Martin F. Harrell, Sr.

Martin F. Harrell, Sr., 73, of Emporia, passed away unexpectedly at MCV Hospital on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. He was the son of the late Joseph Bryan Harrell and Marie Pope Harrell. Martin is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Harrell; two sons, Martin F. Harrell, Jr. “Marty” and wife, Stacy; Stuart A. Harrell; daughter, Mary Beth H. Poarch and husband, Brian; seven grandchildren, Macie Alexandra Harrell, Sarah Hart Poarch, Virginia Blair Harrell, Stuart Reid Harrell, Jane Randolph Poarch, Sydney Mills Harrell and Jackson Martin Harrell; sister, Betty Pope Harrell; two brothers, Donald B. Harrell and wife, Connie, and Michael W. Harrell; aunts, Virginia Harrell Simmons, and Melissa H. Jackson; uncles, Dudley J. Harrell and Freeman J. Harrell, and a large extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins. The family will receive friends 4-7 p.m. at Mr. Harrell’s home on Thursday, Feb 2. The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, February 3 at Lebanon United Methodist Church followed by interment at Harrell Family Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Lebanon United Methodist Church, c/o Lou Harrell, 25123 Blue Star Highway, Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.


Savemore Encourages Kids to Say “YES” to Saving!

Zaya Moseley, Charnelle Moseley, Mayliah Prince, and Cameron Bobbitt meet Savemore the Squirrel from Benchmark Community Bank. Savemore and Benchmark’s Branch Manager, Nicole Young, visited The Improvement Association’s St. Paul’s Child Development Center to discuss financial literacy and budgeting while encouraging the children to say “YES” to saving.

For more information about Head Start or other initiatives offered by The Improvement Association, please call 434-634-2490.


VCU Health CMH Star Service Team Member of the Year

W. Scott Burnette (fourth from left), CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Joel “J.T.” Parcell (center), Environmental Services Technician, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Year Award for 2016. There to congratulate J.T. was (left to right) Mike Lloyd, Environmental Services Assistant Director, Todd Howell, Vice President of Professional Services, and Ken Philibin, Environmental Services Director.

J.T. has been employed at VCU Health CMH for two years.  The nomination form submitted on his behalf stated, “Joel (J.T.) has consistently met and exceeded his job description.  He is always neat, friendly and courteous.  He works well without supervision and does an excellent job.  His performance reflects pride in his work and he is a great asset to the department of Environmental Services and to VCU Health CMH.” 

In addition to the award certificate, J.T. received a STAR Service Team Member of the Year lapel pin, a gift certificate worth $200.00 for hotel accommodations to any location of his choice and $300.00 spending money.

J.T. Parcell resides in Chase City, VA.

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Dog hunters and landowners argue over trespassing bill

By Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Hunters may have to pay a fine if their dog enters private property under a bill in front of the House of Delegates.

A revised version of HB 1900, introduced by House Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford County, passed the House Rules Committee on Tuesday.

The bill springs from tension between landowners and hunters who use dogs to chase deer.

Hunters could be fined up to $100 for a first offense and up to $250 for a second offense if their dogs trespass on private property.

For the fines to apply, landowners would have to either post signs to keep dogs out or inform the hunter in writing to keep dogs off his or her land. The law would be enforced by animal control officers, conservation police, and other law-enforcement officers.

“This is an agenda to outlaw hunting with dogs,” said Kirby Burch, CEO of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance. Its members held a rally at the Capitol last month to protest the bill.

Burch told the Rules Committee that according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, dogs were involved in only about 5 percent of hunting complaints in Virginia from July 2014 to June 2015.

“Where’s the beef?” Burch asked, if such a small percentage of complaints have to do with dogs.

Rob Nicholson, a landowner who supports the bill, said the beef is that he couldn’t bring his dogs to his farm during rifle-hunting season, and he was worried about his 18-month-old daughter because “every single day the dogs ran through my farm.” Nicholson hunts on his property, without using dogs.

“Why in the world would someone say we’re trying to take away your ability to hunt when we’re just saying, ‘Please keep your dogs off our property’?” Nicholson asked.

