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Jessica Wetzler

Career Opportunity

Science Teacher

Would you like to provide educational direction and instruction to Virginia’s disadvantaged youth in a small class setting?  A private rural accredited residential special education facility seeks experienced Virginia licensed secondary Science Teacher.  Qualified candidates must possess the analytical and observational skills to make decisions which safeguard the health, safety, and educational plans of students in care.

Competitive salary & benefits including employer sponsored health, dental, vision, &life insurance and a 401(k) retirement plan with an employer match.

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services is an equal opportunity employer and drug free work place.  Applicants must satisfactorily complete criminal background, CPS, and drug/alcohol screenings.  Position Open until filled.

Mail, e-mail, or fax resume and cover letter to:

Chris Thompson
Re:  Job #: 2018-9
546 Walnut Grove Drive
Jarratt, Virginia 23867
Fax: (434) 634-6237
E-mail:  cthompson@jacksonfeild.org


Saturday, June 7 Yardsale hosted at Roanoke-Wildwood Vol. Fire Dept., 790 Lizard Creek Rd. (aka River Rd.), Littleton, NC, (252) 586-5737. 9:00-1:00 rain or shine. Furniture, household goods, electronics, tools, toys, linens, and much, much more are for sale. Proceeds go to support the Fire Dept.

Environmentalists Urge Governor to Oust DEQ Director

By Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – An environmental group reiterated its call Wednesday for Gov. Ralph Northam to fire the head of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, saying David Paylor “has regularly sided with polluters over the environment.”

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network made that statement after Northam signed an executive order instructing the DEQ to conduct an internal review. Northam said the review would include updating regulations, strengthening enforcement of environmental standards, identifying the causes of permitting delays and improving transparency.

“We agree with Gov. Northam that the Department of Environmental Quality needs to be seriously reformed, so we commend him for that,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “However, we are highly skeptical that DEQ Director David Paylor can oversee this internal review in a fair and comprehensive manner. The DEQ is a broken agency, and Director David Paylor is the one that broke it.”

Peter Anderson, Virginia program manager for the group Appalachian Voices, expressed skepticism about the DEQ’s ability to conduct the internal review.

“Gov. Northam’s announcement today calls for vital improvements at DEQ for protecting Virginia communities and the commonwealth’s natural resources,” Anderson said. “But it remains to be seen whether any real changes will occur.”

Anderson said the DEQ has a history of aligning with industries over the public interest. “Nonetheless, we hope DEQ seizes this opportunity to revamp its operations and prioritize the public interest over the interests of the companies it regulates,” he said.

Paylor has served as the director of the DEQ since 2006 when appointed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine.

Since 1973, Paylor has spent his career serving with environmental agencies such as the State Water Control Board and the Environmental Research Institute of the States. The Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute recognized Paylor as the recipient of its 2015 Gerald P. McCarthy Award for Leadership in Environmental Conflict Resolution.

However, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network says Paylor is too close to the companies DEQ regulates.

“We believe David Paylor should be replaced as DEQ director,” Tidwell said. “If Gov. Northam keeps him on, however, Paylor should recuse himself from this much-needed agency review. We hope Gov. Northam will consider turning the review over completely to the Secretary of Natural Resources in order to ensure real and substantive changes at the DEQ.”

Tidwell criticized Paylor’s relationship with energy companies and other businesses.

“In 12 years at the DEQ helm, Paylor has consistently sided with polluting industries over environmental advocacy groups,” Tidwell said. “The director has outraged health and environmental leaders by siding with Dominion on the dumping of coal ash in rivers and, most notoriously, the construction of patently harmful pipelines for fracked gas like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

Tidwell commended Northam for taking “several positive steps” to improve environmental protection and advocacy in Virginia. “He has supported joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has pushed Dominion Energy to invest more in renewable power and efficiency,” Tidwell said.

But he said the governor “dropped the ball” by reappointing Paylor on Monday.

Tidwell said the timing of the reappointment was painful for landowners living along the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last week, the DEQ gave final approval to begin cutting trees and clearing land for the project, which will run more than 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

Panel Kills Bill Allowing Drunken Driving on Private Property

By Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A Senate bill that would have allowed Virginians to drive drunk on their private property was killed unanimously by a House subcommittee Friday after an outcry from traffic safety advocates.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George, originally intended the bill to reduce the likelihood of someone being charged with a DUI while drinking in a vehicle on their own property. He used the example of a man accused of driving under the influence while listening to the radio in his car parked in his driveway.

