June 2020

Upcoming Auction Could Be Record Breaker

Attendees should wear masks, adhere to COVID-19 guidelines

EMPORIA, VA – An upcoming auction at Emporia Storage could produce a record number of units for sale, marking the most ever auctioned in the city in a single day.

The treasure hunt is on as Emporia Storage has a unit auction scheduled at its three facilities in the city beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2020. Several climate-controlled units are expected to be included. A common thought among seasoned storage unit buyers is that climate-controlled units can contain higher-quality items that the owner felt deserved weather protection. While, that cannot be guaranteed in this auction, it is often true.

The auction will begin at Emporia Storage office headquarters at 315 West Atlantic Street, Emporia, VA 23847, then move to the units at 623 South Main Street across from 7-11 and finish up at its third location on East Atlantic Street across from Georgia Pacific.

Those attending should adhere to current government guidelines regarding COVID-19 by wearing masks and practicing distancing.

Multiple units will be auctioned. The exact number of units will not be available until the day before the auction, but current trends are predicting several dozen. During this cash only sale, the belongings of delinquent storage units are auctioned to the highest bidder to recoup the loss of rental fees.

Gates open at 9 a.m. for registration. The auction begins at 10 a.m. Bidders will be given a few minutes to look at the units once they are opened. In this absolute auction, units will be sold "as is, where is" and contents must be removed by the winning bidder by 6 p.m. that day. A 15% buyers’ premium will apply. Please bring your own masks and locks, as you are responsible for security of your units upon winning the bid.

The auction will be conducted by Carla Cash Harris, Emporia, Va., (434) 594-4406, VA License # 2907004352, a member of the Virginia Auctioneers Association. For more information, call Carla or Emporia Storage at (434) 634-2919.

Margaret C. Conwell

January 03, 1925 - June 14, 2020

Graveside Services

Thursday, June 18, 2020, 2:30 PM

Greensville Memorial Cemetery 

1250 Skippers Rd 
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Mrs. Margaret C. Conwell, 95, of Emporia, widow of Linwood Conwell passed away Sunday, June 14, 2020. She is survived by three sons, Allen Conwell (Vicki), David C. Conwell (Vicky) and Tony Conwell (Susan); six grandchildren, Joe Conwell (Melissa), Jeffrey Conwell, Nic Conwell (Stephanie), Julie Wheeler (Bryan), Jenny C. Phillips (Craig) and Casey Vaughan (Chris); seven great-grandchildren, Chelsea & Cassidy Conwell, Dennis Phillips, Isabel & Emily Vaughan and Benjamin & Madelyn Conwell and a number of nieces and nephews.

A graveside funeral service will be held 2:30 p.m. at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad or to Jarratt Volunteer Fire Department.

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

Governor Northam Announces New Tools for Virginia Workers and Job Seekers

Virginia Career Works Referral Portal will help working Virginians impacted by COVID-19 access comprehensive employment support

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today shared a new suite of technology tools to help Virginians take full advantage of the supportive services available through the Commonwealth’s workforce system. The Virginia Career Works Referral Portal is a statewide platform designed to streamline intake processes across state agencies and connect individuals with training, certification, education, and employment services to help them find a job or advance a career path. The new Virginia Career Works Dashboard is an innovative data visualization tool that makes information about Virginia’s labor market and workforce system more accessible to workers, businesses, and policymakers.

“Workers and families across Virginia are experiencing tremendous financial pain, as well as coping, in many cases, with the devastation of getting sick or losing a loved one to COVID-19,” said Governor Northam. “This ongoing health crisis requires our government systems to respond faster and with more flexibility than ever before. This strategic investment in our workforce technology infrastructure puts the Commonwealth is in a stronger position to help Virginians get back on their feet and overcome these unprecedented challenges.”

Building up Virginia’s workforce development system has long been a priority of the Northam administration. While these tools were in development before the COVID-19 crisis began, the Commonwealth worked to accelerate their rollout to ensure the resources would be available to Virginians who need them during an extremely difficult time.

“The new portal and strategic workforce dashboard embody Governor Northam’s vision for the workforce development system as a whole,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “By making the full spectrum of services accessible through one virtual door, we are bringing every resource to the table to help Virginians recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Consistent with the requirements of Executive Order Nineteen, the cloud-based system leverages open-source software supported by the Apache Foundation, expediting development and reducing long-term operational costs.

“This scalable, standards-driven system is an important addition to Virginia’s growing information technology ecosystem,” said Chief Data Officer Carlos Rivero. “In addition to its immediate benefits, this collaboratively built solution provides a future-proofed foundation for continuing development.”

The new technology tools were developed in collaboration with the Chief Workforce Development Advisor, the Commonwealth’s Chief Data Officer, and six state agencies: the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Employment Commission, the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Social Services, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. Technology partners that supported the development and implementation of the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal and Virginia Career Works Dashboard include Qlarion, BrightHive, and PAIRIN.

For more information, please visit the Virginia Career Works Portal here. A guide to navigating the Portal and creating an account can be found here.

Andrew Allen, Emporia Native, and Joseph Lofstedt take the lead at KIPP Halifax College Preparatory School

Halifax, NC –  KIPP ENC is pleased to announce changes in school leadership at KIPP Halifax College Preparatory School. Andrew Allen, former KIPP Gaston Middle School Assistant Principal, will be the Middle School Leader. Joseph Lofstedt, former KIPP Halifax Primary Assistant Principal, will be the Primary School Leader.

Mr. Allen is a native of Emporia, Virginia, a graduate of Norfolk State University, and the University in Norfolk, in Norfolk Virginia. He spent many years volunteering in his community utilizing his abilities as a musician and speaker and has a passion for positively influencing youth, in particular, young men.  He has worked at KIPP Gaston College Preparatory (GCP) at the middle school level for more than 15 years in various capacities. Andrew is eager to work with the amazing families at KIPP Halifax and the entire KIPP ENC region.

Mr. Lofstedt grew up in New York, studied Early Childhood and Primary Education in Scranton, PA and earned his Masters degree from The University of Houston. Since moving to North Carolina, he has been a founding 1st and 3rd grade teacher at Gaston College Preparatory Primary School. In 2017, he transitioned to KIPP Halifax College Preparatory as the Assistant Principal. Joe looks forward to continuing to work with Cubs, families and staff in the upcoming school year. 

The mission of KIPP ENC is to empower all of our students with the skills, knowledge and character necessary to succeed in the colleges of their choice, strengthen their community, and fight for social justice.

First Virtual Graduation

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Southside Virginia Community College will celebrate its 2020 graduates during the institution’s first ever virtual graduation ceremony. The event will recognize the excellence of our students and honor faculty and staff commitments in support of student success. Students, parents, families, and community members can tune in from the convenience of their own homes beginning Saturday morning, June 20 at 9:30 a.m. The prerecorded video can be viewed at any time after its release on the college’s website (southside.edu), through its FaceBook page, and on YouTube.

It has been a year of firsts at SVCC. The 2020 graduating class completed their programs during the first world-wide pandemic in modern times. The virtual graduation ceremony honoring their accomplishments is my first commencement as the college’s President. In addition, SVCC itself is celebrating an anniversary marking its first 50 years of providing educational services to the community. As a commemoration of this anniversary, a time capsule, which will include a copy of the unique 2020 commencement ceremony, will be placed at a campus location.

I am very proud of SVCC’s students, faculty, and staff. They have really pulled together during the past semester’s unusual journey. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, it has not altered the excitement and enthusiasm we feel about what our graduates have accomplished.

