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November 2019

More Work from Home in U.S., Virginia and D.C. Area

 

By Kelly Booth, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — More Americans are working from home, and that’s especially true in Virginia and in the Washington, D.C., metro area, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, the proportion of workers who work from home rose from 4.3% in 2010 to 5.3% last year, the data show. Virginia is slightly above the national average, with 5.6% of the state’s workforce working from home in 2018.

The figure was 6.1% in the D.C. metro area, which includes parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. That was the highest proportion of people working from home among the five U.S. metro areas with the most workers.

In contrast, the proportion of workers who worked from home last year was 5.9% in the Los Angeles metro area, 5.8% in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 5.4% in the Chicago area and 4.7% in the New York area.

Why are more people working from home?

“People are better able to focus and not as distracted as they are in the office,” said Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, a website that focuses on finding telecommuting jobs for workers in cities and remote areas.

Reynolds believes telecommuting will continue to grow. She said more people are turning to her company’s website to find work and more employers are offering remote work each year.

“I think more people’s jobs can just be done that way,” Reynolds said. “More people are able to do their jobs from anywhere where they’ve got a computer and an internet connection and maybe a phone.”

FlexJobs helps connect workers with a range of employment, including freelance opportunities and part-time jobs. The most popular categories this year for remote jobs are computer and information technology, medical and health, and sales, Reynolds said.

She said even doctors can now work from home, interacting with patients and insurance companies by phone and computer.

Education and training is another field on the rise, according to Reynolds. “There’s a lot more virtual education out there, online courses, and universities that are creating totally virtual or remote degree programs,” Reynolds said.

Women are more likely than men to work from home, according to the Census Bureau. The percentage of U.S. women who work from home rose from 4.4% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2018. For American men, the proportion went from 4.3% in 2010 to 5% last year.

According to Derrick Neufeld, associate professor of information systems and entrepreneurship at the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, employers can save money in real estate and rental expenses by having people work remotely or work from home.

“That can be a very significant factor. If they can start shutting down office space, it can save a lot of costs,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld said working from home can be a desirable alternative work arrangement, allowing workers to live farther from the city.

But there are downsides to working from home.

Neufeld said his recent studies have found that people who don’t meet face to face have a problem assessing the trustworthiness of their coworkers.

“It’s like a switch that doesn’t get turned on,” Neufeld said. “We can’t simply replace face-to-face communication with, let’s say, a video cast.”

Hazel Powell Elliott

October 29, 1937 - November 29, 2019

Visitation Services

4-8 p.m. Saturday, November 30

Mrs. Elliott’s home

2 p.m. Sunday, December 1

Reedy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery
1919 Reedy Creek Rd
Freeman, VA 23856

Hazel Powell Elliott, 82, of Freeman, passed away Friday, November 29, 2019.

She was the widow of A. G. Elliott, Sr. and was also preceded in death by her son, A. G. Elliot, Jr. “Artie” and brothers, Joe Powell and Nelson Powell.

Mrs. Elliott is survived by her daughter, Brenda Bowen; grandchildren, Wayne Bowen (Mary Beth), Taylor Bowen, Blake Bowen (Hannah) and Justin Adams (Kathryn); great-grandchildren, Ava, Emily, Brayden and Adalyn; sister, Louise Joyner (Stanley); brothers, Frank Powell (Louise), H. T. Powell Glenda), Walter Powell (Marie), Edward Powell, Jr. (Carolyn) Lonnie Powell (Joyce), Wilson Powell (Kenny) and Kenneth Powell Linda and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends at Mrs. Elliott’s home 4-8 p.m. Saturday, November 30. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, December 1 at Reedy Creek Baptist Church with interment to follow in the church cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Reedy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 1919 Reedy Creek Rd, Freeman, Virginia 23836.

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

“The Thanksgiving Way”

Did it only happen yesterday
Or perhaps a whole lot more
Whereby you received so many gifts
What you never had before.
 
Now did you just feel deserving
Or look to as a blessing from above
In essence did it help in any way
For you to show your love?
 
Thanksgiving is a day of Grace
That exemplifies to share
A day for you to show the world
How for others you do care.
 
Your cup don’t need to run over
No ample sure will do
Just include someone in the harvest
That may have less than you.
 
Yes open up your eyes and see
There are many with the need
Some for more clothing on their backs
And those who have the lack of feed.
 
It won’t take you a long time
For those in need to find
Yet don’t wait for their gratitude
Just because you were kind.
 
Yes many are quite humble
So will look at as a debt
Still way down deep they’re thankful
And appreciate to get.
 
You give of want and from the heart
And try to be sincere
One never knows in passing time
What you may need next year.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Weekend, Shop Small and Local!

So, most of you know that I used to work at a hotel near Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights. I drove in on Black Friday for my paycheck once. The traffic backups started well south of the exit, and the drive from the Interstate to the hotel took nearly half an hour. Had I known what the trip to the bank was going to be like, I would have walked. Had I known what the whole trip to Colonial Heights would have been like, I would have waited until the next day I worked.

I find it odd that people give up time with their families on Thanksgiving to put their selves through this.

