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May 2018

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will hold its regular meeting Thursday, November 15th, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.

GREAT OPPORTUNITIES IN TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING CAREERS (GO-TEC) GRANT

GO TEC PROGRAM COORDINATOR

FOR THE EASTERN REGION LOCATED AT SOUTHSIDE VA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

#R0001

Please visit the employment page of our web site at http://www.dcc.vccs.edu/Employment/employment.htm for details.

Danville Community College is committed to becoming a model higher education institution for diversity and inclusion and invites multicultural professionals from all backgrounds to contribute to its aspiration for building an inclusive community where everyone is given equal opportunity to reach their full potential.  Employment will be contingent upon the results of a background check.         

  1. Brunswick County Announces New Company to Create 8 Jobs

    ~New Jobs Coming to Brunswick County~

    Brunswick County, VA - The Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority, the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors, and the Town of Lawrenceville announced today KASS Foods, a healthy snack food manufacturer, will invest to establish an operation in Brunswick County, Town of Lawrenceville. Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina and Maryland for the project, which will bring eight new jobs to the region.

    Mike Dotti, Chair of Brunswick County IDA Board said, “It is an easy thing to say Brunswick County is open for business. To create an environment where new business is possible takes the work of a lot of people. We could not have done this without our team. The Board of Supervisors, Carthan Currin, Economic Development Director, C. J. Dean and the Town of Lawrenceville, the Tobacco Commission, the amazing IDA board all moving forward under the proactive leadership of our County Administrator, Dr. Woolridge. A special thanks to Ajay and the fine people of KASS for their investment in our County.”

    “We are extremely pleased that KASS Foods chose to locate their company in Brunswick County,” said Dr. Charlette T. Woolridge, Brunswick County Administrator. “President Sujanani’s business investment results in the restoration of the former Southern States facility, the creation of employment opportunities for Brunswick residents, increased tax revenues, and even more benefits.” Dr. Woolridge also thanked the partners who helped to make this project possible. “I am very appreciative of the collaborative partnership between KASS, the Board of Supervisors and staff, Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority Board, Town of Lawrenceville, Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia’s Growth Alliance and Southside Planning District Commission who were instrumental in making this project a reality.”

    “The Town of Lawrenceville would like to welcome KASS Foods (Ajay and Kareena) to our community. They are bringing much needed jobs to our Town and putting a vacant building back into productive use. We would like to thank all of those involved in bringing this manufacturing facility to Lawrenceville, including the Virginia Tobacco Commission, Virginia’s Growth Alliance and our partners in Brunswick County. Lawrenceville looks forward to the future with KASS and assisting with their future goals and plans,” said CJ Dean, Lawrenceville town manager.

    “We are excited to be a part of Brunswick County and the Town of Lawrenceville. We believe this is the perfect location for our facility,” said KASS Foods president Ajay Sujanani. “The wide support and consistent enthusiasm we have received for our project reassures us that we have made the right choice in selecting Town of Lawrenceville in Brunswick County for our manufacturing plant.”

    KASS Foods focuses on manufacturing of healthy snack products in various segments including organic, children, adult, as well as sweet and savory. Their product portfolio will consist of several European style snacks customized to the American palette. With robust R&D tie-ups with Universities in Germany and US, KASS has various innovative products that will be rolled out in phases once they start operations.

    Tobacco Commission Vice-Chair, Senator Frank Ruff said, "This is exciting news for Brunswick County. Attracting an innovative company like KASS Foods to our region shows that we can compete successfully for manufacturing jobs in any sector. I'm glad that the Tobacco Commission chose to support this project through the refurbishment of the former Southern States building and look forward to the success of KASS Foods in their new home here in Southern Virginia."

    The Tobacco Commission awarded a $447,000 Southside Economic Development grant to assist with the renovation of the building located on the Virginia Tobacco Heritage Trail in historic downtown Lawrenceville.

    With assistance from the Southside Planning District Commission, the Town of Lawrenceville was able to secure a Community Development Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for additional building renovations needed for the project.  The Southside PDC, through Lake Country Development Corporation's loan pool program, was also able to assist the client with project financing.

    The company will be located in the former Southern States building adjacent to the Tobacco Heritage Trail.

    This project was developed by Virginia’s Growth Alliance. Brunswick County, along with Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties and the city of Emporia comprise the Alliance (http://vagrowth.com).

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  2. Social Security Honors The Nation's Heroes on Memorial Day

    By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

    On Memorial Day, we honor service members who have given their lives for our nation. Social Security acknowledges the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives to protect our country. Part of how we honor these heroes is the way we provide Social Security benefits.

    The loss of a family member is difficult for anyone. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

    It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty or performing other work.

    Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). The VA and Social Security each have disability programs. You may find that you qualify for disability benefits through one program but not the other, or that you qualify for both. Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

    Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit generally does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of ourRetirement Planner, available atwww.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html.

    Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

    In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

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

    Emporia, VA – Krystal Murrell has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for April 2018. Ms. Murrell, who works in SVRMC’s Intensive Care Unit, has been employed at SVRMC since February 2015.

    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. Murrell’s nomination included the following statement:  “Krystal is an exemplar of professionalism and customer service. She models the behavior of compassion and kindness to both internal and external customers. She maintains a calm demeanor in spite of chaos and robust activities of the unit.  She provides great care for her patients and is very supportive to her co-workers.  Krystal loves what she does and it shows in the quality of care she provides and the warm smile she displays.  We are so very lucky to have Krystal on the SVRMC team.”

    As SVRMC’s April Employee of the Month, Ms. Murrell 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 2018 Employee of the Year.

  4. Elizabeth Leigh Robbins

    Elizabeth Leigh Robbins, 83 of South Hill Virginia passed away on December 27, 2017.  She was the daughter of the late Daisy and Leroy Robbins and sister of the late William K Robbins of Richmond.  She is survived by her niece, Kathryn Robbins Jones  (Phillip), great-niece and nephew, Abigail and Joshua Jones of Yorktown VA and nephew William Robbins of Bracey VA.  For many years Elizabeth was the Food and Beverage Manager of the Holiday Inn in Emporia.  A private memorial service will be held for her at St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Richmond on June 6.  Elizabeth was a kind and loving lady who will be missed by many.

  5. Steven Eugene Hueber

    Steven Eugene Hueber died Monday, May 28, 2018 at Johnston-Wilis Hospital in Richmond. He was 61.

    A longtime resident of Emporia, Steve was the son of the late Eugene Arthur Hueber and MayBelle Walker Hueber. A United States Air Force veteran, he was part of the maintenance crew for Air Force One. After the service, Steve worked for many years on all types of engine repair.

    Mr. Hueber is survived by his wife of 36 years Marilyn Bradley Hueber and a son Adam C. Hueber of Emporia.

    Graveside services will be held Thursday, May 31, 2018, at Greensville Memorial Cemetery with Rev. Larry Walczykowski officiating. The family will receive friends Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at Echols Funeral Home from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM.

    Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com

  6. VIRGINIA EXPERIENCES DECREASE IN 2018 MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND TRAFFIC DEATHS

    RICHMOND – Virginia experienced its fewest number of traffic deaths during the 2018 Memorial Day weekend - the lowest within at least the past five years. Preliminary reports indicate six traffic deaths occurred on Virginia highways during this year’s statistical counting period, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday (May 25, 2018) and concluded at midnight Monday (May 28, 2018).

     "This decrease in the Memorial Day weekend traffic fatalities and the slowing of traffic deaths for 2018 are both proof that we can save lives on Virginia’s highways by working together,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The Virginia State Police, in collaboration with our local police and sheriff’s offices, will continue our stepped up education and enforcement efforts as we head into the busy summer travel months. We simply ask for Virginians to do their part by always buckling up, complying with speed limits, driving distraction free and never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

    This year’s six holiday fatal crashes occurred in the City of Newport News, and the counties of Chesterfield, Grayson, Nelson, Pittsylvania and Rockbridge. The Newport News crash claimed the life of an adult male operating a dirt bike on Warwick Boulevard. Of the remaining five fatal crashes, four involved individuals who were not wearing seat belts. Three of those unsecured individuals were ejected when the vehicle they were riding in overturned as it crashed.

    During the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, the Virginia State Police once again participated in the Operation Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). Operation CARE is a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. As a result of troopers’ increased presence on the highways during the heavily-traveled holiday weekend, 99 impaired drivers were arrested and charged with DUI. In addition, state troopers cited 8,004 speeders and 2,360 reckless drivers. State police also cited 1,038 occupant restraint violations, with 210 of those issued to adults for failing to safely secure a juvenile passenger in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt. Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

    The Virginia State Police is continuing its enforcement efforts related to the ongoing “Click It or Ticket” campaign.  The two-week concentrated education and enforcement initiative began May 21, 2018, and runs through Sunday, June 3, 2018. Of the 843 total traffic deaths in 2017 throughout Virginia, 351 were unrestrained.

  7. Southside Physicians Network Opens New Office in Emporia

    Emporia, VA – Southside Physicians Network is pleased to announce a new office located at 702 North Main Street, Emporia, Virginia 23847.

    The new office is now open! The following doctors will have practices located in the new office.

  8. Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

    (Washington, D.C., May 11, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices.

    “As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer focused mission area.”

    Richard Fordyce most recently served as State Executive Director for FSA in Missouri. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, Fordyce was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He and his wife, Renee, have two children and grow soybeans, corn and beef cattle on the family farm.

  9. "Memorial Day"

    It's a day set aside for remembering
    those who before and after have went
    fighting for the need of our country
    wherever they might be sent.
     
    Men and women, young and old
    It mattered not you see
    a highly trained military military
    trying to keep us free.
     
    They have fought in strange surroundings
    and many lives have been lost
    now some were only wounded
    but for us, still paid the cost.
     
    One can't feel pain or anguish
    these men and women all went through
    yet we can honor them for what they did
    for the freedom of me and you.
     
    We can hold in our hearts the memories
    of thousands that have died
    yes and pray for the many wounded
    who lost comarades by their side.
     
    Now war is never over
    and battle never won
    the loss of the lives ere will remain
    long after the fighting's done.
     
    Roy E. Schepp
  10. Brian “Keith” McDilda

    Brian “Keith” McDilda, 40, of Emporia, passed away suddenly on Friday, May 25, 2018. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, C. R. and Helen McDilda. Keith is survived by his parents, Ron and Aileen McDilda ; two sisters, Melissa Bolton (Jim Bolton) and Angela Boyce (Andrew); niece, Chardonay Boyce and three nephews, Cameron Bolton, Austin Bolton and Cassius Boyce. The family will receive friends 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 27 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 29. Interment will follow 3 p.m. at Maplewood Cemetery, 400 College St. NE, Wilson, NC 27893. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

  11. "We Can Do It!"

    Yes, lets all protest together
    about our sad and dreary life
    just forget about the children,
    faithful husband; and gracious wife.
     
    Don't remember your friends and neighbors
    though the numbrs do increase
    fighting battles in some foreign land
    so we may live in peace.
     
    Yes and what about that one that took the job
    you didn't want to do
    he is still working steadily
    and that could have been you.
     
    I think we've convinced our leaders
    and those who one day will do the same
    our students will graduate with honors
    if we only change the schools name.
     
    With this one we have a problem
    for history you do not change
    the good, the bad or the ugly
    you can only rearrange.
     
    Give our protest money to the teachers
    that should make up a good raise
    yes nd if they can teach the students how to use a pencil
    offer them some extra praise.
     
    Roy E.Schepp
  12. VIRGINIA’S ANNUAL CRIME ANALYSIS REPORT NOW AVAILABLE ON VIRGINIA STATE POLICE WEBSITE

    RICHMOND – Virginia’s official and only comprehensive report on local and statewide crime figures for 2017 is now available to the public on the Virginia State Police website. The annual “Crime in Virginia” report provides precise rates and occurrences of crimes committed in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth. The report breaks down criminal offenses by the reporting agency as well as arrests by jurisdiction.

    Overall, Virginia experienced a 3.9 percent decrease in violent crime (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) compared to the previous reporting period. The FBI’s figures for 2017 are not yet available. However, comparing the first six months of 2016 with the first six months of 2017, nationwide, violent crimes decreased less than 1 percent (0.8%).

    Property crime in Virginia, including the offenses of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, also decreased when compared to the previous year (- 2.6%). Although the FBI’s data for 2017 is not yet available, comparing the first six months of 2016 with the first six months of 2017, nationwide, there was a 2.9 percent decrease.

    The following 2017 crime figures in Virginia are presented in the report:

    The number of reported homicides decreased from 480 to 455 or (-5.2%). Victims and offenders tended to be relatively young: 48 percent of homicide victims and 64 percent of offenders were less than 30 years of age. Victims and offenders were most likely to be male (72%, 86% respectively).

    Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts increased 3.9 percent compared to the previous year.  Of the 10,223 motor vehicles stolen, 6,438 or 63 percent were recovered. Of all motor vehicles stolen, trucks had the highest frequency of being recovered (73%) followed by automobiles (68%). Recreational and “other” motor vehicles (motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles, etc.) were least likely to be recovered (49%, 39% respectively). Of all motor vehicles stolen, 43 percent were taken from the residence/home. The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $86,025,726.

    Drug and narcotic arrests increased when compared to the previous reporting period (15.6%). Where type of drug was known, 71 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana. Marijuana arrests increased 20.6 percent compared to the previous reporting period. Arrests for heroin and crack cocaine decreased (-3.2%, -3.0% respectively). Arrests for powder cocaine and amphetamines/methamphetamines increased (14.2%, 22.7% respectively).

    Fraud offenses decreased almost 4 percent (-3.8) compared to 2016.

    Of the 809 arsons and attempted arsons that were reported, nearly half (48.5%) reported the location as “residence/home.” Neither the time of the day nor the day of the week appears to be associated with this offense.

    Robbery decreased 10 percent. Of the 4,320 robberies and attempted robberies 42 percent took place between 8 p.m. and midnight. Days of the week showed little variability in terms of the number of robberies that took place although more took placeon Friday and Saturday than any other days of the week.

    Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 74.6 percent of homicides and 58.2 percent of robberies. Firearms were used to a lesser extent in the offense of aggravated assault (27.3%).   

    There were 202 hate crimes reported in 2017 representing a 47.4 percent increase compared to 2016. Over half (54%) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward religion and sexual orientation were next highest (22%, 19%, respectively). The remaining 5 percent reported was attributed to a bias against a victim’s physical or mental disability. Of all reported bias motivated crime, 46 percent was associated with destruction/damage/vandalism of property; another 40.6 percent was associated with the offense of assault.     

    The report employs an Incident Based Reporting (IBR) method for calculating offenses, thus allowing for greater accuracy. IBR divides crimes into two categories: Group A for serious offenses including violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault), property crimes and drug offenses, and Group B for what are considered less serious offenses such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations where an arrest has occurred.

    For Group A offenses, between 2016 and 2017, adult arrests increased 4.3 percent. Juvenile arrests for Group A offenses also increased (1.6%). For Group B arrests, there was an increase of 1.8 percent for adults while juvenile Group B arrests decreased 9.9 percent. For both Group A and Group B offenses, there were a total of 282,987 arrests in 2017 compared to 276,144 arrests in 2016, representing an overall increase in arrests in Virginia of 2.5 percent.

    Per state mandate, the Department of Virginia State Police serves as the primary collector of crime data from participating Virginia state and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The data are collected by the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division via a secured internet system. This information is then compiled into Crime in Virginia, an annual report for use by law enforcement, elected officials, media and the general public. These data become the official crime statistics for the Commonwealth and sent to the FBI incorporating them into their annual report, Crime in the United States.

  13. Five Steps for Social Security Success

    By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

    No matter how much you’ve planned, there’s no better time than now to think about your future. We’d like to encourage you to take Five Steps toward Your Financial Security. Planning for the future may seem intimidating to many, but we’ve broken the task down into five easy steps:

    Step 1: Get to know your Social Security — You and Social Security are on a journey for life, but there is so much you may not know about the benefits and services we provide. Social Security delivers financial security to millions of children and adults before retirement; including the chronically ill, children of deceased parents, and wounded warriors. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency.

    Step 2: Verify your earnings — Your benefits are calculated using your employment records. You can use your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings are recorded accurately. Access your account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

    Step 3: Estimate your benefits — With our Retirement Estimator, you can estimate your future retirement or disability benefits based on your actual earnings record. This can be invaluable as you plan for your future. View our calculators at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html.

    Step 4:  Apply for benefits — You can apply for retirement, Medicare, or disability benefits online through our easy-to-use, secure online application that is convenient to navigate. Read more about benefits and apply now at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits.

    Step 5: Manage your benefits — Social Security puts you in control by offering convenient and secure services that fit your needs. Verify your payment information, change your address or phone number, get a benefit verification letter, and even start or change direct deposit of your benefits. See all the things you can do at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

    Share this information with the people you love. Get to know your Social Security and the many ways we help secure today and tomorrow for you and your family at www.socialsecurity.gov/5steps.

  14. MOTORISTS URGED TO PUT TRAFFIC SAFETY ON THEIR TRAVEL AGENDA THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

    RICHMOND – As travelers plan their vacations and pack their bags for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, Virginia State Police is urging motorists to make sure traffic safety is at the top of their agenda. Already this year, 280 individuals, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and motorcyclists, have lost their lives in traffic crashes. The startling number comes on the heels of an almost 11 percent increase in traffic deaths during 2017.  

    “Last year, 843 people were killed on Virginia’s highways. On average, that’s more than two people a day, 16 people a week and 70 people a month. But no matter how you count these tragic incidents, there are just too many,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The sad fact is that many traffic crashes are preventable, but in order to prevent them we all have to do our part by buckling up, complying with speed limits, eliminating distractions and never driving impaired.”

    To ensure the Memorial Day holiday is as safe as possible, Virginia State Police will increase patrols during the long holiday weekend. Beginning Friday, May 25, 2018, VSP will join law enforcement around the country for Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2018 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 25, 2018, and continues through midnight Monday, May 28, 2018.

    During the 2017 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E initiative, Virginia troopers arrested 109 drunk drivers, cited 10,337 speeders and 2,395 reckless drivers, and issued 250 citations for child seat violations. They also cited 820 individuals for failing to wear a seat belt.

    The 2018 Memorial Day weekend falls during the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, and state police troopers will be vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage for travelers of all ages. The two-week concentrated education and enforcement initiative began last Monday and runs through Sunday, June 3, 2018.

    Of the 843 total traffic deaths last year throughout Virginia, 351 were unrestrained.

    With increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

    From 2008 to 2017 nationwide, 126 law enforcement officers working along the roadside were struck by a vehicle because a driver failed to heed the “Move Over” law.

    To raise awareness of this law and the impact it has on first responders and highway safety workers, Virginia State Police has coordinated the 2nd Annual National “Move Over” Tweet-Along. Over a 24-hour period on Friday, May 25, 2018, public safety agencies, departments of transportation and numerous other local and state agencies from across the country will inundate Twitter with the “Move Over” message using hashtag #MoveOver18. 

  15. ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK HERRING AND HAMPTON ROADS HUMAN TRAFFICKING TASK FORCE LAUNCH NEW REGIONAL AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

    ~ Billboards going up on major highways across Hampton Roads to bring awareness to the realities of human trafficking and engage victims ~

        

    NORFOLK (May 22, 2018) – Attorney General Mark Herring today announced that the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force will launch a new awareness campaign across the Hampton Roads region. Beginning this week, billboards will be placed on major highways across the region encouraging victims or those with information about possible human trafficking to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline. The billboards are estimated to make 2.5 million impressions while they are up across the region. Additionally, the campaign will include bilingual digital advertising which will run in the region. In 2017, Virginia has had thefifteenth highest number of human trafficking cases referenced on the hotline, and experts believe human trafficking occurs in Virginia because of its location on the east coast, international air and sea ports, and large number of major interstates.
     
    “Human trafficking robs its victims of their dignity, their identity, their freedom, and in a tragic number of cases, their childhood,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia has made great strides in combating this crime and my team and I have been proud to be a part of those efforts. By raising awareness about the existence and impact of human trafficking and promoting critical resources, we can help restore victims and seek justice against those who perpetrate this dehumanizing crime. I want to thank our Hampton Roads Human Trafficking partners for their continued efforts to combat this heinous crime.”
     
    Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar enterprise worldwide, and is widely considered one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. The United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands of victims here in the United States.
     