The bill attracted critics nationwide and beyond. “We defend #DUIs and #IRPs but even we have to admit: this is really dumb,” Acumen Law Corp., a law firm in Vancouver, Canada, posted on Twitter. In Canada, IRP stands for immediate roadside prohibitions.

SB 308 was initially killed in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee but was brought up for reconsideration in February by Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg. The bill then advanced to the floor, where it passed the Senate, 37-3.

Crossing over to the House, the bill was assigned to a House Courts of Justice subcommittee, where anti-drunken driving advocates continued to express their opposition.

Kurt Erickson, president and CEO of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program, said a one-day delay in taking up the bill had “frankly, made advocates opposing the bill nervous.” He had urged the bill’s opponents to call on subcommittee members to reject “this slippery slope legislation.”

Del. Christopher Collins, R-Frederick, recommended the bill be “passed by indefinitely,” essentially killing it for the session. He said the legislation’s concept was flawed, arguing that motorists could park cars on their property after driving under the influence.

The bill was killed, 7-0. Stuart was not present.

“I think it’s good news,” Erickson said. “Its passage would have otherwise been a dangerous precedent to communicate that in Virginia, it is OK to drive drunk here but not there.”

Athletes’ Artwork Scores Big at ‘Abstract’ Exhibit

By Zachary Joachim and Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis says art has been an inspirational factor in his athletic career.

“When I was a kid, I’d pick up fabric paint and draw cartoon characters on my jeans and shirts,” Davis said. “I don’t know where it came from; it was just something that followed me through the rest of my life.”

Art and athletics came together Friday when 1708 Gallery welcomed “The Abstract Athlete,” the first exhibition in Richmond to feature Davis and other professional athletes who have maintained an active art career.

“The Abstract Athlete” explores work centered on the collision of art, sports and science. It includes pieces by Brett Tomko, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, and Larry Sanders, a Virginia Commonwealth University basketball star who later played in the NBA, as well as by U.S. Army veterans such as Alicia Dietz and Joe Olney.

Their artwork will be on display at the gallery, 319 W. Broad St., until March 17.

Before the opening of the exhibit, the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center hosted a symposium to discuss the benefit of art in sport. It focused on the effects that creating art has on the mind and body.

Speakers included Davis, Dietz, former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Percy King and David Cifu, associate dean for innovation and system integration in VCU’s School of Medicine.

“Art can follow you, and you don’t even know it’s following you. Art will always come first to me, and sports will follow,” Davis said. “Not saying I don’t love sports; I enjoy the creative opportunities it gives me. But art is the best combination in my life.”

Within the first three minutes of the gallery’s opening, Davis’s pieces – “The Sea #1” and “The Sea #2” – sold, with proceeds benefiting the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts. The works feature bright-colored triangles laid over a monotone rectangular base, creating an eye-popping effect designed to have viewers diving into the deep blues and copper hues of the sea.

King’s two works use hand-carved wood segments in a variety of shapes and colors. King stacks the pieces upon one another, creating a 3-D effect that interprets shadows and lines through the shapes of wood. His first piece on display, “The Boxer,” features a pair of blue boxing gloves. His second piece, “Heavy is the crown,” is a portrait of Barack Obama.

King said art is integral to his performance on the football field.

“It helps with healing, athletic performance, rest – it’s really adding an efficiency element,” King said. “I do things in a more complex and rich way. Art adds that layer of complexity to our hardworking bodies and brains.”

Cifu echoed King’s message, saying art is therapeutic for people who have experienced mental or physical trauma.

“I’m an artist at a very small level,” Cifu said. “But maybe I’m a healing artist.”

Olney, who served in Iraq as a sergeant and combat engineer, also had one of his pieces sell within 30 minutes.

U.S. bobsledder Hillary Werth takes inspiration from the streets of New York through her painting “Escape.” The landscape features dark purple, red and yellow spray-painted graffiti art and textured backgrounds.

Tomko sticks to his roots in his two pieces, re-creating iconic moments in the history of Major League Baseball. His first, “The Great Bambino,” features New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth. His second, “Color Line,” depicts Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major leagues, running the bases.

Other artists participating in the exhibit include professional soccer player Jay DeMerit and painter Ridley Howard.

