water.

    Thomas Amrhein’s 6-year-old daughter attends kindergarten at R.C. Longan Elementary School in Henrico County’s West End. Amrhein is glad for the new law requiring water testing.

    “I think it’s urgently important since the problem has been uncovered,” Amrhein said. He said he is happy the testing is being done because the safety of children in public schools is crucial.

    If the tests find lead in the drinking water at R.C. Longan, Amrhein is confident that the school will take immediate action to resolve the issue. “I believe they would rectify it in a timely manner.”

  6. Free Concert to Benefit Local Cancer Care Fund

    SOUTH HILL, VA– A 50th Reunion Concert featuringThe Invaders, is set for June 3rd at the Centennial Park Amphitheater in South Hill, VA from 6:00PM – 9:00PM.  This is a free admission concert.  Any donations given at the concert will benefit the Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.  The donations will specifically support the Cancer Care Fund that was established for cancer patients in financial need.

    The Invaders first played at Buckhorn Elementary School in South Hill, VA in 1966.  The original band included Cliff Ferguson (vocals), Buster Watson (bass), Nicky Santore (lead guitar), Billy Lockhart (drums), and Andy Moody (rhythm guitar).  Wayne Sculthorpe replaced Buster on bass and Wimpy Creedle was added for keyboard and lead vocals.  This lineup played until 1969.  Billy Creedle played bass after Wayne left the group to attend college. The Invaders were managed by Jack Moody and Charlie Santore.

    Billy Lockhart, (who proposed the idea of a 50-year reunion and the youngest member of the Invaders) graduated from Park View in '72 and the University of Richmond in '76.  He married Karen Creedle and they have two children and three grandchildren.  Billy worked in banking for several years before he was hired by the Virginia Lottery in 1988.  He has been with the Virginia Lottery ever since (29 years).  He has played in various bands around Richmond, including The Union Pacific Band, Satisfaction, Main Stay, Accelerations, 45 RPM and others.  “Billy and Nicky” also played together in "Sad Sunshine" during high school which was another local band with members from Park View, Central and Brunswick county schools.

    Nicky Santore played lead guitar in several Southern Virginia bands including the Invaders, Electra's, Sad Sunshine, Dragon Flight, and Hold the Phone.   A 1971 graduate of Park View High School, Nick also graduated from NC State University.   Nick and his wife of 35 years, Gail Nance, now live in Raleigh, NC where he works as a consulting electrical engineer.

    Wayne Sculthorp is a 1969 graduate of Park View and Emery Riddle University, Daytona Beach, Florida.  He is a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer.  Wayne continues to work as a private contractor in support of US Navy.  He and his wife, Susan, live in La Crosse.

    Wimpy Creedle graduated from Park View High School in 1970.  He has been married to Joan Hayes Creedle for 47 years and resides in Chase City, VA.  Wimpy and Joan have two daughters and four grandchildren.  Wimpy retired from Mecklenburg Electric Coop with 41 years of service and also retired from Virginia Army National Guard.

    Andy Moody was 14 years old when he started playing in the band in 1966.  Like many of the other band members, Andy wasn’t old enough to drive and his parents provided transportation to band performances.  The band practiced in the basement of Andy’s home on High Street in South Hill.  Andy played in the band all through his high school years and after graduating from Park View in 1971, went on to complete his college education at Virginia Tech where he majored in Horticulture.  He is now retired from his family business, Wayside Nursery, where he worked for over 40 years.  Andy and his wife Gail have been married for 36 years and have two children. 

    The Invaders 50th Reunion Concert is sponsored by the following:  Benchmark Community Bank, Citizens Community Bank and J.A. Barker Construction, Inc. 

  7. RELAY FOR LIFE ~ CAR, TRUCK & MOTORCYCLE SHOW Winners & Special Awards

     

    #

    AWARD

    VEHICLE

    OWNER

    1

    Most Chrome        (Tie)

    1957 Chevy Pickup

    1957 Chevy Bel Air

    James Nicholson     

    Connie Jordan

    2

    Least Chrome

    1937 Chevy Sedan

    Bruce Tudor

    3

    Highest Ride

    1966 Ford Pickup

    Bert Dickens

    4

    Lowest Ride

    1951 Ford Mercury

    Ernie & Nita Sydnor

    5

    Most Original      (Tie)      

    1965 Ford Galaxy

    1970 Pontiac GTO

    Kenny Herrick

    Robbie Mack

    6

    Best Interior

    2010 Chevy Corvette

    Cindy Vann

    7

    Best Exterior

    1968 Ford Mustang

    Chris Ellis

    8

    Best Engine         (Tie)       

    1956 Chevy Bel Air

    1967 Chevy Chevelle

    James Wrenn

    Diane Taylor

    9

    Best Appearing New Model

    2016  Mustang Shelby

    James Robinson

     

     

     

     

     

    Special Awards

     

     

    10

    Relay Choice

    1967 Mustang Conv.

    Susan Harrell

    11

    Charles Taylor  Memorial

    1937 Chevy Coupe

    Thurstan Vann

    12

    David Williams Memorial

    1967 Ford Mustang

    Jesse Harrell

    13

    Bennie Acree     Memorial

    1986 Chevy Pickup

    Justin Smith

      14

    George Blick     Memorial

    1969 Chevy Impala

    Dickie Delbridge

    15

    Special Interest

    1984 Chevy Blazer

    Charles Bradshaw

    16

    People’s Choice

    1965 Chevy Pickup

    Walter Lynch

     

    DASH PLATES SPONSORED BY Link’s Electrical Chris Link. Special thanks for donations from Walter Lynch & Diane Taylor, and all the Support from Volunteers which made this event possible

    Relay for Life ~ Calvary Baptist Church

    “Praying for a Cure”

     

     

  8. BA May 2017 Student of the Month

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Jared Ethan-Everette Utley has been chosen the May 2017 Student of the Month. Jared, a senior, is the son of Ben and Judy Utley of Alberta.  He has two brothers Will Utley and John Woodard, both graduates of Brunswick Academy.  Jared has played JV and Varsity Football, JV and Varsity Basketball, JV and Varsity Baseball and Varsity Soccer.  He is also a member of the Spanish Club, The BA Theatre Tech Crew and this year was a Big Vike to the Class of 2028. 

    Jared has been a very active member of the Farmville District Youth Ministry.  This group participates in youth activities, fund raising projects and delivers pastoral care to churches within the district.  Jared is a also an active member of Bethel United Methodist in Alberta.

    He will attend Southside Virginia Community College this fall.  He plans to further his education at Regent University’s combined ROTC program with Old Dominion University.  Jared plans to major in Religion and wants to be a Military Chaplain.    

    WAY TO GO JARED! 

  9. Memorial Day ceremony honors fallen soldiers

    By Alexander P. Crespo, VCU Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – About 1,000 people attended a Memorial Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial, honoring members of the military who gave their lives in service to the United States.

    The ceremony Monday morning began in the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheatre with music, followed by remarks from Clay Mountcastle, director of the Virginia War Memorial.

    “Memorial Day, at its core, is about more than appreciation,” Mountcastle said. “It’s the most valuable reminder that the freedoms we enjoy and sometimes take for granted in this country come at a tremendous price.”

    The theme of solemn reverence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation was prevalent throughout the ceremony. The keynote speaker, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, adjutant general of the Virginia National Guard, spoke fondly of the War Memorial’s significance in his own life by recalling a childhood trip to the site with his grandfather.

    “My grandfather pointed up on the east wall of the memorial to a name and began to tell us the story of his brother,” Williams said. His grandfather’s brother had enlisted in the Air Corps and eventually flew a B-26 Marauder over Europe for nearly two dozen missions before being shot down and killed over Frankfurt, Germany, on March 20, 1944.

    Hearing this story, Williams said, gave him a new appreciation for both the memorial and the veterans who served and died before him.

    “Many times I catch myself thinking how I wish I could take a page out of history, go back and talk to those veterans, tell them how much I appreciate what they did and how much that I love them,” Williams said.

    Many veterans both old and young from all branches of service attended the event. One of them was Sammy Rutledge of Ashland, Virginia.

    Rutledge is among the dwindling number of World War II veterans still alive. He said he was drafted at age 18 during the final years of the conflict, fought on the European front and was in Berlin when Nazi Germany surrendered.

    On Monday, the 90-year-old veteran was scanning the thousands of names inscribed in the Shrine of Memory, looking for the entry for his older brother, James. He said James was killed during the Allied invasion of France in 1944.

    Visiting the memorial “brings back a lot of old memories,” Rutledge said. Two other brothers died the year after the war ended from injuries they had sustained while fighting. Their names are not inscribed in the memorial’s shrine.

    After all these years, why does Rutledge still attend Memorial Day commemorations?

    “I like to see the people and those of us veterans still left,” he said.

    The event featured music from St. Andrew’s Legion Pipes and Drums and the Benedictine Cadet Pipes and Drums. Then retired Col. Terence W. Singleton led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. “Thirty-one powerful words,” Singleton said.

    Another speaker was Al Hillman, commander of the 11th District of the American Legion. “No one willingly gave their life, but they willingly went into danger,” he said.

    This year’s Memorial Day ceremony coincided with several military milestones, including the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I and 75th anniversary of America’s entry into World War II.

    The commemoration concluded as 25 wreaths were placed at the foot of the Statue of Memory inside the shrine. That was followed by a 21-gun salute, taps and closing remarks by Mountcastle.

    “Find a name,” he told the attendees. “Pick it out, take it home. Think about that name for the rest of the day, for the rest of the month and for the rest of the year.”

    CNS reporter Sean Boyce contributed to this report.

  10. 2017 SVCC Powerline Graduates

    The Southside Virginia Community College Power Line Worker Training School graduated the fourth class on May 11, 2017.  The new graduates are (Front L-R:)  Branden Hinton (Amelia), Bryce Morcom (Madison Heights), Tyler Parrish (Dundas), Adam Weaver ( Chesterfield), Chase Goodman (Beaverdam), Lisa Hodson (Blacksburg), Hunter Hicks (Madison Heights), Devan Hinton (Amerlia), Cody Harvey (Gladys), Daniel Bradbury (Amelia), Brandon French (Chester) and Brad Wike, Instructor)

    Back L-R:  Clyde Robertson, Instructor, Patrick Robbins (Kenbridge), Ricky Wilson (McKenney), Ethan Kelly (Fredericksburg), Wayne Allen (Amelia), Jake Dillard (Jetersville).  For information about the school, Call 434 292 3101 or email powerlineworker@southside.edu

  11. 2017 Associates of Nursing Pinning

    Southside Virginia Community College held a Pinning Ceremony in May to recognize students from the Associate Degree Nursing Program. These students from the Christanna Campus are now eligible to take the State Licensing Test to become Registered Nurses.  They are (front row )Left to Right:  Emily Pope-Emporia, Kristen Jackson-Dolphin,  Tammy Wright -Boydton, Rose Privott-Chester, Courtney Yager-Bracey.

    2nd row L to R: Molly Buchholz-South Hill, Jessica Young-Blackstone, Dominique Gunn-Kenbridge, Linda Gordon- South Hill, Melissa Jones- Lawrenceville

    3rd row; L to R: Michelle Williams-Brodnax, Stephanie Thomason- South Hill, Anita Simmons-South Hill, Jessica Gordon-South Hill.  SVCC has three sites that offer the ADN program;  Christanna Campus, John H. Daniel Campus, and South Boston.

  12. Helen Newsome Woodruff

    Helen Newsome Woodruff, 83, of Emporia, VA passed away on May 26, 2017. She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank G. Newsome and Pearl Wallace Newsome and her husband, George Leroy Woodruff. Visitation will be held Tuesday, 1pm, in Echols Funeral Home Chapel followed by a funeral service at 2pm. Interment will take place in Emporia Cemetery immediately following the service. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

  13. Innovations For Small Farmers Theme Of Annual USDA/VSU Field Day Thursday, June 15, 2017

    Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture will hold its annual Agriculture Field Day on Thursday, June 15, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Randolph Farm, located at 4415 River Road, Petersburg.

    Free and open to the public, the field day will highlight agricultural innovations for small farms. Small, limited-resource, urban and beginning farmers will be able to interact with USDA representatives about available resources, services and support. Participants will also be able to learn about the latest innovations and technology for small farmers from Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialists at VSU and other industry leaders.

    Tour stops will feature information and demonstrations on:

    • USDA resources for farm financing, risk management, advocacy and outreach, accepting SNAP EBT cards, and more

    • Rain simulator demonstration from USDA Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
    • Mobile meat processing unit, courtesy of Delaware State University Cooperative Extension
    • Raising chickens and rabbits in backyards
    • Berry production, management and marketing

    • New equipment, tools and technology demonstrations, including drones
    • Introduction to aquaculture practices and production
    • Hops research and production
    • High tunnel growing practices and specialty crops
    • Hikes on the new nature trail at Randolph Farm

    New this year will be a dedicated bilingual Small Farm Outreach program representative who will lead a guided walk through and translation services of the day's events in Spanish. Para más información en español, favor llamar a Mery Caldwell al número (804) 481-0425.

    Register online at www.ext.vsu.edu.  

    For more information, contact the Small Farm Outreach Program Office at (804) 524-5626. If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach office at (804) 524-5626 /TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

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

  14. Meherrin Regional Library urges families to sign up for Summer Reading Program

     

     

    The Meherrin Regional Library System is gearing up for its annual Summer Reading Program, with registration beginning June 1st and events beginning June 29th.

    This year’s theme is READING BY DESIGN. Preschoolers, Children, and Teens are all able to participate and win prizes by keeping track of books read during the summer. Participants will also be entered into drawings for reaching reading goals. Sign up options this year include a new online feature that participants can use to track reading and earn virtual badges.

    Free events will be held each Thursday beginning June 29th, at 10:30 AM at the Brunswick County Library in Lawrenceville, and at 2:00 PM at the W. E. Richardson Memorial Library in Emporia. This year’s events include magic shows, a smoothie making competition, Zumba, and a show featuring live animals. A Grand Finale celebration with prize drawings, awards, and refreshments will be held on August 3rd.

    Monday Morning Movie showings will also be held at each branch at 10:30 AM beginning July 10th.

    To learn more about Summer Reading at the library, please stop by or contact the Brunswick County Library at (434) 848-2418 x301, or Richardson Memorial Library at (434) 634-2539, or visit www.meherrinlib.org.

  15. Charles Wilson

    Charles Wilson, 58, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, May 24, 2017. He was the son of the late Benjamin F. Wilson, Jr. and Eunice Walton Wilson. He is survived by two sons, Joshua Wilson and girlfriend, Megan Gillespie and Joseph Wilson and wife, Brittany; daughter, Amanda Stone; sister, Wanda Wilson and husband, William Jordan; brother, Wayne Wilson and wife, Melanie and several nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 26 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Saturday, May 27 at Pelham United Methodist Church Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

  16. Alfred Titus Hobbs, Jr.

    Alfred Titus Hobbs, Jr. passed away peacefully on May 23, 2017, at his home surrounded by his loving family.  Alfred was born, and raised, in Emporia, VA.  He was 74 years old.  Since 1974, he has been a well-known building contractor in Emporia and the surrounding counties.  Alfred was very particular about his work and he took great pride in trying to satisfy each and every one of his customers.  He was an active member of Main Street Baptist Church and he was involved in numerous local charitable organizations.  He is survived by his loving wife of 20 years, Peggy, son Chris, daughter Sherri, step-son Chris, step-daughter Tara, their spouses, Stephanie, Juri, Susan and Joey and seven grandchildren, Bailey, Olivia, Claire, Jackson, Anna, Cooper, and Sloane.   He is also survived by his loving sister Peggy and her husband Ernest, his brother-in-law Kiser Robinson, and numerous nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred T. Hobbs, Sr. and Lucy Bradley Hobbs, sisters Edla Hobbs Wray and Louise Hobbs Robinson.  A gathering of friends will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 25th at Main Street Baptist Church in Emporia, VA.  The funeral service will also be held at the church at 2:00 P.M. on Friday, May 26th.  A private graveside service will be held immediately following the funeral.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Main Street Baptist Church, 440 S Main St. Emporia, VA  23847 or the Emporia Greensville Humane Society, 113 Baker St., Emporia, VA  23847.  Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville will be handling the arrangements.  

  17. Plan to Attend the Veteran's Support Group on June 13

    VCU Massey Cancer Center’s  Cancer Research and Resource Center of Southern Virginia is pleased to host monthly a Veteran’s support group every 2nd Tuesday at the Center, 221 North Main Street, Lawrenceville, Virginia  23868.  On June 13, 2017 at 10 am, Susan K. Spence, Veterans Service Representative from the Virginia Department of Veteran Services from the South Hill office will be present along with facilitator Mr. Jose A. Illa, a Transition Patient Advocate from Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran Administrative Medical Center, Richmond, VA.  They will be available to all Veterans from Southside Virginia who need assistance regarding questions on benefits, applications, doctor’s appointments, transportation, etc. Veterans can receive interactive session in enrolling them in the HealtheVet program.  HealtheVet is VA’s online personal health record designed for Veterans, active duty Service members, their dependents and caregivers. The HealtheVet helps Veterans partner with their health care team providing opportunities and tools to make informed decisions.  Among the newest features available to Veterans with a Premium Account include VA Notes.  These are clinical notes that your health care team records during your appointments or hospital stays.  Also available are your VA Immunization records, more detailed lab reports and a list of your current medical issues. These features are in addition to prescription refills, VA appointments and secure messaging.  All Veterans are welcome to attend.  If you need further information, please contact the Cancer Research and Resource Center, 221 North Main Street, Lawrenceville, Virginia  23868. Phone 434-532-8190 or email ttaylor37@vcu.edu.  The Center is funded by VCU Massey Cancer Center and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Region. Like us on Facebook. 

  18. 4 Ways For Busy Business Owners To Keep Up With Bookkeeping

    “One thing an accountant hates to see coming is a client with a box,” Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Business Analyst Kim Ray says.

    Ray operated her own accounting business for 12 years before coming to SBDC and experienced those clients first hand. “When an accountant sees a box, the bill goes up,” she says with a smile.

    Accountants are paid by the hour, she adds, and going through a year’s worth of receipts takes time.

    Ray, who received her MBA from Virginia Tech in 2004, currently advises new and prospective business owners in Farmville’s SBDC office. One of the first things she tells her clients is to make time for record keeping.

    “A lot of small business owners are so busy keeping up with the primary focus of their business that they don’t have time to do the administrative work,” Ray says.

    The regimented nature of accounting, she adds, is also not appealing to everyone.

    “There are a lot of rules and steps in accounting, and you can’t skip them,” she says. “You can’t be creative.”

    While “creative accounting” is something you probably don’t want to do, there are creative ways to establish a recordkeeping system that works for you. Here are Ray’s tips:

    Get organized!

    Start by developing a system for organizing receipts, bank records and warranties for equipment. It can be a simple as dozen 8 by 10-inch envelopes, one for each month. Once you have source documents organized, you don’t have to keep them in reach. Just close them up, and you’re done.

    Have a backup plan.

    Before you throw those documents in a box or envelope, have some type of listing. Organize your documents and have a record-keeping system — it can be as simple as a ledger or a computer file. It’s also wise to back that data up in another location.

    Seek assistance.

    The worst scenario is not completing the first two tips. A business owner who doesn’t have time for bookkeeping should consider outsourcing. Hiring an accountant or other professional relieves stress and often saves money in the long run. The main thing is — bookkeeping needs to be done. Make a habit of record keeping.

    Establish a CPA relationship.

    It pays to have a CPA you can call for business advice. A CPA can look at a major purchase from a tax-wise perspective and provide legal representation on IRS issues. It never hurts to have a CPA look over what you’ve done. These professionals stay up to date on the latest laws — it’s always good to have expert advice.

    To make an appointment or for more information on the services SBDC provides, contact the Longwood Small Business Development center at (434) 395-2086 or visit www.sbdc-longwood.com.

  19. COMCAST AWARDS $69,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS TO 60 VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

    Annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program Recognizes Students’ Leadership Skills, Academic Achievement and Commitment to Community Service

    Richmond– May 19, 2017 – The Comcast Foundation today announced the 2017 recipients of its annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program awards in Virginia. The program, funded by the Comcast Foundation, recognizes the best and brightest high school seniors for their community service, academic performance and leadership skills.

    “Congratulations to this year’s scholarship winners for their outstanding achievements in both the classroom and their communities,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. "Education is essential to a brighter future for our students and for the economy they will enter after graduation. I thank Comcast for their commitment to education and look forward to the impact these winners will have for years to come.”

    Comcast, joined by Deputy Attorney General: Transportation, Real Estate & Construction Division for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Stephen A. Cobb and school administrators, recognized the students at a special event held Thursday, May 18, at the Virginia State Capitol. Fifty-nine recipients of the 2017 Virginia Leaders and Achievers® scholarships received $1,000 scholarships. Chrinique Christian, a senior at Matoaca High School in Chesterfield County was awarded a $10,000 Comcast Founders Scholarship – instituted in honor of Ralph J. Roberts, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Comcast Corporation – for a total of $69,000 awarded this year to Virginia high school students.

    “It is an honor to be a part of an event that celebrates such exceptional young adults,” said Cobb.  “These high school seniors have proven to be leaders in their communities, and the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program is giving them the recognition they deserve. I look forward to following these students’ successes in the years to come.”

    “Our Leaders and Achievers Scholarship winners are committed to academic excellence and community service,” said Mary McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Beltway Region. “We are honored to recognize their achievements, and are excited to support them as they continue their educational journeys.”

    The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program provides scholarships to students who strive to achieve their full potential, who are catalysts for positive change in their communities, who are involved in their schools, and who serve as models for their fellow students. The philosophy behind the program is to give young people every opportunity to prepare for the future and to engage them in their communities. The program also demonstrates the importance of civic involvement, and the value placed on civic involvement by the business community. 

    Since 2003, Comcast has awarded nearly $800,000 in Leaders & Achievers Scholarships to more than 760 students in Virginia.  This year, the program will award more than $2 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students across the country to help them pursue higher education.  Visit hereto learn more.