    Hampton Roads billboard locations include:
    • 3210 Bainbridge Boulevard, near the intersection of Rosemont Avenue, Chesapeake, VA
    • US 60, near the intersection of Elmhurst Street East, Newport News, VA
    • 3601 Chestnut Avenue, near the intersection of 36th Street, Newport News, VA
    • 2720 Hampton Boulevard, near the intersection of 35th Street, Norfolk, VA
    • 2019 Granby Street, near the intersection of 21st Street, Norfolk, VA
    • 3001 Lafayette Boulevard, near the intersection of Ballentine Boulevard,Norfolk, VA
    • 2561 Airline Boulevard, near the intersection of Victory Boulevard,Portsmouth, VA
    • 3307 George Washington Highway, Portsmouth, VA
    “No one anticipated how prevalent the problem would be, we have opened three new shelters and served over 60 victims since the inception of the program 16 months ago,” said Robin Gautheir, Executive Director, Samaritan House.
    “We know that awareness and outreach are two important tools in identifying victims of human trafficking, and we hope this billboard campaign will encourage the public to report suspicious activity to us,” said Dewey Mann, supervisory special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk. “One of the task force’s first successful investigations began with a tip to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”
     
    In November 2016, Attorney General Herring announced a $1.45 million grant that would help fund the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, which we then launched in January of 2017. The Office of the Attorney General partnered with Homeland Security, Samaritan House, the US Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, and law enforcement agencies from Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake for the task force. Since October 2016, just before the launch of the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, there have been a total of 108 new trafficking investigations, 45 arrests, and 76 victims have been identified.
  16. Just in the STROKE of time! Community Out-Reach Education

    South Hill – Stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.  Every minute the brain is oxygen deprived, brain cells are damaged.  The good news is, if the stroke is treated immediately, brain damage can be minimized. 
     
    As a Primary Stroke Center, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of stroke.  American Stroke Month in May gives us an important opportunity to join together to prevent, treat and beat the number five killer in the United States.
     
    How can a stroke be prevented?  What are clot busting drugs with new clot “retrievers”?  What are ways to beat stroke and manage fatigue and depression?
     
    If you are seeking answers to questions like these you should attend May’s C.O.R.E. (Community Out-Reach Education) Program at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital to learn more about stroke.
     
    This FREE program will be on Tuesday, May 29th at 4:00 p.m. in the VCU Health CMH Education Center located inside the C.A.R.E. Building, 1755 N. Mecklenburg, Avenue, South Hill, VA.
     
    Dr. Nina J. Solenski will be the speaker for the program.  She is an associate professor in neurology, subspecializing in cerebrovascular disease at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.  Dr. Solenski is a graduate of Jefferson Medical College (Philadelphia, PA ’89).  She received her residency training at Dartmouth Mary-Hitchcock in internal medicine and at University of Virginia in neurology.  She completed an ACGME accredited cerebrovascular disease fellowship training program at UVA in clinical and basic research.  She is currently dual APBN boarded in general and vascular neurology.
     
    Reservations are not required for this program; however, they are recommended.  For more information or to register to attend, please call (434) 774-2550 or visit www.vcu-cmh.org.
  17. A Touch of Elegance Moves to Halifax Street

    A ribbon cutting was held last week for A Touch of Elegance at their new building on Halifax Street. From the founder of the business, Darlene Cain:

    I began directing and decorating weddings many years ago with a friend in Carson. Over time, it truly became my passion. It was she that gave me the vision to open a business. Before then, it was a mere thought.  From there, A Touch of Elegance was birthed.

    In 2008, my husband and daughter stepped in as my business partners. We secured a permanent office location on Main St. in the same year. There we stayed for 9 years.   

    We moved to Halifax St. in January in this year.   Over the years, our business has tremendously evolved.  Initially, we focused on the planning, directing and decorating aspects of a wedding.  It has allowed us to travel for events out of town and even to the Governor’s mansion.   We are now truly a One Stop Shop.  

    We offer a wide range of products and services.   Wedding & Party planning, decorating & directing.  Linen Rentals.  Tuxedo rentals.   Catering.  (Large crowds, family reunions, graduations &  private parties).

    We have quite a few local businesses that continue to support our business.   We’d like to thank Delegate Tyler for giving us our first big break and most recently the Emporia/Greensville Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing support.

    Tags: 

  18. Margaret Hobbs Wright

    Margaret Hobbs Wright died on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at her home in Emporia. She was the daughter of the late Waverly P. Hobbs, Sr. and Sally Newsome Hobbs. 

    She is survived by her husband, Ernest Milton Wright of Emporia; sister, Dora H. Doyle of Emporia; special friend, Kathy B. Tuck of Emporia; and several nieces and nephews. She was a former worker at Southampton Textile.

    A graveside service will be held at Greensville Memorial Cemetery on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Brian Mallary officiating.

    Condolences may be left at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  19. Greensville County Public Schools Names New Superintendent

    Emporia, VA – Dr. Kim Evans was appointed as the next superintendent of Greensville County Public Schools at this evening’s school board meeting. Her new position will be effective July 1, 2018. Dr. Evans has more than 27 years’ experience working in public education in Virginia. Since 2014, she has served as the assistant superintendent of schools in Hopewell City Public Schools. She has also worked in Dinwiddie County, Colonial Heights, and Mecklenburg County Public Schools.

    “I am excited, honored, and humbled to have been chosen as the new superintendent of Greensville County Public Schools and look forward to working collaboratively with the school board, staff, parents and community,” said Evans. “I’m committed to providing all students with an exceptional educational experience which will assist them in becoming productive members of an ever-changing global society.”

    Rhonda Jones-Gilliam, chairman of the Greensville County School Board, believes Dr. Evans will be a great fit for the division. She stated, “We welcome Dr. Evans to Greensville County Public Schools. Her experience, leadership and professionalism will be a great asset to the division and community.”

    Evans earned a Doctor and Master of Educational Administration and Supervision from Virginia State University, and a Bachelor of Science in business education from Norfolk State University.

    The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) assisted the Greensville County school board with the superintendent search process

  20. Rose Allen Crowned "Best in Show" at 10th Doggie Fashion Show


     

    Second Runner-up and winner of the Large Breed Group - Luna Taylor owned by Chelsea Taylor is a 5 pound black and white Black Lab Mix weighing 60 pounds. She enjoys tugging on her favorite rope toy, napping and swimming, and performing for treats - she knows how to sit. She loves getting belly-rubs.

    First Runner-up and winner of the Small Breed Group - Bailey Baker owned by Natalie Baker is a white and black Malshie (a mix between a Maltese and Shih Tzu) and weighs 13 pounds. Bailey loves meeting new people (and having them pick her up), the beach, playing in the sand and riding in the car with her mom.

    Best In Show and winner of the Medium Breed Group - Rose Allen owned by Aimee Allen is a red-coated English Bulldog. Rose weighs 43 pounds and is the baby of the family. rose loves to cuddle and be held, going to work with her mom and treats.

    Other winners, not pictured, include:

    Best Costume - Lucy Pitt owned by Ashley and Dane Pitt.

    Best Look Alike - Chevy Watson owned by Nancy Whatson.

    Best Personallity - Vanna White Allen owned by Aimee Allen

  21. FIRST LADY APPLAUDS SVCC GRADUATES

    Group of Greensville County High School students attending SVCC graduation and receiving their degrees, diplomas and certificates.

    Samantha Kery Dickens of Greensville County High School was among the graduates at SVCC.

    Proud graduates from Southside Virginia Community College are (Left to Right) Ingrid Fogg of Kenbridge, David Evans of Lawrenceville, and Melissa Wood of Jarrett.

    “You made it.  Give yourselves a round of applause,” said Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam as a greeting to the class of 2018 of Southside Virginia Community College at Commencement on May 12 at the John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville.  Under blue skies and what the Mrs. Northam called ‘Texas Heat’, SVCC celebrated 946 credit graduates along with 238 students receiving workforce credentials.

    “I bring congratulations from the Governor.  We are proud of you as you finish this hard-won journey,” she said.  She noted that change takes courage and reminded the crowd that “Virginians have always been explorers, revolutionaries and innovators.”

    “We are at our best when we challenge ourselves,” she said.

    She also spoke of community colleges being a critical aspect of education and workforce training in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She noted that Virginia is a commonwealth instead of a state meaning that its citizens work for the common good of all. 

    “When you began this journey, it may have seemed like a mission impossible.  I am so happy to celebrate with you…mission accomplished,” she said.

    “Virginia has a history of leading the way, we have a chance to do that again, you are our best asset and greatest treasure,” she concluded.

    Pamela Northam became the First Lady of Virginia when her husband, Governor Ralph Northam, was sworn in as governor of January 13, 2018.  Aneducator,environmentalist and longtimeadvocate,Mrs. Northam has taken a leading role in Hampton Roads and Virginiatoprotectwaterqualityandimprovethehealthof the Chesapeake Bay.

    During the ceremony, the college awarded two Honorary Associate Degrees in Humane Letters.  These are conferred by the State Board for Community Colleges in recognition of distinguished achievement.  These were presented to Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D., former Secretary of Education for Virginia and a strong advocate and true champion of education.  A native of Halifax County, she has a fondness for the college that serves her community.

    Also awarded was Russell B. Clark.  In his role as County Administrator for Charlotte, he was on the job for 37 years, and worked collaboratively with SVCC, other county governments and many partners through the state for the betterment of the area.  He is a member of the SVCC Foundation Board of Directors, serves on the board for Virginia’s Heartland Regional Partnership, Virginia’s Growth Alliance and the Bank of Charlotte County. 

    Honors program graduates were Katelyn Bryant and Emily Davis. Two students were nominated this year and named to the All-Virginia Academic Team sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa.  These students were recognized as well, Anesia Powell and Sara Ruotolo-Sarnataro.

    Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President, conferred the degrees on the SVCC students, shaking each hand as they crossed the stage.






    City of Emporia/Greensville County
    Robert Jeffrey Barrientos Emporia Presley Dakota Walton Emporia
    Ashley Nichole Butler Emporia Adrian Simone Boney Emporia
    TaNyla Niasia Evans Emporia Patrick Jerome Hamp Emporia
    Markeisha Denise Green Emporia Ziaria Renee Dickerson Skippers
    Lori Leigh Hafey Emporia Hunter Christian Smith Skippers
    Chyna Lynette Harrison-Pegram Emporia Madison Drew Whitby Skippers
    Evaughn Unique Hill Emporia Jaden DaVarius Young Skippers
    Haley Sheree Jones Emporia Samantha Kery Dickens Skippers
    Kimberli Michele Lawhon Emporia Leslie Elam Williams Skippers
    Khalill E Lewis Emporia Destini Janea Banks Jarratt
    Quaniyah Ta'Haven Lewis Emporia Kenneth Wayne Skipper Jarratt
    Promise   Long III Emporia Melissa Elyse Wood Jarratt
    Deborah A Mason Emporia Ronlecia Shanaye Tyler Jarratt
    Tyrell Elizah Mays Emporia Gary Arlestus Bryant Jarratt
    Fredrick Cordale Miles Emporia Hunter Steven Rae Jarratt
    Shawn Elizabeth Miller Emporia Lindsey Makenah Gordon Jarratt
    Dana Lashae Mitchell Emporia Ry'shawn Linwood Sykes Jarratt
    Magda Ezzat Mohamed Emporia Kiara Videja High Jarratt
    Dustin Wayne Moseley Emporia Samantha Lynn Richard Jarratt
    Julie Thi Nguyen Powell Emporia Amber Lynn Lowe Jarratt
    Kuldeep Kumar Mahesh Patel Emporia Lisa R Gillam Jarratt
    Patricia Demetria Rice Emporia Rebecca W Adams Jarratt
    Amy Arrington Sloan Emporia Brunswick County
    Akia Sindrea Squire Emporia Kristen Nichole Baird Lawrenceville
    Demona Ky'Asia Stephens Emporia Ahmed Abdelkarem Belghith Lawrenceville
    Dymond Jamilla Sykes Emporia Kathy Marie Binarao Lawrenceville
    Courtney Shakera Turner Emporia Kayla Marie Binarao Lawrenceville
    Victoria Blaire Wright Emporia Tammy Nicole Cypress Lawrenceville
    Kamareye YaQuell Sykes Emporia Albertina Patrice Drumgold Lawrenceville
    Brittney Renee Mason Emporia Cadidra Denise Goodman Lawrenceville
    Alice   Wong Emporia Travis W Jones Lawrenceville
    Eboni Denise Layton Emporia Athena Marie Martin Lawrenceville
    AuBiranna Nicole Mobley Emporia Jordan Nyjah McMillan Lawrenceville
    Tatiyuana Lache Michael Emporia Elois Lorraine Morris Lawrenceville
    Divinity La'Mae Pettaway Emporia Anesia LeNell Powell Lawrenceville
    Qui'Meia Chante' Morrow Emporia Jamarcus Dion Reid Lawrenceville
    Antoine Lavosier Price Jr. Emporia Ayanna Delmari Coleman Lawrenceville
    Twanda Diane Dillard Emporia Bryana Latasha Murphy Lawrenceville
    Shayana Daishanique Tanner Emporia Tyreese J. Fisher Lawrenceville
    Stephon Caderra Cain Emporia David Dacoda Major Lawrenceville
    Jarell Clinton Hines Emporia Justin Nathaniel Jackson Lawrenceville
    Desiree Michelle Whitehead Emporia Aliyah Nicole Mangrum Lawrenceville
    Preston   Battle IV Emporia Shawna Victoria Lee Lawrenceville
    Tyler Mason Prince Emporia Jayvonte KaVon Elder Lawrenceville
    Signora Quinae Wyche Emporia Gavin Ezekiel Rasner Lawrenceville
    Hannah Claire Geist Emporia Shanice Danielle Jackson Lawrenceville
    Nia'Lynn Alexis Lee Emporia Ashley Brooke Roberts Lawrenceville
    Teryeja Monae Parker Emporia Dillion Jammal Preston Lawrenceville
    Dawson T Coker Emporia Tyana Monique Strong Lawrenceville
    Kyle Henry Rodriguez Emporia Destiny Shardaney Smith Lawrenceville
    Taylor Michelle Powell Emporia Tiquan Malik Goode Lawrenceville
    Savanna Alexis Jones Emporia Tracey Lee Edmonds Lawrenceville
    Courtney Renee' Terry Emporia Cody Michael Marston Lawrenceville
    Erikah Dy'Nequa Broadnax Emporia Maygan Effie Clary Lawrenceville
    DeAndre Marquees Anderson Emporia Kenneth Cole Williams Lawrenceville
    Fitzgerald   Marcelin Jr. Emporia Sabrina O'Keefe Burns Lawrenceville
    Sarah Morgan Harvey Emporia Sterling Darrell Meade Jr. Lawrenceville
    Lauren Michelle Totino Emporia Taniah Nichole Easter Lawrenceville
    Stephanie Merritt Ferguson Emporia Colby Alan Crutchfield Lawrenceville
    Laurie-Ashley Elizabeth Sampson Emporia David Tyler Evans Lawrenceville
    Catherine Ann Weaver Emporia Grayson Shea Hudson Brodnax
    Nidhi Milan Brahmbhatt Emporia Herbert Andrew Burgart Jr. Brodnax
    Britney   Saleeby Emporia Angel Michelle-Renee Clark Brodnax
    Sharayquan Marcellous Wood Emporia Jeremey Alexander Goss Brodnax
    Makenzie Nicole Link Emporia Ashley Nicole Jones Brodnax
    Mikayla Gabrielle Harrison Emporia Trinate Sad'e King Brodnax
    Jayquan Arturo Simmons Emporia Stephanie Marie Morris Brodnax
    De'Ja Alexis Mangrum Emporia Katelyn Marie Sharber Brodnax
    Destiny TaLiscia Mangrum Emporia Janizha Kaleah Walker Brodnax
    Omar Tyree Banks Emporia Regina M Warmouth Brodnax
    Laticia Danielle Cain Emporia Dylan Franklin Weed Brodnax
    Jada Denise Brown Emporia Jesse Dallas James Brodnax
    Catherine Camille Robinson Emporia Eric Dwayne Brazeal Brodnax
    Ziliko Zannelle Seldon Emporia Kelci Faith Spence Brodnax
    Gabriel Lorenzo Drewry Emporia Katlyn Rose Sadler Brodnax
    Amanda Leagh Huskey Emporia Danielle Angelica Valentine Brodnax
    Jasmine Leneise Terry Emporia Christopher Wayne Chandler Brodnax
    Kadaja Shante' Tennessee Emporia Kitiko Andrea Davis Jr. Broadnax
    Tiarra Nicole Thomas Emporia Dynasia Margarite Holmes Brodnax
    Brady Lamar Perkins Emporia Margarete Leane Davis Dolphin
    Robert Todd Thorpe Emporia T'zharay Jahmiel Valentine Dolphin
    Brooklyn Shayla Mason Emporia TaNeisha Mae Moore Ebony
    Sabrina Genell Britt Emporia Kashayla Monea Macklin Ebony
    Zaykeese L Dunn Emporia Jazmine Dominque Eccleston Ebony
    Robert SeQuan Mullins IV Emporia Beth Holloway Elliott Freeman
    Zariah Noel Powell Emporia Sherry D Wall Freeman
    Khari Z Carr Emporia Aaliyadriah Love Cleaton Freeman
    Tyshera Janae Bittle Emporia Kelita Arella Trotter Freeman
    Tia Shawane Powell Emporia Corey Lamont Long Jr. Freeman
    Shaquella Jenay Stephens Emporia Torri Marie Long Freeman
    Willie Lee Valentine Emporia Tiara Shantelle Bobbitt Freeman
    Akayla RaShay Benton Emporia Hailey Karissa Roberts Gasburg
    Ziaire Sade Bynum Emporia Ethan Thomas Warwick Gasburg
    Cheryl Kelly Moody Emporia Emily Elizabeth Watts Gasburg
    Markel ShaCoy Threat Emporia Carli Marie Inge Gasburg
    Aikayla Lyshelle Green Emporia Sussex County
    Jermari O'Neal Walton Emporia Austin Blake Lewis Stony Creek
    Jada Chantay Banks Emporia Carter Garnett Lewis Stoney Creek
    Kailee Star Phillips Emporia Southampton County
    Ja'Zona Le'Ann Spates Emporia Sateria Antonia Adams Capron
    Trinitey Divine Myles Emporia
    Nicholas Coletran Wells Emporia
    Caroline Layne Taylor Emporia
    Malik LaDarius Ellsworth Emporia
    Rahmi-Iyl Imamm Jennings Emporia
    Charles Isaac Gregory III Emporia
  22. Meherrin River expected to Crest at 24.6 Feet

    With all of the recent rain here and to our west, the Meherrin River has overtopped the dam and is at of it's banks and we are currently under a Flood Warning.

    Do not attempt to drive through standing water.

    Below is a chart of the flood stages of the Meherrin River at the Emporia Gauge:

    Depth Condition
    36.1 River stage sensor operating limit
    34 Water begins to flow across the Hicksford Ave Bridge.
    33.5 Water reaches the intersection of Center St and High St.
    30 Water reaches the entrance to Meherrin River Park along Hicksford Ave.
    25

    Homes on Center St between Cleveland Ave and Monroe St are inundated.  Homes along Meherrin Park Rd

    begin to flood and the ball fields in the EGRA park are flooded.

    24 Portions of Center St begin to flood and some residential areas are threatened.
    23 Flood waters infiltrate sewer system. The parking lot next to the ball fields in EGRA Park begins to flood.
    20 Water reaches the top of the boat ramp in the Meherrin River Park/EGRA Park.
    19 Water covers the walking bridge in the Meherrin River Park.
    16 Meherrin River Park and Veterans Memorial Park are closed to public access.
    15 Water begins to cover portions of the walking trail in the Meherrin River Park.
    13 Cautionary stage. Water begins to overflow the banks in the Meherrin River Park.
  23. Phi Theta Kappa Honors Sutdents

    The Phi Theta Kappa 2018 All-Virginia Academic Team Awards Program was held recently in Richmond, Virginia.  Two students from Southside Virginia Community College were among the nominees for this award and chosen for the All-Virginia Team.  These students are Anesia Powell of Greensville and Sarah Ruotolo-Sarnataro of Halifax.  Shown in the photo with her medal is Anesia (Center) and Dr. Al Roberts (Left) and Dr. Glen DuBois (Right), Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.  

    Anesia Powell is a senior at Greensville County High School.  She currently has a 4.1 GPA and class rank is 6 out of 177.  She has been a member of GCHS school’s Beta Club for 3 years and this year she had the honor to serve as president.  She is dually enrolled at Southside Virginia Community College and when she graduates from high school, she will also have an associate degree.   After graduation, she plans to double major in finance and marketing at Old Dominion University in the fall 2018.

  24. State Board Sets Tuition for 2018-2019 Academic Year

    RICHMOND —The State Board for Community Colleges established the 2018-2019 academic year in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $154 per credit hour today at its regular May meeting. Beginning this fall, in-state students will pay an additional $3.75 per credit hour – an increase of 2.5 percent – meaning the cost of a typical three-hour class will increase by $11.25, and the cost of a full-time load of classes for the year will increase by $112.50.

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

    Virginia’s Community Colleges will use the tuition increase to pay a share of rising employee fringe benefit costs; strategic enrollment initiatives; costs associated with using various Virginia administrative systems; and facility maintenance and operating costs.

    “Today’s decision requires us to find the balance necessary to advance two different priorities,” said Eleanor Saslaw, chair of the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges. “College affordability remains essential to the community college mission, and we’ve honored that. Meanwhile, resources are needed to increase student advising and other essential initiatives, like those identified in last fall’s JLARC report on our colleges, to help more students succeed and complete their programs of study. I believe we are honoring those needs too.”

    Out-of-state tuition

    The State Board increased the tuition rate for out-of-state students by $3.75 per credit hour to a total of $351.60 per credit hour.

