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2018-4-10

Shirley Harrell Sledge Williams

Shirley Harrell Sledge Williams, 83, passed away on Sunday, April 8, 2018. The daughter of Rufus and Sally Harrell, she was preceded in death by her husbands, Louis Sledge and Raymond Williams; her son, David Sledge and wife, Patsy; two sisters, Paige Gay and Lucy Wilson and two brothers, Rufus and Melvin Harrell.

Shirley was born in Jarratt, Virginia. She spent most of her adult life in Emporia, where she was a faithful and beloved bus driver for the Greensville County School System for 25 years. Her Christian faith was central to her life and she was a member of the Emporia Assembly of God Church for many years.

Mrs. Williams is survived by three sons, Jerry Sledge, Steve Sledge and wife, Betty Jo and Michael Sledge and wife, Ginny; a sister, Joyce Nowell; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; three step great-grandchildren; three step-great-great grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Thursday, April 13 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Why Be An Organ Donor?

Community Out-Reach Education

South Hill – Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure.  Today, there are 115,000 men, women and children awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. What is organ donation and transplantation?  What organs and tissues can be transplanted? How can I become an organ donor?

If you are seeking answers to questions like these you should attend April’s C.O.R.E. (Community Out-Reach Education) Program at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital to learn about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation.

This FREE program will be on Tuesday, April 17th at 4:00 p.m. in the VCU Health CMH Education Center inside the new C.A.R.E. Building located at 1755 N. Mecklenburg Avenue in South Hill.

    

Hannah Lee, MD and Dhiren Kumar, MD

The speakers for the program with be Dr. Hannah Lee and Dr. Dhiren Kumar.  Dr. Lee is a practicing transplant hepatologist with VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center in Richmond, VA. Dr. Lee graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. She completed a residency at New England Medical Center. Dr. Lee also specializes in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine.  Dr. Kumar is a transplant nephrologist with VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center. Dr. Kumar graduated from University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed a residency and a fellowship at VCU Medical Center. Dr. Kumar also specializes in Internal Medicine.

Reservations are not required for this program; however, they are recommended.  For more information or to register to attend, please call (434) 774-2550 or visit www.vcu-cmh.org.

VSU Researchers Will Use $475,000 AFRI Grant To Study How to Make Crops More Resilient Under Climate Change

Many crops are experiencing heat stress caused by rising global temperatures, which can result in lower crop yields. With the first 17 years of this century being the hottest on record since 1880 when modern recordkeeping began, staple crops are under increasing threat. Researchers at Virginia State University (VSU) are researching ways to help crops better tolerate extreme temperatures.

Dr. Shuxin Ren and Dr. Guo-liang Jiang, researchers at VSU’s Agricultural Research Station (ARS), have been awarded a three-year, $475,000 grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. AFRI is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. The focus of this study is a potential heat stress tolerance gene derived from purslane, a unique plant species that tolerates heat stress and drought extremely well. 

“A newly identified gene from purslane has the potential of improving crop production, especially under the stress of elevated temperatures,” said Dr. Ren, associate professor of plant biotechnology. “High-temperature stress will significantly affect agriculture production and warrants quick action by scientists to develop heat-tolerant crops that can thrive in circumstances of heat stress.”

The awarded project will enable the ARS researchers to test the novel gene PoBAG6, isolated from purslane, for its potential to improve crops’ heat tolerance ability. The PoBAG6 gene will be transferred to corn and soybean and researchers will evaluate the ability of the transgenic corn and soybean to tolerate heat.

Laboratory research will also be conducted to evaluate molecular mechanisms used by PoBAG6. Drs. Ren and Jiang aim to identify partner proteins that interact directly with the PoBAG6 protein. It is hoped these newly identified partner proteins can provide new strategies to improve crop heat tolerance, and also enhance existing knowledge about how PoBAG6-mediated gene networks can help plants withstand heat stress.

“This research money will help us to continue to focus on wild species and identify more novel genes that can be used for crops’ abiotic stress tolerance,” Dr. Ren said. “We hope that, upon completion of this three-year project, the PoBAG6 gene can be used to engineer crop species, not only corn and soybeans but others, and enhance their ability to fight against heat stress during their growing seasons.

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick.

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING TO HELP REDUCE VETERAN HOMELESSNESS IN VIRGINIA

~ More than a half million dollars awarded to help reduce veteran homelessness ~

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) announced today that the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are awarding $693,962 in federal funding to Virginia housing authorities to help homeless veterans and their families find affordable and stable housing.

“Those who have worn our nation’s uniform deserve to know that their country will take care of them when they return home,” said the Senators. “These federal dollars will help ensure that these heroes have the support they need to find safe and affordable housing.”

The selected Virginia housing authorities and funding amounts are listed below:

  • Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority—$35,369
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$34,821
  • City of Virginia Beach—$39,161
  • James City Council Office of Housing & Community Development—$29,164
  • Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$35,663
  • Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$39,661
  • Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$6,858
  • Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority—$24,043
  • Virginia Housing Development Authority—$53,293
  • Arlington County Department of Human Services—$161,556
  • Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$121,507
  • Loudoun County Department of Family Services—$56,249
  • Office of Housing Development of Prince William County—$56,617

This funding was granted through the HUD-VASH voucher program, which is a collaborative effort between HUD and the VA that uses targeted vouchers to offer permanent supportive housing opportunities to veterans experiencing homelessness. On March 23, 2018, the Senators voted in favor of the omnibus bill that fully funds homeless prevention programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including HUD-VASH

Students Get a Close-up View of the General Assembly

Taylor Thornhill (right) with Sen. Lewis, D-Accomack, (middle) and staff.