    2017 Comcast Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Recipients from Virginia

    Alexandria

    Rachel Price of Bishop Ireton High School

    Adele Reardon of St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School

    Arlington

    Veronica Olivera of Arlington Mill High School Continuation Program

    Augusta County

    Brett Hostetler of Riverheads High School in Staunton

    Charlottesville

    Kibiriti Majuto of Charlottesville High School

    Chesterfield County

    Shaquille Carmichael of Cosby High School in Midlothian

    Chrinique Christian of Matoaca High School

    Cana Clark of Thomas Dale High School in Chester

    Isobel Harrison of Midlothian High School

    Emilia Lizama Garay of Meadowbrook High School

    Alexandria Markiewicz of Monacan High School

    Eva Melendez of L.C. Bird High School

    Vivian Tran of Manchester High School in Midlothian

    Culpeper County

    Brooke Bonfadini of Culpeper County High School

    Danville

    Amanda Liggon of George Washington High School

    Dinwiddie County

    Brooke Winn of Dinwiddie High School

    Emporia

    De’Ja Mangrum of Greensville County High School

    Fairfax County

    Jenna Hirshfeld of South Lakes High School in Reston

    Frederick County

    Kristen Enns of James Wood High School in Winchester

    Abigail Esslinger of Millbrook High School in Winchester

    Mitchell Skowbo of Sherando High School in Stephens City

    Hanover County

    Zachary Berenson of Atlee High School in Mechanicsville

    Mikayla Mason of Hanover High School in Mechanicsville

    Harrisonburg

    Genevieve Cowardin of Harrisonburg High School

    Henrico County

    Unity Bowling of Glendale Home School

    Madison Bradley of Godwin High School

    Pratyusha Chaluvadi of Henrico High School

    Christopher Gothard of John Randolph Tucker High School

    Sara Hamilton of Douglas S. Freeman High School

    Clare Shupack of Deep Run High School in Glen Allen

    Asia Farmer of Varina High School

    Loudoun County

    Jaden Edmonds of Broad Run High School in Ashburn

    Ashley Jain of Freedom High School in South Riding

    Lauren Moore of Loudoun County High School in Leesburg

    Camille Nau of Briar Woods High School in Ashburn

    Lynchburg

    Jonathan Bumgarner of Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology

    Jasmine Fuqua of Heritage High School

    Catherine McCord of E. C. Glass High School

    Manassas Park

    Andrew Taylor of Manassas Park High School

    Pittsylvania County

    Reid Brown of Chatham High School

    Prince William County

    Savannah Gaillard of Battlefield High School in Haymarket

    Jordyn Harrell of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge

    Norman Jones of Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas

    Richmond

    Jovannah Alston of St. Catherines School

    Akayla Anderson of John Marshall High School

    Jonae’ Crump of Richmond Community High School

    Andrea Culotta of St. Gertrude High School

    Andrea Eichenberger of Trinity Episcopal School

    Jonathan Essex of St. Christopher's School

    Autumn High of Open High School

    Jasmine Jones of Franklin Military Academy

    Demetrice Morgan of Armstrong High School

    Le’Tyra Roberson of Huguenot High School

    Harish Tekriwal of Maggie L. Walker Governor's School

    Evan Tunstall of Hermitage High School

    Roanoke

    Megan Whitney of Roanoke Valley Christian Schools

    Salem

    Ashlyn Pugh of Salem High School

    Spotsylvania County

    Lindsay Stynes of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg

    Stafford County

    Caroline Posillico of Mountain View High School

    Waynesboro

    Rebecca Pereles of Waynesboro High School

  20. May 2017 GCHS CNA Graduates

    Students from Greenville County High School who recently completed Nurse Aide Training through Southside Virginia Community College are (Front Row, Left to Right) LaMeka Harrison, Interim Principal, Harley Moore, Selena Brown, Bri'Anna Hicks, Shantae Stokes, Maya Moore, Megan Burke and Mozelle Rose, Instructor. and (Back Row, L to R) Kayla Barner, Nakita McBeth, Brittany Wyche, Deja Broadnax, JyQuesia Joyner.

  21. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE REMINDS MOTORISTS TO SLOW DOWN OR MOVE OVER THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

    RICHMOND – Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and the Virginia State Police is taking this opportunity to remind motorists to do what’s right when they see lights – #MoveOver.

    See lights- Do what's right.

    The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads.

    Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to change lanes, cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.

    From 2006 to 2015 nationwide, 128 law enforcement officers were struck by vehicles while conducting traffic stops, assisting motorists, directing traffic, or otherwise working at the roadside.*

    Last year, five Virginia State Police troopers were injured after being involved in crashes in which a motorist failed to “Move Over.” Nationwide, 15 officers were struck and killed outside their vehicles.**

    “Every day first responders and highway workers knowingly take on the dangerous task of working along the roadside to assist motorists or improve our highways,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We’re asking drivers to help protect those men and women by doing what’s right when they see flashing red, blue or amber lights – Move Over or Slow Down. It’s the law, and it could save a life.”

    Since the 2017 Memorial Day holiday weekend falls within this year’s Click It or Ticket campaign, state police troopers will be even more vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage among adults, teenagers and children. The two-week, concentrated educational and enforcement initiative began Monday and runs through June 4, 2017. The annual Click It or Ticket campaign combines high visibility enforcement of seat belt and child safety seat laws with outreach and education. 

    Of the 761 total people killed last year in crashes throughout Virginia, 304 were unrestrained.***

    Occupant restraint enforcement is a key component of the Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) traffic safety initiative that begins 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 26, 2017, and concludes Monday, May 29, 2017, at midnight.

    The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays, like Memorial Day. The program also means that all available Virginia State Police troopers will be on patrol through the holiday weekend.

    The 2016 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 913 individuals who failed to obey the law and buckle up, as well as issuing 273 citations for child safety seat violations on Virginia’s highways statewide. In addition, state police cited 11,048 speeders and 2,663 reckless drivers. A total of 131 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.

    There were 11 traffic fatalities statewide during the five-day period (May 27, 2016 – May 31, 2016) of the 2016 Memorial Day weekend. In 2015, there were 14 traffic deaths and, in 2014, Virginia experienced eight fatalities on Virginia’s highways during the holiday weekend.***

  22. ANNIE MARIE “DOODLE” ROBBINS SMITH

    The Fudge Lady, Annie Marie “Doodle” Robbins Smith, 82, of Gaston, NC died Saturday, May 20, 2017, at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

    Mrs. Smith was born in Wilson County, NC the daughter of the late William Hansel Robbins and Daisy Bass Robbins. She was also preceded in death by her husband Romie B. Smith a granddaughter, Tammy Lynn Cooke, a half-brother Russell Robbins and a half-sister, Prudie Mae Webb and a grand-dog Phoebe Branch.

    Mrs. Smith, retired from Prillaman Chemical of Suffolk, VA. She served as pastor of The Church of Jesus Christ, 116 Emry Street, Roanoke Rapids, NC from Sept. 2002 until present.  She served her community in numerous ways, being an active participant in Relay for Life from 1997 until present serving as chaplain, accountant and team leader, and being an active member of the Pilot Club from 1976 until present serving in numerous offices and was Pilot of the Year 1982-1983 and 2012-2013.

    Surviving are: three daughters, Elaine DeBerry, and her husband Ronald, Connie Pernell and her husband David and Melody Branch and her husband Michael, all of Gaston, NC; a sister, Madie Higgins of Gaston, NC; three grandsons, William “Bill” Allen Cooke, Jr. and his wife Robin, Michael Ray Cooke and Jason Everette Pernell and his wife Amy, all of Gaston, NC., great grandsons William “Will” Allen Cooke, III, Christopher “Ryan” Cooke, Andrew “Drew” Everette Pernell all of Gaston, and Michael “MJ” Ray Cooke, Jr. of Emporia, VA., two step grandsons, two step granddaughters, seven step great grandchildren, special adopted granddaughters Gracie and Jamie Clements, beloved  grand-dogs Autumn, Bella, Remington, and Snow Branch.

    The family will receive at Wrenn Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Service, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM.

    Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 2:30 PM, in the funeral home chapel, with Mr. Ricky Jordan and Mrs. Judi Hux officiating. Interment will follow in Cedarwood Cemetery, Roanoke
    Rapids, NC.

    The family request memorial donations be made to: The Pilot Club of Roanoke Valley, P. O. Box 971, Roanoke Rapids, NC  27870.          

    Online condolences may be sent to the family at: www.wrennclarkehagan.com

  23. Person of Interest Sought After City's First Homicide of 2017

    Investigators working to solve a weekend murder of Quinton L. Ivey are looking for Brittany O’Bannon.

    O’Bannon, 27, of Emporia, was named a person of interest in the City’s first Homicide of 2017, and the Emporia Police Department is asking anyone with information about O’Bannon’s whereabouts or information about Mr. Ivey’s death to call (434)634-2121. Detective Sgt. Jerry Wright is in charge of the investigation

    “Police received information that three individuals were seen running east on Church Street from the crime scene after Mr. Ivey was shot,” Emporia Police Chief Ricky A. Pinksaw said. “The Emporia Police Department is asking for the community’s assistance to locating Brittany O’Bannon who has been identified as a person of interest in this criminal investigation.”

    It was not made clear whether O’Bannon was seen running on Church Street.

    Police were called to the 300 block of Church Street in Emporia for a shooting at about 4:20 on Saturday morning.

    “Upon the Officers arrival they located and later identified Quinton L. Ivey as the shooting victim,” the chief said.

    Police have not yet said what led up to the shooting, nor have they identified the people seen running on Church Street.

    “If anyone knows of [Brittany O’Bannon’s] whereabouts, or has any other information about who may have killed Mr. Ivey… please contact the Emporia Police Department at 434-634-2121,” the chief said. “Any piece of information that you may feel is not important is critical to the successful conclusion of this investigation to bring the murderer of Mr. Ivey to justice.”

    Ivey, the son of Noral Brown and Florence Carpenter was the father of two. He was remembered at a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening.

    Tags: 

  24. First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe Visits Edward W. Wyatt Middle to Highlight School Breakfast Growth

    First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe joined Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent, Virginia State Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Virginia State University Head Football Coach and former NFL player Reggie Barlow and other partners, including No Kid Hungry Virginia and the Southeast Dairy Association at Edward W. Wyatt Middle School on Friday, May 19, to recognize the school for its success in connecting students with breakfast. Edward W. Wyatt Middle School was one of 12 school winners in the Virginia Breakfast Challenge, a campaign to increase school breakfast participation across the state.

    1,325 schools participated in the Virginia Breakfast Challenge, which ran from October 2017 through December 2017. In January, 2017, after the competition concluded, 24,741 more Virginia kids participated in school breakfast each day, compared to January, 2016.

    At the beginning of the assembly, those who were instrumental increasing access to breakfast were recognized.  Crystal Crutchfield, GCPS Foodservice Director, Ruth Bullock, Edward W. Wyatt Middle School Cafeteria Manager, and the staff of the cafeteria were all recognized. Mrs. Bullock and the lunch ladies received a rousing standing ovation. It was pointed out that the smell of freshly baked biscuits every morning was a great way to start the school day.

    “We know expanding school breakfast programs help since childhood hunger and helps children perform better in schools,” said Mrs. McAuliffe.  “This has been proven by research connecting school breakfast but as a patient to improve school attendance and math tests course, but we also are you need from administrators schools across the commonwealth that embrace the alternative models, like Edward W. Wyatt.  They’re seeing fewer discipline referrals better learning environments and better concentration from students after making the change.  It’s a win-win.” “Kids can’t be hungry to learn if they’re just plain hungry, which is why we need to continue to increase access to breakfast in our schools. Together, we can end childhood hunger.”

    One in six kids in Virginia living families that struggle with hunger.  Research shows that Congress serious consequences for children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and higher risk of hospitalization and chronic diseases.

    No Kid Hungry Virginia and its partners and focused on breakfast after the bell is a critical way to end childhood car in Virginia.  The program increases access to school breakfast by burning breakfast out of the cafeteria and making it part of the school day.

    Edward W. Wyatt middle are using credit will model allowing students to finish their breakfast in their first.  Class.  The number of students eating breakfast of the Edward W. Wyatt middle grew by 55% between October 2015 and October 2016.

    First Lady Mcauliffe and distinguished guests observed the Grab & Go breakfast program and spoke about the importance of healthy eating habits.  For winning the Virginia breakfast challenge, No Kid Hungry Virginia award the school $4000 to support technology enhancements, field trips or playground equipment.  On behalf of Virginia dairy farmers the Southeast Dairy Farmers Association awarded school $2500 to purchase equipment to support the school’s breakfast program.  The Virginia Breakfast Challenge was made possible by generous donations of No Kid Hungry Virginia sponsors including Smithfield Foods, Dominion, and Wal-Mart.

    “A complete breakfast as part of a healthy diet.  Breakfast programs help ensure all are Virginia students get the nutrition they need to succeed in school,” said Barlow.

    Virginia was one of the top 10 states with the biggest growth in breakfast programs, according to recent data from the food research and action center and is on track to serve eight million more breakfasts during the 2016-2017 school year compared with the 2013-2014 school year.

  25. Rise and Shine Breakfast Poster Winners Announced

    Winners of the Rise and Shine Breakfast Poster Contest were announced during First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe's visit to Edward W. Wyatt Middle School on Friday, May 19, 2017.

    Librarian Tabby Owen, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Secretary of Education Dietra Trent with the winners of the Rise and Shine Breakfast Poster Contest

    Sixth Grade Winner-Judah Winstead

    Seventh Grade Winner-Tyanna James

    Eight Grade Winner-Tyona Harris

  26. Mary Delbridge Taylor

    Mary Delbridge Taylor, 74, of Emporia, passed away Sunday, May 21, 2017. She was preceded in death by a son, William Chris Jarratt and a sister, Lucille Ogburn. She is survived by her daughter, Shirley J. Gill and husband, Henry; son, Michael E. Taylor and wife, Nicole; grandchildren, Michael Gill, Amanda Gill, Casey Fender and husband, Nathan, Leslie Gill Edwards and husband, Chuck, Bryan Gill, Christy Taylor, Nick Taylor, Katie Taylor and fiancé, Zach Liles and Samantha Grizzard and Josh Jarratt; nine great-grandchildren; brother, Albert Delbridge, Jr.; two sisters, Frances Taylor and Julie Finch and a number of nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind her beloved canine companion, Sweetie. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Thursday, May 25. Interment will follow at Emporia Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 310 N. Main St., Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com. 

  27. Benjamin “Uncle Benny” Veliky

    Benjamin “Uncle Benny” Veliky, 85, widower of Erma Jean Veliky, passed away Friday, May 19, 2017. He was the son of the late John and Anna S. Veliky and was also preceded in death by three brothers, John Veliky, Jr. , Paul Veliky and Charlie Veliky. He is survived by two sons, Tony Veliky and wife, Betsy and Stewart Veliky; daughters, Connie Marshall and husband, Michael and Wanda Dunlow and husband, Clinton; grandchildren, Crystal Jones and husband, Danny, Cyndal Perkins, Heather Veliky, Andrea and Lance Marshall, Eric and Leslie Veliky and Brooke and Blake Dunlow; three great-grandchildren, Zoe, Ryleigh and Bryant, a sister, Margaret Dianis and a number of nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Monday, May 22 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at St. John Lutheran Church with interment to follow at the church cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to St. John Lutheran Church, 1351 W. Atlantic St., Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

  28. VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month

    W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Stacey King, Communications Representative in the Admissions Department, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for April.  There to congratulate Stacey was Ken Libby, Vice President of Finance.

    Stacey has been employed at VCU Health CMH for five 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, “When phones were temporarily out in one of our centers Stacey did an exceptional job taking messages and emailing information to the appropriate department director.  Based on the frequency of emails that Stacey sent, it was evidence of how busy her day was.  Stacey’s extra efforts were enormously helpful to multiple departments.  Stacey is to be commended and applauded for the teamwork she displayed.”  “Stacey has always been agreeable to going the extra mile to help with whatever situation arises.  She has consistently helped our department by working extra hours.  She has also been instrumental in helping with our communications transition.”

    In addition to the award certificate, Stacey 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. 

  29. Virginia Tech’s Tom Tillar honored for exceptional service to the advancement profession

    May 18, 2017 -- Tom Tillar’s exceptional dedication to higher education advancement, shown throughout his 46-year career at Virginia Tech, will be recognized with the Frank L. Ashmore Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, widely known as CASE.

    Tillar stepped down as vice president for alumni relations in 2015. He continues to serve his alma mater as special assistant to Pamplin College of Business Dean Robert Sumichrast and is involved with planning and preparation for the Global Business and Analytics Complex.

    “Tom created an unprecedented culture of engaged and committed alumni by building life-long relationships and maintaining the history and traditions of the university,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “He has been an exemplary role model to senior professionals in the field, and a mentor and inspiration to students and staff.”

    The Ashmore Award honors a current or former staff member at a CASE member institution or educational partner who has performed exceptional service to CASE or the advancement profession. Presented annually since 1968, it was originally known as the Presidential Citiation. It was renamed in 1973 in memory of a former director of the American College Public Relations Association, a predecessor organization to CASE. This year’s award will be presented to Tillar in July at CASE’s Summit for Leaders in Advancement.

    A native of Emporia, Virginia, Tillar is a member of the university’s Class of 1969. He earned a bachelor’s in biological sciences, a master’s in student personnel services, and a doctor of education degree, all from Virginia Tech.

    Tillar began his Virginia Tech career in 1971 in what is now the Division of Student Affairs. In 1975, he joined the Virginia Tech Alumni Association staff. He held several positions in alumni and development, including director of alumni chapter programs, director of corporate and foundation support, director of alumni annual giving, and director of alumni relations, before being appointed vice president for alumni relations in 1995.

    In 2015, Tim Sands called on Tillar to serve as interim senior vice president for advancement during a reorganization that combined the Office of Development and University Relations and the Office of Alumni Relations into a single Division of Advancement, now headed by Charlie Phlegar. Senior Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Matt Winston now heads the university’s alumni relations programs.

    Tillar has been active in CASE throughout his career. He has presented at national and district conferences and served on the CASE Alumni Commission.

    He completed the CASE certificate program in alumni relations. He earned the certified fundraising executive designation conveyed by what is now the Association of Fundraising Professionals and has been a member of the Council of Alumni Association Executives for 20 years.

    Doug Dibbert, president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill General Alumni Association, nominated Tillar for the Ashmore Award.

    “For nearly a quarter of a century I have observed and admired Tom’s deep commitment to his alma mater, his complete understanding of its rich history, and his pride in the passionate support of present and former Virginia Tech students,” said Dibbert, who won the Ashmore Award in 2015. “At professional conferences, when Tom speaks, he reflects quiet confidence, authenticity, and wisdom.”

    While leading the university’s alumni engagement initiatives, Tillar established staffing for college and constituency programs and incorporated student-class-officer leadership into alumni relations. He helped plan, design, and raise funds for the Holtzman Alumni Center, which opened in 2005.

    In 2007, at the request of former President Charles Steger, Tillar formed and chaired the committee that oversaw creation of the April 16 Memorial on the Drillfield in front of Burruss Hall. The number of active alumni chapters nearly doubled between the start of Tillar’s Virginia Tech career and when he announced he was stepping down as vice president in mid-2015.

    “I am honored to receive this recognition from CASE, which is such a valuable organization enriching our profession,” Tillar said. “While I realize it’s rare these days, I’ve been blessed to work for my university over my entire career. It’s always meant so much personally to be able to serve in the spirit of our motto, Ut Prosim, and help hundreds of thousands of our alumni stay connected with their university and with each other.”

  30. State Board Sets Tuition for 2017-2018 Academic Year

    RICHMOND —The State Board for Community Colleges, by a unanimous vote, established the 2017-2018 academic year in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $150.25 per credit hour today at its regular May meeting. Beginning this fall, in-state students will pay an additional $4.00 per credit hour – an increase of 2.7 percent – which means the cost of a typical three-hour class will increase by $12 and the cost of a full-time load of classes for the year will increase by $120.

    The new rate keeps community college tuition and mandatory fees at approximately one-third of the comparable costs at Virginia’s public four-year universities.

    Virginia’s Community Colleges will use the tuition increase to pay a share of the General Assembly-approved employee pay raise; rising fringe benefit costs; and costs associated with using various Virginia administrative systems. It will also pay for operating costs for new buildings.

    “Our State Board remains sensitive to the need to ensure higher education is affordable for Virginia families,” said James Cuthbertson, chair of the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges. “Accordingly, today’s tuition decision strikes a careful balance between that need and our commitment to provide an outstanding and worthy educational experience.”

    TUITION DIFFERENTIALS

    The State Board also agreed to approve select increases in the tuition differential rates that are in addition to the base tuition. The board approved increasing the differential for Northern Virginia Community College by $1.00 per credit hour. Even with the differential, NVCC’s tuition remains the lowest among comparable colleges in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

    Further, the board approved an increase of 50 cents per credit hour to the tuition differential rate for John Tyler Community College in Chesterfield and the Tri-city area.

    The tuition differential rates remain unchanged from last year for the following community colleges: Germanna in Fredericksburg; Piedmont Virginia in Charlottesville; Reynolds in Richmond; Tidewater in Hampton Roads; Thomas Nelson on the Virginia Peninsula; and Virginia Western in Roanoke.

    OUT-OF-STATE TUITION

    The State Board increased the tuition rate for out-of-state students by $4.00 per credit hour to a total of $346.85 per credit hour. As required by law, the Board also approved an increase of $1.00 per credit hour to support the debt service for Virginia’s Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund. Out-of-state students make up approximately five percent of the total enrollment of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

    OUT-OF-STATE ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY DISCOUNT

    The Board elected to take advantage of a change in state law that allows public institutions to charge reduced tuition and mandatory fees to active duty military members stationed outside Virginia who are enrolled in degree programs associated with their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
    The Out-of-State Active Duty Military Discount essentially allows the VCCS to charge active service members a reduced tuition rate along with the $1.00 per credit hour capital fee required of all out-of-state students. The discount will save military members more than half of what they would otherwise pay in out-of-state tuition.

  31. BA JV Softball Team Undefeated

    The Brunswick Academy JV Softball team completed an undefeated 2017 season with a 19-0 record.  The Lady Vikings were victorious in the Virginia Colonial Conference championship with a win over Southampton Academy beating the Raiders with a score of 3-2. Seventh grader, Emily Roberts threw all seven innings and recorded seven strike outs. Seventh grader, Sydney Paul along with eighth graders, Melody Cox and Kaitlyn Waller, had RBI's to bank the win. This marks two consecutive years as the V.C.C. Regular and Tournament Champions with undefeated conference records. The JV Lady Vikings are coached by Amanda Hawthorne, Belinda Rivas  and Darlene Roberts.

