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February 2017

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, August 21, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

Parents as Teachers Visits General Assembly

LaWanda Fisher, Parents as Teachers Supervisor for The Improvement Association met with Delegate Roslyn Tyler of the General Assembly to discuss the importance of home visiting programs such as Parents as Teachers.

Staff and customers representing home visiting agencies from across the state met with delegates, senators and legislative aides from their local districts. Staff from The Improvement Association gathered at the General Assembly to discuss the importance of home visiting programs and theParents as Teachers approach to building strong families and promoting positive parent-child interaction so children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Parents as Teachers affiliates are dedicated to delivering services to children 0-3 and families that cultivate family well-being and healthy child development.

In Greensville, Emporia, Sussex, and Brunswick, The Improvement Association providesParents as Teachers to more than 68 families per year and conducted 744 visits in 2016. Parents also have opportunities to meet other parents and learn about community resources that support early childhood development and family stability.

For many attendees, this was their first meeting with their elected official. They thanked the legislators for their support and, after a day of meetings, with smiles on their faces, they agreed they will be coming back again next year.

For more information, contact LaWanda Fisher, Parents as Teachers Supervisor, at 434-634-2490 or email lfisher@impassoc.org.

‘Hidden Figures’ discuss their pioneering work in mathematics

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – When Dr. Christine Darden was growing up, African American women like herself had limited career prospects. “Most black females got jobs as teachers or nurses or in someone’s house,” she said.

But in school, Darden found a passion for geometry, and that made her “fall in love with math.” This led to a job as a “human computer” and later the leader of the Sonic Boom Team at NASA – and a key figure in the best-selling book “Hidden Figures,” the precursor to the highly acclaimed movie.

On Sunday, Darden and another pioneer – Estelle Amy Smith, a mathematician at Dahlgren Naval Base – discussed their careers at an event hosted by the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

The discussion at the Ebenezer Baptist Church next to the museum was moderated by Michael Paul Williams, a journalist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I feel so out of place,” Williams said. “A guy who could never figure out geometry is next to two geniuses.”

Darden has watched the movie “Hidden Figures” 10 times since its release. She said certain scenes in the film weren’t true to life.

In the movie, for example, the mathematician Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) cannot use the bathroom in the building where she works because it is for whites only – and so she must run across the Langley Research Center grounds to the “colored ladies room.” But Darden said that didn’t really happen: Johnson never worked in a building without a bathroom.

Moreover, in the film, NASA’s first African-American manager, Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) steals a book from the library so she can teach herself the programming language Fortran. Vaughan’s grandchildren have come out saying that she never stole the book, Darden said.

Darden encourages people to read the “Hidden Figures” book because it provides historical context that the movie does not. That, and “I’m in the book, and I’m not in the movie,” Darden said.

Like the women in the movie, Darden dealt with issues of discrimination based on her race and gender. It bothered Darden that women with the same qualifications as male mathematicians were put in a separate room, where they would solve equations for their male counterparts. Darden said that sometimes she would not know what the equation she was figuring out was being used for. She confronted a boss “several levels up” about this issue.

The supervisor answered, “‘Well, no one ever asked that question before’ – I must have caught him on a good day,” Darden recalled, adding that she subsequently received a promotion into the male-dominated department.

One reason Darden believes that women like herself went for so long as hidden figures is because there was no one they could talk to about their work.

“So if I went home and said, ‘I’m working on so and so,’ no one would know what I was talking about,” Darden said. “No one dug enough to know what you were talking about.”

Unlike Darden, Smith knew from a young age that she had a talent for math. In elementary school, teachers would ask her how to solve math problems, so they could see how Smith did it, and then explain the method the class.

Darden and Smith believe that there are many other women whose stories have gone untold. Darden said more women like Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures,” should write these stories down to educate the public.

“It’s not only black history but American history,” said Adele Johnson, interim executive director of the Black History Museum. “It made me wonder what else I don’t know.”

Future public servants observe lawmaking firsthand

By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – For the past two months, they showed up every day at the state Capitol, dressed in matching blazers and carrying pen and paper at the ready – the next generation of public servants carefully observing their superiors.

These young adults are known as pages. They are middle school and high school students from around Virginia who assist in everyday tasks at the General Assembly to experience firsthand how the legislative process works.

The program dates as far back as 1850, when the one page who worked was paid $2 a day. Now the combined total of House and Senate pages is 85 individuals, all age 13 or 14. Virginia is one of a handful of states that offer this type of program.

“It gives them exposure to the legislative process in a way that is not taught in the classroom,” said Bladen Finch, director of the Senate Page Leadership Program. “We do a little classroom-like instruction, but a lot of it is learned by actually observing the process.”

Many pages said they didn’t know much about how the General Assembly works before becoming a page.

Senna Keesing, an eighth-grader from Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, learned about the page program from her sister. She said that she made herself flashcards with the names and faces of senators so she could identify them during the session.

“I learned about it (the General Assembly) in seventh grade. I probably just memorized the steps for the test, and then forgot about it,” said Abbey Rice, a ninth-grader from Jefferson Forest High School near Lynchburg. “This is something I’ll never forget because I got to live it every day.”

Pages carry out tasks throughout the day such as fetching items from the legislators’ offices, assisting at the Capitol’s information desk, and getting lunch for the senators and delegates while they’re in session.

Although these may seem like simple tasks that lawmakers can do themselves, the pages know this is an important duty because constituents depend on their legislators being completely focused on business during the session. That can be especially true in the Senate, where the Republicans hold only a slight edge over the Democrats.

“With the majority being 21-19, every vote counts. We have to have people ready to do things for the senators they can’t do for themselves,” Senna said. “Putting something in their office, or taking something from their office, takes a really long time. Which is why they have us do it.”

On most days, the session starts at noon and typically lasts a few hours.

“Would you rather them getting lunch, or would you have them voting on a very contentious bill?” said Stephen Wiecek, an eighth-grader from Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover County.

Even with the time-consuming job of being a legislative page, the students still don’t get off the hook from homework.

“It’s basically like having a full-time job and a full-time school career, all in one day,” Abbey said.

In addition to helping at around the Capitol and keeping up with their homework, pages help out in the community in various ways. This year, they volunteered at the Central Virginia Food Bank, Feedmore. Collectively, the pages put in 154 volunteer hours.

The pages also raised about $7,000 in donations from parents, former pages and legislators. This year, the pages collected items from lawmakers’ offices that were being left behind in the General Assembly Building, which is to be demolished and replaced starting in June. The items were sold at a yard sale, raising about $450.

“As young leaders, and young possible politicians, we have to remember that everything we do is for the service of others,” Abbey said.

Now experts on the state legislative process, all the children have been inspired to work in some form of public service, even if it’s not in politics.

Senna, who before the page program had no plans for politics, found inspiration in the diverse background of Virginia’s political leadership.

“I am really interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which is probably my future career. That’s why the lieutenant governor is so inspiring to me because he is a pediatric neurologist,” Senna said. “He’s a doctor and the lieutenant governor of Virginia. I find that really cool, and that’s definitely a possibility for me.”

