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March 2019

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Kinston Jordan

Services

Saturday, March 30, 2019, 3:00 PM

Rising Star Baptist Church
3931 Brandy Creek Road
Emporia, VA 23847

Mr. Kinston Jordan, 82, of Emporia, Virginia, departed this earthly life on Monday, March 25, 2019, at Johnston Willis Hospital, Richmond, Virginia.

Kinston was born on Sunday, March 14, 1937, in Greensville County, Virginia, to the parentage of the late Howard Jordan and Florence Rebecca Harris Jordan.

Survivors include:  his wife, Jacqueline Jordan of the home, four children, Priscilla Parker and Charlene Anderton both of Petersburg, Virginia, Kendra Jordan of Las Angeles, California and Willie D. House of Emporia, Virginia; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; his siblings, Dorothy Matthews of New Jersey, Louise Cummings (Leon) of South Carolina, Ernie 'Susie' Bullock  and Roger Jordan (Barbara) both of Emporia, Virginia, Christine McNeil (Lardell) of Pennsylvania and Shirley Worrell of Georgia; a host of other relatives and friends. 

Rev. James H and Ann Alsop

The interment of Rev. James H Alsop and his wife Ann Alsop will be held at the cemetery of Zion Baptist Church in Skippers VA on April 6, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. Rev. Alsop passed on July 21, 2009 and Ann passed on February 7, 2019.

Zion was the Alsop's first full time church.

Larry Grizzard will be doing a memorial service and the family welcomes anyone who would like to attend.

2019 Academy Day is April 27

Senator Mark Warner invites high school and middle school students, their parents, and school counselors to Academy Day 2019. Attendees will be provided a comprehensive overview of the United States service academies and their admission processes. In addition, students will be able to meet with officials from all five academies as well as representatives from ROTC programs, Mary Baldwin University, Randolph Macon Academy, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Military Institute.

Representatives from Virginia Congressional offices will be available to answer questions regarding the application procedures for congressional nominations.

This event will be held on April 27th, 2019 Time: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Program begins at 10:00 a.m. Location: The Paramount Theater 215 East Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 To register for Academy Day 2019, please visit https://academyday2019.eventbrite.com. If you have any questions about the event, please email academy_noms@warner.senate.gov or call 540-857-2676.

Gov. Northam Vetoes Bill Creating ‘School Protection Officers’

By Katja Timm, Capital News Service

 

RICHMOND — Gov. Ralph Northam has vetoed a bill to create a new public-employee category called “school protection officers.”

Supporters of the legislation said the officers would help improve security in Virginia’s public schools. But Northam said the bill failed to clearly define the officers’ duties and credentials.

Introduced by Del. Robert Thomas, R-Stafford, HB 2142 defined a school protection officer as a “retired law-enforcement officer hired on a part-time basis by the local law-enforcement agency to provide limited law-enforcement and security services to Virginia public elementary and secondary schools.”

During the General Assembly’s recent session, the bill was approved 53-45 by the House and 26-13 by the Senate.

Virginia law currently provides for two types of officers in schools — school resource officers and school security officers.

In announcing his veto Tuesday, Northam said school resource officers and school security officers “have well-defined duties and responsibilities set forth in the Code of Virginia and are required to meet stringent training standards” administered as part of the certification process carried out by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Thomas’ bill did not specify what security services a school protection officer would provide.

It said only that the Department of Criminal Justice Services would “establish compulsory minimum training standards for all persons employed as school protection officers. Such training may be provided by the employing law-enforcement agency and shall be graduated and based on the type of duties to be performed.”

That raised concerns from Northam, who said duties and training could vary greatly from school to school since each local law enforcement agency has different regulations and standards.

As an alternative to school protection officers, Northam noted that his Student Safety Work Group had recommended increased training for school resource officers. Legislators passed and the governor has signed two bills — HB 2609 and SB 1130 — that mandate that all school resource officers must undergo more training.

By approving those bills, the General Assembly endorsed “the position that more, not less, training will better serve Virginia’s students and schools,” the governor’s veto message said.

“Allowing a new type of officer with undefined duties and indeterminate training will not serve to make Virginia’s students and schools safer. Therefore, there is no compelling reason to create school protection officers when Virginia law already provides for two types of trained officers to provide security in the Commonwealth’s schools.”

HB 2142 is one of 17 bills vetoed by Northam. The General Assembly will reconvene next Wednesday to consider overriding the vetoes. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a veto.

Governor Signs Bill Requiring Clergy to Report Child Abuse

By Corrine Fizer, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — In response in part to the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Virginia will have a new law on July 1 requiring priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy members to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law two bills — HB 1659, sponsored by Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, and SB 1257, introduced by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier. The measures mandate that religious officials must report any suspected abuse to local law enforcement.

The bills passed unanimously in the House and Senate last month.

Existing state law lists 18 categories of people who must report information to local authorities if they “have reason to suspect that a child is an abused or neglected child.” They include health-care providers, police officers, athletic coaches and teachers.

The new law will add a 19th category to the list of “mandatory reporters”: “Any minister, priest, rabbi, imam, or duly accredited practitioner of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church.”

However, the law will exempt clergy members from the reporting requirement when confidentiality is required by the religious organization, such as anything a priest hears during confession.

A minister who hears about possible child abuse while counseling a parishioner, for example, would not have to tell authorities.

Delaney said she filed her bill after a church in her Northern Virginia district failed to act on a case of child abuse. She said 27 other states have laws making clergy mandatory reporters.

“Members of the clergy are in a role of trust and authority and they should not be held to a different standard than every other professional whose duty it is to protect children,” Delaney said.

Child abuse by clergy has been a national concern in recent years with disclosures that some Catholic priests had sexually abused children and their superiors had covered up the incidents.

Last month, the Diocese of Richmond released the names of 43 clergy members who “have a credible and substantiated allegation of sexual abuse involving a minor.” The Diocese of Arlington released the names of 16 such individuals.

The Virginia Catholic Conference, which represents the two dioceses on matters of public policy, supported the legislation introduced by Delaney and Vogel.

Grier Weeks, senior executive of the National Association to Protect Children, sees Virginia’s new law as a step toward change but also a reflection of how much work is left to do.

“Any action is great, but you shouldn’t need laws for people to do the right thing — especially when protecting children,” Weeks said.

Weeks warned parents that predators are usually those they trust most around their children, not strangers.

“Predators often seem friendly,” Weeks said. “It is important to stay vigilant.”

Northam signed the legislation just days before the start of National Child Abuse Prevention Month on April 1.

To receive reports of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy, the Virginia State Police have a website, www.virginiaclergyhotline.com, and a toll-free hotline, 833-454-9064. Callers may remain anonymous.

Governor’s Amendment Would Ban Using a Phone While Driving

By Kathleen Shaw, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Drivers in Virginia would face penalties for using a phone behind the wheel under legislation that Gov. Ralph Northam has amended and sent to the General Assembly for approval.

“The time has come for the Commonwealth to implement an effective and fair law to combat distracted driving,” Northam said. “Too many families have lost loved ones as a result of a driver paying more attention to their phone than to their surroundings. This bill, as amended, will be a significant step forward in promoting traffic safety across the Commonwealth.”

The governor amended SB 1768, sponsored by Sen. Montgomery “Monty” Mason, D-Williamsburg.

As approved by the House and Senate last month, Mason’s bill would prevent drivers from holding a handheld personal communications device in highway work zones. Violators would face a mandatory $250 fine.

Northam announced Tuesday that he has revised the bill to extend beyond work zones and prohibit distracted driving on all Virginia roads.

The General Assembly will consider the governor’s recommendation when lawmakers reconvene on April 3.

Current Virginia law prohibits drivers from texting or emailing on the road; however, it is legal to hold a cellphone to check social media and make phone calls. Northam said curbing Virginia’s distracted driving death rates is a priority for his administration.

“Virginia’s traffic fatalities have risen every year since 2014,” Mason said. “Distracted driving caused by cellphone use — whether it’s dialing, texting or checking email — is clearly the reason. I’m proud to be a part of a safety measure that will undoubtedly save the lives of many Virginians.”

The fight against distracted driving in Virginia is not a new battle for legislators.

During this past legislative session, two bills — HB 1811, sponsored by Del. Chris Collins, R-Frederick, and SB 1341, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George — sought to make it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone.

Both bills died when a conference committee could not agree on legislative language during the session’s final days.

In amending Mason’s legislation, Northam recommended that organizations such as DRIVE SMART Virginia and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police develop resources for law enforcement agencies and the general public about the law against using a phone while driving.

