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Local Coronavirus Closings and Cancellations

Meherrin Regional Library - Brunswick County Library and Richardson Memorial Library

All City of Emporia Offices are Closed to the Public (Municipal Building, Police Department and Public Works)

Greensville County Circuit Court Clerk (Tentative Reopening Date April 6, 2020)

Bruswick County Government is Closed to the Public

During this State of Emergency most Nursing Homes have Cancelled all Visitation

During this State of Emergency most Hospitals have changed their Visitation Policies, Please call ahead

Please check with your destination for current visitation policies during this Public Health Emergency/State of Emergency before leaving home

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2016-1-18

Neighborhood Watch Meeting This Evening

Neighborhood Watch Organization will be having a meeting at the Jarratt Fire Department in the meeting room on Wednesday,  January 20, 2015, at 7:00 P.M.

Trooper C. D. Tucker will present a short program on the Virginia Sex Offender program.  This is a very informative program and one that we all need to know more about.  Please plan on attending this very informative meeting and learn more about the sex offender program and bring a friend and/or neighbor.

All residents in Jarratt, Greensville, Sussex Counties and Emporia are invited to attend this program.  Please come and voice your ideas to help our area to prevent crime and make our area a safer place to live and enjoy.

If you have any ideas for programs you would like to have presented at the meeting, please contact Dana Kinsley or Roderic Tuell

For additional information call: Dana Kinsley 434-637-7553 or Roderic Tuell 434-535-9191

Please tell your neighbors about this meeting and encourage them to attend.

IF THERE IS INCLEMENT WEATHER THE PROGRAM WILL BE CANCELLED AND WILL BE RESCHEDULED

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to Host American Red Cross Blood Drive Today

Emporia, VA – According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This adds up to about 41,000 units of blood that are needed to meet the daily demand.  Blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in, leaving an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients requiring this lifesaving gift.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will host a Red Cross Blood Drive on Monday, January 18th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms. Whether veteran or first-time donor, the process is quick (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes from start to finish) and easy, and each donation could save up to three lives. Donors are required to provide either a driver’s license or two other forms of identification, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate. 

To schedule an appointment, contact the Red Cross at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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Despite Protests, State OKs Drainage of Coal Ash Ponds

By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A procession of more than 100 disappointed citizens filed out of a Virginia State Water Control Board meeting late Thursday afternoon after the agency approved permits for Dominion Virginia Power to begin draining water from coal ash ponds on sites in Fluvanna and Prince William counties into the James and Potomac rivers.

Over the past few months, the permit applications have stirred opposition against Dominion Virginia Power by local and regional environmental groups such as the James River Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center. Although Thursday’s meeting was brimming with opponents to the plan, the board approved the permits supported by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

State Sen. Scott A. Surovell, D-Fairfax, joined opponents at the meeting. He said Dominion’s plan was unsettling to more than just hard-core environmentalists.

“You’re not just hearing concerns from the environmental community,” Surovell said. “You’re hearing concerns from major institutions saying, ‘Let’s slow this down; let’s get this right.’ ”

Surovell suggested that the board consider delaying its decision to allow further study into harm that water from draining coal ash ponds might pose to the creeks and rivers – especially Quantico Creek, which is already impaired due to high concentrations of nickel in the creek bed.

The controversy even drew attention from outside the commonwealth. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources submitted a comprehensive letter to Virginia’s DEQ that contested Virginia’s standards for heavy metal concentration concerning the protection of the shared waters of the Potomac River.

Approval of the permits allows Dominion to begin discharging water immediately from coal ash ponds at Bremo Power Station, roughly 50 miles upstream of Richmond on the James River, and the Possum Point Power Station, located 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., at the confluence of the Potomac River and Quantico Creek.

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

Cathy Taylor, Dominion’s director of Electric Environmental Services, ensured the board of her company’s consideration for human and environmental health. Before the vote, she said Dominion’s plan met all applicable laws and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

“This approach complies with all current federal and state regulations, including the newly promulgated EPA rule,” Taylor said.