The bill also would allow a landowner to stop a trespassing dog long enough to confirm its identification. Dog owners argue that the dogs are just pursuing deer and don’t intentionally trespass and that landowners should not interfere with the hunt.

“To say that a dog in pursuit cannot be stopped is absolutely the most ludicrous thing,” Nicholson said.

Burch said the hunting dog alliance’s main concern is landowners potentially having the right to restrain dogs to identify them.

“Who’s going to do that identification?” Burch asked, arguing that sheriffs and game wardens don’t have the resources to answer calls to identify dogs. He said hunters are worried that landowners would be able to hold dogs until a law enforcement official was available.

Nicholson responded that he would only restrain a dog to take a picture for future identification.

Burch also defended the current law’s provision allowing hunters the right to retrieve a dog that has crossed a property line.

“This (bill) negates the right to retrieve,” Burch said.

If a hunting dog strays onto another person’s property, the hunter has the “right to retrieve” the animal, even if the hunter has been previously asked not to trespass.

“The right to retrieve law is an unconstitutional law,” said Donald Wright, a landowner and hunter in the Virgilina community in Halifax County. Wright, who supported the bill, said it “restores property rights to people like me.”

Under the current law, it’s a misdemeanor to intentionally release dogs on another person’s land to hunt without the consent of the landowner. However, if a dog is found on another’s property, there usually is not enough evidence to prove the intentional release of that dog.

While the House Rules Committee approved HB 1900 on an 11-4 vote, it awaits action on the House floor. If approved there, it would go to the Senate.

A Senate committee killed a hunting-with-dogs bill Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1545 would have held hunters liable for damages to the property their dog entered, if they let them onto private property intentionally.

The bill, introduced by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax County, would have made it a Class 3 misdemeanor if a hunter or dog trainer knew, or should have known, about an imminent trespass while hunting or training.

The Senate Committee for Courts and Justice voted unanimously to table SB 1545.


‘Left-lane bandits’ may face $250 fine

By Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The House of Delegates has approved a bill that would impose a mandatory $250 fine for driving too slowly in the left lane on highways.

HB 2201was introduced by Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, and co-sponsored by Democrats Del. Kaye Kory of Falls Church and Sen. Scott Surovell of Fairfax to show bipartisan support for the measure. O’Quinn said this is something that affects all Virginians, regardless of which side of the aisle they align themselves with.

“It doesn’t matter which corner of the commonwealth you come from,” he said when addressing the bill on the House floor Monday. “It doesn’t matter which interstate or four-lane highway that you have going through the districts you represent. I guarantee you are going to encounter this many times, even if you’re on the highways for just a few minutes.”

“Left lane bandits,” as they are often known, have become a “particularly pervasive and ever-growing problem” on Virginia roadways, O’Quinn said.

Under current Virginia law, driving in the left lane is illegal except when passing or when it is deemed “otherwise impractical,” but there is no fine for failing to obey the law. O’Quinn said that, for the safety of all Virginian drivers, he hopes to change that.

“I consulted with a lot of law enforcement officers, first responders, et cetera, about this, and every single one of them, without fail, had some sort of story where they ran up on a car who’s going grossly under the speed limit in the left lane, which then required them to have to attempt to pass on the right, which is not legal nor safe,” O’Quinn said. “A number of close calls and a few accidents, in fact, have occurred from that.”

O’Quinn also said that, in addition to helping curb dangerous high-speed accidents, the bill would help decrease road rage incidents on Virginia’s highways.

“This is also something that is one of the leading causes of road rage – which certainly, I am not condoning by any stretch – but it’s something that law enforcement officers many times can point back to as the root of a number of road rage incidents,” O’Quinn said.

He added that he and his co-sponsors are not trying to change traffic laws, but rather help drivers understand the dangers of disobeying lane rules.

“I’m not trying to mess with the definition of what it means to pass on the left or stay in the right lane or any of that stuff,” he added. “But, simply put, a penalty behind it shows that we understand the seriousness behind it and that we’re going to be serious about actually enforcing it.”

