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2018-2-8

2018 Black History Month Proclimation

Mr. George E. Morrison III, Secretary of the Greensville Emporia NAACP and Emporia's first Appointed Black City Manager, and Deacon Cornell Hines of the Executive Board accept the 2018 Black History Month Proclimation from Emporia's first Black Mayor, Mary L. Person

Proclamation

Black History Month

February 1-28, 2018

Whereas,February is recognized nationally as Black History Month and Dr. Carter B. Woodson, a distinguished African American author, editor, publisher and historian, is acclaimed “Father of Black History Month”.  Dr. Woodson believed that African Americans should know their past in order to participate in the affairs of the country; and

Whereas,Black History Month acknowledges both past and present African and African-American icons whose courage, sacrifices, and relentless efforts have sought to improve the quality of life for all in the name of justice, honor and freedom; and

Whereas,such noted African-American icons as Ida B. Wells, the renowned writer, teacher, women’s suffragist and anti-lynching crusader; and Rosa Parks, whose famous decision to remain in her seat symbolized the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, have made imperative contributions to our society; and notable local African Americans as Joseph C. Bond, a mortician, was the first African American to serve on Emporia City Council and a founder of the local NAACP branch; Dr. Willie Joyner, a physician and entrepreneur, owned a medical building, a movie theatre, and rental properties; Dr. Joseph Macklin, a pharmacist, was the first African American druggist to manage his own business; Charles Harris, a mechanic, was the first African American to own and operate a service station; Edward Westwood Wyatt, an advocate for improved school conditions for African Americans and a zealous educator, legacy lives on as the first African American High School (E.W. Wyatt High School) was named in his honor; Charlie Stephen Thomas, a businessman and a founder of the local NAACP branch, operated a grocery store across from Greensville County Training School to provide snacks for the students, since there were no cafeterias at that time; Etta Reavis, a homemaker, provided hot meals and shelter for local teachers at R.R. Moton Elementary School; Elizabeth R. Allison, Reverend and Mrs. Willie Curley, Sr., Annie Green, and Helen Kindred provided shelter and meals for the teachers on the North side of town; George C. Williams, a local farmer, purchased a bus to transport students and teachers to school that resided in the county; and

Whereas,the Honorable Mary L. Person was elected as the first African American female to serve on Emporia City Council, made history again when she was elected on  November 6, 2012, as the first African American and first female to serve as Mayor for the City of Emporia; and

Whereas,it is essential to learn from the many lessons of history from world renowned leaders as well as the contributions of local African Americans to continue the pursuit of our Founding Fathers’ vision of liberty, justice and equality for all; and

Now, Therefore, I, Mary L. Person, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Emporia, Virginia do hereby proclaim February 1-28, 2018 as Black History Month in the City of Emporia.

Done this 6th day of February in the year 2018.

Clayton Winfield Morris

Clayton Winfield Morris, 91, passed away at home on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 after a lengthy illness. He was a retired farmer. Mr. Morris was the son of the late Joseph Winfield Morris and Daisy Jean Morris and was also preceded in death by an infant son, Richard Jean Morris; sister, Edna Hobbs; three brothers, Gilbert E. Morris, L. V. Morris and Dallas Morris. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia Cullins Morris; son, Winfield Morris and special friend, Mary; daughter, Terry Anne Morris Joyner and special friend, Terry Pulley; grandsons, Clayton Earl Boles, Jerry Mcintyre and Joseph Mcintyre; granddaughter, Libby Mullins; sisters, Bernice M. Ligon and Evelyn M.Wiley; brother, Jean Neal Morriss; devoted friend and caregiver, Tammy Simmons and numerous nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6:30-8 p.m.Thursday, February 8 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia and at other times at Mr. Morris’ home, 7700 Little Lowground Rd. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Friday, February 9 (which would have been Mr. Morris’ 92 birthday) at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. The family requests casual dress by those attending. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Tethering Bill Moves Forward From Senate.

By Katrina Tilbury, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — A bill specifying when an animal can be tethered outside passed the Senate on Wednesday with changes aimed at increasing its chances of winning approval in  the House.

The bill, SB 872, is the companion legislation to HB 646, which was killed in a House subcommittee.

Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, the bill’s sponsor, noted that changes had been made in the bill and that he hoped a measure would emerge that could protect animals, especially dogs.

Feedback from animal control officers led to the removal of requirements that prohibited tethering between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., or when the owners aren’t home. A ban on using metal-link chains was also removed.  Critics of the legislation won exemptions for animals while they are working on farms and dogs actively being used in hunting.

Matthew Gray, Virginia state director of The Humane Society of the United States, said earlier the changes were needed for the bill to emerge from the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

But Alice Harrington, legislative liaison for the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders, said after the committee vote that the animal neglect laws currently in place are sufficient.

“If the aim is to just get something passed, then how legitimate is what they’re trying to pass? If it’s really about the animals, it’s really about their welfare, then how can you negotiate all that away?  Then it becomes just about a win,” she said.

“They’re not in bad shape because they’re tethered....  They’re in bad shape because they’re being neglected.” Harrington said.

