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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

To include your closing or cancellation on this list, please email news@emporianews.com

Current Weather Conditions

 
Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia
 

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2016-2-16

Weather Wreaks Havoc on Virginia Roads

With nightfall and continuing precipitation, Virginia’s highways – especially in the Metro-Richmond area – turned exceptionally slick and deadly. State police are currently on scene of two fatal traffic crashes – one in Chesterfield County and a second in Loudoun County. In addition, two troopers and a firefighter have been struck at existing crash scenes within the past few hours in the Metro-Richmond region.

At this time, there have been 3 reported fatal crashes to occur Monday (Feb. 15) in Virginia.

Due to the icy conditions, Virginians are still being asked to avoid unnecessary travel, if at all possible, overnight.

As of 9:15 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police are on scene of 97 traffic crashes statewide and responding to an additional 14 disabled vehicles across the Commonwealth:

Division I–Richmond (Metro Richmond/Northern Neck/Tri-Cities)

Traffic Crashes=64       

  • Henrico County: At 4:59 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police responded to three separate vehicles that had spun off and around the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 at the 195 mile marker in Henrico County. As a VSP sergeant was on scene assisting a male driver of a Jeep that had spun out, when a Chevrolet Camaro spun out and struck the Jeep. The male driver was struck by the Jeep and then the Camaro. The Camaro then struck the Sergeant’s patrol car. As the Sergeant and a trooper were aiding the struck male driver, who was in the interstate lane…another vehicle lost control and struck the sergeant’s patrol car. The sergeant was not injured. The male driver was transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The driver and passenger of the Camaro were transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
  • Chesterfield County: At 5:14 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police were called to a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of Route 288 north of Lucks Lane in Chesterfield County. The vehicles ran off the road and into the median. One of the drivers was transported from the scene for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The trooper, one of the drivers and a passenger were standing in the median when another vehicle ran off of Route 288 and crashed into them. The vehicle kept going and came to a stop after striking the trooper’s patrol car. The impact of the crash threw one of the pedestrians into a nearby Chesterfield County firefighter. That pedestrian died at the scene. The state trooper and other pedestrian were transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. The Chesterfield County firefighter was transported to St. Francis Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. The Virginia State Police Richmond Division Crash Reconstruction Team is assisting with the crash investigation, which remains ongoing at this time.
  • Hanover County: At 7:53 p.m., a Virginia State Police trooper was struck while seated inside his vehicle in the southbound lanes of I-295 at the 32 mile marker. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Division II–Culpeper (Fredericksburg/Culpeper/Warrenton/Harrisonburg/Winchester)

Traffic Crashes=2  

  • Fauquier County:At 6:59 a.m., Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash in Fauquier County. A 1999 Chevrolet Suburban was traveling west on Crest Hill Road, near Ada Road, when it crossed the centerline and struck head-on an eastbound snow plow. The driver of the SUV, Steven H. Gibbs, 63, of Linden, Va., died at the scene. The driver of the snow plow was not injured in the crash. Speed and slick road conditions were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation at this time. Crest Hill Road was re-opened by 9:40 a.m. Monday.

Division III-Appomattox (Charlottesville/Waynesboro/Staunton/Lynchburg/South Boston/South Hill)

Traffic Crashes=7          

Division IV-Wytheville (Wytheville/Dublin/Galax/Bristol/Vansant/Wise)

Traffic Crashes=6         

Division V-Chesapeake (Hampton Roads/Tidewater/Eastern Shore/Williamsburg/Franklin/Emporia)

Traffic Crashes=5        

Division VI-Salem (Lexington/Clifton Forge/Roanoke/Blacksburg/Bedford/Martinsville/Danville)

Traffic Crashes=4        

Division VII-Fairfax (Prince William/Loudoun/Arlington/Alexandria/Fairfax)

Traffic Crashes=4                  

  • Loudoun County: At 7:07 p.m., Monday (Feb. 13), Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Route 7/Harry Byrd Highway in Loudoun County. A passenger vehicle was traveling west on Route 7 when it rear-ended a backhoe traveling west in the right lane. The driver of the passenger vehicle, an adult female, died at the scene. The operator of the backhoe was not injured in the crash. The road was slick at the time of the crash, which remains under investigation at this time. State police are still in the process of notifying the decedent’s next of kin.

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

With the freezing temperatures, roads will remain frozen overnight and into the morning. If you HAVE to travel, then please keep these safety tips in mind:

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

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Fire Closes Carolina BBQ

Members of the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department work to put out an early morning fire at Carolina BBQ and Chicken.  Photo from the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department's Facebook page.

Carolina BBQ and Chicken will be closed until further notice following a fire in the early morning hours of Sunday Morning.

More than 30 firefighters from Emporia and Jarratt brought the fire under control in frigid temperatures.