Board member Roberta A. Kellam cast the sole dissenting vote on both permit approvals. She expressed concern over the complexity of the issue and said there should be more time for review and public comment.

The permits are the first step in Dominion’s plan to close 11 coal ash ponds sited on four power plants around the state at an estimated cost of $325 million. Once the approximately 500 million gallons of contaminated water is treated and drained from these two sites, the utility must obtain further permits to bury the remaining solid coal ash with layers of protective lining, soil and vegetation.

Last September, federal regulations from the EPA set new pollution limits concerning the discharges from electric power plants into the nation’s waterways. That forced state utilities across the U.S., including Dominion Virginia Power, to reconsider their disposal of coal ash.

Most Dominion Virginia Power plants, including the sites at Bremo and Possum Point, have been converted from coal to natural gas and therefore no longer produce coal ash. Permits for draining coal ash ponds at the Chesapeake Energy Center and the coal-burning Chesterfield Power Station will be considered later this year.

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Legislators Get Lesson from Higher Education Advocates

By Kyle Taylor, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Most weekdays, Carmen Rodriguez, a biology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, addresses an auditorium of about 400 students. On Thursday, her audience was more personal: She was visiting state legislators’ office and educating lawmakers about issues important to higher education.

Rodriguez was among the faculty and staff members from colleges and universities across Virginia who joined together Thursday to advocate for such issues as a 2 percent pay raise and more financial aid for undergraduate students.

Participants in this year’s Higher Education Advocacy Day focused on five items that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has included in his 2016-2018 biennial budget:

  • A 2 percent salary increase for higher education faculty and staff, costing $25.7 million. The raise would be effective on July 1, 2017 – the second year of the budget; there is no plan for a pay increase in 2016.
  • In-state financial assistance for undergraduates, costing about$48 million.
  • Access and completion initiatives, costing $50 million. McAuliffe’s budget proposals would provide incentives for institutions to educate and graduate more in-state students and underrepresented students.
  • Tuition Assistance Grants, at a cost of $2 million. This would boost the individual undergraduate grant award for students attending independent colleges to $3,400 (from the current $3,100).
  • The proposed budget also includes $40 million in one-time incentive packages for research; $8.1 million for an online degree completion initiative; and $24.6 million for noncredit workforce development to be offered through the Virginia Community College System.

Matthew Conrad, VCU’s executive director of government and board relations, said McAuliffe has been a friend of higher education.

“The governor has been very generous to higher education and education in general. He’s made about a billion dollars in investments in education,” Conrad said.

He said VCU’s top priority is a faculty salary increase “to keep us competitive not only among our current institutions in the state but also outside of the state.”

“We also are very much concerned with the capital bond package that the governor has included,” Conrad said. This would fund a new building for VCU’s School of Allied Health, “which aligns very closely to the governor’s goal of creating jobs.”

Besides VCU, other institutions represented at Higher Education Advocacy Day were Norfolk State University, George Mason, James Madison, Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Mary Washington, the University of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College and the College of William and Mary.

At an organizational meeting before going to the Capitol, Susan Hagedorn, an associate professor of English at William and Mary, passionately discussed problems in the Virginia Retirement System’s optional retirement plan for higher education. Hagedorn has created an “Occupy VRS” website about her concerns.

“There are many problems with VRS. Right now, it’s only 65 percent funded. Those of you who opted for defined benefit plan, if you’re lucky, when you retire they’ll have enough money in the system but right now, they really don’t,” Hagedorn said.

At the morning meeting, faculty members received sheets about the legislators they were going to target first. Many paired up or formed small groups to focus on certain issues together.

Two VCU faculty members, Allen Lee and Carmen Rodriguez, joined Bob Andrews, a retired VCU professor, and traveled the halls of the crowded General Assembly Building. They approached Glen Sturtevant, a newly elected senator from Chesterfield County, first.