    Out-of-state students make up approximately five percent of the total enrollment of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

    Tuition differentials

    There were no differential tuition increase requests for fall 2018, meaning that the tuition differential rates remain unchanged from last year for the eight colleges that implement them  (Germanna, John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Piedmont Virginia, Reynolds, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson, and Virginia Western).

  25. Donald John Bowen

    Donald John Bowen, of Emporia, passed away May 14, 2018, at Southside Virginia Regional Medical Center at the age of 65.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Russell (Honey) A. Bowen, Jr. and Olga Ondov Bowen, and two sisters, Dorothy Bowen Leonard of Suffolk, Virginia, and Judy Bowen Jones of Emporia. 

    Donald is survived by his brother, William Bowen of Eure, North Carolina; brother-in-law, Donald L. Jones, Sr. and wife Carol; nephews, Gene C. Leonard, Jr. and Donald (Buck) L. Jones, Jr. and nieces, Sharon Leonard Adkison, Anne Marie Leonard and Mary Beth Bowen Maitland. 

    Donald grew up working in his family’s business, Bowen Gas & Electric.  He graduated from Brunswick Academy in 1972.  In 1997, he started Computer Networking Services, following his love of all things electrical.  Donald will forever be remembered by his dear friends and clients, who were also his family.

    A graveside service will be held at the Emporia Cemetery Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., with the Reverend Robert W. Griles presiding.   Memorial donations can be made to the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.  Online condolences can be made to echolsfuneralhome.com.

     

  26. Joan Liebold Dolloff

    Joan Liebold Dolloff, of Queens, NY, died on Friday, May 18, 2018, at Greensville Manor in Emporia, VA. She was the daughter of the late Herbert Liebold and Margaret Schaffer Liebold. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her son, Craig Charles Dolloff.

    She is survived by her husband, Donald T. Dolloff of Emporia; two daughters, Diane Dolloff of San Francisco, CA and Cynthia Dolloff of Carmel, N.Y.; son, Donald T. Dolloff Jr. and wife Denise of Waterboro, ME; brother, Herbert Liebold of Cresco, PA ;   four grandchildren, Kaitlyn Dolloff, Allison Joan Dolloff, Amethyst Arbore, and Dustin Arbore. She was a loving and devoted wife, mother, and grandmother.

    A visitation will be held in the Echols Funeral home Chapel on Thursday, May 24, 2018 from 7:00 P.M until 8:30 P.M. A service will be held in the Echols Funeral Home Chapel on Friday, May 25, 2018 at 1:00 P.M. with Father Joker “Jong” R. Bayta officiating. Interment will follow at the Emporia Cemetery.

    In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at support.woundedwarriorproject.org or to the Animal Welfare Society of Kennebunk, ME at animalwelfaresociety.org.

    Condolences may be left at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  27. Stephen Peter Skowronski

    Stephen Peter Skowronski, 68, passed away at home on May 19, 2018. He was preceded in death by one son, Benjamin Andrew Skowronski.

    He is survived by his wife, Gayle Ligon Skowronski, and a sister, Donna Clymer of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is also survived by a brother-in-law, George Benjamin Ligon, Jr. (Mary), sister-in-law, Sandra L. Allen (Kenny), and many nieces and nephews.

    Steve had a love for the game of golf and was an accomplished golf course and turf management superintendent.

    A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 2:30 P.M. at the Emporia Cemetery on Brunswick Ave. in Emporia, VA.

    In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org, by phone 1-800-822-6344, or by mail at: 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

    Online condolences may be left at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  28. Brunswick Academy Graduation

        

        

    Baccalaureate Service will be held in the Brunswick Academy Gymnasium on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.  The guest speaker will be Reverend Dan Jarrell of  New Hope Baptist Church in South Hill, Virginia.  Commencement Exercises will be held on Friday, May 25, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.  Thirty-four seniors will be graduating. The valedictorian is Zachary Earle Clary, son of Mr. and Mrs. Rick Clary of Bracey.  The salutatorian is Sydney Nicole Robertson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Robertson of Lawrenceville.  Zachary Clary will be attending the College of William and Mary.  Sydney Robertson will be attending James Madison University.

    There will be two other honor graduates at this year’s graduation.  They are Heather Dianne Thompson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Thompson of  Emporia and Benjamin Wilson Lewis, son of Mrs. Tracy Lee of Jarratt and Mr. F. W. Lewis of Stony Creek. Heather Thompson will be attending the University of Virginia. Benjamin Lewis will be attending Marymount Manhattan College. 

    Seventeen seniors are children of Brunswick Academy alumni.

  29. MAY 2018 BA STUDENT OF THE MONTH JACKSON OWEN COMBS

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that JACKSON OWEN COMBS has been chosen the May 2018 Student of the Month. Jackson, a senior, is the son of Mark and Kerrie Combs of Emporia.  He has one sister, Olivia, also a student at Brunswick Academy. Jackson has played JV and Varsity Football, (Captain) and Varsity Baseball (Captain).  He has received multiple All Conference awards while playing sports at Brunswick Academy.   He was a member of the Student Council Organization and the Spanish Club.   

    Jackson is a member of Boy Scout Troop #232 of Purdy.  He has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.  He is an active member of the Main Street United Methodist Church in Emporia.  He reads scripture during services and has attended 5 mission trips with the youth group at church. 

    Jackson loves to play golf, hunt and go to Lake Gaston.  He recently joined a kickball team with his classmates. 

    He will attend West Virginia University in the fall where he plans to major in Forest Resource Management.

  30. MAY 2018 BA STUDENT OF THE MONTH MATTHEW TYLER HARRISON

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Matthew Tyler Harrison has been chosen the May 2018 Student of the Month.  Matthew, a senior, is the son of Matthew and Patricia Harrison of Warfield.   Matthew has played JJV, JV and Varsity Basketball while at Brunswick Academy.  He is a member of the National Honor Society, The BA Honor Council, Latin Club and Junior Beta Club. 

    Harrison works tirelessly in his family business, Nottoway Restaurant.  In his spare time, Matthew enjoys fishing, the beach and any outdoor activity. 

    He will attend Southside Virginia Community College for two years and then transfer to Virginia Tech.  He plans to major in Business Administration and Management.

  31. Aprill 2018 BA Student of the Month - Benjamin Wilson Lewis

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Benjamin Wilson Lewis has been chosen the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month for April. 2018.  Ben, a senior is the son of F.W. Lewis of Stony Creek and Mrs. Tracy Lee of Jarratt. Ben has one sister, Madison, who is a Brunswick Academy graduate and one step-brother, Ryan Lee. 

    Ben is in the Brunswick Academy Honors Program, which is the most rigourous and challenging program of studies.  Consistently, he has made the honor roll. 

    Since the seventh grade, Ben has been chosen to be his Class President.  He is a member of Junior Beta Club, President of the National Honor Society, Vice-President of the SCO and Secretary of the Honor Council. 

    He participates in AVA Forensics and has received numerous awards since 9th grade. He was the recipient of the BA Varsity Forensics award in 10th and 11th grade.   He took first place in the State of Virginia for the Riparian Woman’s Club Poetry Contest in 2013.

    Ben has been a nine-year member and stage manager of the Brunswick Academy Theatre.  He has held roles in various productions and this year he was the co-star in the production of White Christmas.     

    Since the 8th grade, Ben has been a member of the Junior Classical League (Latin Club).   Within this group he has held the position of Philanthropic chair, Vice-President and currently Co-President.   Ben was a three-year member of the Brunswick Academy Scholastic Bowl team and a three-year member of the Yearbook staff.    Ben led the Public Relations Committee for Brunswick Academy’s “Lone Star Relief Effort” to provide aid for those persons affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  

    Ben was a Junior Marshal and received the “I Dare You” Award for Leadership at last year’s graduation.   He will be an Honor Graduate for the Class of 2018.  

    In his spare time, Ben takes piano lessons and is a counselor for children for Grades K-5 at the YMCA of Greensville-Emporia.  He was chosen employee of the Month at the YMCA. 

    Ben will attend the Honor’s Program at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.  He will major in Cinema, Television and Emerging Media. 

  32. Replace Your Social Security Card Online

    By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

    Need to replace your lost or misplaced Social Security card? If you live in a qualifying state, our online application makes getting a replacement card easier than ever. There’s no need to sit in traffic or visit a local office or Card Center.

    As long as you’re only requesting a replacement card, and no other changes, you can use our free online service from the comfort of your home or office. All you need to do is create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

    Your identity and personal information matter to us. We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features. The application process has built-in features to detect fraud and confirm your identity. Once you have a personal account, simply follow the instructions to replace your Social Security card.

    In many cases, even if you lost your card, you may not need a replacement. Most of the time, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough. Visit our website to find out whether you can request your replacement Social Security card online or what the requirements are in your area at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/.

  33. Ronald Baldwin Hughes, Sr.

    Ronald B. Hughes, Sr., 90, passed away early Tuesday in Virginia Beach. Ron was born in Havre de Grace, MD to the late Clinton and Lydia Hughes.

    Ron was a United States Navy veteran of WWII and he later retired as a District Traffic Manager from the Civil Service. His hobbies include playing golf and duck hunting in the Chesapeake Bay.

    He is also predeceased by his wife, Ethel Hughes. Ron is survived by his son, Ronald B. Hughes, Jr. and a granddaughter, Melanie Hughes.

    A memorial service was conducted at 2pm, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. A private burial will take place at Emporia Cemetery in Emporia, VA at a later date. Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com

  34. Richard Harold Deal

    Richard Harold Deal died on February 6, 2018. He was a native of Emporia and a United States Navy veteran.

    A graveside memorial service, with military honors, will be held on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. at Emporia Cemetery with the Rev. Brad Barbour officiating.

    Online condolences may be left at www.echolsfuneralhome.com.

  35. New Nurses Pinned

    Southside Virginia Community College held at Pinning Ceremony for those successfully completing the Associate Degree Nursing Program.  This program prepares students to become Registered Nurses.  Those who attended classes at the Christanna Campus are: 

    1st row left to right:  Brandi Harrell of Baskerville, Beth Holloway Elliott of Freeman;2nd row left to right: Demetria Anderson of Blackstone, Amber Miles of Blackstone, Patricia Rice of Emporia;3rd row left to right: Emily Watts of Gasburg, Victoria Finch of South Hill, Julie Thi Nguyen-Powell of Emporia, Allison Cheely of Blackstone.

  36. Greensville County High School SkillsUSA Wins National Public Relations Media Award

    First row: Jody Kane, CTE Coordinator; Nathanial Grizzard, SkillsUSA member; Samantha Dickens, SkillsUSA Member and President;  LaMeka Harrison, GCHS Principal. Second row: Stephen Wells, Advisor; Joshua Sutton, SkillsUSA Member and Treasurer; Destiny Johnson, SkillsUSA Member and Secretary; Marsha Campbell, Advisor; and James Wright, Advisor.

    The online challenge encouraged local chapters and state officer teams to demonstrate how they showcased SkillsUSA to the news media in ways that highlighted career and technical education opportunities and student success. The purpose of the challenge was to help students grow in their communication and teamwork skills and to promote SkillsUSA to a wider audience. Teams promoted SkillsUSA to a minimum of three audiences in the community and then documented all media coverage.

    The public relations challenge was open from Sept. 1, 2017 to March 30, 2018. The required media coverage period was three months to six months. Coverage included broadcast television, print media, social media and video posts, blogs, and school newspapers.

    The goal of the challenge was to gain positive local media attention for schools, programs, and events. Participation in the SkillsUSA Public Relations Challenge supported the program of work and chapter standards by helping students learn to document and measure efforts. 

    GCHS SkillsUSA received a grant of $300 in recognition of their media efforts this school year. The first-place school winner and SkillsUSA Media Champion was Hueytown High School, in Hueytown, Ala. 

    SkillsUSA’s head advisor is carpentry instructor, James Wright. Remaining SkillsUSA advisors are: Welding Instructor, Jerry Brown; Economics and Personal Finance Instructor, Marsha Campbell; Graphic Imaging Instructor, Dennis Holland; Culinary Arts Instructor, Stephen Wells; and Drafting Instructor, Gerald Wozniak. GCHS CTE Coordinators are Jody Kane and Courtney Mosley. .

    The members and advisors will receive additional recognition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference, June 25-30, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Students will be sponsoring fundraisers throughout May. Please support the club in their efforts to attend the national conference. Members are currently selling tickets for the Annual Boston Butt until the day of the sale, Wednesday, May 23, 2018.  Please see any member to purchase a Boston Butt party pack for $50.00 or Boston Butt Only for $35.00.

    If you would like to make a donation to support the club, send to Greensville County High School SkillsUSA Club, 403 Harding Street Emporia, Virginia, 23847. If you need additional information please contact one of the advisors: James E. Wright, Jerry Brown, Marsha Campbell, Stephen Wells, Gerald Wozinak, or Brittany Wright at 434-634-2195. Greensville County High School SkillsUSA would like to extend a special thanks to the GCHS CTE Department, GCHS faculty, parents, and community for their continued support and donations to the club.

  37. VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month

    (Left to Right) W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Ashley Wray, Registered Nurse in Surgical Services, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for April.  There to congratulate Ashley was Joanne Paynter, Director of Perioperative Surgical Services.

    Ashely has been employed at VCU Health CMH for 13 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, “Ashley has always demonstrated pride in her work at CMH and has exhibited true teamwork.  She has recently taken on working every weekend and also helped in the ER when needed.  Even though this wasn’t her normal area, she remained upbeat and positive through a very busy day.  Ashley definitely demonstrated STAR service by going above and beyond to offer support to another area that she knew was in need.”  “Ashley is a remarkable person.  She is very willing to do whatever is asked of her.  Ashley always represents this hospital well and is a true STAR performer.” 

    In addition to the award certificate, Ashley 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.

    Ashley resides in LaCrosse, VA.

  38. Congressman McEachin to Host 2nd Annual Parent Power Forum

    Petersburg, Va. – SATURDAY, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) will host his annual “Know Your Rights: Parent Power Forum” at Petersburg High School to provide parents and caregivers with information about their student’s rights in the classroom. Attendees will be able to benefit from a panel discussion and workshops lead by experienced educators, school administrators, parents, and education advocates.

    Who:    Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Mayor Samuel Parham (Petersburg), Mr. Kenneth Pritchett, Chair of the Petersburg School Board, and Dr. William Wynn, Principal of Petersburg High School

    What:  Congressman McEachin’s annual “Know Your Rights: Parent Power Forum” aims to provide parents and caregivers with information about their student’s rights in the classroom with a panel discussion and workshops lead by experienced educators, school administrators, parents, and education advocates. The information will focus on ways to better support the needs of students with special needs and different learning abilities.

    When: SATURDAY, May 19, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Where: Petersburg High School, 3101 Johnson Road, Petersburg, Virginia 23805

  39. COMCAST NBCUNIVERSAL AWARDS $83,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS TO 74 VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

    Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program Recognizes Students’ Achievements Both In and Out of the Classroom

    Richmond, VA – May 11, 2018 – Comcast NBCUniversal today announced that it has awarded approximately $83,000 in scholarships for the 2018-19 school year to 74 Virginia students as part of its annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program. The program, funded by the Comcast Foundation, is a one-time, $1,000 scholarship awarded to the best and brightest high school seniors for their community service, academic performance and leadership skills. Since 2001, more than $28 million has been awarded to nearly 27,000 high school seniors across the country as part of the Leaders and Achievers Program.

    “All of our Leaders and Achievers Scholarship winners show a strong commitment to their communities and academic achievement,” said Mary McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Beltway Region. “We are proud to recognize their accomplishments and look forward to supporting them as they further their education.”

    Comcast, joined by the Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and other elected officials and school administrators, recognized the students at a special event held at the Virginia State Capitol on Thursday, May 10. One student, Tai-Tonia Owens, a senior at Armstrong High School in Richmond was selected to receive an additional $10,000 Comcast Founders Scholarship — instituted in honor of Ralph J. Roberts, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Comcast Corporation.

    “Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s Leaders and Achievers scholarships,” said Governor Ralph Northam. "And, thank you to Comcast for supporting our future leaders as they continue their education. I am honored to see so many community, academic and leadership achievements from students throughout Virginia.”

    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.
     
    Visit here to learn more.

    2018 Comcast Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Recipients from Our Region

    A

    Emporia

    Destiny Mangrum of Greensville County High School

    Sussex County

    Rebekah Shabazz of Sussex Central High School

  40. CSI: Career Scene Investigation

    Special Summer Camp for Middle School Students

    South Hill—No, we’re not investigating crime scenes, we’re exploring the world of healthcare.  Area middle school students in Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Brunswick Counties will have the opportunity to attend a unique program at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill that will introduce them to a broad range of health careers. 

    A special, one-week, summer camp has been planned for the last week in July entitled, “CSI: Career Scene Investigation” and will focus on the many exciting career opportunities that are available in health care.  Partnering with Southside Virginia Community College, VCU Health CMH will choose fifteen middle school students who have an interest in a health career to attend this summer’s health care camp during the week of  – July 30th  – August 3rd   .   

    The camp will be offered at no charge to students.  During this week-long camp, students will spend time with staff from many clinical areas and have “hands-on” opportunities.  They will learn how to apply casts and splints, take x-rays, learn about monitoring the heart, spend time in the Emergency Department, dress in scrubs, see the operating rooms, learn how to suture, work with Rehabilitation Therapists and much, much more!  The week will be fun, interactive and exciting for students and VCU Health CMH staff. 

    “We are very pleased to offer to area students this excellent opportunity to learn about the world of health care,” said Hazel Willis, RN, BSN, Education Department Manager for VCU Health CMH.  “The program will offer a variety of activities that will allow students to observe and interact with health care professionals in their work environment and gain valuable insight into health care careers.  We want to provide a positive learning experience for students and encourage teens to explore health care careers.”

    According to Mrs. Willis, health care careers are the fastest growing, and will be the most in demand careers for the future. Rapid technological and scientific advances in the medical field, along with a large aging population have created high demand for health care professionals.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth rate of new jobs in health care professions will be twice the rate of job growth in non-health care professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts a need for 5.3 million health care workers to fill job openings created by departures and new positions in the next five years.

    The middle school years are the ideal time to reach students and introduce them to career ideas so they can begin to plan a curriculum that includes the necessary sciences and other required courses. 

    A total of fifteen students from local middle schools with at least a “C” average will be selected to attend the camp from applications that include a short essay about why they want to attend the camp, and from teacher/guidance counselor recommendations.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided daily for the students.  Transportation to and from VCU Health CMH will be the responsibility of the students’ parents.  Students will receive a backpack with supplies and a CSI: Career Scene Investigation T-shirt.  Parents will be invited to attend a special graduation ceremony at the conclusion of the week.

    Applications for the camp may be obtained through each school’s guidance counselor, online by visiting vcuhealth.org, from VCU Health CMH’s Education Department or Human Resources.  For more information or for an application, please call Hazel Willis at (434) 584-5438.

  41. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING ANNOUNCES ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AGAINST UNLICENSED CONTRACTORS

    RICHMOND (May 11, 2018) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that he has taken enforcement actions against three unlicensed contractors operating in Virginia. The three unlicensed contractors are Ricky Harmon Pettit, operating under Pettit’s Home Improvement, Ricky H. Pettit Home Improvement, and R. H. Pettit Builders in Central and Northern Virginia; Timothy Oneal White, operating as White Renovation and Construction and White Renovations in the City of Roanoke; and Gerald Lee Whitfield, operating as Whitfield’s Home Improvements in the City of Chesapeake. Each of the unlicensed contractors allegedly committed numerous violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which generally prohibits the use of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction.
     
    “No one should have to worry about whether the contractor they have hired to work on their home is licensed or trained to do the work they say they can,” said Attorney General Herring. “These unlicensed contractors are not only lying to consumers they are potentially putting them in danger with shoddy workmanship. My Consumer Protection section will continue to investigate claims of fraud and abuse against consumers and take action where we can to stop it.”
     
    Ricky Harmon Pettit – Pettit’s Home Improvement, Ricky H. Pettit Home Improvement, and R. H. Pettit Builders
    The Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Ricky Harmon Pettit for providing unlicensed contractor work in consumers’ homes in Central and Northern Virginia. The lawsuit alleges that in several instances Pettit offered contractor services to consumers, obtained money before performing those services, and failed to complete those services. Pettit also falsely told consumers that he was insured and licensed with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Board for Contractors. The Complaint alleges Pettit violated the Consumer Protection Act by:
     
    • Representing that he was a plumber, when he has never held a tradesmen license with a plumbing specialty as required by statute;
    • Taking payments of $2,524.99 from one consumer to install floor and wall tiles in a bathroom, and later install a toilet, pedestal sink, and water heater, and never finishing the work;
    • Taking payments of $21,000.00 from another consumer to renovate the consumer’s kitchen, and never finishing the work;
    • Representing himself as licensed and insured on business documents including an invoice, a business card, a written contract, and his website, when Pettit was not licensed and insured;
    • Making other false statements and unfulfilled promises throughout his transactions with consumers; and
    • Undertaking work without a valid Virginia contractor’s license when a license is required.
     
