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February 2019

ATTN: GREENSVILLE COUNTY TAXPAYERS

Greensville County Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses for 2019 are now due.  To avoid penalties, please secure your 2019 license from the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office on or before March 1st.  We are located in the Greensville County Government Building at 1781 Greensville County Circle, Rm 132 on Highway 301 North – Sussex Drive.  Our office hours are from 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday.


Martha S. Swenson
Master Commissioner of the Revenue
Greensville County, Virginia

Virginia Moves to Raise Age to Buy Tobacco Products

By Serena Fischer, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Legislation making its way through the General Assembly would raise the legal age for purchasing and possessing tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21, drawing mixed reactions from young adults who would be affected by the new law.

The House and Senate have passed similar bills to increase the age to buy or possess products containing tobacco or nicotine. Each chamber is now working on the other’s measure.

In the state that gave birth to the tobacco industry, not everybody is happy about the legislation. William Bechtle, a 20-year-old computer science major at Virginia Commonwealth University, believes it would infringe on people’s rights.

“If an 18-year-old who is legally an adult wants to make the horrible choice to start smoking, they have that right,” said Bechtle, who smokes cigarettes. “If they don’t, then why is the age of adulthood 18 and not 21?”

Other young smokers do not seem to view the bills as a threat — only as an inconvenience.

“I can get older friends, people at that age limit, to get it for me,” said Katie Breighner, a freshman at Centreville High School in Fairfax County. “Regardless of your age, someone can find a way to get it.”

Some lawmakers also oppose the proposals to raise the smoking age — but apparently not enough to derail the legislation.

On Tuesday, the House voted 67-31 in favor of its bill, HB 2748. That measure has been referred to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

The Senate passed its bill, SB 1727, on a 32-8 vote on Jan. 29. On Wednesday, the House Courts of Justice Committee approved that measure, 9-6, and sent it to the full House for consideration.

If the legislation becomes law, Virginia would join six other states in raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Thomas Norment, R-James City. Thirteen Republicans and all 19 Democrats in the Senate supported the measure; eight Republican senators opposed it.

The House bill was introduced by Del. Christopher P. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach. Forty-six Democrats and 21 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while 29 Republican delegates and two Democratic delegates voted against it.

Among the opponents was Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania.

“I have no problem with raising the age to purchase tobacco products up to 21, but I think it should be done in a step process, because there are, whether we like it or not, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds who are using these products now,” Cole said. “While I applaud the intent of this legislation, I think it has problems.”

The legislation targets all tobacco and nicotine products, not just cigarettes. A primary goal is to combat the recent trend of teen vaping, which the U.S. surgeon general has called an “epidemic.”

The number of teens who have vaped in the past 30 days has almost doubled since 2017, including children as young as eighth grade. While some may argue that vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes, many are unaware that one Juul pod (a popular method of vaping) contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

That’s why students like Reem Alul view the legislation before the General Assembly as a sign of progress. Alul, a biology major at VCU, hopes new laws will help curb youth addiction to nicotine.

“As someone who’s been smoking for over a year now, I know how addictive and toxic nicotine is to my quality of life,” Alul said. “Although minors will still have access to these products, it’ll be much harder to get a hold of it on short notice.”

How they voted

Here is how the House voted Tuesday on HB 2748 (Tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, etc.; purchase, possession, and sale).

Floor: 02/05/19 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (67-Y 31-N 1-A)

YEAS — Adams, D.M., Aird, Austin, Ayala, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bourne, Carr, Carroll Foy, Convirs-Fowler, Davis, Delaney, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Garrett, Gooditis, Guzman, Hayes, Helsel, Heretick, Herring, Hodges, Hope, Hugo, Hurst, Ingram, James, Jones, J.C., Jones, S.C., Keam, Knight, Kory, Krizek, Landes, Leftwich, Levine, Lindsey, Lopez, Marshall, McQuinn, Miyares, Mullin, Murphy, Orrock, Peace, Plum, Pogge, Price, Rasoul, Reid, Robinson, Rodman, Roem, Sickles, Simon, Stolle, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Tran, Turpin, Tyler, VanValkenburg, Ward, Watts, Yancey, Mr. Speaker — 67.

NAYS — Adams, L.R., Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Brewer, Bulova, Byron, Campbell, J.L., Campbell, R.R., Carter, Cole, Edmunds, Fariss, Freitas, Gilbert, Head, Kilgore, LaRock, McGuire, McNamara, Morefield, O'Quinn, Pillion, Poindexter, Ransone, Rush, Thomas, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright — 31.

ABSTENTIONS — Collins — 1.

Here is how the Senate voted on Jan. 29 on SB 1727 (Tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, etc.; purchase, possession, and sale).

Floor: 01/29/19 Senate: Read third time and passed Senate (32-Y 8-N)

YEAS — Barker, Black, Boysko, Chafin, Cosgrove, Dance, Deeds, Dunnavant, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Mason, McClellan, McPike, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Petersen, Reeves, Ruff, Saslaw, Spruill, Sturtevant, Surovell, Vogel, Wagner — 32.

NAYS — Carrico, Chase, DeSteph, McDougle, Peake, Stanley, Stuart, Suetterlein — 8.

Here is the House Courts of Justice Committee voted Wednesday on SB 1727 (Tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, etc.; purchase, possession, and sale).

02/06/19 House: Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (9-Y 6-N)

YEAS — Leftwich, Miyares, Watts, Toscano, Herring, Mullin, Bourne, Simon, Carroll Foy — 9.

NAYS — Bell, Robert B., Gilbert, Adams, L.R., Campbell, J.L., Ransone, Campbell, R.R. — 6.

ABSTENTIONS — Collins — 1.

NOT VOTING — Kilgore, Hope — 2.

Hundreds of Anti-abortion Activists Rally at Virginia Capitol

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Among a sea of strollers and picket signs on the grounds of the Virginia Capitol, hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday against abortion — and especially against Democratic proposals to ease restrictions on late-term abortions.

Activists filled the landing of the Capitol steps, flooding down the hill towards Bank Street. Signs declaring “Equal rights for pre-born people” and other anti-abortion slogans poked out of the crowd as children played and their parents watched.

The Commonwealth for Life: March on Richmond featured General Assembly members, anti-abortion activists and representatives of Christian organizations. Chris and Diana Shores organized the rally in just a week after legislation sponsored by Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, came into the national spotlight.