By Sarah Danial, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Among the assortment of legislators, aides and staff members who call the Capitol home, 23 Virginia Commonwealth University students experienced a close-up view of the General Assembly’s 2018 session.

The students were a part of the Virginia Capitol Semester program sponsored by VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. The program allows students to witness the legislative process from the inside by interning with legislators and other officials.

“We want our students to be engaged and involved in the legislative process. We want them to see how policy impacts us all, it impacts them, and they can then cause an impact on our community,” said Shajuana Isom-Payne, director of student success at the Wilder School.

Payne directs the internship program and, with the approval of a panel, matches students with legislators. The application process includes a personal essay, list of policy interests and an interview.

“We really try to connect our students with the members who are on committees and doing solid work in those areas that the students have expressed specific interests in,” Payne said.

The program is open to students of all majors – not only those in the Wilder School. Besides devoting 20 hours a week to their internship, students attend a weekly public policy seminar with a former staff member of the Senate Finance Committee, Richard Hickman.

The seminars often feature guest speakers such as House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and the Democratic leader of the House, Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville. Hickman believes it is important for young adults to be engaged and involved in the legislative process because one day they will be the ones in charge.

“It important to give them a real-world-oriented experience as part of their collegiate career so that they’re not coming into the job with no experience of actually how the General Assembly works,” Hickman said.

Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, said the internship provides invaluable knowledge to the students. Landes echoed Hickman’s belief of the importance of being engaged.

“Our representative democracy would not exist without the participation of members of our society. Being a part of that process is especially important for young adults,” said Landes, a VCU graduate. “In the case of student interns, they are exposed to a learning process from which they can take something away.”

Ryan Kotrch, a junior at VCU, said he learned a lot participating in the Capitol Semester program this semester. He said interacting with legislators and seeing the process firsthand was unparalleled.

“It’s one thing to learn about the process in a course, but to actually be there, hands-on, it’s a totally different thing, a totally different experience,” Kotrch said.

Kotrch said he plans to return next session to serve as an intern again for Del. Gordon Helsel, R-Poquoson. One thing that Kotrch learned was the unique community and collaboration at the General Assembly.

“You think about partisanship in D.C. all the time, and you think in Virginia, it must be the same way. And it is in some aspects, but at the same time they’re all friends,” Kotrch said.

Payne and Hickman agree that the next step in the program is expansion. Both expressed their desire to bring in more students from all fields of study because the skills learned are transferable across disciplines.

“The skills that they will learn from this internship experience are going to be dynamic and are going to take them far in whatever career route that they choose,” Payne said.

Taylor Thornhill, another VCU junior in the Capitol Semester program, interned for Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, during the past session.

“It taught me how to be a woman in the legislative field. My legislative assistant I worked for was a female and she’s only 28 years old. This is her second year being there,” Thornhill said. “She taught me how to be strong and independent and confident.”

Hickman said he has enjoyed seeing how students have grown not only in their practical knowledge of the General Assembly but in their skills such as time management and effective communication. He encourages students with doubts about the program to go for it.

“If you have any interest at all in learning how your government works as opposed to what you read on social media or just hear from other people,” Hickman said, “this is a great way to have an internship and have a face-to-face opportunity to meet the people who really do make the decisions in the General Assembly.”

Northam Vetoes 8 Bills; 1 Would Block Higher Wages

By Deanna Davison, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed a flurry of bills Monday, including one to prohibit local governments from requiring contractors to pay their employees more than minimum wage.

House Bill 375, introduced by Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, passed the House and Senate on party-line votes during the General Assembly’s 2018 regular session. Northam said he rejected the bill because he believes employee wage and benefit decisions are best left to individual localities, pointing to differences in the cost of living and workforce factors.

“The ability of local governments to make this choice should be supported, not limited,” the Democratic governor said. “Decisions regarding municipal contacts should be made by local leaders who fully understand local needs and the needs of their workforce.”

HB 375 was one of eight bills Northam vetoed Monday. He also rejected:

  • Senate Bill 521, which would require local voter registrars to investigate the list of registered voters whenever it exceeds the estimated number of people age 18 or older in a county or city. The sponsor, Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Rockingham County, called the measure “a critical election integrity bill.” But Northam said it would unduly burden election officials and that Virginia already has a process to ensure accurate voter registration rolls.
  • HB 1167, which would require jury commissioners to collect information from people who are not qualified to serve on juries and present that information to voter registrars for list maintenance purposes. “There is no evidence or data that jury information is a reliable source for voter list maintenance,” Northam said. He said using this information “could endanger the registrations of eligible voters and prevent them from successfully casting a ballot.”
  • HB 158, which would allow the General Assembly to alter legislative districts outside the constitutional process so they correspond with local voting precinct boundaries. Northam said this would allow members of the General Assembly to adjust districts at their own discretion, threatening Virginians’ rights to equal apportionment.
  • HB 1568, which would assign certain functions of the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority. Northam said he believes this is an unnecessary move.
  • HB 1257, which states, “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Northam said the legislation “would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies. It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety.”
  • HB 1270, which would forbid state participation in adopting regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs. Northam said the bill would limit Virginia’s ability to tackle climate change and provide additional clean energy jobs.
  • HB 1204, which would require Arlington County to assess two private country clubs there as land dedicated to open space rather than its current method of highest and best use. “This is a local dispute over a local government’s method of assessing land for property taxation,” Northam said. “As such, the solution to this dispute should be reached on the local level without the involvement of the state.”

The General Assembly will reconvene for a one-day session on April 18 to consider the vetoes and recommendations issues by Northam. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a veto. Democrats hold enough seats in each chamber to prevent an override.

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