Serving as Faculty Marshal, Dr. Lisa Jordan, Professor of History and Political Science, will open the virtual ceremony. Dr. Michelle Edmonds, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health and Natural Science, will sing the national anthem. Speakers will include Mr. J. Wesley Shepherd, Chairperson of the Local Board and representatives from our college community.

Dr. Keith Harkins, Vice-President of Workforce and Interim Vice-President of Academic Affairs, will have the privilege of bestowing special honors and commendations. Munimah Fulani will receive the Florence Daniel Riepe Kalbacker Leadership and Community Service Award, which is presented annually to a student who embodies the ideals and spirit requisite for community advancement. Harkins will also acknowledge members of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, an organization of scholars that encourages high-achievement among community college students. Other honorees include participants in the Women in Search of Excellence (WISE) Mentoring Program, the Make-It-Happen Program providing support for minority male students, the Student Ambassador Program encouraging emerging student leaders, and the Dual Enrollment partnership with public school systems permitting students to earn high school and college credit at the same time.

The highlight of the ceremony, of course, will be the more than 870 graduates who make up the Class of 2020. Submitted photographs will be displayed as their names are announced. Dr. Dixie Dalton, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Technology and Dr. Michele Edmonds, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health and Natural Sciences will recognize the individual graduates.

I am so very proud of SVCC’s graduates. They have risen to the occasion and surpassed expectations. Many grappled with and overcame tremendous obstacles to earn their degrees, certificates, and diplomas. A graduation ceremony acknowledges these many accomplishments, and I encourage each student to move forward with a commitment to be change agents that help make our communities, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and this world a better place. Go forth and make a contribution, make a difference. The future belongs to you. 

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING FILES WIDE-RANGING LAWSUIT AGAINST 26 DRUG MAKERS AND 10 EXECUTIVES FOR CONSPIRACY TO FIX PRICES ON MORE THAN 80 GENERIC DRUGS

~ This is the third lawsuit filed by Attorney General Herring in ongoing, expanding antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry ~

RICHMOND (June 10, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 51 states in filing the third lawsuit stemming from an ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition, and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States. This new Complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The Complaint names 26 corporate Defendants and 10 individual Defendants. The lawsuit seeks disgorgement, civil penalties, and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.
 
The topical drugs at the center of the Complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies.
 
“These drug companies chose profit over keeping people safe and healthy,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Too many Virginians know the struggle of paying incredibly high drug prices, and in many cases the generic alternative may not have offered a lower-cost alternative because of this alleged price fixing. Virginians should never have to choose between paying for critical medication or paying for food, rent or utilities because of artificially inflated prices. My colleagues and I will continue to combat illegal price fixing in the generic drug market and hold drug companies and decision makers accountable.”
 
The Complaint stems from an ongoing investigation built on evidence from several cooperating witnesses at the core of the conspiracy, a massive document database of over 20 million documents, and a phone records database containing millions of call detail records and contact information for over 600 sales and pricing individuals in the generics industry. Among the records obtained by the states is a two-volume notebook containing the contemporaneous notes of one of the States’ cooperators that memorialized his discussions during phone calls with competitors and internal company meetings over a period of several years.
 
Between 2007 and 2014, three generic drug manufacturers, Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz) sold nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products dispensed in the United States. The multistate investigation has uncovered comprehensive, direct evidence of unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. The Complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor, and to prevent “price erosion” due to competition.
 
The Complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing wide-ranging multistate antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry. The first Complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate Defendants, two individual Defendants, and 15 generic drugs. Two former executives from Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Jeffery Glazer and Jason Malek, have entered into settlement agreements and are cooperating with the attorneys general working group in that case. The second Complaint, also pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. That Complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. The States are currently preparing for trial on that Complaint.
 
Corporate Defendants in the current Complaint:
  1. Sandoz, Inc.
  2. Actavis Holdco U.S., Inc.
  3. Actavis Elizabeth LLC
  4. Actavis Pharma, Inc.
  5. Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  6. Amneal Pharmaceuticals, LLC
  7. Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc.
  8. Bausch Health Americas, Inc.
  9. Bausch Health, US LLC
  10. Fougera Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  11. G&W Laboratories, Inc.
  12. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., USA
  13. Greenstone LLC
  14. Lannett Company, Inc.
  15. Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  16. Mallinckrodt Inc.
  17. Mallinckrodt plc
  18. Mallinckrodt LLC
  19. Mylan Inc.
  20. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  21. Perrigo New York, Inc.
  22. Pfizer, Inc.
  23. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.
  24. Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  25. Teligent, Inc.
  26. Wockhardt USA, LLC
 
Individual Defendants:
  1. Ara Aprahamian, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Defendant Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  2. Mitchell Blashinsky, Vice President of Marketing for Generics at Defendant Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. from January 2007 – May 2012, and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Defendant Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Inc., USA from June 2012 – March 2014
  3. Douglas Boothe, Chief Executive Officer of Defendant Actavis from August 2008 – December 2012 and Executive Vice President and General Manager of Defendant Perrigo New York, Inc. from January 2013 – July 2016
  4. James Grauso, former Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Defendant G&W Laboratories from January 2010 – December 2011; Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for Defendant Aurobindo from December 2011 – January 2014; and Executive Vice President, N.A. Commercial Operations at Defendant Glenmark from February 2014 – present
  5. Walt Kaczmarek, Senior Director of National Accounts, Vice President of National Accounts, and Senior Vice President of commercial Operations for Fougera Pharmaceuticals, a division of Nycomed US, Inc. (currently part of Defendant Sandoz, Inc.) from November 2004 – November 2012 and Vice President – General Manager and President of Multi-Source Pharmaceuticals for Defendant Mallinckrodt from November 2013 – August 2016.
  6. Armando Kellum, former Vice President of Contracting and Business Analytics at Defendant Sandoz
  7. Kurt Orlofski, President and Chief Executive Officer for Defendant Wockhardt USA from April 2007 – August 2009 and President of Defendant G&W Labs, Inc. from September 2009 – December 2016.
  8. Mike Perfetto, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Defendant Actavis from August 2003 – January 2013 and Chief Commercial Officer for Defendant Taro from January 2013 through his recent retirement from the company.
  9. Erika Vogel-Baylor, former Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Defendant G&W Labs, Inc. since July 2011
  10. John Wesolowski, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for Defendant Perrigo since February 2004
 