    Picture info : Front row (left to right): Shelby Rideout, Carleigh Jarratt,  Melody Cox, Naomi Sadler (C), Emily Roberts, Reanna Powers, Assistant Coach Belinda Rivas. 

    Back row (left to right): Head Coach Amanda Hawthorne, Nelia Washburn, Kaitlyn Waller, Taylor Hill,  Alyssa Rivas, Sydney Paul, Cassidy Smith, Assistant Coach Darlene Roberts. 

    Not pictured: Scorekeeper Angie Sadler,

  32. When supply exceeds demand, wages for Langley Park day laborers suffer

    By GABY GALVIN, Capital News Service

    LANGLEY PARK, Maryland – Each weekday morning, contractors in need of day laborers to paint, mulch or hammer pull their trucks into a small strip mall here and begin negotiating with job seekers. It takes just a few minutes for the price of human labor to decline – often below the state’s minimum wage – as men desperate for work underbid each other.

    On a recent weekday, eight trucks pulled in over a two-hour period and separately negotiated with about 10 workers at a time. The bidding started at $12 an hour. But because there were more laborers than employers, the price frequently fell to as little as $5 per hour, significantly lower than the state’s mandated $8.75 minimum hourly wage and Prince George’s County’s minimum wage of $10.75 an hour. Although several workers cut deals at that low rate, Jose, a construction worker who moved to the U.S. from Guatemala 21 years ago, held out for higher pay – a decision that cost him a job at the time.

    Even though Jose sometimes works for less than the $16 an hour he thinks he should be earning, he won’t bid himself down as low as the other workers. Day laborers make so little, he said, that they “have to work sometimes day and sometimes day and nights.” (Capital News Service is withholding the last names of day workers to protect them from possible retaliatory actions from employers.)

    Scenes such as this have become a common part of the American informal job market and are especially prevalent in heavily immigrant areas such as Langley Park, a small community in Prince George’s County that is home to many families that have come to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and other countries in Central America and Africa.

    Immigrant day workers say these informal markets serve a good purpose by allowing them to find work easily and without signing paperwork or governmental oversight. But worker advocates argue that these markets actually work against the long-term interest of immigrants by pulling wages down so low that families struggle to break out of poverty. The average annual income for day laborers in Langley Park, many of whom are in the U.S. illegally, is between $10,000 and $15,000, according to CASA de Maryland, the largest Latino and immigrant advocacy organization in the Washington, D.C. area.

    Moreover, some economists believe these trends have trickled down to the broader job market and could partly explain why wages for some low-skilled workers – both native-born and immigrants – have remained stuck at the same level for decades and in some cases have fallen.

    “The theory says that increased supply [of workers] should lower wages,” said Nicholas Montgomery, a labor economist at the University of Maryland. Montgomery says that while native-born Americans might frown at the idea of working for less than minimum wage, many immigrants calculate their earnings differently. “I do believe these workers are thinking, ‘What is the way that I can make the most amount of money?’ And that’s not necessarily holding out for a higher wage. And I would rather bid myself down to $8 an hour, and have an 80 percent chance of getting a job, than having a 10 percent chance at $15 an hour.”

    Between March 2006 and March 2016, average weekly wages adjusted for inflation for all U.S. production workers rose 8.2 percent to $309.68, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That category includes workers in construction, manufacturing and service jobs and those who are not primarily employed to supervise others. But average weekly wages for workers in some industries haven’t kept pace and in some cases have declined.

    For example, average weekly wages for workers in the janitorial services industry declined 1.8 percent from March 2006 to March 2016 to $144.56; wages for employees in the house painting industry declined 3.3 percent to $307.46 and average wages for workers in the house and office furniture moving industry were down 11.5 percent to $235.76. Average weekly wages for workers in landscaping services rose 6.2 percent, but remained relatively low at just $252.85 in March 2016.

    “It’s been tough” to convince workers not to underbid their labor, says Delia Aguilar, the senior manager of workforce development for CASA de Maryland. She says that workers believe that jobs are more plentiful in the informal markets, “but that doesn’t mean that they’re getting fair payment.”

    Since 1985, CASA has tried to push back against falling wages by establishing so-called “welcome” centers where employers and potential employees can meet and CASA mediators will help negotiate wages and working conditions. CASA’s welcome center in Langley Park opened in 2008 and handles between 20 and 40 workers daily.

    CASA sets a wage floor of $10 per hour, though Aguilar said employers often pay at least $12 an hour. Higher-skilled workers earn between $15 and $20 per hour, a sharp increase from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and Maryland’s $8.75 hourly minimum wage. The state’s hourly wage is set to increase to $9.25 in July.

    In return for paying higher wages, contractors that hire via CASA take on workers who have received job and safety training. CASA offers classes on building maintenance, drywall, heating and cooling and other occupational skills, and instructs workers on professional dress and behavior.

    Still, some employers “are going to try to save money, and they see it as a business opportunity to do that,” Aguilar said of contractors who hire non-CASA workers for cheaper wages. “Some employers are conscious, they understand, what we have over here is a little bit different. They pay a little bit more, but they understand that the process is more viable.”

    CASA operates with a first-in, first-out system: When workers arrive, as early as 6 a.m., they sign in and wait for the first employer to show up with work. The second worker to arrive then moves up a slot, and so on, with the rotation carrying over to the next day. When employers pick up laborers, they sign documentation agreeing to what CASA’s staff refers to as a “living wage.” If employers don’t pay, CASA’s legal services team comes knocking.

    Felix, an immigrant from Cameroon in Central Africa, appreciates CASA’s tactics. “CASA is looking out for everybody, not for a particular person,” said Felix, who has been finding jobs through the welcome center for the past three years. He said he rarely participates in the informal markets because he isn’t willing to work for less than $10 per hour and he doesn’t like the way workers undermine each other. “Everybody up there is everybody for themselves.” 

    At least as many workers choose to look for work outside of CASA, though. For those laborers, it’s better to work for less pay than to not work at all, a risk with CASA’s one-in one-out system. With no way to collectively enforce CASA’s higher pay, wages end up dropping for all workers, according to Montgomery.

    “There’s only going to be so many people who are willing to hire people at $15 an hour,” Montgomery said. “And however many people that is, it is fewer than the number of people who are willing to hire people for $10 an hour. If you underbid, that increases your probability of getting a job.”

    Workers who operate outside of CASA underbid themselves because they think in terms of accrued wages, not hourly, Montgomery and Aguilar agree. Although CASA workers earn more hourly, the probability of not getting work in a given day is higher. Non-CASA laborers, conversely, might work more often but make less money hourly.

    CASA encourages employers to request workers through an online form and telephone calls so they don’t have to physically go to center and be “harassed” by outside workers, Aguilar said. Langley Park is the only of CASA’s five welcome centers with this issue because it is located in a strip mall’s basement. It is easy for outside workers to intercept employers on their way to CASA, offering to work for less than those waiting downstairs, she said.

    “We understand at the same time, [non-CASA laborers] are in need,” Aguilar said. “They’re trying to do as much as they can to be able to make that money that they need to support their families. At the same time, they are changing the environment in the area.”

  33. SENS. WARNER, BLUNT LEAD BIPARTISAN COALITION TO REINTRODUCE INFRASTRUCTURE LEGISLATION

    ~Bill would help states and localities leverage private funds to build and repair outdated transportation, water, and energy infrastructure~

    WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in introducing legislation to establish a new infrastructure financing authority to help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation’s outdated infrastructure. The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act helps to address the nation’s alarming investment shortfall in maintaining and improving our transportation network, water and wastewater systems and energy infrastructure. The legislation would provide additional financing tools for states and localities to create new jobs here at home while also increasing our nation’s economic competitiveness.

    “As we mark the 5th annual Infrastructure Week, we must think boldly and make real investments in our nation’s infrastructure rather than kick the can down the road with short-term fixes,” said Sen. Warner. “The BRIDGE Act offers a bold, bipartisan solution to help address our infrastructure needs by incentivizing private investment and pairing it with public resources. This legislation will set a clear framework that will help create jobs, expand U.S. commerce and trade, and keep American businesses competitive.”

    “Missouri is a transportation hub, and improving our roads, bridges, and waterways is critical for economic growth in our state and across the nation,” said Sen. Blunt. “This bipartisan bill will provide much-needed resources to strengthen infrastructure and help ensure Missouri’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses are able to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy.”

    The BRIDGE Act is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

    America currently spends roughly two percent of its GDP on infrastructure– about half what it did 50 years ago. By comparison, Europe spends around 5 percent, and China spends 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States currently ranks 12th among 144 developed countries in overall infrastructure compared to our global competitors. 

    The American Society of Civil Engineers latest estimate shows that in order to close the $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future need, and restore our global competitive advantage, we must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. As of 2012, of the more than 600,000 bridges in the U.S., 24.9 percent were either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. Nationally, our bridges are, on average, 42 years old, and need an estimated $76 billion to repair and replace. Similarly, the average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old, and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that aging and high-hazard dams require an investment of $21 billion to repair.

    To help address this funding shortfall for our nation’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, the BRIDGE Act will establish an independent, nonpartisan financing authority to complement existing U.S. infrastructure funding. The authority would provide loans and loan guarantees to help states and localities fund the most economically viable road, bridge, rail, port, water, sewer, and other significant infrastructure projects.  The authority would receive initial seed funding of up to $10 billion, which could incentivize private sector investment and make possible $300 billion or more in total project investment. The authority is structured in a way to make it self-sustaining over time without requiring additional federal appropriations.

    “If we are to improve our nation’s infrastructure, graded a D+ in ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, we can no longer afford to defer needed investment in modernization and maintenance. Under Sen. Warner’s leadership, the BRIDGE Act would make a significant step toward this increased, sustained investment, establishing a new, innovative funding authority designed to attract billions of dollars in private sector investment in our nation’s water, transportation, and energy sectors. Sen. Blunt’s co-sponsorship demonstrates once again that infrastructure is a bipartisan issue that impacts the lives of all Americans. Through the BRIDGE Act, our nation’s infrastructure will receive much-needed additional funding to help narrow the $2 trillion infrastructure investment gap that currently costs every American family $3,400 a year out of their discretionary income,”said Norma Jean Mattei, PH.D., P.E., President, American Society of Civil Engineers

    “The 31 national associations and construction trade unions of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) applaud your bipartisan efforts in crafting the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act. We support your proposal as a means to supplement the core federal transportation investment programs by utilizing an array of financing tools to encourage private sector investment in needed transportation infrastructure improvements. As Congress and the Administration move forward on a rewrite of the nation’s tax code and an encompassing infrastructure package promised by President Trump, the TCC believes a permanent solution to the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall should finally be addressed and included in either of these legislative packages. Additionally, all options, including alternative project delivery and finance methods like the BRIDGE Act, to address the nation's infrastructure deficit need to be considered as well. The BRIDGE Act represents an innovative approach that would provide the ability to support nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects that require innovative financing outside the existing core federal programs,” said the Transportation Construction Coalition, representing 31 national associations and construction trade unions

    “Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Warner of Virginia, should be commended for their ongoing effort to strengthen our nation’s investment in critical infrastructure. Their legislation, The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment Act (The BRIDGE Act), establishes a set of creative tools and incentives to draw private capital off the sidelines and promote effective public private partnerships.  There is at least a $1.4 trillion shortfall in funding needed to adequately support infrastructure needs between now and 2025.  The BRIDGE Act is key to unlocking private investment necessary to support long-term economic growth and a more competitive nation,” said Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

    According to ASCE, 42 percent of our major urban highways are congested, which costs the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. Currently, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance. Virginia received a C- on ASCE’s 2015 Infrastructure Report Card, with key regional infrastructure deemed structurally deficient such as Arlington Memorial Bridge in Northern Virginia.  The same report concluded that Virginians spend a cumulative two full work weeks per year just sitting in traffic.

    Other individuals and organizations endorsing this legislation include Sean McGarvey, President of the North America's Building Trades Unions; Ed Rendell, Co-Chair of Building America’s Future and former Governor of Pennsylvania; Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association; Kurt J. Nagle, President and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities; Elaine Nessle, Executive Director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors; Jane F. Garvey, North America Chairman of Meridiam Infrastructure and former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; Adrea Turner, Director of Transportation for America; and Jennifer Aument, Transurban Group General Manager for North America.

    For more information on key provisions of the BRIDGE Act, click here

  34. Joint Statement from Senate Intel Committee Leaders on Special Counsel Appointment

    WASHINGTON –Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today made the following statement on the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel:

    “The appointment of former FBI Director and respected lawyer Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation is a positive development and will provide some certainty for the American people that the investigation will proceed fairly and free of political influence.

    “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will continue its own investigation and to the extent any deconfliction is required, we will engage with Director Mueller and our expectation is that he will engage with the Committee as well.”

  35. KAINE & WARNER BILL TO GRANT FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINAL PASSAGE

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017, a bill reintroduced in March by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, cleared its first procedural hurdle with unanimous passage out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  The legislation would grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. These tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but have not received federal recognition, which would grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. The legislation will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

    “Today’s committee passage brings Virginia’s tribes one step closer to federal recognition,” said Kaine and Warner “Passage of this bill would give these tribes access to educational and health care services and the ability to properly pay respect to their ancestors. We won’t give up until Virginia’s tribes receive the recognition they deserve.”

    Federal recognition would allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to:

    • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
    • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
    • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care. 
  36. James Wesley “Bootsie” Harrell

    James Wesley “Bootsie” Harrell, 72, of Jarratt, passed away Sunday, May 14, 2017. He was the son of the late Gordon Bryant Harrell, Sr. and Nora Gilliam Harrell and was also preceded in death by his sister, Virginia Ann Clapper and his brothers, Gordon B. Harrell, Jr. and Leon “Fuzzy” Harrell. Bootsie was a member of Lebanon United Methodist Church and had been an avid outdoorsman and particularly loved squirrel hunting and life on the farm. He loved his family and was noted for his knowledge of the Civil War especially the local history. He is survived by a number of nieces and nephews and a large extended family including his special friend and caregiver, Martha E. Bradley; sister-in-law, Virginia M. Harrell and devoted first cousin and friend, Ronnie Bell. The family will receive friends Thursday, May 18 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. A graveside funeral will be held at a later date at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Lebanon United Methodist Church, c/o Lou Harrell, 25123 Blue Star Hwy., Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

  37. KAINE & TESTER INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT FEDERAL STUDENT AID FOR GOLD STAR FAMILIES

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and co-chair of the Senate Military Families Caucus, and Jon Tester (D-MT), ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Protect our Gold Star Families’ Education Act, legislation that wouldexpand the Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of those killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 to offset their educational expenses.

    Currently, students whose parents died as a result of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 are eligible to receive federal student aid for postsecondary education that is equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant award through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. However, as a result of sequestration, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter in May 2016 to institutions requiring them to reduce the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant awards by about 7% (or roughly $400 per recipient) for the 2016-2017 award year. The Protect our Gold Star Families’ Education Act would move the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant to the Pell Grant program to stabilize the funding source for these awards and ensure Gold Star families have access to the maximum the grant funding available. 

    “Our Gold Star families have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and ensuring they have access to a quality college education is the right thing to do,” Kaine said. “Moving these grants under the Pell program will provide more security to Gold Star families and help ease the burden of college costs. As more of our post-9/11 Gold Star children are starting to reach college age, now is the right time to improve the grant system.”  

    “College should never be out-of-reach for families who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” said Tester. “This bill is an important token of our appreciation to the Gold Star families who gave everything for this nation.  We owe it to these children to ensure they have access to a quality education that can help them achieve the best possible future.”  

    “The American Legion understands the issues that the younger generation of veterans face today,” The American Legion said. “Ensuring that dependents of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are eligible to obtain financial assistance while attending an institution of higher learning is of great importance to this organization. We applaud Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Jon Tester for addressing this issue and support this piece of legislation.”

    While Virginia public universities already offer tuition assistance to dependents whose parents were killed in action or were permanently disabled under the state’s Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP), these funds could be used to offset tuition at private institutions and could also cover additional expenses, including room and board, books, and supplies. Over 500 Virginians have attended or are currently attending college at public universities with assistance through VMSDEP and would qualify for these Pell Grants as well. 

  38. Illegal voting in Virginia? Yes. Massive? Doubtful.

    By Mary Lee Clark and Tyler Hammel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – For years, Republicans have loudly proclaimed that voter fraud is widespread in U.S. elections – and just as adamantly, Democrats have insisted that such allegations are nonsense.

    Last fall, a pair of groups supported by conservatives released a report with the sensational title “Alien Invasion in Virginia: The discovery and coverup of noncitizen registration and voting.” It said illegal voting is a “massive problem”:

    “In our small sample of just eight Virginia counties who responded to our public inspection requests, we found 1046 aliens who registered to vote illegally,” the study said.

    “The problem is most certainly exponentially worse because we have no data regarding aliens on the registration rolls for the other 125 Virginia localities. Even in this small sample, when the voting history of this small sample of alien registrants is examined, nearly 200 verified ballots were cast before they were removed from the rolls. Each one of them is likely a felony.”

    The report’s startling claims gained traction on some conservative websites as evidence of a rigged election system but were dismissed by Democrats as fiction from the far-right. The study made a splash in Virginia media but was quickly lost in the partisan noise of the presidential election.

    In recent weeks, Capital News Service attempted to replicate the study’s methods and found that some noncitizens have indeed voted in Virginia, though not on a massive scale. Using the Freedom of Information Act, voter registration records and voter history data, CNS found that:

    • About 240 people who weren’t citizens had been registered to vote in 10 localities, mostly in Northern Virginia and the Richmond area.
    • 28 of these noncitizens actually voted in an election before they were removed from the voter registration rolls.
    • They cast a total of more than 100 ballots.

    CNS did not find evidence that noncitizens voted in massive numbers or tipped an election, as some Republicans have alleged. Indeed, half of the noncitizens who voted in a party primary voted in a Republican primary. However, the records seem to contradict Democrats’ assertion that voter fraud is nonexistent.

    Origins of the ‘Alien Invasion’ report

    The “Alien Invasion” study was produced by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm based in Indiana, and the Virginia Voter Alliance, which describes itself as a nonpartisan group “dedicated to free and fair elections.”

    Logan Churchwell is the foundation’s communications director and founding editor of Breitbart News Texas, a division of the far-right news network. In an email, Churchwell explained the process the foundation used in its study to determine whether noncitizens had voted.

    Citing the state’s Freedom of Information Act, the foundation requested documents on people who were registered to vote but later pulled off the voter rolls after officials discovered they were not citizens.

    “Once we knew that more than 1,000 voters fit this description, and knew their names, we were able to see in voter files that roughly 200 ballots had been cast from this sample,” Churchwell said.

    He believes that is just the tip of the iceberg, since the study covered only a handful of Virginia’s 133 counties and cities.

    “After our first survey of 10 jurisdictions, we’re now sweeping statewide,” Churchwell said. “We’re finding more voter registrations that were swept under the rug without calling the cops. We’ll be releasing an update to our study this year.”

    To replicate the investigation, CNS sent Freedom of Information Act requests to the 10 localities mentioned in the foundation’s report: the counties of Prince William, Loudoun, Stafford, Bedford, Hanover, Fairfax and Chesterfield and the cities of Alexandria, Roanoke and Manassas.

    The requests asked for the names of individuals who were taken off the voter registration rolls since 2015 after it was determined that they were not citizens.

    The FOIA requests yielded names and other information on 243 individuals who were removed from the voter rolls because their citizenship had been questioned. Four of them were later reinstated, resulting in a final list of 239 noncitizens who had been registered voters.

    But did these individuals actually vote? The answer lies in the state’s voter history database, which shows whether someone has cast a ballot in a particular election.

    Reporters do not have access to that database. However, it is available to political campaigns and groups. One such group is NGP VAN, which manages data for Democrats. CNS asked a contact with access to the organization’s database to look up the voter histories of the individuals who had been dropped from Virginia’s voter rolls for not being citizens.

    Of the 239 individuals, the voter history database indicated that 28 had voted in an election. In fact, 26 of them voted in last year’s general election.

    For about half of these individuals, 2016 was the only election they voted in. But others had been voting for years – including one with a voting history back to 1996. In all, the 28 noncitizens were recorded as having cast a total of 120 ballots.

    The CNS research did not corroborate the contention in the “Alien Invasion” report that “nearly 200 verified ballots” were cast by noncitizens before they were removed from the voter rolls. However, it seemed certain that some noncitizens have voted.

    Can a noncitizen accidentally register to vote?

    It’s possible for noncitizens to get on the voter registration roll by mistake. It can happen when they go to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to get a driver’s license or register an automobile.

    Under the federally mandated “motor voter” system, people who go to DMV have an opportunity to register to vote. They receive a form with two checkoff questions:

    1. “Are you a citizen of the United States?”
    2. “Will you be 18 years of age on or before the next General Election day?”

    People who answer “yes” to either question and fill out of the rest of the form will automatically have their name put on the voter rolls. Forms obtained by CNS show that some people who checked the “no” box on the citizenship question but completed the remainder of the form were added to the voter registration rolls.

    “When it comes to registration, it’s mostly an honor system whether it’s at the DMV or not,” said Edgardo Cortés, commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections. “There is no comprehensive list of U.S. citizens that is available anywhere.”

    Thus, getting on the voter registration rolls is fairly easy. If election officials later learn that someone’s citizenship is in question, they send the person a written warning. The individual then has 14 days to verify his or her citizenship.

    Cortés said law enforcement and other government agencies keep in close touch with the Virginia Department of Elections. 

    Some statistics suggesting fraud seemed false

    Most of the “Alien Invasion” report focused on assertions that noncitizens have registered to vote and actually voted. But the study included another alarming statement: “In some Virginia jurisdictions, the number of people registered to vote exceeds the number of citizens eligible to vote.”

    State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, highlighted that claim in February in a press release to promote legislation requiring Virginians to show additional identification in order to vote. Echoing fellow Republicans at the state and national level, Obenshain said such laws are needed because voter fraud may be widespread.

    “There are actually eight localities where the total number of registered voters is greater than the voting age population – the total number of Virginia citizens 18 and older – according to the census data just updated in June of 2016,” stated Obenshain, a Harrisonburg attorney. “Moreover in fifteen other localities, the number of registered voters exceeds 95% of the voting age population of those jurisdictions. Something is clearly wrong.”