The governor also wants to require annual reports on distracted driving violations and the demographics of motorists cited for such offenses.

April will be Virginia’s 13th year of recognizing Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the American Automobile Association, 131 people died in 2018 from distracted driving in Virginia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nine people die daily in the U.S. from roadway accidents involving a distracted driver.

Collins and Stuart both issued statements supporting Northam’s amendment to SB 1768.

“We see too many traffic crashes and tragedies caused by distracted driving,” Collins said. “This is affecting everyone, from road workers to law enforcement officials and first responders trying to keep us safe, to highway workers who are maintaining and improving our roadways. It’s time for us to take action to protect those using our roads in order to save lives in the Commonwealth.”

Stuart added, “It has come to the point where people are so totally engrossed in their phones that they are almost oblivious to the world around them. And that’s just a dangerous recipe on the highway.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING CONTINUES TO DEFEND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IN COURT

RICHMOND (March 25, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an opening brief in Texas v. U.S., defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans. Today’s brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, argues that every provision of the ACA remains valid. It also details the harm that declaring the ACA invalid would have on the tens of millions of people who rely on it for access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, as well as the broader damage that it would do to the nation’s healthcare system. In June, Attorney General Herring intervened to defend against the suit, leaving him and his colleagues to defend Americans’ healthcare after President Trump switched sides and joined with Republican state attorneys general in trying to strike down the law.

“This politically motivated lawsuit is dangerous, reckless and risks the health of Americans,” said Attorney General Herring. “Millions of Virginians rely on the Affordable Care Act for quality, affordable healthcare and when the Trump Administration refused to defend the ACA in court I knew I had to step in. I will continue to join my colleagues in fighting to make sure that healthcare is not ripped away from Americans.” 

The plaintiffs, two individuals and 18 States led by Texas, filed this lawsuit in February 2018, challenging one provision of the Affordable Care Act—the requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a tax. Texas’ lawsuit came after Congress reduced that tax to zero dollars December 2017. Opponents of the ACA had attempted and failed to repeal the ACA over 70 times since its instatement. The plaintiffs argued that this change made the minimum coverage provision unconstitutional. They further argued that the rest of the ACA could not be “severed” from that one provision, so the entire Act must be struck down.

On December 14, 2018, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued his decision agreeing with the plaintiffs. In response, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed a motion to stay the effect of that decision and to expedite resolution of this case. The District Court granted that motion on December 30, 2018. On January 3, 2019, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues continued their legal defense in the ACA and formally filed a notice of appeal, challenging the District Court’s December 14 opinion in the Fifth Circuit.

Today’s filing continues the legal defense of the ACA. In their brief, the attorneys general argue that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the minimum coverage provision, because the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that now offers a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax. The attorneys general further argue that the state plaintiffs also lack standing, because there is no evidence that the amended provision will require them to spend more money. Lastly, the District Court wrongly concluded that the minimum coverage provision was unconstitutional, and even if it were there would be no legal basis for also declaring the rest of the ACA invalid—including its provisions expanding Medicaid, reforming Medicare, and providing protections to individuals with preexisting health conditions.

The brief also highlights the consequences of upholding the district court’s decision, which would wreak havoc on the entire American healthcare system and risk lives in every state. If affirmed, the district court’s decision would affect nearly every American, including:

  • 133 million Americans, including 17 million kids, with preexisting health conditions;

  • Young adults under 26 years of age, who are covered under a parent’s health plan;

  • More than 12 million Americans who received coverage through Medicaid expansion;

  • 12 million seniors who receive a Medicare benefit to afford prescription drugs; and

  • Working families who rely on tax credits and employer-sponsored plans to afford insurance.

If successful, Texas’ lawsuit would harm Virginia by:

  • Halting Medicaid expansion, which was signed into law in Virginia last year, with the goal of covering an additional 400,000 Virginians;

  • Allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more;

  • Allowing insurance companies to discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums;

  • Taking away seniors’ prescription drug discounts;

  • Ending $1.15 billion in tax credits that helped 335,000 Virginians afford insurance in 2017 alone;

  • Ending the healthcare exchange where more than 410,000 Virginians purchased their healthcare in 2017;

  • Stripping funding from our nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic; and

  • Ending billions in federal aid for healthcare, including $458 million in FY 2019 and $1.9 billion in FY 2020.

VSP Seeking Those who Stopped at Gloucester Fatal Crash - Please Call VSP

As the investigation continues into the fatal traffic crash that occurred Monday afternoon in Gloucester County, the Virginia State Police is asking for those motorists who stopped out at the crash scene to please contact the investigating trooper as soon as possible. Trooper James Street can be reached at 804-832-6368. 

The single-vehicle crash occurred at approximately 2:35 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of Route 14 (John Clayton Memorial Highway), just east of Route 17( George Washington Memorial Highway).

A 1998 Ford Explorer was traveling east on Route 14 when it ran off the road and over-corrected. The SUV then overturned several times and ejected the passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt.

The passenger, Tremayne Ryeshawn Safewright,26, of Newport News., Va., was flown to Riverside Regional Medical Center. He later succumbed to his injuries sustained in the crash.

The driver, Jiree Dequayne Burrell, 24, of Gloucester, Va., was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

Preliminary investigations reveal that speed and alcohol, were contributing factors. 

The Gloucester Country Commonwealth's Attorney was notified of the fatality. Charges are still pending at this time.

Skill-based Slot Machines Put Vegas at the Corner Bar

By Emily Holter and Benjamin West, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — It sits a few blocks from the bustle of Carytown, under a deep blue awning and the gaze of its mascot — a sunburnt moose holding up a pint with a cocked, toothy smile.

When City Beach is nearly empty, the bar is vast and echoey. It appears to defy physics, a deeper space than the building should be able to handle when viewed from the street.

Past the smokers planted on the front patio and just through the doors stands a little room on the left. When occupied, the room can be loud, with an onslaught of clashing, out-of-time electronic sound effects from four bulky machines. Hands come down hard on buttons, and people yell to each other in frustration — or joy when they win a jackpot.

From the spinning wheels and the colorful cartoon images on the screens to the hands pulling out wallets and feeding in 10s, 20s or even $50 bills, the room looks like a miniature Las Vegas.

The machines look, sound, feel and act like slot machines, which are against the law in Virginia. But these devices are called “skill machines” on grounds that they’re not based entirely on chance. For the present moment, skill machines are 100 percent legal, and they’re popping up all over the commonwealth.

Besides the touch screen, each skill machine boasts two big buttons — easy to press, easy to slam: “Play” and “Ticket.” These let the player spin or cash out.

In the little room, a man named Pierce sat slightly slouched back at the closest machine to the doorway. He declined to give his last name. Batting his hand at the play button as he spoke, his attention stayed trained on the game.

Gambling isn’t new to Pierce. His mother is “a slot grinder,” and his stepfather has skill machines in the Pennsylvania bars he operates.

“So I’ve been playing these for years,” Pierce said.

At this point, Pierce’s machine said he was at $95. He had put in $45 to begin and had been as high as $160, but the “Ticket” button sat unpressed as Pierce kept testing his luck — or skill, depending on your point of view.

He was playing a game called “Pirates” — his favorite on this machine. Different games have different themes, sounds and cartoon garnishes, but in essence, they all are similar: They are all variations on tic-tac-toe, meaning a certain image has to connect across all three rows, for the player to win.

Bets range from 40 cents to $4. The higher the bet, the higher the payout.

Players are presented a set of three-by-three rows and the goal of making a pattern like tic-tac-toe. Each play costs a bet and spins the rows. The hope is to line up at least two of the same images because once the spin is over, you can place a “wild” anywhere on the board to finish the row.

“So here’s another thing about this game,” Pierce said. “You can hit ‘next puzzle’ and see if the next one’s a winner or not.”

The “next puzzle” option feels like a cheat code to some players, and yes, it’s as straightforward as it sounds. At any point, a player can see the results of their next spin, whether they’ll win thousands of dollars or absolutely nothing. Knowing the next puzzle can help players make their decision: pull out or keep playing. But ultimately, the “next puzzle” is only second in an endless line of puzzles, and many players are keenly aware of this caveat. So they keep betting to see what might be around the corner.

This extra piece of information is the argument for why the machines should be called skill machines and not slot machines. It’s why people like Pierce can step into a bar any night of the week and risk some of their cash in hopes of hitting it big.