    Timothy Oneal White – White Renovation and Construction, and White Renovations
    The Attorney General reached a settlement with Timothy Oneal White related to unlicensed contractor work performed in the City of Roanoke. Specifically, the Attorney General alleges that White violated the Consumer Protection Act by, among other things:
     
    • Undertaking work without a valid Virginia contractor’s license;
    • Taking payments of $6,650 from one consumer to complete various renovations to the consumer’s home bathroom including plumbing to make it accessible for persons with mobility issues, and never finishing the work;
    • Representing that he was a plumber, when he has never held a tradesmen license with a plumbing specialty as required by statute; and
    • Making various other misrepresentations and deceptions in his interactions with the consumer.
     
    Under the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, White is prohibited from operating as a contractor without a required license and will have to pay $6,650 in restitution to the affected consumer, $2,500 for civil penalties and $500 for attorney’s fees and expenses. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance has been adopted and approved by the Roanoke City Circuit Court.
     
    Gerald Lee Whitfield – Whitfield’s Home Improvements
    The Attorney General has reached a settlement with Gerald Lee Whitfield alleging that Whitfield committed numerous violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by:
     
    • Undertaking work without a valid Virginia contractor’s license;
    • Taking payments of $8,796 from one consumer to complete various remodeling projects in the consumer’s home, including framing, hanging drywall, painting, and refinishing floors, and never finishing the work;
    • Describing himself in writing as a “Contractor”;
    • Representing that he was licensed to do electrical work, when he has never held a tradesmen license with an electrical specialty as required by statute; and
    • Making various other false statements and unfulfilled promises in his interactions with the consumer.
     
    Under the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, Whitfield will be prohibited from operating as a contractor and electrician and will have to pay $4,398 for restitution to the affected consumer, $2,000 for civil penalties, and $500 for attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance has been filed for approval with the Chesapeake Circuit Court.
     
    The three matters were handled for the Commonwealth by Assistant Attorney General Stephen John Sovinsky and Investigator Christopher Olson.
     
    Consumers are encouraged to remember these tips when hiring a contractor:
    • Hire only licensed contractors.
    • Verify the contractor’s license status and check on any complaints with the Board for Contractors at http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/ or call (804) 367-8511.
    • Get referrals from friends, neighbors or co-workers.
    • Check references and look at past work.
    • Get written estimates from at least three contractors.
    • Don’t automatically choose the lowest bid. Ask for an explanation of price differences.
    • Get a signed contract that includes start and completion dates, payment schedule, all materials needed, any promises or warranties.
    • Limit any down payment.
    • Don’t pay cash.
    • Don’t pay in full before all work is complete to your satisfaction.
    • Keep all paperwork.
    • You have three days to cancel most sales made at your home. If you have second thoughts, consider exercising this right.

     
    If you think you have been a victim of an unlicensed contractor please reach out to the Office through Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963, or file a complaint on its website.
     
    During Attorney General Herring’s administration, the Consumer Protection Section has undergone a significant reorganization and expansion, and recovered more than $243 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.


  42. Answering a Call for Help

    By Dr. Al Roberts

    It starts with a call for help. When an incident causes serious illness or injury, someone makes a phone call. Each occurrence is different. There are traffic-related injuries, workplace accidents, heart attacks, strokes, falls, and countless other events that place life and limb at risk.

    After the call, emergency vehicles respond. Every time I pull over to let an ambulance dash on its way, the occasion reminds me to be thankful for the comprehensive system that exists to ensure that urgent medical care arrives when and wherever it is needed.

    In years gone by, the situation was different. The Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association explains “The system we have in place today was forged one link at time, dating as far back as the Civil War. With widespread trauma, a systematic and organized method of field care and transport of the injured was born out of necessity. It wasn’t until 1865, however, that the first civilian ambulance was put into service in Cincinnati.”

    Our nation’s first independent, volunteer rescue squad was established in Roanoke, Virginia in 1928. Virginia’s first EMT-paramedics were certified in 1976. Today, the existence of emergency personnel waiting to be called into action is so ubiquitous that their presence is easy to take for granted.

    To help raise awareness, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and the American College of Emergency Physicians work together in support of National EMS Week to recognize the contributions of personnel who bring pre-hospital care to people in need. This year, National EMS Week will be observed on May 20-26. On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of SVCC, I offer these dedicated practitioners a wholehearted “Thank you” in recognition of all they do to safeguard the wellbeing of people across our communities.

    Beyond giving thanks, I also feel a sense of pride. Many of the men and women who serve as EMTs and paramedics across the counties that comprise Southside Virginia received their training from programs at SVCC. As Bobby Lester, one of the College’s Emergency Medical Technician instructors explains, “The EMS program is vital to the community because it provides an avenue for our students to provide care to the citizens of our local community. Many of our students become volunteer members at local EMS and fire departments.”

    Ricky Lyles, Instructor of Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services, wants prospective students to know, “SVCC offers a comprehensive slate of courses to prepare students for EMS careers.” These include four Career Studies Certificates and an Associate’s degree in Emergency Medical Services.

    If you want to be prepared to answer someone’s call for help, you can contact Ricky Lyles (ricky.lyles@southside.edu or 434-736-2097) or Bobby Lester (bobby.lester@southside.edu or 434-949-6603) 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.

  43. April 2018 Truck Driver Training Graduates

    Southside Virginia Community College graduated a new class from the Truck Driver Training School on April 19, 2018.  They are

     
    Front L-R:  Roger Gholson (Carson), Burt Hurdle (Victoria), Spencer Croner (Pamplin), Darius Jones (Farmville).Back L-R:  Donnie Sisk (Instructor), Doug Kemerer (Instructor), Wilson Treese (Instructor), Thomas McIntyre (Burkeville), Richard Alley, Jr. (Amelia), Byron Moody (Blackstone), Duncan Quicke (TDTS Coordinator) and Don Biggerstaff (Guest Speaker and ATA Road Team Captain, Utility Driver for ABF Freight System, Inc.)
  44. "Ma-Ma Said"

    When Ma-Ma said; we listened
    for wisdom was her game
    this showed up in our livelyhood
    when adults we bacame.
     
    She was always there to protect us
    and keep us from all harm
    yes and many were the day
    I fell asleep on Mother's arm.
     
    Now Ma-Ma fixed the food for everyone
    from sunrise til sunset
    she then washed clothes and cleaned each room
    though her work wasn't finished yet.
     
    No Ma-Ma still had to read a story
    and show us games to play
    when we went to be all were quite tired
    yet for Ma-Ma just another day.
     
    Yes show your love for Ma-Ma
    and all the things that she did do
    don't stop with a one day "Mother's Day"
    why not make it two.
     
    Roy E. Schepp
  45. Electricity Bills Going Down While Transmission Rates and Fuel Surcharges Likely Increase

    Our first stretch of hot temperatures may have some Dominion Energy Virginia residential customers thinking about summer energy bills. Savings from legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Ralph Northam will soon offer relief.

    Customers will see savings in two ways: $133 million in bill credits and $125 million in rate reductions, both taking effect when the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018 becomes law on July 1.

    The typical residential customer will receive a one-time credit of approximately $24.50 on their bill and approximately $2.50 per month in an ongoing reduction to our base rates, based on filings currently being prepared for submission to the State Corporation Commission later this month.

    On average, our typical residential customer bill will remain largely unchanged in 2018. Our long record of offering rates below the state, regional and national averages continues, as shown by statistics released by the Edison Electric Institute this week.

    The costs to support our high-voltage transmission system and to recover fuel expenses incurred to run our power stations would go up later this year under a pair of proposed rate changes filed today with the State Corporation Commission. If approved by the SCC, transmission costs will increase the typical residential monthly bill by $4.18 in September. We continue to make major and needed investments in the transmission network to ensure reliability and increase security.

    The fuel rate change will increase the typical bill by $3.36 in July, if approved by the SCC, largely because of this January’s frigid temperatures. Constraints on the pipeline that supplies most of Virginia’s natural gas sent prices soaring from $3 per dekatherm in late December to an all-time record high of $175 in early January. The fuel rate is a straight pass-through of our fuel costs; the company makes no profit on it.

    Dominion Energy Virginia is working to keep fuel costs low in several ways. Our parent company, Dominion Energy, is part of a partnership developing the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. Construction of the pipeline would improve Virginia’s access to natural gas and hold down that fuel cost.

    We also continue to expand our solar fleet and will open the nation’s largest and most efficient natural gas power station opening in Greensville County later this year.

    Looking to the future, the proposed transmission and fuel cost increases will be mitigated by other savings on the horizon. Dominion Energy Virginia will provide another $67 million credit to customers in January 2019, through the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018. Plus, further savings from federal tax reform will be passed along to customers as they are calculated.

    Weather has a strong impact on energy bills and we encourage our customers to save energy. For example, in these hot temperatures set your thermostat to 78 degrees, use ceiling fans and check and clean your air-conditioning filters. While extreme temperatures can drive up your bill, our goal is to continue our record of stable, low rates and help you keep your overall costs affordable.

    To learn more go to http://www.dominionenergy.com/varates

  46. New Inductees into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at SVCC

    The Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society is an organization of scholars that exists to recognize and encourage scholarship among students in community and junior colleges. New inductees to this society from Southside Virginia Community College are:

    Front row L-R Austin Hancock, Ryan Craighead, Destiny Morgan, Stephanie Apruzzese, Ametria Booker, Robin Falwell, Karen Anderson, Jonathan Byron, Na'shiyaa Robertson, Trent Pettus, Amanda Lenning, Teri McCall; and Back row L-R Dean Dr. Dixie Dalton (Congratulating the new inductees), Doralease Jackson, Sinclair Hargrave, Katie Clark, Nidhi Brahmbhatt, Amanda Pierre, Patrick Fowler, Haley Overton, Chyna Levy, Jalynn Hicks, Salima Wasi, Jessica Laws, Haniya Thomas, Emily DavisI

  47. HERRING FILES SUIT AGAINST "SERVICE DOGS BY WARREN RETRIEVERS"

    ~ Suit alleges violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act in connection with the sale of purported “diabetic alert dogs" ~
     
    RICHMOND (May 8, 2018) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that he has filed a lawsuit against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, Inc., a Virginia-based company that sells purported service dogs to consumers nationwide, and its CEO, Charles D. Warren, Jr., for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law. The suit alleges that Service Dogs and Warren sold so-called “diabetic alert dogs” for tens of thousands of dollars, when they were often delivering poorly-trained puppies with significant behavioral issues and inadequate skills or training to notify a customer of a potentially life-threatening high or low blood sugar situation. Service Dogs and Warren also misled customers and charitable donors about certain aspects of the business’s payment structure, and lied about Warren having served in the armed forces.
     
    “This suit alleges not just dishonest and unlawful business practices, but a recklessness that could have endangered the lives of customers who relied on the claims made by Service Dogs and its owner,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Our investigation shows that, in many instances, Service Dogs was simply selling a $25,000 pet, leaving customers with a huge bill and no protection against a potentially life-threatening blood sugar situation. Customers have a right to rely on the accuracy of a business’s claims, especially when it involves a person’s health and well-being. We will continue to hold businesses to the highest standards and take action whenever necessary to protect Virginia consumers.”
     
    The lawsuit alleges that Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers and Mr. Warren charged $18,000 to $27,000 for a dog that could purportedly identify and alert individuals to life-threatening low and high blood sugar in individuals with diabetes. In reality, the dogs were often poorly trained, ill-behaved, and unequipped to help manage a life-threatening situation, rendering them little more than incredibly expensive pets.
     
    An investigation of customer complaints showed that, instead of the well-trained service dog that was promised, Service Dogs often provided an untrained puppy that showed significant shortcomings such as an inability to properly walk on a leash, inappropriate chewing and destruction, inability to respond when called, jumping on people, fear of noises, and frequent barking or whining. Critically, dogs that were billed as a potential lifesaver failed to alert customers to dangerous high or low blood sugar.
     
    The complaint also alleges that Service Dogs encouraged customers to solicit charitable donations to cover the cost of their dog despite several times not being properly registered to solicit charitable funds, and misled customers about a partnership with or endorsement from JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
     
    Finally, the suit alleges that Mr. Warren lied to customers and donors when he claimed to have served in the United States Marine Corps, to have trained dogs for the military, and to have received a medical discharge because of a diabetes diagnosis. In reality, Mr. Warren has never served in the United States Marine Corps or any other branch of the military.
     
    Attorney General Herring specifically contends that Service Dogs and Mr. Warren violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law by, among other ways, deceiving consumers about:
    • the testing and training dogs would undergo before being placed in a home with the diabetic person;
    • the skills and abilities dogs would have when assisting a consumer or family member with diabetes;
    • how the dogs could be paid for, and how long consumers would have to pay their balances; and
    • why consumers—or those who donated on their behalf—could not receive refunds.
    In his lawsuit filed in Madison County Circuit Court, Attorney General Herring is seeking restitution on behalf of affected consumers, civil penalties, attorneys' fees, and asking the court to block Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers from further violations of the Consumer Protection Act and Solicitation of Contributions law. He is seeking civil penalties of up to $2,500 per willful violation of the Consumer Protection Act and $5,000 per violation of the Solicitation of Contributions law, with the exact number of violations to be determined during trial proceedings. In addition, Attorney General Herring is seeking an accounting from the company of all funds obtained through unlawful solicitations, and the establishment of a charitable trust so those funds can be provided to an appropriate charitable organization.
     
    During the course of investigating complaints against Service Dogs, Attorney General Herring had to ask a court to enforce a civil investigative demand compelling the company to produce information about its business. The company failed to fully comply with the civil investigative demand for nearly two years, resulting in approximately $90,000 in sanctions against Service Dogs and Warren.
     
    Consumers who believe they have been injured by Service Dogs should file a complaint with Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section as soon as possible. For information about filing a complaint, to get a complaint form, or to submit a complaint online, consumers should go to the Attorney General's website: Online Complaint Form. Consumers with questions or who need assistance can contact us:

    Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section is handling this matter. During Attorney General Herring’s administration, the Consumer Protection Section has undergone a significant reorganization and expansion, and recovered more than $243 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.

    If you have any consumer-related inquiries, the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline telephone counselors are available to assist you with your consumer questions. Please call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area. You can also subscribe to the Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter here.

     

     

  48. Sharing Security With Mom on Mother’s Day

    By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

    Spring is upon us, and it marks two very popular annual events: Mother’s Day and the release of Social Security’s baby name list! There’s no better time to share some security with the people you love.

    While spending time with your mom on Sunday, May 13, you can help her quickly and easily sign up for a free, online my Social Security account. You can do it from home, which means more time doing the things you want to do together.

    Signing up for a my Social Security account will give Mom the tools she needs to stay on top of her Social Security benefits. When she signs up at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, she can do a number of things.

    If she does not receive benefits, she can:

    • Request a replacement Social Security card if she meets certain requirements;
    • Check the status of her application or appeal.
    • Get her Social Security Statement, to review:
    • Estimates of her future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
    • Her earnings once a year to verify the amounts that we posted are correct; and
    • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes she’s paid.

    If she does receive benefits, she can:

    ·         Request a replacement Social Security card if she meets certain requirements;

    ·         Report her wages if she works and receives Disability Insurance benefits;

    ·         Get her benefit verification letter;

    ·         Check her benefit and payment information and her earnings record;

    ·         Change her address and phone number;

    ·         Start or change direct deposit of her benefit payment;

    ·         Request a replacement Medicare card; and

    ·         Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.

    Is Mom not yet receiving Social Security benefits and still planning her retirement? Does she need a little help calculating how her benefit amount fits in with her other income sources in retirement? It’s easy to get instant, personalized benefit estimates, too. Our Retirement Estimator is the only source that provides Mom with Social Security estimates based on her own earnings record. This allows her to receive the most accurate estimate of her future retirement benefits. Visit the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

    Did you know that you and Mom can also share the 10 most popular male and female baby names of 2017? Social Security is the source for the most popular baby names, and we reveal the new names every year to celebrate Mother’s Day. Be sure to check our site around Mother’s Day at www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/babynames/.

    Sharing information about Social Security and helping Mom sign up for a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount is a meaningful gift that shows you really care.

  49. SVCC Nursing Program Wins Excellence in Education Award

    The Southside Virginia Community College  Associate Degree Nursing Program's Student Success Initiative 'Team Up To Dream Up! ' received the Virginia Community College System Excellence in Education Award at the New Horizons Conference.   Dr. Michelle Edmonds (Left), Dean of Nursing, Allied Health and Natural Sciences is shown with SVCC President Dr. Al Roberts (Right).  SVCC won in the category of Integrated Student Support.

  50. Virginia Seeks to Curb Rising Number of Missing Persons

     

    By Tianna Mosby, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Morgan Harrington went to a concert in Charlottesville in 2009 and did not make it home. Keeshae Jacobs was headed to a friend’s house in Richmond in 2016 but never arrived. Ashanti Billie disappeared after leaving for work in Virginia Beach in 2017.

    Those three young women were among the hundreds of “missing person” cases investigated in Virginia over the past decade. Two of them – Harrington and Billie – were murdered; Jacobs has yet to be found.

    Across the United States, as many as 90,000 people could be missing at any given moment, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The number increases substantially every year, according to the AWARE Foundation.

    More than 240 adults are missing in Virginia, according to the Virginia State Police. In 2016, a fairly typical year, 14 names were added to the list. But last year, the list grew by 39 names – and so far this year, 17 more people in Virginia have gone missing. State officials and organizations are looking to reduce the number of missing persons by creating a new alert system and raising awareness about the problem.

    Legislation Regarding Missing Persons

    Currently, Virginia authorities issue alerts and mobilize search resources only when people of certain ages go missing:

    • If the person is 17 or younger, the state can issue an Amber Alert or an Endangered Missing Child Media Alert.
    • If the person is 60 or older, the state can issue a Senior Alert, sometimes called a Silver Alert.

    But Virginia hasn’t had an alert system to warn people to look for a missing adult between the ages of 18 and 59 – until now.

    During the 2018 legislative session, Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones, D-Norfolk, successfully sponsored HB 260, which will create an alert system for missing persons who are neither children nor senior citizens. The new notification will be called an Ashanti Alert in honor of Billie Ashanti, who was abducted last year from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, where she worked at a sandwich shop, and later found dead in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Jones’ bill received unanimous support in the House and Senate and from community groups and citizens.

    “What was striking,” Jones said, “was the number of people who reached out to me saying this happened” – that they had a friend or family member who had gone missing.

    Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law in March. It will take effect July 1.

    Under the new Virginia Critically Missing Adult Alert Program, law enforcement officials will be able to send a local, regional or statewide alert if they believe a missing person has been abducted and the “disappearance poses a credible threat” to the individual’s health and safety.

    The Ashanti Alerts will go to the media, who then could inform the public to be on the lookout for the missing adult.

    Jones’ measure wasn’t the only bill about missing persons proposed this legislative session.

    Current law states that people who have been missing are presumed dead after seven years. Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, proposed HB 1565 to shorten the time span to two years; however, the proposal failed.

    Brewer’s bill would have significantly reduced the number of active missing person cases in Virginia by classifying about 75 of them as legally dead.

    For people such as Keeshae Jacobs’ mom, Toni Jacobs, reducing the number of years before being presumed dead would be crushing. Her daughter has been missing since September 2016, and she has not given up hope. Toni Jacobs continuously posts on social media, attends events to spread the word and advocates for other missing persons.

    “I want people to know this is happening. It could be happening to not just my daughter but someone else’s daughter,” Jacobs said.

    She said she will not give up until her daughter is found.

    Raising Awareness about the Problem

    Last year, in an effort to support missing persons and their families, Virginia designated a day in April as Missing Persons Day. The second annual event was held April 28.

    There are at least 240 people aged 18 and up who have gone missing in the state. They include 22 people from Richmond, 14 each from Norfolk and Chesapeake, and 13 from Virginia Beach.

    The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services created a resource guide for families on the first steps they should take when a member goes missing. According to the department, Virginia does not have a waiting period in order to file a missing person case. As a result, law enforcement agencies can send out an alert right away if they deem it necessary.

    Across the nation, organizations have been formed to support efforts to find missing persons and to offer help to families.

    Although putting faces on milk cartons was phased out by the Amber Alert system in the late 1990s, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides missing person listings by direct mail and online.

    In Virginia, the AWARE Foundation and Help Save The Next Girl seek to educate people about predatory violence and advocate for families of missing persons.

    AWARE stands for “Always Watch and Recognize your Environment.” The foundation works to connect people to search and rescue teams, events and law enforcement agencies.

    Help Save The Next Girl, a nonprofit based in Roanoke, was founded by Gil and Dan Harrington after their 20-year-old daughter, Morgan Harrington, was abducted and murdered in Charlottesville. Although Morgan went missing mid-October 2009, her remains were not found until the following January when a farmer was driving his tractor through an Albemarle County pasture.

    The organization works to educate school- and college-aged women on the dangers of predatory crimes and how to protect themselves.

    “There have not been a lot of families who speak about abduction, rape and murder of their daughters,” Gil Harrington said. “At the end, you are devastated. How do you be an advocate at that point?”

    The Harrington family also provides emotional and other support to people who have a relative who has gone missing.