Crews work to put out an early morning fire at Carolina BBQ and Chicken.  Photo from the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department

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House OKs Amendment to Increase Charter Schools

By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – By a 52-47 vote, the Virginia House of Delegates on Friday approved a constitutional amendment that could open the doors for more charter schools in the state.

House Joint Resolution 1, introduced by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, would allow the State Board of Education to authorize such schools if the local school board refuses. Republicans have championed the issue, saying Virginia school districts have thwarted attempts to create charter schools, which are public schools that are freed from certain regulations and often offer innovative or specialized programs.

Increasing the number of charter schools was a priority on the GOP education agenda for this legislative session. Virginia has nine charter schools; several states have hundreds. Nationwide, there are more than 6,400 charter schools.

“Public charter schools are some of the nation’s most successful public schools,” said Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta, who chairs the House Education Committee.

If both houses of the General Assembly approve the proposed constitutional amendment and related legislation, the issue would be put on the ballot in this November’s general election for a statewide vote.

Delegates also are considering House Bill 3, which would authorize a referendum on the proposed constitutional amendment. This bill was engrossed Friday and will return to the House floor for a final vote next week.

Opposition to the charter school initiative was vocalized during the debate over HB 565, which was also on the floor Friday. The bill would set rules for the establishment and operation of charter schools – specifying, for example, that such schools must be managed by a nonprofit education organization under the control of a governing board.

Del. Dave Albo, R-Springfield, offered an amendment to HB 565 stating that “the Commonwealth or the public charter school applicant will pay for the construction of such public charter school.”

“The problem I have with the concept of these charter schools is not that I don’t like charter schools, but I want to know who is going to pay for it,” Albo said.

Republican Dels. Bob Marshall of Manassas and Tag Greason of Loudoun County criticized the amendment. They voiced concern over its exacting terms: funding the construction of new schools but not the renovations of existing buildings. House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, commented that the amendment was “inartfully drawn.”

Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, spoke in its favor: “Without the gentleman from Fairfax’s amendment, it is possible that the state could override the locality and have a charter school go in place with no plan for the building it's going to be in,” she said. “Then the locality will be on the hook to build it.”

Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, responded in opposition to the amendment. “We have seen step after step after step to try to take charters of the table,” he said. “I’m not sure she (Delegate McClellan) would vote for the underlying bill.”

Indeed, after the amendment was approved in a vote of 66-28, McClellan spoke in opposition to HB 565. She cited the period of Massive Resistance, when Virginia shut down public schools to block racial integration, as the only time since Reconstruction when the General Assembly encroached on local control of public education.

“That is why there are a large number of people who do not believe it is a good idea to take control away from the locality in deciding whether and how to implement charter schools,” McClellan said.

She cited studies that found charter schools have not improved academic performance across the country, noting that the charter school in Richmond failed to be accredited this year.

HB 565 and HB 3 will return to the floor next week for a final vote.

Meanwhile, the issue also is before the Senate: Senate Joint Resolution 6 would amend the Virginia Constitution the same way HJR 1 would; and SJR 93 and Senate Bill 588 would authorize a statewide referendum on the amendment. All of those measures are to be voted on in the Senate next week.

Under the proposed constitutional amendment, a group that wants to start a charter school would first apply to the local school board. If the school board denies the application, the decision could be appealed to the State Board of Education. The State Board would be limited to hearing five appeals per year.

“Charter schools provide parents and students with additional opportunities,” Bell said. “Not every child is a good fit for traditional public schools, but every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.” He cited studies showing that charter schools “help to close the achievement gap, giving children in minority and underserved communities the opportunity to succeed.”

But public school teachers oppose charter schools. They fear that such programs will divert money and resources from regular public schools.

Howell hailed the House vote in favor of HJR 1.

“The fact that this legislation is House Joint Resolution 1 demonstrates how important this amendment is to the House of Delegates and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said. “We have an historic opportunity to bring about a meaningful change in our education system.”

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2 Divergent Views on ‘Conversion Therapy’

By Diana DiGangi, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – “For fifteen years of my life, I experienced unwanted same-sex attractions,” Christopher Doyle said.

Doyle grew up with strained relationships with his parents. He said he couldn’t bond with his father, whom he characterizes as “not a bad man” but emotionally absent: “It set me up on a trajectory of not really being able to bond and connect with my peers and my male friends.”

Doyle’s mother, on the other hand, was “always emotionally needy” because of his father’s distance. “And then when I was about 8 years old,” Doyle said, “I was sexually abused by an older female cousin for about a year, which created a lot of fear of the opposite sex.”

At around 9 years old, Doyle began to experience what he refers to as “unwanted same-sex attractions.”