Short of hitting a jackpot by lining up the three cartoon tiles assigned to the most money, players tend to hope for a “bonus” win. These are specialty tiles that often specifically say “bonus” on them. They can give the player extra spins or queue a simple minigame, such as opening virtual suitcases or spinning a wheel.

Players’ reactions reveal that these types of wins are exciting, and it’s easy to see why. They are much more attainable than the standard jackpot win, but they can still draw some serious money.

After a few minutes, Pierce hit a bonus, giving him 10 extra automatic spins.

“Oh, look!” he yelled, jumping out of his seat to call down the hallway. “Let’s go, we got the big bonus!”

The rows started spinning rapidly, possessed, and people in the room gathered to watch over Pierce’s shoulder.

Pierce excitedly circled the ice in his drink and yelled a few more times, but as the spins started to run out, he calmed down.

“Ah, it’s not going to be anything crazy, man,” he said, with a tinge of disappointment.

The bonus spins depleted, numbers flew to the center of the screen to calculate the winnings: $50, putting Pierce’s overall money in play at $136 and some change.

“I put $45 in. If I cash out now, I’m up $90,” he estimated.

Pierce tapped around on the screen, checking the next puzzle for the bet amount he was playing on. Nothing. Eventually, he pressed the “Ticket” button, and the machine discharged a warm, freshly printed receipt, which Pierce took to the bar and traded for cash.

Soon, somebody else sat at Pierce’s machine. Sure, Pierce had made money, but he hadn’t hit the jackpot. The amount, thousands of dollars, taunted from the screen. It was still anybody’s game.

The legal and corporate perspective

Currently, gambling is restricted in Virginia. State law allows betting on horse races at licensed locations, and charitable gaming, such as a limited number of bingo games and raffles that benefit nonprofit groups.

During the General Assembly’s 2019 session, legislators introduced bills to legalize casinos, authorize sports betting and expand charitable gaming. Most of those proposals failed.

However, skill machines fall into a legal loophole, allowing bars and other establishments to install — and profit from — the devices.

Queen of Virginia Skill & Entertainment, the company that makes the skill machines used in Virginia, says its devices aren’t illegal because there’s an element of skill.

“Our machines’ software take out that element of chance and add skill because, based on the player, they can actually win more money than they put in every single time they play our game,” said Kevin Anderson, the director of compliance for Queen of Virginia Skill and a former enforcement agent for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

The software originated in Pennsylvania, where it went through several court systems, Anderson said. He said Queen of Virginia Skill machines are the only ones checked by a government entity.

Attorney General Mark Herring has not filed a complaint against the skill machines. A spokesperson for his office said Herring will let each jurisdiction decide whether to allow the machines.

“We have our games in almost all jurisdictions in Virginia,” Anderson said. He said the machines are located only in ABC-licensed facilities. That would include bars, restaurants that serve alcohol and gas stations that sell beer and wine.

Anderson said that Queen of Virginia Skill asked the ABC to examine its machines and software and that the agency gave a favorable review.

Officials at the Virginia Lottery also weighed in, saying they are not worried about skill machines. However, when asked whether the machines are legal, they declined to comment.

“We were watching closely as they appeared across the state,” said Virginia Lottery spokeswoman Jennifer Mullen. “As of now, we have no concerns.”

This spring, the Virginia Lottery is adding a feature to its app to allow consumers to play lottery-type games through their phones at any retail location in which they connect through a Bluetooth connection, Mullen said.

Trent Hazelwood, a server at New York Deli and a casual skill machine player, said he believes the new lottery app was designed to compete with the skill machines; however, the Virginia Lottery said there is no correlation.

For restaurants and bars, skill machines can provide a new revenue stream. The hosting businesses keep 40 percent of the money that the machines take in. Thirty percent of the revenue goes to the companies in charge of distributing and maintaining the machines, and 30 percent goes to Queen of Virginia Skill & Entertainment.

The personal perspective on skill machines

According to Brice Slack, general manager at Buffalo Wild Wings on West Broad Street in Henrico County, a community has emerged among skill machine players who move from place to place, hoping to hit a jackpot.

“There’s regulars amongst the Queen machine community that kind of hop from establishment to establishment,” Slack said.

Slack doesn’t believe players will have much luck trying to outsmart the machines.

“It is just a series of spins,” Slack said.

In theory, industry officials say, skillful players should be able to win on any machine equally. It’s the distinction that makes the machines legal and popular.

“Players can WIN every time based on skill & not chance,” Queen of Virginia Skill & Entertainment says in a bulleted entry on its website.

But some people who work with the machines daily aren’t convinced.

“Is it really skill? Not really, no. It’s still chance either way,” said Miles Murdock, a server at New York Deli.

Working just a few feet from his restaurant’s machines, Murdock said he is a frequent player. He even remembers the day they appeared at his workplace. He said his boss framed them as a surprise, a gift of sorts to the employees.

Unlike some of his customers, Murdock plays with extra money — his tips — and he views the skill machines as entertainment. The machines aren’t paying his rent or buying his groceries. They’re just for fun, he said.

“We get a lot of people in here who see it as pretty much a revenue source,” Murdock said. “I’d rather just take the money I earn and count on a sure thing.”

But then again, Murdock said some people are much luckier than he is. They come in, win big and often, and have their own little rituals to keep the money flowing, he said.

Hazelwood, Murdock’s coworker, offered an example.

“I’m just going to tell you about this one guy,” Hazelwood said. “He pushes the buttons a certain way. He taps the screen a certain way. And he is convinced that, like, the way that he taps the button or presses the screen means that it will trigger something.”

At City Beach, Pierce, too, has a ritual: He said he won’t put even dollar amounts into the machines. If he wants to risk about $100, he said, “I’ll put in $105.”

The community of skill machine players can take the game very seriously. At first, some businesses worried about hosting such activities in establishments that serve alcohol. But local businesses have had few problems with skill machine patrons.

“Drunk people and gambling, there’s no way that this can end well,” Murdock remembered thinking when the machines arrived at New York Deli. “However, I was proven wrong.”

Murdock said he occasionally finds parents letting their kids play, which he immediately prohibits — “Participants must be at least 18,” notes a bold, red screensaver as customers sit down to play. Once, a patron told Murdock the machine ate their money.

“Beyond that, we’ve had no problems,” he said. “No disruptive customers.”

Hazelwood described the machines as a “loophole in the law,” and Slack called them “a gray area.”

Virginia has shown reluctance to fully embrace gambling. But at least for these skill machines, those populating bars and restaurants — the servers, managers and people sitting down to play with a drink in their hands — are showing less reluctance.

Yolanda Talley, VCU Health CMH February Team Member of the Month

Vice President of Professional Services, Todd Howell; Chief Executive Officer, W. Scott Burnette; Phlebotomist, Yolanda Talley; and Director of Laboratory Services, Christina Duke (L to R).

When you walk around thinking that a smile makes a day, good things tend to follow. The February VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital team member of the month is living proof.

Yolanda Talley, a phlebotomist with the CMH Lab, has earned repeated high praise from patients and staff she interacts with, according to Christina Duke, manager of the lab.

“Employees like Yolanda are why people choose CMH.” Christina said. “Yolanda has received 12 outpatient compliments in the past two months.  They even state she sometimes helps them to their cars!”

One such compliment earned Yolanda the first-ever team member of the month award for a lab employee.

According to Christina, the patient said, “Yolanda was wonderful. She was so polite and I didn’t have to wait.”

Yolanda has been with CMH for the past four and half years and works throughout CMH collecting blood samples from patients.

“I love my job,” she said. “I get to meet new people all the time and see different faces. I get to do the hard job (drawing blood).”

Yolanda works with patients in the emergency department, ICU, PACU, Acute Care, and in the Hundley Center.

It’s her fantastic attitude that Christina loves. “I tell all my staff that we are the face of the lab when we interact with patients and giving patients a great experience makes everyone’s day better.”

Yolanda is a giver. During her off time from work, she is the jayvee girls basketball coach at Park View High School, an assistant coach to the varsity team and an assistant track coach for the Dragons in the spring.

Yolanda has two children, Nyjay, her high school age daughter, and Elijan, a fourth grade. In her spare time from work, coaching and parenting, Yolanda is a movie junkie.

Other team members nominated in February were: Adelyn Beiler and Caitlin Crowder from Acute Care; Sean DeVaughn from Environmental Services; Amy Lynch from Care Management; Megan Mull from the Emergency Department; Joyce Paynter from Lab; and John Watson from Physical Therapy.

In addition to the award certificate, Yolanda received a STAR Service lapel pin, letter of commendation from Administration, a $40 gift certificate, and a parking place of her choice for the month.