    It’s the purported statistics that are wrong, according to a researcher at the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia, the state’s official source of population and demographic data.

    Kathryn Piper Crespin, a research and policy analyst for the Weldon Cooper Center, compared the population data for the U.S. Census Bureau to voter registration data from the Virginia Department of Elections.

    “I could find no instance where voter registration in a locality exceeded that locality’s adult population,” Crespin said.

    Trump claims there’s voter fraud in Virginia

    Obenshain, who lost a 2013 election for attorney general to Democrat Mark Herring by 165 votes of more than 2.2 million cast, isn’t the only government official alleging voter fraud in Virginia. President Donald Trump has tweeted about the issue.

    “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!” Trump tweeted on Nov. 27.

    Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by roughly 2.8 million votes last fall. However, Trump administration officials say that’s because 3 million to 5 million noncitizens voted. (Clinton beat Trump by 212,000 votes in Virginia.)

    “We know for a fact, you have a massive number of noncitizens registered to vote in this country,” White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

    Last week, Trump signed an executive order creating a commission to investigate voter fraud. The panel will review “vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.”

    Vice President Mike Pence will chair the commission. As vice chairman, Trump named Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state. Critics say Kobach’s agenda is to suppress the vote of minorities and other people who tend to vote Democratic.

    Others have praised Virginia’s voter registration system

    It is somewhat ironic that Virginia should find itself in the crosshairs over alleged voter fraud. The commonwealth has been called a model in terms of elections. According to the Election Performance Index developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Virginia is one of the top five states in the country for keeping complete voter registration rolls.

    “We have a really comprehensive system in place in Virginia to help identify people who have moved or have died, people who are no longer eligible,” Cortés said. “We spend a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort maintaining clean and accurate registration lists here. I think Virginia has been a model in those respects.”

    Despite such record-keeping, Republican politicians and groups such as the Virginia Voter Alliance say the system is rife with fraud. While it seems clear some noncitizens have illegally cast votes, there’s no evidence yet of widespread fraud. But in the meantime, Republicans will continue to push for voter ID laws and other requirements that they believe would prevent noncitizens from voting.

  39. Political parties at odds over voter ID laws

    By Tyler Hammel and Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Voter identification laws are a hot issue in Virginia and across the country. Republicans say such laws combat voter fraud, which they insist is widespread. Democrats say the laws discourage voting by minority and elderly citizens who may be less likely to have a photo ID.

     

    The debate has played out in Virginia, where Republicans control the General Assembly and a Democrat is governor, with few signs of a compromise.

    In 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1256, which required Virginia voters to present a driver’s license, passport or other photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The bill – which was signed into law by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican – also provided free photo IDs to citizens who needed one.

    Democrats challenged the law, but in December, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it. “Not only does the substance of SB 1256 not impose an undue burden on minority voting, there was no evidence to suggest racially discriminatory intent in the law’s enactment,” the Richmond-based appellate court ruled.

    However, the ruling was hardly the last word on the subject.

    During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers introduced 11 bills concerning voter ID. Democrats submitted six measures to roll back the ID requirements or expand the types of IDs acceptable to election officials. Republicans sponsored five bills to make the requirements stricter, including proving citizenship before voting.

    Of the bills, four Republican proposals passed. Those measures were all vetoed by the current governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and Republican legislators could not muster the two-thirds majority vote to override any of the vetoes.

    The vetoed bills were:

    Senate Bill 1253, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham. It sought to require electronic pollbooks to include photographs of registered voters. In rejecting the bill, McAuliffe cited administrative and privacy concerns.

    House Bill 2343, by Del. Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville. It would have made the Virginia Department of Elections provide local registrars with a list of voters registered in multiple states. McAuliffe said this bill also would create an administrative burden.

    HB 1428, filed by Del. Buddy Fowler, R-Glen Allen, and SB 872, by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Midlothian. They sought to require voters applying for an absentee ballot to submit a copy of a photo ID.

    When a House subcommittee held a hearing on HB 1428, Fowler said it was an effort to plug a hole in the existing voting system.

    “We require folks to have a photo ID to cast a ballot here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of course, we do not require that for an absentee ballot,” Fowler said. “I think that kind of seems like a hole in the wall, and I think with the number of people who vote absentee, we should also require a photo ID for voting absentee.”

    Opponents of the legislation said it would unfairly target localities where a lot of people vote absentee, like Falls Church.

    “The city had the largest turnout of absentee voters in the state in the presidential election at 25 percent. So I come here with some knowledge of how the implementation of this bill would affect us,” David Bjerke, voter registrar for Falls Church, told lawmakers. “It would do more to discourage absentee voting by mail than it would do to protect a vote.”

    Not everyone involved in the election process agreed.

    Clara Belle Wheeler, the vice chair of the Virginia Board of Elections, supported Fowler’s bill. She also opposed legislation that would add IDs from out-of-state colleges and state-run nursing homes to the list of identification cards acceptable at the polls.

    Wheeler would like to see people present a photo ID and proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. That is the only way for registrars to verify whether the person filling out the application is a citizen, she said.

    “Voter registration is based on the honor system. So if someone fills out an application and they mark that they are a citizen, the general registrar has no means of checking whether or not that person is a citizen,” Wheeler said.

    She noted that photo IDs provide a means to verify citizenship because most of the documents accepted by the State Board of Elections cannot be obtained by noncitizens.

    HB 1428 subsequently won approval on party-line votes in the House, 65-31, and the Senate, 21-19. But in March, McAuliffe vetoed the bill.

    “The requirement would not in any way deter fraudulent voting since it provides no means of verifying the identity of the individual depicted in the submitted photograph,” McAuliffe said in his veto message.

    “The right to vote is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, and we should be doing all we can to facilitate eligible citizens’ access to the ballot. This bill would undoubtedly result in the disenfranchisement of qualified eligible Virginian voters and increase the potential for costly and time-consuming litigation.”

  40. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces April 2017 Employee of the Month

    Emporia, VA – Frances Taylor has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for April 2017. Ms. Taylor, who works in SVRMC’s Nutritional Services Department, has been employed at SVRMC since October 2009.

    Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for April was the All Star Award.  Ms. Taylor’s nomination included the following statement: “Frances takes responsibility for her area, displaying a sense of ownership in the department.  She often gives credit to her co-workers instead of taking praise for her own work; displaying great commitment to her co-workers. She is always cheerful, forever dependable, and exceeds expectations on a daily basis.  She communicates well with everyone. Frances is simply a joy to have around, she is wonderful!”

    As SVRMC’s April Employee of the Month, Ms. Taylor received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, a cash award, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2017 Employee of the Year.

  41. SVCC Alumnus Sends Off Class of 2017

    “Don’t ever forget your experience at this college and how it shaped you,” urged Stephen E. Parker, alumnus and graduation speaker for Southside Virginia Community College’s Commencement held May 13, 2017 on the John H. Daniel Campus under clearing skies.  A crowd of approximately 2,500 people attended the annual event.

    The commencement event awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates to 1,303 students.  Those attending the ceremony walked across the stage to receive their awards from Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President.

    Parker, Director, Education and Workforce, National Governor’s Association (NGA), is a proud graduate of SVCC.   Parker directs policy and advocacy for education and workforce issues, including: early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development and child nutrition. He is responsible for the development and implementation of governors’ strategic priorities through the Education and Workforce Committee. Parker is the liaison between governors and the federal government on education, human services and workforce issues.

    He reminded the graduates to “aspire to run YOUR world, not THE world. 

    “Very few will run the world, but it is possible for everyone to run their own world.  Furthermore, power to uplift people can be so much more impactful than power over people.”

    Also, he continued, as Aaron Sorkin wrote, “Having education and talent does not place you above the rest of the world.  It makes you responsible for it.”

    Parker noted that he was raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet and he had no expectations of being able to attend college. 

    “If there was no money for food, then there certainly would be no money for college.  I was destined to join my mother and her parents as the third generation in my family to never attend college.”

    Thanks to the local community college and financial assistance from  federal and state sources,  Parker became the first college graduate in his family and two years ago, his mother became the second, also graduating from SVCC.

    He concluded singing the words of Mavis Staples from “I Know A Place,” a reminder that SVCC is a good place to know and remember. 

    He said he wished for each graduate, the same genuine care and investment in their future that they  experienced at SVCC.

    Parker serves on the SVCC foundation board. He also received his bachelor’s degree at Longwood University, and completed postgraduate work in political leadership at the University of Virginia and public policy at the College of William and Mary.

         

    Julia Kay Gilliam of Emporia receives her degree from Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President (left). Hunter Darnell Astrop of Emporia is among those graduating from Southside Virginia Community College on May 13 (right).

     

     

  42. Racial disparities in marijuana arrests seen across Virginia

    By SaraRose Martin, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Hanover County, just north of Richmond, has about 88,000 white residents, and in an average year, 246 whites are arrested there for marijuana possession. That represents a rate of 280 white arrests for every 100,000 white residents.

    About 9,600 African-Americans also live in Hanover County, and in an average year, 171 blacks are arrested there for marijuana possession. That represents a rate of 1,779 black arrests for every 100,000 black residents.

    Statistically, that means African Americans are more than six times as likely as whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana in Hanover County.

    That is an extreme example of a pattern throughout Virginia: Statewide, blacks are about three times as likely as whites to be arrested on marijuana charges, according to a Capital News Service analysis of data from the Virginia State Police.

    The analysis looked at records on more than 160,000 arrests by local and state law enforcement agencies from 2010 through 2016. It found that the racial disparity in marijuana arrest rates has increased over the years: In 2010, the arrest rate for blacks was 2.9 times the arrest rate for whites; in 2016, blacks were 3.2 times as likely as whites to be arrested on marijuana charges.

    The statistics suggest that in many localities, the enforcement of marijuana laws has a disproportionate impact on African-Americans – even though studies show that blacks and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rates.

    Previous studies by other groups also found differences in marijuana arrest rates between blacks and whites. In 2015, for example, the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports legalizing marijuana, issued a report on “racial disparities in marijuana arrests in Virginia” between 2003 and 2013.

    “Black Virginians have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana law enforcement despite constituting only 20% of the state’s population and using marijuana at a similar rate as white Virginians,” the study found.

    The report was written by Jon Gettman, a criminal justice professor at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, and a researcher and analyst of marijuana policy issues. In explaining the racial disparities, he said marijuana possession is a crime of indiscretion, meaning people get arrested because they’re at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    “It’s not necessarily that the minority group of blacks are targeted for increased arrests but that the areas where they live have a lot more police patrols and a lot more police activity,” Gettman said. “I think it may have a lot to do with where police patrols are more frequent and where policing is more aggressive – and that may very well be because there’s more crime in particular regions.”

    Arresting disproportionate numbers of blacks

    The Virginia localities with the biggest differences between black and white arrest rates for marijuana were communities with relatively few African-Americans, such as Carroll County in the southwestern part of the state and the city of Poquoson, north of Hampton.

    In those localities, a handful of arrests of blacks can make the arrest rate seem astronomical. In Colonial Heights, for example, the marijuana arrest rate for blacks was more than 7,000 per 100,000 population – compared with less than 800 per 100,000 residents for whites.

    But even in Virginia’s more populous localities with sizable African-American populations, blacks were much more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana charges:

    • In Fairfax County, for every 100,000 African-American residents, 861 were arrested for marijuana possession during an average year. In contrast, for every 100,000 white residents, 265 were arrested. This means that the black arrest rate was 3.2 times the arrest rate for whites.
    • An even larger disparity exists in Arlington, where blacks were arrested at a rate of 1,173 per 100,000 population, while whites were arrested at a rate of just 145 per 100,000 population. There, the black arrest rate is eight times the white arrest rate.
    • In Lynchburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Alexandria and Newport News, the black arrest rate was four to five times the white arrest rate.

    In Hanover County, where the black arrest rate for marijuana possession was 6.4 times the white arrest rate, officials from the local NAACP have met with representatives of the county sheriff’s department and the Ashland police to discuss various issues – but not marijuana law enforcement.

    “The last time we met, we had a complaint that African-Americans are being stopped on (Route) 360 more so than whites, and they do acknowledge that more African-Americans are stopped based on profiles that they’re looking for,” said Robert Barnette, who chairs the political action committee of the Hanover County branch of the NAACP.

    “We are on the (Interstate) 95 corridor for drug traffic ... Hanover is between Richmond and D.C. The typical person that may go on to travel on 95 going north to D.C will get on Highway 301 or 295 and try to avoid some of the attention.”

    The apprehension of people from out of town may explain the disparity in arrest rates, law enforcement officials say.

    Lt. Kerri Wright of the Hanover County Sheriff’s Department noted that not everyone arrested in the county is a Hanover resident. The state of Virginia as a whole, in addition to the Hanover County area, is often seen as a drug corridor with its placement between New York and Florida, Wright said.

    She said she couldn’t give an opinion on any racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the county.

    “Our community is very supportive of us, and that’s one thing we’re very proud of,” Wright said. “There’s no push (to crack down on marijuana), but the law is the law. So we cannot state what laws we’re going to enforce and what laws we’re not going to enforce. If there’s a law and we know there’s a violation of a law, then we need to take appropriate law enforcement action.”

    Some people who have been arrested for marijuana possession suspect that socioeconomic factors may influence where marijuana laws are enforced.

    Gray Marshall, 19, was arrested on marijuana charges twice while attending Varina High School in the east end of Henrico County. Although Marshall is white, the school’s population is predominantly black. He said being a young person in a “bad” part of town might increase the chances of being arrested.

    “The second time I was in a bad area, and the cops said I just stuck out like a sore thumb. I was in a Honda sitting in an apartment complex. I got possession with intent to distribute,” Marshall said. “I feel like I was definitely more likely (than blacks) to talk a cop out of something whenever we would get in a situation. But it felt pretty much the same.”

    Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize marijuana in some form. Three other states will soon join them – but not Virginia, where the General Assembly recently rejected most proposals to liberalize marijuana laws.

    While marijuana possession arrests have decreased nationally, Gettman found that arrests in Virginia increased steadily from 2003 to 2013. He said this might have been a reaction from Virginia law enforcement because of more liberal marijuana laws around the country. They may want to send a message to counterbalance the idea that marijuana is acceptable.

    It was the arrests of blacks that made up most of the overall increase in marijuana arrests, Gettman said.

    “It’s sort of now an accepted fact that there’s a tremendous disparity in arrests between whites and blacks. In some respects, it doesn’t matter why there’s a racial disparity. The numbers show us that there is one, and consequently it’s clear that we’re not able to enforce these laws evenly, equally, fairly – and that’s a problem, and people are upset about it,” Gettman said.

    “We can all have opinions about why this is the case, but the reality is this is the case.”

  43. Virginia State Police Insurance Fraud Program recognizes Fraud Fighters

    Richmond, Va. —Nine Fraud Fighters Awards were presented on May 10 during Fraud Awareness Week at the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units (VA IASIU) annual training seminar in Richmond.

    Fraud Fighters Awards are given yearly by the Virginia State Police Insurance Fraud Program (IFP) to individuals who go above and beyond in the fight against insurance fraud.

    More than $21 million were paid to fraudulent claims in Virginia in 2016. Nationally, Insurance fraud is estimated to exceed $80 billion annually.

    “Building a case against insurance fraud can be difficult,” said First Sgt. Steve Hall, Virginia State Police IFP coordinator. “And prosecuting insurance fraud can be even more of a challenge, so we certainly appreciate all the hard work of this year’s Fraud Fighters Awards winners.”

    The Virginia General Assembly established the IFP in 1999 to initiate independent inquiries and investigations regarding suspected insurance fraud. The IFP established its Fraud Fighters Awards program in 2005.

    Visit StampOutFraud.comto learn more about the Fraud Fighters Awards program and how you can help stamp out fraud in Virginia. Tips on insurance fraud can be submitted anonymously online or by dialing (877) 62FRAUD.

    2017 Fraud Fighters Awards winners:

    •  Bradley Gregor, Virginia State Police Special Agent Accountant, Culpeper
    •  Chris Brennan, Virginia State Police Special Agent, Culpeper
    •  David Walker, Virginia State Police Special Agent, Fairfax
    •  James Liston, Virginia State Police Special Agent, Culpeper
    •  Lee Wietz, Virginia Bureau of Insurance Senior Investigator
    • Peggah Wilson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office for the Eastern District of N.C.
    • Rusty Fitzgerald, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Orange County
    •  Shawn McCurry, Virginia State Police Sergeant, Warrenton
    • Tommy Southwick, Virginia Bureau of Insurance Senior Investigator

    The Virginia State Police Insurance Fraud Program teaches citizens how to identify insurance fraud and trains law enforcement how to prevent it. If you have information regarding suspected insurance fraud, call 1-877-62FRAUD or visit StampOutFraud.com

  44. Jackson-Feild Announces New Assignments

    Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services (JFBHS) is pleased to announce staff moves.

    Paula Easter has been serving as a case manager will add the responsibilities of admissions coordinator.

    Lauren Grizzard has been hired as a therapist. She previously served as a field work student during her studies at VCU.

    Tanyah Jones had been hired as the PQI (Performance Quality Indicators) specialist and will assist CEO Patricia Delano.

    Della Greene, Ebony Gaither, and Michael Stokes have been named Program Coordinators to assist with the day-to-day operation of their respective cottage and supervise children and residential counselors.

    Robert Lewis now serves as Purchasing Coordinator and helps the maintenance staff.

    Shana Wikins has been promoted to the role of Transportation Leader. This role coordinates all daily appointments for children and the need for vehicles.

    Vernita Ross and Adrienne Foster have been assigned to residential units to provide training for residential counselors to teach them how to implement Trauma-Informed interventions as recommended by the Building Bridges Initiative.

    JFBHS seeks to improve the quality of life for its residents by providing cutting-edge treatment services for their emotional disorders.  At any given time, more than forty children are receiving residential treatment services.

    All of the children at JFBHS will benefit from the skills and abilities of these staff members in their assigned responsibilities. 

  45. Nurses Needed

    By Dr. Al Roberts

    Florence Nightingale, the British nurse who founded the modern nursing profession, was born on May 12, 1820. While tending to the needs of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, she earned a reputation as a merciful and devoted caregiver. After the war, Nightingale returned to England and established a training school for nurses. It opened in 1860.

    In 1965, the International Council of Nurses designated Nightingale’s birthday as International Nurses Day. The observance commemorates the contributions nurses make to society. In the United States, the week culminating with her birthday (May 6 through May 12) is recognized by the American Nursing Association as National Nurses Week, and the Wednesday of that week is designated as National Student Nurses Day.

    Southside Virginia Community College joins in honoring the hard-working women and men who devote their professional lives to caring for the sick and tending to the injured. Few others have such a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of people in their communities.

    Although many nurses say the rewarding feeling of serving others is one of their profession’s biggest benefits, credentialed nurses can also earn competitive wages in a career with a recession-proof track record, flexible scheduling opportunities, and a variety of fields from which to choose. Yet, despite these workplace advantages, there is a critical shortage of nurses across the nation—even here in Southside Virginia. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and other healthcare providers often struggle to find qualified people to fill vacant positions.

    Education programs available from SVCC prepare students to embark on careers in nursing and related health fields. The College’s state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Labs provide hands-on learning experiences in a safe, realistic environment. Students also participate in clinical practice at health care agencies located throughout our service region. Local medical facilities are eager to hire College graduates, providing students immediate work opportunities close to home.

    SVCC offers instruction that leads to licensure as a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse, and the College’s Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Additionally, in conjunction with Old Dominion University's Distance Learning program, the nursing education path can be extended at SVCC campuses in Alberta and Keysville to include BS or MS degrees.  Furthermore, the College’s Office of Workforce and Continuing Education prepares students for certification as a Nurse Aide (CNA), Medication Aide, Massage Therapist, or Phlebotomist.

    Florence Nightingale said, “I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” If you would like to begin a rewarding career in the health professions, call 888-220-SVCC (7822) for more information.

    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.

  46. STATE POLICE HONOR TROOPER CHAD P. DERMYER DURING ANNUAL LAW ENFORCEMENT MEMORIAL SERVICE

    Trooper Chad P. Dermyer

    RICHMOND – The men and women of the Virginia State Police and their families gathereer together Wednesday, May 10, 2017, to honor those public safety professionals who have given the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. During the 2017 Virginia State Police Law Enforcement Memorial Service, special recognition was given to Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, 37, who lost his life March 31, 2016, in the City of Richmond. The Honorable John W. Marshall, former Secretary of Public Safety, provided the ceremony’s keynote address.

    A poignant part of the service was the unveiling and dedication of Trooper Dermyer’s portrait before his family and fellow troopers. Following the ceremony, Trooper Dermyer’s portrait will be hung in the Colonel C.W. Woodson Jr. Memorial Gallery located within the Virginia State Police Academy. The gallery already holds the portraits of the state police’s other 61 courageous men and women who died in the line-of-duty while serving the citizens of the Commonwealth.

    On the afternoon of March 31, 2016, Trooper Dermyer was among a team of troopers and special agents conducting field practical operations at the bus terminal in the City of Richmond. As Trooper Dermyer approached a male subject in the terminal, the subject pulled out a firearm and began shooting the trooper at close range. Trooper Dermyer died later that afternoon.

    The service also recognized all of the Department’s law enforcement professionals who have died in the line of duty, and included a special tribute to the following eight troopers in which 2017 marks a significant milestone:    

    Trooper William Stafford Tinsley

    Born October 5, 1911, in Christiansburg, Va., Trooper Tinsley was 29 years old when he joined the State Police in 1941.

    At the time, he was one of 220 men on the state police roster patrolling the Commonwealth.

    He came to the Department with previous law enforcement experience  - having served as a deputy with the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office.

    He served only 14 months with the Department when…on the evening of September 5, 1942…Trooper Tinsley was involved in a traffic crash east of Salem.

    As he was responding to a traffic crash, a motorist became confused upon hearing Trooper Tinsley’s emergency siren.

    The trooper swerved to avoid the other vehicle, which caused the trooper’s vehicle to go up an embankment and overturn several times.

    He was ejected from the patrol car and did not survive his injuries.

    A month shy of his 31st birthday, Trooper Tinsley was survived by his wife, Isabelle.

    75 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Trooper Charles Eugene Morris

    Carroll County, Virginia was the hometown of Trooper Charles Morris who was born December 27, 1931.

    A military veteran, he joined the United States Army at the age of 17 and served his country for three years.

    In 1957, he entered the Virginia State Police Academy and completed his basic school training three months later on February 21, 1958.