On Friday, the pages held a graduation ceremony. After the legislative session ended on Saturday, the pages prepared to return home, taking along educational experiences and lifelong friendships.

“Trust me, some of these people are going to do great things, and I’m going to want to know them when I grow up,” said Lilly Hallock, an eighth-grader from Tuckahoe Middle School in Henrico County.

A lot of the kids do go on to do great things. Finch, who himself is a former page, said many children who graduate the program go on to careers in public service or politics.

A former page, Thomas Cannella, last year won a seat on the Poquoson Central District City Council at the age of 19. He was part of the page program in 2011.

“This is not a one-time experience. This is something they carry with them forever,” Finch said.

More on the web

For information on how to apply to the page program, see:

http://capclass.virginiageneralassembly.gov/PagePrograms/PagePrograms.html

J. Aubrey Harrison

J. Aubrey Harrison, 70, of Jarratt, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Saturday, February 25, 2017. He was the son of the late Walter T. and Kathleen Sanford Harrison and was also preceded in death by a sister, Doris K. Harrison. Aubrey is survived by his wife, Judy Allen Harrison, son, Chris Harrison and wife, Sue; daughter Kaye Dawn Harrison Newsome; grandchildren, Madilyn Harrison, Dalton Harrison and Chandler Newsome; brother, Tommy Harrison and wife, Betty Cooke Harrison; niece, Nicole Coker and nephew, Brian Harrison. Aubrey retired as General Manager of Sadler Auto Centers after 35 years of service. His greatest joy was to spend time with his beloved grandchildren and family. Truly a “people person”, he was an active member of Lebanon United Methodist Church and an active leader and coach with the Jarratt Recreation Association. He was an avid hunter and longtime president of Owen Hunt Club where he furthered his leadership abilities and served as mentor to many. The family will receive friends Monday, Feb 27 at his home 2-4 p.m. and at Owen Funeral Home, 6-8 p.m. where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, February 28. Interment will follow at High Hills 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 or to Jarratt Recreation Association, P.O. Box 631, Jarratt, Virginia 23867 or to The Hermie and Elliott Sadler Foundation, P.O. Box 32, Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Food Drive Success

Make It Happen,  Student Ambassadors and  Empowered Women at Southside Virginia Community College, and Saint Paul's Memorial Chapel  joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Lawrenceville to collect healthy snacks for hungry children through a Childhood Hunger Drive.  The partnership raised over 1,600 items and created 321 bags to donate to Brunswick Department of Social Services and Greensville Department of Social Services to distribute to children. The Chapter thanks all supporters and participants of the drive.  

Bernadette Battle, (First Row, L to R) SVCC Coordinator of Counseling, Edna Packer, AKA member, Brenda Herrington, AKA member, Janet Roberts, AKA member, Sarah Reagans, AKA member, Dr. John Hicks, SVCC Counselor,  (Second Row, L to R) Destiny Smith, (Empowered Women), Emma Modrall (Student Ambassador), Thomas Crews (Student Ambassador), Kimberly Martin, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mary Pulliam (Student Ambassador) Third Row, L to R) Kaleb Greene (Make It Happen/Student Ambassador), Antoine Williams (Make It Happen), Derek Hicks (Make It Happen), (Back Row, L to R) Andre Harrell (Make It Happen/Student Ambassador), Dillion Preston (Make It Happen/Student Ambassador).

McAuliffe suggests lowering fine for left-lane dawdlers

By Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants the General Assembly to reduce from $250 to $100 the fine in legislation that would punish motorists for driving too slowly in the left lane on Virginia highways.

Under current Virginia law, driving in the left lane at less than the normal speed of traffic is illegal except when passing or when it is deemed “otherwise impractical,” but there is no fine for failing to obey the law. House Bill 2201, sponsored by a bipartisan team of legislators including Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, and Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, would change that.

O’Quinn said “left-lane bandits” have become a “particularly pervasive and ever-growing problem” on Virginia roadways. Supporters of the bill say fining drivers for abusing the left lane would help decrease traffic congestion on Virginia’s highways and reduce accidents and road rage incidents.

The bill, which specified a fine of $250, was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and sent to the governor for approval. Rather than sign or veto the legislation, McAuliffe recommended Friday that lawmakers amend the bill by lowering the fine from the $250 to $100.

On Saturday, the House voted 89-8 to adopt the governor’s recommendation. The Senate is expected to act on the matter when legislators return to the Capitol for a one-day session on April 5.

If the amendment fails to receive a majority vote in the Senate, the bill would return to the governor with the $250 fine, and he could sign or veto it.

Pranks ensue on Senate floor on last day of session

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The floor of the Virginia Senate is notorious for its strict rules. Even in the state Capitol’s remote viewing room, a sign warns “No Food or Drink.” However, the end of the legislative session was more like the last day of a school year.

Upon entering the Senate floor on Saturday, you could tell something was amiss. It was probably the stuffed dog at the desk of Sen. William Stanley of Franklin County. Around its neck was a sign that said “Senate hunting dog” – a reference to dog-hunting legislation that Stanley had opposed.

During a break in the proceedings on Saturday, Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar brought down a large stuffed rabbit to play-fight with Stanley’s dog.

“This is why they say ‘idle hands are the devil’s plaything,’” Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier said with a laugh.

As per usual, the speaker’s gavels had been stolen from the podium. This year, they ended up in the desk of Sen. Mark Peake of Lynchburg, who was elected on Jan. 10 – the day before the General Assembly convened. Peake accused Stanley of placing the gavels in his desk.

“If he did not see me place them there, how can he accuse me of placing them there?” Stanley asked in defense. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

The scandal ended with Peake returning the gavels to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the Senate’s presiding officer, while various senators chanted “shame” at Peake.

Sen. Lionell Spruill of Chesapeake made a short speech thanking his colleagues for their kindness. Spruill served in the House of Delegates from 1994 until 2016 before being elected to the Senate.

“At the House, you have a lot of fun and can act crazy, but you can’t be crazy over here most of the time,” Spruill said. He said he told himself, “‘Lord, you have to help me have some fun over here.’ Sen. Stanley was my savior. He pops up and I say, ‘thank God.’”

The fun did not stop Saturday’s session from ending promptly before noon. Senators were told to make sure all food was removed from their desks – “especially cookies.” Hugs were exchanged, photos taken and so ended the 2017 meeting of the Senate of Virginia.

McAuliffe vetoes bill to disclose refugee records

By Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Friday that would have required the state Department of Social Services to publish non-identifying information for refugees resettled across Virginia.

“Many individuals and families placed in Virginia through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program are fleeing governmental oppression, persecution, and violence,” McAuliffe said in his veto statement.

“Many leave their countries because they are targeted by their home country’s government, often for helping to further American interests. Disclosing such information in this political climate not only sends a message of discrimination and fear, but it also poses a real danger to many of our newest Virginians.”

House Bill 2002, introduced by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin County, would have required immigrant resettlement agencies, such as the Catholic Diocese and the U.S. State Department, to report demographic information on refugees, including the total number of refugees, the localities in which they have been placed and other facts, to Virginia’s Department of Social Services. Those reports would then be forwarded to other government agencies, including the General Assembly and the governor’s office.

