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2019-1-29

Timothy Scott Rice

Timothy Scott Rice

A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, January 30, 2 pm at Calvary Baptist Church in Emporia.

Timothy Scott Rice, loving Husband, Father, Son, and Papa, died Saturday January 26.  He was 56.

A United States Air Force Veteran, Tim was born in Petersburg, the son of James Riley and Elsie W. Rice.  A friend to all he met, Tim was an avid golfer and fisherman,  a devoted driver for Life Star, driving dialysis patients and others for appointments, but mostly he cared for “His Girls”.

In addition to his parents, Tim is survived by “His Girls”, his loving wife of 33 years Joy Clary Rice, daughter Jenny R. Johnson and her husband Cecil, grandchildren, Olivia Spence, Jax Newton, and Lily Johnson, brother Steve Rice and his wife Wendy, and sister Terri Anderson and her husband Todd, numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and very special lifelong friends.

Services will be announced at a later time.

Online condolences may be left at www. echolsfuneralhome.com.

State Lawmakers Kill Legislation to Protect Student Journalists

By Saffeya Ahmed, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — A legislative panel rejected a bill protecting student journalists from administrative censorship on a tie vote Monday.

House Bill 2382, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Montgomery, would have protected free speech for student journalists in public elementary, middle and high schools, as well as public institutions of higher education.

A subcommittee of the House Education Committee deadlocked 3-3 on the bill after hearing testimony from students and faculty advisers from high schools and colleges across the commonwealth.

Kate Carson, a former writer and editor for The Lasso, the student newspaper at George Mason High School in Falls Church, said her school’s administration censored several controversial topics the publication attempted to cover, including bathroom vandalism, absence policy abuse and a sexting scandal.

“As student journalists, we were perfectly positioned to report on these issues and separate fact from rumor,” Carson said. “Instead, The Lasso was censored when we attempted to cover the vandalism and policy abuse. We didn’t even attempt to cover the sexting scandal.”

One teacher told the panel how her students’ paper was shut down and she was removed as adviser after the students published an article about renovating the school.

“We have seen an increasing number of censorship cases in the commonwealth,” Hurst said. Hurst said the bill seeks to reapply the Tinker standard to student free speech, which was established in a 1969 Supreme Court case. This standard requires administrators to have reasons for censoring content, Hurst said.

In 1988, the Tinker standard was overruled in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, which laid out that school administrations have the right to censor school-sponsored media if they wish.

“All this bill does is protect against what we call the ‘making-the-school-look-bad censorship,’ the image-motivated censorship,” said Frank LoMonte, former executive director of the Student Press Law Center and head of the New Voice Initiative, a campaign network for anti-censorship laws. “Anything a school can stop you from saying on a T-shirt or ball cap, they can stop you from saying in a newspaper.”

Two people voiced concerns with the legislation, saying the protections should not apply to school-sponsored speech or to young student journalists.
“We’re not talking about an 18- or a 19-year-old; we’re talking about possible a 14- or 15-year-old writing a story,” said Thomas Smith with the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. “There are many instances in the code where they treat college students and post-secondary students different from secondary students.”

The legislation would have protected “school-sponsored media,” which includes any material “prepared, substantially written, published or broadcast” by student journalists and is distributed or available to the student body. The bill prohibited administrative censorship or disciplinary action unless content:

  • Is libelous or slanderous material
  • Unjustifiably invades privacy
  • Violates federal or state law
  • Creates or incites students to create a clear and present danger

If HB 2382 had passed, Virginia would have been the 15th state to provide protections for high school or college journalists. Half of the states that have passed similar legislation to Hurst’s bill did so in the last four years. Five other states introduced bills in 2019 to protect student journalists.

Here is how the House Education subcommittee voted on HB 2382:

01/28/2019 House: Subcommittee failed to recommend reporting (3-Y, 3-N)

YEAS — Davis, Tyler, Bagby — 3.

NAYS — Bell, Richard P., Helsel, Bulova — 3.

Amid Protest, Legislators Announce 5% Pay Raise for Teachers

By Corrine Fizer, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — As hundreds of teachers and supporters from around the state marched to the Virginia Capitol to call for higher salaries and more funding for public schools, legislative leaders announced Monday that they would include a 5 percent pay raise for teachers in the state budget.

Armed with red coats, scarves and signs, participants of all ages gathered in Monroe Park for a small rally. Then they marched to the Capitol as a girl riding in the back of a small red wagon used a microphone and handheld speaker to lead their chants.

The marchers gathered on the Capitol grounds to hear community leaders protest what they see as inadequate funding for public education.

Rodney Robinson, Virginia’s Teacher of the Year, said Amazon will receive nearly $3.5 billion in public subsidies from New York, Virginia and Tennessee to locate facilities in those states. Virginia’s state government and Arlington County offered more than $570 million in direct subsidiesand about $220 million in transportation improvements to entice Amazon to put an East Coast headquarters near Reagan National Airport in Crystal City.