Allen Lee, a professor in VCU’s School of Business, discussed the importance of helping students afford their education.

“I’d like to put in a special plea for assistance for students who are undergraduates,” Lee said. “I have some students who are going to school full time and working full time. These are the ones who really need assistance.”

In many instances, the professors found a receptive audience.

Jediah Jones, the legislative assistant to Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, said the senator supports the Tuition Assistance Grants. Jones promised to relay the faculty members’ information to McEachin.

The Higher Education Advocacy Day participants caught Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico County briefly in the hall on her way to a meeting. They found that she also supports more funding for the TAG program.

Claudrena Harold, a history professor at U.Va., said faculty members also benefit from the day’s activities. It galvanizes their commitment to common concerns, such as academic freedom, shared governance and the issues of rising tuition and financial aid.

“With tuition increasing every year, there is concern at times that we are pushing certain folks out of the market,” Harold said. “It’s important to provide an affordable, quality education.”

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Judge OKs GOP’s ‘Loyalty Oath’ for Now

By Matt Chaney, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A federal judge Thursday denied a request by African American community leaders for an injunction preventing the Virginia Board of Elections from mailing out absentee ballots for the Republican presidential primary that require a so-called “loyalty oath.”

U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck said in her ruling that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to allow the injunction. However, she said a trial still must be held to rule on the constitutionality of the requirement.

The decision to deny the injunction, which the plaintiffs plan to appeal, concerns a new requirement that Virginians interested in voting in the Republican primary on March 1 sign a pledge of affiliation to the GOP. This is especially relevant to voters who support the nomination of Donald Trump for president but don’t self-identify as being members of the Republican Party.

Lauck called the requested injunction “an extraordinary remedy.” She said the “plaintiffs did not present evidence sufficient to show a likelihood of success on the merits on their constitutional claims.”

The lawsuit was filed after the Virginia Board of Elections last month approved a request by the state GOP that voters in the Republican presidential primary be required to sign a statement saying, “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican.”

In the suit, three Virginia ministers and leaders in the African American community argued that the requirement would violate minority voters’ civil rights by discouraging people who don’t typically vote as Republicans from casting ballots in the state’s normally open primary.

While some states register voters by party and allow only party members to vote in primaries, until now Virginia has not done so.

“To be Republican ... the Republicans are considered racist. Anyone [in the African American community] who would sign this, great persecution would fall on them,” said Stephen Parson, one of the plaintiffs.

Parson also said such a requirement would create delays in voting. In his opinion, many people would be caught off guard about the requirement and hesitate or abstain from voting entirely.

The defense disagreed.

“Dr. Parson admitted that, other than himself and perhaps his fellow plaintiffs, he was unaware of any voter who did not intend to vote in the Republican Party presidential primary because of the RPV’s decision to require execution of the voter statement,” the defendants said in a brief filed Wednesday.

The brief argued that Parson’s testimony was hearsay and that it “simply repeated” allegations contained in the initial complaint.

“They offered no more than naked, conclusory statements that such detrimental effects might occur, and provided no evidence (or even well-pleaded factual allegations) that any of these hypothetical injuries plausibly would occur as a result of the Republican Party of Virginia’s voter statement,” the brief said.

Lauck agreed with the defense in issuing her decision.

However, in a ruling filed late Thursday, she said that the case “does raise concern as to the State Board of Elections duties to avoid voter confusion and to preserve the integrity of, and order in, the electoral process.”

Lauck said the in-person voting procedure remains poorly organized, citing the Board of Elections’ recent disclosure that the in-person voting procedure will include the use of a provisional ballot. While this is not inherently illegal, it would potentially create confusion for unaffiliated voters who did not want to declare their affiliation with the Republican Party.

The judge concluded that the parties involved should make preparations to schedule the forthcoming court case. It remains unclear how these proceedings will affect the Republican primary results in the state.

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