Drugs listed in the complaint as subject to price-fixing and market allocation agreements:
  1. Acetazolamide Tablets
  2. Adapalene Cream
  3. Alclometasone Dipropionate Cream
  4. Alclometasone Dipropionate Ointment
  5. Ammonium Lactate Cream
  6. Ammonium Lactate Lotion
  7. Betamethasone Dipropionate Cream
  8. Betamethasone Dipropionate Lotion
  9. Betamethasone Valerate Cream
  10. Betamethasone Valerate Lotion
  11. Betamethasone Valerate Ointment
  12. Bromocriptine Mesylate Tablets
  13. Calcipotriene Solution
  14. Calcipotriene Betamethasone Dipropionate Ointment
  15. Carbamazepine ER Tablets
  16. Cefpodoxime Proxetil Oral Suspension
  17. Cefpodoxime Proxetil Tablets
  18. Ciclopirox Cream
  19. Ciclopirox Shampoo
  20. Ciclopirox Solution
  21. Clindamycin Phosphate Cream
  22. Clindamycin Phosphate Gel
  23. Clindamycin Phosphate Lotion
  24. Clindamycin Phosphate Solution
  25. Clobetasol Propionate Cream
  26. Clobetasol Propionate Emollient Cream
  27. Clobetasol Propionate Gel
  28. Clobetasol Propionate Ointment
  29. Clobetasol Propionate Solution
  30. Clotrimazole 1% Cream
  31. Clotrimazole Betamethasone Dipropionate Cream
  32. Clotrimazole Betamethasone Dipropionate Lotion
  33. Desonide Cream
  34. Desonide Lotion
  35. Desonide Ointment
  36. Desoximetasone Ointment
  37. Econazole Nitrate Cream
  38. Eplerenone Tablets
  39. Erythromycin Base/Ethyl Alcohol Solution
  40. Ethambutol HCL Tablets
  41. Fluocinolone Acetonide Cream
  42. Fluocinolone Acetonide Ointment
  43. Fluocinonide .1% Cream
  44. Fluocinonide Gel 
  45. Fluocinonide Ointment 
  46. Fluocinonide Solution
  47. Fluticasone Propionate Lotion
  48. Griseofulvin Microsize Tablets
  49. Halobetasol Propionate Cream
  50. Halobetasol Propionate Ointment
  51. Hydrocortisone Acetate Suppositories
  52. Hydrocortisone Valerate Cream
  53. Imiquimod Cream
  54. Ketoconazole Cream
  55. Latanoprost Drops
  56. Lidocaine Ointment
  57. Methazolamide Tablets
  58. Methylphenidate HCL Tablets
  59. Methylphenidate HCL ER Tablets
  60. Metronidazole Cream
  61. Metronidazole .75% Gel
  62. Metronidazole .1% Gel
  63. Metronidazole Lotion
  64. Mometasone Furoate Cream
  65. Mometasone Furoate Ointment
  66. Mometasone Furoate Solution
  67. Nafcillin Sodium Injectable Vials
  68. Nystatin Ointment
  69. Nystatin Triamcinolone Cream
  70. Nystatin Triamcinolone Ointment
  71. Oxacillin Sodium Injectable Vials
  72. Phenytoin Sodium ER Capsules
  73. Pioglitazone HCL Metformin HCL Tablets
  74. Prochlorperazine Maleate Suppositories
  75. Promethazine HCL Suppositories
  76. Tacrolimus Ointment
  77. Terconazole Cream
  78. Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream
  79. Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment
  80. Triamcinolone Acetonide Paste
 
Attorney General Herring joined the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing the complaint. 

Governor Northam Announces $66.8 Million in Emergency Education Relief Funding

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia schools will receive $66.8 million through the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund to expand distance learning opportunities, fund services for students disproportionately impacted by loss of class time, and provide financial assistance to higher education students and institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This funding will help Virginia provide high-quality instruction and continue the delivery of services for K-12 and higher education students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “We are prioritizing this federal assistance to help address learning gaps caused by school closures, expand and improve internet connectivity, increase access to robust distance learning programs, and help students in need of additional financial assistance complete their postsecondary education and training.”

The GEER Fund, which was authorized under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, gives states the flexibility determine how best to allocate the emergency assistance to meet their educational needs.

Governor Northam is distributing $43.4 in GEER funding for the following PreK-12 priorities:

  • $26.9 million to support short-term and long-term initiatives expanding high-speed internet access to all communities in the Commonwealth, including providing laptop computers and Mi-Fi devices for students without home internet access;
  • $10 million to expand early childhood education and child care programs in the Commonwealth, especially for children with academic and social-emotional needs;
  • $3.5 million to support the expansion of the Virtual Virginia online learning program to provide content for elementary and middle school students; allow teachers in all school divisions to use the platform to create, edit, and share content as well as provide personalized virtual instruction for all students; and expand the Virtual Virginia Professional Learning Network, in partnership with the Virginia Society for Technology, to ensure that educators and technology-support personnel have the capacity and skills to meet the demand for quality online learning; and
  • $3 million to cover unfunded costs for the continuation of school-based meals programs while schools remain closed, including hazard pay for school nutrition staff.
     

“These initiatives will support efforts of PreK-12 schools to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable students and increase the capacity of local divisions to continue instruction and critical support services during future emergencies,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “We will also allocate flexible funding to our institutions of higher education that will allow colleges and universities to address the unique needs of their students. We trust they will maintain a focus on equity by distributing funds and services to students who are facing monumental challenges due to the pandemic.”

Approximately $23.4 million—one third of GEER funds—will be distributed throughout Virginia’s higher education system, with $18.3 million allocated to public and private four-year institutions and Richard Bland College. Of this funding, $14.5 million will be allocated to four-year public institutions and Richard Bland College, and $3.8 million will be allocated to private, four-year Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) eligible institutions. All of these institutions will use the one-time funding to address immediate student financial needs, cover health and safety costs associated with COVID-19, and support activities that make online learning more accessible and equitable.

GEER funds totaling $4.9 million will be distributed to the Virginia Community College System to support the following initiatives:

  • One-time funding to address immediate student financial needs;
  • Last-dollar scholarships for displaced adults who enroll in stackable credential programs leading to jobs in targeted industry sectors; and
  • Initiatives to extend internet access into parking lots on or adjacent to the 40 campuses to provide help connect students who do not have internet subscriptions at home.
     

The Governor will also distribute $175,000 of GEER funds among Virginia’s five higher education centers, which provide access to college degrees and job training for in-demand careers located in parts of the Commonwealth with fewer college and university resources. 

GEER funding has been made available in addition to $587.5 million allocated to the Commonwealth in May under the federal CARES Act. This included $238.6 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund for K-12 activities. Additionally, the CARES Act provided $343.9 million for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

In addition to allocating funding directly to every local school division, the ESSER K-12 funding includes a $23.9 million state set aside to fund state-level initiatives. In Virginia, these funds will be used to meet the needs of schools in regard to special education, instruction and assessment, student social and emotional health, and COVID-19-related health and safety in school buildings and facilities.

More information on the ESSER state set aside funds will be made available through the Virginia Department of Education in the coming weeks. 

Governor Northam Shares Guidance for Phased Reopening of PreK-12 Schools

Back to school plan informed by collaborative process, outlines steps for safely resuming in-person instruction and school activities

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a phased approach that allows Virginia schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year. The K-12 phased reopening plan was developed by the Office of the Secretary of Education, Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Education and is informed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All PreK-12 schools in Virginia will be required to deliver new instruction to students for the 2020-2021 academic year, regardless of the operational status of school buildings. The PreK-12 guidance is aligned with the phases outlined in the Forward Virginia blueprint and provides opportunities for school divisions to begin offering in-person instruction to specific student groups.

“Closing our schools was a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of staff, students, and our communities,” said Governor Northam. “Our schools have risen to the occasion and found ways to provide remote learning opportunities, keep students engaged, continue serving meals for children who otherwise would have gone hungry, and support students and families through an immensely challenging time. Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe, responsible, and equitable manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to the virus and meets the needs of the Virginia students who have been disproportionately impacted by lost classroom time.”

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) convened numerous and diverse stakeholders through the Return to School Recovery Task Force, the Accreditation Task Force, and the Continuity for Learning Task Force this spring to inform strategies for reopening. Secretary of Education Atif Qarni held 35 strategy sessions with diverse groups of education stakeholders between May 29 and June 8 to gather their recommendations on how different reopening scenarios would impact their respective roles. The Secretary and his team engaged 800 individuals in these conversations, and heard from a wide range of perspectives including English language learners, parents of students with special needs, career and technical education centers, early childhood educators, students, school nutrition workers, private school leaders, bus drivers, school psychologists, the Virginia High School League, counselors, nurses, and more.