Supporters of the bill argue these reports would give government officials the ability to plan for benefits, health care and other related social costs, as well as lay out education-related expenses that would allow children of refugees to enroll in Virginia public schools.

McAuliffe said those requirements would instead put undue stress on the organizations in charge of resettling refugees.

“House Bill 2002 would create an unnecessary burden for already overworked nonprofit organizations and would limit these organizations’ ability to accomplish their mission of safely settling refugees in the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said.

The governor added that the regulations would also discourage those wanting to relocate from tenuous circumstances in foreign countries to the commonwealth.

“Refugees are in the United States legally,” he said. “They undergo a more rigorous screening process than anyone else allowed into the United States. Creating a publicly available list of these individuals would send a message of exclusion to people looking for the chance to rebuild their lives free of tyranny and oppression.”

“As Virginians, we know the many benefits and contributions that refugees bring to our communities and Virginia’s economy,” McAuliffe added. “House Bill 2002 sets us on the wrong path. It does not reflect Virginia’s values.”

The bill will now return to the General Assembly, where supporters will face an uphill battle in overriding the governor’s veto. In order to successfully countermand McAuliffe’s ruling, supporters would need to gather a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers.

With three Republican delegates already opposing the bill in the House and a 21-19 party-line split in the Senate, supporters would have to persuade more than a dozen legislators to flip their vote in order to enact the legislation.

Assembly passes bill to help dyslexic students

By Dai Ja Norman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia school districts would have to have reading specialists trained in helping students with dyslexia under a bill passed by the General Assembly as its 2017 session drew to a close.

The Senate and House on Friday both voted unanimously in favor of SB 1516, sponsored by Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun. The legislation now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.

The bill requires that if a local school board employs reading specialists, at least one must have expertise in identifying and teaching students with dyslexia or a related disorder. That expert then would serve as a resource for other teachers in the school district.

Experts say about one in 10 children may have dyslexia – a disorder that makes it difficult to learn to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols. To a child with dyslexia, for example, the words “Read this” might look like “Raed tihs.”

Virginia school divisions are not required to employ reading specialists, but most do. Lynn Smith, for example, is a reading specialist for the Henrico County Public Schools. She said students who have dyslexia face significant challenges.

“Reading really is that foundational skill, and students who struggle to read struggle across all academic subjects,” Smith said.

A misconception about dyslexia is that the students with the disorder lack intelligence. In fact, Smith said, “Often those children are extremely bright.” The problem, she said, is “that they’re really struggling with breaking down that code on the page.”

Donice Davenport, director of exceptional education for Henrico schools, said support goes a long way for these students.

“It is important for students with dyslexia to receive targeted instruction directly related to their disability needs,” Davenport said.

“Since dyslexia exists along a continuum of severity and complexity, each student may require a different level of support and service. Many students with dyslexia do well within the general education classroom with only a small level of support. Some students require additional systematic, explicit instruction provided in a multi-sensory way in order to learn to read and make progress in reading.”

House upholds veto of bill to defund Planned Parenthood

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – On a party-line vote Saturday, the House of Delegates upheld Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s veto of a Republican bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

On the final day of the 2017 legislative session, the House voted 62-33, with five members not voting, to override the veto of HB 2264. The motion failed because an override requires a two-thirds majority.

The bill, introduced by Del. Ben Cline, R-Amherst, sought to “prohibit the Virginia Department of Health from granting funds or entering into contracts with certain health care providers that perform abortion.” It would have removed Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, which providesfamily planning, contraception, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings as well as abortions.

Earlier this month, Cline’s bill passed 60-33 in the House and 20-19 in the Senate. McAuliffe then vetoed the measure, saying it “would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on the health care services and programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers, by denying them access to affordable care.”

“Attempts to restrict women’s access to health care will impede the goal of making Virginia the best place to live, work, and run a business,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, issued a statement saying, “I thank Gov. McAuliffe for standing by his promise to be a brick wall against attacks on a woman’s access to reproductive health care, and I applaud members of the House of Delegates for standing with him and sustaining his veto today.”

For years, Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion groups such as the Family Foundation of Virginia have been pressing to cut off government funding for Planned Parenthood and divert the money to health clinics that they say offer more comprehensive services. McAuliffe vetoed a similar bill last year.

Also Saturday, the General Assembly approved a revised state budget that includes a 3 percent pay raise for state employees as well as increased funding for K-12 education and mental health services. Legislators managed to plug a $1.26 billion shortfall in the two-year budget – the top priority when the legislative session began on Jan. 11.

“We adjourned on time, adopted an amended balanced budget ahead of schedule and offered positive solutions on the issues that matter most to Virginians,” Republican leaders in the House said in a statement. “Our amended budget reflects the priorities facing the Commonwealth. The budget is conservative and responsible, reduces borrowing, eliminates new fees and charts a responsible course.”

McAuliffe also issued a statement, saying the legislative session “was marked by bipartisan cooperation on issues that are important to the people of Virginia.”

“We have had our differences, but we have found ways to work together on important issues that grow our economy and create opportunity for the people we serve,” said McAuliffe, who is serving his last year as governor.

“As our final session working together draws to a close, I want to express my sincere gratitude and admiration for the work the men and women of the Virginia General Assembly do every year. Sessions are grueling experiences that require you to leave your loved ones and your jobs. I know that work will not end when you return home.”

How they voted

Here is how the House voted Saturday on a motion to override Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s veto of HB 2264 (“Department of Health; restrictions on expenditure of funds related to abortions and family planning”).

Floor: 02/25/17 House: VOTE: SUSTAINED GOVERNOR’S VETO (62-Y 33-N)

YEAS – Adams, Albo, Anderson, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Byron, Cline, Cole, Collins, Cox, Davis, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Holcomb, Hugo, Ingram, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Minchew, Miyares, Morefield, Morris, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Stolle, Villanueva, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Speaker Howell – 62.

NAYS – Aird, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bourne, Boysko, Bulova, Carr, Filler-Corn, Hayes, Heretick, Herring, Hester, Hope, James, Keam, Kory, Krizek, Levine, Lindsey, Lopez, McQuinn, Mullin, Murphy, Plum, Price, Sickles, Simon, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Watts – 33.

NOT VOTING – Campbell, Dudenhefer, Rasoul, Yancey, Yost – 5.

Virginia Airbnb rentals may face increased regulation

By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – People renting out their homes through websites such as Airbnb could be forced to pay a registration fee to their local government under a bill that passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 1578, proposed by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, would allow Virginia localities to require many users of short-term rental sites like Airbnb to pay a fee to register their property, with fines up to $500 in the case of a rental without registration.

Airbnb rentals can play a big role in small Virginia towns dependent on tourism as a primary source of income, such as the town of Washington in Rappahannock County. At the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northern part of the commonwealth, Washington funds 95 percent of its annual budget from meals and lodging taxes, said the town’s mayor, John Fox Sullivan.

“That tax is terribly important to us,” Sullivan said. “If Airbnbs are unregulated and drain off tax revenue that we would otherwise receive and need, the town would lose a lot of money.”