“The Abstract Athlete” is the name not only of the exhibit but also of an organization that brings together artists and professional athletes.

Business partners Ron Johnson and Chris Clemnar founded the group and spent two years planning the exhibit. Clemnar is a toy designer, and Johnson has been an art professor at VCU since 2003. Johnson hopes to display the exhibit internationally.

More information on the web

For more information about the artists, see www.theabstractathlete.com. The 1708 Gallery, a nonprofit space for new art, is located at 319 W. Broad St. Its website is at www.1708gallery.org, and the phone number is 804-643-1708.

Senate Bill Passes Quietly, Allowing Drunken Driving on Private Property

By Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Leaders in the fight against drunken driving were appalled after a Senate bill flew under the radar and quietly passed with a 37-3 vote, allowing Virginians to lawfully drive while intoxicated on their own property.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George, originally introduced SB 308 to clarify that the state law against driving under the influence applies only to public roadways and that people can’t be charged for drinking in a vehicle on their property. Existing law simply says you can’t operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated and does not distinguish between public and private property.

During the Senate Courts of Justice Committee meeting on Jan. 31, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys and advocacy organizations spoke against the bill.

“Is a driver with a .14 BAC (blood alcohol content) operating a motor vehicle across Kings Dominion’s parking lot any less of a threat than if he or she were similarly doing so on a neighboring roadway?” asked Kurt Erickson, president and CEO of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

SB 308 was then essentially killed, or passed by indefinitely, on a 7-5 vote.

Although thought to be dead, the legislation was abruptly brought up for reconsideration by Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, halfway through a committee meeting on Monday. Peake had voted to kill the bill at the previous meeting.

After speaking with members of the committee and Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney David Ledbetter, Stuart said he wanted to change the language of the bill.

“The bill had to do with a DUI on your private property or current property. And by trying to define where you could actually be charged with it, I think my bill went a little too broad,” Stuart said.

By narrowly defining the bill to exempt getting charged with DWI at home or other private property, it would eliminate cases of those found drinking in a parked car in their driveway, Stuart said.

Ledbetter said he made the suggestion to Stuart about changing the language, but remained unsure it would be successful.

“I’m afraid we are going to exempt someone that we should not,” Ledbetter said.

The legislation was approved 14-1 by the committee, with only Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, voting against it. The legislation had been changed to add: “This section shall not apply to any person driving or operating a motor vehicle on his own residential property or the curtilage thereof,” essentially allowing people to lawfully drive drunk on their own property.

“Inasmuch, the bill throws Virginia down the slippery slope of bifurcating the state’s DUI laws, effectively communicating that it’s OK to drive drunk here but not there – a dangerous precedent,” Erickson said. “The Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys and Washington Regional Alcohol Program remain opposed to this legislation.”

The bill flew through its second and third reading and passed the Senate three days after it was resurrected.

Republicans Kill Top-Priority Bills Sought by Women’s Advocates

By Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Women’s rights advocates are disappointed after legislative panels this week killed bills on some of their top-priority issues -- mandating equal pay, reducing restrictions on access to abortion and requiring employers to provide paid medical leave.

The votes, called “anti-woman” by one advocacy group, continued on Friday with  a House Courts of Justice subcommittee defeating the Whole Woman's Health Act. Sponsored by Del. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax,  HB 1231   stated that, “A pregnant person has a fundamental right to obtain an abortion.”      

The subcommittee also killed a bill by Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico, to remove what Democrats see as  medically unnecessary barriers to abortion access. HB 450 sought to repeal the statutory requirements that a physician obtain a woman’s written consent and perform a transabdominal ultrasound before an abortion.

On Thursday, a House Commerce and Labor subcommittee voted 5-3 along party lines against advancing Boysko’s HB 1089, which required equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.

Voting to kill the bill were Republican Dels. Kathy Byron of Bedford; R. Lee Ware, Chesterfield; Israel O’Quinn, Grayson; Margaret Ransone, Westmoreland; and Michael Webert, Culpeper. Supporting the bills were Democratic Dels. Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax; Lamont Bagby, Henrico; and Michael Mullin, James City.

“By voting against equal pay for equal work, the message to Virginia women is loud and clear: Our lawmakers in Richmond do not consider us first-class citizens,” said Patsy Quick, co-president of the American Association of University Women of Virginia.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that in 2016, Virginia women working full time made 80 cents for every dollar made by men—a pay gap of 20 percent. As bad as this is, it is even worse for women of color,” Quick said.