“These plans are informed by a range of perspectives and will help ensure that we prioritize the social emotional well-being of all of our students, their families, and educators as we go back to school this summer and fall,”  said Secretary Qarni.  “In-person learning is most essential for special education students, English language learners, young children, and other vulnerable students who depend upon the structure, in-person connection, and resources our school communities provide.”

Local school divisions will have discretion on how to operationalize within each phase and may choose to offer more limited in-person options than the phase permits, if local public health conditions necessitate. Entry into each phase is dependent on public health gating criteria, corresponding with the Forward Virginia plan. School divisions will have flexibility to implement plans based on the needs of their localities, within the parameters of the Commonwealth’s guidance.

The opportunities for in-person instruction in each phase are as follows:

  • Phase One: special education programs and child care for working families
  • Phase Two: Phase One plus preschool through third grade students, English learners, and summer camps in school buildings
  • Phase Three: all students may receive in-person instruction as can be accommodated with strict social distancing measures in place, which may require alternative schedules that blend in-person and remote learning for students
  • Beyond Phase Three: divisions will resume “new-normal” operations under future guidance

     

Beginning with Phase Two, local divisions and private schools must submit plans to the Virginia Department of Education that include policies and procedures for implementing Virginia Department of Health and CDC mitigation strategies. State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA has issued an Order of Public Health Emergency that requires all Virginia PreK-12 public and private schools to develop plans that demonstrate adherence to public health guidance. Public schools must also outline plans to offer new instruction to all students regardless of operational status.

Detailed information on each phase can be found in the guidance document available here.

VDOE has also developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities. “Recover, Redesign, Restart” can be found here.

“School will be open for all students next year, but instruction will look different,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “The phased, hybrid approach allows PreK-12 students to have valuable class time and face-to-face interaction with their peers, while prioritizing health and safety by ensuring physical distancing measures are maintained. This plan keeps equity at the forefront by giving divisions the opportunity to deliver in-person instruction to those who need it the most.”

In every phase, PreK-12 schools must follow CDC Guidance for Schools, including social and physical distancing, enhanced health and hygiene procedures, cleaning and disinfecting measures, and other mitigation strategies. These precautions include, but are not limited to:

  • Daily health screenings of students and staff
  • Providing remote learning exceptions and teleworking for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness
  • The use of cloth face coverings by staff when at least six feet physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Encouraging the use of face coverings in students, as developmentally appropriate, in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained

Virginia Chamber Releases “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work” Plan

More than 1,000 Virginia business community members surveyed to develop “Blueprint” of best practices and recommendations to ensure consumer confidence and worker safety.

RICHMOND, VA – Earlier today, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) released its “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work” plan – a business-led effort to quickly provide guidance on how to get the Virginia economy moving again.

The Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work provides guidance for businesses and policymakers as the Commonwealth moves beyond the term ‘essential business’ to fully reopen the economy. Intentionally named to complement the Chamber’s long-term business plan for Virginia – Blueprint Virginia 2025 – the Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work provides a path forward that helps businesses with their immediate needs.

“As our government and business leaders consider how to best recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that they have the guidance to ensure consumer confidence and worker safety,” said Virginia Chamber President and CEO Barry DuVal. “The Chamber has launched this Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work initiative to provide recommendations on operating in the current economic climate and how to return stronger than before. Through this effort, it is clear that business owners are reopening with the health and safety of Virginians as their top priority.”

In April and May, the Chamber engaged the business community through a series of surveys and roundtable discussions focused on cultivating input and best practices that are reflected in the final plan. More than 26,000 Virginia Chamber member companies, over 100 local chambers of commerce, industry trade associations and non-profits, and other key thought leaders from across the Commonwealth were among those invited to participate in this process. 

The final plan, along with a host of other important resources for businesses, are available on the Chamber’s newly launched website www.GetVaBackToWork.com.

Beware Coronavirus Scams

Scammers thrive in crises. The Federal Trade Commission is reporting a surge in fraud complaints. Bad actors are leveraging fear and shortages to bilk consumers out of millions and to harvest information for identity fraud.

Help your loved one avoid scammers by following these tips.

Research requests for donations. Verify the nonprofit on Guidestar.org, the registry that provides financial reporting on all registered 501c3 organizations. Be especially wary if the request is “urgent” and for payment by gift card or prepaid debit card.

Ignore social media ads, texts, or emails selling

  • cures or vaccines. Relief is months, maybe a year or more away. Look for an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and get a prescription from the doctor.
  • hard-to-find supplies. From gloves to toilet paper, surgical masks to hand sanitizers. Amazon and Facebook are working hard to block gougers and bogus sellers. Pay attention to the star ratings of sellers and look for complaints of supplies never being received.
  • stock deals. Many fraudsters offer great investment deals on stock that is “going to take off” with the latest cure, test, or vaccine. Unfortunately, they have bought the stock already. When demand drives the price up, they sell. The price then plummets and investors get stuck with the loss. 

Hang up on robocalls asking for money or information. The federal government never uses this method of communication. Neither do other credible organizations. It’s the medium of scammers.

Do not click on emailed links or download files from organizations you do not know. Many fraudsters are looking to insert malware on your computer to harvest information for identity theft. Even if the email seems genuine and the website looks like a government or reputable organization, do a Google search to find the real domain name. (Cybercriminals set up a mirror site at redcross.net, for instance. The actual address for the Red Cross is redcross.org).

New PPP Rules Changes Give Small Businesses More Options

Bipartisan PPP Flexibility Act Helps Small Businesses Recover from COVID-19

WASHINGTON –The recently enacted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act provides additional clarity and flexibility for small business owners to meet the requirements of the PPP loan program created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. When the President signed the bipartisan legislation into law, it gave more time and discretion for when and how the loans can be spent to keep employees on payroll and keep up with accounts payable to further assist the nation’s economy’s recovery from COVID-19.

To date the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has provided more than 4.5 million small business well over $510 billion in potentially forgivable loans, directly ensuring 50 million American workers stay connected to their jobs.

“Small businesses and their advocates at all levels of government have spoken consistently about the PPP; it works and it’s a success,” said U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Regions. “As we continue to combat the Coronavirus, our small businesses needed more give when it comes to when, where and how to apply. The Flexibility Act puts the decision-making power in the hands of the business owners who know best how to keep their businesses afloat while serving their employees and their customers.”

The SBA will issue rules and guidance, a modified application form, and a modified loan forgiveness application implementing the following amendments:

  1. Extend the loan forgiveness period from eight to 24 weeks after loan disbursement. Borrowers who have already received PPP loans retain the option to use the eight-week covered period.
  2. Lower the forgiveness requirement for borrowers to use 75% of loan proceeds and loan forgiveness amount be used for payroll costs to 60 percent. If a borrower uses less than 60 percent for payroll, the borrower remains eligible for partial loan forgiveness.
  3. Provide loan forgiveness safe harbor based on reductions in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees for borrowers who are unable to return to the same level of business at which they were operating before February 15, 2020 due to compliance with COVID-19 requirements or guidance issued between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  4. Provide loan forgiveness safe harbor based on reductions in FTE for borrowers unable to rehire employees or hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020.
  5. Increase to five years the maturity of PPP loans approved by SBA (based on the date SBA assigns a loan number) on or after June 5, 2020.
  6. Extend the deferral period for payments of principal, interest, and fees on PPP loans to the date that SBA remits the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount to the lender (or, if the borrower does not apply for loan forgiveness, 10 months after the end of the borrower’s loan forgiveness covered period).

Additionally, the new rules confirm that June 30, 2020 remains as the last date upon which a PPP loan application can be approved. More than $130B remains in available PPP funding as of June 4.