Questioned by a Republican about her bill, Tran said it technically would allow a woman about to give birth to have an abortion. After critics accused her of endorsing infanticide, Tran said she misspoke. However, conservative commentators — including President Donald Trump in Tuesday’s State of the Union address — slammed Tran, Gov. Ralph Northam and other Virginia Democrats for supporting the measure.

Chris Shores said he and his wife have been in the political arena for years. When news of Tran’s bill broke, they received a slew of calls asking them what they were going to do about it.

“We threw up a Facebook post last week, and within 24 to 48 hours, we had hundreds of people interested in the post,” Shores said. “It was truly organic.”

The rally was the first time the couple has put on an event of this scale. Speakers included Republican Sens. Dick Black of Loudoun County and Bill Stanley of Franklin County; Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper; and E.W. Jackson, a Protestant minister and lawyer who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.

While the event featured Republican figures and Christian leaders, Chris Shores said the aim of the March on Richmond was outside party and religious lines.

“I didn’t want this to become a Republican pep rally. That wasn’t the point of the event,” he said.

A central theme to the event was denouncing Tran’s proposal, HB 2491. The bill was tabled by a subcommittee and is dead for this legislative session.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, came under fire from anti-abortion groups after defending the bill on a radio show on Jan. 30. Northam said third-trimester abortions are done “in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

In such instances, the governor said, “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Jackson excoriated Northam for that comment.

“Anybody who is prepared to allow a child to die after that child has been born alive does not deserve to be called a pediatrician,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t deserve to be called a governor either.”

Other speeches at the rally criticized efforts in Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Black, who has opposed abortion in the General Assembly for the past 20 years, said the ERA would be a blow to the anti-abortion movement.

“The ERA is a method that the abortionists want to use,” he said. “If that gets into the Constitution, we will not have any chance to roll back abortion.”

After Trump mentioned the controversy over abortion in Virginia in his nationally televised speech this week, Chris Shores hopes the conversation doesn’t stop.

“We’re going to continue to mobilize and organize and call on pro-life Virginia to stand up,” he said.

Willie Bryant Morgan

Willie Bryant Morgan, 87, died Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at his home.

A native of Greensville county, he was the son of the late Willie T. Morgan Jr. and Estelle C. Morgan. In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by a sister, Elsie M. Williams, and a brother, Thomas F. Morgan. Mr. Morgan retired from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti Michigan, as an English, Speech and Drama Professor, and enjoyed traveling after his retirement

He is survived by two sisters, Virginia M. Geris of Manassas and Mary M. Wolfe of Mechanicsville.

A private burial will take place at a later date.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

City Council Votes to Continue Funding Greensville-Emporia Transportation System

After a great many public comments at the last City Council meeting, the Council reconsidered the decision to pull out of the GET System at their meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

The bus service was necessitated by the move of nearly all shared services to the Greensville County Government Center. The SVCC Education center was put on 301 North even though the Tobacco Commission thought the best place for it was the vacant schools on Main Street (thay have since been demolished). All county business that is not Social Services or court related is transacted at the Greensville County Government Center. The project to move the Department of Social Services has already begun, and the current building in the City will be vacant when the move occurs.

Without the transportation system, anyone in need of the Department of Social Services will have difficulty getting to the office. Given that the people in need of Social Services are likely to hot have access to transportation, the GET System is a major step in that relocation of shared services to the County Government Center.

After the motion was made and seconded, only Council Members Jim Saunders and F. Woodrow Harris had comments.

Council Member Saunders started with the numbers. The budget for the system is $160,000. Of that, $79K is supplied by the Federal Government, $19K comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $33K is paid by the Department of Social Services. The City of Emporia and Greensville County both contribute to the system as well, and the portion that the City was expected increased dramatically last year. That dramatic increase was the reason for the City's desire to cease funding the system.

Only $5,000 is generated by rider’s fares.

Saunders hoped that the motion could be amended to allow the City to pull out of the system within 60 days, instead of 12 months, should any of the major funding sources be reduced or stop. The motion was never amended.

Council Member F. Woodrow Harris started his comments by stating the he felt that the “small handful of people that utilize” the transportation was not likely to increase. In a reference to the comments made by citizens at the last meeting, he said that understood that one of the speakers had a bit more cash in her wallet at the end of the month by not needing to take a cab to the grocery store. He did not think that fact was enough to justify the lightening of the “wallets of the tax-payers of the City.” Harris also lamented that Emporia was the “land where bad ideas never die,” and did not want to “hasten our departure from common sense to nonsense” by funding this system.

Ultimately, both Saunders and Harris voted against continued funding while Council Members Mercer, Temple, Threat and Hines voted in favor. Council Member White was absent.

City Council will have their retreat on March 30th at the airport.

There were some vacancies on boards and commissions. Cora Hines was reappointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Marva Jo Dunn resigned from both the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Redevelopment and Housing Authority on January 16, 2019 and no one was nominated to fill the remainder of her unfinished terms.

Ms. Dunn is also the City’s appointee to the Greensville County School Board, an appointment that was illegal given her membership on the Board of Zoning Appeals membership, organization, etc1. She was re-appointed to the School Board at a special meeting of the City Council on December 27, 2018. Her appointment to the RDHA was also illegal for the same reason. The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in regard to Boards of Zoning Appeals, states that “Members of the board shall hold no other public office in the locality except that one may be a member of the local planning commission” (Code of Virginia, Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns, Chapter 22. Planning, Subdivision of Land and Zoning,  § 15.2-2308. Boards of zoning appeals to be created). Ms. Dunn’s resignation from the BZA and RDHA does nothing to negate the fact that her appointment to the School Board is illegal.

During public comments Deacon Cornell Hines invited the members of City Council to the dedication of Habitat for Humanity’s tenth home in Emporia-Greensville. There are currently five in Greensville County and the fifth in the City of Emporia will be dedicated soon.  Deacon Hines

The Council adjourned to closed session to discuss a matter related to the acquisition of real estate.

Upon the return to regular session, Assistant City Manager Dr. Ed Daley explained that the City had combined five lots to make four. Of those, two have been given to habitat for Humanity. A previous arrangement specified that upon the completion of the houses on the first two lots, the additional lots would be transferred to habitat for Humanity.