    On the evening of March 2, 1962, Trooper Morris, the Patrick County Sheriff and a deputy responded to a domestic call at a farmhouse near the NC border.

    When the three law enforcement officers arrived at the home - the Sheriff knocked on the door, while Trooper Morris and the deputy stood a few feet behind him.

    Suddenly shots rang out from a 20-gauge shotgun and Trooper Morris was struck twice.

    Despite the sheriff and deputy’s concerted and immediate actions, Trooper Morris died at the hospital.

    He was 30 years-old and in the process of building a home with his wife when he was killed.

    He was our 24th line of duty death.

    55 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Trooper Alexander McKie Cochran III  

    A New Jersey native, Trooper Cochran was born January 23, 1959, and eventually moved with his parents to Virginia where he attended Rappahannock Community College.

    The call to service came early to the young man who became a helicopter crew chief with the Virginia National Guard and achieved the rank of sergeant.

    Prior to joining the state police, he worked as a security guard and EMT with a volunteer rescue squad.

    But Trooper Cochran always had a desire to join the state police and graduated the Academy in the 73rd Basic School.

    On the night of January 15, 1987, Trooper Cochran was off-duty in his apartment when he heard gunshots.

    Grabbing his Department-issued revolver, he immediately responded to what had started as a domestic dispute between a husband and wife.

    The husband had fired a shotgun from the second floor window of his home, striking another man standing outside the residence who was talking to his wife.

    Responding to the scene, Trooper Cochran immediately realized medical attention was needed.

    As he approached his patrol vehicle to call for assistance, he was shot and killed.

    Trooper Cochran was 27-years-old.

    30 years later, we will never forgot.

     

    Trooper Harry Lee Henderson

    Born January 3, 1944, Lee Henderson was a native of Staunton, Va.

    After finishing high school in 1961, he earned an accounting degree from Valley Vocational Technical School.

    He joined state police in 1973 – graduating as a member of the 57th Basic School and was assigned to Front Royal.

    In the early morning hours of March 17, 1987, Trooper Henderson had stopped a motorist for a violation on Interstate 66 in Warren County.

    He was inside his patrol vehicle preparing a summons when his cruiser was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.

    Trooper Henderson did not survive the crash.  

    Actively involved in his community, Trooper Henderson was well known with the Boy Scouts having served 22 years as a Scoutmaster.

    During his two decades of service with the organization, Trooper Henderson saw 46 of his scouts – including his son, Michael, achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

    Trooper Henderson left behind a son and daughter.

    30 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Retired Sergeant Norman Wesley Hampton

    A Richmond native and graduate of John Marshall High School, Sergeant Hampton was born October 22, 1937.

    At the age of 19, he signed on as a Virginia State Police dispatcher and became a trooper two years later.

    While serving the Commonwealth, he also served his country with the US Army from 1961 to 1963.

    He was with the Department for 34 years before retiring in March of 1991.

    Six years after his retirement, Hampton and his wife were walking along a South Carolina beach, June 3, 1997, when they heard a woman call for help.

    A young boy had become separated from his raft while out in the Atlantic Ocean.

    As his wife ran back down the beach to call 911, Sergeant Hampton ran into the ocean to rescue the 11-year-old.

    According to news accounts, at the time – a spring storm had produced  powerful ocean waves, but Sgt. Hampton managed to assist the boy back on the raft.

    Witnesses reported seeing Hampton being pulled under by the strong ocean currents.

    The child made it to shore, but Hampton did not.

    The local corner told a S.C. newspaper “for what it’s worth, I think what Mr. Hampton did was very heroic. His family should be honored to know he gave his life to save another.”

    Retired Sergeant Hampton was 59 years old.

    20 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Senior Trooper Charles Mark Cosslett

    Born February 24, 1962 in Norfolk, Mark Cosslett graduated from Monacan High School in Chesterfield County and immediately enlisted in the US Marine Corps in July 1981.

    During his distinguished 4-years of military service, he earned several awards and medals including the Rifle Marksman and the Pistol Sharp Shooter Badges…and also served as a Military Police Officer.

    He became a trooper in March 1986 – graduating as a member of the 77th Basic Session – and was assigned to Northern Virginia.

    During the Fall of 2002 - the DC-MD & Northern VA areas were being terrorized by a sniper who had already claimed 13 lives.

    On October 23, 2002, Senior Trooper Cosslett had spent the afternoon standing outside his son’s preschool, handing out Junior Trooper badges in an effort to help the area children feel safe during a very frightening and uncertain time.

    He’d just returned to the Area Office when a “shots fired” call came over the state police radio.

    While responding to the call on Interstate 95 near Springfield,

    a tow-truck unexpectedly veered into the path of the trooper’s motorcycle causing a crash that claimed the 40 year-old trooper’s life.

    Senior Trooper Cosslett was our

    51st line of duty death.

    15 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Motorist Assistance Aide Horace Alvin Jarratt.

    Horace Jarratt was born Oct. 24, 1940.

    At the age of 64, Jarratt joined the state police – as a part-time civilian employee working as a Motorist Assistance Aide.

    Through the years, he’d worked as a machine operator, truck driver, mechanic and manager of a service station.

    But he it was his business -  Horace’s Towing - that he owned and operated for 9 years where he met and became friends with many state troopers.

    After retiring from his wrecker business, he left Virginia only to return in 2004 and applied for the part-time Motorist Aide position.

    The program was one in which civilian employees supported state troopers by helping motorists with minor issues on the road such as fixing flat tires, jump-starting vehicles or supplying gasoline to stranded motorists.

    On the afternoon of April 25, 2007, Motorists Assistance Aide Jarratt pulled his state-issued vehicle onto the right shoulder of the northbound lanes of I-95 in Chesterfield County to respond to a call for debris in the roadway.

    As he was attempting to remove a large piece of tire tread from the center lane for the safety of other motorists… a tractor-trailer swerved in an attempt to avoid the debris and struck Horace.

    He died at the scene.

    Horace Jarratt was the first state police civilian and motorist assistance aid to die in the line of duty.

    He was 66-years-old and had been with the Department two years.

    10 years later, we will never forget.

     

    Trooper Andrew David Fox

    Andrew Fox was born December 18, 1984 and grew up in Tazewell County.

    He graduated Tazewell High School and growing up worked on farms in both Tazewell and Wythe counties.

    His passion for farming led to a degree from Virginia Tech in agriculture science.

    But, he found his calling in law enforcement and followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Town of Tazewell Police Department.

    Later in 2006, he joined the Virginia State Police Academy and graduated the following year with the 111th Basic Session.

    He was assigned to the Area 24 Office in Pulaski County and had just become a member of the Division IV Tact Team.

    On the night of October 5, 2012, Trooper Fox was on special assignment directing traffic at the State Fair of Virginia in Hanover County.

    A vehicle traveling through a Route 30 intersection failed to regard his direction and struck him.

    Trooper Fox did not survive the crash.

    He was 27-years-old and was survived by his wife, parents, and siblings.

    He was the Department’s 58th Line of Duty Death.

    5 years later, we will never forget.

  47. Richmond police address concerns over rising crime

    Lieutenant John McRoy, First Precinct Section 111, tells the audience at the final forum of the month about the actions his precinct are taking to ensure Richmond stays safe.  Photo by Becca Schwartz.

    By Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Already this year, Richmond has seen three double homicides:

    • On Feb. 16, Deborah Walker, 55, and her daughter Shaquenda Walker, 24, were shot and killed in their home on Coalter Street.
    • On March 29, a triple shooting in Mosby Court left Mikkaisha Smoot, 16, and Taliek Brown, 15, dead after both were taken off life support at VCU Medical Center.
    • And on April 10, Kejuan Goode, 18, and Terrell Thomas, 20, were shot and killed in South Richmond.

    “This seems to be once again a senseless act, but something that’s not random,” Mayor Levar Stoney said at the crime scene at the Walker home. “It seems very isolated, like some of the acts that happened in the past.”

    So far in 2017, the city has had 20 homicides, according to the Richmond Police Department’s tally. (That may be an undercount. A list kept by WTVR shows 23 murders to date.) During the corresponding period of 2016, there were 23 homicides. That is a worrisome trend, because 2016 was the deadliest year in Richmond in a decade: The city ended the year with 60 murders.

    Crime overall is up this year, according to the Richmond Police Department’s Crime Incident Information Center. Through April 30, Richmond police received reports of more than 11,000 violent crimes and property crimes. That’s 1,000 more than during the corresponding period of last year.

    Most reported violent crimes are gun-related, said Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham.

    “We’re seeing a lot of gun violence in the city,” Durham said. “A lot of our young folks are illegally possessing firearms.”

    Gun violence was a key topic at recent forums held throughout the city by the Richmond Police Department. Such town halls have become an annual tradition for the department since Durham became chief in 2015. But this year’s forums had a specific focus: What is causing an increase in crime in Richmond – and what can the community do to help?

    More than 100 people attended the first forum at the Southside Plaza Community Center on April 18 to express frustration with the spike in crime. At that point, Richmond had seen 1,432 violent crimes so far in 2017 – 39 more than during the same period last year, according to the department’s Crime Incident Information Center.

     

     

     
     

    Despite the numbers, Durham assured the crowd that crime is “not out of control.” However, this was a tough bit to sell to Karen Norwood, whose 30-year-old daughter Noony was shot and killed on Hull Street on Nov. 6 and died nine hours later at a nearby hospital. Noony was an African-American transgender woman — the 21st trans person reported to be killed in America last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT civil rights advocacy group.

    Norwood said she has been in touch with police, but no new developments have come to light despite surveillance cameras near the crime scene. “There’s cameras out there, but the images on the camera – they can’t see it because it’s too dark for them to see it,” she said.

    Durham stood by his word at the final town hall of the season on April 27. He said crime across the city is not out of control; rather, certain neighborhoods have seen a “significant increase” in crime – especially in East Richmond, public housing communities and several communities in Southside.

    “We know where the crime is,” Durham said.

    He proceeded to go through a detailed presentation including crime statistics, the proliferation of firearms in the city, department staffing levels and how the community can help.

    The first slide cited statistics that the department sends the FBI for its Uniform Crime Report, which is divided into two categories: violent crime and property crimes. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes, which are more common, range from shoplifting to burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

    “We have been concentrating our efforts on these areas because we know where the violent crime is committed,” Durham said. “Crime is not out of control. But we do have violent crime in this city, and we have a small population of folks committing those criminal acts.”

    He emphasized the need for “transparency” between community members and the police department in improving public safety.

    “We can’t do our job if we don’t know your expectations of your police department,” Durham said. “We are having some challenges this year, but the most important keys on how we’re going to resolve those issues are sitting right in this room.”

    Durham said crime can be difficult to manage because the department is understaffed. It is authorized to have 750 sworn officers but has only 688, including cadet recruits who don’t graduate from the academy until this summer.

    The Second Precinct in South Richmond is short 13 officers alone.

    “How do we make up for that?” Durham said. “Through minimal staffing overtime. When we’re making them work, they get burned out.”

    Crime rates are increasing outside of Richmond as well. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which collected data from 61 metropolitan police agencies, U.S. cities saw 6,407 homicides in 2016 – an 11 percent increase from the year before. Dallas, Las Vegas and Phoenix – as well as Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Jose, California – all saw rises in killings in 2016.

    Smaller cities that typically have low murder rates saw a jump as well, including Arlington, Texas, which had four homicides in 2015 but 18 in 2016, and Salt Lake City, which had six in 2015 compared with 14 last year.

    Richmond had 43 homicides in 2015. The city’s murder rate that year was 19.5 per 100,000 population. Last year, with 60 homicides, Richmond’s murder rate was 27 per 100,000. That’s an increase of more than 38 percent.

     

     

     
     

    The FBI has not yet released 2016 crime statistics for all of the nation’s cities and states. However, even before the 2016 spike in homicides, Richmond compared poorly to other cities.

    Of the 290 U.S. cities with at least 100,000 people, Richmond ranked 20th in the murder rate in 2015 and had the highest murder rate of all large cities in Virginia. Norfolk, which has a slightly larger population than Richmond, had 28 murders in 2015.

    Meantime, the chief is asking the community to partner with him and his department, reminding residents that his officers do all they can to keep the city safe. But at the end of the day, “we all play a role.”

    “Police are the only people in society paid to do public safety, but public safety is a shared responsibility,” Durham said. “What more can we do?”

    Some community members are already doing their part. Carolyn Johnson, president of the McGuire Civic Association, said she has been dubbed president of the “Snitch Club” in her neighborhood. She encourages others to take photos if they witness crime and call the police directly – not 911 – when reporting wrongdoers.

    “This is my block, and I’m taking it back,” she said at the first forum on April 18.

    Charles Wes, another town hall attendee, said he would like to form a coalition of people who want to get youths involved in activities like recreation leagues and community events to keep them off the streets. His suggestion was met by loud applause; Nicole Fields suggested that the forum attendees come up with activities themselves.

    Such community involvement is what the police need, the mayor said.

    “We have an awesome department … And although they are great, they are not superheroes,” Stoney said. “They will tell you they are only better with better neighbors and citizens. They’re great because of you all.”

  48. Robert “Jake” Watson

    Robert “Jake” Watson, 80, of Emporia, passed away Friday, May 12, 2017. Jake was preceded in death by his parents, Floyd and Vela Watson; sisters, Ann Lynch, Flossie Harrup, and brothers, Floyd “Dickie” Watson (Margaret) and Michael Jones (Patricia). He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Joyce Clements Watson; sons, Jacob Derek Watson (Malissa) of Homosassa, FL, Rob Watson (Lisa) of Morehead City, NC and Keith Watson of Emporia, VA; daughter, Vickie Allen (Robert) of Emporia, VA; nine grandchildren; a sister, Judy Moore (Larry) of Richmond, VA and also his wonderful friend and caregiver, Sarah Smith. Mr. Watson retired from Virginia Department of Transportation as maintenance superintendent for Greensville County after 43 years service. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, May 15 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

  49. Patsy Claud Sledge

    Patsy Claud Sledge of Emporia, VA died on May 11, 2017.  Patsy grew up in the small community of Drewyville, VA.  She was the retired office manager of Emporia Foundry.  She was an avid reader, gardener, and tennis player, and she loved the Outer Banks and fishing.

    Patsy was preceded in death by her parents, Leslie Vance Claud, Helen Fisher Claud; and her brother, Gene Arnold Claud.  She was the widow of David Lee Sledge.  She leaves to cherish her memory, her brother, Leslie Vance Claud, Jr. and wife, Sandra; two daughters; Kathryne Harrison Turner and husband, Steve; Pamela Harrison Crichton; three granddaughters, Kaycee Claud Ackaway, Kirsten Juliette Crichton, and Kathryne Jane Crichton; and three great grandchildren, Niko, Nori, and London. 

    The memorial service will be held on Monday, May 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Drewyville, VA. The family will receive friends following the service at the reception in the church social hall. 

    The family encourages that donations be made to Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in lieu of flowers. 

    Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

  50. (Mother) "Can You Hear Me?"

    From the well lit sky below
    Or when the bit full moons above
    Did you know that I still miss you
    And keep trying to send you my love?
     
    Yes I miss you when the morning comes
    And all throughout the day
    We never talked if all went bad
    That things would be this way.
     
    Now I was the youngest son you had
    And or me you said you'd stay
    Well things it seems sure changed a lot
    Or how did you get away.
     
    Yes I was moving in for one more hug
    So I could hold you oh so tight
    My sister said she has gone away
    And won't be back tonight.
     
    Well I knew the lord would need you
    And in time I'd have to share
    Yet I didn't want you leaving
    Before I could show my care.
     
    Yes you were the greatest of Mothers
    For me you did not fail
    When you're on break from your Heavenly Grace
    Don't forget to read your e-mail!
     
    Roy E. Schepp
  51. Women more likely than men to finish college

    By Ashley Luck and Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Not only are women more likely than men to attend college in Virginia, but they’re also more likely to graduate.

    At Radford University, for example, 65 percent of the female students graduate within six years with a bachelor’s degree, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. For male students, the graduation rate is just 52 percent.

    At the University of Mary Washington, another state-supported school, the disparity is slightly bigger: The graduation rate is 75 percent for women and 61 percent for men.

    At two private schools in Virginia, there is a 22-percentage-point difference between male and female graduation rates. At Emory & Henry College, the rate for women is 67 percent, versus 45 percent for men; and at Shenandoah University, the female graduation rate is 65 percent, while the male rate is 43 percent.

    At almost all of the public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education in Virginia, women are more likely than men to graduate.

    The gap between female and male graduation rates is 12 percentage points at George Mason University, 10 points at Old Dominion University, 7 points at Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University, and 6 points at James Madison University. There’s even a disparity at the College of William and Mary (4 percentage points), the University of Richmond (3 points) and the University of Virginia (3 points).

     

    There are only a handful of exceptions: At Washington and Lee University, men and women have the same graduation rate – 91 percent. At Bridgewater College, men are slightly more likely to graduate (54 percent) than women (53 percent). And at Virginia Military Institute, the male graduation rate is 75 percent while the female rate is 71 percent.

    Dr. Linda E. Zyzniewski, undergraduate programs director in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, said higher education is changing.

    “Historically, women didn’t go to college many generations ago, so now we’re seeing a big shift in it,” said Zyzniewski, an associate professor of social psychology. “Women are able to support themselves now in ways that 40 years ago they couldn’t. You couldn’t have a credit card in your own name as a woman 40 or 45 years ago.

    “Within a reasonable number of generations, we’re seeing people have opportunities that perhaps in the past you had to be married to have. Now, women can support themselves and be independent, and so then there’s a need to grow and develop differently than men might.”

    The changes are reflected in the gender composition of the student body as well. Of the approximately 290,000 undergraduates at all four-year colleges and universities in Virginia, 56 percent are women. Women outnumber men 2-1 at Longwood University, Hampton University and the University of Mary Washington. Of VCU’s 24,000 undergraduates in 2015, 57 percent were female and 43 percent male.

    Universities across the country are seeing women graduate at rates higher than men. For instance, VCU has 25 peer institutions – a list designated by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. These institutions span the country and include New York University, Temple University, Boston University and the University of Miami. At 23 of VCU’s 25 peer institutions, women are more likely than men to graduate.

    Zyzniewski said the opioid addiction crisis in the United States also could be affecting graduation rates and success in school.

    “The addiction crisis we have right now in our society, of all substances but particularly opiates, there are gender differences in that kind of drug use,” Zyzniewski said. “So if you’re in an area where there’s a lot of that, you might not be able to be successful in school.”

    The data used in this story may be found here

  52. Colleges seek to improve graduation rates

    By Ashley Luck and Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginia was recognized by Time magazine in 2014 for having several of the best colleges in the country. While the state boasts some noteworthy institutions, many of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities are still striving to improve their graduation rates.

    According to the latest federal data, the University of Virginia graduates 93 percent of its students within six years – the highest rate of any public school in the state. William and Mary comes close with 90 percent. James Madison University and Virginia Tech have graduation rates of 83 percent.

     

    But the rates are lower at Virginia Commonwealth University (62 percent), Radford University (59 percent) and Old Dominion University (53 percent). And Norfolk State University’s graduation rate is just 33 percent.

    Those statistics reflect the percentage of students who started at an institution and graduated within six years. The data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System does not include transfer students.

    Among Virginia’s private institutions, Washington and Lee University has the highest graduation rate at 91 percent, followed by the University of Richmond at 88 percent.

    Not all private schools maintain such high graduation rates. The rate is 47 percent at Liberty University, and several schools including Mary Baldwin University (previously called Mary Baldwin College), Ferrum College, Averett University, University of the Potomac and Virginia Union University all have rates under 40 percent.

    Advising may help students succeed

    Dr. Sybil Halloran, interim vice provost in VCU’s Division of Strategic Enrollment and Management, said VCU is always trying to find ways to improve its graduation rate.

    “I think we have done some things to improve, and I think we can do some more,” Halloran said. “In 2001, VCU was at a graduation rate of 47 percent, whereas the statewide graduation rate was at 67 percent, so VCU was 20 percent lower. But if you go to 2008, VCU was at a 59 percent and the state only increased to 70 percent. The state only increased three percentage points and VCU increased by 12. It’s important to acknowledge the work that has been done.”

    Halloran said the university recently revamped its advising and is continuing to look at ways to make things easier for students.

    “I think there are things that we are starting to do and can continue to do,” Halloran said. “We are acknowledging how important advising is. We’ve done some restructuring of advising even just this year. We’ve got pretty strong freshmen advising. One thing we need to look at and should look at it is course scheduling.

    “It would be really nice if we could say to a student coming in, here’s the next four years, these courses are scheduled then. Right now, you can know what courses there are, but not necessarily how they are scheduled. That could really help a student prepare for the next four years.”

    In 2013, VCU launched a campaign called “Do the Math,”urging students to take 15 credits per semester so they can graduate in four years with 120 credit hours. According to the campaign, graduating in four years instead of six will save in-state students an estimated $50,000.

    “We are continuing to encourage students to continue to take 15 credits a semester when possible,” Halloran said. “Now, that doesn’t work for everyone. There are a lot of students that come here and don’t really understand why that’s important. As much as we want students here, we want them to come here, enjoy themselves, get a great education, but we want them to leave with a degree.

    “We are also continuing to encourage students to take classes during the summer. You can really knock out some courses during the summer.”

    How tuition compares at different schools

    In-state tuition, room and board cost about $25,000 a year at VCU, as well as at Virginia Tech. A year at U.Va. is about $30,000, while at James Madison, it’s just under $20,000, according to the schools’ websites.

    VCU will likely increase tuition again next year. The Board of Visitors is reviewing proposals for a tuition hike between 3 percent and 6 percent.

    According to VCU’s Reporting Center, the university admitted more than 4,200 freshmen last fall – its largest freshman class in six years. In 2010, VCU’s freshman class numbered 3,615.

    Halloran doesn’t expect admissions to increase any time soon.

    “I don’t envision us going bigger and bigger for freshman classes,” Halloran said. “You have to look at the applicant pool, what the right size is for VCU and everything from housing to advisers. It’s not my understanding that we will be bigger in numbers next year. I don’t think it’s our goal is to get bigger every year. Whether our freshman class is 100 students, 1,000 students or 5,000 students, for those students we always look at what we can do to improve the graduation rate.”

    Halloran wants to know more about the 38 percent of VCU students who fail to earn an undergraduate degree within six years.