The House voted 66-31 for final passage of the bill on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

How they voted

Here is how the House voted Tuesday on HB 2201 (“Failure to drive on right side of highways or observe traffic lanes; increases penalties”).

Floor: 01/31/17 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (66-Y 31-N)

YEAS – Adams, Anderson, Austin, Bell, John J., Bell, Richard P., Byron, Campbell, Cline, Collins, Cox, Davis, Dudenhefer, Edmunds, Farrell, Fowler, Freitas, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Hayes, Head, Helsel, Heretick, Herring, Hester, Hodges, Holcomb, Hope, Ingram, James, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Krizek, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lindsey, Lingamfelter, Lopez, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Minchew, Morris, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Plum, Ransone, Rasoul, Rush, Stolle, Villanueva, Ware, Watts, Webert, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Speaker Howell – 66.

NAYS – Aird, Albo, Bagby, Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Boysko, Bulova, Carr, Cole, Filler-Corn, Garrett, Hugo, Keam, Kory, Levine, McQuinn, Miyares, Mullin, Murphy, Pogge, Poindexter, Price, Robinson, Sickles, Simon, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Wilt – 31.

NOT VOTING – Fariss, Morefield – 2.

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Rally calls for state help for brain injuries

By Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – “Forty-two ... I think I’m 42,” Mike Drury of Leesburg, Virginia, said with a smile. A car accident in 2011 left Drury with a traumatic brain injury that affects his cognitive abilities.

But that didn’t stop him from traveling to the state Capitol for the 14th annual Brain Injury Awareness Day. After meeting with legislators, dozens of survivors, advocates and caretakers of people with brain injuries held a rally Wednesday to call for improvements in services for disabled Virginians.

Because of a budget deficit, in October the state cut $375,000 in funds for brain injury services, the rally’s organizers said.

“There are still so many unserved areas that don’t have any brain injury services at all in Virginia,” said Krystal Thompson, executive director of Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia. “We need a lot more funding to reach the scope of the problem.”

Several lawmakers have introduced budget amendments to help people with brain injuries:

  • Sen. Janet Howell of Fairfax County and Del. Brenda Pogge of James City County have proposed restoring the $375,000 that was cut last year.
  • Sen. John Edwards of Roanoke and Del. Nick Rush of Montgomery County want to provide an additional $1 million to expand and support brain injury services in Virginia.
  • Pogge and Sen. David Marsden of Fairfax County have called for improvements in collecting and analyzing data about Virginians with brain injuries and the services they need.

“There’s a lot of data of brain injury that’s sort of scattered all over the place,” said Anne McDonnell, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. “We’d like it to be consolidated in one place so we can make some plans for the coming wave of individuals that are going to need care.”

Nearly 168,000 Virginians are disabled as a result of a traumatic brain injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With more funding, McDonnell hopes to provide care for more people with such injuries.

“It’s a rare privilege to watch a brain come back online,” McDonnell said.

Among the people at the rally was 15-year-old Maya Simbulan. In 2009, she was getting ready for a school play when she fell down a flight of stairs at home and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Simbulan, a sophomore at Lake Braddock High School in Fairfax County, said she owes her recovery to Brain Injury Services, a nonprofit organization based in the Springfield. The group helps residents of Northern Virginia find rehabilitation resources, manage the effects of their injuries and connect with people with similar problems.

“Sky’s the limit. We want Maya to get every opportunity everyone else gets, and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Simbulan’s case manager, Brooke Annessa.

Annessa has been with Brain Injury Services since 2009. In 2011, she adopted her daughter, Addie, who had suffered anoxic brain damage, which is caused by a lack of oxygen. Wednesday was Addie’s fifth birthday.

“So I’m either the best mom ever, or the worst mom ever,” Annessa joked.

Addie doesn’t talk yet. Shortly after her injury, Annessa brought Addie to Brain Injury Services. There, the girl was handed an iPad with Proloquo2Go, a symbol-based “augmented alternative communication” app to help her express herself.