(Editor's Note: This article was updated on Thursday, February 7, 2019 to include a citation for the quote from the Code of Virginia as found on the Virginia Legislative Information System, to fix some style errors and to include the name of the Assistant City Manager that had been omited.)

General Assembly Bans Holding Cellphones While Driving

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Tuesday each passed bills prohibiting motorists from touching their cellphones while driving.

The Senate approved SB 1341 on a vote of 34-6, and the House passed HB 1811, 69-27. The bills would explicitly ban using a hand-held communication device, unless it is in hands-free mode, while operating a vehicle.

State law currently prohibits only reading email or text messages or manually entering letters or text in a hand-held personal communications device while driving. The legislation would extend that ban to using the device for making phone calls, checking social media and other purposes.

“It is unlawful for any person, while driving a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth, to hold a handheld personal communications device,” the bills state.

Drivers would still be able to operate their phones if they are lawfully parked or stopped or are reporting an emergency.

The legislation passed five days after Bartley King, who was severely injured in a distracted driving accident in 2007 when he was a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, spoke to senators in favor of the proposals.

In a Facebook post, King recalled his car hitting a tree at 55 mph while he was texting. The crash put him in the VCU Medical Center and left him in a coma for 28 days. He then spent 16 months in a wheelchair relearning to walk.

“I can’t give up and allow others to be hurt as badly as I was,” King wrote. “I made my beloved mother cry and I owe it to her to protect all the other mothers from having to cry for their babies the way that mine did.”

The chief sponsors of the House bill were Republican Dels. Christopher Collins of Frederick County and Michael Webert of Fauquier County and Democratic Del. Michael Mullin of Newport News.

Speaking as a former police officer, Collins said the existing law needed improvements.

“Our current texting while driving statute has just not been enforced,” he said. “The enforcement numbers went way down during the last several years.”

The penalty for a first offense is a $125 fine that rises to $250 for a second or subsequent violation.

“This is going to be straight up — if you have your phone in your hand, you are in violation of a law,” Collins said.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Republican Sens. Richard Stuart of King George County and Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach and Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell of Fairfax.

Under the legislation, the ban on using hand-held devices would not apply to citizens band radios. The bills also would exempt hand-held communication devices that are physically connected to the vehicle and used for navigation or audio transmissions.

Although the House and Senate bills are identical, the legislation still hasn’t cleared the final hurdles. Now, the House must pass the Senate bill, or the Senate must pass the House bill, and then the governor must sign the legislation.

How they voted

Here is how the Senate voted on SB 1341 (Handheld personal communications devices; use while driving).

Floor: 02/05/19 Senate: Read third time and passed Senate (34-Y 6-N)

YEAS — Barker, Boysko, Carrico, Chase, Cosgrove, Dance, Deeds, DeSteph, Dunnavant, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Mason, McClellan, McDougle, McPike, Norment, Peake, Petersen, Reeves, Saslaw, Spruill, Stanley, Stuart, Sturtevant, Surovell, Vogel, Wagner — 34.

NAYS — Black, Chafin, Newman, Obenshain, Ruff, Suetterlein — 6.

Here is how the House voted on HB 1811 (Handheld personal communications devices; use while driving).

Floor: 02/05/19 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (69-Y 27-N)

YEAS — Adams, D.M., Adams, L.R., Ayala, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bell, Robert B., Bourne, Brewer, Bulova, Byron, Carr, Carter, Cole, Collins, Convirs-Fowler, Delaney, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Gooditis, Guzman, Head, Heretick, Herring, Hope, Hugo, Hurst, Ingram, James, Jones, J.C., Jones, S.C., Keam, Knight, Kory, Krizek, Landes, Leftwich, Levine, Lopez, McQuinn, Miyares, Mullin, Murphy, Orrock, Peace, Plum, Poindexter, Price, Ransone, Rasoul, Reid, Robinson, Rodman, Roem, Sickles, Simon, Sullivan, Thomas, Torian, Toscano, Tran, Turpin, Tyler, VanValkenburg, Ward, Ware, Watts, Webert, Wilt, Yancey — 69.

NAYS — Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bloxom, Campbell, J.L., Campbell, R.R., Davis, Edmunds, Fariss, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Hayes, Helsel, Hodges, Kilgore, LaRock, Lindsey, McGuire, McNamara, Morefield, O'Quinn, Pillion, Pogge, Rush, Stolle, Wright, Speaker Cox — 27.

Bills Push to Hide Lottery Winners’ Identities

By Alexandra Zernik and Benjamin West, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The General Assembly is moving to protect the privacy of people who win the Virginia Lottery — a proposal open-government advocates fear may threaten transparency.

Currently, the lottery must disclose the name of anybody who wins more than $600. The Senate passed a bill, SB 1060, allowing any lottery winner to ask that their name be kept secret. The House also approved legislation, HB 1650 — but it would shield the identity only of individuals who won more than $10 million.

This week, the House General Laws Committee changed SB 1060 to read like HB 1650 — protecting the privacy of only big winners — and approved it. The revised SB 1060 now goes to the full House of Delegates. HB 1650 is pending before the Senate General Laws Committee.

Both bills seek to protect lottery winners from public exposure and potential pressure or even assaults by friends, relatives or strangers when their financial situation is broadcast.

“There’s been reasonable concerns based on what’s happened in other places,” said Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper, a sponsor of HB 1650. “The goal here is not to reduce government transparency but to protect winners.”

One concern from legislators is that lottery winners will be harassed or put in other danger after their winnings become public knowledge.

Under the legislation before the General Assembly, the names and personal information of certain winners would be entirely unattainable to the public — even if requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

That worries people like Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

“That’s kind of the conventional wisdom, but I don’t know that there are actually all these stories about people’s lives being ruined,” Rhyne said.

According to Rhyne, the names of lottery winners play a key role for transparency.” The public relies quite a bit on public records laws to be able to monitor their government and help keep them accountable,” Rhyne said.

The coalition testified against both House and Senate bills. The group believes that the names of lottery winners are essential for journalists or other members of the public to identify and weed out corruption, Rhyne said.

“It hampers their ability to investigate possible fraud or kickbacks at a lottery unit,” Rhyne said.

This fall, The Virginian-Pilot made waves with a report investigating fraud in the Virginia Lottery. The newspaper found that certain people have won a statistically improbable number of times, cashing in hundreds of tickets over a relatively short period of time. The paper also reported that the lottery doesn’t investigate frequent winners unless they are reported for wrongdoing.