    “I’ve helped a lot of families pay for funerals and electric bills because when they’re in court, they’re not making money,” Harrington said.

  51. Rural County Accuses Drug Makers of Fueling Opioid Epidemic

     

    By Lia Tabackman, Capital News Service

    Tucked between news of budget meetings and beauty pageant winners published in The Dickenson Star’s 2017 “Year in Review” is a grim statistic: Dickenson County was first in the state and sixth in the nation in opioid overdose deaths per capita.

    In Dickenson County, in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia bordering Kentucky, residents have been dying of prescription opioid overdoses in recent years at a rate of about 40 per 100,000 people – more than seven times the statewide rate.

    The newspaper’s annual review is cited in the introduction of a lawsuit filed by Dickenson County against 30 pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and providers including Purdue Pharma, Abbott Laboratories and CVS Health Co.

    Represented by the Sanford Heisler Sharp law firm and the Cicala Law Firm, Dickenson is suing for $30 million in damages. The suit says the defendants deliberately increased the flow of opioids into the county, state and country.

    The case is one of the latest examples of communities across the nation suing pharmaceutical companies and associated businesses and alleging that they had a role in creating the epidemic. In Virginia, the city of Alexandria is suing for $100 million while in neighboring Maryland, Montgomery and Prince George counties have also taken legal action.

    Joanne Cicala, founder of the Cicala Law Firm, which has offices in Texas and New York, says those who are responsible for and profited from the epidemic must be held accountable for its costs.

    “The opioid epidemic is not accidental. It is not a natural disaster; it is a man-made crisis,” Cicala said. “And worse – the companies that did this were not just seeking to build market share – they knew they were creating addicts.”

    In more than 100 pages, the lawsuit tells the story of how Dickenson County – with a population of fewer than 16,000 residents spread out over 334 square miles – was drawn into a prescription opioid overdose epidemic that claimed more than 500 lives across the state in 2017.

    Did manufacturers ‘push opioid as safe, effective drugs’?

    As with any drug that enters the prescription market, the distribution process begins with manufacturers. In the case of the opioid epidemic, one of the manufacturers is Purdue Pharma, a company known for its best-selling opioid – OxyContin.

    In Dickenson County, the lawsuit claims, Purdue Pharma and other defendants recognized “the enormous financial possibilities associated with expanding the opioid market.” So they “rolled out a massive and concerted campaign to misrepresent the addictive qualities of their product, and to push opioids as safe, effective drugs for the treatment of chronic pain,” the suit alleges.

    According to the lawsuit, the drug manufacturers took part in a “campaign of deception” rooted in a since-disavowed study by Dr. Russell Portenoy published in the medical journal Pain in 1986.

    In the study, Portenoy claimed that opioids could be used for long periods of time “without any risk of addiction” to treat chronic pain unrelated to cancer. The study said patients in pain would not become addicted to opioids because their pain drowned out the euphoria associated with the drugs.

    Within a decade, Portenoy was financed by at least a dozen pharmaceutical companies, most of which produced prescription opioids.

    The lawsuit argues that Portenoy’s study – paired with the practice of spending millions of dollars on promotional activities that understated the risks of opioids – not only legitimized but normalized the prescribing of opioids in Dickenson and across the country.

    In the case of OxyContin – Purdue’s time-released version of oxycodone – promotional materials given to physicians included this key sentence: “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.”

    The drug companies’ sales representatives marketed directly to physicians, ensuring that doctors would be advocates for certain drugs, the lawsuit said. As a result, it contended, the pharmaceutical manufacturers were able to insert their products directly into specific markets.

    In 2014 alone, the manufacturing defendants named in the Dickenson lawsuit spent more than $168 million on pursuing branded opioid sales contracts with doctors, the lawsuit said.

    Twenty-six years after publishing his study justifying the prescription of opioids, Portenoy acknowledged that he erred in understating the risks of addiction associated with such drugs.

    “Did I teach about pain management, specifically about opioid therapy, in a way that reflects misinformation? Well, against the standards of 2012, I guess I did,” Portenoy said in an interview that year with The Wall Street Journal. “We didn’t know then what we know now.”

    How pharmacy benefit managers influence drug prices

    As explained in the lawsuit, pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are the middleman between the manufacturers and the marketplace; they influence which drugs are used most frequently, set prices for pharmacies and control what drugs are covered by health insurance providers.

    PBMs include Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRX – all named as defendants in the lawsuit. These companies serve as gatekeepers through controlling lists known as “drug formularies” that identify prescription drugs with the greatest overall value.

    PBMs and pharmaceutical companies negotiate financial arrangements, including rebates for preferred placement on drug formularies, the lawsuit said. It said manufacturers compete for spots on the list in order to ensure greater utilization of the drugs they make.

    Not only do PBMs have the power to make opioids cheaper – they can make less addictive medications harder to acquire, the lawsuit said. For example, it said, United Healthcare places morphine on its lowest-cost coverage tier with no prior permission required; in contrast, Lyrica, a non-opioid drug prescribed for nerve pain, is on the most expensive tier, requiring patients to try other drugs first.

    Not just a health crisis but an economic one

    The impact of the opioid epidemic in Dickenson County is multifaceted. While the county’s overdose rates are the most conspicuous consequence of the epidemic, the increased flow of opioids into the region has had a ripple effect on the county’s economy, health care system and workforce.

    In 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified Dickenson County as one of eight Virginia counties that are vulnerable to the rapid dissemination of HIV and hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs.

    L. Christopher Plein, a professor of public administration at West Virginia University, said the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, but it also has far-reaching economic consequences.

    “Communities become severely stressed by having to respond and deal with this crisis, and they may lack the resources to provide treatment, engage law enforcement and provide recovery services,” Plein said. “These communities may not be as attractive to outside investors and businesses if they develop a reputation of being tied to the opioid epidemic.”

    The lawsuit argues that the opioid epidemic has significantly and negatively impacted nearly every aspect of the county’s $26 million budget and the public services it provides, including health care, emergency medical services, social services, law enforcement and drug prevention, education and treatment.

    Dickenson County has had to buy opioid antagonists such as naloxone – medications that can reverse drug overdoses. Moreover, the county has lost tax revenues because of the opioid crisis, the lawsuit said.

    For example, the drug epidemic has affected the job market and workforce in Dickenson County. The Virginia Employment Commission reported last week that Dickenson’s unemployment rate in March was 6.6 percent – double the statewide rate. Dickenson had the fifth-highest jobless rate among Virginia’s 133 counties and cities.

    Del. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, says these consequences can no longer be ignored.

    “Dickenson County is on the tipping point of having an unemployable workforce,” Pillion said. “They have difficulty recruiting industry because the only articles in the news are talking about overdoses and opioids.”

    Purdue responds: ‘No longer promoting opioids’

    In response to the growing number of lawsuits brought against the company, Purdue Pharma announced in February that it would stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors.

    “We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” the company said in a written statement.

    Purdue officials said that they cut their sales staff in half in the week following the announcement and that the remaining staff would pivot to focus on other products.

    Kevin Sharp, lead counsel for Dickenson County’s lawsuit, called the announcement a step in the right direction. But he said the damage already inflicted demands a more comprehensive response.

    “There’s a lot more that has to be done to solve this problem,” Sharp said. “They have to remedy past harm. And the parties are going to have to work together to find out the best way to minimize – and end if possible – the harm that is being caused.”

    Purdue Pharma has yet to file a response to the Dickenson County lawsuit but provided the following statement:

    “We are deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis, and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines with collaborative efforts to solve this public health challenge.

    “Although our products account for less than 2% of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed three of the first four FDA-approved opioid medications with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone.”

    Expanding treatment for opioid addiction

    In April 2017, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services launched the Addiction Recovery and Treatment Services program to help increase access to treatment for Virginians battling opioid addiction.

    The ARTS program was established primarily to help ease the burden on hospital emergency departments in treating patients with opioid-related issues, particularly in rural areas like Dickenson County.

    The program expands treatment to Medicaid recipients by combining traditional medicine with counseling and other support systems. It also offers training and financial incentives to providers to encourage participation among outpatient treatment centers, doctors and hospitals.

    “Providers are responding to the critical need for addiction treatment,” said Dr. Katherine Neuhausen, chief medical officer for DMAS. “Today, more than 350 new organizations are providing these life-saving services to Virginia Medicaid members. The number of outpatient opioid treatment services has increased from six to 108, including 79 office-based opioid treatment programs combining medication with counseling and other essential supports.”

    According to an evaluation by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Health Behavior and Policy, the program has increased the number of Medicaid recipients receiving treatment for opioid addiction by more than 50 percent, and the number of opioid-related emergency hospital visits by Medicaid recipients declined by nearly one third.

    (Editor's Note: According to the data compiled as this story was researched, from 2007-2017 there have been 2 opioid-related deaths in the City of Emporia and 3 in Greensville County. During that time frame 3.2% of the total deaths in the City and 2.3% of the total deaths in the County were opioid-related as compared with the 35.5% mortality rate in Dickenson County - in both 2007 and 2011 more than half of the deaths in Dickenson County were opioid-related)

    Southwest Virginia Legislator Targets Opioid Crisis

    As a health care professional, state Del. Todd Pillion of Abingdon has a special perspective on the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the localities he represents in Virginia’s General Assembly.

    Pillion, a pediatric dentist, has successfully sponsored key legislation to address the crisis. He represents the 4th House District, which includes Dickenson County and parts of Wise, Russell and Washington counties.

    “Virginia has become a leader in passing not only legislation but regulations through the Board of Medicine and Dentistry,” Pillion said. “There’s no magic bullet – this epidemic isn’t going to go away no matter what we do. But we have seen improvements.”

    During this year’s regular legislative session, the General Assembly passed three opioid-related bills introduced by Pillion, a Republican who was elected in 2014. Gov. Ralph Northam has signed the measures into law:

    • HB 1556 will add the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone and other Schedule 5 drugs for which a prescription is required to Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program. This will allow the Virginia Department of Health to monitor whether prescribers and dispensers are following state regulations and to deter the illegitimate use of prescription drugs. By adding naloxone to the list, officials can track if it is being co-prescribed with opiates in order to prevent fatal overdoses.
    • HB 1157 will require the Department of Health to develop and implement a plan of action for substance-exposed infants in Virginia. The plan must support a “trauma-informed approach” to identifying and treating substance-exposed infants and their caregivers, explore how to improve screening of substance-using pregnant women, and use multidisciplinary approaches to intervention and service delivery during the prenatal period and following birth.
    • HB 1173. Under current law, physicians who prescribe opioids are not required to request information from Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program as long as the prescription does not exceed 14 days and is treatment for a surgical or invasive procedure. HB 1173 eliminates the exception for prescriptions related to surgical and invasive procedures to bypass the PMP.

    The three new laws will take effect July 1.

  52. Donna Mayo Smith

    Donna Mayo Smith, 53, of Ivor passed away Monday, May 7, 2018. She was predeceased by her parents, Emma and Thurman Mayo; husband, Carl E. Smith; and sister, Deborah M. Crocker.

    Left to cherish her memory are her children, Elizabeth Smith of Clarksburg, WV and Elijah Smith of Emporia, VA; grandchildren, Emma, Ethan, and Elyssa; a brother, Thurman “Al” Mayo of Smithfield, VA; a brother-in-law, Curtis Crocker(Gina) of Ivor, VA; nephews, David and Daniel Crocker.

    Donna worked for the Commonwealth’s Department of Corrections in Sussex County as a Corrections Officer. She loved to cook, animals, and her God. Memorial donations may be made to the Isle of Wight County Humane Society, 13044 Poor House Rd, Windsor, VA 23487. A graveside service will be held in Windsor Cemetery on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 2:00PM. Online condolences can be registered at www.RWBakerFH.com

  53. Latest Heist Highlights Cryptocurrency Trading Risks

    By Scott Malone, Capital News Service

    The most recent bitcoin theft involving one of India’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms serves as a reminder of the risks associated with buying and selling internet money.

    Coinsecure fell victim to a heist in April, resulting in the loss of 438 bitcoins – roughly $3.6 million at current bitcoin prices.

    According to Coinsecure’s website, the stolen tokens were siphoned off to a bitcoin address, also known as a wallet, between 12:35 a.m. and 6:29 a.m., April 9. Though a chief security officer notified the platform’s technology head, questions remained over what happened and how it was handled.

    Coinsecure’s incident is the latest of a growing list involving cryptocurrency exchange thefts – one of the major issues that leave proponents and critics divided on the future of such decentralized digital currencies, which don’t require a central bank but rather function through individual transactions.

    Supporters believe that cryptocurrencies, like bitcoins, are the wave of the future – a paradigm shift from the traditional banking system. For example, Tim Draper, a bitcoin supporter and founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, predicted on Twitter in April that bitcoins will be worth $250,000 each by 2022.

    As a major investor in bitcoins, Draper’s optimistic prediction shouldn’t be shocking, but sharply contrasts opinions held by other Wall Street powerhouses, among them Warren Buffett and Charles Munger of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

    Skeptics, or “nocoiners” as they are called in crypto-culture, are accused by critics for opposing bitcoin because of competitive reasons. But many observers consider the speculative value of the cryptocurrency to be a major problem.

    “In most markets, when you trade an instrument there is some purpose to the instrument underneath. You buy a stock because there’s a company that has earnings, you buy currencies because there’s a country that has a gross domestic product – imports and exports,” said David Golumbia, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Politics of Bitcoins: Software as Right-Wing Extremism.”

    “Bitcoin is just bitcoin; there is nothing that drives its value.”

    Concerns over speculative value are one possible reason these e-coins have received a risky image. Other factors include the hacks and heists that spotlight security issues within the platforms many coin-holders use for trading.

    For example, Coincheck, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Asia, suffered a hack in January that resulted in roughly $530 million of stolen funds, overtaking the disappearance of $480 million worth of bitcoins from an exchange called Mt. Gox in 2014.

    According to

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    Golumbia, these exchange companies are one of the major ways individuals make off with millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoins. In many cases, he said, the exchanges themselves were responsible for the thefts.

    The popularity of the exchanges gives a glimpse into understanding the difficulties associated with buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

    A bitcoin owner who wants to sell it for U.S. dollars would have to use a blockchain, a digital list that allows people to transfer cryptocurrencies and also publicly records the transactions.

    “There’s no organization associated with that; there’s no company,” said Golumbia, whose book examines the influence of libertarian and conservative thought in the cryptocurrency movement. “All you can do on that network is send bitcoins from one address to another and there’s a fee associated with that. That’s all you’re doing – moving the money.”

    However, there’s no guarantee someone will accept the transaction on blockchain. This is where exchanges come in. Cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Coinsecure, connect buyers and sellers for a price. They act as middlemen, taking a fraction of the currency as payment for making the trade happen.

    “Roughly speaking, you pay a little bit more than you would on the blockchain network,” Golumbia explained, and “the transactions will happen relatively quickly because it’s kind of internal to [exchanges], as opposed to putting [a transaction] up on the blockchain where it could literally never happen.”

    Not only that, there may also be concerns about Russian involvement in blockchain technology. Last year, members from over two dozen countries attended a meeting in Tokyo to discuss standards for blockchain. When asked why Russia was so interested in the technology, a Russian intelligence agent said that “the internet belongs to the Americans – but blockchain will belong to us,” according to the New York Times.

    Because there is no guarantee that a buyer will actually pay for the bitcoin, exchanges have become popular for trading cryptocurrencies, but they also “essentially hold your bitcoin, and that isn’t how the bitcoin network was supposed to work,” Golumbia said. Someone who owns cryptocurrency tokens and uses an exchange to buy and sell must rely on the exchange’s security.

    “These securities have been shown to be real places of failure,” Golumbia said, “either because people can hack them, or because the operators have been dishonest and walk away with a lot of the [tokens].”

    Naval Ravikant, CEO of AngelList, a website for company start-ups and investors, views the issue differently. “Blockchains are a new invention that allows meritorious participants in an open network to govern without a ruler and without money,” he said in a 2017 tweetstorm.

    The Mt. Gox hack serves as an example of the cybersecurity risks associated with using these exchanges.

    Short for “Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange,” Mt. Gox was created in 2006 to buy and sell trading cards online for the fantasy game, Magic: The Gathering. In 2010, Mt. Gox switched to exchanging bitcoins instead of trading cards, soon becoming the largest bitcoin exchange on the planet.

    When Mt. Gox began exchanging bitcoins, the company “started to have huge amounts of money in their accounts,” Golumbia said. “Those accounts are like bank accounts, but they don’t have anything like the security infrastructure that a bank has.”

    By the beginning of 2015, Mt. Gox was bankrupt, $480 million in cryptocurrencies had vanished, and Mark Karpelès, the chief executive of the company, was arrested by Japanese police in connection to the company’s collapse.

    While cryptocurrency exchanges add a level of transaction security, there’s no guarantee the exchanges themselves are legitimate or have proper security in customer holdings.

    Considering the security risks associated with the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies and that nothing truly backsthem, a question remains: Are these currencies anything like the yen or dollar? Or is the trading just glorified gambling?

    Golumbia leans toward the latter and believes regulators will likely think the same.

    But Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist, has said that bitcoins were like “bars of gold in a vault that never move” and that it’s a “hedge of sorts against the whole world falling apart,” according to CNBC.

    So far in 2018, a few companies have stopped allowing bitcoins as acceptable payment, including Microsoft and Steam, a large video game distribution platform, according to Forbes magazine. In January, the North American Bitcoin Conference stopped allowing individuals to pay for the conference’s tickets with cryptocurrencies, according to Business Insider.

    Regulation could be a crucial step for the future of cryptocurrencies, potentially convincing more companies to accept it as a form of payment.

    Goldman Sachs understands this, which is why they soon hope to trade bitcoins if the company can receive regulatory approval, according to the New York Times.

    However, regulation could come with a catch.

    “If [regulators] did allow a market, it would be because the currency didn’t move very much,” Golumbia said. “In which case, who would care?”

    This is a double-edged sword for cryptocurrencies. If bitcoins were to become a stabilized currency, they would lose some of their appeal. If someone bought a bitcoin for $250,000 in 2022 – assuming Draper is correct about his prediction – and sold it for $251,000 in 2023, traders would no longer have the huge earning potential that made cryptocurrencies so popular.

    “This has been the paradox of the bitcoin stuff from the beginning,” Golumbia said.

    Meantime, Coinsecure has been assuring customers that funds held by the company are safe and that an investigationis underway. The company also stated that all bitcoins will be returned to customers if recovered. If the bitcoins are not recovered, 10 percent will be refunded in bitcoins and 90 percent in rupees.

    “We are working with global exchanges and experts to help us track the movement of funds,” the company stated on its website.

    Opponents and Supporters Disagree on Future of Cryptocurrencies

    As bitcoin grows in popularity as a standard for internet money, becoming a common topic in mainstream media and economic communities, skeptics and supporters disagree where the future of cryptocurrencies is headed.

    Bitcoin supporters see benefits in a currency market untethered from traditional regulation.

    Mike Novogratz, the former manager of Fortress Investment Group, is starting a $500 million cryptocurrency hedge fund. Novogratz believes that people “can make a whole lot of money on the way up, and we plan on it,” according toBloomberg.

    Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning, free-market economist, made remarks in the 1990s that seemed to presage cryptocurrencies, according to Coindesk. “The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash, a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B, without A knowing B or B knowing A,” Friedman said.

    But many experts and economists are skeptical of anonymous internet trading using cryptocurrencies. They cite such concerns as the drug trade, tax evasion, and market instability.

    Charles Munger, vice chairman for Berkshire Hathaway, called bitcoins a “noxious poison” at a Daily Journal Corp.meeting in February. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s multi-billionaire CEO, told MarketWatch that “you can’t value bitcoin because it’s not a value-producing asset.”

    Only time will tell how cryptocurrencies will integrate into future markets – if bitcoins are “Enron in the making” as billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said on CNBC, or if they’ll soon be worth a quarter of a million dollars each as bitcoin supporter and venture capitalist Tim Draper predicted.

    As of May 3, the price of a single bitcoin was just over $9,500.

  54. May 2018 SVCC Diesel Technology Program Graduates

    The Diesel Technology program of Southside Virginia Community College held a graduation ceremony  on May 3, 2018 to recognize students who completed the two semester program and received a Career Studies Certificate for that accomplishment.  Those completing the program are First Row, Left to Right:Jacob Craven (Dundas), Kevin Matthews (Wakefield), Nick Cundiff (Midlothian), Chase Canter (Gold Vein), James Johnson (Lynchburg).Second Row, L to R:Greyson Hensley (Crewe), Jared Warren (Farmville), Bryan Lewis (Instructor), Thomas Parrish (Blackstone), Tyler Johnson (Burkeville), Travis Weston (Red Oak),  Justin Irving (Spring Grove), Jacob Monger (Prince George), Russ Hicks (Instructor), Billy McGraw (Instrutor).Back Row, L to R: Dillon Harvey (Gladys), Malik Ellsworth (Emporia), Jacob Walker (Smithfield), Nolin Watkins (Chesterfield), William Chilton (Moseley).