Robinson said the money Amazon will get could “pay for more teachers, counselors and 21st-century school buildings that are not infested with roaches, rats and mold.”

The Virginia Education Association, which represents the state’s teachers, organized the “Red4Ed” rally. The VEA says Virginia ranks 34th among the states in teacher pay. The average annual teacher salary in Virginia is $51,265 — more than $9, 200 below the national average, according to the association.

According to the Richmond School Board, 1 in 5 educators must take a second job to make ends meet.

Liz Holmes, a second-grade teacher at Greenville Elementary School in Warrenton, said she has not had a raise in 11 years. Holmes came to the march to express her frustration over the lack of “fair compensation” in her workplace.

“We are losing qualified teachers every year to surrounding counties that pay higher wages,” Holmes said, holding a picture of her and her students. “Enough is enough.”

As the teachers held their demonstration, Republican lawmakers who control the House of Delegates announced that they would include a 5 percent raise for teachers in the state budget they plan to release on Sunday. Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta, made the announcement in a speech on the House floor.

“Virginia has some of the finest teachers in the country and that has led to Virginia students consistently outperforming nationwide peers on standardized tests, college admissions, and graduate rates,” said Landes, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “To maintain that success we must ensure our teachers are fairly compensated and know the hard work they do each and every day is greatly appreciated.”

The committee’s chairman, Republican Del. Chris Jones of Suffolk, said the proposed budget would increase teachers’ salaries without raising taxes. “Under conservative leadership in the House of Delegates, this will be the fourth teacher pay raise in the last six years,” he said.

“I am proud of Chairman Jones and Vice Chairman Landes for the hard work and dedication they have shown to ensuring our teachers know how much they are appreciated in the Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Kirk Cox, a retired high school government teacher.

“As a public school teacher for 30 years, I know how hard teachers work to educate Virginia’s future leaders. We must make it a priority to keep great teachers in the classroom and that starts with making sure our teachers a fairly compensated.”

Democrats are already on board with the 5 percent pay raise for teachers. In the two-year budget adopted by the General Assembly in 2018, teachers were scheduled to receive a 3 percent salary increase on July 1. In his proposed revision of the budget, Gov. Ralph Northam recommended awarding teachers an additional 2 percent raise.

Northam, a Democrat, reiterated that proposal at a meeting of the Virginia School Board Association last week, calling it “the largest one-time pay raise for teachers in over 15 years.”

But Virginia teachers say that their salaries are more than 10 percent below the national average — and that the planned raise does not close the gap.

“It’s a start,” Holmes said. “But it’s not enough.”

Senate OKs Bill to Boost IT Jobs in Southwest Virginia

By Daniel Berti, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- More information technology jobs could come to rural Virginia under a bill unanimously passed by the state Senate on Monday.

SB 1495 is a Republican effort that would provide $600,000 beginning in 2020 to establish an apprenticeship program for small technology businesses in rural southwest Virginia.

The program would provide IT workers on-the-job, mentored training at a company with guaranteed job placement at the end of the 18-month apprenticeship.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Sen. Amanda Chase of Chesterfield County, said the program aims to provide IT job opportunities in rural southwest Virginia.

The bill would target the counties of Alleghany, Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Craig, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe and the cities of Bristol, Danville, Galax, Martinsville and Norton.

“If you look at southwest Virginia, they have great institutions of higher education training our young people in information technology,” Chase said, “but it’s really hard for them to find meaningful employment after they graduate.”

According to Chase, the region’s young IT workers are currently drawn to areas of the commonwealth with more job opportunities, especially northern Virginia.

The apprenticeship program, Chase said, would provide an incentive for them to “stay in the community they grew up in instead of leaving southwest Virginia to move to another place where they can actually find work.”

The bill would create a fund in the state treasury to award grants to small, rural information technology businesses to employ IT workers in the region.

The General Assembly would provide $600,000 to the program starting in 2020.

Businesses that receive a grant from the program would be eligible for funding for up to five years or until the business employs 100 individuals. The amount of money given to a business to employ an apprentice wouldn’t exceed the entry-level salary of an IT worker.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ben Chafin of Russell County, said that the program would be housed at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia, and coordinated with area community colleges.

David Matlock, executive director of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, was optimistic that the program would help meet the employment needs in the region.

“Southwest Virginia is always looking for ways to enhance our workforce,” Matlock said. “We want to keep our graduates here, and we want to help these new businesses and attract more businesses like them.”

The Senate bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Panel Kills Ban on Gender-Based Pricing at Dry Cleaners

By Caitlin Morris, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Kinsey Liebsch asked state legislators a question often raised by women who take their clothes to a dry cleaner or laundry service.