 

 

 

Surviving COVID-19

Bonnie and Donald Johnston, photographed together on the front porch of their home in La Crosse, Virginia.

In early March, many Americans started hearing more about a novel Coronavirus also known as COVID-19 that was spreading like wildfire across our nation.  Most people didn’t know a lot about this virus and wondered if it would even reach the local people of rural Southside Virginia. 

On March 23rd, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital admitted the hospital’s first COVID-19 patient; and that patient was La Crosse resident Donald Johnston.  Donald had been fighting a high fever for a few days and decided to make a trip to his primary care physician to get checked out.  During his check-up he was instructed to go to the VCU Health CMH emergency room and get tested for COVID-19; that test would come back positive.

In an interview with Donald, he stated that at this point he didn’t know how sick he really was or the fight he was about to begin.  That fight, would be a fight for his life.

Donald was transported and quarantined in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where CMH doctors and nurses cared for him.  Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Donald was not allowed any visitors, not even his wife, Bonnie. 

“Every day I felt helpless as I wasn’t able to see him.  We tried to talk on the phone, but Donnie could hardly breathe,” said Bonnie.  “On the 10th of April, my daughter Crystal and I had a video chat with Donnie’s doctor in the ICU.  We were told to prepare for the worst.  I remember that night, not being able to sleep as I kept thinking what am I going to write for Donnie’s obituary.”

Donald would spend 14 days in the ICU. “I don’t remember much about being there.  But I do know that if it wasn’t for the doctors and nurses in the ICU, I wouldn’t be here today.  The doctors and nurses along with God saved my life.”

After leaving the ICU, Donald would be transported to a regular patient room as he was still recovering. Bonnie said, “At this point it was still hard to talk to Donnie, his doctors and nurses were my lifeline to him.  They would call me and keep me updated on how he was doing.  The communication was as good as I could have asked.  The hospital staff was truly wonderful to us.”

On the path to recovery, Donald would spend six more days in his patient room.  He had finally reached the point where he was COVID negative and could be transported to an isolation wing of the Hundley Center where he would start rehab.  Donald didn’t know that the CMH staff had a surprise for him as he exited the hospital.

“When I came out of my room into the main hallway there were doctors and nurses lined all the way down cheering and clapping as I was being transported.  As I got further down the hallway I saw my wife for the first time in weeks.  It lit me right up; I was smiling from ear to ear, but she couldn’t see it because I was wearing a mask.  That was a memorable experience,” Donald said.

Donald would spend the next 24 days in an isolation wing of the Hundley Center.  His goal was to continue to recover and get stronger.  He worked with Hundley Center therapists on a set schedule to rehab his body since his illness had caused him to lose about 30 pounds since entering the hospital.  Donald said, “The Hundley Center staff was very professional.  I really looked forward to my time with the therapists and really enjoyed that experience, they were the best.”  Donald put in the rehab work needed to get stronger and now was finally healthy enough to go home and see his wife.

Donald said, “I had previously told the CMH staff while I was in the main hospital that I’m going to get home to my wife, I’m not dying here, I’m walking out of here.”  After a total of seven and a half weeks in the hospital and Hundley Center, that’s exactly what he did.

“I was discharged from the Hundley Center on May 14th at 11:30 AM.  I remember walking through the doors of the glass window corridor and everyone cheering as I walked down toward the exit.  I turned to the exit door and my wife was right there.  I know I hugged her for at least two minutes.  It’s something I will never forget,” said Donald.

Bonnie said, “It is truly a miracle that Donnie’s still here with me.  I hope the CMH doctors and nurses know how appreciative we are for saving his life.  I don’t think he could have been in a better place than CMH.”

“I’m feeling good and getting better day by day,” Donnie said. “I work in the yard and stay as active as I can.  To survive COVID at the age of 79, I thank Jesus every day.”

VSU Agricultural Researchers Awarded More Than $1 Million in Grants

Researchers at Virginia State University’s Agricultural Research Station (VSU-ARS) were recently awarded $1.4 million in capacity building grants (CBG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Dr. Chyer Kim, Food Scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $499,644 on a CBG entitled, “Preparing for the Future: Building Capacity for Food Safety Compliance at Farmers’ Markets.” Kim is principal investigator for the project. Dr. Theresa Nartea, marketing Extension agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) at VSU is a collaborator on the grant along with scientists at Delaware State University (DSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).

Kim is also a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Assessments of the Impact of Cryptic E. Coli on Current Water Quality Monitoring and Management,” valued at $435,028. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Guolu Zheng at Lincoln University. A scientist from USDA ARS is also collaborating on the project.

Dr. Toktam Taghavi, Plant and Soil Scientist at VSU-ARS, is a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Developing an Integrated Approach to Combat Gray Mold in Strawberries,” valued at $599,905. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee at Delaware State. Scientists from USDA, ARS, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) are also collaborating on the project.

Additionally, Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, Food Scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $65,000 from Abbott Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., to investigate the modulation of vascular function by nutrients.

VSU-ARS director Dr. Wondie Mersie said researchers are grateful for funding to support new and continued research. “These awards will strengthen the research capabilities of VSU’s Agricultural Research Station as we work and collaborate to find solutions to pressing agricultural issues, such as water quality, food safety, shelf life preservation and how nutrients improve vascular function, Mersie said.

For more information about research at VSU-ARS, contact Dr. Wondie Mersie at wmersie@vsu.edu.

Virginia State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, disability, age, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other bias prohibited by Virginia or federal law. Virginia State University is fully accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees.

Margaret (Peggy) Brothers Slate

December 9 1945-June 6, 2020

Services

Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 10:30 am

First Presbyterian Church
210 South MAin Street
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Margaret (Peggy) Brothers Slate of Emporia, VA passed away on June 6, 2020. She was born on December 9, 1954 and was the daughter of the late Lyman Riddick Brothers, Jr. and Sudie Dunton Brothers of Emporia, VA. She is survived by her devoted son, William Robert Slate, Jr., and wife Katie as well as her beloved grandsons, Hudson and Barrett, all of Emporia, VA. She is also survived by her brother Lyman R. Brothers III (Jane) of Sedona, AZ; sister Ames Brothers Tillar (David) of Emporia, VA; as well as 6 nieces and nephews, 15 great nieces and nephews, many cousins, and friends who she considered family.  

Peggy was a 1977 graduate of Madison College (now James Madison University) and the University of Virginia School of Medical Technology. She was a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. She loved her church, First Presbyterian Church of Emporia, VA, where she served as an elder, on the worship committee, and was an honorary lifetime member of the Presbyterian Women. She loved her family dearly and was extremely proud of her two grandsons who she enjoyed playing with. 

The family would like to send a special thank you to the staff of Greensville Health and Rehabilitation, Kindred Hospice, and Dee Anthony for her unwavering care of Peggy during her illness.

 A service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Emporia, VA on June 13,2020 at 10:30am followed by a graveside at Belle Haven Cemetery on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church 210 S. Main St, Emporia, VA.  Anyone attending services must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and wear a mask due to COVID-19.
 

Racism

 

The world is on fire, once again.

I know that there are some that will disagree with me, but we have a serious problem with systemic racism in our Republic. It is woven into the very strands of our collective DNA.

Since the first African Slaves arrived on the shores of this continent Four-Hundred-One years ago, racism entered our system as sure as the Novel Coronavirus has invaded the bodies of more than one and one half million people in the last three months.

Since 1619 Africans and Americans of African descent have been treated as property, less than human and the “other.” Slaves were routinely beaten nearly to death for seeking freedom or learning to read or teaching others to read or sassing the master or overseer, or sometimes just for the hell of it.