  55. Virginia Battles a ‘Crime that Hides in Plain Sight’: Human Trafficking

    By Sophia Belletti and Siona Peterous, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Robin Foster had worked with abused and neglected children for years, but it wasn’t until she came face to face with a trafficking victim that she fully recognized the dimensions of the crisis that brought a 17-year-old to a hospital emergency room early one morning.

    The teen came to the hospital complaining of a sore throat but ran off when Foster tried to call her mom for permission to treat her.

    “I chased her up the street at 1 in the morning,” Foster recalled.

    Foster, who heads the Child Protect Team at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, said she later learned from police the girl had run away from her group home in Northern Virginia and was being trafficked by a man in a hotel in Richmond.

    Human trafficking – a $150 billion global criminal enterprise, according to the International Labor Organization – is increasingly on the radars of law enforcement, politicians and nonprofits across the country. Statistics show the problem is worse in Virginia, and in the Richmond area, than in many other states and localities.

    In 2017, Virginia ranked 15th in the United States for the most reported cases of human trafficking for sex and cheap or free employment. Last year, the state reported 156 cases, and 70 percent of those were sex trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

    Richmond ranked ninth nationwide in the number of calls per capita to the hotline, according to the organization’s 2017 report on the 100 most populous U.S. cities. Virginia Beach ranked 71st for calls per capita and Norfolk was 77th.

    The Richmond region’s location at the junction of interstates 64 and 95 makes the area an attractive place for traffickers, as does its large tourism and hospitality industry, says the Richmond Justice Initiative, a faith-based, anti-trafficking group.

    While there is not an official estimate on the number of trafficking victims in the United States, the Polaris Project, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization that runs the hotline, estimates the number to be in the hundreds of thousands.

    Last month, President Donald Trump signed a bill giving federal and state prosecutors greater power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking ads and enabling victims and state attorneys general to file lawsuits against those sites.

    Trump’s action came a few days after several executives from the website Backpage.com were arrested on 93 indictments including knowingly facilitating trafficking through their website and allegedly laundering millions of dollars. The deaths of some trafficking victims have allegedly been linked to the website.

    However, critics of the bill say it conflates legitimate and willing sex work with forced trafficking.

    “I think it’s ridiculous that the two are being compared because the key difference is that trafficking victims cannot choose to stop working, they are not being empowered by what they do like sex workers are, and it (the bill) doesn’t address the reasons why people are being trafficked,” said Fay Chelmow, founder and director of ImPACT Virginia.

    Chelmow founded ImPACT, a nonprofit fighting to prevent and end the sex trafficking of children, in May 2015 after reading the U.S. Department of Education report, “Human Trafficking in America’s Schools.” Chelmow said she was alarmed to learn how vulnerable youth are lured into the commercial sex industry by traffickers who scout middle and high schools.

    “There still needs to be more advocating work around simply educating people that this is an issue in the first place, because trafficking is very profitable,” said Chelmow, a registered nurse since 1984 and a former hospice and palliative care nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving to Richmond in 2010. One of the reasons trafficking is so lucrative for criminal perpetrators, she said, is that they can sell the same person “over and over and over again.”

    Human trafficking “is a crime that hides in plain sight,” said Charlotte Gomer, press secretary for Attorney General Mark Herring. “It is very difficult to identify victims and prosecute traffickers. Trafficking is about supply and demand and, unfortunately, as long as there is a demand for commercial sex and cheap or free labor, human trafficking will continue to exist.”

    She said the attorney general’s office works with the city of Richmond and Henrico and Chesterfield counties to provide training, resources, victim services and operational assistance to combat trafficking.

    During this year’s General Assembly session, Herring won passage of legislation that will make it harder for people who are charged with trafficking-related crimes to post bail – essentially placing a presumption of no bond for such offenses.

    Del. Michael Mullin, D-Newport News, cosponsored the legislation with Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond. Mullin, who works as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Suffolk focusing on sexual assault and gang-related cases, said that fighting human trafficking transcends partisan politics. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously and has been signed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

    “This is a bipartisan issue and something everyone seems to agree we need to work on,” Mullin said in a statementearlier this year.

    Gomer said Herring has been working to combat human trafficking since he took office in 2014. In early 2017, Herring signed a memorandum of understanding creating the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, a partnership involving his office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police and Hampton Roads law enforcement agencies, and Samaritan House, a Virginia Beach nonprofit that provides emergency shelters for domestic violence victims and homeless families.

    Advocates Press for Prevention and Solutions

    At Children Hospital, Foster said the biggest medical roadblock when helping child human trafficking victims is finding them a secure place, away from their exploiters.

    “Where do you place these kids? So what if you recognize that they’re victims? You can’t discharge them home, so where are we putting them? A lot of the time they have drug dependency so they might have to stay in the hospital to make sure they don’t have to go through drug withdrawal,” Foster said.

    Foster said helping victims is even more difficult in the case of family-controlled trafficking.

    Elisabeth Corey, a survivor of family-controlled child sex trafficking and abuse, recounts those experiences in her advocacy and book, “One Voice.” She said that her encounters with domestic violence and incest began when she was 2 years old and that after years of familial sexual abuse, her father began selling her.

    Corey said her parents were highly involved at medical appointments but answered the doctors’ questions with lies. For example, Corey said she was seen frequently at a young age for urinary tract infections, but her mother told nurses it was a result of bed-wetting. Corey said that should have raised alarms because bed-wetting is a symptom, not a cause of urinary tract infections. Likewise, she said the frequency she was being seen by doctors should have raised concerns.

    “It was mind-blowing they would just trust what my parents said,” Corey said. “When I was being trafficked, they (medical professionals) weren’t even addressing domestic violence – so no one even had a word for trafficking, no one was even looking for it.”

    It wasn’t until Corey had severe pelvic pain during a sleepover that red flags were raised. A neighbor took Corey to the emergency room after being unable to contact her parents.

    Doctors alerted child protective services officials, who placed Corey in foster care in Northern Virginia.

    “Foster care was so bad – I was getting raped in foster care – that I rescinded my story so that I could go back home,” Corey said. “I literally preferred my home to the foster care environment.”

    In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that one out of six runaways might be children sex traffic victims and that the vast majority of those runaways had been in foster care or social services care.

    Foster credited the work of Chelmow and others in drawing attention to the victimization of children by traffickers. Ten years ago, she said, the problem and strategies to fight it were “totally off the radar.” There is more awareness overall, she said, with information being placed in “schools, hospitals, airports, at bus stations – critical points people are being trafficked.”

    The role of the federal government, at the same time, has helped reshape the fight against trafficking, Foster said, as has the view that “the trafficked person is a victim and not part of the problem.”

    Still, many problems remain, especially among higher-risk populations – minors in the foster care or social services systems; the homeless, young people with a history of running away; and LGBTQ youth.

    LGBTQ youth “are already so marginalized, and it’s all about exploiting vulnerability,” Chelmow said. “Being marginalized makes you even more vulnerable.”

    Despite the wide variety of backgrounds from which young people can be trafficked, Corey said, there are common elements in identifying the abused.

    “I work as a life coach all over the world, and it’s almost scary how everybody, regardless of how similar experiences are, reacts to trauma the same way,” Corey said. “We really have to get away from the idea that trafficking is in a silo because it’s not.”

    Authorities investigating human trafficking should be ready to consider issues ranging from emotional abuse to financial problems, she said.

    According to Foster, among the signs that medical professionals can look for is the presence of someone who is not related to the person seeking help but who acts as if they are – for example, “someone who is like an uncle but won’t really act or look like an uncle.”

    Other signs include anxious behavior from a patient, the inability to speak for themselves, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Foster said practitioners should also be aware of excuses used to justify physical trauma and the possibility that any overdoses were done with the intent to commit suicide.

    Some of these problems may also be seen by teachers, Corey said.

    “I know, we already ask our teachers to do a lot, but they are the first responders to spotting this because they see the children every day,” Corey said. “Another solution is asking survivors what they need and what other survivors need, because we know our experience and solutions need to be trauma-informed.”

    However, Corey is aware that finding survivors who are willing to speak out can be difficult due to threats to their safety from their abusers.

    “Another reason they don’t come forward is that people who are trafficked have been manipulated into thinking this is their choice and it’s their fault, and they don’t know what trafficking is or what its definition is,” Corey said. “Another side of it, and this is true for me, is that they disassociate and repress the memories.”

    A major part of Corey’s work as a life coach and running her website beatingtrauma.com revolves around addressing how trauma manifests through memory loss. She left home at 18, but it was not until the birth of her children in her 30s that she remembered the trafficking and other forms of physical and sexual abuse she experienced.

    “There were years of me going to Christmases and events with my family before I remembered the abuse,” Corey said. “I remember always feeling angry around them and like something was not right and I couldn’t name exactly what it was, but my children reminded me of what had happened. A lot of times, children will remind survivors of their own trauma.”

    Corey is no longer in contact with her family. She said avoiding the generational cycle of abuse is difficult, but possible.

    “I believe that anyone who abuses their children was also abused as a child, but that does not mean every person who was abused will then go on to abuse their own children,” Corey said. “There is a process to deal with the trauma and to address it.”

  56. Virginia Communities, Legislators Breathe New Life into Preserving Black Cemeteries

    BLACK CEMETERIES

    By George Copeland Jr. and Thomas Jett, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – On a hot Saturday in April, volunteers work under a bright sun and the noise of buzzing insects to find and remove unchecked nature and neglect from the graves of thousands of African-Americans, from everyday citizens to some of the most important leaders in local, state and national history.

    The neighboring Evergreen and East End cemeteries serve as the final resting place of Maggie Walker, the first female bank president in the U.S.; John Mitchell, a newspaper publisher who risked his life to crusade for civil rights; and Rosa Dixon Bowser, founder of the Virginia State Teachers Association.

    “When Black Richmond was the ‘Harlem of the South,’ when Jackson Ward was known as ‘Black Wall Street,’ these are the people who made those places,” said Brian Palmer of the Friends of East End Cemetery volunteer group.

    But the state of the burial grounds can be a stark contrast to the stature of the prominent figures buried there. Over the years, Evergreen, East End and many other black cemeteries across Virginia have fallen into disrepair, uncared for and unacknowledged. More recently, concerned residents have rallied to restore, record and maintain the history of the many laid to rest.

    “It is not, shall we say, stunningly beautiful to someone who is more familiar with cemeteries like Hollywood [where Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, is buried], or the Confederate section of Oakwood, but to us, it is remarkable,” Palmer said of the work accomplished in East End since community efforts increased in 2013.

    Across the commonwealth, volunteers like Palmer labor to restore the state’s African-American cemeteries, shining a light on a part of Virginia’s history often overshadowed by the legacy of the Confederacy. In recent years, these volunteers have seen support from a new source: the Virginia General Assembly, which has approved state funding for cleaning up and maintaining several of these cemeteries.

    East End and Evergreen, on the line between Richmond and Henrico County, were the first African-American cemeteries in Virginia to receive help from the state government. In 2017, House Bill 1547 was signed into law. It allowed qualifying charitable organizations to collect maintenance funds for the two cemeteries – $5 annually for every person interred who lived between January 1800 and January 1900.

    This led to a wave of similar legislation in 2018, with five bills passing the General Assembly. Most of the bills focused on African-American cemeteries in specific locales – CharlottesvilleLoudoun County and Portsmouth. In addition,HB 284 will extend state funding to every African-American cemetery established before 1900 and allow the caretakers of those sites to receive maintenance funds from the state.

    Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, who introduced both pieces of legislation, said HB 284 was meant to clear up any ambiguities in HB 1547.

    “This year,” McQuinn said, “we came back to say, ‘Let’s be clear: Localities have access to these funds.’”

    Palmer remains ambivalent about the legislation; his group has made several attempts to reach out to and meet with McQuinn to discuss it in greater detail. In addition, Friends of East End Cemetery, a nonprofit organization, had applied to receive state funding under HB 1547 before HB 284 was filed, and a final decision from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources is still pending.

    Even without state support, members of the group remain focused on their work, a process of renewal where the number of volunteers can top 200, a donated wheelbarrow can be a huge boon and new discoveries are spotlighted on sites like FindAGrave.com.

    Palmer first stepped into East End Cemetery in the summer of 2014 with his wife Erin while making a documentary. There, they encountered an armed hunting group who said they had permission to use the grounds. (Later, Palmer said he contacted the previous owner, who contradicted this claim.)

    The following year, the Palmers joined in the volunteer efforts, helping to rediscover and archive the names of people buried there more than a century ago. State officials say East End Cemetery has nearly 4,900 graves that qualify for assistance and Evergreen has 2,100.

    “We’ve had quite a few groups out here,” said John Shuck, a volunteer at East End and Evergreen since 2008. The two cemeteries have received help from college students, churches and Henrico County government. “Get people coming back out, you know, in ones and twos, but it all helps.”

    Similar signs of progress are evident in Evergreen Cemetery, which covers more area than East End. Evergreen’s larger scale is matched by both the size of its volunteer force and signs of disrepair.

    While the grounds are visited by both tour groups and mountain bikers, Dr. Ted Maris-Wolf of the EnRichmond Foundation, Evergreen’s new owner, emphasizes the work done so far remains “a shoestring operation.” Visitors can see support for that statement: A number of memorials are broken or obscured by overgrowth, and piles of decades-old detritus, collected by workers, line some of the paths in the lower areas of the cemetery.

    Maris-Wolf, formerly a professor at Virginia Union University, Randolph-Macon College and the University of Louisiana, described the potential effect of extra revenue as a “game changer, not only for us but for all the cemeteries that will receive state funding.”

    Before 2017, there were attempts in the General Assembly to provide equity in state support for graveyard maintenance, but they failed. However, success has come at the municipal level, thanks largely to community organizing.

    In 2015, the city of Charlottesville gave $80,000 to the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery to support their work in the city-owned burial grounds. The group hopes to “restore the extant markers, to attempt to identify the many unknown burials and to share information about the known individuals buried at the historic cemetery,” alongside videos,audio tours and an active presence on social media.

    “We are very encouraged by recent legislation to provide funding for the preservation” of their cemetery and other African-American burial grounds, the group wrote. “We are hopeful that everyone will have the opportunity to tell their stories of our shared history.”

    The struggle to maintain this aspect of Virginia has been long and fraught, even as the state’s black cemeteries remain unknown to most residents of the commonwealth.

    Dr. Michael Blakey, an anthropologist and professor at the College of William & Mary, describes cemeteries as “the first archaeologically observable symbolic behavior, a language of memorialization, at the origins of Homo sapiens.”

    “Thus, especially in slavery but for all people, cemeteries and mortuary ritual assert our humanity – human dignity – just as their desecration represents its denial.”

    This is echoed by Dr. Lynn Rainville in a 2013 article published in the Journal of Field Archeology. Documenting her research into the topic in Albemarle County, Rainville described multiple black burial grounds throughout the area, neglected and overlooked due in part to housing development, racial shifts in local demographics leading to an absence in maintenance, vandalism and “inconsistencies in state laws.”

    The result of this lack of care and gap in public awareness is evident even among the volunteers.

    Robyn Young, along with her husband James Atkins and their daughter Cameron, continues to help reclaim East End as part of the Midlothian chapter of Jack & Jill of America. But she was struck by the fact “that I can’t find family members buried in these cemeteries for either of us,” despite being Richmond natives.

    “I didn’t even know about this cemetery until today,” said Atkins, who has family buried at the nearby Oakwood Cemetery.

    Palmer has encountered this juxtaposition in occasional interactions with the public.

    “We still talk to people that come through and do the ‘Tsk, tsk – it’s a shame that the black community can’t take care of this place,’” Palmer said.

    “The black community, through its tax dollars, has been sustaining every Confederate monument on public property in this city.”

    These problems persist at a time when Virginia’s relationship with its Confederate history has grown more contentious. Legislation seeking to remove memorials to the Confederacy has repeatedly failed, while efforts to find alternative solutions have been met with criticism and outrage.

    More monuments are still to come. This summer, construction will likely begin at the state Capitol on the Virginia Women’s Memorial, which will feature Confederate Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins among a racially diverse group of notable women.

    Pastor Michele Thomas of the Loudoun Freedom Center, a group that works to spotlight and protect multiple burial grounds against corporate interests and obscurity, declared historic preservation to be “one of the key civil rights issues of our time, because it’s still governed under Jim Crow laws.”

    “Separate but equal is more pronounced in death than it is in life, and you can see that clearly with these properties,” Thomas said. “And so when it is our society has not evolved in our law, we’ve not evolved as a society.”

    Despite such obstacles, work on African-American cemeteries continues across Virginia. The EnRichmond Foundation has partnered with Virginia Commonwealth University and other organizations in developing new techniques to improve Evergreen for both visitors and those interred, while the Friends of East End Cemetery, with help from VCU and the University of Richmond, unveiled a digital mapping of the cemetery last month.

    While Palmer and his fellow volunteers still see signs of disrespect of East End from time to time, there’s a clear joy in seeing the families of those laid to rest come to the site to help ensure their ancestors’ memories are acknowledged and maintained.

    “It’s inspiring, most definitely,” Palmer said, “because I think it can be kind of easy to be overwhelmed, but when you see people actually investing energy and time ...”

    Visiting her parents’ and grandparents’ graves for the first time since 1994, Doris Smith described the work done so far as “fantastic.”

    “Last time we were here, we couldn’t even get back here, you couldn’t even see their graves,” Smith said. “I think it’s really beautiful that people are getting out, doing and keeping it up.”

    The 5 Laws Focused on Virginia’s Historically African-American Cemeteries

    At the start of the 2018 legislative session, members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates introduced five bills that would provide funding for the state’s historically African-American cemeteries. All five passed the General Assembly and have been signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam.

    This follows the passage in 2017 of a bill to assist two black cemeteries in Richmond and Henrico County. Until then, legislators regularly rejected attempts to address the unequal treatment of American-American grave sites and burial grounds in comparison to white-majority cemeteries and Confederate memorials.

    In a 2013 article in the Journal of Field Archeology, Professor Lynn Rainville discusses this lack of equity: “Even though we have just elected an African-American president, our racially sensitive society unequally values the contributions of some individuals and communities. In the case of historical, black cemeteries, the voices of descendants and concerned residents are often ignored if a burial ground stands in the way of economic development or new construction. Conversely, it is taken as a given that ‘culturally valued’ graveyards, such as that of 19th-century presidents or white elites, will not be disturbed.”

    In a statement sent to Capital News Service, a spokesperson for Northam echoed those sentiments and said the new laws “will help to expand upon the Commonwealth’s efforts to highlight, steward, and preserve additional African American cemeteries.”

    Here are the new laws set to assist Virginia’s African-American cemeteries. All of them will take effect July 1:

    • House Bill 284, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond. It adds any locality or person who owns an African-American cemetery established between January 1800 and January 1900 to the list of historic organizations qualified to receive funding for the preservation of the burial grounds. The cemetery owners may receive $5 for every person interred who lived between 1800 and 1900.
    • Senate Bill 198, introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and HB 527, filed by Del. Matthew James, D-Portsmouth. These identical bills add Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portsmouth to the list of historic cemeteries qualified to receive funding.
    • HB 360, introduced by Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville. It adds the Daughters of Zion Cemetery in Charlottesville to the list.
    • SB 163, introduced by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun. It adds the African-American Burial Ground in Belmont to the list.

    Dr. Ted Maris-Wolf of the Evergreen Cemetery and the EnRichmond Foundation, reflecting on the swift passage of the bills through the General Assembly, said, “That was a great day, a tangible sign of progress.”

    “These are sacred sites of history and memory, and for the state to help dignify them in that way, I think was an honor for everyone associated.”

  57. Community College Philanthropists Honored with 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

    L to R:  Dr. Glen DuBois,Chancellor for Virginia Community Colleges; Midge Coward and Emily Coward, board members of Laughing Gull Foundation; Latrisha McCargo, Dr. Tara Blackwell, &  Dr. Al Roberts representing SVCC

     

    Richmond– The Laughing Gull Foundation has received the 13th Annual Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. The progressive family foundation proud of its’ commitment to justice was nominated for the award by Southside Virginia Community College.

    More than two dozen individuals, families, and businesses from around Virginia have earned the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. The awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony in Richmond on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018.

    Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), the 13th annual event honors leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of $6 million dollars to Virginia’s Community Colleges.

    Laughing Gull Foundation is a progressive family foundation proud of its’ commitment to justice.  As a steadfast advocate of higher education in prison, the Southside Virginia Community College’s Campus Within Walls(CWW) program appealed to the Foundation.  Targeting higher education in prisons, LGF aimed to increase access to credit-bearing college courses for incarcerated individuals.  Beginning in 2015, LGF awarded scholarships to incarcerated men at the Lunenburg Correctional Center who were involved in the CWW program. Recently, the group awarded additional funding to hire a coordinator to keep the program operational. 

    Keynote speaker Paul Koonce, executive vice president & president and chief executive officer with the Power Generation Group, Dominion Energy, called the community college system “one of Virginia’s greatest inventions.” He also borrowed a passage from a 1903 Teddy Roosevelt speech to underscore the invaluable connection between higher education and opportunity.

    “’Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. Our purpose (as donors) is to make sure that prize – meaningful work – the best prize that life offers, remains within reach of every Virginian.’”