 

Five Steps to Colon Health

An easy formula to promote prevention, awareness of common cancer

By: H. “Eddie” Akbari, MD, PhD, FACS     

Emporia, VA – Cancer of the colon is the third most common cancer in the United States – and, caught early, it’s also one of the most curable. About 90 percent of individuals whose cancer is found before it has spread survive five years after diagnosis. But, if not caught at this point, the five-year survival rate is just 10 percent. For residents in and around Emporia, colon cancer rates are even more alarming. According to a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, eastern Virginia and North Carolina are one of 3 hot spots for increased death from colon cancer.

Dr. Akbari discussing colon cancer prevention at a YMCA Lunch & Learn.

Dr. Akbari says there are five simple steps that you can take to protect your health.

1. Get tested - In 2018, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new screening guidelines for all adults over age 45 to begin routine colon cancer screenings.

Prevention is the primary goal and steer providers and patients toward those tests with the highest potential to prevent cancer. The recommendations include two tests and more specifically define the differences between tests: those that find cancer, and those that can find precancerous growths (also known as polyps). ACS recommends those tests that actually examine the interior of the colon because they cannot only detect cancer, but also prevent it by finding – and removing – polyps or growths that can potentially cause cancer. These tests include a flexible signoidoscopy (every five years); a colonoscopy (every 10 years); a double contrast barium enema (every five years); or a CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy (every five years). Polyps found during these tests can be removed on the spot, simply and painlessly.

Testing options that look for evidence of actual cancer, include three types of stool tests – an annual fecal occult blood test, the annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and a periodic stool DNA test.

2. Develop awareness

Know the risk factors associated with colon problems:

  • Advancing age: i.e., over age 45
  • A high-fat diet
  • A family (i.e., sibling or parent) or personal history of colorectal cancer
  • A history of polyps or growths inside the colon and rectum
  • Certain conditions that elevate your risk, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes have a 40 percent increased risk of colon cancer
  • Ethic background: African-Americans have the highest number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States

3. Know the symptoms

Be vigilant about scheduled screenings, and if you have certain symptoms, see your doctor sooner. Symptoms may include persistent stomach discomfort, a change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or a change in stool consistency), abdominal pain accompanying a bowel movement, dark stools, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or blood in the stool. Symptoms vary, and certain foods or medications can also mimic these symptoms. It’s best to err on the safe side and check with your doctor about changes.

4. Practice prevention

A balanced diet, regular exercise and smart lifestyle choices will keep your risk level in check. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides the nutrients and antioxidants that fight disease. Low-fat dairy products and limited consumption of red meat keep your saturated fat intake low. Getting your vitamins and minerals through a daily supplement helps, but food-based vitamins are more effective and more easily absorbed by the body. Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes most days of the week – helps build your body’s defenses. Finally, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption help, too.

5. Know your options

Talk with your doctor about the best way to manage your risk. If you have an above-average risk for colon cancer or an initial test reveals polyps, you and your doctor can decide the course of action that works best for you. Talk with your doctor at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center about the resources available to you and learn the best way to manage your risk.

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Assembly OKs Limited No-excuse Absentee Voting in 2020

By Kal Weinstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Beginning in fall of 2020, Virginia will have more than Election Day. It will be more like Election Week.

Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, to cast ballots for president and other political offices. But for the first time, Virginians will be able to vote early that year — from Oct. 24 through Oct. 31 — without needing to provide an excuse.

That is the effect of legislation passed Thursday by the General Assembly and sent to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has expressed support for the measure.

Currently, Virginia is one of 16 states that require an excuse to vote absentee. To cast an early ballot in the commonwealth, voters must provide one of a dozen reasons for voting absentee, such as having a health, religious, school or business reason that prevents the person from voting on Election Day.

That would change under SB 1026, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Lionel Spruill of Chesapeake, and HB 2790, introduced by Republican Del. Nick Rush of Montgomery County. On Thursday, the Senate joined the House in passing the final versions of both bills.

The legislation “allows for any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in person beginning on the second Saturday immediately preceding any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making prior application for an absentee ballot,” according to a summary by the Legislative Information System. The absentee voting period ends on the Saturday immediately before the election.

In addition, Virginia still will offer absentee voting the existing way — beginning on the 45th day before an election. But until a week and a half before the election, voters must provide an excuse to get their absentee ballots.

When lawmakers convened in January, Northam urged them to approve no-excuse absentee voting. He called the existing law “arbitrary.”

Spruill said people do not feel comfortable having to provide an excuse about why they are voting absentee.

“You’d be surprised at how many folks come down and have to give an excuse as to why they’re voting early,” he said. “There should be no excuse to vote.”

Spruill said the legislation might reduce long lines to vote at polling precincts on Election Day.

Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, co-sponsored both the House and Senate bills. She said passage of the legislation is a “victory for the whole commonwealth,” even though it will not take effect until 2020.

“It’s about time. The reason this was a bipartisan success is because citizens of Virginia have been pushing for these kinds of reforms for many years,” Kory said.

Report Shows Geographic Disparities in Health in Virginia

By Rosemarie O’Connor, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- It's a five-hour drive from Manassas Park to Galax -- but in terms of life expectancy, the two cities are 25 years apart.

Residents of Manassas Park, a city of about 16,500 people in the Washington suburbs, live to 91 years old on average. But residents of Galax, a  city of about 6,600 people in Southwest Virginia, typically live to just 66.

That wide gap in life expectancy reflects the disparities in health outcomes in Virginia, according to the latest County Health Rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the nation’s largest public health philanthropic organizations.  

For years, wealthy localities in Northern Virginia like Loudoun, Arlington and Fairfax counties have had the best health outcomes in the state while poor communities such as Petersburg, south of Richmond, and Galax and Covington in Southwest Virginia have some of the worst.

Health outcomes represent how long people live and how healthy people feel. They can be affected by health behaviors like smoking, diet and drug use; access to medical care; social and economic factors such as education and income; and physical environment like air quality.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation drew its data from a variety of sources including the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rankings help localities understand how various factors affect people’s health, according to the report. It said “connected and supportive communities, good schools, stable jobs, and safe neighborhoods” are the foundation for achieving a long and healthy life.

Poverty, lack of access to grocery stores and smog or other pollution can all exacerbate negative health outcomes.

Differences in health outcomes “do not arise on their own,” the report said. “Often, they are the result of policies and practices at many levels that have created deep‐rooted barriers to good health.”

These include "unfair bank lending practices, school funding based on local property taxes, and discriminatory policing and prison sentencing,” the report states.

The report emphasizes that “stable and affordable housing as an essential element of healthy communities.”

“Our homes are inextricably tied to our health,” Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the foundation, said in releasing the report.

“It’s unacceptable that so many individuals and families face barriers to health because of what they have to spend on housing.”

Greensville Schools to host Child Find

Greensville County Public Schools will sponsor Child Find on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 10 am until 5 pm at Greensville Elementary School.

Child Find is registration for Head Start or Virginia Preschool Initiative.

Head Start is a federal preschool program which provides comprehensive services and learning experiences to prepare children for Kindergarten and move families toward self-sufficiency. The program also operates in compliance with IDEA to include children with special needs. All Head Start services are free to children and families.

The Virginia Preschool Initiative, established in 1995, distributes state funds to schools and community based organizations to provide quality preschool program for at-risk four-year-olds. The program offers full day Pre-kindergarten, parent involvement, child health and social services, and transportation to families with four-year-olds at risk of school failure.

Parents of all children who are or will be four years old on or before September 30th and are residents of Emporia or Greensville County are encouraged to attend. There will be NO TESTING. Children do NOT need to attend!

To apply, you must bring your child’s OFFICIAL birth certificate (NOT a hospital certificate), immunization record, PROOF of residency (for example: a current water/electric bill with YOUR name and address) and, because of NEW state guidelines, verification of household income (for example: paystub, W-2, Medicaid card, TANF, SNAP, WIC, SSI).

Job Fair Planned for April 10, 2019

Job Fair 2019 will be held on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Southside Virginia Education Center at 1300 Greensville County Circle, Emporia.  This event is open to all job seekers so dress to impress, bring resumes, a photo id and copy of your WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate that will be a pass to get in at 12:45. 