We even use terms like “interracial marriage,” reinforcing that belief that anyone with African blood is not human. The hardest thing for a great number of people to understand is that people of African descent are indeed Human Beings, not some separate race, made of the same genetic material as white people.

This lack of humanity seems to justify brutality against an entire group of people based solely on something as arbitrary as the color of their skin, or the shape or their nose and lips. Which, unfortunately, leads us to our current situation…

The images of three policemen holding down a handcuffed suspect, one with a knee on his throat, was horrifying. To hear Mr. Floyd beg for his life just over a week ago was heart-wrenching. To see the video of his lifeless body be so gracelessly put on a gurney for a trip to the hospital, when it was already too late, in another video was even more so.

One of the most disturbing images from the George Floyd homicide was the image of the policeman with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck with his hand in his pocket, as if killing a man while that man begs for his life is a daily occurrence. That nonchalant spirit and look of smugness on that policeman’s face as the life was drained from Mr. Floyd was, to me, like looking at pure, unadulterated evil.

Not all policemen are corrupt or biased; a few bad apples tend to make all policemen look bad. In spite of the fact that most policemen are not corrupt, most people of African descent are still afraid of the police. That needs to change.

As a Christian, I am called by Jesus Christ to  “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[i]

 As I read it, there are no qualifications on who my neighbor is. My neighbor, in my mind, therefore, is all my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter their ethnicity, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, lack of religion, or any other criteria.

I am a United Methodist. I joined the United Methodist Church for many reasons, chief among them was the UMC stance on Social Justice. According to the Book of Discipline:


Rights of Racial and Ethnic Persons

Racism is the combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races and a value system that assumes that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism includes both personal and institutional racism. Personal racism is manifested through the individual expressions, attitudes, and/or behaviors that accept the assumptions of a racist value system and that maintain the benefits of this system. Institutional racism is the established social pattern that supports implicitly or explicitly the racist value system. Racism, manifested as sin, plagues and hinders our relationship with Christ, inasmuch as it is antithetical to the gospel itself. In many cultures white persons are granted unearned privileges and benefits that are denied to persons of color. We oppose the creation of a racial hierarchy in any culture. Racism breeds racial discrimination. We define racial discrimination as the disparate treatment and lack of full access and equity in resources, opportunities, and participation in the Church and in society based on race or ethnicity.

Therefore, we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access”[ii]

A United Methodist Pastor I know, Rev. Don Hanshew from Dublin United Methodist Church in Dublin, Virginia, had these suggestions that he has collected and modified from sources of influence in his life for helping to deal with racism:

We All See Something, So Say Something:

Speaking out against racism, regardless if you feel influential or not, is critical in helping local and national representatives make better policy decisions. Being silent makes us complicit and only lets the cancer of racism grow.

First Contact:

What would happen if any time a racially charged event comes across the news you became the first to contact a friend you suspect may be impacted or overwhelmed by the event and offer yourself as an ally? Likewise, respect that a person may not want to talk or may not be able to yet process what they are feeling. Do not underestimate the power of an offer to love someone even when what they are feeling is messy.

Talk in Your Bubble:

As we physically distance ourselves to stay safe, we also socially stay connected with specific loved ones. You have influence with these people. If you see or hear discrimination in someone who is close to you, be willing to risk an awkward moment and call it out. To make change we must vigilantly confront prejudice and racism first with the people in our bubble.

Life-Long-Learner:

We all struggle with some degree of racism until we get to heaven, so acting like we are color blind or post-racial is not helpful. There is power in naming and claiming our biases so that we can prevent these biases from bubbling up and into some form of discrimination.

He also strongly urged white readers to boldly read the book White Fragility.

Above all, I am a Human Being. As such, it hurt my very soul to see those videos, as it did with Eric Garner. It hurt my soul when the news about Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston broke…a white supremacist had killed all those people, just because of the color of their skin after they had invited him into their Church to Pray and study the Bible. That was five years ago this month.

All the Mother Emmanuel shooter wanted was a race war…he did not realize that we have been in a race war for four centuries.



[i] Matthew 22:37-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

"I Do Believe"

Even though the pandemic has spread throughout the world
and racial equality has spread unrest
I look up towards the Heavens
for I am truly blessed.
 
Now for sure I have health problems
as most can readily see
yet if I look around a bit
there are many with more than me.
 
I have deep faith that keeps me strong
and flower gardens too
the lilies are blooming everywhere
creating a beautiful view.
 
Yes nature is my comfort zone
which all of us do need
I've many lovely song birds
and squirrels that I feed.
 
We are all in this together
a fact we should understand
show love and true compassion
when holding out your hand!
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Library Offers Contact Free Pick-Up

Since closing to the public in March due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Richardson Memorial Library (part of the Meherrin Regional Library System) has been working toward bringing services and reading back to the community. Recently the library installed a set of self-service lockers to be used for patrons picking up their reading wish list. While not quite ready to open for full service, the library does offer many online resources such as Overdrive for ebooks and Pressreader featuring newspapers and magazines. The library will be announcing reopening plans soon. For questions contact the Richardson Memorial Library at 434-634-2539, email at richardsonmemoriallibrary@gmail.com, or Facebook at Meherrin Regional Library.



 

Brunswick Academy to hold Baccalaureate/Commencement Ceremony

Brunswick Academy will celebrate the graduating Class of 2020 at a special ceremony combining the traditional Baccalaureate Service with Commencement Exercises on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. The ceremony will be held on the Dennis A. Moore Football Field and will include a religious service to honor the graduating class as well as the awarding of diplomas. The 40 graduates will march and be seated 6 feet apart and will be wearing a Brunswick Academy Class of 2020 mask to ensure the safety of each student and to minimize health risks. The ceremony will begin with a message from the Reverend Greg Hand of Pleasant Hill Christian Church and a student-led prayer, followed by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches. Students will then be presented their diplomas, awards, scholarships, and other accolades before being officially pronounced Brunswick Academy graduates. Although the conclusion of the 2019-2020 academic year has not been what we expected for our Seniors, we are excited to finally be able to celebrate their accomplishments in the company of the entire Brunswick Academy community.

Top Regional SBA Official Discusses New NFIB PPP Survey

Steve Bulger Lauds Findings that SBA Assistance Helped Most Applicants

PHILADELPHIA – The small business advocacy association, National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), recently released the results of a small business survey showing a positive impact by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) in helping small businesses and non-profits during the challenges stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The independent group’s survey finds that more than three-quarters of eligible businesses have applied for a PPP loan, and 93% of those received a loan. It also indicates the “vast majority of small business owners (67%) who have a PPP loan have found the loan ‘very helpful’ in financially supporting their business,” with another 14% reporting the PPP loan is “moderately helpful” and 11%, “somewhat helpful.” Only 2% say that the PPP loan was not at all helpful, and 7% said that it is too early to tell.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help pay the bills and keep employees on the payroll,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Regions. “The most recent SBA data show that 826,696 small businesses received $103,936,930,794 in the SBA’s Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions combined. This goes to show the PPP is going a long way to meet the demand of small businesses and their employees during this critical time.”

“The agency worked quickly with Treasury, SBA staff and SBA partner organizations helping lenders and small businesses understand the process of applying for a PPP loan and getting the money to pay their employees and creditors quickly, allowing them to stay in business while we ride out this pandemic,” he added. “There is still plenty of money in the PPP appropriation, and now is the time for any small business owner, who feels the program could help them, to contact a participating lender and apply.”