“I was very confused because in my heart, I didn’t really believe I was a gay person. But of course, as an 8 year old or 9 year old, I didn’t really understand,” Doyle said. “And I had interest in girls and attractions toward girls, and dated girls, too. But for me, having a healthy relationship with either a boy or a girl was simply impossible because of these early experiences of trauma.”

At 23, still searching for a resolution to the traumas he had experienced as a child, Doyle entered therapy with a counselor. After making peace with those issues, Doyle says he no longer experienced same-sex attraction.

“I was using sex with men to fill an emotional void, when what I really wanted was healthy relationships with guys,” Doyle said. “And that was my story. And ever since that time, I haven’t struggled with same-sex attractions at all.”

Over the years, Doyle sought out a variety of counseling methods to address what he refers to as “the issues underneath same-sex attractions and sexual identity.”

“I didn’t feel this was who I really was,” he said. “It was in conflict with my faith; it was in conflict with who I really thought I was for a person.”

Doyle has been married to a woman for nine years, and they have five children. He is now a licensed psychotherapist in Arlington whose methodologies include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – all of them standard therapeutic tools.

He describes his work as therapy that specializes in sexual identity and orientation, helping gay-identified clients deal with the stigma of being gay while addressing the unwanted same-sex attraction of his other clients.

Doyle’s detractors have a more succinct label for what he does: conversion therapy, a controversial practice that has been banned for minors in four states – California, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon. Some Virginia lawmakers wanted to add Virginia to the list. That effort failed during this year’s session of the General Assembly.

* * *

“I believe Chris Doyle when he says that he’s not doing harm using outlandish methodology,” Apryl Prentiss says. “What their new term of rhetoric is – it’s to say, ‘Oh no, it’s just talk therapy; we’re not doing any damage.’ And the bottom line is, talk therapy is actually the most insidious of all of those methodologies.”

Prentiss and Doyle have several things in common. They have both struggled to reconcile their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs. They had negative experiences with religious leaders as same-sex attracted people. They have both been through therapy that specifically addresses sexual orientation.

And they both now describe themselves as happily married to women.

The major difference between them is that Prentiss identifies proudly as a lesbian and is an outspoken opponent of the type of therapy Doyle and his colleagues perform.

Prentiss is the deputy director for the Alliance for Progressive Values, a Richmond-based nonprofit that advocates for “economic fairness, social justice and good government.” She was instrumental in developing legislation to ban conversion therapy in Virginia.

Three bills, all sponsored by Democrats, tried to do that. HB 427 died in a House subcommittee; SB 262 and SB 267 were killed by the Senate Education and Health Committee. The legislative hearings drew both proponents and critics of the therapy.

The Senate hearing was a lightning rod for media attention, as Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax, compared homosexuality to childhood cancer and John Linder, a self-described former homosexual, said he considers the therapy successful but still experiences same-sex attractions.

Prentiss speaks freely about her experiences with conversion therapy because, she says, “There are many survivors that are not able to stand up and advocate this way because of the harm done to them.”

Prentiss was raised Christian. When she began to realize she might be gay, she feared losing her religious community as well as the acceptance of her family. These fears, she said, caused her to deny her sexuality and seek out therapy to help her move past her same-sex attraction.

Prentiss spent months in an ex-gay ministry that used ascetic methods, as well as time with a psychotherapist who she said used methods similar to Doyle’s.

“Conversion therapy is predicated on the belief that you’re not born gay – there has to be a cause for it,” Prentiss said. “So there’s abuse in your past, or a mother issue, or a father issue, or something like that. The first thing that a conversion therapist does is dig and dig and dig for that cause – to the point where some people, myself included, have felt pressure to create one.”

Prentiss said the therapy she underwent prompted her to fixate on her sexuality to a distressing degree.

“If I were to go to lunch with a female friend, my conversion therapist would be say, ‘Well, why did you want to go to lunch with her? Did you have any sexual thoughts while you were sitting there talking to her?’” Prentiss recalled.

“And I’d say, ‘No, we were just hanging out.’ But it teaches you to overanalyze everything, to perseverate on everything that’s coming through your head. And that in itself just causes severe introspection. When you’re already depressed, as anyone in that situation would be, it can be really dangerous.”

* * *

So far, what is referred to in law as conversion therapy has been banned in four states and Washington, D.C. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York recently said he will take steps toward a ban there as well.

In 2009, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution expressing concerns about “sexual orientation change efforts.”

“Recent studies of participants in SOCE identify a population of individuals who experience serious distress related to same sex sexual attractions. Most of these participants are Caucasian males who report that their religion is extremely important to them,” the resolution said.

The APA ultimately concluded that “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.”

The association cited a study that “some individuals modified their sexual orientation identity (i.e., group membership and affiliation), behavior, and values.”

“They did so in a variety of ways and with varied and unpredictable outcomes, some of which were temporary,” the resolution reported.