According to Sullivan, the town’s bed-and-breakfasts, inns and restaurants must get approval from the town council before starting operations. Sullivan’s concern is that people operating a business out of their home through Airbnb don’t have to meet the same rules and ordinances that other businesses do.

“Airbnb is a great operation,” Sullivan said. “It’s just that they’re not perfect. There’s much debate within our county as well as to what can be regulated.”

While the short-term housing rental websites like Airbnb have gained popularity across the globe, those with ties to the more traditional accommodation business are struggling to adapt. Audrey Regnery, the owner and innkeeper of Greenfield Inn Bed and Breakfast in Washington, said Airbnb homes should have to meet the same regulations that establishments such as hers do.

“I welcome competition as long as it’s fair competition,” Regnery said. “If you’re a business, you’re supposed to pay your taxes. If [Airbnb homes] are going to be a business, then they need to be set up as a business.”

Regnery said there are approximately 18 bed-and-breakfasts, one inn (The Inn at Little Washington) and no hotels in the Washington area. She said the demand for rooms in the area currently exceeds the capacity.

As a result, business at the Regnery’s B&B has not suffered any serious loss because of Airbnb room rentals. However, Regnery worries that could change if Airbnb hosts were to start drastically dropping their prices to compete with bed-and-breakfasts in town.

Airbnb hosts, however, have their own concerns about what a registration fee requirement would have on the way they operate.

Mary Jane Cappello, a Rappahannock County resident who rents out her second home in Washington through Airbnb and TripAdvisor, said she pays a state and local lodging tax to both hosting agents.

“Our county already charged me a registration fee when I applied for the rental license, but it was a one-time charge which, I thought, was a reasonable charge of a few hundred dollars,” Cappello said.

In regards to paying a fee to the individual locality beyond just the lodging taxes – in this case, to join a rental registry – Cappello said it “would make sense only if some service went with the fee such as house inspections for safety.”

The bill says property owners who are already licensed related to the rental or management of property by the Board of Health, the Real Estate Board, or a locality would not be required to register again.

SB 1578 passed the Senate on a vote of 36-4 and the House on a vote of 86-14. It now goes to the governor’s desk to be signed.

Groups laud Virginia for outlawing female circumcision

By Haley Winn, Capital News Service

RICHMOND –International groups that work to combat violence against women and girls are praising the Virginia General Assembly for approving legislation that makes female genital mutilation a crime.

“Passing a law that explicitly outlaws the practice sends a clear message that this is human rights abuse and is not acceptable in the U.S.,” said Amanda Parker, interim executive director of the AHA Foundation. The group, based in New York, was founded by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist who was subjected to FGM while growing up in Somalia.

According to the AHA Foundation, 24 states have laws criminalizing FGM. Virginia is poised to join the list after lawmakers approved SB 1060. Under the bill, it would be a Class 1 misdemeanor to perform a circumcision or infibulation of the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a minor – or for parents or legal guardians to consent to the procedure for a girl in their care.The crime would be punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The bill passed unanimously in the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“I would like to see (this legislation) in all 50 states,” said Shelby Quast, policy director for Equality Now, an advocacy group for gender equality.

SB 1060, sponsored by Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, was one of two bills this legislative session calling for the criminalization of FGM. The other was SB 1241, introduced by Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, an obstetrician in Henrico County. During the committee process, the two bills were merged and went forward as SB 1060.

No law in Virginia bans the specific practice of FGM. The offense falls in the category of malicious wounding, which is a felony.

Black and Dunnavant originally proposed that performing or allowing a female circumcision be a felony punishable by at least five years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

However, incarcerating someone costs money, and the General Assembly has been trying to close a budget shortfall. Because of the fiscal impact of making FGM a felony, the bill’s supporters feared it might fail, according to Mallory McCune, Dunnavant’s legislative assistant. So they agreed to reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor.

Quast said she wished SB 1060 “matched the federal penalty,” which calls for five years in prison. However, she noted that still can happen under Virginia law.

Under the legislation, Quast said, a person charged with performing a female circumcision could also be charged with malicious wounding, resulting in harsher penalties than a misdemeanor conviction allows. “It makes it very clear that this law that has just been passed does not preclude prosecution under any other statute,” she said.

Parker isn’t so sure. She said the legislation is a step in the right direction, but Virginia would have the weakest penalty of any state to outlaw the practice of FGM.

But a criminal charge isn’t the only action that can be taken under SB 1060. The bill allows a girl who has been circumcised to sue the person who did it. McCune said Virginia will be one of only two states where victims of FGM have civil recourse. Quast said that is significant.

“It allows the victim of FGM, up to 10 years after her 18th birthday, to actually sue those that subjected her to FGM or did the cutting,” Quast said. “It gives more rights to somebody who may not recognize the violation at the time.”

FGM is common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It is also prevalent in some immigrant communities in North America, Europe and Australia.

A report last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 513,000 females in the United States – including 169,000 minors – were at risk of or have experienced FGM.

“Educating communities about the lifelong psychological and health consequences associated with this practice, as well as its illegality, is needed,” Parker said.

Parker and Quast said teachers, doctors, law enforcement officers and social service providers need training on how to recognize and respond when girls have been subjected to female circumcision.

“We see the law more as a prevention tool than a prosecution tool with regard to FGM,” Quast said.

State building renamed for civil rights activist

By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A state government building that once served as headquarters of the “Massive Resistance” campaign against racial integration of Virginia’s public schools was renamed Thursday in honor of Barbara Johns, a student activist who played an important and often overlooked role in the civil rights movement.

Johns was only 16 when she led a student protest that would one day become part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Like most segregated schools at the time, the all-black high school Johns attended in Farmville, Virginia, was overcrowded, underfunded and dilapidated in comparison to the white schools in the Prince Edward County. On April 23, 1951, Johns persuaded all 450 of her classmates to stage a strike, and some went downtown to meet with education officialsto protest the school’s substandard conditions.

 

“When she took a stand like that, it was a dangerous time, and I was the one who was worried about what might happen to us. She didn’t seem to have any fear at all,” said Barbara Johns’ sister, Joan Johns Cobb, who marched alongside her.

Johns enlisted the help of the NAACP, which filed a suit on behalf of 117 students against Prince Edward County, challenging Virginia’s laws requiring segregated schools.

“This was before Little Rock Nine, this was before Rosa Parks, this was before Martin Luther King. This was a 16-year-old girl who said that we will not tolerate separate but not equal,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who announced in January that the newly renovated Ninth Street Office Building would be renamed in Johns’ honor.

Located at 202 N. Ninth St., the building was once known as the Hotel Richmond. During the 1950s, members of the General Assembly stayed at the hotel when they came to the capital for the legislative session. The building became the unofficial headquarters of the Byrd Organization, the dominant pro-segregation political machine at the time.

The attorney general at that point, James Lindsay Almond, originally defeated Johns’ case by claiming that segregation was a way of life for Virginians. Now the building, which houses the state attorney general’s office, has been christened the Barbara Johns Building. Current Attorney General Mark Herring said the renaming will serve as a reminder to him and his staff that the mistakes of the past cannot be repeated.