This event is sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College Workforce Development and Student Development Services.  For information, call Courtney Starke at 434-949-6614 or email Courtney.starke@southside.edu

Employers that will be on site include:

Lake Country Area Agency on Aging

Greensville Correctional Center

Emporia VEC

Armor Correctional Health Services

Envoy of Lawrenceville

Walmart- Emporia

Penmac Staffing Services

Greensville Health and Rehabilitation Center

Avon

P&S Trucking

Lincoln Heritage Insurance

The GEO Group

Virginia Department of Corrections

Greensville/Sussex 1

Meherrin River Regional Jail

Learning House/Partner Plus

Heritage Hall Blackstone

Melvin L. Davis Oil Company

Southside Regional Jail

State Board Committee Certifies Three Finalists for Southside Virginia Community College Presidency

RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges has certified three finalists for the position of president at Southside Virginia Community College. The finalists were among 81 applicants from across the nation.

The three finalists, in alphabetical order, are Dr. Thomas G. Coley of Granger, IA; Dr. Jacqueline M. Gill of Lee’s Summit, MO; and Dr. Quentin R. Johnson of Mooresville, NC

“I am impressed with breadth and width of talent the presidency of Southside Virginia Community College is attracting,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “The college’s service region is easily the geographically largest throughout the VCCS. While that poses some unique challenges it also offers some unique opportunities for a dynamic leader to step forward and help us demonstrate what a modern rural community college can be for those who depend on it.” 

Dr. Thomas G. Coley has worked in higher education for more than 39 years. He began his career as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland at College Park in 1980. Six years later he began working at California State University, Fullerton, serving as the college’s government and community liaison. Coley proceeded to hold senior executive positions with the Oregon State System of Higher Education; Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio; and Black Hawk College in Moline, IL before becoming the president of Scott Community College in Scott County, Iowa in 2005. He joined Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College System in 2011 as the chancellor of the Northwest and North Central Region. Following a system restructuring, he became the chancellor of South Bend – Elkhart campus, where he works today. Coley earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison as well as a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

Dr. Jacqueline M. Gill has worked in higher education for more than 20 years. She began her career as the director of continuing education for the NE Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst, Texas. In 2010, she became the college’s vice president of Academic Affairs & Community & Industry Education. Gill moved to Kansas City, MO in 2016 where she became the president of Metropolitan Community College. Prior to working in higher education, she worked for seven years as a social worker in the greater Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area, including two years of recruiting candidates from underserved populations into healthcare career fields for the Dallas Fort Worth Area Health Education Center in Irving, Texas . Gill earned a doctorate, master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, and a separate master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson has worked in higher education senior leadership roles for more than 20 years. That includes, beginning in 2004, serving as the president’s chief of staff and acting vice president for Student Life and Enrollment Management at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. In 2011 he became the senior vice president for Enrollment and Student Services at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community and Technical College in West Virginia. Johnson moved to Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina in 2012 to become the vice president of Student Support Services, the position he holds today. He also has some Virginia experience, previously serving as the assistant dean for Enrollment Management & Student Services at the UVa School of Nursing. Johnson earned a doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University; and a bachelor’s degree from Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio.

The three finalists seek to succeed Dr. Al Roberts, the college’s fifth president, who announced last fall that he was retiring at the end of June, having served as president for five years. The finalists will each visit the college in late March to meet with faculty, staff, students and community members.

SVCC serves one small city and spans ten rural counties across southern Virginia. The college offers 23 degrees at the associate level, a host of shorter-term academic and workforce development programs, opportunities for dually enrolled high school students, adult basic education, and other transitional services for non-traditional students.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 241,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

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Laura Barnes Velvin

 

June 18, 1920 - March 23, 2019

Graveside Service

Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 11:00 AM

High Hills Cemetery
215 N. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, VA

Laura Barnes Velvin, 98, of Jarratt, passed away Saturday, March 23, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Edward Velvin and her two sons, James Venable “J.V.” Velvin and wife, Charlotte, and Lawrence Everett Velvin.

She is survived by three grandchildren, James T. Velvin (Christy), Randy Dean Velvin (Jeannie) and Andrea Velvin (Jason Williams); step-grandchildren, Scott Pritchard (Crystal) and Hope Wood; seven great-grandchildren; six great-great grandchildren; daughter-in-law, Evelyn “Scottie” Velvin and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 26 at High Hills Cemetery, Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia.

Memorial contributions may be made to Jarratt Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 562, Jarratt, Virginia 23867.

Marjorie Baird “Margie” King

January 19, 1943 - March 19, 2019

Visitation Services

Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 2:00 P.M.

Main St. United Methodist Church

Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 12:00 noon

Main St. United Methodist Church

 

Marjorie Baird “Margie” King, 76, died Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

Margie was a native of Lawrenceville and lived most of her adult life in Emporia. She was the daughter of the late Hobart Maryland and Blanche Edwards Baird. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a brother; Leroy Baird and his wife Elaine and three brothers in law; John Hartley, Carter Harris, and George Roberts.

Margie was a longtime active member of Main St. United Methodist Church and the founding Member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Emporia. She loved her family, friends, and her community and always had a gracious smile and hug for everyone she met.

Margie is survived by her husband of 57 years, Malcolm Lee King, Jr., daughter; Michelle King Edmonds and her husband Scott and grandson Ryan Scott Edmonds all of South Hill, brother; Joseph Edgar “J.E” Baird and his wife Cordie of Colonial Heights, sisters; Catherine Hartley of Charlotte, NC and Mary Carter Harris Roberts of Freeman, and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of her life will be held Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 2:00 P.M. at Main St. United Methodist Church in Emporia with Rev. Tom Durrance officiating. The family will receive friends at the church from Noon until service time.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, C/O Barbara Moore, Treasurer, 626 Madison Street, Emporia, VA  23847 or Main Street United Methodist Church, 105 Church Street, Emporia, VA  23847.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

Environmental Groups Glad About Coal Ash Cleanup Law

By Adrian Teran-Tapia, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Environmental and consumer groups applauded Gov. Ralph Northam after he signed legislation this week that aims to protect water quality by cleaning up more than 27 million cubic yards of coal ash from unlined ponds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Northam signed into law SB 1355, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, and HB 2786, sponsored by Del. Riley Ingram, R-Hopewell. The legislation seeks to clean up coal ash sites in the city of Chesapeake and in Prince William, Chesterfield and Fluvanna counties.

The ash is the byproduct of coal-fired power plants operated by Dominion Energy. The law will require Dominion to move the coal ash to lined landfills or recycling it in a safe manner. It will also require the closure and removal of any coal combustion residuals units, including coal ash ponds or landfills, within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“The potential risks to public health and water quality posed by unlined coal ash ponds in the commonwealth are far too great for us to continue with business as usual,” Northam said. “This historic, bipartisan effort sets a standard for what we can achieve when we work together, across party lines, in the best interest of all Virginians. I am proud to sign this legislation into law.”

Ingram echoed those sentiments.

“I was pleased to see that the General Assembly, the governor, House, Senate and Dominion were able to all come together and come up with a great solution for the coal ash ponds and in my opinion for the betterment of everyone,” Ingram said.

The bills were co-sponsored by several lawmakers, including Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William. They contributed key components, including a ban on “cap in place” closure of unlined ponds — a method critics said could lead to water pollution. Another component is a requirement that at least 25 percent of the coal ash be recycled for concrete or other beneficial uses.

“I think this represents the first time Virginia has adopted environmental regulations that are more protective of the environment than federal law,” Surovell said. “This represents an important step forward for environmental protections in Virginia.”

Carroll Foy said she was proud that “bipartisan hard work” produced the legislation.

“At town halls and meetings with my constituents, I promised that I would fight for legislation to recycle coal ash into concrete and other materials and to excavate and remove the remainder of coal ash to lined landfills because it was the most effective way to protect public health and the environment,” Carroll Foy said.

The cleanup is expected to cost several billion dollars. Under the new law, Dominion will be able to pass on the cost to its customers. As a result, state officials have estimated, the average monthly electric bill will increase by about $5.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network thanked Northam and state legislators for working across party lines to pass the legislation.

“This legislation, which is a result of four years of persistent work by Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks and our Virginia partners, is an historic step to solve the serious and lingering pollution problem of legacy coal ash,” said Nancy Stoner, the network’s president.

She said that four years ago, Naujoks began testing water wells near some of Dominion’s coal ash ponds and discovered that lead and arsenic had contaminated nearby groundwater.

“The dangers of coal ash, leaking into groundwater, drinking wells, our rivers and streams and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay, have long been documented, and we’re proud of our role in fixing the problem,” Naujoks said.

Kendyl Crawford, director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, said the new law was a step in the right direction. But she said the state should have required Dominion to bear the cost of the cleanup.