The Pilot’s investigation was conducted using public records showing the identities of winners.

Freitas said the legislation contains provisions “to make certain information public if necessary.”

“But the idea of we’re not going to proactively advertise someone as a winner, I think that’s an appropriate step to ensure the safety of the person that’s won,” he said.

Senate Bill Requires Ethics Training for Local Officials

By Saffeya Ahmed, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Local governments that rely on commonwealth's attorneys for legal advice can breathe a sigh of relief: State legislators have discarded a provision that would have prevented commonwealth's attorneys from serving as county, city or town government attorneys.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved two bills that require training for local elected officials. Both bills originally included clauses that would restrict the commonwealth’s attorney position, but the clauses were removed before the Senate passed the legislation.

SB 1430 and SB 1431, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, would require conflict of interest training and freedom of information training every two years, respectively.

Virginia enforces a law called the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act, which prohibits conflicts and requires economic interests be disclosed for public officers and employees. Conflicts of interest can result when a person:

  • Accepts money, gifts, or services outside of their compensation that influences their official duties

  • Has a relative or spouse with a financial interest in a situation

  • Uses confidential information for economic benefits

Under SB 1430, conflicts and ethics training would be required for all government officials, at least once every two years.

SB 1431 would implement a similar training for government officials regarding the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, which mandates Virginia citizens and members of the press have access to all public records of employees, officials and organizations.

As Redistricting Plans Advance, Advocates Slam House GOP Bill

By Daniel Berti, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the General Assembly’s session enters its second half, both the House and Senate have passed competing plans on how to redraw legislative districts. But groups that have been fighting gerrymandering prefer the Senate’s proposal, saying it would do more to take politics out of the process.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned that without the proper provisions, the General Assembly may be doomed to repeat mistakes made in 2011 when legislators gerrymandered several Virginia districts for their own benefit by diluting the voting power of African-Americans. Those districts were later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and had to be redrawn.

Some legislators say there’s an easy fix to make sure it doesn’t happen again: Create an independent commission to redraw the lines, and take the process out of the hands of politicians.

At the start of the legislative session, lawmakers offered nine different proposals to establish independent redistricting commissions. They have now been narrowed down to two.  

Senate Joint Resolution 306, sponsored by Democratic Sen. George Barker of Alexandria, sailed through the Senate last week with unanimous support. House Joint Resolution 615, sponsored by Republican Del. Mark Cole of Spotsylvania County, was narrowly approved by the House on Monday on a party-line vote, 51-48.

Both resolutions would amend the Virginia Constitution to create bipartisan commissions tasked with redrawing district lines in 2021, but the plans have some key differences:

  • SJ 306 would create a 16-member commission made up of eight General Assembly members and eight citizen members. Of the eight legislative members, four would come from the Senate, and four would come from the House, with equal representation given to each political party. Any plan drawn up by the commission would have to be agreed upon by at least six of the eight legislators and six of the eight citizen members. The plan would then be sent to the General Assembly for an up-or-down vote. The General Assembly would not be able to make any amendments to the plan.

  • HJ 615 would create a 12-member commission consisting of six Democrats and six Republicans, none of whom could be members of the General Assembly or U.S. Congress. The members would be selected by the speaker of the House, the Senate Rules Committee and the governor, and any plan drawn up by the commission would have to be agreed upon by at least eight of the 12 members. The plan would then be introduced in the General Assembly as a bill, and legislators would vote on the plan. The governor would be removed from the process and would not have the power to approve or veto the bill.

Barker’s amendment has garnered support from fair redistricting advocates, but they have concerns about Cole’s commission.

Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan redistricting group based in New Jersey, issued a statement Sunday saying that Cole’s constitutional amendment could “backfire” and increase the possibility of partisan gerrymandering in the commonwealth -- the opposite of its intended effect.

“It’s sold as nonpartisan reform. But we find that it’s more likely to entrench whatever party is already in control,” director Sam Wang wrote.

Voting rights advocacy groups Progress Virginia and New Virginia Majority issued a joint statement slamming Cole’s amendment after it was sent to the House floor last week: “The GOP’s proposal simply replaces one bad system with another,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl.

The editorial board of Lynchburg newspaper The News & Advance has come out in support of Barker’s amendment. In an op-ed published Thursday, the board wrote that, while both plans signal the General Assembly’s willingness to change the current system, SJ 306 was “far preferable” to HJ 615.

Advocacy group One Virginia 2021, which has pushed for a nonpartisan approach to redistricting in Virginia, has also expressed support for SJ 306, as has former Virginia Gov. George Allen, a Republican. Allen and One Virginia 2021 have teamed up for a five-city town hall tour to highlight the need for bipartisan redistricting reform.

Advocates are watching anxiously as the two amendments head off to the House and Senate. If either is approved by the General Assembly, it will face a long road to be added to the Virginia Constitution. Constitutional amendments must pass in two legislative sessions and then be approved by voters in a statewide election.

Lawmakers will have to act quickly to ensure that an independent commission is in place by 2021 when the U.S. Census Bureau releases new population and demographic data. If not, the same process used in 2011 will be used again in 2021.

“A Wealth Unknown”

For many years I traveled
far across the USA
stopping for a week, a month
yet sometimes just a day.
 
I’ve seen majestic mountains
and valleys rich below
yes no where that I ever went
God’s greatness didn’t show.
 
The beauty of the meadows
with flowers along the brook
now to appreciate creation
all one has to do is look.
 
Nature provides a wealth unknown
with butterflies, birds and bees
it can make one of true conviction
fall humbly to their knees.
 
Take the time for to enjoy
it’s there for all to share
walking thru the fields and woodlands
or just breathing mountain air.
 
The value it is priceless
so give thanks to God above
yes all this beauty was created
while showing us His love.
 
                              Roy E. Schepp

Deborah Jean Ferguson

Services Visitation

Saturday, February 9, 2 pm

Greensville Memorial Cemetery

1520 Skippers Road, Emporia

Saturday, February 9, Following Service

Echols Funeral Home

806 Brunswick Ave, Emporia

Deborah Jean Ferguson went home to her Maker on January 19, 2019.

Debbie was born on October 25, 1954 in Roanoke Rapids, NC and grew up in Skippers, VA. She graduated with honors from Brunswick Academy in Lawrenceville, VA and from Smithdeal-Massey Business College in Richmond. Debbie worked as an Administrative Assistant for the Richmond Housing Authority and School Board, the Maryland Cup Company, and Alexander and Alexander.