“She saw an injustice for exactly what it was, and she stood up for what was right. She demanded that which the constitution guaranteed her, and which the commonwealth denied her,” Herring said.

The case, Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County, was appealed to the Supreme Court and combined with four similar segregation suits under Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. On May 17, 1954, the court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public education was unconstitutional.

Powerful members of the General Assembly then met in the very building that now bears Johns’ name to plot against the desegregation of Virginia’s public schools.

Led by U.S. Sen. Harry Byrd and his political machine, the state engaged in a campaign of “Massive Resistance” against desegregation. This led to the shutdown of schools across Virginia when lawmakers decided they would rather see them close than integrate. It wasn’t until 1968, when the Supreme Court ruled their plan unlawful, that large-scale desegregation took place in Virginia.

On Tuesday, the House of Delegates joined the Senate in passing a resolution declaring April 23, the anniversary of the strike, as Barbara Johns Day in Virginia.

“The fact that the very General Assembly that passed laws to prevent school desegregation is naming a day for Barbara Johns is a really powerful testament to how far we’ve come,” said Dr. Larissa Smith Fergeson, professor of history at Longwood University. “In many ways, these are symbolic acts, but symbolic acts matter.”

Earl Jasper Carpenter

Mr. Earl Jasper Carpenter, 76, of Skippers, Virginia, died on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at Southside Virginia Regional Medical Center in Emporia, VA.

A Visitation for Mr. Carpenter will be held from 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm, with the Funeral Service following the Visitation, beginning at 2:00 pm, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, in the Roanoke Rapids Chapel of H.D. Pope Funeral Home.

 

Condolences may be sent via:  www.hdpopefuneralhome.com

Jackson-Feild Improvements

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services recently completed several improvements in three separate locations on the campus.

Built in 1825, the historic manor home called “Walnut Grove” needed a new front porch due to deterioration in the original wood.  In addition, a wheel chair ramp was added to ensure that the facility is ADA-compliant.

Two houses originally built as residences for staff members were given a fresh coat of paint and new back decks, and new light fixtures in preparation for an on-campus program that JFBHS will launch in April. 

Rogers and Marshall Cottages also saw updates with new vinyl flooring to replace the old carpeting.   The bathrooms in the 1960s-built Rogers Cottage also received a facelift and remodeling.

This spring, JFBHS is looking fresher and brighter thanks to the work of Larry Pair and his maintenance staff.

The Improvement Association Addresses Childhood Obesity

Lydia Kearney, LPN, Health and Disability Specialist for The Improvement Association, teaches the children enrolled in the agency’s Head Start initiative various stretching techniques.

The Improvement Association has partnered with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office to implement the Literacy, Eating, and Activity for Preschoolers (LEAP) health curriculum for the 2016-2017 school year. The LEAP curriculum is being offered to 262 children throughout Sussex, Surry, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Greensville and Emporia. LEAP includes reading books focused on preparing and eating healthy foods and being physically active. Students have learned about planting and growing healthy fruits and vegetables, they’ve tasted various types of apples and carrots dipped in yogurt, and participated in physical activities such, as stretching, to keep their bones limber.

The LEAP curriculum was implemented in an effort to help curb the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. The Improvement Association’s Health Advisory Committee noticed that 16% of Head Start students were obese during program year 2015-2016. The implementation of the LEAP health curriculum encourages children to make healthy food choices and to include physical activity in their daily life.

Head Start is now recruiting for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, or Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist, at 434-634-2490.

New law lets concession stands sell cans of beer

By Jessica Samuels, Capital New Service

RICHMOND – Beginning July 1, Virginians will be able to buy a can of beer – not just a cup – at indoor and outdoor concession stands that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

That’s the effect of a bill that Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on Monday. Senate Bill 1469 will add “single original metal cans” to the list of disposable containers that can be used for the sale of beer, wine and mixed alcoholic drinks.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Montgomery, will apply to concession stands at amphitheaters, stadiums, coliseums, convention centers and similar facilities, which currently must dispense alcoholic beverages in plastic or paper cups.

Under the new law, for example, racetrack events like NASCAR racing will be able to sell cans of beer.

Chafin’s measure is the same as HB 1744, which also received unanimous approval from the House and Senate. The House bill’s sponsor, Republican Del. Nick Rush of Montgomery County, called it a “common-sense” law.

“It allows the original metal container to be disposable,” he said.

The legislation is just one of several bills from the 2017 legislative session that may change the state’s alcoholic beverage control laws. Others include:

HB 2433, which would treat cider as wine for all legal purposes. The measure, sponsored by Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, has passed both houses and is on McAuliffe’s desk.

SB 1150, which would require the ABC Board to offer training to bartenders on how to recognize and intervene in “situations that may lead to sexual assault.” The bill, introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, received final approval from the Senate on Wednesday.

HB 2220, which would create a new limited mixed beverage license for retail cigar shops. The proposal, sponsored by Del. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, has passed the House and is awaiting a final vote in the Senate.

Governor signs bills to fight Virginia’s opioid crisis

By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Capping off a signature issue of the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed five bills Thursday to help arm the fight against opioid abuse and fatal overdoses in Virginia.

The bills address the crisis in various ways. They include SB 848and HB 1453, which allow community organizations to dispense and train individuals to use naloxone, a drug that can treat an opioid overdose in emergency situations.

“We recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing,” McAuliffe said. “Our proposals for this General Assembly session focused on preventing addiction and providing treatment for those who suffer from it.”

The governor also signed HB 2165, which will mandate all opioid prescriptions be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020. It will also create a workgroup to study how to best implement the change.

“The fight against the national opioid abuse epidemic gained more momentum today as Virginia became the most recent state to mandate that care providers use electronic prescribing for controlled substances,” said Dr. Sean Kelly, who is a practicing emergency physician and the chief medical officer of Imprivata, a health care information technology company.

Kelly said that electronic prescribing for controlled substances, or EPCS, helps the health care industry to reduce prescription fraud, drug diversion and drug abuse. Virginia is joining three other states – New York, Minnesota and Maine – in mandating EPCS.

“This is a real ‘all hands on deck’ moment,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “The heroin and opioid crisis is touching families who never imagines they would confront something like this, and yet now are fighting something that feels so overwhelming.”

In November 2016, McAuliffe joined State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine in declaring the Virginia opioid addiction crisis to be a public health emergency.

Although final numbers are not available, the Virginia Department of Health projects that more than 1,000 people died in Virginia from fatal opioid overdoses in 2016. That would be a 33 percent increase from the previous year.

Here are more details on the bills McAuliffe signed into law:

SB 848, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, and HB 1453, by Del. David LaRock, R-Loudoun, allow community organizations to possess and dispense naloxone to people whom the groups have trained to administer the life-saving drug.

HB 2317, by Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, allows local health departments to administer harm reduction programs in parts of the state with high rates of HIV and hepatitis. These programs will exchange dirty syringes for clean ones, offer testing for hepatitis C and HIV, and connect people to addiction treatment.

HB 1786, by Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, initiates a family assessment and plan of care from local social services if a child is found to have been exposed to substances in utero. This connects the mother to treatment if necessary and provides services to ensure the safety of both the mother and the child.