“It is long overdue that decades-old toxic coal ash is finally being addressed after having poisoned Virginia’s waterways. Removing millions of cubic yards of toxic material along waterways to safe, lined landfills is a step towards a healthier and more just state. Now, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all coal ash, including that outside of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is safely recycled and disposed,” Crawford said.

“While we applaud the signing of this legislation that cleans up coal ash, once again Dominion, one of our electric utility monopolies, has shown their influence by pushing the fiscal burden to fall on electricity consumers.”

Sallie Inez Young

August 25, 1932 - March 20, 2019

Wake Celebration of Life

R.E. Pearson & Son Funeral Service, Inc. - Emporia

556 Halifax Street
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Diamond Grove Baptist Church
127 Diamond Grove Road
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Ms. Sallie Inez Young was born to the late Walter Young and Junita Young-Cooke of Greensville County, Virginia on August 25, 1932. She joined Antioch Baptist Church at an early age. Inez truly loved the Lord and this was often witnessed through her spreading the gospel and singing old hymns.   

Inez attended school in Greensville County. She moved to Brooklyn, New York in her early 20’s. She continued serving the Lord by attending church in New York. Also while living there, she was employed with Lloyd and Taylor for over 20 years. She retired with hopes of one day moving back to her hometown of Emporia, Va.

Inez had two daughters, Diane Young and the late Esther Young-Adams. She had one granddaughter, Crystal Adams and a devoted grandson, Craig Young who was a dedicated caregiver to Inez for over 18 years.

Inez was a very caring, strong-willed, tough woman. She always tried to be there for her family before becoming ill. One of her grandson’s most memorable moments was his first year in law school and he was low on money. Inez would call to check on him and send boxes of food to ensure he ate. That is just one way she showered her love of kindness.

Inez was preceded in death by her brothers; Curtis Young, Joe Young, Johnny Ben Young and Cecil Young and sisters; Loretta Young and Rosa Young.

Inez leaves to cherish her memories one daughter, Diane Young who expressed her love, a devoted grandson, Craig Young, granddaughter, Crystal Adams, great-grandson Ze’Marion D. Finnell, great- granddaughter, Zariah D. Finnell; two sisters; Mabiel Coe and Dorothy Newman, one brother, Eddie Young and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

www.pearsonandsonfuneralhome.com

Ruby Estell Ferguson Pearson

November 4, 1921-March 18, 2019

Visitation Services

Friday, March 22, 2019, from 1:00 – 2:00

Forest Hill Baptist Church

Friday, March 22, 2019, from 2:00

Forest Hill Baptist Church

Ruby Estell Ferguson Pearson, at the age of 97, went to be with the Lord on March 18, 2019. She was born November 4, 1921, the oldest daughter of the late Joseph Wyatt and Annie Harrell Ferguson of Emporia VA. She was preceded in death by her husband, Major B. Pearson and daughter Virginia P. King, brothers, Kennon Ferguson Sr., C. Wade Ferguson, and H. Clayton Ferguson, sisters, Mamie F. Driver, Erma F. Vincent and Avis F. Frazier.

She is survived by her Son-in-law, Charles P. King, Grandsons, Stacy L. King (Amy Walton) and Stephen E. King. Great-Grandson, Kirby Dale King, sister Betty F. Veliky and brother Melvin L. Ferguson.

She was an active member of Forest Hill Baptist Church until her health started to decline several years ago. She loved her Lord and Savior, family, friends and Church family. She worked at Emporia Garment Factory until she retired. She loved family history and researched and gathered information for picture albums of the Ferguson and Pearson families.

Ruby loved and appreciated the staff at Northampton Nursing Home Complex, Jackson NC. Pauline, the Director of Activities encouraged her to play BINGO, and she did play twice a week up until about two weeks ago. The family thanks Emily Spence for being such a special care giver.

Visitation will be held on Friday, March 22, 2019, from 1:00 – 2:00 at Forest Hill Baptist Church with Funeral Service at 2:00 with Rev. Terry Corder officiating.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to: Forest Hill Baptist Church Cemetery Fund 5010 Brink Road, Emporia VA 23847

 

 

Echols Funeral Home of Emporia VA will be in charge of arrangements.

 

 

Online condolence may be made to the family at: www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Trump’s Business Dealings Violate Constitution, Attorneys General Say

By Benjamin West, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Flanked by U.S. flags, two attorneys general argued Tuesday that President Donald Trump is violating the constitutional ban against government officials accepting gifts or favors.

Attorneys General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia and Brian Frosh of Maryland — both Democrats — made that assertion at a press conference regarding the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle between the two jurisdictions and Trump.

In mid-2017, D.C. and Maryland sued Trump, alleging that the president has violated the emolument clauses of the U.S. Constitution as a result of his domestic and foreign business dealings through the Trump Organization. The case was heard Tuesday by a panel of three judges of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The Department of Justice continues to take the position that President Trump is above the law and that somehow, the Constitution’s anti-corruption law should not apply to him,” Racine said.

The suit involves two clauses in the U.S. Constitution:

  • The Domestic Emoluments Clause states that the president cannot profit domestically in business dealings aside from his salary, currently $400,000 per year.
  • The Title of Nobility Clause states that the federal government cannot distribute titles of nobility and that no government official can “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind, whatever” from any foreign country without the approval of Congress.

“He’s trying to negotiate the terms of the Constitution,” Frosh said. “We have the right to have the president put our interests first and it appears that he’s not doing that, he’s putting his financial interests first.”

Racine pointed to the “horrific killing” of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, widely reported to have been orchestrated by the Saudi leadership.

“We now as Americans have to ask ourselves whether the administration’s reaction to that horrific murder was for valid diplomatic reasons, or whether it’s because the president of the United States has a financial interest that he is seeking to exploit and preserve,” Racine said.

Frosh said any payment to the Trump Organization from a foreign entity would be proof of a constitutional violation.

“The Domestic Emoluments Clause says that he only gets his salary from the United States and no other emolument,” Frosh said.

He cited the Trump International Hotel Washington, where foreign dignitaries and other guests have stayed, as problematic. The hotel is located less than a mile from the White House in a building called the Old Post Office.

“Trump Post Office Hotel is itself an emolument,” Frosh said. “So he’s violating both clauses, both of them, every single day.”

Frosh said the plaintiffs “expect to prevail” in the lawsuit. They plan to pursue the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed.

The attorneys general said Trump’s business empire make it “more difficult” to deal with the emoluments clauses, “but that’s what he signed up for.”

“When he ran for president, he knew he was going to have to live with these two constitutional requirements,” Frosh said. “And maybe it’s tougher for him than it would be for me or somebody else. But he ran for president; he’s subject to the Constitution just as every other American is.”

Trump and his attorneys have argued that the lawsuit has no legal merit and that D.C. and Maryland have no authority to sue the president over money his businesses may receive from foreign interests.

“The complaint rests on a host of novel and fundamentally flawed constitutional premises, and litigating the claims would entail intrusive discovery into the president’s personal financial affairs and the official actions of his Administration,” according to a document filed in court by the U.S. Justice Department.

Governor Signs Law Slashing Sales Tax on Personal Hygiene Products

By Emily Holter, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The sales tax on tampons, diapers and other personal hygiene products will be reduced by more than half beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he has signed SB 1715, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, and HB 2540, proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. The bills will lower the retail sales and use tax rate on essential personal hygiene products to 2.5 percent.

The new law will apply to feminine hygiene products and nondurable incontinence products including diapers and other materials.

“We know that menstrual supplies and diapers are necessary to leave home for work, school, and social activities,” said Boysko, who called her bill the Dignity Act. “I am so glad we have made progress on the issue of menstrual equity and at long last will have tax relief for these products that women and families have to purchase.”

Currently, consumers pay the regular sales tax rate on these items: 7 percent in Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, James City County and York County), 6 percent in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, and 5.3 percent elsewhere in the state.

Byron said the law will benefit Virginians of all ages.

“This legislation won widespread bipartisan support because it provides tax relief on necessities used by women and men young and old,” Byron said. “For the young family buying diapers to those purchasing other essentials for their health, the savings because of this bill will add up and be appreciated.”

Northam commended the General Assembly for passing the bills.

“I am pleased to sign this common-sense legislation that makes these necessities more accessible and affordable,” he said. “The essential nature of personal health care products is not up for debate.”

The law will make these products subject to the state’s reduced sales tax of 1.5 percent, which currently applies only to food. In addition, local governments add a 1 percent sales tax on such purchases.