Kimberly Hawk, a volunteer for the Houses Of Wood and Straw Project, said the legislation would help save the lives of animals, like one dog who she said froze to death two weeks ago after he became tangled in his chain and wasn’t able to reach his shelter. Hawk’s group is a non-profit serving nine counties in central Virginia. The organization provides wooden dog housing as well as straw and bedding.

“We believe that it’s going to help the animal control officers be able to enforce the law better because it’s very tangible,” Hawk said.

The version of the bill that passed the Senate 33-7 is focused on preventing tethering animals in certain weather conditions, including, when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 85 degrees, and when severe weather warnings are issued by the National Weather Service. The restrictions in the bill do not apply to animals loose in a yard or in a pen. The bill does not specify the type of animal, instead referring to animals and companion animals generally.

SB 872 states tethers must be at least 15 feet long, or four times the length of the animal, and limits the weight to less than one-tenth of the animal’s body weight.

House Considers Allowing Guns in Places of Worship

By Thomas Jett, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – After a committee endorsed the proposal on a party-line vote, the House of Delegates is considering legislation to allow people to bring guns and knives into a place of worship in Virginia.

Delegates are scheduled to vote this week on House Bill 1180, which would repeal the state’s ban against carrying weapons into a house of worship while religious services are being held.

Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, said he is sponsoring this bill on behalf of concerned churchgoers.

“Recent shootings in churches have leaders across the country reevaluating their security plans in places of worship,” LaRock said, referring to church attacks in Sutherland Springs, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina.

The existing law states, “If any person carry any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

At a meeting of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee last week, LaRock said the law is ambiguous.

“The statute restricts those in charge of places of worship from exercising full control over their own private property,” LaRock said. “By repealing this law, we will remove a barrier to churches forming plans to protect and defend their establishments against malicious attacks.”

Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League testified in support of the bill. He said the current law “is forcing pacifism, if you will, on churches. It’s taking away their ability to do certain ceremonial things.”

Representatives of faith communities disagreed. Bryan Walsh spoke on behalf of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

“Faith leaders we have spoken with, and members of our community, don’t feel that this bill makes places of worship any safer,” Walsh said. “We want our places of worship to be places of peace, not violence.”

Amanda Silcox, who also works at the center, echoed Walsh’s testimony, stating, “We believe places of worship should be safe havens for people, not places of violence.”

LaRock said HB 1180 will not invite violence in houses of worship. “Repealing this bill will do nothing more than to allow the formation of sensible security plans for places of worship and the best way to avoid disaster is to plan and prepare,” he said.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, said he saw no need for LaRock’s legislation.

“If a law is working just fine, and there aren’t really any problems with the law, we should just leave it alone,” Simon said.

Lori Haas, a lobbyist for the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, requested more time for public reaction to the bill, which was filed on Jan. 10.

“There are many, many, many members of faith communities across the commonwealth who might have an opinion about this bill, might want to express their support or opposition to the bill,” Haas said.

Despite her plea, the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 12-9 in favor of HB 1180, sending the bill to the full House. The Republicans on the panel voted unanimously for the measure; the Democrats voted against it.

Virginia Likely to Expand Medical Marijuana

By Fadel Allassan, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia inched closer to greatly expanding medical marijuana use this week after legislation passed the Senate with unanimous support – three days after its companion bill was likewise approved by the House of Delegates.

SB 726, which passed 38-0 on Monday, would let doctors issue certifications for patients to use cannabis oil to treat the symptoms of diagnosed conditions or diseases. The House version of the bill – HB 1251 – passed 98-0 on Friday.

With similar bills approved in both chambers, the legislation appears likely to be headed to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and physician, who has said he would sign such a measure into law.

Doctors in Virginia currently can issue medical marijuana certifications only to people with intractable epilepsy. If Northam signs the bill, the new law would let doctors issue certifications to treat any condition.

Both bills were a recommendation of Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care, which researches health policy options for the state.

The chief sponsors of SB 726 were Republican Sens. Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico and Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier and Democratic Sen. David Marsden of Fairfax. The chief sponsors of HB 1251 were Republican Dels. Ben Cline of Rockbridge and Glen Davis of Virginia Beach and Democratic Dels. Eileen Filler-Corn and Kaye Kory, both of Fairfax.

“The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature,” said Dunnavant, who also is a doctor. “Instead, it should be with physicians.”

Virginia is poised to join 29 other states that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three U.S. territories have a similar policy.

The legislation is considered a major victory for marijuana-law reform advocates.

“This will bring relief to thousands of Virginians suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease and PTSD,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of the marijuana law reform advocacy group, Virginia NORML. “We could not be happier with the unanimous passage of these bills.”

An April 2017 poll by Quinnipiac University indicated overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Virginia. About 94 percent of Virginian voters polled expressed support; 59 percent backed legalizing small amounts of the drug for recreational use.

2 Rare Diseases May Be Added to Newborn Screenings

Krystal and Haley Hayes spoke to a committee on newborn screenings in December. (Photo courtesy of the Hayes family)

By Katie Bashista, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Like a typical 12-year-old girl, Haley Hayes texts, browses the internet, socializes with friends and family, and loves to sing – especially to Carrie Underwood. What Haley doesn’t typically share with her peers is that she was born with a rare genetic condition called Pompe disease.