Debbie was passionate about weaving, the disability community, and nature. She was a long-standing member of the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore. Debbie led a group who wove placemats for the dining room of the Maryland Governor’s Mansion. She also was part of a group who wove tapestries depicting the Baltimore skyline. Debbie was an active member of the Perky Hornets Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Bowling Program, an adaptive sport league for people living with MS in Baltimore. When the league lost its funding, she secured a grant to allow the league to continue. Debbie was invited to join the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities because of her work with her physician’s office and neighborhood library to reconfigure their parking to accommodate vehicles modified for those with disabilities. She won first prize at the Maryland State Fair for her photograph of a butterfly. Debbie loved cats, birds, and all of nature.

Debbie is survived by her son Gavin Rosenbush (Linda), daughter Amanda Lippa (Ariel), two grandchildren, extended family, and dear friends. She was predeceased by her parents Edward and Lucille (Collins) Ferguson. She was recently divorced from Robert Rosenbush.

A graveside service will be held on February 9th at 2 p.m. at Greensville Memorial Cemetery, 1250 Skippers Rd, Emporia, VA. The family will receive guests immediately afterwards at Echols Funeral Home, 806 Brunswick Ave, Emporia, VA from 3-4 p.m.

Donations may be made in Debbie’s memory to the National MS Society, P.O. Box 4527, New York, NY 10163.

On line condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

Microsoft Donates to Southside Virginia Community College

Shown with the donation from Microsoft to Southside Virginia Community College are (Left to Right) Kelly Arnold, SVCC Apprenticeship Coordinator, Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President, Anthony Putorek, Senior Lead Workforce Development Program Manager for Microsoft, and Mary Jane Elkins, Dean of Institutional Advancement for SVCC.

With a mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft has reached out to Southside Virginia in a big way.  Anthony Putorek, Senior Lead Workforce Development Program Manager for Microsoft, said simply, “We are investing in people and developing communities.”

The company recently donated another $45,000 towards student success and has invested in the community by providing 14 scholarships to students in the past.

The students take classes through Southside Virginia Community College’s Center for Information Technology Excellence (CITE) at the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill and the IT Academy (ITA) of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston.

Dr. Al Roberts said, “Microsoft has been a true partner in our community and has provided valuable support for this IT program offering.  We appreciate their investment in the future of Southside Virginia.”

Microsoft announced their investment in bringing a data center to Mecklenburg County’s Boydton Industrial Park in 2010.  Since that time, the company is investing in training Southside people for jobs where IT skills are needed. 

The CITE and ITA labs are an example of how a partnership can make things happen for a community. Microsoft and their involvement impacts Southside Virginia and those seeking a future with a career in IT.

COUNTY OF GREENSVILLE GENERAL REASSESSMENT OF REAL ESTATE

Greensville County has retained Pearson’s Appraisal Service, Inc., to perform the 2020 General Reassessment of real estate, which will become effective January 1, 2020. The County currently performs real estate reassessment every 6 years. The Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, mandates that each locality periodically perform a general reassessment of real estate to determine each property’s fair market.

All associates of the reassessment team will be carrying a photo I.D. and County Reassessment signs will be displayed on their vehicles. Appraisers will be viewing dwellings and properties, as well as taking exterior pictures/measurements in order to determine fair market value. No reassessment staff will be entering any home. The ultimate goal is to get a good, accurate assessment of all real estate in the County.

Field assessments are expected to be completed by September 2019. Notices of the assessments will be mailed out to property owners in November 2019. These notices will also give the details on the method of appealing the proposed assessed values.

Property owners are encouraged to provide the appraisers with any additional information that may be helpful in assessing their property. To provide information, please call 540-480-6175.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax Would Become Governor if Northam Resigns

By Owen FitzGerald, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — If Gov. Ralph Northam resigns because of the scandal over a racist picture in his medical school yearbook, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would become the 74th governor of Virginia.

That would make Fairfax, 39, the second African-American governor in Virginia’s history and just the fourth to hold the office nationwide in recent years. In 1990, L. Douglas Wilder became the first elected African-American governor in the United States.

Article V, Section 16, of the Constitution of Virginia sets out the succession to the office of governor: “In the case of the removal of the Governor from office or in the case of his disqualification, death, or resignation, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor.”

Like Northam, Fairfax is a Democrat. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2017, defeating the Republican nominee, state Sen. Jill Vogel of Fauquier County. This is Fairfax’s first term in elective office.

Fairfax, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a descendent of Virginia slaves. When he was sworn into office, Fairfax was carrying in his breast pocket the manumission papers that freed his great-great-great-grandfather.

In private life, Fairfax is an attorney with a law firm in Northern Virginia and previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney. He is a graduate of Duke University and Columbia Law School and in 2013 won the National Bar Association’s “Nation’s Best Advocates Award,” which recognizes 40 top attorneys nationwide under the age of 40.

Northam said in public statement Saturday afternoon that he would not resign but instead would work to reconcile the “people he has hurt.” Northam added that Fairfax, who did not attend the governor’s press conference, did not want him to resign.

In a statement following the Northam’s press conference, Fairfax did not join Democratic colleagues calling for the governor’s resignation. Fairfax’s statement said of Northam: “While his career has been marked by service to children, soldiers and constituents, I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping and intimidation.”

As lieutenant governor, Fairfax is the presiding officer in the Virginia Senate. Republicans have a 22-19 advantage over Democrats in the Senate. The lieutenant governor votes only in the case of a tie.

Under the Virginia Constitution, if Fairfax does end up succeeding Northam, the Senate’s president pro tempore would serve as the Senate’s presiding officer. That position is currently held by Republican Sen. Stephen Newman of Bedford.

Newman issued a statement Saturday saying that “my wife and I have asked God to give our Governor wisdom in the coming hours, and for the health, clarity and resolve to do the right thing for the people of Virginia.”

“After this dark hour has passed, the President Pro Tempore must be in a position to serve as a healer, bringing all parties back together to work for a better and stronger Commonwealth,” Newman said.

Northam Denies Racist Photo And Says He Won’t Resign

By Georgia Geen, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Resisting pressure to resign, Gov. Ralph Northam said Saturday that he is not one of the individuals in a racist photo found on his medical school yearbook page, but he revealed he once “darkened” his skin as part of a Michael Jackson costume in a dance contest the same year.

