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Keith Prince Sworn In as Emporia City Sheriff

With his parents at his side City of Emporia Sheriff Elect was sworn into office by Clerk of the Circuit Court Bobby Wrenn on Sunday, December 17, 2017.

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Thanks to a Truck Driver

By Dr. Al Roberts

Santa may rely on a sleigh and reindeer, but other folks who want holiday packages delivered to distant destinations typically rely on trucks. In fact, the entire U.S. economy depends on the trucking industry. Every year, our nation’s truck drivers carry more than 10 billion tons of freight, a total that represents 70% of all shipped domestic tonnage.

Hauling all these goods is a task that requires more than 3.5 million commercially licensed drivers, and the trucking industry currently faces a shortage of qualified job candidates. In October, the American Transportation Research Institute released a study identifying the driver shortage as the industry’s most critical issue. The report noted, “An optimistic trucking industry outlook, based on improving economic growth in the United States, has many in the industry concerned that the demand for truck drivers will further outpace the supply of qualified drivers. To this end, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates a shortfall of 48,000 drivers, with projections that the shortage could increase to 175,000 by 2025.”

Southside Virginia Community College is helping address this need through the continuing expansion of its Truck Driver Training School, which has already educated more than 2,500 students. SVCC’s Truck Driver Training School was established in 1996 at Ft. Pickett in Blackstone. We added a location in South Boston in 1999 and another in Emporia in 2007. More recently, SVCC has entered into a partnership with Danville Community College and Patrick Henry Community College to offer the successful program across a broader region. SVCC’s truck driver program has a graduation rate of 85%, and 75% of program graduates have found employment in the industry. They hold jobs with more than 70 companies in capacities that include long distance (coast to coast), regional, dedicated, and local routes.

SVCC’s leadership in truck driver training is also recognized beyond the borders of our region. Earlier this year, Duncan Quicke, the program’s coordinator, traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, at the invitation of Schneider National to participate on their Truck Driver Training Advisory Board, a forum for exchanging ideas and best practices in areas such as safety, training, regulatory compliance, and technology. Schneider is one of the nation’s largest truckload carriers, and representatives from only 11 schools around the nation were selected to be included.

Students in SVCC’s Truck Driver Training School participate in a six-week program during which they receive 240 hours of instruction and hands-on practice. The class day mimics a normal workday, and activities include pre-trip inspections, keeping logbooks updated, highway driving, and maneuvering procedures such as twisting, turning, and backing up.

For information about driver qualifications, student prerequisites, and upcoming class schedules, call the Truck Driver Training School at 434-292-1650.

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

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Care Advantage Completes Acquisition of Care Solutions

Care Advantage establishes market leadership in Southeastern Virginia

Richmond, VA– December 12, 2017–Care Advantage, a leading provider of home healthcare services in the Mid-Atlantic and a BelHealth Investment Partners (“BelHealth”) portfolio company, announced the acquisition of Care Solutions of Tidewater, LLC (“Care Solutions” or the “Company”).

Care Solutions operates an agency in Hampton, Virginia that provides non-skilled personal care services in the home primarily for private pay patients.  The acquisition strengthens Care Advantage’s presence in Southeastern Virginia and makes Care Advantage a leader in this market after coupling it with the acquisition of Stay at Home Personal Care earlier in 2017.

William Mayes, CEO of Care Advantage, said, “The acquisition of Care Solutions enhances our presence and market share in Eastern Virginia, which is one of our key targeted geographies for growth within our existing footprint. Their reputation for focusing on high quality patient care will fit seamlessly into our culture at Care Advantage.”

Scott Lee, Managing Director of BelHealth and Care Advantage Board Member, added, “Care Solutions is a very strategic acquisition for the platform and strengthens our personal care division. The business has built very strong referral relationships in its service area and further expands our private pay patient census. We are continuing to aggressively pursue add-on acquisitions both in Virginia and other contiguous states to execute on our investment thesis.”

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Virginia Rural Center Names Kristie Helmick Proctor Executive Director

Richmond, Va. – Kristie Helmick Proctor has been appointed Executive Director of the Center for Rural Virginia, effective Dec. 4. The rural Virginia native, farm owner and accomplished organizational leader most recently served at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association, where she managed a staff that implements and oversees grassroots activities in 17 different states.

Proctor’s experience at NFIB afforded her an opportunity to gain a keen understanding of the issues facing those who live in rural Virginia. In addition, Proctor and her husband both grew up in rural Virginia and recently purchased a farm in Hanover County.

"Kristie brings an enthusiasm and a range of experiences that will help us build on our successes of the past several years as we strive to more effectively promote an improved economy and an enhanced quality of life throughout rural Virginia,” said Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., Chairman of the Center for Rural Virginia.

Prior to her role at the NFIB, Proctor served as Public Affairs Specialist at Transurban, a leading international toll road developer and investor. Proctor was instrumental in leading the implementation of a comprehensive public affairs program surrounding the proposed multi-billion dollar I-95/395 High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes project in Northern Virginia.

Earlier, Proctor was Public Affairs Specialist, at AAA Mid-Atlantic, the nation’s fifth largest auto club, working as a spokesperson and representing the club at various civic, professional and transportation organizations.

Proctor earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Longwood University and Master of Arts degree in Government from Regent University. She holds a Law and Public Policy Graduate Certificate and a Homeland Defense and Terrorism Graduate Certificate from Oxford University. She is also a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

“I am incredibly excited to serve as Executive Director of the Virginia Rural Center, as I am passionate about identifying new opportunities and addressing challenges facing rural Virginians,” said Proctor. “I look forward to building on the Center’s efforts in a number of key areas, such as highlighting small business opportunities, broadband deployment, workforce development, clean energy and stemming the tide of young people leaving our wonderful rural areas – just to name a few.”

The Center is a partnership of the Center for Rural Virginia, a Virginia legislative entity advocating for rural policy, and the Council for Rural Virginia, an entity organized by federal statute that is a conduit for building rural capacity by facilitating the collaboration and creation of coalitions of the key economic regions and sectors of the Commonwealth.

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