    “Based on what research and data that we do have, I think some may go somewhere else, some may stay here longer and some may never get a degree,” Halloran said. “I think we will always have some people in those groups. I don’t think we will ever be at 100 percent; that’s not realistic, although we’d like to get close.”

    Halloran expressed concern for students who take out loans to attend college.

    “It’s one thing to leave with a degree and debt, because you actually have something in hand,” she said. “It’s not ideal for students to leave here with debt and no degree.”

    The data used for this story may be found here.

  53. Virginia ABC stores register record profits

     

    By Amelia Heymann and Jessica Samuels, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – It’s Saturday night, and it’s busy at the Oxbridge Square ABC store on Hull Street Road. Alone and in groups, shoppers are picking up libations for the evening.

    For some customers, this is a once-in-a-blue-moon trip; for others, it’s a regular occurrence. Nadia Goldman says she goes about once a month, while Nicole Booth says she goes every weekend for herself and others.

    “My purpose is to party and to get ripped,” Booth said.

    Thanks to customers like her, Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores rang up record profits in 2016, according to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

    Last year, the 359 ABC stores across the commonwealth had gross sales of about $895 million – $106 for every resident of Virginia. The stores sold 11.4 million gallons of alcoholic beverages, or 1.4 gallons per capita.

    For Virginia officials, what counts most is how much money the stores produce in net profit and state taxes. In 2016, the total was $315 million. That represents a profit margin of more than 35 percent of gross sales.

    The amount that the ABC stores funneled into the state treasury has increased by more than one-third over the past five years. (In 2011, the stores’ net profits plus state taxes totaled $235 million.)

    Valerie Hubbard, a public relations specialist for the ABC, said an increase in stores might have boosted sales during fiscal year 2016, which ended on June 30.

    During the fiscal year, the ABC opened eight new locations across the commonwealth, including one in Floyd County, which had been dry until 2014. In addition, the agency remodeled eight stores and relocated 10 others.

    ABC sales may see another increase this year. Since July, stores across the commonwealth began opening at noon on Sundays rather than 1 p.m. Longer hours, of course, mean more opportunity to make a profit.

    Which stores sold the most in 2016?

    To see how much your local ABC store sold in 2015 and 2016, click on the map

    The ABC stores in Fairfax County sold the most alcohol beverages – nearly 1.3 million gallons. Then came Virginia Beach with about 830,000 gallons. But that is to be expected: Fairfax County has 40 ABC stores and a population of about 1.1 million people; Virginia Beach has 14 stores and more than 450,000 residents.

    In terms of sales per capita, the top locality was Lexington. The city’s lone ABC store sold a modest 43,340 gallons of alcoholic beverages – but that represented 6.2 gallons for each of Lexington’s 7,045 residents. (Caveat: Lexington is surrounded by Rockbridge County, which doesn’t have an ABC store. Many Rockbridge County residents no doubt buy liquor from the Lexington store, inflating the per-capita statistic.)

    Emporia, in Southside Virginia, and Norton, in the state’s southwest corner, had ABC sales of more than 5 gallons per capita. Then came the cities of Williamsburg and Franklin, at about 4 gallons per capita, followed by Charlottesville at 3.8 gallons per capita.

    Astute observers may detect a pattern: Lexington is home to the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University; Williamsburg, to the College of William and Mary; and Charlottesville, to the University of Virginia.

    The 10 ABC stores with the highest gross sales last year included one near U.Va. and another near Virginia Tech:

    • 1612 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach – $9,202,992 in gross sales
    • 405 30th St., Virginia Beach – $8,399,650
    • 3333 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach – $7,699,741
    • 8413 Old Courthouse Road, Fairfax County – $7,621,199
    • 4312 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria – $7,133,652
    • 10 N. Thompson St., Richmond – $6,979,359
    • 1902 Emmet St., Charlottesville – $6,617,752
    • 2400 Cunningham Drive, Hampton – $6,442,135
    • 1332 S. Main St., Blacksburg – $6,428,867
    • 4320 S. Laburnum Ave., Henrico County – $6,126,451

    Virginia has 360 ABC stores. State officials say 92 percent of Virginia’s population lives within 10 minutes of an ABC store.

    Fourteen localities in Virginia don’t have an ABC store; several of them are dry, meaning they prohibit the retail sale of distilled spirits. However, such “wet” localities as Rockbridge County (population 22,000) and Manassas Park (population 16,000) don’t have an ABC location.

    How does state-controlled liquor affect prices?

    According to the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit think tank, in 2015 Virginia had the third-highest distilled spirits tax in the United States. The Virginia tax averaged $19.18 per gallon of spirits. The tax was higher only in the states of Washington ($35.22 per gallon) and Oregon ($22.72).

    All of Virginia’s border states have lower spirit taxes. North Carolina’s tax is $12.30 per gallon; the other neighboring states tax spirits at less than $5 a gallon – and just $1.89 in West Virginia.

    In Virginia, revenues from liquor sales go into the state government’s general fund, which supports schools, law enforcement and other public services. In 2016, the ABC transferred over $24 million more revenue into the general fund than during the previous year.

    Money made by ABC stores also goes toward the agency’s education and training programs to help prevent alcohol abuse and underage drinking.

    As lucrative as ABC operations have been for Virginia, some Republican officials have wanted to privatize the sale of alcohol. Virginia is one of only nine states where the government controls liquor stores.

    In 2012, then-Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed that the state sell off the ABC stores. The attempt failed because many legislators weren’t willing to lose the revenue that the liquor monopoly generated for the government.

    In contrast, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has used his tenure to increase ABC revenues. During his administration, the ABC has opened 19 new stores. Moreover, McAuliffe signed legislation allowing ABC stores to sell 151-proof alcohol such as Everclear. (The existing limit is 101-proof.) The law will take effect July 1.

    The ABC projects that during the 2017 fiscal year, alcohol sales will rise more than 4 percent.

    Convenient store locations, such as the Hull Street Road shopping center, make liquor shopping easy for Nicole Booth and her friends.

    “I actually shop at the closest one to me at the time,” Booth said. “Oxbridge Square is the closest to my house. I buy Hennessy, or Grey Goose vodka.”

  54. GCPS Receives Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant

    On Friday, May 5, 2017, Roseann Liberatore with the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association presented Dr. Angela Wilson, Superintendent and Crystal Crutchfield, Food Service Supervisor with a check for $13,650.00 for the Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant.

    Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program to teach kids how to lead healthier lifestyles. Each of the four schools in Greensville County received funds totaling $13,650.00. The funds were used to purchase new cafeteria equipment such as milk boxes, freezers, coolers, breakfast carts and more. Greensville County High School and Belfield Elementary also received funding to purchase new physical activity equipment for students to use including various activity balls, games, and rackets.

    Pictured receiving the check are Roseann Liberatore, Dr. Angela Wilson, Crystal Crutchfield, Cafeteria Managers Barbara Batchelor, Linda Brna, Ruth Bullock, Rhena King, and Aletha Robinson, Mrs. Tammy Hand and Mrs. Austine Ellis, Assistant Principals from Greensville Elementary and various Greensville Elementary students. ​

  55. For-profit colleges under scrutiny as students default on loans

    By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

    U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently rolled back several Obama-era initiatives that would increase protections for student loan borrowers and curtail loan servicer misconduct.

    The initiatives were the result of three memos issued by the Obama administration to reform debt repayment. They involved creating a single platform system for loan repayment and banning collection fees for defaulted borrowers.

    DeVos rescinded the memos on April 11, explaining that the reform process “has been subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives.”

    In response, 22 state attorneys general wrote a letter to DeVos criticizing her withdrawal of the memos and calling for the Education Department to reconsider the impact on student borrowers.

    “Too many students across the country graduate college saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debt and fall victim to gross misconduct by loan servicers,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a press release. “These critical reforms had been put into place to protect our students and their families, and it’s downright irresponsible for the Education Department to roll them back.”

     

    College loan debt and default rates have become a focus in education policymaking as student loans have eclipsed auto loans and credit cards as the largest form of consumer debt after mortgages. Americans now owe more than $1.4 trillion in loans for their education, and for-profit colleges are under scrutiny for their role for the financial burden.

    Low graduation rates, high loan default rates

    Enrollment at for-profit institutions of higher education tripled from 766,000 in 2001 to 2.4 million in 2010. Yet only 27 percent of students nationally graduate within six years from for-profit institutions, while the graduation rate for public and private nonprofit schools is more than 50 percent. From Virginia for-profits, the University of Phoenix-Virginia and Stratford University report the lowest graduation rates of 12 percent.

    According to Kevin Fudge, director of consumer advocacy at American Student Assistance, students who enroll in school but fail to receive a degree are the most susceptible to defaulting on student loans. Students from for-profit colleges make up 35 percent about student loan defaults.

    For-profit schools’ low graduation rates and high loan default rates have not gone unnoticed by the Education Department. Enrollment at for-profit institutions has declined in most recent years because of an improved economy with more young adults heading straight to the workforce, but also due to regulatory and financial pressures while Barack Obama was president.

    ITT Technical Institute shut down last September, stranding more than 40,000 students with lost semesters of transferable credits and student loans to pay. The for-profit college closed after state and federal departments investigated the school’s recruitment practices, high student loan default rates and contested job placement rates. Eventually the Education Department banned students from using federal financial aid at ITT Tech branches, leading ITT to declare bankruptcy.

    Like other for-profit institutions, ITT relied on federal financial aid from the Education Department and military and veterans’ benefits for at least 70 percent of the school’s revenue. For-profits are legally prohibited from receiving more than 90 percent of total revenue from federal aid, but this “90/10” rule does not include veterans’ benefits in its calculations.

    Data produced by the Education Department together with the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs showed that about 200 for-profits were almost entirely supported by the federal government when military and veterans’ benefits are added into the total revenue.

    In Richmond, Chester Career College was fined $5 million in a class-action settlement filed by former students in 2013. The lawsuit accused Chester Career College of targeting minorities in an enrollment scheme to reap from federal student loan programs, and failing to provide students with an adequate education.

    Proprietary schools provide ‘a motherly sort of experience’

    Proprietary schools tend to cater to non-traditional college students: people from low-income families, underrepresented minorities, single mothers and veterans. The reason why for-profit schools such as South or Stratford University are able to attract these demographics is because of their accessibility, says Tressie McMillan Cottom, an assistant sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.”

    “It was interesting how little paperwork there is – almost none, and certainly nowhere near the sheer volume we produce on the traditional side,” said Cottom, who researched the enrollment process at nine for-profit schools.

    “Much of the admissions process was shaped by women who were heavily concentrated in these jobs as enrollment officers, so there was almost a motherly sort of experience at times. When you experience the for-profit college process on the ground, it doesn’t feel very corporate at all.”

    Educational institutions are well aware that non-traditional students benefit from greater support throughout the application process.

    “What for-profit colleges do is not innovative, actually,” Cottom said, adding that traditional colleges simply don’t have the funds to spend money on people before they enroll as students. Nevertheless, small touches such as having a person, rather than a voice prompt, answer the phone and conducting application workshops could give traditional higher education institutions the approachability that non-traditional students seek in their learning.

    For-profit sector may rebound under Trump

    Still, the for-profit school sector is not so easily replaced. Even as for-profit college enrollments have slipped from their peak in 2010, community colleges have also experienced a drop in students. Rather than choosing traditional higher education over for-profit schools, potential students are skipping school altogether.

    While negative publicity and tightening federal regulations have dampened the for-profit enrollment and revenue numbers, the market sector has found optimism in President Trump.

    Under the Obama administration, the Education Department policed predatory practices by for-profit colleges including false advertising and substandard educational guidelines. ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges both collapsed under legal challenges during the Obama era as well.

    In the same month he was elected president, Trump settled three lawsuits – one stemming from the New York attorney general’s office – against his for-profit education company, Trump University.

    DeVos, Trump’s appointee for secretary of education, has championed competition within the educational sphere and holds investments in for-profit education corporations. Since Election Day, DeVry University, a leader in the for-profit sector, has recorded a steady rise of 52 percent in stock price, and other large for-profit educational organizations like Grand Canyon Education and Strayer have reported equally strong increases of 37 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

    In Virginia, Trump has asked Liberty University President Jerry L. Falwell Jr. to head an education task force meant to pare down “overreaching regulation.” While categorized as a private nonprofit, Liberty University operates an online division of the university that has experienced explosive growth in enrollment and revenue starting in 2006, rivaling for-profit colleges as a competitive business model. Liberty University also received an estimated $775 million in federal financial aid as student loans and grants in 2011 – the highest amount received in Virginia, according to data from the Education Department.

    Everyone got an A because the teacher didn’t show

    For-profit institutions are not a new fixture in Virginia’s academic landscape, but neither are issues surrounding the credibility and educational responsibility of these proprietary schools. In 2011, a group of students filed a class action complaint against the Richmond School of Health and Technology seeking damages as victims of a “deceptive and dishonest scheme.”

    “In my computer class, the teacher did not show up for the final exam. After sitting in the classroom for nearly two hours, an instructor from another program came in and informed us that we would all receive A’s since the teacher was absent. We never took the exam for that class,” student plaintiff Melissa Blaney testified in her declaration.

    “Many employers do not want to hire RSHT graduates because they know that RSHT does such a poor job of educating and training its students,” wrote another student plaintiff. “This bad reputation, combined with my lack of experience in the field, has prevented me from getting a job despite having passed the certification exam.”

    Virginia has enacted consumer protections for former students of for-profit colleges that have closed.

    After Corinthian Colleges Inc. declared bankruptcy, Attorney General Herring announced that Virginians enrolled at the company’s schools were eligible for loan forgiveness.

    Not all for-profit colleges meet a messy legal demise, though the slew of alarming news stories and sly marketing tactics can confuse the prospective students looking to earn new certifications and skills.

    In her examination of the predatory nature of certain for-profit colleges, Cottom found that some specialty schools provide value – notably programs that are community focused, much in the way hair cutting or truck driving schools operate to train workers without the flashy advertisements or branding.

    She advises students thinking about enrolling at a for-profit college to ask questions that can differentiate between the principled and the predatory.

     “I would ask them whether or not the credit hours you might earn there would transfer to a different university,” Cottom said. “Underneath that question when you’re asking, ‘Hey, are my credit hours going to transfer?’ what you’re asking is, ‘Do other colleges and universities value the classes I have taken here?’ And that’s a good proxy for whether or not people in the broader society and community will value your degree.”

  56. 35 million pounds of toxic chemicalss released into Virginia’s environment

    By Julia Rothey, Dai Ja Norman and Haley Winn, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Factories, power plants and other facilities in Virginia released about 35 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the state’s water, air and land in 2015, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than half of the pollution came from just five facilities, the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory showed.

    Most of the pollution in Virginia involved nitrate compounds released into the water and ammonia, hydrochloric acid and methanol released into the air, an analysis of the TRI data found. The releases included more than 1 million pounds of carcinogens – cancer-causing chemicals such as acetaldehyde, styrene and lead.

    The TRI database details which chemicals are released by which facilities, how much is released and where the pollution goes. The latest data is for 2015.

    The Radford Army Ammunition Plant, located along the New River in Montgomery County, emitted more toxic chemicals into the environment than any other facility in Virginia. The plant, the U.S military’s primary gun and rocket propellant provider, released more than 10 million pounds of pollutants, mostly nitrate compounds going into nearby waters.

    Prolonged exposure to nitrates can lead hypertension and other cardiovascular problems, birth defects and headaches, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Radford plant was the second biggest water polluter in the nation in 2015, the data showed. Only the AK Steel Corp. operation in Rockport, Indiana, emitted more toxins into the water – over 13 million pounds. In terms of total on-site releases (including air and land), the ammunition facility ranked 35th nationwide.

    According to the TRI data, after the Radford plant, the Virginia facilities with the most on-site releases in 2015 were:

    ·         MeadWestvaco’s paper plant in Covington – 3 million pounds of chemicals.

    ·         Honeywell International’s chemical plant in Hopewell – more than 2.3 million pounds.

    ·         The Chesterfield Power Station in Chester – almost 2 million pounds.

    ·         International Paper’s mill in Franklin – 1.3 million pounds.

    Two other facilities – Jewell Coke Co. in Buchanan County and the Clover Power Station in Halifax – also had on-site emissions exceeding 1 million pounds.

    Ladelle McWhorter, who chairs Virginia Organizing, which advocates for a clean environment and other issues, said she finds the amount of pollution deplorable.

    “It kills people,” McWhorter said. “It sickens and disables people. It causes birth defects. It decreases property values, so it impoverishes people. And it makes our surroundings ugly and depressing.”

    Virginia Organizing has participated in an array of campaigns to combat pollution and climate change.

    The group helped get CSX to stop parking train cars filled with hazardous materials near a low-income neighborhood in Fredericksburg. Currently, the organization is working with other groups to oppose the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which McWhorter said would threaten water supplies.

    “We have been working and are continuing to work on reducing air pollution, and of course that has benefits beyond reduction of greenhouse gases,” McWhorter said. Her organization tries to practice what it preaches: The group’s central office runs on solar power and uses hybrid fleet cars.

    Details from the TRI database

    The Radford Army Ammunition Plant released 10 different chemicals into the environment. Although nitrate compounds going into the water made up more than 95 percent of the emissions, the plant also reported air releases of hydrochloric acid (283,000 pounds), sulfuric acid (75,000 pounds), nitroglycerin (58,000 pounds) and ammonia (24,000).

    The ammunition facility’s 2015 emissions were up 9 percent from the previous year but down 19 percent from 2010.

    The MeadWestvaco plant in Covington released more than 20 chemicals into the environment. The most prominent was methanol, with 1.6 million pounds emitted into the air from a smoke stack.

    Methanol can take a toll on the nervous system if ingested, the CDC says. Side effects include brain fog, difficulty breathing, visual impairment, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

    The paper plant also released into the air more than 370,000 pounds of hydrochloric acid and about 221,000 pounds of ammonia, the TRI data indicated. It said the emissions included two carcinogens: nearly 54,000 pounds of acetaldehyde and 20,000 pounds of formaldehyde, released mostly into the air.

    The 2015 releases from the MeadWestvaco plant were down 16 percent from 2014 and 8 percent from the emissions in 2010.

    Honeywell International’s Hopewell plant produces nylon for carpets and chemicals used in fertilizer. It released more than 2 million pounds of ammonia into the air in 2015. Exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause difficulty in breathing, eye irritation, burning of skin, visual impairment and loss of consciousness, according to the CDC.

    The facility also released more than 13,000 pounds of acetaldehyde and about 8,700 pounds of benzene, another carcinogen.

    The Hopewell plant was owned by Honeywell until October, when it was spun off to another company called AdvanSix. According to Debi Lewis, the communications officer for AdvanSix, the plant has spent more than $50 million on health, safety and environmental improvements since 2010.

    “AdvanSix takes all environmental compliance matters seriously, and our team focuses on these issues every day,” she said in an email.

    The Honeywell plant in 2015 released 29 percent more than it emitted in 2010. However, emissions dropped 21 percent from 2014 to 2015.

    “We are focused on decreasing pollutants in the air. The plant is spending $110 million in projects to be completed by 2019 designed to reduce overall air emissions and to cut some air emissions by 50 percent from 2014 levels,” Lewis said.

    About half of the Chesterfield Power Plant’s releases were air emissions – mostly hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. The other releases involved substances such as barium, vanadium and manganese compounds found in coal ash. Dominion Resources, which owns the power station, stores the coal ash in surface impoundments.

    Excessive amounts of barium may cause gastrointestinal disturbances and muscular weakness, as well as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, difficulties in breathing and other problems, the CDC says.

    According to the TRI, on-site releases at the Chesterfield Power Plant jumped about 8 percent from 2014 to 2015; however, they were 44 percent lower than in 2010.

    International Paper’s plant in Franklin and Isle of Wight County released 17 chemicals. The main one was methanol (800,000 pounds), followed by hydrogen sulfide and ammonia – all released into the air. The plant released two carcinogens: acetaldehyde (about 27,000 pounds) and formaldehyde (12,000).

    Emissions from the paper plant tripled from 2010 to 2015. However, emissions dropped 10 percent during the most recent year.

    Overall, facilities in Virginia have made progress in reducing toxic emissions. Statewide, on-site releases have fallen from more than 49 million pounds in 2010 to about 38.5 million in 2014 and 35 million in 2015. That is a 29 percent drop during the five years – and a 9 percent reduction from 2014 to 2015.

    Since 2010, several facilities have slashed their on-site releases dramatically, such as the Tyson Farms operation in Accomac County (down 97 percent) and Perdue Farms’ Accomac Processing Plant (down 82 percent). Emissions also plunged at the Philip Morris USA’s Commerce Road site in Richmond (down 93 percent), at Dominion Resources’ Yorktown Power Station (down 85 percent) and at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico (down 73 percent).

    Fined for violating environmental rules

    The TRI database includes reports on 440 facilities in Virginia. They provided information on more than 140 toxic chemicals. Almost all of the chemicals are legal in certain amounts under certain circumstances under the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other regulations enforced by the EPA.

    However, the agency has fined Virginia companies for violating environmental rules. The EPA lists all inspections, violations and fines on its Enforcement and Compliance History Onlinedatabase. The EPA rates violations as high-priority violations, significant violations or noncompliance, based on the violation and the applicable regulation.

    For example, the Honeywell International in Hopewell has been in high-priority violation of the Clean Air Act for particulate matter and other pollutants since July 2014.

    “The Hopewell plant is currently in compliance for particulate emissions, and issues in previous years were related to specific equipment malfunctions,” Lewis said. “AdvanSix has invested a significant amount of capital to address these issues, and we will continue to evaluate and invest as appropriate.”

    In the past five years, the Hopewell plant has received 10 informal notices of violations and has paid more than $700,000 in fines for violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. After a lawsuit in 2013, Honeywell International paid $3 million in penalties, plus millions more to bring its facility into compliance.

    The Radford Munitions Plant has been in high-priority violation of the Clean Air Act since October 2015 for visible emissions and intermittently in violation of the Clean Water Act for biologic oxygen demand.

    Biological oxygen demand is not a measure of one chemical, but of the dissolved oxygen in water. Aquatic plants and animals need oxygen dissolved in water to survive. Certain chemicals reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen, which reduces the amount of aquatic life.

    The Radford Munitions Plant was fined almost $270,000 in 2016 for violations of the Clean Air Act and has received two informal letters of violation so far this year.