At an afternoon press conference, Northam said the costume was not blackface — which is when a non-black person uses makeup or another substance to appear black. At the San Antonio event, which occurred in 1984, the same year the yearbook photo was taken, a 25-year-old Northam put shoe polish on his cheeks. He said he used a small amount because the substance is “hard to get off.”

“I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that,” Northam said.

Blackface in the U.S. originated with 19th-century theatrical performances and was used to perpetuate racist stereotypes.

Northam’s defense centers around the San Antonio event. On Saturday, he said that he had no recollection of attending the party where the racist photo was taken but that he remembers “darkening” his skin to look like Jackson. To Northam, his clear recollection of one event and not the other is the sign he wasn’t “the person in that uniform and I am not the person to the right.”

After conversations with family, friends and former classmates, Northam said he came to the conclusion that he was not in the photo. He said he previously identified himself as being in the image because of all of the “hurt” it was causing.

Northam did not have a specific explanation for how the photo appeared on his yearbook page. He said he submitted three other photos but did not recognize the image in question. It’s possible, he said, that the photo belonged to a classmate and was incorrectly placed on his page.

Eastern Virginia Medical School, Northam’s alma mater that produced the yearbook, issued a statement by its president saying the institution shares the “outrage, alarm and sadness voiced by our alumni, the press and many on social media” over the yearbook image.

In Northam’s Virginia Military Institute yearbook, one of his nicknames was listed as “coonman” — “coon” is a racial slur referring to black people. He said two older classmates referred to him as such, but he said that he did not know their motives or intent and that he regrets the fact that the nickname was used in the yearbook.

Since the photo surfaced Friday, Northam has maintained that he will not resign.

“As long as I feel I can lead, I will continue to do that,” Northam said. “If I reach a point where I am not comfortable with that, obviously I will sit back and have that discussion.”

Scores of groups and individuals have called for Northam to step down as governor in response, including Susan Swecker, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the NAACP and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. The calls for his resignation still sounded after his denial of the photo.

“It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a statement released more than 24 hours after the photo first surfaced.

Many Virginians aren’t receptive to Northam’s remorse. Saturday morning, a group of about 25 protesters urged Northam to resign. Next to the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, David Williams stood with a sign that read, “Step down and do VA a favor.” He attended the march with his two young-adult daughters.

“I’m out here, really, to show my kids that you must protest when anything comes up that’s wrong,” Williams said. “The pictures that we saw was very disturbing and very hurtful, especially to African Americans.”

Francesca Leigh Davis, who attended the protest, said she was “appalled” at Northam’s reaction to the backlash.

“You put black people through this shame, the people who voted for you to stand in this office. I’m insulted that black people are used like pawns in this particular party,” Davis said. “Think of each and every black vote that was cast for you. We trusted you.”

Both Democrats and Republicans Demand Gov. Northam’s Resignation

By Saffeya Ahmed, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Across the political spectrum, government officials and advocacy groups are calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation after media reports of a racist photo on his page in a college yearbook.

The photo, from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook, features two men — one dressed in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe. On Friday, Northam apologized for the photo. On Saturday, he said that it was not him in the picture after all and that he would not resign.

Calls for Northam’s resignation began Friday night and continued throughout Saturday. They came from both sides of the aisle, including Virginia Democrats, House and Senate Republican leaders and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

“When the racist picture first emerged Friday, we were shocked and repulsed. The photo is disturbing and offensive, as unacceptable in 1984 as it is today,” said a statement issued by House Speaker Kirk Cox and other Republicans.

“While we respect the governor’s lifetime of service, his ability to lead and govern is permanently impaired and the interests of the commonwealth necessitate his resignation.”

Democratic leaders agreed.

Susan Swecker, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, issued a statement Saturday calling for Northam’s immediate resignation.

“We made the decision to let Gov. Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning — we have gotten word he will not do so this morning. We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign. He no longer has our confidence or our support.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe denounced the photo on Twitter, calling the photos “racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age an any time.” He said Northam should resign, deeming the situation “untenable.”

On Saturday afternoon, Attorney General Mark Herring said, “It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down.”

Saturday night, more than a dozen progressive groups – including Planned Parenthood, Equality Virginia and environmental and labor organizations – issued a statement reiterating their call for Northam to leave office.

“We heard what the Governor said today and we are not only unmoved but even more disgusted in his actions and changing stories. We reaffirm our demand that he must immediately resign,” the statement said.

New Virginia Majority, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Progress Virginia are among other groups that have called for Northam to step down.

“No matter the era, or the messenger, blackface costumes and Ku Klux Klan regalia have represented terror and fear for communities of color since Reconstruction,” said Harrison Wallace, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “There is no excuse for wearing them.”

Virginia Sees Population Booms and Big Declines

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — So far this decade, Virginia has grown — and shrunk — in population.

Seventy of the state’s 133 cities and counties gained population between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2018, according to data released this week by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. The population of Loudoun County, in Northern Virginia, jumped 30 percent, to more than 406,000.

But the remaining 63 localities — largely rural areas in the southern and western parts of the state — saw population declines. The population of Buchanan County, in the Appalachian Mountains bordering West Virginia and Kentucky, dropped more than 10 percent, to fewer than 21,600 residents.

Overall, Virginia’s population has grown by 6.5 percent since the 2010 census, passing 8.5 million residents last year, according to the Weldon Cooper Center, which generates the state’s official population estimates.

Even so, the state’s annual population growth this decade is the lowest since the 1920s, the center said. During the past five years, the commonwealth’s population has grown more slowly than the nation as a whole.

Hamilton Lombard, a demographer who prepared the annual estimates, said Virginia’s population growth has slowed largely because of “domestic out-migration” — more people moving out of Virginia than into the state.

“Over the last five years, 80,000 more Virginians moved out than residents from other states moved in,” Lombard said. “Many were young families, which helped cause Virginia’s public school enrollment to decline last fall for the first time since 1984.”

The center’s estimates show that Northern Virginia’s population has grown about 13 percent since 2018. Of the 10 fastest-growing localities in Virginia, eight are part of the Washington, D.C., metro area. Besides Loudoun County, they include Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Arlington, Manassas Park, Stafford County, Prince William County and Alexandria.