For information about SBA resources and services, visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

Maureen ‘Mo” Gable

June 22, 1958-June 5, 2020

Maureen ‘Mo” Gable, 61, of Emporia, passed away Friday, June 5, 2020. She was preceded in death by two sisters, Kathleen Cifers and Doreen Neely. “Mo” is survived by her husband, Dwaine Gable; two daughters, Rebecca Grizzard and Kimberly Taylor; two grandchildren, Mindi Prince and Holden Taylor; brother, Patrick O’Connell; sisters, Charlene Robinson, Aileen McDilda (Ron) and Janeen Bailey (Clifton) and a number of nieces and nephews.

Th family will hold a memorial service at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org).

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

CMH Family Dental Clinic Update

In-person clinic visits are now an option again at the CMH Family Dental Clinic of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.  Established patients are welcomed back for all their routine dental care to include dental x-rays, six month check ups and cleanings, fillings, root canals, crowns and surgical procedures.  The dental clinic will begin to welcome new patients as well.

To ensure your safety, appointment times and schedules have been modified to allow dental clinic staff to follow infection control practices recommended by the CDC and State Medical and Dental authorities.  Some of these modifications include:  allowing more time for cleaning in between patients; more detailed patient screening; social distancing practices; more frequent hand washing; and wearing masks. 

There is a temporary hold on procedures that create air mist and aerosols, and the dental clinic is using only hand instruments and avoiding any motorized instruments. 

CMH Family Dental Clinic dentist, Dr. Natasha Grover stated, "While we appreciate everybody's patience while waiting to get scheduled, our established patients are the highest priority for scheduling. We encourage any existing patient to call us if they feel they need to be seen and we will move up their appointment so that their needs are met. We are following strict infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations and will introduce more safety protocols as they become available to us."

The dental clinic has been open through this pandemic and remains available for all urgent care and emergent care for anyone, especially if they have severe dental pain, swelling or dental abscess. The clinic's goal is to make sure that patients receive definitive treatment rather than have multiple visits to the Emergency Department.

"As always, we hope that everybody is safe and healthy and recommend regular daily home oral hygiene practices of flossing and brushing (adding the use of a Waterpik if you have the time) as the best means of preventing any new dental disease from forming or any existing dental disease from getting any worse," added Dr. Grover.

If you have any questions you can reach the CMH Family Dental Clinic by calling (434) 584-5590. 

Portman, Warner, Alexander, King Announce National Parks Study Showing Restore Our Parks Legislation Will Support More Than 100,000 Jobs Over Next Five Years

NPS Report Estimates an Average of 40,300 Direct Jobs and 100,100 Direct and Indirect Jobs Supported by Restore Our Parks Act

WASHINGTON, DC – June 4 2020, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) announced that a new National Parks Service (NPS) study of their Restore Our Parks legislation found that the legislation will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years to help address the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the NPS. Next week, the Senate will consider S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Great American Outdoors Act includes the Restore Our Parks legislation, which will provide up to $6.5 billion over five years to address priority deferred maintenance needs at our national parks.

“America is hurting right now and folks need jobs. That’s why I’m so pleased the National Parks Service study shows that my bill with Senators Warner, King, and Alexander, the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, will support more than 40,000 direct jobs over the next five years as we rebuild our national parks infrastructure. The Restore Our Parks Act will address the $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at our national park sites throughout the country, including the more than $100 million maintenance backlog in Ohio’s eight national parks. We need our parks more than ever, and our parks need us. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes to the Senate floor,” said Portman.

“For years, Congress has critically underfunded our national parks resulting in the buildup of $12 billion in deferred maintenance costs. Despite receiving more than 318 million visitors annually, our national parks have been unable to maintain upkeep and repairs on visitor centers, rest stops, trails, campgrounds, and transportation infrastructure operated by the Park Service. Addressing these critical needs will not only help preserve America’s story for generations to come, but it will help support the communities across the country that rely on the economic activity generated by our national parks. In the Commonwealth alone, our national parks support more than 16,000 jobs and contribute $953 million dollars in value added to our economy. I’ve been calling on Congress for years to make these much-needed investments and it’s time we get it done,” said Warner.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most important legislation in 50 years to help our national parks and public lands. In addition to cutting in half the deferred maintenance backlog for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and our nation’s 418 other national parks, the National Park Service just announced the legislation will help support over 100,000 new jobs, which is good news for a lot of American families. With the strong support of President Trump and over 800 conservation and sportsmen’s organizations and 59 Senate cosponsors, it should become law by the 4th of July,” said Alexander.  

“Each year, millions of people come from across the globe to see the sun rise from Cadillac Mountain, walk to Thunder Hole, or explore any other of the breathtaking, one-of-a-kind vistas Acadia National Park has to offer,” said King. “When those people come to our state, they spend money – supporting Maine jobs, shops, industries, and communities. Today’s report makes clear just how vital ANP and other national parks around the country are to America’s economy, and emphasizes the importance of our bipartisan Restore Our Parks legislation – which, in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on tourism, is needed now more than ever.”

NOTE: Earlier this year, Portman joined several of his colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act. Notably, the legislation includes Senators Portman, Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King’s (I-ME) Restore Our Parks Act, legislation to help address the backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS), including over $100 million in deferred maintenance at Ohio’s eight national park sites. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand his legislation in the Great American Outdoors Act to also include funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education. The Great American Outdoors Act now provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund from half of unobligated on and offshore energy revenues to address maintenance needs on all federal lands.

SVCC’s Nursing Program Recognized

 

RegisteredNursing.org recently released its list of 2020 Best RN Programs in Virginia and Southside Virginia Community College is at the top!  SVCC’s Christanna Campus program was ranked #1. 

Selecting the best nursing school in Virginia can be difficult according to the organizations website.  When notified by RegisteredNursing.org of this amazing recognition, Outreach Coordinator Sally Worthington, said, “After carefully analyzing nursing programs in Virginia, it became apparent that Southside Virginia Community College not only prepares students for success on the national NCLEX-RN certification exam, but equips nurses with the skills they need to succeed in various healthcare settings. 

Southside Virginia Community College offers RN programs at three sites, SVCC’s Christanna Campus, SVCC’s John H. Daniel Campus and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.  All three programs ranked in the top 25 Best RN Programs in Virginia. 

Dr. Michelle Edmonds, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health and Natural Sciences, emphasized this recognition does not come without dedicated faculty and students who work hard to reach their goal. 

 

McEachin Condems Use of Tear Gas Against Peaceful, Law-Abiding Protestors in Richmond and Washington, DC

RICHMOND, VA - Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today issued the following statement regarding the unwarranted use of tear gas to dispel peaceful protests in Richmond, VA and Washington, DC.

“Non-violent resistance to demand better from our government is a pillar of our democracy that must be protected and valued at all costs. 

"American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights – among them freedom of speech and assembly – is law and order.  We cannot ask protesters to make themselves heard in a peaceful, constructive way, then tear gas them while they are lawfully assembled.

"Whether in Richmond, VA or Washington, DC, or anywhere in our nation, there is no justification for the use of tear gas against citizens engaging in a peaceful protest, obeying the law. 

"It is alarmingly authoritarian, un-American and utterly unacceptable."

An Open Letter from Senator Mark Warner

I’m sure folks have seen the protests this weekend in response to George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers, and years of violence against the Black community. As of writing this email, three of the officers involved have not been charged. We need a full investigation and accountability for all involved in this crime.

Black Americans have been denied justice in our country for far too long. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others should still be alive today — and the painful truth is that if they were white, they probably would be.