Within the first day of using the iPad, Addie was speaking through the app. A month later, she was constructing sentences.

“That little bit of hope, that little bit of proof, is what got me more services at school for her. I was able to show she is smart, she is understanding – she just can’t explain that to you,” Annessa said.


Immigration advocates win and lose

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia colleges won’t be forced to give federal authorities sensitive details about students who may be undocumented immigrants, after a legislative subcommittee killed a bill opposed by immigration advocates.

However, another panel killed legislation that immigration advocates had wanted: It would have allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition.

The House Higher Education Subcommittee voted Tuesday to kill HB 2001and HB 2004, which were aimed at gathering personal information about undocumented college students. Both measures were sponsored by Del. Charles R. Poindexter, R-Franklin County.

The subcommittee also voted to refer HB 1857, the in-state tuition proposal, to the House Appropriations Committee. On Wednesday, an Appropriations subcommittee killed the bill, which was sponsored by Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington.

HB 2001 would have required college and university officials and faculty members to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in identifying and detaining undocumented students. HB 2004 would have required state colleges and universities to file annual reports to the governor and General Assembly on the number of undocumented students enrolled in their institutions.

Dozens of opponents of Poindexter’s legislation attended the subcommittee’s meeting, filling the seats in the room and spilling out into the hallway. They included pro-immigrant activists, professors and young people protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA was the Obama administration’s 2012 executive order allowing young undocumented immigrants to work, pay taxes, drive and attend college with in-state tuition. The Trump administration has vowed to overturn the policy.

“By requiring that professors and other employees at public institutions cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, you force DACA students to go back into hiding,” said Allison Esquen-Roca, a DACA student at the College of William and Mary. “You also force us to lose one of the last lines of support that we have, and create a hostile environment not conducive to learning.”

Catherine Carey, a Williamsburg resident who started an online petition that has garnered more than 2,640 signatures against HB 2001, also spoke against the legislation. She said the bills would ruin any trust between professors and students.

“If we have teachers enforcing immigration law, that is going to destroy the relationship between students and teachers,” Carey said. “No one wants a teacher acting as a policeman in the classroom.”

At the start of the meeting, Poindexter asked that HB 2004 be stricken, essentially withdrawing it. But he defended HB 2001, saying he wanted to make sure colleges follow federal law.

“I heard a statement that was very disturbing, and I think it should disturb everyone in the room: ‘We don’t want the law enforced.’ That is incomprehensible in the United States of America,” Poindexter said. “I understand opposition to the bill, but to say that we don’t want the law enforced in incomprehensible.”

The subcommittee also decided to refer Lopez’ proposal, HB 1857, to the House Appropriations Committee. That bill seeks to ensure that DACA recipients can continue paying in-state tuition in Virginia.

According to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, there are 1,280 undocumented students enrolled in colleges throughout Virginia, Lopez said. He said college would not be a realistic option for many of these students if they had to pay out-of-state tuition.

“States are required to provide all students with a K-12 education regardless of immigration status,” Lopez said. Unless the state takes action, “we will essentially be putting up a stop sign to these children, saying, ‘Thank you for your hard work, thank you for doing well in school, but your dreams need to stop.’ This is devastating for future social and economic mobility.”

Lopez said denying in-state tuition to undocumented students would be a waste of the money that the state has invested in their primary and secondary education.

“To nurture and educate these students from elementary to high school, only to turn them away when they reach higher education, is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of great talent and potential,” Lopez said.

Del. James Massie, R-Richmond, opposed Lopez’s bill. He said the panel should wait for the federal government’s decision on DACA.

“They are already getting the in-state tuition, so I think my position is that we ought to wait and see what the federal government does,” Massie said. “Let’s wait and see what they do, and in a year we can take another look at it.”

Jacky Cortes Nava, a DACA student attending the University of Virginia, said living in fear of losing her in-state tuition has affected her studies and emotional well-being.

“It’s not fair that we have to get distracted almost every single day from our studies,” she said. “It’s not good for our emotional or mental health that we have to wake up every day, fearing that the next day we’re not going to be able to continue with our studies.”


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