    Recipients of the 2018Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy:

    • BLUE RIDGE: Mr. and Mrs. L. Ronald Smith
    • CENTRAL VIRGINIA: Wells Fargo Bank- Lynchburg Region
    • DABNEY S. LANCASTER: Temple Baptist Church and Ovella Worsham Estate
    • DANVILLE: Anita J. Wyatt
    • EASTERN SHORE: Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
    • GERMANNA: Ed C. Dalrymple, Jr.
    • J SARGEANT REYNOLDS: The Lipman Foundation
    • JOHN TYLER: Mr. J. Richard and Mrs. Jeannine Commander
    • LORD FAIRFAX: Nick and Kathy Nerangis
    • MOUNTAIN EMPIRE: Donna Stanley
    • NEW RIVER: Eddie and Kathy Hale
    • NORTHERN VIRGINIA: Northrop Gumman
    • PATRICK HENRY: The Martinsville Speedway and the Campbell Family
    • PAUL D CAMP: Mrs. June Fleming                 
    • PIEDMONT: Wendy Brown
    • RAPPAHANNOCK: Northern Neck Electric Cooperative
    • SOUTHSIDE VA: The Laughing Gull Foundation                                   
    • SOUTHWEST VA: Dr. Charles R. King
    • THOMAS NELSON: Continental Automotive Systems, Inc.
    • TIDEWATER: Elizabeth River Crossings, LLC, The Landmark Foundation
    • VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS: First Bank and Trust Company
    • VIRGINIA WESTERN: Friendship Health & Living
    • WYTHEVILLE: Charles G. Crockett
    • VFCCE: Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Whitt
  58. Virginia Works to Improve Voting Process Before Midterm Elections

    By Logan Bogert, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – As Virginia prepares for the November midterm elections, the State Board of Elections approved a number of policy changes aimed at clarifying the voting process and making ballots easier to understand.

    On March 23, the board met for the first time since the Northam administration was sworn in. The panel unanimously voted to roll out new ballot standards for the Nov. 6 general election. The goal of the standards is clarification – including allowing candidates to use nicknames, more readable fonts and user-friendly instructions on the ballots.

    Each ballot will include instructions on how to vote. It will also state, “If you want to change a vote or if you have made a mistake, ask an election worker for another ballot. If you make marks on the ballot besides filling in the oval, your votes may not be counted.”

    Chris Piper, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, said the process for revising the ballot standards began before last November’s election, when one voter in Newport News improperly marked their ballot. This led to a tie in the 94th House District race between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican David Yancey. During a special meeting of the State Board of Elections in early January, the names of both candidates were placed in a bowl and one was drawn; Yancey was declared the winner.

    “The ballot standards were something that was targeted as one of the first things that needed to be looked at,” Piper said.

    He said the changes are “really designed to make the ballot standards document more user-friendly and easier to understand for the localities and the vendors who design ballots. It clarifies some things that had come up over the years – it wasn’t in response to anything that happened in November, but certainly lessons learned went into the development.”

    The Department of Elections also ensures that each voting machine in Virginia is working properly.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reports that more than 500 election officials in 41 states, including Virginia, indicated that they will use machines and computers that are more than a decade old in this year’s midterm elections. That number is down from 2016, when the Brennan Center reported that 43 states used electronic voting machines that were at least a decade old.

    “Every single machine that’s deployed on Election Day goes through a thorough legit fix and accuracy test which provides the machines with a whole lot of different scenarios and makes sure that it’s working as it should prior to deployment,” Piper said.

    In 2017, Virginia decertified paperless touch-screen machines, causing 22 localities to get rid of such devices and replace them. Currently, all localities in Virginia and all voters vote by voter-verified paper ballot. This ensures that there is a voter-verifiable paper audit trail for every vote cast.

    “The determination of the Board of Elections is that a voter-verified paper ballot is the safest method to vote in the commonwealth,” Piper said.

    Beginning July 1, a new law will require the Department of Elections to annually conduct a post-election risk-limiting audit of ballot scanner machines in use in the commonwealth. Piper said the State Board of Elections is working through those standards, but will soon provide “assurance to the public” that all elections are conducted properly and that the results “were accurate and the will of the public.”

    There are several ways to register to vote. Citizens can register on paper by printing off a form on the State Board of Elections website, in person at any office of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles or directly on the website of the Board of Elections or the DMV.

    Virginians also can register through third-party groups that conduct voter registration drives. Such activities have been a source of controversy in recent years. In January 2017, Vafalay Massaquoi of Alexandria was convicted of submitting fake voter registration forms while working for a progressive advocacy group, New Virginia Majority. The following June, former James Madison University student Andrew Spieles was also convicted of fabricating voter registration forms while working for HarrisonburgVOTES.

    Anyone who requests 25 or more voter registration forms is required to complete training on how to conduct a voter registration drive and receive a certificate that they’ve completed training. However, Piper said that certificate is for “the organization as a whole, not necessarily each individual.”

    After getting the certificate, the organization’s representatives can distribute voter registration forms to prospective voters.

    If registering to vote on paper, the newly registered voter should be provided with a receipt that is on the form itself that “provides contact information for the individual to follow up with them,” Piper said. According to the guidelines set forth by the State Board of Elections on conducting voter registration drives, completed applications must then be delivered to a voter registration office within 10 days of registering or on the day of the next election registration deadline.

    Some third-party groups say Virginia makes it hard to vote.

    Rock the Vote, the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan voter registration organization that works to build the political power of young people, lists Virginia as a “blocker state” in regard to voting. It notes that Virginia does not provide automatic or same-day voter registration. Virginia also requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls – a policy that Rock the Vote considers restrictive.

    In addition to ranking states based on voting policies, Rock the Vote provides election reminders and information on upcoming elections aimed at millennials on its website.

    “Young millennials will be the largest voting block this year,” said Shaneice Simmons, Rock the Vote’s civic engagement manager. “This generation is extremely socially and politically conscious.”

    The party primary elections will be held June 12. The deadline to register to vote in the primaries or update an existing voter registration is May 21, and the deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed is June 5.

    “There is going to be so much on the table for young people to be able to create so much change this year,” Simmons said. “It’s just about making sure that we’re not leaving it on the table – we’re not allowing others to make decisions for us and electing people that represent our values.”

    The deadline to register to vote or update an existing registration for the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 15. To request an absentee ballot to be mailed, requests must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 30. To request an absentee ballot by appearing in person, requests must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 3.

  59. Dr. Eric Reinertson Joins VCU Health CMH

    South Hill – VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill would like to welcome Dr. Eric Reinertson to our family of health care providers.  Dr. Reinertson specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    Dr. Reinertson is a Board Certified OB/GYN who has devoted his career to providing the best and most complete OB/GYN care for his patients for more than 24 years. He earned a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from North Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks, North Dakota and completed his internship and residency training at Washington University/Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. 

    Dr. Reinertson has spent most of his professional career working in women’s health in Pekin, Illinois.  Most recently he worked as an independent contracted physician in Illinois and Hawaii.  He is skilled in minimally invasive surgery including outpatient hysterectomy, pelvic prolapse and abnormal bleeding problems.  He also provides complete care for pregnant women.

    Dr. Reinertson is currently working at CMH Women’s Health Services located inside the new C.A.R.E. Building, 1755 N. Mecklenburg Avenue in South Hill.  He is accepting new patients; to schedule an appointment call (434) 584-2273 (CARE).

    Dr. Reinertson joins Dr. Cynthia Austin, OB/GYN and Terry Wooten, Certified Nurse-Midwife, to provide a complete range of personalized and preventive gynecologic care to women at every stage of life.  To view a full list of services visit:  VCU-CMH.org

  60. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces March 2018 Employee of the Month

    Emporia, VA – Zhiquita Adams has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for March 2018. Ms. Adams, who works in SVRMC’s Patient Access Department, has been employed at SVRMC since April 2009.

    Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for March was Customer Waiting.  Ms. Adams’ nomination included the following statement:  “Ms. Adams dedication to understanding the value of our patients’ time in regards to customer waiting is her most valuable asset.  As an outpatient registrar, Ms. Adams recognizes when patients are waiting and makes a concerted effort to ensure that patients are registered in an efficient and timely manner, while not making them feel rushed through the process.  She has a welcoming demeanor and positive attitude putting our patients at ease during their visit.  In addition, Ms. Adams always thanks her patients and manages to lift their spirits and put a smile on their face.”

    As SVRMC’s March Employee of the Month, Ms. Adams 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 2018 Employee of the Year.

  61. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING ALLEGES ILLEGAL PREDATORY LOANS IN SUIT AGAINST ONE OF VIRGINIA’S LARGEST ONLINE LENDERS

    ~ AG Herring’s suit against Net Credit, one of the largest online lenders operating in Virginia, seeks restitution on behalf of affected consumers ~

    RICHMOND, VA (May 4, 2018) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that his Predatory Lending Unit has filed a lawsuit against Net Credit, one of the largest online lenders operating in Virginia, for lending and collections practices that allegedly violate the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that Chicago-based Net Credit issued loans of $1,000 to $10,000 to more than 47,000 Virginia borrowers between 2012 and 2018 with interest rates from 34% to 155%. In one loan cited in the complaint, a Virginia borrower was responsible for more than $6,000 in repayments for just $2,000 borrowed.

    “We’ve seen more and more Virginians turn to online lenders in a time of need only to find they’ve signed up for a debt trap that is going to cost them hundreds if not thousands of dollars in finance charges and interest,” said Attorney General Herring. “I believe we need stronger laws to protect Virginians from predatory loans, whether issued online or in-person, but until we get those, I’m going to make sure the laws we have are enforced and make sure that companies can’t come into our state and abuse financially vulnerable Virginians.”

    Attorney General Herring’s complaint alleges that Net Credit operated without a license in Virginia and misled borrowers about its licensure status in Utah in an attempt to avoid interest rate caps when loaning money to Virginians. Unless a lender qualifies for an exception, Virginia law caps the interest rate on loans at 12% per year. Instead, Net Credit forced borrowers to repay loans at exorbitant rates that cost Virginia consumers thousands of dollars.

    The Complaint also alleges that Net Credit tried to illegally collect money from borrowers who had filed for bankruptcy and were entitled to protection from collections activities. This conduct allegedly occurred in the form of automatic withdrawals from consumers’ bank accounts and collections emails while court-ordered bankruptcy stays were in effect.

    The lawsuit has been filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Attorney General Herring is seeking restitution on behalf of consumers who were charged illegal interest, civil penalties, attorneys' fees, and a court order banning Net Credit from further violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

    The Commonwealth is represented in this matter by attorneys in Attorney General Herring’s first of its kind Predatory Lending Unit, which has recovered more than $22 million from online lenders including CashCallMoneyKeyMr. Amazing LoansOpportunity Financial, and MoneyLion. Overall, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $243 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.

  62. WARNER & KAINE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION DEDICATING THE WEEK OF MAY 6 AS PUBLIC SERVICE RECOGNITION WEEK

    ~ Virginia is home to one of the highest concentrations of federal employees in the country ~ 

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a group of Senators in honoring the critical work of federal, state, county, and local government employees and members of the uniformed services by passing a bipartisan resolution designating May 6-12, 2018 as Public Service Recognition Week. Virginia is home to one of the highest concentrations of federal employees in the country, with more than 170,000 individuals that are part of the federal workforce, along with more than 115,000 additional active duty and reserve military personnel.

    “The Commonwealth’s servicemembers and civilian personnel alike are dedicated public servants who so often go above and beyond to ensure our country is operating safely and efficiently,” the Senators said. “We hope this small gesture will help highlight the important work that these exemplary federal employees do every day, often with little recognition, to improve the lives of Americans.”  

    “Every day, our nation’s public servants devote themselves to serving their fellow citizens. They include local first responders, uniformed military serving in harm’s way, and federal employees protecting our borders, curing disease and maintaining the integrity of our financial markets,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “However, the public seldom hears about their successes or the innovative ways in which they are improving service to the American people. This bipartisan resolution is a terrific expression of our thanks and appreciation.”

    For over 30 years, Public Service Recognition Week has been hosted by the Public Employees Roundtable to help honor federal, state, county and local government employees who are critical to the day to day success of our communities and nation. This year marks the 34th anniversary of Public Service Recognition Week. Clickhere for more information about events and ways to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week.

    Sens. Warner and Kaine were joined in cosponsoring the bipartisan Public Service Recognition Week Resolution by a group of 20 cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), James Lankford (R-OK), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

  63. Optimizing Postpartum Care, Renewed Focus on Improving Mental and Physical Health for New Moms

    Petersburg, VA – Not long after the world was wowed with photos of Duchess Kate Middleton and her new royal baby, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released guidance to improve mental and physical care for new moms.

    These recommendations set the stage for long-term health for women and infants. The report states, “Postpartum care should become an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter.”  It also advises insurers to cover the costs for new moms to see their doctors sooner and more often. This 11-page report represents a shift from an intense focus on prenatal care to a long-term care plan that includes what’s called the “fourth trimester.”

    Dr. Daphne Bazile-Harrison, MD, FACOG an OB/GYN with Southside Physicians Network says, “I endorse the new recommendations! The relationship a woman makes with her Obstetrician does not end once the baby is delivered.”

    The current standard for postpartum checkups is six weeks from child birth. ACOG now recommends cutting that time in half to three weeks, and for women suffering from hypertension, as little as three days. ACOG also says new mothers should work with their OB/GYN to develop an ongoing care plan and have a comprehensive postpartum visit no later than 12 weeks.

    The comprehensive visit should include a full assessment of the following:

    • Physical, social and psychological well-being (including mood and emotional)
       
    • Infant care and feeding
       
    • Sexuality, contraception and birth spacing
       
    • Sleep and fatigue
       
    • Physical recovery from birth
       
    • Management of chronic disease
       
    • Health maintenance
       

    The days and weeks after childbirth can be a time of particular vulnerability for mothers, with physical and emotional risks that include pain and infection, hypertension and stroke, heart problems, blood clots, anxiety and depression. 

    Here at The Birth Place at Southside Regional Medical Center, we make sure all patients are doing well following delivery. Postpartum visits are made prior to discharge, and our excellent nursing and office staff call to check in on mom once she has gone home,” continues Dr. Bazile-Harrison.

    This should come as welcome news to new mothers adjusting to life with a new baby. Balancing home, work, baby and other family commitments can be overwhelming. These new recommendations allow women to take a step back and say, “Its ok to take care of me.” With as many as 40% of women missing a postpartum visit, this is an opportunity to promote the overall health and well-being of moms.

    Dr. Bazile-Harrison is encouraged and notes, “With these new recommendations, hopefully we can become more proactive in advocating continual good health for our patients and their families.”

    For additional comments or more information contact Dr. Bazile-Harrison at 804-481-0143.

    The full report can be seen here: http://bit.ly/2KhO1dJ

  64. Emporia Police Appreciation Dinner

    The Riparian Woman’s Club honored the Emporia Police Department with dinner recently.

    It was the club’s way of congratulating the EPD on their CALEA achievement, a gold standard award in public service. It involved a lot of hard work under the direction of Chief Rick Pinksaw and it so happens that only a small number of law enforcement departments earn this special award. It is an ongoing effort on behalf of the department to continue its high standards.

    Later in the evening Laura Saunders, Regional President of CALEA, presented the department a framed CALEA certificate at the Emporia City Council meeting. A standing ovation by a full house of citizens expressed appreciation for the department.

    The dinner was another way of the Riparian Woman’s Club expressing its support of the EPD

    who every day and every night protect our community. How fortunate we are for their bravery.

  65. Encouraging Entrepreneurship for Military Spouses

    BY: SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian

    Each May we memorialize the men and women who sacrifice their lives defending our freedom. Often forgotten are the military spouses who give their all to maintain households and raise children. On May 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation declaring Military Spouse Day. Now celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day, National Spouse Day is a day to recognize these heroes of the armed services – the husbands and wives of our servicemen and women. Military families make incredible sacrifices, which includes leaving their careers and career development opportunities due to frequent relocations in support of military commitments.

    The unemployment rate among military spouses is 23 percent, and considering 85 percent say they want to or need to work, that is unacceptable. When the average household relies on two incomes, it should come as no surprise military families find themselves in similar need. I am encouraged by employers who are increasingly looking for ways to attract military spouses through such technology as allowing them to work remotely. I’d like to point out another option supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration – Entrepreneurship: military spouses running their own businesses can be empowering, liberating, and highly adaptable to a mobile lifestyle.

    As SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, I am committed to helping more people have the tools and skills they need to be entrepreneurs. We and our partners have online and community-based resources across the country offering access to capital, training, and business opportunities. We even have special outreach specifically geared to military spouses through programs on military installations.

    These programs are available through your local SBA District Offices and our resource partners. Visit SBA.gov to learn more about local resources(https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices), and more opportunities from SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development(https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd/resources/1485216).

    As we look ahead, SBA is working with the Department of Labor and Department of Defense to reduce barriers to business ownership and cross-state credentialing for military spouses. For example, if someone has a real estate license or a hairstylist’s license in one state, it should be easier to transition those credentials to another state.

    Today, there are more than a million military spouses – 700,000 active duty and 400,000 reserve/guard. Each has a broad diversity of talents and experiences SBA can help build into careers. We must help military spouses succeed and feel empowered, because they sacrifice for all of us. After all, each and every small business contributes to America’s economic prosperity, which further strengthens this great nation our military is working to defend.

  66. Crater Community Teams Up With Comfort Zone Camp to Bring a Family Grief Program to Petersburg

    PETERSBURG - Crater Community Hospice and Comfort Zone Camp team up to bring a Family Grief Program to Petersburg on May 12, 2018. Working together, these non-profit organizations can support entire families who are grieving the loss of a loved one, while including a focus on children's grief. This community event provides a safe and fun place for families who are grieving to create dialogue, express their feelings and learn coping skills. This family program focuses on how families can work together to remember their loved-ones, create new memories, and care for each other on this unpredictable journey of loss. For more information please contact Patti Cox - pcox@cratercommunityhospice.org About Crater Community Hospice Since 1995, Crater Community Hospice, (CCH) has provided exceptional care and support to over 5,000 patients and their families. Our mission is to help each patient live the fullest, most comfortable life possible. CCH is the only licensed, nonprofit, community-based hospice in the Tri-Cities. We also serve Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, Surry, Charles City, Greensville-Emporia and Chesterfield Counties. For more information about Crater Community Hospice’s programs and services, upcoming events, or volunteer opportunities, call 804-526-4300 or visit our website, www.cratercommunityhospice.org.

  67. Evelyn Bryant Newsome

     

    Evelyn Bryant Newsome, 99, of Emporia, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. She is survived by her daughter in law, Cynthia M. Newsome of Amelia; granddaughter, Kimberly N. McCall and husband Jeffrey of Emporia; grandson, John David Newsome of Amelia; step grandson, Kevin Bryant of Amelia; 3 great grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren.

    She is preceded in death by her husband, Johnnie Newsome and son Wesley Newsome.

    Evelyn was a lifelong member of Main Street United Methodist Church and a member of the choir for over 75 years.

    Visitation will be held in the Echols Funeral Home Chapel on Friday, May 4, 2018 from 6:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.  Funeral services will be held at Main Street United Methodist Church on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. with Rev. Tom Durrance officiating. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

    Condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com.

  68. Checklist FOR Your Social Security Annual Check-Up

    By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

    Say “annual checkup” and most people imagine waiting at the doctor’s office. But, there’s another type of checkup that can give you a sense of wellness without even leaving home. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov and follow these five steps to conduct your own Social Security annual checkup.

    Your Social Security Statement is available online anytime to everyone who has a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Creating your account gives you 24/7 access to your personal information and makes it impossible for someone else to set up an account in your name. We still send paper Statements to those who are 60 and older who don’t have an account and aren’t receiving Social Security benefits. Your Statement provides information about work credits (you need 40 credits to be entitled to a Social Security retirement benefit), estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, plus a history of your earnings.

    Work Credits Count

    If you have earned 40 work credits, your Statement will show estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. If you don’t have 40 work credits, the Statement shows how many you have and how many you still need to qualify for benefits.

    Review Earnings Record

    Review your history of earnings year by year to make sure each year is correct. This is important because Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings. If any years are incorrect or missing, you may not receive all the benefits you are entitled to in the future. If you need to correct your earnings, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please have your W-2 or paystubs when you call.

    Study Benefit Estimates

    Review the section titled “Your Estimated Benefits.” Be sure to review not only your retirement estimate, but your disability and survivors estimates. No one likes to think about disability, but a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, underscoring the importance of disability benefits. Since the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security may be more than your individual life insurance, be sure to check your survivors estimates also. 

    Calculate Additional Estimates

    You can use our Retirement Estimator to compute future Social Security benefits by changing variables such as retirement dates and future earnings. If you want to project what future earnings could add to your benefit, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

    Schedule Your Annual Check-Up

    Each year, make a date with yourself to review the most recently posted year of earnings on your Statement. By checking your record every year, you can be certain when you retire that Social Security will have a correct record of earnings to use when computing benefits for you or your family members.