    The Chesterfield Power Station has not paid fines in the last five years. However, Virginia Power, a Dominion subsidiary, paid more than $5 million in penalties to the federal government in connection with a 2003 lawsuit that involved alleged violations at the Chesterfield generating station and eight other facilities. EPA records say a final order in the case was entered in 2016; as a result, the fine is listed in the five-year history of the Chesterfield power plant. However, Dominion officials said the case actually was settled and the fine paid in 2003.

    The International Paper Franklin Mill paid almost $11,000 in fines for violations of the Clean Water Act in 2014 for a discharge without the proper permit but has no recent violations.

    Daniel Carr, a professor in the environmental studies department at Virginia Commonwealth University, said that it is often easier for companies to pay the fines than bring their factories into compliance.

    If meeting regulations could lead to bankruptcy but companies can cover the fines associated with violations, there may be no motivation for them to comply, he said.

  57. New Munitions Facility May Reduce Pollution

    By Julia Rothey, Dai Ja Norman and Haley Winn, Capital News Service

    After 80 years of service, the U.S. Army Radford Ammunition’s nitrocellulose facility is set to retire, and a more modern facility will take its place.

    In 2015, the Radford plant was the 35th biggest polluter in the United States, with more than 10 million pounds of on-site releases of chemicals, according to the federal government’s Toxic Release Inventory.

    The vast majority of the plant’s releases involved nitrate compounds disposed of into bodies of water. Only one other facility nationwide – a steel mill in Indiana – reported more water emissions.

    The Radford facility is located on the New River in Montgomery County. Despite the chemical emissions, local bodies of water were classified as safe by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in a 2015 report.

    Over the years, the Army facility has run afoul of environmental regulators. One of the plant’s violations was exceeding capacity on biological oxygen demand – the amount of oxygen dissolved in nearby streams. Certain chemicals reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen, which aquatic plants and animals need to survive.

    The plant has continued to be in violation of the Clean Air Act for visible emissions since October 2015, and no action has been taken by the state or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    While Radford’s releases have decreased by 19 percent since 2010, the plant still has by far the most chemical emissions in Virginia.

    Congress passed the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act about four decades ago, noted Ladelle McWhorter, who chairs the governing board of Virginia Organizing, an activist group for the environment and other issues. “Companies know by now what they must do to comply with the law and have internal systems for doing so,” she said.

    The Radford plant hopes to reduce its toxic releases with the new nitrocellulose facility. It is expected to be more compact and better for the environment, a change Lt. Col. Alicia Masson, the commander of the plant, thinks is long overdue.

    Masson took command of the plant in 2015, and in interviews with the media, she has voiced concerns about the pollutants released from the facility. Her goal is to make sure it is more environmentally friendly.

    Besides releasing chemicals into the water, the Radford plant also burns toxic wastes. In 2015, the facility’s air emissions – including hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, nitroglycerin, ammonia and lead compounds – totaled about 480,000 pounds.

    While she describes herself as an environmentalist at heart, Masson also recognizes that completely eliminating open burning as means of disposal at the plant is impossible.

    The current plant has been operational since 1941. It was first created to support war efforts in the United States and hired more than 23,000 people to help produce ammunition at the peak of the plant’s manufacturing during World War II. The plant is still the only North American manufacturer and seller of nitrocellulose, a highly flammable compound used in the production of ammunition and explosives.

    This year, the Army received a $100 million grant to complete a new nitrocellulose facility at the Radford plant. It has been in planning since 2012 after an initial contract of $240 million.

    The new facility is set to be fully operational by the end of 2018 and will completely replace the current nitrocellulose facility by 2019.

  58. Appeals court hears suit against travel ban

    By Sarah King, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – A panel of 13 federal judges on Monday interrogated lawyers for President Donald Trump and plaintiffs challenging his revised executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries.

    The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the high-profile case, in which the American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the order as unconstitutional on the basis of religious freedom.

    The Richmond-based appellate court will decide whether to uphold an injunction issued by a federal judge in Maryland blocking Trump’s executive order.

    At issue in Richmond on Monday was the tension between securing national security interests and ensuring the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which guarantees freedom of religion. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall squared off against ACLU immigration attorney Omar Jadwat on the first-ever live broadcast of the 4th Circuit Court on C-SPAN.

    “In this highly unique case, the record provides strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban,” the U.S. District Court’s opinion states. It said evidence “suggests that the religious purpose was primary, and the national security purpose, even if legitimate, is a secondary post hoc rationale.”

    On Jan. 27, shortly after taking office, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that order, Trump revised it. The revised order, issued on March 6, banned travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. (Iraq was dropped from the list of banned nations due to “ongoing cooperation between Iraq and the United States in fighting ISIS.”)

    The revised order, intended to take effect March 16, also halted Syrian refugee admissions for 120 days. Unlike the initial executive order, green-card and visa holders would be exempt from the ban.

    Although a randomly selected panel of three judges typically hears cases in appellate courts, the ACLU successfully filed a motion for a full panel, or “en banc” hearing, last month. Ten of the 13 judges Monday were appointed by Democratic Presidents Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Two conservative judges – J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who is Wall’s father-in-law, and Allyson Duncan – recused themselves from the case.

    During oral arguments, Wall said Trump’s travel restrictions were not religiously motivated but were intended to better screen “all nationals” from the cited countries who might present terrorism and national security threats.

    The order included citizens from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Libya – each of which appeared on a 2015 State Department list of “high risk” states for terrorism.

    “(Trump) made clear in the months leading up to the election … what he was talking about was threats from specific countries,” Wall said. “He made clear he wasn’t talking about Muslims all over the world – and that’s why it’s not a Muslim ban.”

    Several judges expressed skepticism at the assertion that the ban was issued for reasons of national security. They pointed to evidence in the District Court’s opinion citing multiple statements Trump made at various stages of his presidential campaign last year. During the campaign, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States, stating that “Islam hates us.” He repeatedly promised to impose a Muslim ban if elected.

    “The president never repudiated the campaign statements he made,” said Judge Robert B. King. “He changed it from religion to nationality … and (New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani) advised him to do it that way. But he’s never repudiated what he said.”

    Wall countered by stating Trump could not be held accountable for what he said on the campaign trail before taking official government office.

    “(Trump) was elected … he took an oath to uphold the constitution,” Wall said. “What he was saying was, ‘I want a brief opportunity – as the last president had – to make sure the vetting procedures we have in place are adequate.’”

    Judge Barbara Keenan asked Wall if barring millions of nationals was perhaps too broad, or even effective.

    “It really is about 200 million people caught in this net when you add up these six countries,” Keenan said. “Does that affect the facial legitimacy of the order when it has such a broad sweep of 200 million people?”

    Judge Henry F. Floyd asked Wall if there was “anything other than willful blindness” that would bar Trump’s previous comments from qualifying as an “animus” – hostile motivation – against Muslims. He cited in particular a statement by presidential press secretary Sean Spicer that the principles of the second order “remain the same” as the first executive order, which was ruled unconstitutional in February.

    In contrast, Judge Dennis Shedd asked Jadwat if, even in the presence of a proven animus, the president is barred from acting in the interest of national security.

    “If, in this hypothetical, the president has a clear animus against a religious group and it becomes clear to everybody that group presents a clear national security threat and everybody agrees to that – can that president take action against that threat or is the president disqualified from acting on that threat because of that animus?” Shedd asked.

    According to the U.S. District Court ruling, 10 former national security, foreign policy and intelligence officials, four of whom were aware of the available terrorism intelligence as of Jan. 19, 2017, stated “there is no national security purpose for a total bar on entry for aliens” from the listed countries.

    “The officials note that no terrorist acts have been committed on U.S. soil by nationals of the banned countries since September 11, 2001, and that no intelligence as of January 19, 2017 suggested any such potential threat,” according to the opinion.

    Jadwat noted that Trump’s executive order did not include all of the countries on the State Department’s 2015 list but targeted Muslim-majority states. He added that before signing the order, Trump did not consult any of the relevant agencies regarding whether those countries actually posed a threat domestically.

    “So he offended the bureaucracy? That’s a constitutional crisis? He offended the bureaucracy?” Shedd asked rhetorically.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which barred Trump’s first immigration executive order, will consider Trump’s second travel ban Tuesday, also live on C-SPAN.

  59. ICE activity in Virginia spikes under Trump

    By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

     RICHMOND – The Trump administration’s immigration policy has left a cloud hanging over the heads of many undocumented immigrants living in Virginia.

    While the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says it is enforcing existing laws, critics say the agents are doing so with a vengeance.

    “Their mission is basically to separate families, and because of that, they are very easily antagonized,” said Camille Brenke, a member of ICE Out of RVA, a collective advocating for the rights of undocumented immigrants living in Richmond.

    President Donald Trump has not dismantled legal protections such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain groups of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. But advocates for immigrant rights fear he eventually will eliminate DACA.

    Even so, Trump has taken other actions that have made many people anxious because of the increased presence of ICE agents in communities where undocumented people live.

    Shortly after taking office in January, Trump signed executive orders that greatly expanded ICE agents’ power to target and detain undocumented immigrants. While President Barack Obama’s administration insisted it targeted only convicted criminals, Trump gave ICE broader discretion to detain immigrants based on suspicion alone. This has led to the arrests of many people with no criminal record at all, even ICE officials acknowledge.

     

     

     
     

    One of Trump’s executive orders allows ICE to arrest undocumented immigrants if they are suspected of having “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” In the weeks after the order was put into place, ICE carried out a series of raids across the United States and arrested at least 683 undocumented immigrants.

    According to statistics released by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, from January through mid-March of this year, ICE arrested more than 21,000 undocumented immigrants, including more than 5,400 with no criminal records.

    The Obama administration carried out more deportations than any previous president, removing more than 2.4 million undocumented immigrants from 2009 to 2014 and arresting thousands with no criminal record in the process. However, toward the end of his second term, Obama targeted undocumented immigrants with a proven criminal history. During the first three months of 2016, ICE detained about 14,500 undocumented immigrants, including more than 2,500 with no criminal records.

    Bottom-line comparison: Under Trump, overall detentions increased by about 32 percent – and detentions of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record doubled.

    In Virginia, there have been reports of ICE agents stopping people for minor offenses and detaining people in and around churches, schools and hospitals. In the past, ICE has officially recognized such venues as “sensitive locations” and forbidden agents from arresting people there. Advocates for undocumented immigrants fear that policy has changed.

    Their fears were heightened in February when seven men were stopped and arrested by ICE after leaving a hypothermia shelter located inside a church in Arlington.

    Germaine Wright Sobral, a partner at Montagut & Sobral Law Office in Falls Church, has been working with undocumented immigrants in Virginia for more than 30 years. She says the recent spike in ICE activity is due to the new administration’s feeling emboldened to pursue immigrants for minor offenses.

    “Under Obama, if you had an order of deportation but you weren’t committing any bad acts, they were basically not enforcing the order of removal,” Sobral said. “But now, with the direction of the new attorney general and President Trump, they are. They feel liberated to be able to do that.”

    While Sobral has not heard reports of ICE conducting mass raids on homes or worksites in Virginia since Trump’s election, she said she has seen other ways in which agents have stepped up their activity over the past few months.

    “This week, I have had three people come into the office who have been picked up on drunk-in-public charges, which is a Class 4 misdemeanor – it is punishable by a fine only,” Sobral said. “What they have done is, they have picked them up, taken them to the police station and had them processed by ICE with detainers, which is absurd because the offense doesn’t require the officer to take someone to jail; they could just ticket them and let them sleep it off.”

    As a result of the increased ICE activity in the state, Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. McAuliffe said he came away from the meeting with positive results, stressing that Kelly assured him that only undocumented immigrants involved in “criminal enterprises” would be targeted.

    Brenke, a member of ICE Out of RVA, questioned the assurances Kelly gave McAuliffe. She said the newfound freedom that ICE has been given under the executive order has left undocumented immigrants in Richmond reeling.

    “Obama created this system of really targeting certain individuals and finding out, ‘OK, who has a criminal history? How can we find them?’” Brenke said. “But now, they’ll just go to a random place and see who’s undocumented and just take whoever’s around. So that way, it’s definitely more visible, and there’s definitely more fear in our communities.”

    Both Sobral and Brenke also said ICE agents have misrepresented themselves as a means of attracting undocumented immigrants. They cited instances in which ICE agents presented themselves as local police rather than federal officers.

    “They were saying that they were the police, and they’re not,” Sobral said. “That is a misrepresentation. They are not the police – they are ICE.”

    In response to critics, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has cited criminal and public safety threats as their top priority in immigration enforcement efforts.

    Sobral and Brenke suggest that undocumented immigrants know their rights if they find themselves in an encounter with ICE.

    “People are more aware of the fact that they have to follow police instructions,” Sobral said. “But if an ICE officer stops me and asks me for ID, unless he has an articulable suspicion that I am an undocumented immigrant, there’s absolutely nothing that I need to do to answer him.

    “You can remain silent,” Sobral said. “Whether or not you’re documented, you have these rights.”

  60. Brunswick Academy Announces 2017 Honor Graduates

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that it will hold its 2017 Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 26, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the Gymnasium where 22 graduates will receive their diplomas.  The traditional  Baccalaureate Service will also be held in the Gymnasium on Sunday May 21, 2017 at 6:00 PM.  The guest speaker will be Reverend Bryson Smith, Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Staunton, Virginia. 

         

    The 2017 valedictorian is Samantha Kelsey Woyer (above left), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Woyer of Alberta. Miss Woyer will attend the University of Virginia.  William Howard Wright (above right) is the salutatorian and is the son of Mrs. and Mrs. William Wright of White Plains. Mr. Wright will attend North Carolina State University in the fall.

         Zihua Qu     Xuanjiang Guo

    There will be three other honor graduates at this year’s commencement.  They are (pictured above, left to right) Mason Rylands Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund Jones of Lawrenceville will attend the University of Virginia; Zihua Qu (Lesley), daughter of host family Ms. Kim Clary Williams of Lawrenceville will attend the University of California-Davis; and Xuanjiang Guo (Bob), son of host family, Mr. and Mrs. Travis Turner of Emporia will attend Perdue University in the fall.

  61. Volunteering The Greatest Gift You Can Give!

    SOUTH HILL, VA– VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Cancer & Specialty Care is excited to announce a new volunteer program.  Volunteers in this program will provide valuable support services to patients with cancer and their families.  We are seeking people with a little extra time and the desire to impact the lives of others.  Come see for yourself how rewarding it can be!

     Volunteers are needed to support a variety of services including:  greeting patients and visitors as they enter the Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center and the Solari Radiation Therapy Center; assisting with lunches/snacks to patients receiving treatment; making courtesy calls to patients; preparing new patient packets; and providing companionship to patients.

     VCU Health CMH partners with VCU Massey Cancer Center to provide advanced care for cancer and blood disorders in Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina.  Cancer care is provided in the Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center and in the Solari Radiation Therapy Center, both located at 750 Lombardy Street in South Hill, VA.

     You can volunteer Monday through Friday during regular business hours.  You must be at least 18 years of age to participate.  For more information or to schedule an introductory meeting, contact Mary Hardin, RN, MSN, Director of Cancer & Specialty Care at (434) 774-2417.

     Volunteers love their jobs and are dedicated to strengthening health services for this region. 

  62. What Can You Teach Your Grandchild About Social Security?

    By Inez N. Loyd, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Norfolk, VA

    Grandparent talking to grandchild.

    One of the greatest gifts you can give a grandchild is the gift of financial literacy. Helping them save money early in life and showing them how to make wise spending decisions goes a long way toward a bright financial future. As they get older, they may want to save for special purchases or their college education. You can encourage them when they get their first job to begin saving for the future, including their retirement.

    Planning for the Future with my Social Security

    When you celebrate their graduation from high school, you can also remind them to set up a my Social Security account. They need to be age 18 or older, have a U. S. mailing address and a valid email address, and have a Social Security number. And while their retirement is many years away, you can explain the importance of reviewing their earnings record each year since Social Security uses the record of earnings to compute their future benefits. As they start their first major job and begin saving, they’ll be able to monitor the growth of the estimates of benefits available to them. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

    Saving For Retirement with myRA

    The U. S. Treasury recently introduced a retirement savings account for a simple, safe, and affordable way to save for retirement. It’s perfect for people whose employer doesn’t offer a savings plan. There are no costs or fees to open and maintain a myRA account. The account won’t lose money and is backed by the U. S. Treasury. The individual chooses the amount to save. The account is portable and moves with them from job to job. The account owner can withdraw the money they put in without tax or penalty. You can learn more about myRA at www.myra.gov.

    Share How Social Security Works

    You can share your knowledge about Social Security with your young savers by explaining how the program works and how it has worked for you. About 96 percent of all Americans are covered by Social Security. Social Security is financed through workers’ contributions , which are matched by their employers. We use the contributions to pay current benefits. Any unused money goes into a trust fund. Nearly all working people pay Social Security taxes and about 61 million people receive monthly Social Security benefits. About 42 million of those beneficiaries are retirees and their families. Encourage them to watch our Social Security 101 video at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html.

    Share Your Retirement Stories

    Social Security replaces about 40 percent of an average worker’s income, but financial planners suggest that most retirees need about 70 percent to live comfortably in retirement. Americans need more than Social Security to achieve that comfortable retirement. They need private pensions, savings, and investments. That means starting to save early and monitoring your Social Security record for accuracy. You can share lessons from your own life about saving and planning for retirement. Remember, the best place anyone of any age can visit for quick, easy information about Social Security is www.socialsecurity.gov.

    Your personal stories about how you prepared for retirement and what role Social Security plays can help them see what is needed for a secure financial future. Give them the gift of financial literacy today.

  63. Four SVCC Students Named to All-Virginia Academic Team

    Those attending the  2017 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-Virginia Academic Team Awards Program luncheon on April 19 in Richmond are (Left to Right) Dr. Lynn Tincher Ladner, speaker. Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President, Cassandra Long, recipient, Alivia Dunn, recipient, Thomas Crews, recipient, Dr. Glen DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.   Chris Hayes was unable to attend, his photo is below.
     

    Virginia is one of 38 states participating in the All-State Academic Teams program introduced in 1994 as a way to provide scholastic recognition to Phi Theta Kappa members while promoting excellence at two-year colleges.  Students nominated to the National All-USA Academic Team are automatically named to the All-State Academic Teams.  Four students from Southside Virginia Community College were selected to the 2017 Phi Theta Kappa All-Virginia Academic Team.  The students are Thomas Crews, Alivia Dunn, Christopher Hayes and Cassandra Long.

    Special guest speaker, Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of PTK, reminded those in attendance that “This honor is about much more than academic success,” she said. “These students are not here today because of what they know, or who they know, but how others know them… These students are not just the ones taking copious notes – sitting in the front of the classroom. They are working to make a difference outside of the classroom as well. They are tutors for other students, building food pantries, serving in leadership roles in their PTK chapters, organizing blood drives, doing undergraduate research and projects that improve both their colleges and communities. They are the very best each college has to offer in scholarship, leadership and service.

    The students were recognized in Richmond, Virginia at a luncheon attended by Virginia Community College System Chancellor Glenn DuBois, college presidents and others. 

    This year’s team from SVCC includes:

    THOMAS CREWS is a General Studies major with a 4.0 GPA.  Following graduation, he will be transferring to UVA to the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Thomas is one of the hardest working students at Southside.  One semester, his classmates joked they would make bracelets reading "WWTD" or "What Would Thomas Do?" 

    ALIVIA DUNN is General Studies Arts and Science major with specialization in Administration of Justice and a 3.9 GPA.  After graduation, she plans to attend Radford University to major in Criminal Justice with a goal of pursuing a career in law enforcement.   Alivia was able to complete her studies at Southside in one calendar year. 

    CHRISTOPHER HAYES is an Information Systems Technology major with a 3.75 GPA.  After graduation, he plans to transfer to a four-year school to pursue an IT degree.  Chris is able to find the humor in any situation and keeps the Honors students positive under stress!

    CASSANDRA LONG is a General Studies with specialization in Agribusiness major and 4.0 GPA.  After graduating from Southside, she plans to transfer to Virginia Tech with the goal of becoming an Agriculture Educator.   Cassie has been showing livestock since she was four years old. 

  64. Before they vote, Virginia legislators pray

    By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – “May your will be done, dear Lord, this day and each day by these, your servants,” said the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley.

    “I pray that at the conclusion of this gathering that all matters whether confirmed, completed or channeled will have been divinely directed while also being considered by your judgment as good and as acceptable,” said the Rev. Carlos Jordan.

    “We ask you Lord this day to guide this body in respecting human life from the moment of conception until natural death,” said the Rev. Dennis Di Mauro.

    You might expect to hear such religious intonations in a church setting. But Adams-Riley, Jordan and Di Mauro weren’t directing their words to congregants; they were addressing members of the Virginia General Assembly.

    Each meeting of the General Assembly begins with a prayer led by a religious leader. The practice dates back to colonial Virginia, and it is common throughout the United States. Almost all state legislatures use an opening prayer as part of their tradition and procedure, and the custom has operated on the federal level since the first Congress convened under the Constitution in 1789.

    You may be thinking: Doesn’t this practice violate the separation of church and state? Some people believe it does, but the courts have ruled otherwise.

    The First Amendment of the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Those provisions, known as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, were written to protect the religious liberties of Americans and prohibit the state from endorsing one religion over another. But they don’t specify what constitutes the establishment of a state religion.

    “There’s a pretty robust history of government institutions in this country engaging in practices that one could very plausibly argue is suggestive of, denotes, is the equivalent of establishing a religion,” said Dr. John Aughenbaugh, professor of constitutional law at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Official symbols and rhetoric often blur the line separating religion and government. Examples include our national currency (which reads “In God We Trust”) and the oath of office taken by elected officials (who place a hand on a Bible and end with “So help me God”).

    The constitutionality of legislative prayer was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1983 decision in Marsh, Nebraska State Treasurer v. Chambers. The high court ruled that legislative prayer did not violate the First Amendment because it “has become part of the fabric of our society.”

    The issue re-emerged more recently when some residents of the town of Greece, New York, sued the town council for opening its meetings with a predominantly Christian prayer. The lawsuit said such prayers discriminated against people of minority religions and non-religious citizens. However, in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying the town council had not violated the First Amendment.

    Like the town of Greece, prayer in the Virginia General Assembly is overwhelmingly led by Christian faith leaders, who invoke Christian ideas about the will of God and the role of government in addressing legislators.