Prentiss and Doyle have diverging opinions on the success of SOCE.

“I would say that in my personal experience of the people I know who have been through conversion therapy or other ex-gay efforts, my personal experience would be that 95 percent of those people are now living happy lives as gay people,” Prentiss said.

“The people that I know who have gone through conversion therapy and ex-gay programs and are now living a heterosexual life, most of those people were really abused as children. So I don’t know that their orientation was ever homosexual, as much as they were having trauma that was leading them to act out in a homosexual way or be confused about their sexuality.”

Doyle describes his therapeutic efforts as effective for clients who are distressed by their same-sex attraction. But he said some of his conflicted clients do end up ultimately identifying as gay.

“Not all times where someone comes in conflicted with same-sex attraction, is that person is going to go toward the heterosexual spectrum,” Doyle says. “That’s a reality that we don’t dispute, and it’s not necessarily even the point. ... I work with clients like that, and I advocate for a lot of gay and lesbian minors who have parents who are unaccepting of their sexual orientation.”

Doyle was asked if unwanted same-sex attraction was something that could be addressed in a more general therapeutic context, instead of by a specialist. He expressed reservations.

“Let’s just say this therapist is a gay-identified therapist that is adamantly against the idea that there is any fluidity in sexuality,” Doyle said. “Then that therapist may actually steer that client against his or her will into embracing a gay identity when the client didn’t want that.”

Doyle went on to say that he has personal biases, as all therapists do, but that he would refer a client to another therapist if he felt he could not help them.

Prentiss disputed the idea that the average therapist who identifies as gay would counsel clients in a biased way.

“A real therapist would never make a judgment and then encourage someone one way or the other based on their own judgment. A real therapist lets the client say, ‘I think I’m gay’; lets the client say, ‘I think I’m straight but I have these fractions’; or lets the client be the one to say, ‘I’m going to try to choose to be gay or straight,’” Prentiss said.

“Good therapists don’t have an agenda; that’s not what’s happening in real therapy sessions. That is what happens with conversion therapists.”

Prentiss stressed that the bill she worked on was aimed at protecting children under 18, not banning the therapy for adults.

“You’re talking about a minor who is still in the normal phase of identity formation, period – not just sexual identity, but their overall identity being formed,” she said.

Doyle challenged the suggestion that his therapy methods might be harmful to children.

“I am the last person that would ever force a teenager to go through therapy,” he said. “But in my experience, that doesn’t really happen that much.”

Is “unwanted opposite sex attraction” really a common concern for people? Not according to Google. A search for that exact phrase turns up only 106 results, most of which are tongue-in-cheek.

In an email, Doyle said he doesn’t even know any therapists who specifically help clients who are gay resolve unwanted opposite-sex attractions.

“But I have had cases where a client had trauma from females and experienced unwanted sexual compulsions/attractions for the opposite sex that they felt were unhealthy and destructive, while also experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions,” he said.

Though they disagree on many points, Prentiss and Doyle agree on one thing: “Sexual orientation change efforts” can be dangerous when left up to religious leaders.

“The therapy that we do isn’t the same thing as maybe some of the bad experiences that people have had,” Doyle said. “And it really grieves my heart that they’ve had those bad experiences, because I had the same bad experiences with a pastor when I was their age. And if I had worked with a licensed professional who knew what they were doing, it could have saved me years of heartache.”

The attempt to ban conversion therapy for minors in Virginia failed in part because some legislators feared it might infringe on freedom of religion. They said such a ban could stop clergy from counseling young members of the congregation who are gay. Prentiss expressed frustration with this argument.

“There is definitely a gray area over here, which is hugely dangerous, which is these pastors who are acting like counselors and maybe even pastors who are licensed as counselors. We can’t do a lot about that legislatively,” she said.

“What we’re trying to avoid right now is parents with good intentions going and desperately looking someone up online, saying, ‘Oh, this is a licensed therapist; this person can help my kid.’ And going to them in the most dire of circumstances, and having this person say, ‘Oh, absolutely, I can help you with that.’ I mean, it’s predatory.”

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Tophand to hold Baseball/softball clinic and workout session

Emporia, VA- TopHand will be holding a Baseball/Softball Clinic and Workout Session on April 12, 2016. The clinic is open to ages: 6-15 and all skill levels are welcome.  The price is $10.00 for any EGRA participant and $20.00 for any other participant. The cost includes a three hour clinic plus a one hour instructional session.  To sign up for this event stop by the Emporia YMCA or Jarratt Fire Department on February 20th or 27th from 9am-12pm.  The skills that will be discussed are hitting, fielding, pitching and catching. EGRA Coaches Are Welcome to Attend & Assist!!!

For more information, please contact TopHand Sports @ 757-537-8480, 434-336-1950, or rjessee5@gmail.com

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