“Given that a woman’s long sleeve blouse isn’t much different from a man’s shirt, why am I being charged more than two and half times the amount just because the buttons are on the opposite side?” she asked a legislative subcommittee. Liebsch said dry-cleaning and laundry services can charge more to clean women’s clothing than comparable men’s clothing.

Liebsch initially took her concerns to her local legislator — Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria. Then Levine filed a bill to ban gender-based price discrimination by apparel-cleaning services.

“Every woman I’ve talked to about this bill has said it was necessary,” Levine said. “Every man I’ve talked to about it didn’t realize it was an issue. And to be fair, I didn’t realize it was an issue until Kinsey brought it to me.”

But last week, Levine’s legislation was hung out to dry: Subcommittee No. 2 of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted unanimously to table HB 2423.

Liebsch and two other women testified before the subcommittee in support of the bill.

One of the women was Dr. Elizabeth Hendricks, an Alabama native who moved to Virginia two years ago. She recalled her experience getting a dress-suit cleaned at an Alexandria dry cleaner.

Hendricks described the article of clothing as a “dress and jacket that matched as a suit.” The price listed for a suit cleaning was $13.50, but Hendricks was charged $22 because her dress was not considered “short.”

“Slacks and a suit are not short either,” said Hendricks, who stands 5 feet, 2 inches tall.

HB 2423 would have ensured that prices for cleaning services for similar items do not vary because of a person’s gender. The bill said price differences are acceptable if one item takes longer to clean or poses more difficulty than another.

“Everyone understands that a wedding dress is going to cost more to clean than a groom’s tux,” Levine said.

The Virginia Retail Federation opposed the bill and said apparel-cleaning services do not base their prices on a customer’s gender.

“They base their pricing on material,” said Kate Baker, the federation’s director of government affairs. “Our members feel like they should be able to determine their own prices.”

The all-male subcommittee voted 6-0 to kill Levine’s bill. It happened the day after a proposal to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment died in the House of Delegates. Levine said his bill was “just one tiny example of why we need the ERA.”

National Film Festival Makes Stop in Richmond

By Madison Manske, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Richmonders piled into the Science Museum of Virginia Thursday evening for a night of films hosted by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and emceed by Richmond City Councilman Parker Agelasto.

Over 200 people attended the “Wild & Scenic Film Festival,” an event launched 17 years ago by California-based environmental activists working to protect the South Yuba River. Closer to home, the alliance is a regional nonprofit organization that focuses on streams and rivers in Virginia, while working cooperatively with regional partners to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

The 13 short films were screened simultaneously where other alliance offices are located: Annapolis, Md.; Lancaster, Pa; and District of Columbia.

“So it’s not just a Richmond Wild & Scenic — it’s the Chesapeake Bay Wild & Scenic. And we just thought that that was such a great way to engage the public more and our mission to restore the rivers and streams that float in the bay,” said Nissa Dean, the director of the alliance’s Virginia office.

In 1983, grassroots environmental activists in Nevada City, California, formed the South Yuba River Citizens League to protect the river from dams. The “Wild & Scenic Film Festival” starts each year with a five-day flagship event in Nevada City before spreading out to various cities; it’s how the citizens league hopes to “inspire activism across the globe.”

It’s the largest environmental film festival in North America, according to organizers.

Each of the short films screened focused on different areas of conservation, though a common theme throughout was the need to protect land across the Earth for future generations.

“The Salmon Will Run” showed the Winnemem Wintu tribe and their journey to bring salmon back to Winnemem’s ancestral watershed — which is currently being blocked by the 70-year-old Shasta Dam.

Another film, “The Nature of Maps,” took viewers through the Chilean mountains of Parque Patagonia where two modern-day pioneers roamed and mapped the entire park — which eventually led the park to open as a public domain.

Tickets to see the films projected onto the massive Dome screen sold for $30 and included a drink ticket. Vendors filled the lobby, and raffle tickets were available for purchase. Every raffle ticket bought went directly to the alliance and its efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“I would say in terms of an event like this, it’s more socially focused rather than restoration focused,” Dean said.

Councilman Agelasto urged the audience to do their part in conserving the planet.

“We need to be doers for our future,” Agelasto said.

He said Richmond was the first locality in Virginia to develop a single permit system, meaning residents can obtain a storm-water permit, wastewater permit and drinking-water permit under one application.

“It’s a big accomplishment to get that, and it’s largely due to the collaborative work with nonprofits like the alliance,” Agelasto said.

The alliance announced its recent partnership with Richmond and RVA H2O, an initiative of the city’s Department of Public Utilities. The alliance received a $1 million grant to develop a Green Infrastructure Master Plan with the focus of reducing stormwater pollution into the James River. The project will last three years, according to Dean.

“We all live on this enormous planet, but we’re individuals and even the smallest hands can contribute to the future of our Earth,” Agelasto said.

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