HB 2165, by Del. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, mandates that all opioid prescriptions will be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020 and creates a workgroup to study how to implement this policy.

State won’t study ‘fiscal stress’ of local governments

By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A bill ordering a study of the “fiscal stress” of local governments was halted in the House Rules Committee this week.

More than 53 percent of counties and cities in Virginia have reported above-average or high fiscal stress, according to a report by the Commission on Local Government. Petersburg, a city grappling with a severe financial crisis, placed third on the state fiscal stress index behind the cities of Emporia and Buena Vista.

“Petersburg does have some financial challenges, but they’re actually not unique. There are a lot of counties and localities within the commonwealth right now that are facing similar fiscal distressers,” said Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg.

The top priority for this session, according to Aird, is identifying “what we as a commonwealth need to do to put protections into place and allow localities to have tools and resources to prevent this type of challenge from occurring into the future.”

Under SJ 278, a 15-member joint subcommittee would have reviewed local government and state tax systems, local responsibilities for delivery of state programs and causes of fiscal stress among local governments. In addition, the study would craft financial incentives and reforms to promote increased cooperation among Virginia’s regions.

“I believe that this legislation will help address fiscal issues that localities are experiencing,” said Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, who co-sponsored the legislation. “Currently, there is no statutory authority for the Commission on Local Government to intervene in a fiscally stressed locality, and the state does not currently have any authority to assist a locality financially.”

In the case of Petersburg, the city received technical assistance from state officials, including cataloging liabilities and obligations, researching problems and reviewing city funds. However, state intervention could have occurred only if Petersburg invited it, because current law forbids the commonwealth from imposing reactive measures in a struggling locality.

SJ 278 was sponsored by Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta County, who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee. Earlier in the session, the committee killed seven bills relating to state and local tax policy reform. Hanger agreed to reconsider the rejected tax reforms as part of the proposed study mandated by SJ 278.

Hanger’s resolution passed in the Senate but was left in the House Rules Committee. Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, cited the upcoming elections this year of House members and governor as a roadblock for the bill. Moreover, the 2018 legislative session will last 60 days, compared with just 45 days during the current session.

“Regarding tax reform proposals, they are interesting to consider in a short session but unlikely,” said Ware, who chairs the House Finance Committee. He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is drafting a broad tax reform proposal for next year’s session.

Assembly poised to OK state budget on Friday

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.

The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies.

Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta County, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “This conference report responsibly addresses the challenges facing the commonwealth, prioritizes funding for our schools and public safety professionals, and is fiscally conservative.”

The budget was approved early for the third consecutive year, which is a stark contrast to the U.S. Congress, which has been notoriously slow at approving federal spending plans.

“While Washington drowns in debts and is mired in gridlock, the Republican-led General Assembly has produced a conservative budget ahead of schedule for the third time in a row,” said Del. Steven Landes, R-Augusta County, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“We continue to chart a prudent fiscal course for Virginia. The investments in education, health care and public safety will improve the lives of our citizens and make Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

The new budget allocates $83.1 million for a 3 percent pay raise for state employees and college faculty, in contrast to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s budget proposal for a one-time, 1.5 percent bonus to employees. The budget also sets aside funds to implement House Speaker William Howell’s Commission on State Employee Retirement Security and Pension Reform.

This means $200,000 will be set aside for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to complete a total compensation study of all state employees, and $140,000 for state agencies to incorporate succession planning and re-hiring in their strategic plans.

This year’s agreed-upon budget exceeds the governor’s investment in K-12 education by approximately $18 million, as well as investing $15 billion for direct aid to public education.

Before the 2010 budget, 35 percent of lottery proceeds were given to local schools. This year’s budget re-establishes that practice, and lottery proceeds will send $191.3 million back to localities to help with public education.

The budget also helps higher education by reducing the governor’s cuts by $20 million. This is part of the General Assembly’s continued effort to make higher education more affordable. The budget will also restore full funding to the Virginia Tech Extension Service, as well as the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. In addition, there will be no reductions in funding to Norfolk State University and Virginia State University.

In the health sector, the conference budget invests $32.2 million to build a stronger healthcare safety net, including funding for substance abuse treatment. It also increases eligibility for the Governor's Access Plan, which is a program that helps provide behavioral health forVirginia's uninsured adults.

The conference budget does not include the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which might not end up having much of an impact anyway if the Trump administration’s proposal to replace Medicaid with federal block grants to each state is adopted.

The budget also restores the Stanley amendment, which doesn’t let the governor expand Medicaid without approval from the General Assembly.

The conference budget was created to decrease general-fund spending by 5 percent over 10 years when adjusted for population and inflation.

KAINE MEETS POPE FRANCIS IN VATICAN CITY, DISCUSSES GLOBAL REFUGEE AND MIGRANT CRISIS

VATICAN CITY – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine attended a general audience with Pope Francis in Vatican City and spoke with the Pope about the Holy See’s work to address the global refugee and migrant crisis. A photo of the meeting is attached and included below.

“I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate,” Kaine said. “As the Pope stated so clearly yesterday, it is a 'moral imperative' to protect and defend the 'inalienable rights' of refugees and respect their dignity, especially by adopting just laws that protect those fleeing dangerous or inhumane situations.”

“The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the Holy See is tremendously important and the work we are doing together to address issues such as refugees, human trafficking, conflict resolution and reconciliation helps us advance peace in the world, as we try to end suffering and cooperate on issues of common good,” Kaine continued.

In Vatican City today, Kaine also met with the Foreign Minister of the Holy See Archbishop Paul Gallagher, participated in a discussion focused on Latin American issues with Vatican officials, and met with the Jesuit Refugee Service to discuss its work with refugees and asylum seekers. 

Photo taken by Paul Haring of Catholic News Service:

Berry Health is Conference Focus

Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture has scheduled its ninth annual Berry Production and Marketing Conference on March 9 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in the Gateway Dining Hall on campus.

Keynote speaker Dr. Britt Burton will discuss berry health. She is director of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for Nutrition Research.

Conference topics include blackberry/blueberry weed control; blackberry/raspberry production; blueberry production/management; and berry marketing. A $20 per person registration fee includes lunch. To register, visit VSU’s  events calendar at www.ext.vsu.edu.

For more information or for persons with a disability who desire  assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-6960 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
 

Local Nonprofit Hosts Dinner and Auction at New Restaurant in Petersburg Historic Landmark

Petersburg, February 21, 2017-- Crater Community Hospice is thrilled to be hosting its spring dinner and auction at a recently revitalized building in Petersburg's Old Town. On Sunday March 12, attendees will gather at the Farmers Market Restaurant at 9 E. Old Street.

The distinctive Farmers Market building is a unique architectural example in Petersburg. As early as 1787 a city market was located on the site, with a sequence of public buildings built there over the past two centuries. Robert Bolling entrusted the land to the town in 1806 for permanent use as the market. 1879 marked the completion of the current building. The National Register of Historic Places added the landmark to its roles in 1969.

Attendees at "Welcome Spring!" will gather at 5pm to enjoy music and a gourmet dinner designed by executive chef Frits Huntjens. An auction will offer unique opportunities while raising funds to serve patients and their families and public educational programs. Optima Health and Eastern VA Bank (EVB) are among the local corporate and private sponsors.