    Social Security helps you secure your today and tomorrow by providing information to make your financial planning easier. Social Security is more than retirement; it is a family protection plan. For more information about benefits, visit us at www.socialsecurity.gov.

  69. Michael Fields

    Michael Fields will be celebrated with his family on Friday, May 4th at Cornerstone Funeral Home in Nashville, NC.   Visitation will be at 12; celebration of life beginning at 1:00 with homecoming in Battleboro Cemetery.  Please feel free to join us in the celebration of our beloved STAR, Michael.    We will be accepting visitors at our home in Emporia tonight from 6 until; Thursday 12 p.m. until.  Friday, friends will be accepted at 3462 Lonesome Pine Rd, Whitakers, NC 27891 following his celebration.  He loved us all and we love you all.

  70. Nettie Roella McDonald

    Nettie Roella McDonald, 54, of Emporia, passed away unexpectedly Sunday, April 29, 2018. She was preceded in death just last month by her mother, Charlene Owen McDonald. She had been a CNA and more recently was primary caregiver for her grandmother, Roella Hines Owen and her mother until their deaths.

    When Nettie wasn’t taking care of others, she had a love for drawing abstract art, photography and enjoyed doing research in the courts or the library. She also wrote poems and had become a published poet. She had a love for and communicated with all God’s creatures in the animal world.

    She is survived by her siblings, Virginia E. McDonald, John “Chipper” McDonald and Sarah E. Berryman and husband, Steve; two nieces, Jessica Owen Day and husband, Ercell and Farren M. Burchett; an aunt, Geneva Owen Woodard; a number of cousins and her six loving cats.

    The funeral service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends 11-1 prior to the service. A reception for the family will be held at Monumental United Methodist Church following the funeral. A private interment will be held at a later date.

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

  71. For-Profit Colleges Leave Many Students with Big Debts

    By Deanna Davison and Brandon Celentano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Higher education and the profit motive, many argue, do not mix – and students at for-profit colleges often pay the price.

    ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit college institution with about 130 campuses in 38 states, shut down in September2016 after then-President Barack Obama’s administration blocked its students from receiving federal student aid. The institution had 40,000 students enrolled among all campuses when it closed.

    For-profit schools have a history dating to colonial America, according to the book “Higher Ed, Inc.: The Rise of the For-Profit University.” In those days, a scarcity of places for people to receive a formal education resulted in entrepreneurs teaching practical skills and trades, as well as reading and writing.

    Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, a trade organization that represents 1,500 for-profit colleges, praised a judge’s ruling in March that said Obama’s Department of Education failed “to consider various categories of relevant evidence” in reviewing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the largest accreditor of for-profit colleges in the U.S.

    In September 2016, the Education Department removed the council’s accrediting authority, following a lengthy controversy over its capability to be an effective overseer for students and billions in taxpayer dollars.

    “Yes, our sector has had bad schools like every sector of higher education,” Gunderson said in a news release. “But it is time that everyone across the political spectrum stop, step back and look for ways to work together to establish public policies that treat all sectors of higher education on a fair and equal basis.”

    Government regulation of for-profit colleges has become less restrictive since President Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education. DeVos froze regulations that protected students from loan defraudment and paused the gainful employment rule, which states: “In order to be eligible for funding under the Higher Education Act Title IV student assistance programs, an educational program must lead to a degree at a non-profit or public institution or it must prepare students for ‘gainful employment in a recognized occupation.’”

    According to Inside Higher Ed, Obama’s administration created the gainful employment rule to establish accountability for career education programs when they produce too many graduates with debt they cannot repay. Schools could have their federal funding eliminated if they did not meet requirements.

    Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and Washington, D.C. sued DeVos in October, alleging that freezing those regulations violated federal law. The Department of Education said those allegations were “frivolous.”

    Sales and recruiting techniques, specifically at ITT Tech, were discussed in a 2012 report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It said that in recruiting students, ITT Tech staff members followed a script called a “Pain Funnel,” asking increasingly uncomfortable questions.

    When addressing prospective students who signed an enrollment agreement but indicated they may not want to start school, ITT Tech representatives were instructed to “poke the pain a bit” and “remind them what things will be like if they don’t continue forward and earn their degrees,” the report said.

    The script’s questions, designed to elicit emotional pain from prospective students, were intended to persuade vulnerable individuals to apply to the school. The pressure culminated with the question: “Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”

    ITT Tech is not the only for-profit institution to face legal action for allegedly defrauding students. In December 2016, DeVry University – an Illinois-based university with 38 campuses across the U.S., including two in Virginia – settled a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission that claimed the school used deceptive advertising to recruit and mislead students.

    DeVry paid $100 million to the FTC: $49.4 million for students harmed by the advertisements, and $50.6 million for student loan forgiveness. All unpaid private student loans the school issued to undergraduate students between September 2008 and September 2015 were forgiven, as well as more than $20 million that students owed the school in tuition and fees.

    An ITT Tech advertisement from 2007, which details the feel-good story of graduate Charlie Graves, promises viewers and prospective students the chance to attain their goals. The website of the Career Education Colleges and Universities touts similar success stories of students from diverse backgrounds who earned degrees and launched careers in fields ranging from advertising and nursing to computer science and audio production.

    But critics say “success” is not the outcome for many students at for-profit colleges, particularly when it comes to loan debt.

    Time magazine reported in January that more than half of borrowers – 52 percent – who attended a for-profit college in 2003 defaulted on their student loans after 12 years. Borrowers from two-year community colleges defaulted at half that rate: 26 percent.

    Judith Scott-Clayton, who wrote a recent report on student borrowing for the Brookings Institution, said the high percentage of for-profit students who default on their loans does not illustrate the full scope of the issue.

    For-profit colleges are generally more expensive to attend than community colleges, so more students tend to take out loans, and at higher amounts. The Brookings Institution report said its findings “provide support for robust efforts to regulate the for-profit sector, to improve degree attainment and promote income-contingent loan repayment options for all students.”

    The 2012 Senate report on ITT Tech stated: “Compared to public colleges offering the same programs, the price of tuition is higher at ITT Tech. Tuition for an associate’s degree in business administration at ITT Tech’s Indianapolis campus was $44,895. The same program at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana cost $9,385.”

    Tuition for a bachelor’s degree in business administration at ITT Tech’s Indianapolis campus was $93,624. The same program at Indiana University in Bloomington was $43,528.

    Tressie McMillan Cottom, a former admissions and financial aid counselor for ITT Tech, said she sold associate degrees for about $30,000 and bachelor’s degrees for about $60,000.

    “On average, students enrolled in for-profit colleges take on student loan debt that they cannot manage,” said Cottom, now an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.”

    “Whether that is because these students are more likely to be economically vulnerable or if it is because employers don’t seem to value these degrees very much, we aren’t exactly sure.”

    Cottom said her work at for-profit colleges, which she discusses in her book, informed her interest. Later, she decided to do research on for-profit colleges as a sociologist because she thought the expansion of these institutions and their degrees were understudied.

    She thinks it is important to keep in mind the circumstances of students who attend for-profit schools. Many individuals enrolled in such programs are people who have been disadvantaged in accessing high-quality, not-for-profit higher education, she said.

    “As a sociologist, one of our long-standing disciplinary interests is in how and why inequality happens. I study for-profit colleges as a way to understand contemporary inequality,” Cottom said.

    “When this [student debt] happens, people can be worse off for having pursued higher education than they would have been had they never gone to school at all.”

    The National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent report on bachelor’s degree graduation rates showed a significant disparity in graduation rates for students at for-profit colleges versus not-for-profit colleges. Twenty-three percent of students at for-profit colleges graduated within six years; the six-year graduation rate for students at public not-for-profit colleges was 59 percent.

    Some students who studied at for-profit institutions have said they felt they wasted their time.

    Erika Colon, 35, of Boston, took out $15,000 in loans for a medical administrative assistant certificate at a campus of Corinthian Colleges. The chain of colleges closed after it was found to have misrepresented post-graduation employment statistics.

    “They are just giving students high hopes for nothing and just taking people’s money,” Colon said.

  72. ‘Bamboozled’ ITT Tech Grad Saddled with Massive Debt, Subpar Degree

    By Deanna Davison and Brandon Celentano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Bobby Donovan always loved video games. The 29-year-old from suburban Hanover County played games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends daily and worked as a senior game adviser at GameStop for a few years after high school. When Donovan saw ITT Technical Institute was offering a bachelor’s degree program in video game design, he jumped at the idea.

    But his hopes of attaining that degree and furthering his career did not last long. Donovan entered the program at the for-profit college’s Midlothian campus in fall 2010. By the following fall, the program had lost its accreditation and was eliminated.

    Donovan said ITT Tech received late notice that the video game design program was not meeting the expectations of its accreditor. Contrary to Donovan’s belief, he was never enrolled in the bachelor’s program. Instead, he and other students in the same situation were transferred into a graphic design or visual communications program. And that program was for an associate’s degree, not a bachelor’s.

    “They cut the program and never enrolled anybody into the bachelor’s program,” Donovan said. “They only enrolled people into the associate’s, so you were never on track for the bachelor’s. We didn’t know they did that. They never told us, or they never told me.”

    When Donovan learned the video game design program was eliminated, he looked into transferring schools. But there was one significant issue: What he thought was his best option, ECPI University, another large for-profit institution in Virginia, would not accept his credits. He felt he had no choice but to stay at ITT Tech and complete the associate’s program, which he did. He graduated in 2012.

    Donovan, who now lives in Woodbridge in Northern Virginia, estimated that he took out about $50,000 in loans to fund his associate’s degree. His loan debt is split between a federal and a private lender. Approximately $20,000 of it is from the private lender ITT Tech used, who sold Donovan’s debt to Student CU Connect in 2013. The loan has a variable interest rate that started around 12 percent but has increased to about 16 percent. It caps at 16.75 percent.

    “The amount is really just unheard of for an associate’s degree,” Donovan said. “If I didn’t have student loans, I would probably have an extra $1,000 every month.”

    David Hodges, 31, a former classmate of Donovan’s, enrolled in ITT Tech’s visual communications associate’s program in 2010. He withdrew from the institution after a year.

    “I feel that I educated my professors more than they educated me,” Hodges said. “I enjoyed my classmates, but not the program. The art program at ITT Tech is comparable to an eighth-grade art class.”

    Hodges, who lives in Richmond, is now a self-employed street artist and fine arts painter, but he said it is no thanks to his time at ITT Tech.

    “I tell everyone I’m self-taught because I learned nothing at ITT Tech,” he said.

    In 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency founded in 2011 to protect citizens from unfair bank and lending practices, sued ITT Tech. The bureau alleged the school’s enrollment and financial aid advisors used predatory lending tactics to coerce students into costly private loans they could not afford. The lawsuit also alleged ITT Tech misled students about their post-graduation job prospects and the transferability of earned credits.

    “ITT marketed itself as improving consumers’ lives, but it was really just improving its bottom line,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s former director, said in a news release when the bureau filed the lawsuit. “We believe ITT used high-pressure tactics to push many consumers into expensive loans destined to default. [This] action should serve as a warning to the for-profit college industry that we will be vigilant about protecting students against predatory lending tactics.”

    ITT Tech closed its campuses and declared bankruptcy in September 2016, after the U.S. Department of Education judged the school failed to meet accreditation standards twice that year and eliminated ITT Tech’s ability to receive federal student aid. Some students who were enrolled at the time or had recently withdrawn – within the previous 120 days – could apply for loan cancellation, but that applied only to federal loans, not private loans.

    Because Donovan graduated in 2012, neither of those options applied to him. He received an email from ITT Tech on Sept. 6, 2016, explaining the school’s closure. The response blamed the federal government for forcing the school to close, Donovan said, and offered no options relevant to him other than providing information on how to obtain his academic transcript.

    “The Department of Education’s August 25 letter imposed a combination of requirements on ITT Educational Services, Inc. that we believe are unprecedented in the history of the Department of Education,” the email stated. “Please know we worked diligently to identify alternatives that would have allowed you to start or continue your education at ITT Tech and earn your degree. But the Department of Education’s actions have forced us to cease operations at the ITT Technical Institutes.”

    The email shared a list of schools that ITT Tech said had entered into agreements allowing students to transfer credits. The email also included a list of schools in students’ local areas or online that offered similar programs. Donovan said he thinks the schools ITT Tech mentioned were also for-profit colleges. The website is no longer active.

    Donovan said his student loan debt will hang over his head for years to come. He is still motivated to earn a bachelor’s degree, but it is not feasible for him to return to school just yet.

    “It’s kind of been put on the back burner after starting a family, getting a house,” he said. “[The debt] affects a lot of things – not just going back to school, but really starting my life outside of school after one huge mistake.”

    He also said if he were to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year school, he doubts his associate’s degree would be considered; thus, he would likely have to start over with zero credits.

    “I don’t think any actual college or university will actually recognize it as a degree,” Donovan said. “But I’m not 100 percent sure. I haven’t found out yet.”

    He is doubtful his associate’s degree has been valuable in his post-ITT Tech job pursuits either, he said, but he remains positive and hopeful for the future.

    “The people that I met [at ITT Tech] are great people,” Donovan said. “Some of the teachers were really good. It was a learning experience. I know I’m not going to be bamboozled again.”

  73. Dozens of Children in Virginia Are Fatally Shot Each Year

     

    By Kirby Farineau, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Around 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July in 2013, 7-year-old Brendon Mackey and his father were walking through the parking lot of the Boathouse restaurant in the Brandermill subdivision in Chesterfield County on their way to watch the fireworks display over Swift Creek Reservoir. Suddenly, the boy fell to the ground.

    Bryan Mackey thought his son had tripped or passed out, and reached to pick him up. “When I had him in my hands, I looked at his face and I knew he wasn’t there,” Bryan Mackey told reporters at the time. “I could see it in his eyes, that blank look in his face.”

    Brendon had been struck in the head and killed by a random bullet that authorities believe had been fired into the air in celebration. Police have yet to find the person who fired the fatal shot.

    Brendon, who was about to start third grade at C. E. Curtis Elementary School in Chester, was one of more than 620 children in Virginia and 26,000 nationwide fatally shot since 1999, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Virginia victims included 80 children age 10 and younger. Three died in gun incidents before reaching their first birthday, a Capital News Service analysis of the data found. Nationally, about 3,000 children 10 and under – including more than 180 who hadn’t turned 1 – have been fatally shot since 1999.

    The mass shooting that killed 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day has propelled the debate over gun violence into the national conversation. Students who survived the massacre and their counterparts across the country have declared “Never again” and advocated for gun law reforms.

    While mass shootings are relatively rare, gun-related deaths of minors – age 17 and younger – are distressingly common. In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, 39 minors in Virginia and about 1,640 nationwide died as a result of guns.

    Accidents like the tragedy involving Brendon Mackey represented 7 percent of all gun-related deaths of minors in Virginia since 1999. Thirty-seven percent of the deaths were suicides, and 53 percent were assaults. The remaining deaths were undetermined.

    “Our kids have become collateral damage for the unacceptable policies of the gun lobbies,” said Lori Haas, Virginia director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

    Haas became involved with the issue after her daughter Emily, 19, was shot and injured in the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people. When it comes to gun deaths of minors, Haas said, “Even one is too many.”

    The statistics on gun-related deaths

    Nationally, of every 100,000 Americans age 17 and under, two are killed by gunfire each year, according to the CDC data. In Virginia, the rate is 1.9 gun-related deaths per 100,000 minors. The highest rates in the nation are 9 deaths per 100,000 minors in the District of Columbia, 5.5 in Alaska and 4.1 in Louisiana.

    The data showed a distinction between younger children and older ones. Since 1999 in Virginia:

    ·         139 children age 13 and under were fatally shot. About 66 percent of those deaths were classified as assaults, 20 percent as accidents and 11 percent as suicides.

    ·         482 Virginians between 14 and 17 died from gunfire. Almost half of the deaths – 49 percent – were assaults, 44 percent were suicides and nearly 3 percent were accidents.

    Those numbers show that suicide is more prevalent among older children than younger ones – a fact underscored by the Virginia Violent Death Reporting System. That system found that Virginians age 15 to 19 were seven times more likely to commit suicide than those age 10-14.

    The CDC data show that 44 percent of minors killed by guns in Virginia were African-American. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of Virginians are African-American. This indicates that black children are fatally shot at a disproportionately high rate in the state.

    The debate over gun control

    In March, thousands of Virginians participated in the international March for Our Lives, protesting government inaction on gun control legislation. About 5,000 people, including students and politicians, marched on the state Capitol. The protests came after a legislative session in which members of the General Assembly clashed over dozens of bills involving gun regulation.

    Lawmakers proposed more than 70 gun-related bills. Some sought to restrict access to guns, including by children. Others sought to expand gun rights, including letting people bring guns to church. In the end, only two of the bills passed. Both have been signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam:

    ·         House Bill 287, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, will create a specialty license plate with the message “Stop Gun Violence.”

    ·         Senate Bill 669, sponsored by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, seeks to keep guns out of the hands of Virginians age 14 or older who have been ordered to get mental health treatment. Under this law, which took effect immediately on April 18, such individuals face restrictions on purchasing, owning and transporting firearms.

    SB 669 was meant to address what Haas and other gun control proponents call “victims of access.” This is the idea that even when children are involved in gun-related accidents or deaths, they are victims of negligence by people who allowed them access to the weapons.

    Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, tried to address that issue by introducing a measure making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly give a child of 4 or younger access to firearms.

    Lopez said he was motivated to sponsor House Bill 950 by the many incidents in which children in the state accidentally end up shooting themselves or others.

    “Regardless of what you think about the Second Amendment, I think we can all agree that the Founding Fathers were not talking about 2- and 3-year-olds,” Lopez said.

    HB 950 died in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

    Republican opposition to such legislation has largely centered on concerns over Second Amendment rights. Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper, was one of the most vocal opponents of gun control legislation in the 2018 session.

    When the debate was coming to a head in the General Assembly in March, after the Florida shooting, Freitas gave a speech defending his party’s position in the gun debate. Freitas said the ultimate goal of gun control legislation from Democrats was to “gut the Second Amendment.”

    “When the policies fail to produce the results you are promising your constituents, you’ll be back with more reasons to infringe on Second Amendment rights,” Freitas told Democrats in the House.

    But during the legislative session after Brendon Mackey’s death, the General Assembly was moved to action. In 2014, lawmakers passed a pair of bills making it a felony to injure someone through the reckless use of firearms.

    “Any person who handles any firearm in a manner so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life and causes the serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment is guilty of a Class 6 felony,” the legislation stated.

    The bills were aimed at preventing accidents as a result of celebratory gunfire. Supporters dubbed the legislation “Brendon’s Law.”

  74. Spring 2018 SVCC Nurse Aid Graduates

    Nurse Aide graduates who attended classes sat Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia through Southside Virginia Community College.  Students are from Brunswick, Greensville, Emporia,Mecklenburg and Petersburg areas.  

    First row left to right:Montia Monea´ Gray,Lakesha Danielle Claiborne,Crystal Joy Gillus,Josie Vivian Gordon,Brenda Thompson,Ashley Necole Simpkins,Shavon Yvette Barner, and Natasha Eveliz Ayala.Second/back row left to right: Linda Diane Owen,Jermarus Donnell Cabbins,LaQuechia Qwanchia Carey,Alexus Octavia Parrish,Princess Callie Ellies Rawlings,Gracie Baskerville,Christine Michell Cooper andBrandon Aaron Scott
  75. Celebrating 40 Years of the Meherrin River Arts Council

    SVRMC’s Jay Ewing and Wilson Clary

    Emporia, VA – For one Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center staff member, the connection to the concert series goes much deeper than a corporate sponsorship. Jay Ewing, Facility Compliance Officer, Admin. Director - Laboratory, Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Sleep Services, has enjoyed the concert series from the beginning. But it was his father Jim, a member of the Greensville County Board of Supervisors, who played a big role in helping make the Emporia Greensville Performing Arts Center what it is today. 

    In 1976, it was the vision of Jim, members of the Board of Supervisors and Emporia City Council to build an auditorium for the school that would meet the programming needs of the Meherrin River Arts Council. Jay says, “It means everything to have SVRMC sponsor the shows and be able to continue what he started by supporting MRAC.”

    Local entrepreneur, Wilson Clary, remembers that it was Jim’s idea to add one important part onto the new auditorium. “I always thought it should be called the Jim Ewing Lobby!” The auditorium was a much needed addition at Greensville Elementary School that not only made sense for the students but as a way to grow the concert series.

    The theater boasts comfortable seating, with excellent views from all seats and exceptional sound quality. The stage is even large enough to hold a full symphony orchestra. MRAC has pulled in big names over the years including Boyz II Men, Scotty McCreery, The Beach Boys, and Leann Rimes. Capping off the 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday May 5th is a performance by The Temptations and the Four Tops. There’s one act Jay wishes would make a stop in Emporia, “I’d love to see James Taylor come, I suggest it every year.” Hopefully James Taylor will one day see the sunny skies of Emporia and Greensville County.

    Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is proud to sponsor the Meherrin River Arts Council. Together we help enrich our communities with exceptional health care and high quality entertainment. You can see a special video tribute featuring Jay and other local supporters at Saturday’s show.

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