Haley has suffered muscle loss and other complications because of the disease. She might have been spared some of those health problems had she been born in a different state.

Del. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, has introduced a bill that would add Pompe disease and MPS I, another genetic disorder, to Virginia’s newborn screening program. If these diseases are caught early, immediate treatment can make a significant difference in the patients’ quality of life – and may even save their lives.

Pompe disease is a result of a buildup of glycogen in the body’s cells that impairs muscles and organs, including the heart. MPS I is caused by a gene mutation that prevents cells from breaking down glycosaminoglycans, which leads to cell, tissue and organ damage.

The disorders were brought to Pillion’s attention after a baby from his House district, Ruby Kate Leonard, was diagnosed with MPS I. Ruby Kate was born in July in Bristol, Tennessee, where the state tests for conditions like hers. She was diagnosed at just nine days old, and the early treatment she’s receiving allows for the best possible outcome.

“Had she been born in her hometown of Russell County, Virginia, the screening for MPS I isn’t operational yet,” said Tyler Lester, Pillion’s legislative assistant. “It would not have been caught.”

Ruby Kate’s father, Elijah Leonard, set up a Facebook page to share Ruby Kate’s story, provide information regarding fundraisers and keep friends and family updated on her progress. The page has over 2,000 likes.

Haley Hayes was diagnosed at six and a half months with the help of doctors from Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Her mother, Krystal Hayes, believes Haley’s life could have been different if she was born in a state that tested for the disease at birth.

“We know with earlier treatment, there’s some issues that could’ve been avoided. Muscles were lost that we can’t get back,” she said.

After Haley was diagnosed, she received three enzyme treatments at VCU and then was transferred to Duke University Medical Center, where her care continues.

Both the Hayes and Leonard families have advocated for Virginia to add these diseases to the newborn screening program. Pillion’s bill, HB 1174, was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions and awaits a vote of the full House.

Krystal and Haley Hayes have traveled to North Carolina to promote the cause, and they told Haley’s story at a meeting of the Virginia Newborn Screening Advisory Committee in December. The advisory committee voted unanimously in favor of adding both Pompe disease and MPS I to the program.

“For families going forward, they can find out at birth and get the child on treatment sooner,” Krystal Hayes said. “We’ve seen very many families over the years whose babies haven’t made it because they had diagnosed them too late – so it can honestly save a baby’s life.”

Experts Call for More Resources in Fighting Opioid Epidemic

By Sophia Belletti , Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- An average of 19 people a week overdosed on opioids in Richmond last year, and government agencies and other entities have responded to the crisis in a variety of ways, from dispensing overdose reversal drugs to arresting addicts.

Academic and law-enforcement experts discussed the problem and possible solutions Tuesday in a panel discussion titled "The Opioid Epidemic: Impact on Communities" at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“It is our problem, and it is our responsibility,” said Kate Howell, an assistant professor at VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

“Addiction is not new,” Howell said. “What is new is the drugs are more powerful and affordable than they were in the past and easier to get.”

Amy Cook, also an assistant professor in the Wilder School, said there are three approaches to combating the epidemic:

  • Expansion of community-based services

  • Recovery housing

  • Needle exchange programs

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly legalized needle exchange services -- but no program has been implemented in the commonwealth.

Cook said needle exchanges recognize the multidimensional factors needed to treat addiction. However, she said, there is not a “one size fits all” approach.

“Were looking at a variety of treatment approaches -- community-based, sociological issues, biological issues,” Cook said. “The key part is, you have to be able to address it all and monitor it all -- and when it’s not monitored, that’s where we drop the ball.”

Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard said he uses an “arrest them all” strategy when it comes to preventing overdoses.

“There is no other program for them to get the help they need,” Leonard said. “At least arresting and bringing them in, they’re alive.”  

Leonard said he doesn’t want to arrest addicts, but said the resources they need aren’t accessible in most communities. Through the “arrest them all” strategy, Leonard allows addicts to get off the street and sober.

“In 37 years, I never saw any drug as harmful, as plentiful, as cheap as heroin,” he said. “As a state, we’re failing."

The leading causes of unnatural death in Virginia from 2007 to 2013 were motor vehicle collisions, gun-related deaths and fatal drug overdoses. In 2013, fatal drug overdoses became the leading cause, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

First responders who work with the Richmond Ambulance Authority have seen a spike in the number of opioid overdose patients in recent years. They estimate using about  1,000 doses of the overdose revival drug Naloxone to save people’s lives last year.

In November 2016, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared opioid addiction a public health emergency in Virginia.

The opioid crisis has affected people not only in cities but also in suburban and rural areas, especially in Appalachia. That has made the problem hard to ignore.

“It wasn’t a crisis until it hit a group of communities we can’t ignore,” Howell said. ”Once it hit our suburban communities, they called it a problem. It sets up this dichotomy where we expect a certain kind of people. Now it’s different; we say, ‘Oh no, we have to do something.’”

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