E. Jane Elliott, Chair of the Crater Community Hospice Board of Directors, is thrilled to present this event. "We are excited to gather members of our community for a memorable evening. We have assembled several packages including art, wine, and a vacation to Virginia Beach through generous donations and local support. Attendees will enjoy this modern restaurant that honors the historic landmark that houses it, while raising critical support for Crater Community Hospice, a local nonprofit serving families throughout our community."

Limited tickets are still available for this exciting evening. A $75 per person contribution is in part tax-deductible. For tickets, contact CCH Development Director Deborah Williamson at (804) 526-4300 or visit the website at www.cratercommunityhospice.org

STUDENT OF THE MONTH JOSEPH LEWIS CARRICK FEBRUARY 2017

Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Joseph Lewis Carrick has been chosen the February 2017 Student of the Month.  Joseph, a senior, is the grandson of Ron and Dot Moore of Bracey.  During high school, Joseph has been a member of the Latin and Spanish Clubs, participated with the Brunswick Academy Theatre Tech Crew and this year is the Senior Trip Treasurer.

Joseph works each Saturday at the R. T. Arnold Library in South Hill.  He also volunteers at the Library’s summer reading program each year. 

Joseph enjoys reading and is very passionate about history, especially British history!  His future plans include attending either James Madison University or Roanoke College.  He plans to major in Biology or Business.    

CONGRATULATONS JOSEPH!

ACLU urges McAuliffe to veto anti-immigration bills

By Rodrigo Arriaza and Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.

At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.

“We’re here this morning to talk about actions to be taken at the state level that must be understood in this larger context,” said Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia.

Gastañaga began the news conference by discussing bills that her group has asked McAuliffe to veto. They include HB 2000, which the Republican-controlled Senate passed on a party-line vote Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Charles R. Poindexter, R-Franklin County, would ban any local government in the state from declaring itself as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, meaning that local officials promise not to cooperate with ICE in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.

Senate Democrats have also spoken out against the bill, saying it undermines trust-building efforts between communities and local police.

“Whether it is intentional or not, this is a messaging bill sending a message to immigrants, whether they are here legally or not, that they are not welcome,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellen, D-Richmond. “American citizens are being swept up in ICE raids along with undocumented immigrants. We are better than this as a commonwealth.”

Republicans have supported legislation to crack down on sanctuary cities.

Ed Gillespie, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, issued a statement in support of Poindexter’s bill. He called the ban on sanctuary cities a common-sense approach to immigration policy.

“Local governments should not be able to ignore federal immigration laws,” Gillespie said. “As governor, I would support and sign Delegate Poindexter’s HB 2000 because it is a reasonable measure to keep Virginians safe and enforce the law.”

The ACLU also urged McAuliffe to veto:

·         HB 2002, also sponsored by Poindexter. It would require refugee resettlement agencies in Virginia to file annual reports containing personal details about the refugees, including their age, gender, country of origin and where they were resettled.

·         HB 1468, which would allow local sheriffs and jail officials to hold undocumented immigrants for ICE for an additional 48 hours after they are set to be released. Sponsored by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, the measure was passed by the General Assembly after a mostly party-line vote in the House of Delegates.

“Supporters of bills such as these that target immigrants point to instances in other parts of the country in which undocumented immigrants were released from custody by local law enforcement and went on to commit crimes in the community,” Gastañaga wrote in a letter to McAuliffe.

Gastañaga’s letter also asked the governor to agree not to sign a 278(g) agreement, which would volunteer state police in apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants. She said the state’s immigration laws already mandate jails and prisons to check the immigration status of everyone taken into custody.

Two days ago, McAuliffe responded to Gastañaga’s letter and agreed that the use of 287(g) agreements would negatively impact public safety and health.

“I have seen no evidence that entering into 278(g) agreements will enhance Virginia’s public safety,” McAuliffe wrote. “I will not endorse the use of these agreements in the absence of any evidence that they will make our communities safer.”

Several speakers from human rights organizations were present at the news conference, including Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. According to Nguyen, the three bills that the ACLU wants McAuliffe to veto are merely “message bills” that will encourage immigrant families to “move further into the shadows.”

“They have no clear definition of a sanctuary city, and there are no sanctuary cities in the commonwealth,” Nguyen said. “These bills just incite fear and a sense of unwelcomeness in the immigrant communities.”

Michelle LaRue, Virginia director of CASA, an advocacy organization for low-income immigrant communities, also spoke. LaRue, herself a refugee from Guatemala after escaping the country’s civil war, said the legislation would make undocumented immigrants more afraid than they already are to report crimes, either as victims or as witnesses.

“These bills are affecting safety at large,” LaRue said. “Parents are having their kids, even kindergarteners, walk to the bus stops themselves in fear of not going outside, or having the children run errands for them … Many times, it’s in neighborhoods where it’s not safe to do so.”

McAuliffe has promised to veto any Republican-backed anti-sanctuary legislation. The governor’s spokesman, Brian Coy, told The Associated Press earlier this month that McAuliffe would veto any measure forcing localities to enforce federal immigration laws. Coy said the governor views the bills as “attempts to divide and demonize people.”

“Throughout my administration, I have advocated to make Virginia a more welcoming and diverse home for all of its residents,” McAuliffe wrote in his letter to Gastañaga. “My administration has advanced this goal without jeopardizing the safety of our citizens.”

Environmentalists disappointed by ‘watered down’ coal ash bill

By Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Environmentalists and some legislators are disappointed in the General Assembly’s passage of a “watered down” bill to prevent Dominion Virginia Power’s coal ash ponds from polluting rivers and groundwater.

The House last week removed from SB 1398 a provision requiring Dominion to complete environmental assessments of its coal ash ponds before getting state permits to close them. On Tuesday, the Senate adopted the House version of the bill.

“There’s been some talk that this thing has been completely neutered,” said the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “It’s been definitely watered down.”

Surovell said he was “not happy” with the House substitute, but he asked his colleagues to approve it anyway. “I think it’s about as good as we’re going to do at this point in the process. It’s going to go to the governor, and hopefully the governor might fix this up a little bit.”

SB 1398 would require Dominion to identify the risks of heavy metals polluting the groundwater and alternatives methods of disposal when they apply for a permit to decommission a “coal combustion residuals unit,” commonly called a coal ash pond.

Dominion has ponds containing millions of tons of coal ash at four sites around Virginia. The company hopes to close the ponds by treating and discharging the water and then burying the remaining coal ash with a protective seal.

When passed by the Senate two weeks ago, SB 1398 said Dominion had to complete the environmental assessment on a coal ash pond before getting a permit to close it. The director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality “shall issue no draft permit to provide for the closure of any CCR unit until he has reviewed and evaluated the complete assessments and all comments received relating to that CCR unit,” that version of the bill said.

However, the House dropped that language in the version of SB 1398 that it passed 96-1 on Friday. The Senate then adopted the House version 37-3 on Tuesday.