The other localities in the top 10 are New Kent County, between Richmond and Williamsburg, which grew 22 percent — second only to Loudoun County; and Charlottesville, which grew 13.5 percent.

On the other hand, every Virginia county bordering North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky lost population this decade. Besides Buchanan County, the population declined 9 percent in Dickenson County and 7 percent in the counties of Wise, Tazewell, Alleghany and Surry and the cities of Emporia and Galax. Tazewell and Wise counties each lost more than 3,000 residents.

Augie Wallmeyer, author of the book “The Extremes of Virginia,” attributed the population decline in southern Virginia to a multitude of overlapping conditions.

The most glaring reason is financial insecurity, Wallmeyer said. With the decline of the coal, textile and agriculture industries, Southside Virginia has struggled to provide jobs and economic opportunities, especially for young people. As a result, they move out of the state or to northern parts of Virginia to find work and settle down.

Wallmeyer said other reasons people are leaving could include drug problems in the southern part of the state, lack of higher education and a lack of quality health care.

“The state has known about these problems for quite some time and is taking efforts to put programs in place to make better opportunities available, particularly for young people,” he said.

One effort involves the move by Amazon to invest $2.5 billion in Northern Virginia and open a headquarters in the area. With that initiative, the state will help community colleges provide trade and technical training so that workers can qualify for jobs in today’s more modern economy, Wallmeyer said.

“A big part of that package deal is a significant commitment by the state to drastically increase its training of computer engineering people,” Wallmeyer said. “That’s going to help all of Virginia, not just Northern Virginia.”

He is optimistic that such initiatives can revitalize the economy and stabilize the population in rural areas.

“It’s not going to happen to happen today or tonight or tomorrow, but the seeds are planted,” Wallmeyer said.

House OKs Letting Parents Review School Materials

By Rodney Robinson, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Thirteen Democratic delegates split from bipartisan support of a House bill that allows parents to review anti-bullying or suicide prevention materials at their children’s school that may include graphic sexual or violent content.

HB 2107, carried by Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Westmoreland, “requires local school boards to develop and implement policies that ensure parents the right to review any audio-visual materials that contain graphic sexual or violent content used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention program,” according to the bill summary.

Parents could excuse their children from viewing the materials. The school would be required to provide written notice of a parent’s right to review the material and their right to excuse their child from participating in that part of the program, the bill says.

The bill heads to the Senate after passing the House, 86-13, on Tuesday.

Willie Deutsch, a member of the Prince William County School Board, supported the bill, saying, “Parental involvement is essential to a child’s academic success.”

“We need more parents involved in their children’s education,” Deutsch stated in a press release.

Deutsch used the opportunity to blast Del. Lee Carter of Manassas, who voted against the bill along with a dozen fellow Democratic delegates. “Sadly, Del. Carter made it clear that he opposes the important role of parents in their children’s education,” Deutsch said.

Carter declined to respond to Deutsch’s statement.

In 2016, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a similar bill that passed the House and Senate. That legislation required schools to notify parents of any sexually explicit teaching material used in the classroom. If parents chose not to allow their children to view the material, teachers would have to provide alternative assignments.

The House fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to override McAuliffe’s veto.

Administration Officials Stress Need for Broadband Access for all Rural Virginia at Annual Caucus Reception

RICHMOND, Virginia (January 31, 2019) – Bringing universal broadband coverage to rural Virginia remains a top priority for the Commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam told more than 200 elected officials, business and government leaders at the annual Rural Caucus Reception in Richmond on Wednesday, January 30.
 
“There is no way today that business can grow in Virginia, there is no way that a business will want to come to Virginia, especially rural Virginia, if we don’t have universal access to broadband,” Northam said. “Our goal in Virginia is to make Virginia the most business-friendly state in the country. We want to make sure all Virginians, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, have a job to support themselves and their families with.”
 
In addition to Northam, Lt. Governor of Virginia Justin Fairfax and Joseph Mengedoth, Associate Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank gave brief remarks to attendees at the annual event co-hosted by the Center for Rural Virginia and the Virginia Association of Counties.
 
A number of secretariats, other state administration officials and members of the General Assembly’s Rural Caucus attended. All told, representatives from 30 counties across the state attended the event, and hundreds more tuned in to the Facebook Live video feed and live Twitter coverage.
 
“Coming together at events like this – sharing challenges and best practices face-to-face – are among the best ways we can all advocate for rural Virginia,” said Kristie Proctor, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Virginia. “Seeing so many representatives from across the Commonwealth – from the farthest corner of Southwest Virginia to the most eastern shores of rural coastal Virginia – at our annual Rural Caucus Reception gives me great hope for what we can all accomplish this year.”

With the General Assembly still in their 2019 session, economic development remains a key topic when it comes to developing policy to grow rural Virginia.
 
While the Virginia unemployment rate currently sits at 2.8 percent, Northam said, “I remind people that if you go to the Eastern Shore where I’m from, or the Southside or the Southwest, we still have a lot of work to do.”
 
In addition to broadband, among the initiatives legislators are tracking this General Assembly session include improvements on the Interstate 81 corridor where a great deal of commerce occurs, supporting continued efforts to attract visitors to Virginia with tourism being the fifth largest industry in the state, and the importance of supporting and growing agriculture and forestry operations across the Commonwealth.
 
“People sometimes forget that agriculture and forestry remain the number one industry in Virginia,” Northam said. “We need to do everything that we can to encourage our farmers, our foresters.”
 
Ninety percent of Virginia is rural, Lt. Governor Fairfax noted in his remarks.
 
“Opportunity is the oxygen of a democracy and where it exists people and communities grow and thrive,” Fairfax said. “We want to make sure there is more opportunity in all parts of the Commonwealth, but in particular in our rural areas.”

People in rural Virginia need those opportunities, Mengedoth of the Federal Reserve Bank noted.
 
In some rural Virginia areas, Mengedoth explained in his remarks, the unemployment rate is on the decline not because people are finding jobs, but rather because people are giving up looking for jobs and leaving the labor force all together.
 
“I believe we live in the best state in the best country in the world,” Northam said “Let’s all continue to work together to do everything that we can to bring rural Virginia back.”

Wilbur Eugene “Gene” Thomas

Visitation Services

Friday, February 1, 5-7 pm

Williams Funeral Home

410 Windosr Avenue

Lawrenceville, Virginia

Saturday, February 2, 11:00 a.m.