     
     

    During the 2017 legislative session, Christian ministers led 95 percent of the prayers that opened the House and Senate, according to an analysis by VCU Capital News Service.

    Fewer than three-fourths of adults in Virginia identify as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center. However, about 90 percent of Virginia legislators identify as Christian, and that is reflected in the religious leaders chosen to address the General Assembly.

    The only other faiths invited to address the General Assembly were Judaism, Unitarian Universalism and Islam – the only other religions to which legislators belong.

    The largest group excluded from leading the daily invocation at the General Assembly was non-religious people, atheists and agnostics, who make up 20 percent of adults in the state, according to the Pew study.

    Over the course of the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly spent a total of 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 43 seconds praying. Each invocation lasted an average of 1 minute, 38 seconds. To some, this is time well spent.

    “I’m glad that it’s a part of our state government,” said Rabbi Dovid Asher, one of two rabbis to lead the General Assembly in prayer this session. “If I’m going to put somebody in office and vote for somebody, I want them to have a moment of reflection, of introspection during the course of the day.”

    Other people, like Patrick Elliott, staff attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which advocates for the separation of church and state, view prayer in the General Assembly as an inappropriate and inefficient use of time.

    “The legislators have a lot better things to put their energy and efforts into. It’s a waste of time. And if they were to want to pray or engage in religious practice, they should do so on their own time, not on taxpayers’ time,” Elliott said.

  65. Religion influences politics but in different ways

    By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Religion plays a role in legislation involving everything from firearms to health care to marriage in the Virginia General Assembly.

    Like their constituents, the vast majority of legislators are Christian. Religious lawmakers say that their faith shapes their values and outlook on life – but that they don’t impose their religious beliefs on others.

    “We have a very rich, diverse General Assembly, and that’s a good thing in the sense that we have so many people that come from so many types of backgrounds,” said Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach.

    He said being raised in the Christian tradition affects his legislative priorities – instilling in him, for example, a strong belief in an individual’s rights.

     

    “I think my faith influences my worldview in the sense that every single person is created in the image of God and every single person has worth and has value,” Miyares said. “Every person also has conscience, and I think freedom of conscience is one of the hallmarks of how we were created by our creator: freedom of that choice to make decisions as your conscience dictates. Government should be very careful about forcing people to violate their conscience.”

    Miyares said his religious background influenced which bills he supported during the General Assembly’s 2017 session – such as HB 1406, introduced by Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem. Although the bill was left in committee, it would have allowed nonviolent felons to carry firearms once their civil rights have been restored.

    “I believe in the power of redemption for nonviolent offenders,” Miyares said. “Part of the reason I became a lawyer is that I have a deep appreciation for the law and for how it protects individuals.”

    However, Miyares cites more than just religion as a factor on his politics. In 1965, his mother fled Cuba for the United States.

    “My story doesn’t begin in Virginia Beach, Virginia; it begins in Havana, Cuba, with a scared 19-year-old girl who got on an airplane with a hope of a better life,” he said. “What I appreciate about this country is the fact that it’s a nation of second chances. My faith, Christianity, is also about second chances and the redemptive power of second chances.”

    Based on the religious identification reported by each member of the Virginia General Assembly, about 90 percent identify with some denomination of Christianity. In comparison, about 73 percent of adults in Virginia identify with a form of Christianity, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014.

    At the federal level, the religious makeup of the legislative branch has a similar breakdown. According to an analysis of data about the 115th U.S. Congress conducted by the Pew Research Center in January, 91 percent of congressional members describe themselves as Christians, while 71 percent of U.S. adults do the same.

    Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, agreed that religion plays a role in how a legislator will vote on bills, but she cautions against religious convictions getting out of hand in the legislative process.

    Price was raised in the Episcopal Church and attended Howard University School of Divinity for her master’s degree in theology. She has paid particular attention to the concept of religion and its role in her own life and the lives of her colleagues.

    “When we’re out-rightly infusing religion into something that we’re doing on a policy basis or on a legislative basis, then we have to make sure that it is super-accurate, and we have to be careful about what the unintended implications may be with the words that we choose,” Price said.

    Price used HB 2025from this year’s legislative session as an example of a policy coming from a religious basis.

    The bill, introduced by Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. It would have spelled out the right of pastors and other wedding officiants to refuse to “participate in the solemnization of any marriage,” and would have protected this refusal when the marriage contradicts “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

    Price said that such a law would impose a “singular Christian view of marriage” into state policy.

    “What I see as problematic is when people confuse holy matrimony with marriage,” Price said, referring to “marriage” in the sense of the state function. “That’s when they start to talk about their own values or beliefs. I’m a Christian, and I believe in marriage equality, so how can someone say that the Christian view is against gay marriage? It doesn’t allow for the diversity even within Christianity when people purport to speak from the ‘Christian perspective.’”

    Like Miyares, Price said she sees her own religious experience as an influence on the way she conducts herself in her House district in Newport News and in the General Assembly.

    “The way I was raised in my home church definitely impacts how I vote for certain legislation,” she said, noting that religion has instilled in her the values of equality and justice and a commitment to “love thy neighbor.”

    According the Price, most of the bills she advocates for concern social justice. That emanates not just from religion but also from her family’s history in the civil rights movement.

    “I do think my religion has some impact on what it is that I do, but I also know that other areas of my upbringing had that as well,” Price said. “Not all of us are Christian; not all of us subscribe to a religion in general. But we are making laws that impact all of those lives. I would think it silly to think that religion wouldn’t play a part because of what we bring to the table, but it has to play a part in productive ways.”

  66. TOMORROW: KAINE TO CONTINUE DISCUSSION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY OF FRANKLIN AND AT RICHMOND MARINE TERMINAL

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will travel to the City of Franklin and the Richmond Marine Terminal (Formerly Port of Richmond)  to discuss the importance of investments in workforce development and infrastructure to promote economic growth.

    In the morning, Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, will join Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Dan Lufkin for a roundtable discussion with local community workforce development leaders and campus faculty and staff on the need to increase access to affordable higher education. They will also discuss the importance of workforce training and career and technical education (CTE) programs that help students gain experience and training necessary to prepare them for the high paying jobs of tomorrow.

    Later, Kaine will travel to the Richmond Marine Terminal (Formerly Port of Richmond) where he will receive an update on investments to deepen the port to allow larger ships and efforts to increase trade. Deepening the port and expanding access will dramatically bolster the container capacity and economic competitiveness of the terminal.

  67. WELDING COMING TO NEW LAB LOCATED IN GREENSVILLE COUNTY

    A career in welding is within reach!  A Welding Skills Certification Program is being offered in Greensville County through Southside Virginia Community College Workforce Development.  The classes begin May 24, 2017 at the Southside Virginia Education Center located at 1300 Greensville County Circle, Emporia, Virginia.  The facility recently opened a brand new, state-of-the-art welding lab.

    This class will utilize the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Curriculum and offers four credentials for successful completion.  The class meets Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and ends July 19, 2017.   Scholarships are available through the Workforce Credential Grant and other sources.  In-State Tuition is $3,700 and Out-of-State Tuition is $10,900. Credentials earned include NCCER Core, NCCER Welding Level I, NCCER Welding Level II and OSHA 10.

    For information, contact Debra Smiley at 434 917 3746 or email debra.smiley@southside.edu

  68. After soaring under Obama, gun industry drops under Trump

     

    By Nick Versaw and Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Earlier this year, gun rights groups and gun control advocates met at Capitol Square to face off in dueling rallies and seek support for their views. Gun rights advocates held blaze orange signs that read “Guns save lives.” Their adversaries preached stricter regulation with a sea of yellow signs that proclaimed the opposite – “Background checks save lives.”

    This wouldn’t be the first time, or the last, that the opposite ends of the gun spectrum would meet to express their perspectives on firearms.

    The Second Amendment has remained at the forefront of the American consciousness for decades. According to the Pew Research Center, gun policy was one of the five most important issues for voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    As the country has become more partisan, opinions on guns have become increasingly polarizing. “The gap in how candidates’ supporters view overall priorities for the nation’s gun policy is much wider today than it has been in any presidential campaign dating to 2000,” Pew stated.

    This polarization in Americans’ views on guns has created a climate where the firearms industry and the political landscape of the day share a closer relationship than one might think.

    During the eight-year term of Democratic and gun-control-minded President Barack Obama, firearm sales soared.

    In 2016, the number of queries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System required to purchase a gun topped 27 million – a 116 percent increase from 2008, the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency. Moreover, in the first six years of the Obama presidency, the number of guns manufactured in the United States more than doubled.

    As much as firearm manufacturers may not like to admit it, the anti-gun ideology of the Obama administration provided a massive boost to business. The stock prices of two of the premier firearm manufacturers – American Outdoor Brands (formerly called Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. – experienced tenfold increases during the eight years following Obama’s 2008 election.

    However, this close-knit relationship wasn’t always the case. For example, the last time a Democrat was in the White House, this connection was not as apparent. During President Bill Clinton’s second term in office from 1996-2000, the number of guns manufactured took a slight dip. During Clinton’s final two years in the Oval Office, sales followed a similar trend.

    During George W. Bush’s eight years in office, the industry saw a 48 percent increase as the post-9/11 fear of terrorism spread across the country, but the rise paled in comparison to what the industry experienced during Obama’s presidency.

    However, the industry began a swift downturn following the election of Republican Donald Trump, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, in November.

    In the first three months of 2017, coinciding with Trump’s first 100 days in office, gun sale background checks dropped nearly 13 percent compared with the previous year. Taking those figures into consideration, the United States is on pace to sell nearly 1 million fewer guns than in 2016.

    Virginia gun dealers have not been immune to these trends. Peyton Galanti, marketing manager for Richmond’s Colonial Shooting Academy, said the Broad Street gun range has witnessed this firsthand.

    “Sales have been much slower since Election Day,” Galanti said. “The economy is still slow, especially in retail. Customers are not yet comfortable spending money. Without the panic of losing their (Second Amendment) rights, customers are making more calculated, prudent spending decisions.”

    In addition to a drop in sales, overall consumer confidence in the firearms industry has plummeted since the Nov. 8 election. Stock prices of Vista Outdoor Inc. – owner of many of the most popular ammunition companies in addition to gun makers Savage Arms and Stevens – have dropped by nearly 50 percent.

    This trend has led to layoffs at major manufacturers of firearms ammunitions and gun-related accessories.

    In March, firearms manufacturer Remington – one of the top producers of guns in the country – laid off more than 120 workers in an upstate New York manufacturing plant the company has operated since the 19th century.

    That same month, Federal Premium Ammunition cut 110 jobs in Minnesota.

    Magpul – a top weapons accessories manufacturer – laid off 85 workers in April from a Wyoming-based plant. The workers were part of a hiring increase to help meet the market demands of the company’s products throughout the Obama presidency. The layoffs came after the company saw a return to normal demand in the first quarter of 2017.

    Galanti believes the fear created by the Obama administration’s anti-gun ideology led to an oversaturation of the firearms market over the course of the past eight years.

    “This industry was flooded with people who wanted a piece of the pie, and these fly-by-night companies probably will not weather the storm of 2017,” Galanti said. “There have already been many layoffs around the country, and companies are restructuring. The suppressor business has been especially hurt.” Suppressors, or silencers, can be attached to gun muzzles to reduce the noise of firing.

    Galanti blames the Obama administration for uncertain economic conditions that have caused an unwillingness of Americans to spend their hard-earned money on guns.

    “People are reluctant to spend because American incomes have been hit so hard over the last eight years,” Galanti said. “Given much change under the current president, the economy will become unchained and roll like a steam engine again in the future. We just don’t know how long it will take.”

    Many within the industry believe the economic policies of the pro-gun Trump administration will lead to stability in the gun market after what they saw as eight years of uncertainty under Obama.

    “The industry is expecting to normalize over 2017 and get back to steady consistent sales, instead of the yo-yo/panic buying of the past, where supply and demand were so off balance,” Galanti added.

    However, it is unknown where that “new normal” will lie or when the market will stabilize after the distinctive surge under Obama. The pro-Second Amendment policies of the current president may stave off the fear of further control and regulation after what Trump called an “eight-year assault” on guns.

    At the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting last week, Trump proclaimed that gun-owners now “have a true friend and champion in the White House.” Whether that will lead to a strong market for firearms remains to be seen.

  69. Polarization over guns leads to surge in legislation

    By Tyler Woodall and Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

    The 2016 presidential election was one of the most polarizing election cycles in recent memory, as supporters from both sides of the aisle expressed their distaste for the opposing party’s candidate and hot-button issues rose to the front of the United States’ collective political mind.

    With tragedies like the Sandy Hook, Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino shootings littering the past several years, the fight to crack down on guns has risen to the forefront of the American political landscape.

    According to the Pew Research Center, gun policy was among the five most important issues to the American populace during last year’s election – more important to voters than even immigration, Social Security and education.

    However, while guns remained a hot-button issue among Americans, there were some topics that supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were able to agree upon.

    For example, according to Pew, at least 75 percent of both candidates’ supporters agreed on mandated background checks at gun shows. At least 82 percent of each group also saw eye to eye when it came to restrictions on gun ownership for people with mental illness.

    Even so, voters remained sharply divided over many other gun-related issues.

    Nearly 75 percent of Clinton supporters endorsed restrictions on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, while only 34 percent of Trump supporters shared that viewpoint.

     

     

     
     

    The distance between the two parties on guns has increased dramatically in recent years. According to Pew, there was a 20 percentage-point difference between the supporters of Al Gore and George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race when it came to controlling gun ownership versus protecting gun rights. That gap more than doubled to 41 points in the 2012 race and ballooned to a 70-point difference between Trump and Clinton supporters last year.

    The country’s overall viewpoint on gun rights has flipped since the 2000 election. That year, 66 percent of voters supported restricting gun rights, with only 29 percent looking to protect gun ownership. By 2016, those figures had reversed, with more than half of voters supporting gun ownership.

    In addition, Pew found that a majority of the public believes that gun ownership in the United States does more to protect citizens from being a victim of crimes. A little over a third think guns are putting the public in greater danger.

    These trends have led to a flood of gun-related legislation at both the state and federal levels.

    In Virginia, 111 weapons-related bills were introduced to the General Assembly in 2016 – a 170 percent increase over the previous year. Of those bills, only 14 were signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

     

     

     
     

    During his four-year term as governor, McAuliffe witnessed this increase in gun legislation first-hand. McAuliffe’s predecessor, Republican Bob McDonnell, saw 171 weapons-related bills introduced during his time as governor. McAuliffe has seen 300.

    With the 2017 governor’s race heating up, the state’s gun policy hangs in the balance. With a Republican-led General Assembly, a GOP gubernatorial win in November could lead to an expansion of gun rights over the next four years.

    Even if a Democrat is elected governor, the trends indicate gun regulation will remain at the forefront of the local and national political landscape.

  70. KAINE LEADS BIPARTISAN BILL TO REDESIGN HIGH SCHOOL WITH GREATER CTE FOCUS

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), founding member of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, led U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Todd Young (R-IN) in introducing the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience to include courses more relevant to the 21st century workforce to better prepare students for 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. These partnerships help students earn industry recognized credentials or credit toward a postsecondary degree or certificate and an understanding of the relevance of coursework in the context of a future career. According to the nonpartisan organization Achieve, nearly 80% of college instructors and 60% of employers indicate that public high schools fall short in preparing students for postsecondary education.

    “At schools across Virginia, I’ve seen innovative approaches to deliver high-quality CTE programs to students. This bill would support schools as they redesign coursework to create engaging CTE partnerships between industry and higher education,” said Kaine. “Preparing our students for the careers of tomorrow gives them a better shot at getting hired for good-paying jobs and having the skills needed to excel in them.”

    “My top priority in the United States Senate has been to promote policies that help create and foster an environment that leads to job creation and economic growth,” Portman stated.  “Career and Technical Education gives students the opportunity to gain skills and experience to become college and career ready.  The CTE Excellence and Equity Act will benefit millions of high school students across the country by expanding access to high quality CTE programs which lead to college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.” 

    “In Wisconsin, I’ve seen how strong public-private partnerships can meet our workforce readiness challenges effectively and Congress should work across party lines to strengthen these programs,” said Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting career and technical education students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”

    “As West Virginia undergoes an economic transition and grapples with high unemployment, it is critical that we take steps to equip our workforce with the right skills for today’s jobs. I’m pleased to join with my colleagues to introduce the CTE Excellence and Equity Act, which supports necessary partnerships between higher education and employers and will improve career and technical training in our high schools,” said Capito.

    “Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need today to be able to compete in tomorrow’s workforce,” Young said. “This legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap by supporting high-quality CTE programs that are aligned with the needs of our local communities.”

    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.

    “The CTE Excellence and Equity Act provides data and research to address funding support for the much-needed redesign of more equitable CTE high school experiences that will help prepare more students to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Richmond Public Schools Career and Technical Education Instructional Specialist Jorge Valenzuela. “In order for our students to truly be successful throughout life after high school, CTE must be integrated into the instructional models of school divisions throughout our entire country.”

    "Senator Kaine has been a fighter and advocate for the equality and equity of public education his entire career,” said Norfolk Federation of Teachers Thomas Calhoun. “It's no surprise that he is one of the recognized leaders for quality CTE schools in the country!"

    “This bipartisan legislation works to address the growing gap between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers by connecting business, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates,” said Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former Governor of West Virginia. “It also provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing, making the high school experience more engaging and more relevant to today’s job market while setting students up for individual success—a key component to the nation’s economic growth.”

    Kaine, Portman, Baldwin, and Capito introduced an earlier version of this legislation in the 114th Congress.

    The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is supported by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Advance CTE, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Committee for Children (CfC), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

    A one-page fact sheet on the CTE Excellence and Equity Act can be found here.

  71. SVCC ALUMNUS TO SPEAK AT COMMENCEMENT MAY 13

    Stephen E. Parker, Director, Education and Workforce, National Governor’s Association (NGA), is a proud graduate of Southside Virginia Community College.  He will deliver the commencement address at the SVCC graduation ceremony on May 13, 2017 at the John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville, Virginia.  The event begins at 9:30 a.m.

     Parker directs policy and advocacy for education and workforce issues, including: early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development and child nutrition. He is responsible for the development and implementation of governors’ strategic priorities through the Education and Workforce Committee. Parker is the liaison between governors and the federal government on education, human services and workforce issues.  

    Parker led the process to create the governors’ plan to re-design the federal education system, released in 2015. He developed and executed NGA’s campaign to re-write federal K-12 education policy, which ultimately resulted in passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and governors’ first endorsement of any federal legislation in twenty years.

    Parker also managed governors’ partnership with Congress to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, updating federal job training policy for the first time in 16 years. He also worked with Congress to increase governors’ direct federal workforce funds by more than $500 million over the past 3 years.

    Prior to working for the nations’ governors, Parker served as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Timothy M. Kaine where he managed statewide public awareness campaigns across more than 15 agencies and managed the development of the Governor’s legislative priorities. He also served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard.

    Parker serves on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach. He also serves as a member of the Hopkins House Programs and Assessments Committee, where he helps increase access to early childhood education in Alexandria, Virginia.

    He serves on the SVCC foundation board. He also received his bachelor’s degree at Longwood University, and completed postgraduate work in political leadership at the University of Virginia and public policy at the College of William and Mary.

  72. H. Benjamin Vincent, Sr.

    H. Benjamin Vincent, Sr. (Benny), 84, of Emporia, Virginia died on Saturday, April 29, 2017 surrounded by his family. He was preceded in death by his older brother, Branch W. Vincent, Jr. Benny was a graduate of Greensville County Public Schools, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia and was an active member of the Theta Chi Fraternity on campus. He graduated with a Juris Doctor Degree from T. C. Williams School of Law in Richmond, Virginia, and opened his private practice in Emporia, Virginia in 1957. Later, he was elected to the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Emporia and County of Greensville, Virginia, which he served with distinction for many years. During that period, he was privileged to argue before the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Supreme Court for the United States of America. Benny served as a member and counsel to the Greensville County Zoning Board, counsel to the Board of Supervisors for Greensville County, General Counsel to the Board of Directors of Citizens National Bank and on many other committees and boards throughout the years. After his tenure as Attorney for the Commonwealth, he returned to private practice and served his community actively for the remainder of his years, where his well-known humor and easy camaraderie with members of law enforcement and the legal community were legendary. Benny loved children and founded the first Little League Football Program in Emporia. He coached the “Blue Team” and with much help from friends, was able to form a league of 4 teams that competed with each other. His kids called him “Mr. Uncle Benny”, which he loved. It was one of the most cherished accomplishments of his life. Benny loved all sports, was an avid golfer and played baseball, football and basketball in high school and later played first string on the Hampden-Sydney College basketball and tennis teams. He also participated in many of the intramural sports offered at college. He was a die-hard, loyal fan of the Washington Redskins. Benny is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth Blake Vincent (Betty), and two sons, H. Benjamin Vincent, Jr. (Emmy Morgan) and Branch Anthony Vincent (Debbie Yeattes Burke); four grandchildren, Blake Anthony Vincent, Lauren Morgan Epps, William Taylor Burke and Kelly Ann Burke and one great-grandchild, Vera Madison Burke. The family will receive friends from 7:00pm until 9:00pm on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at Echols Funeral Home Chapel, 806 Brunswick Avenue, Emporia, Virginia. A celebration of life will be held on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 2:00pm in Echols Funeral Home Chapel. The family requests in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the American Heart Association. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

 

 

 

Emporia News

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

Comment Policy:  When an article or poll is open for comments feel free to leave one.  Please remember to be respectful when you comment (no foul or hateful language, no racial slurs, etc) and keep our comments safe for work and children. .Comments are moderated and comments that contain explicit or hateful words will be deleted.  IP addresses are tracked for comments. 

EmporiaNews.com serves Emporia and Greensville County, Virginia and the surrounding area
and is provided as a community service by the Advertisers and Sponsors.
All material on EmporiaNews.com is copyright 2005-2016
EmporiaNews.com is powered by Drupal and based on the ThemeBrain Sirate Theme.

Submit Your Story!

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

Contact us at news@emporianews.com
 
EmporiaNews.com is hosted as a community Service by Telpage.  Visit their website at www.telpage.net or call (434)634-5100 (NOTICE: Telpage cannot help you with questions about Emporia New nor does Teplage have any input the content of Emporia News.  Please use the e-mail address above if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the content on Emporia News.)