For every dollar earned by a white man, black women make  about 63 cents, Latinas 54 cents and white women 78 cents, according to a news release from Progress Virginia, a liberal advocacy group.

Progress Virginia and other advocates also criticized lawmakers for killing two bills introduced by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun:

  • SB 709, which sought to eliminate such requirements as a waiting period and an ultrasound before undergoing  abortions.  The Senate Health and Education Committee killed the bill last week at the sponsor’s request -- a move sometimes made when a bill has little or no chance at passage.

  • SB 421, which would have required private employers with 50 or more workers to give full-time employees paid medical leave. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed the bill Monday on an 11-4 party-line vote.

More than 100 Rally for Women’s Rights

By Chelsea Jackson and Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – On the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that legalized access to abortion, more than 100 people, including top state officials, gathered at the state Capitol in support of a woman’s right to choose.

The Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition kicked off its lobby day with a rally to support reproductive freedom and address issues women still face such as the wage gap and the stigma of abortion.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and president of Whole Woman’s Health, said women are still fighting many battles for justice.

“We have the #MeToo campaign and the Black Lives Matter movement, and we have powerful Democratic leadership in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Miller said.

That leadership attended the rally in full force, as Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax spoke at the event.

“We are going to win this fight,” said Fairfax, who presides over the Virginia Senate. “I will bang that gavel in favor of progress and in favor of women for the next four years.”

Herring agreed, saying President Donald Trump’s administration threatens reproductive freedom.

“In 2016, we got knocked down,” Herring said. Referring to Democratic victories in last fall’s races for the Virginia House, he added, “In 2017, though, we got up and we stood taller and stronger than ever before … becoming a brick wall for women’s rights.”

Northam emphasized the importance of voter turnout by women. He said a group of legislators, most of whom are men, should not tell women what to do with their bodies.

The rally followed the anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, one of the largest protests in U.S. history. It also came one week after a Senate committee killed a series of Democratic bills aimed at expanding abortion rights.

One of the measures would have allowed women to waive any mandatory waiting periods before receiving an abortion. In arguing against the measure, Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, said such laws would “invite fraud in using state funds in order to fund elective abortions.”

Last year, when Republicans held a 66-34 majority in the House, they passed a resolution calling the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade a “Day of Tears.”

This year, as the GOP majority in the House has shrunk to 51-49, Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, a Democrat from Virginia Beach, sponsored a resolution to mark Jan. 22 as a “Day of Women.” It has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

“We will not be silenced; we will not be shamed,” Convirs-Fowler told Monday’s gathering.

At the rally, several lawmakers discussed their legislative goals:

●       Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, is carrying a bill to ensure that insurance policies cover a woman’s reproductive health needs.

●       Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William County, is co-sponsoring legislation to end the sale tax on feminine hygiene products.

Some of those proposals already are finding success. On Monday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously approved a bill by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, to require equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.

Statistics show that working women in the United States are paid less than men.

“Latinas earn only 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Black women earn about 63 cents, and white women earn 78 cents,” said Margie Del Castillo of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

“In 2018, that is beyond unacceptable.”

Virginia Grocery Investment Fund Seeks to End ‘Food Deserts’

By Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- A ​bipartisan group of public officials urged the General Assembly on Thursday to create a Virginia Grocery Investment Fund to help attract supermarkets to food deserts in the state.

Virginia first lady Dorothy McAuliffe was joined by senators and delegates at a news conference in support of legislation to create the fund.

Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe included $7.5 million in his proposed 2018-20 budget to establish the grocery fund within the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, and Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, have joined to sponsor SB 37, which would provide funding to build or expand grocery stories in underserved communities.

“I have carried many bills,” Stanley said, “but not as important as this one.”

In the House, HB 85 is being sponsored by Dels. Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, and Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond.

“It’s 2018, terms like ‘food desert’ should not be part of our vocabulary, but it is. We should not have hungry Virginians, but we do,” Bell said.

More than  1.7 million Virginians, including 480,000 children, live in low-income areas with limited supermarket access. These areas are often called food deserts -- communities where residents are unable to access fresh produce, lean meats and other nutritious food.

“It’s not a political issue, it’s a human issue,” Stanley said.

Through the fund, private-public partnerships leveraging state dollars with private money will be made to provide one-time, low-interest loans or small grants. The objective is to encourage such food retailers as grocery stores or innovative food retail projects to open or renovate  markets in underserved communities. Supporters say that would also provide new jobs.