Boysko had wanted to remove the so-called “tampon tax” entirely. Byron pushed for a compromise on grounds that a tax exemption for personal hygiene products would have a big effect on the state budget.

Edmond “Bob Jack” Hicks

December 31, 1943 - March 18, 2019

Visitation

Celebration of Life

R.E. Pearson & Son Funeral Service, Inc. - Emporia

556 Halifax Street
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Emmanuel Worship Center
 
4910 East Atlantic Street
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Edmond “Bob Jack” Hicks was born to Napoleon Hicks and Isabelle Arrington Hicks on December 31, 1943 and he returned home to be with the Lord on March 18, 2019 at the VCU Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, VA.

Bob Jack was a farmer with a fourth grade education for P. I. Rook and G. B. Ligon. Later in life, he worked for the Emporia Foundery as a welder for twenty years.

Bob Jack loved dancing, singing and playing cards. He also loved laughing and telling jokes. His favorite phrase was “I ain’t never lied!” while lying the whole time. He was so   funny and he enjoyed life to the fullest. He will truly be missed.

Bob Jack was preceded in death by eleven siblings, two whom died at birth; Robert “Toboro” Hicks (Dorothy), Junious “Bubba” Hicks (Daisy), Roosevelt “Pap” Hicks (Betty), Willie “Peter” Hicks (Bettie), Archie “Sack” Hicks, Eddie Lewis “Manna” Hicks (Dorris), Rebecca “Sis" Washington (Tommie), Thelma “Duke” Robinson (Albert), and Blanch Barbara “Alene” Hicks (Bufford).

Bob Jack leaves to cherish his memories his wife, Martha Anne Hicks, children; Ricky Mills (Nadine), Aaron Stewart (Qreatha), step-children; Diane, Doreatha and Isabell, grandchildren; Shamila Beslow (Vernon III), Antione Ingram (Cindy), Corey Faulcon, Aaron Stewart, Jr., and Rico Stewart, great grandchildren; Joshua Bane (Defontney), Christopher Maga, III, Kenneth Thompkins, Jr., Antoine Ingram, Jr. and Arianna Ingram, one great great granddaughter, Esma Bane, one sister, Rosa “Missy-Gal” Franklin (George) and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

www.pearsonandsonfuneralhome.com

 

Norman Eugene Kramer

 

Norman Eugene Kramer, 84, of Emporia, Va. passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 17, 2019, at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center. He was the son of Lester Kramer and Gesina Norman Kramer. Norman was a retired communication specialist with the United States government.

Norman is survived by his loving wife, Mary Frances Derring Kramer of Emporia, Va., daughter, Laura Kramer Rose (Russell) of Vienna, Va., son, Mark Kramer (Gina) of Vienna, Va., Stepsons, Richard H. Short III (Betsy) of Emporia, Va., and John C. Short (Janet) of Bracey, Va., grandchildren, Ryan Rose, Sean Rose, Naomi Kramer, and Angela Kramer, all of Vienna, Va., step grandchildren, Ryan Short (Paula) of Littleton, NC., Alex Short and Allison Short of Emporia, Va., Parker Short of Smithfield, Va., and Nicholas Short of Blacksburg, Va., and a step great granddaughter, Mary Katherine Short of Littleton, NC.

A celebration for Norman Kramer will be held on Sunday, March 31, 2019, at 2:00PM, at Lakeside Lutheran Church, 2427 Eaton Ferry Road, Littleton, NC 27850.

Memorials may be made to: Lakeside Lutheran Church Building Fund.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at: www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Advocate Draws From Personal Experience as Example to Youth

By Georgia Geen, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — James Braxton went outside only once in the four months he spent in jail, and he ate ice chips instead of drinking water. He says he didn’t want to get used to a routine; that would have meant he was staying there.

It was in 2005 when he got a call from a friend after being fired from his job at a call center for fighting with a coworker. Braxton needed money, and accompanying a friend on a personal retaliation mission was a way to get it.

But things didn’t go according to plan. He ended up driving their car through Newport News, pursued by up to a dozen squad cars. Braxton and the three young men in the car with him were charged with possession of a firearm and larceny.

“I was almost laughing because I couldn’t believe it; I was almost in a state of shock. It didn’t really hit me until we got to jail and we’re there for hours in processing,” Braxton said. “It had already hit the news what was happening, so guys in there are treating us like, ‘Dang, y’all about to go down.’”

Braxton’s story didn’t begin with a failed robbery attempt, and it didn’t end when he left Hampton City Jail. His early years are similar to those of some of the youth he advocates for today.

He joined RISE for Youth — a statewide campaign advocating for youth justice reform — two years ago after more than a decade of working to better himself and navigate past traumas. He is now the group’s strategic engagement director.

Shortly after Braxton’s parents divorced when he was 9, his mother, Mattie Brisbane, was diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the major traumas of his childhood was thinking his mother was going to die, Braxton said.

“That was a trying time,” Braxton said. “I felt like God spared her because in the times when I needed someone the most, she’s always been there. She’s always been there, always believed in me and always supported me.”

Despite his tendency to act out in school and high levels of frustration, Brisbane said she always saw “greatness” in her son.

“Even as a toddler, he was very smart, very curious, but he was bold,” Brisbane said. “One day I went to turn on the light, and the light wouldn’t come on. A couple of things electrical didn’t work and I started looking around — he cut electrical wires because he wanted to make his own TV.”

In his early high school years, Braxton said he was “one foot in the streets and one foot out.” The area where he lived at the time — Lincoln Park, a public housing site in Hampton that was demolished in 2016 — was known for crime, drugs and violence, he said.

“By default, I just got sucked into some of the activity that was happening,” Braxton said. “I gravitated toward it. It’s where I felt welcome, it’s where I felt like I belonged.”

As a 17- and 18-year-old, Braxton acted as a stepfather to his 23-year-old girlfriend’s child. The experience was toxic, he said, and the stress interfered further with his education.

“I’m thinking about how I’m going to get out of school to get to the WIC office to get this baby some milk,” Braxton said. “I’m now taking on that responsibility as an 11th grader in high school working two jobs living a whole grown person’s life. There was nobody I could talk to about that.”

When he was a senior in high school, the stress led Braxton to attempt suicide by taking a bottle of painkillers.

“I remember waking up in the hospital and just feeling broken and the weakest I had ever felt in my life,” he said. “I vowed to never be that weak again.”

It might have improved his situation, Braxton said, if he had had a mentor — someone he could relate to.

“That would have allowed me to feel open enough to have those conversations,” Braxton said. “And then from that, [have] some real, tangible, solid answers for housing and for food and for transportation in places where I don’t have to be system-involved to access them.”

By “system,” he means the welfare system or the criminal justice system. Most young people can’t access resources for necessities like food, housing and transportation until they’re “system-involved,” Braxton said.

An alternative would be local organizations working with the local government to address those issues, he said.

Braxton experienced what he considers a similar lack of assistance after he was released from jail in 2005. He got out when his $80,000 bond was reduced to $20,000, an amount his family was able to pay.

At the time, he spent all day, every day applying for jobs — it was “application after application,” he said. The opportunity that Braxton says changed his life was when he was hired as a pediatric dental assistant.

“But it had nothing to do with the [criminal justice] system, and the system had the opportunity to do that,” Braxton said. “That has to change.”

To Braxton, that job is the reason a judge decided to give him a second chance at the end of two years of criminal proceedings in 2007. The office staff and the doctor that hired him came with him to the sentencing.

“The judge was like, ‘I don’t see this often; I don’t see young men coming in with these kinds of charges and they’re doing the positive things you’re doing and making this kind of impact,’” Braxton said.

Braxton had taken an Alford plea — in which the defendant pleads guilty without admitting to the act — to his gun charge. After three years of probation, the judge dropped the larceny charge.

Braxton worked in property management for several years before he felt he needed to make a change and connect himself to his “purpose.”

He now advocates for improvements in the criminal justice system. In January, Braxton was part of a rally at the state Capitol that urged the General Assembly to reinstate discretionary parole, which allows prisons to release certain offenders before they have completed their sentences. During the 2019 legislative session, several bills were proposed to reinstate parole; none of them passed.

Braxton said he hopes “to be an example and mentor, especially to young African-American boys that don’t have examples of fathers or leaders in their home or in their environment.”

“I think that’s where it starts,” he said, “not waiting for the state or not waiting for the government to provide answers to neighborhoods and communities.”

Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill

Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the following statement after oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill:

“This case has cost Virginians four years of litigation, multiple elections under an unconstitutional map, and probably more than $10 million, mostly spent by House Republicans to defend racial gerrymandering. The trial Court issued 100 pages of factual findings explaining the ways that the plan ‘sorted voters into districts based on the color of their skin’ and reduced the political power of African-Americans. That is wrong. We should all be concerned about this race-based violation of Virginians’ right to vote and should work to fix it as soon as possible. 

“Nothing I heard today changes my belief that it is time to put an end to this case, and to implement fair, constitutional districts.”

In June 2018, a three-judge panel found that eleven House of Delegates districts were unconstitutional. In July 2018, Attorney General Herring announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia would not appeal the decision, citing the seriousness of the constitutional violation, the likelihood of success, and the considerable time and millions in taxpayer money that had already been expended. 

The three-judge panel and Supreme Court have three times denied requests by the House of Delegates to delay implementation of a new redistricting plan that corrects the identified racial gerrymandering.

Virginia Electric Utilities Wiring Rural Areas for Broadband

By Daniel Berti, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — If you want internet service in the rural hamlet of Honaker, in far Southwest Virginia, Cable Plus is the only game in town. With internet speeds of 3 megabits per second, customers can go online to check their email, surf social media and watch low-quality videos from streaming services, but not much else.

The cheapest Cable Plus internet package available to the 700 households in Honaker: $54 a month.

An hour away in Bristol, Virginia, residents have plenty of options to choose from for broadband. They can get high-speed service — with speeds of at least 25 Mbps — for as low as $45 a month.

The difference in internet services between urban and rural communities in Virginia is stark: Only 53 percent of rural Virginians have access to broadband internet. Urban areas have far better coverage — 96 percent, according to a 2016 study by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

That’s because internet providers profit more when their customer base is concentrated and easy to reach. In rural areas, it’s much more expensive per customer to provide high-speed internet.

Virginia lawmakers have taken steps to address geographic disparities in broadband coverage by passing a bill that will give the state’s two largest electric utilities, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power, the green light to provide broadband internet service to unserved areas.

HB 2691, sponsored by Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, will create a pilot program that allows the electric utilities to expand “middle mile” broadband coverage — the infrastructure that connects the networks and core routers on the internet to local internet service providers that serve businesses and consumers directly.

The bill will allow each utility to spend up to $60 million annually on the pilot program. The companies will be able to recover that money from ratepayers.

Dominion and Appalachian Power won’t be providing high-speed internet straight to residents’ homes and businesses, however. The final connection, called the “last mile,” will be left to third-party internet providers. The last mile brings service to the end user’s premises and is typically the most expensive component of broadband infrastructure.

Nate Frost, director of new technology and energy conservation at Dominion Energy, said the program is “unconventional” for electric utilities but could help solve rural Virginia’s broadband woes.

“There’s a unique opportunity to potentially leverage some of the business that we’re going to be doing anyway,” Frost said. “But getting to that point won’t be easy.”

Under the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power must modernize their systems, and part of that involves bringing broadband to electrical substations to support new “smart” infrastructure initiatives.

The pilot program allows the electric utilities to add extra fiber optic cables to rural substations in addition to the fiber they’re already putting in place. That additional broadband capacity will then be leased to third-party internet providers, which will provide last-mile connections to homes and businesses nearby.

O’Quinn’s bill is awaiting Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature to become law.

Evan Feinman, Northam’s chief broadband adviser, said earnings by electric utilities from leasing middle-mile infrastructure will result in lower electric bills over time and will save ratepayers an estimated $150 million over the next three years.

Those savings are based on Dominion’s 2018 Broadband Feasibility Report, in which the company outlined the potential for adding broadband capacity to rural areas.

“It’s one of those very rare win-wins where the electric companies, ratepayers and people in need of broadband service all benefit,” Feinman said.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously but drew opposition from a few Republicans in the House of Delegates. Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, voted against it.

“We’ve made great progress toward achieving this goal over the last several years,” said Byron, who chairs the state Broadband Advisory Council. “I’m concerned that the approach enacted by HB 2691 might unintentionally divert or detract from our well-established and successful efforts.”

Over the last few years, the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative has provided millions of dollars to broadband service providers to extend their service into rural areas. During its recent session, the General Assembly increased funding for the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative for the 2020 fiscal year from $4 million to $19 million.

Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, also voted against O’Quinn’s bill, citing the increased costs to ratepayers.

“This is a perversion of the system where the State Corporation Commission has the authority to set reasonable rates and to return ratepayer money that exceeds reasonable rates,” LaRock said.

It’s not unprecedented for electric utilities to provide internet services in Virginia. Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, which serves rural areas in 14 counties, announced its own broadband expansion in January 2018. The $110 million project aims to provide internet and phone service directly to consumers through a subsidiary company called Firefly Broadband.

Virginia has the fifth-highest rate of broadband adoption in the nation and ranks among the top 10 states in terms of its average peak internet connectivity speed, according to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Up to 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia.

But state officials have been concerned about the lack of broadband in rural areas, saying such connectivity is critical to economic development. Northam has made broadband expansion a priority, proposing that the state spend $250 million over the next 10 years to address the unequal distribution of internet service.

“Broadband internet is inarguably a necessity for participation in a 21st-century economy, and many Virginians have been left without quality access for far too long,” Northam said. “By ending this disconnect, we can better attract and support business and entrepreneurship, educate all Virginia students and expand access to cost-saving telehealth services.”

Occupational Health Services for Area Employers

Let’s build a healthy workforce, together.

South Hill—As you know, your team members are the single most important and valuable resource in your organization. A healthier team member is often a more productive team member. VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Health and Wellness Services provides team member health services required and needed in today’s world of business and industry. We can help your business reach its goals for a healthier workforce.

A healthier workforce will decrease lost work time, provide more productive and motivated employees, reduce health care and worker’s compensation costs andreduce workplace injuries.

For more than 17 years, the professionals with VCU Health CMH Health & Wellness Services have been responsive to the health needs of the corporate community.  Currently they contract with numerous companies throughout the region to provide such services as:  pre-employment physicals, DOT physicals, rapid drug screens, lab based drug screens (urine, hair follicle), breath alcohol testing, immunizations, OSHA hearing conservation education and testing and much, much more. 

Learn more about how you can make your workforce healthier by visiting our website at vcu-cmh.org and downloading a brochure or calling (434) 774-2541.

Meet the professional staff of VCU Health CMH Occupational Health: (pictured from left to right)  Linda Crump, Office Service Specialist; Donna Overton, LPN, COHC, BAT, SAMI-DOT; Amy Hobbs, FNP-C; DeeAnna Forbes, LPN, COHC, BAT APS-DOT; Jessica Seamster, LPN, BAT, APS-DOT

Institute of Contemporary Art Hosts Queer Film Collective Dirty Looks

By Emily Holter, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- It has been eight years since the first showing of “Dirty Looks,” a queer film series that traces contemporary LGBTQ aesthetics through historical works.

Beginning in New York City, “Dirty Looks” has been shown in several U.S. cities and international settings, including screenings at The Museum of Modern Art and The Kitchen in New York and The Hammer in Los Angeles.

The film series’ winter tour features cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Richmond.

The Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University is hosting a free showing of “Dirty Looks” starting at 6 p.m. on April 3.
For David Riley, a graduate curatorial assistant at the institute, the film series offers insight into queer culture and how it has shifted throughout history.

“We’re looking forward to hosting this event and hoping to hold more events like these,” Riley said.  

Each tour has a different film lineup. This tour includes films from Angie Stardust, Zina Zurner and other queer contemporaries.  

“When I’m picking films for the program, I love going through old film guides finding titles that are interesting and not well known,” said Nordeen, who launched the Dirty Looks Inc. collective in 2011 in New York City because there was a lack of consistent space for queer film and art.  

“I prefer finding filmmakers whose works haven’t been canonized yet.”

“Dirty Looks” attracted an audience from the start.

“The first showing we did we ran out of chairs, and it was in a blizzard,” Nordeen said. The collective’s goal is to build community by looking at queer history and to create a consistent space for queer films, he explained.

Three years ago, the collective expanded to include an on-location segment in which its films are shown in city spaces that were traditionally queer spaces.

“Art is made in life,” Nordeen said. “When we’re looking at queer art, it is communal.”

Although Nordeen expanded the collective from New York to Los Angeles, he said it is important to screen these films in other cities.

“You know, why not Richmond?” Nordeen said. “Places like New York City and Los Angeles -- they need me the least.”  

Nordeen and other members of the collective will host a panel discussion following the showing, and take questions from the audience.

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