Under the bill’s final version, the Department of Environmental Quality would not have to consider the environmental studies when granting permits to close coal ash ponds. It says the DEQ director “shall not suspend, delay, or defer the issuance of any permit” pending the completion of the environmental assessment.

“In deciding whether to issue any such permit, the Director need not include or rely upon his review of any such assessment,” the bill states. The DEQ would not have to certify the information presented in the reports or have a public comment period before granting a permit.

Environmentalists were upset that the House had stripped the stronger language from the Senate’s original version of the bill.

“There were some really important pieces that were removed,” said Jamie Brunkow, Lower James riverkeeper for the James River Association. He said the group is especially disappointed that, under the bill’s final version, the DEQ wouldn’t have to wait for the environmental reports before granting a permit.

Dominion wants to close its coal ash ponds at Possum Point Power Station on Quantico Creek in Prince William County; Bremo Power Station on the James River in Fluvanna County; Chesterfield Power Station on the James River in Chesterfield County; and Chesapeake Energy Center on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake.

Two years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for the closure of dormant coal ash ponds. The EPA issued that order after untreated coal ash flooded rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee, causing environmental damage.

Under the legislation passed by the General Assembly, when seeking a “dewatering” permit, Dominion would have to conduct an assessment that:

  • Describes any water pollution from the coal ash pond and possible solutions
  • Examines the feasibility of recycling the coal ash
  • Evaluates the possibility of removing the coal ash to a lined landfill
  • Demonstrates the “long-term safety” of the closed coal ash pond

Dominion’s plan is to “cap in place” the pits, by covering them with plastic and soil. Company officials say the process will not pollute the water.

State lawmakers pass laser hair removal regulations

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Laser hair removal in Virginia would have to be done under the supervision of a doctor or other health professional, according to a bill approved this week by the General Assembly.

House Bill 2119, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, would require that laser hair removal treatments be performed by a medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner – or by a “properly trained person” working under one of those professionals.

Virginia and New York are the only states that allow people who aren’t health professionals to perform laser hair removal. Thirty states require at least some supervision by a physician during the procedure.

The push for regulation in Virginia began in 2016 when a constituent came to Keam with a horror story about a hair removal treatment performed by a spa employee who turned out to be a janitor.

The problem has affected many people in the Richmond area, according to investigative reports by television stations WWBT and WRIC. They interviewed people who have suffered burns, blisters and scars from local “med spas.” One woman said she feared for her life after receiving a botched laser facial from a spa in Henrico County.

For the 2016 legislative session, Keam introduced a bill that would have required individuals who practice laser hair removal to be licensed by the state Board of Medicine. That measure died in a subcommittee.

The bill Keam carried this legislative session had support from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. In a 2016 report, those departments said the state’s regulatory framework governing the use of laser technology for hair removal was not up to their standards.

“The lack of comprehensive regulation over the use of laser technology for hair removal specifically, as well as conflicting oversight regarding minimally invasive cosmetic procedures generally, poses a risk of harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare,” the agencies’ report said. It urged lawmakers to consider increasing the regulation of laser hair removal.

Keam’s bill passed the House of Delegates, 90-7, on Feb. 7 and the Senate, 25-15, on Monday. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature. If approved, the law would take effect July 1.

Civil Rights/Discrimination Complaint Process

As a participant or applicant for programs or activities operated or sponsored by USDA you have a right to be treated fairly. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or marital or familial status, you may file a discrimination complaint. The complaint should be filed with the USDA Office of Civil Rights within 180 days of the date you became aware of the alleged discrimination. To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA,

Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD), USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.A complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date the complainant knew, or should have known, of the alleged discrimination.

Nursing Staff Initiates Innovative Method to Calm Alzheimer’s Patients

Mellisa Black, Acute Care Nursing Director; Betsy Tuck, RN Preceptor; and Linda Norman, RN, Assistant Director of Medical-Surgical Telemetry are pictured with dolls, music players, and hand knitted “twiddle muffs” which are all being used to help calm and comfort dementia and Alzheimer’s patients at VCU Health CMH in South Hill.

South Hill – When patients that are affected by dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease are hospitalized, it can be a very confusing and depressing time for them.  In an effort to help calm and comfort these patients, the nursing staff at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital decided to try an innovative method called “Doll Therapy.”

The goal of using therapy dolls is to give dementia and Alzheimer’s patients a diversion activity which in turn helps reduce anxiety, nervousness, falls and increases cooperation with the nursing staff.

As stated from the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, “According to several studies, men and women in the middle to later stages of Alzheimer’s disease found that therapy dolls provided comfort and companionship.  These adults with Alzheimer’s received the benefits of sensory stimulation and purposeful activity from the dolls.  Their behavior improved, including a reduction in aggression and agitation.” (Resources:  Nursing Times and Carefect, Inc.)

Also noted from the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging was that humans have a natural instinct to nurture, give love and receive love.  This natural instinct doesn’t go away, even as memories deteriorate with dementia. 

Betsy Tuck, RN Preceptor, said, “As the Unit Chair for the Medical-Surgical floor of our Nursing Shared Governance group we discuss ways to improve care for our patients.  In discussion about ways to improve care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, the initiative of a diversional/nurturing activity (Doll Therapy) was started.  Our goal is to keep patients from falling from bed, pulling out therapy lines and/or sustain other injuries.  So far, the results have been very positive.”

Linda Norman, RN, Assistant Director of Medical-Surgical Telemetry, said, “Patients that are in some stage of dementia, when taken out of their normal environment will be distressed and sometimes uncooperative.  So, when they receive a doll it calms them and gives them comfort and companionship.  By calming the patient, the plan of care can be completed in a manner that is beneficial to the patient and staff.”

Tuck also added that the nursing staff is planning to try music therapy in the future with patients.  The plan is to play music that the patients like or just soothing music to induce a calming effect in the room.  Also in the plan for a diversional activity is giving patients “twiddle muffs” (knitted muffs with interesting bits attached) which are made for patients that pick or pull; the patient will be occupied pulling at the twiddle muff instead of pulling out their IV.

Tuck stated, “We will continue to think of innovative ways to care for our patients because one day we may be a patient under those same circumstances and want the best care possible for ourselves or our family members.”

C3’s Kid’s Meals Accepting Summer Meals Program Applications

Franklin, VA - Cover 3 Foundation is gearing up for their 7th summer as a sponsor of the USDA Summer Feeding Service Program. Application deadline for C3’s Kid’s meals is March 17, 2017. Through sponsorship of the USDA Summer Feeding Service Program, C3’s Kid’s Meals provides free, healthy and balanced breakfasts, lunches, snacks and suppers to all children attending a qualifying site within 90 miles of Franklin, VA. Qualifying sites may include day care centers, recreation centers, churches, schools, summer camps, open park sites, and community centers. Acceptance and participation requirements for the  program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the same course of the meal service. All returning sites and new sites must complete the preliminary online application found at http://www.cover3foundation.org/c3-s-kid-s-meals-application.html no later than March 17. If you want to partner with C3’s Kid’s Meals to provide healthy and balanced meals to children at your center and have questions, please contact Cover 3 Foundation at 757-562-2252 or email info@cover3foundation.org.

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