The investment fund would have a goal of working with more than 15 healthy food retail projects, with an average of 40 new and retained jobs per grocery store.

New and existing businesses in at least 18 localities have confirmed interest in seeking low-interest loans and grants to expand and create new healthy food retail operations, supporters said.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a similar program in October that would bring new grocery options through the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund. The $3 million investment is to begin in September.

“We’ve worked for four years to expand food access across Virginia, and this legislation will move us forward,” Dorothy McAuliffe said on Twitter after the news  conference.

“It’s a right for all Virginians and Americans.”

Outgoing Governor Urges Lawmakers to ‘Work Together’

 By Chelsea Jackson and Jessica Wetzler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe delivered his farewell State of the Commonwealth Address on the opening day of the General Assembly’s 2018 session, making a final plea for legislators to expand Medicaid and saying the state is in good hands as he passes the baton to a fellow Democrat, Ralph Northam.

With a smile, McAuliffe took the podium Wednesday night before a joint session of the House and Senate as he announced his pleasure to address the General Assembly “one final time.” The Republican side of the chamber appeared silent while Democratic lawmakers stood, cheered and banged their desks in appreciation.

Once again, McAuliffe urged the General Assembly to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for low-income Americans.

“The chief issue that demands your attention is making a clear statement that, in a new Virginia economy, health care is not a privilege for the few – it is a right for all,” McAuliffe said. “Put the politics aside. It’s time to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

In his address, McAuliffe said that at his inauguration, he promised to maintain the state’s reputation for strong fiscal management, to make Virginia the greatest place in the world for veterans, military service members and their families, and to be a brick wall to protect the rights of women and LGBT Virginians from discrimination.

“Four years later, we have kept those promises,” McAuliffe said. “And we are a Commonwealth of greater equality, justice and opportunity for all people as a result. That is a legacy we can all be proud of.”

McAuliffe spoke not just to legislators but to everyday Virginians as he recited progress the state had made during his term.

“In the coming years, I hope you will build on that foundation by using your voices and your votes to make Virginia more equal, more just and more prosperous for all people, no matter whom they are, where they live or whom they love,” McAuliffe said.

He took notice of political battles, such as Republicans suing him for contempt when he attempted to restore, in one fell swoop, the voting rights of about 200,000 felons who had completed their sentences.

McAuliffe established the record for the most bills vetoed during his time in office – a total of 120.

“I absolutely hated having to veto a record 120 bills – but those bills took Virginia in the wrong direction,” McAuliffe said. “They attacked women’s rights, equality for LGBT people and access to the voting booth. They hurt the environment, and they made Virginia less safe. I honestly wish they’d never made it to my desk.”

McAuliffe received several standing ovations during his address, but perhaps the loudest followed his statements regarding Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed protesting a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville in August. Everyone on the floor took the moment to stand and applaud for the remarks about Heyer.

McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was elected governor in November 2013, defeating Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

During his term, Republicans had a two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates, making it difficult for McAuliffe to pass his key priorities, such as expanding Medicaid. But Democrats made big gains in last fall’s elections. As McAuliffe leaves office, the GOP holds a slim margin in both the House and Senate.

“Virginia is a different place than it was four years ago, and for that we should all be proud. But there is still more work to do,” McAuliffe said.

He later added, “As I look across this room, I see many new faces. The people of Virginia, in their wisdom, have made significant changes to the composition of this General Assembly with a simple message in mind: work together to get things done.”

In their response to McAuliffe’s speech, Republicans took issue with his rosy assessment of the state’s economy. They said that Virginia has been eclipsed by other states and that McAuliffe has neglected rural areas, especially the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.

“With fierce competition between states to attract and retain businesses,” said Del. Benjamin L. Cline, R-Rockbridge. “Virginia simply cannot afford to stagnate. Our past achievements will not sustain a prosperous future.”

Sen. A. Benton Chafin, R-Russell, said McAuliffe put Virginia at a competitive disadvantage with other energy-rich states.

“The last four years has seen some very pitched and contentious battles here in Richmond,” Chafin said. “Gov. McAuliffe began his term by initiating and championing a nearly four-month-long budget stalemate. Now, he is concluding his term by advancing the very same proposals that nearly resulted in our first-ever government shutdown.”

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