For some this moment is a wake up call. For others, this is the America they have always known — simmering just below the surface. We all have a responsibility to challenge racist systems and demand not only justice, but accountability, and meaningful change — starting at home.

It’s easy to simply say hate has no place in America, but as your Senator it’s my duty to do more. Throughout my time in the Senate, I’ve supported measures to prevent discrimination against people of color at work, at school, and at the ballot box. You have my promise that I will continue to fight for legislative changes that make our Commonwealth — and our country — a more just place.

This is a moment to act. I hope you will join me in confronting biases, hate, and discriminatory systems in place in our communities, schools, and in our justice system.

It is not now, nor has it ever been enough, to simply say we believe in equality. We have to show up and do the work to fight against injustice and racism. For some, that means joining protests, or signing a petition. For others, that may mean making a donation amid this challenging time in our country. If you’re looking for ways to take action, consider supporting the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, or an organization in your community focused on securing justice.

And, I leave you with this: the fact remains that the vast majority of us want to live together and want justice for everyone in this country. We must join together to achieve that goal.

Thank you,



— Mark Warner

Governor Northam Announces Phase Two Guidelines to Further Ease Public Health Restrictions

Phase Two expected to begin Friday June 5, Northern Virginia and Richmond to remain in Phase One

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.

Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.

“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”

Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.

Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures. 

Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.

The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.

Phase Two guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Phase One guidelines sectors are available here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Five and Order of Public Health Emergency Six is available here.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-One can be found here.

Social Security’s Online Services are READY for Business

During this time when our physical offices are closed to the public, you may wonder, “How can I get help from Social Security without visiting an office?”  You can find the answer at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, which links you to some of our most popular online services.  You can apply for retirement and disability benefits, appeal a decision, and do much more.

Our newest my Social Security feature, Advance Designation, enables you to identify up to three people, in priority order, who you would like to serve as your potential representative payee in the event you ever need help managing your benefits.  We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions at faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-10039 to answer questions you may have about Advance Designation.

You can also apply for Medicare online in less than 10 minutes with no forms to sign and often no required documentation.  We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information.

Visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare to apply for Medicare and find other important information.  If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that birthday. 

We’ve organized our Online Services webpage into four popular categories for easy navigation:

o  Review Your Information.  You can access your secure, personal information and earnings history to make sure everything is correct.  You can even print statements with ease.

o  Apply for Benefits.  You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits without having to visit a field office.

o  Manage Your Account.  You can change your direct deposit information and your address online.

o  Find Help and Answers.  We’ve answered your most frequently asked questions, and provided links to publications and other informational websites.

Let your family and friends know they can do much of their business with us online at www.ssa.gov. 

 

VIRGINIA’S ANNUAL CRIME ANALYSIS REPORT NOW AVAILABLE ON VIRGINIA STATE POLICE WEBSITE

RICHMOND – Virginia’s official and only comprehensive report on local and statewide crime figures for 2019 is now available online at the Virginia State Police website. The detailed document, titled Crime in Virginia, showcases a new layout this year while continuing to provide precise rates and occurrences of crimes committed in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth. The report breaks down criminal offenses and arrests by the reporting agency.

Violent crime includes the offenses of murder, forcible sex offenses (rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling), robbery and aggravated assault. Overall, Virginia experienced a 2.45% increase in violent crime offenses compared to the previous reporting period. There were 18,717 violent crime offenses reported in 2019 compared to 18,269 violent crime offenses in 2018.

‘Forcible Fondling’ will be removed from inclusion in violent crime data due to the updated rape definition given by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The exclusion of ‘Forcible Fondling’ reflects a total of 16,018 violent crime offenses reported in 2019.

The following 2019 crime figures in Virginia are presented in the report:

►The number of reported homicides increased from 391 to 428 (9.5%).  Victims and offenders tended to be younger males; 37.2% of homicide victims were men between 18 and 34 and 52.2% of offenders were men between 18 and 34.  Nearly half (46.7%) of all homicides occurred at a residence/home.

►Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts decreased 4.2% compared to the previous year which included 11,040 motor vehicles reported stolen in 10,472 offenses. During 2019 10,575 motor vehicles were stolen in 10,044 offenses. In 2019, 6,252 motor vehicles were recovered (vehicles may have been stolen prior to 2019). Of all motor vehicles stolen, 41.3% were taken from the residence/home.  The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $99,358,971.

►Drug and narcotic arrests decreased by 6% when compared to the previous reporting period. Marijuana arrests accounted for 57% of all drug arrests with a decrease of 8.3% when compared to the previous reporting period. Arrests for amphetamines/methamphetamines had the greatest increase from 3,483 to 4,646 (33.4%).

►Fraud offenses increased 4.2% compared to 2018.  Over three-quarters of victims (76.8%) were individuals while 14.6% were businesses.  Of the individuals that were victims of fraud, 20.7% were age 65 or older.

►Burglary decreased 7.5%. Of the 13,978 burglaries and attempted burglaries, more than half (54.8%) took place during the day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Three-quarters (75.3%) occurred at a residence/home.

►Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 78.9% of homicides and 50.8% of robberies. Firearms were used to a lesser extent in the offense of aggravated assault (28.2%). 

►There were 185 hate crime offenses, involving 187 victims, reported in 2019 representing a 16.2% increase compared to 2018. Over 60% (63.6%) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward sexual orientation and religion were next highest (17.7%, 15.0%, respectively). Of all reported bias motivated crime, 61% were assault offenses (aggravated assault, simple assault) or destruction/damage/vandalism of property.  

The report employs an Incident Based Reporting (IBR) method for calculating offenses, thus allowing for greater accuracy. IBR divides crimes into two categories: Group A for serious offenses including violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault), property crimes and drug offenses, and Group B for what are considered less serious offenses such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations where an arrest has occurred.

For both Group A and Group B offenses, there were a total of 274,636 arrests in 2019 compared to 279,288 arrests in 2018, representing an overall decrease in arrests in Virginia of 1.7%. Between 2018 and 2019, adult arrests for Group A and Group B offenses decreased 1.1%.  Juvenile arrests also decreased by 9.5%.

Per state mandate, the Department of Virginia State Police serves as the primary collector of crime data from participating Virginia state and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The data are collected by the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division via a secured internet system. This information is then compiled into Crime in Virginia, an annual report for use by law enforcement, elected officials, media and the general public. These data become the official crime statistics for the Commonwealth and are sent to the FBI for incorporation into their annual report, Crime in the United States.

Faye W. Harrell

October 22, 1936-May 30, 2020

Faye W. Harrell, 83, of Emporia, widow of Floyd Harrell, passed away Saturday, May 30, 2020. She was the daughter of the late Luther and Louise Williams and was also preceded in death by longtime companion, Sammy Powell; son, Todd Harrell; daughter, Terry Owen and her three brothers, Carl, Tommy and David Williams.

Faye is survived by her son, Wade Harrell (Liz); grandchildren, Brent Boney (Brittany), Brad Boney, Ryan Harrell, Aimee Allen (Wayne) and April Banner (Paul, Jr.); great-grandchildren, Daniel, Courtney,

McKaley, Paisley and Owen Boney, Haley Boney, Camden and Matox Allen, Carter Harrell and Kiersten, Brody, Kane and Lyndee Banner; sister, Fannie Rae and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 30 at Emmanuel Worship Center. Private interment will follow at Reedy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery. Due to the current pandemic restrictions in place, including the wearing of face coverings, seating at church is limited and will be arranged according to the church’s policies and will be available to be heard in the parking lot.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Emmanuel Worship Center.

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

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - June 2020