Edgerton United Methodist Church

92 County Pond Rd.

Lawrenceville, Virginia

, age 85, of Lawrenceville, VA passed away January 30, 2019.  He is the son of the late Wilbur A. and Bessie O. Thomas and was born and raised in Brunswick County.  He is a Graduate of the University of Richmond and a U. S. Army Veteran.  He was the owner of Brunswick Insurance Agency and was a member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia.  Gene loved his community and served on many boards such as the Old Brunswick Foundation; the Local Board of Southside Virginia Community College; the SVCC Foundation Board; Lawrenceville Brick Board of Directors; Sovran Bank; the Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority; and the Greensville Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.  Mr. Thomas also served as president for the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce, the Lawrenceville Jaycees and the Lawrenceville Rotary Club.  He was a member of Edgerton United Methodist Church where he taught Sunday school, was a Lay Leader and Finance Chair; served as Chairman of the Administrative Board and on the Petersburg District Council.  Gene was a proud Red Cross 8 gallon blood donor and a member of the Spider Club.  He is survived by his sons, Michael Thomas and wife Stacey and Ray Thomas and wife Pam; six grandchildren, Ashley, Brooke, Alec, Ariel, Katie and Ellie; six great grandchildren; his sisters, Betty Davis and Lois Clary; and his brother, Ran Thomas.  A graveside service will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Edgerton United Methodist Church, Lawrenceville, VA.  The family will receive friends Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville.  Memorial contributions may be made to Brunswick Academy, 2100 Planters Rd., Lawrenceville, VA; University of Richmond Spider Club, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA  23286; Edgerton United Methodist Church, 92 County Pond Rd., Lawrenceville, VA  23868; or the Gene and Mary Alice Thomas Scholarship Fund, 109 Campus Drive, Alberta, VA  23821.

Esther Allen

Visitation Services

Friday, February, 1, 6-8 pm

Owen Funeral Home

303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia

 

Saturday, February 2, 2:00 pm

Greensville Memorial Cemetery

Emporia, Virginia

 

Esther Allen, 81, of Emporia, widow of Bubba Allen, passed away Wednesday, January 30, 2019. She is survived by a special friend, Bob Morris; son, Lawrence Allen, Jr.; daughter, Marilyn Lagiglia and husband, Rick; granddaughter, Brandy Ogburn and husband, Eddie; grandson, Jamie Willis and wife, Margie; great-grandchildren; Dylan, E. J. and Jackson Ogburn and Aiden Willis and numerous nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday, February 1 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Saturday, February 2 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to a favorite hospice group. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Charles M. "Chuck" Rullman

Visitation Services

Saturday, February 2, 1 pm

St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church

1351 West Atlantic St., Emporia, VA

Saturday, February 2, 2 pm

St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church

1351 West Atlantic St., Emporia, VA

 

Charles (Chuck) M. Rullman, Jr., of Emporia, entered into the life beyond, January 29, after a brief illness. He is survived by his beloved wife, Debbie; daughter Leah (fiancé Brian) of Hoboken, NJ; sister Peggy (husband Bob) of North Huntington, PA; and brother Don (wife Debbie) of Johnstown, PA.

A native of Johnstown, he was the son of the late Charles M. Rullman Sr. and Anna Moskal Rullman.  Chuck graduated from Westmont Hilltop High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He also earned a Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Chuck recently retired from the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services. He was a member of St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church and a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Emporia for many years.

Chuck loved volunteering and helping people, was an avid gardener and steadfast Steeler fan, and greatly enjoyed his two Jack Russells and cats.

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, February 2, 2019 at St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Stephen Bocklage officiating. Burial will follow in the Church Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 1:00 P.M. until service time at the Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. John the Baptist Lutheran Church, 1351 West Atlantic St., Emporia, VA 23847

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

Michelle Ashby – VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Year

Getting a really big surprise twice in one year at your workplace can be disconcerting, just ask Michelle Ashby.

Michelle was named the Team Member of the Month in October 2018 and was shocked then, but was even more surprised to learn she was named the VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Star Service Team Member of the Year for 2018.

Michelle’s work as a home health nurse earned her the distinction thanks to her interaction with a patient over many weeks.

“I’ve been in home health for 20 years and it’s great to enjoy what you do and to be honored like this, I just want to thank the patient who nominated me,” she said.

Her patient was glowing in praise for Michelle’s knowledge, friendliness and efficiency.

The patient said, “I am an extreme introvert. The thought of someone I don’t know coming into my home was not a good feeling for me. Add to that, not feeling well and just having been through a traumatic emergency surgery and you can guess how apprehensive I was. But we needed help and I could not have had a better experience.”

She continued, “I never felt like she was rushing to her next home visit even when my questions kept her with me longer than normal. And speaking of normal, she put me at ease many times over my expectations of how long my healing was taking versus how I thought it SHOULD be going. I could ask her absolutely anything health related and knew I would get an honest answer and helpful suggestions.”

Michelle’s supervisor, Megan Gardner, agreed with the patient about Michelle. “In her short time here at VCU Health CMH, Michelle has touched the lives of many patients within our community. She is always thinking ahead on how to improve organizational processes and is more than willing to go that extra mile for her patients. Michelle is an integral part of our home health and hospice team and our organization as a whole is better because she is a part of it.”

By earning the Team Member of the Year Award, Michelle received a special gift from VCU Health CMH, a gift certificate for $200 to spend on a getaway and $300 in spending cash. The patient who nominated Michelle learned about her selection as the Team Member of the Year and said, “I’m extremely happy that she received this well-deserved honor.”

Michelle has been with VCU Health CMH for just over a year. She was recently married to Mike Thomas and Michelle has two children, Daleigh, an RN herself, and Hunter.

She’s a graduate of Lenoir College in Kenston, NC and resides in the Bracey, VA area.

Michelle has experienced a major health issue herself. She broke her neck in two places nearly 10 years ago and understands the impact healthcare can have on a person and how the treatment a patient receives makes such a huge difference in their life.

Other nominees considered for 2018 VCU Health CMH Star Service Team Member of the Year were: Erin Davis, Lovellah Ballesteros, Brian Jones, Laure Gill, Bertha Evans, John Watson, Megan Llewallen, Ashley Wray, Patricia Urda, Mildred Waye and Linda Wilkins.

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