Here is another option, though…Shop Small and Shop Local right here in Emporia.

If it is Christmas that you are looking for, stop by Picture Perfect Custom Framing and Gifts. Stephanie and Clements Mayes have expanded and now offer a wide selection of gifts including Jim Shore and Possible Dreams Santas. In addition, there many other gift options including scented candles and soaps, Scout Bags, Corkcicle insulated beverage ware, wreathes, bows, Old world Christmas Ornaments and, of course, custom framing.

In the same building as Picture Perfect is Clements Mayes Photography. Save yourself a ton of time on gift wrapping and cash on shipping and still make grandma happy enough to cry – give her photos of her grandchildren (they’ll make grandpa happy too, but he’ll be a bit more subtle about it). Be sure to talk to Clements and arrange a sitting for you, the kids or the whole family. When the day of the sitting gets close, get everyone gussied up and practice those glowing smiles for grandma.

While you’re parked so close, walk on down to Twice Told Treasures and check out Leandra’s varied selection of gently used and consignment merchandise. There is a little bit of everything in this gem of a shop, and surely you can find a gift for that hard to buy for person on your list. For Saturday only Leandra is offering 20% off most merchandise. If you have trouble finding something, she also has Gift Certificates available

Right next door check out True Patriot’s Antiques. Harvey has some great gifts and this is another great place for that one person that you can never find a Christmas gift for. Stop by and see what speaks to you.  Harvey also has Gift Certificates and is offering a 20% discount storewide

When you are done there, don’t forget City Auto. Yes, it is a hardware and appliance store. Admit it, though, your spouse has been none too subtle about that washing machine that won’t spin and the noisy dryer. The hints about wanting his own refrigerator in the garage have been getting louder and louder, too. I know that there are some that would be insulted by the gift of a dishwasher, refrigerator or laundry pair, but not everyone is. 

Surely you have done enough shopping to deserve lunch. Lucky for you, there is no need to move the car or find another parking place. Three Bears in a Tree has a wonderful lunch menu. I have never had a bad meal here.

Ok, now the car has to be moved. At the next stop you can find a gift and do some good. Samaritan House Thrift may take a bit of work, but it really can be worth it. Like all thrift stores it can be hit and miss, but yes, it can pay off. The best part is that shopping here helps the Samaritan Helping Hands Home meet the needs of their ministry.

It is a good bet that someone on your Christmas gift list would like some clothes. Stop by Slaone’s Boutique in the Emporia Shopping Center. Surely you can find an outfit or two without heading out of town.

While you are at the Emporia Shopping Center, don’t forget  Monte’s Flowers. Not only can you send an arrangement to a loved one out of town, but there are all sorts of gifts.

Just off of North Main Street is Thorpe’s Whole Home Store. Once again, I do know that this sounds like a home improvement store. Mixed in with the tile, paint and carpet samples, though, are fishing tackle, tee shirts, scented soaps and candles and much more are here to be under your tree.

You’re almost to the next stop-the Hospital Auxiliary Gift shop at SVRMC. Once again, there is a little bit of everything in this small shop. Proceeds from sales help the Auxiliary with their work in the hospital.

Just across North Main Street from the hospital are two businesses to Emporia. The Emporia Building Company has a wide array of home-renovation materials. New wall-to-wall carpeting or kitchen tile is not the normal Christmas gift, but, once again, perfect for some.

Ced’s Auto Detailing is a great spot for Dad, Grandpa, that uncle with the ’67 Pontiac or even your kid who really doesn’t care what the inside of car looks like.

Head south on Main Street, over the bridge and stop at CJ’s Pawn and Furniture. There is new and used furniture, housewares, tools, appliances and too much else to list. In addition, there are electronics-from televisions to laptops-and jewelry.

Right before you get to Low Ground Road you will see So Addictive Boutique. Her shop is just as full as her window. We always have that one person on our lists for which an outfit is the perfect gift.  This is the place to shop for that person.

Heading south on Main Street you will find the Red Barn. Yes, filling stations can have decent gifts. For the Football fan on your list there is a great selection of NFL merchandise. Lottery tickets are also available at the Red Barn, and Lottery tickets-either scratchers or Mega Millions or Power Ball-make great stocking stuffers or card fillers.

The last shopping stop on the list is in Skippers. The Good Earth Peanut Company has everything you need for the last of the people on your list. You can get peanuts in bags or tins-in the shell and out.  They also have a great selection of gift assortments, trail mixes, nut-butters and preserves. They do have more than peanuts; you can get cashews, pecans, almonds and pistachios. The best part of shopping here, besides the double dipped chocolate covered peanuts and butter toasted pecans that you grab for yourself, is that Good Earth can ship your gifts almost anywhere, which will save you a trip to the post office.

Now that you have all of your gifts in hand or are having them shipped, head to Arby’s for dinner. The turkey leftovers will keep, and you’ve been out and about all day today with no time to think about what to do with those left overs. While you are there, grab some Curly Fry Cash Cards for Stocking Stuffers of for regular gifts.

While Emporia does not have all of the local retail stores that we once did, there is still a good enough selection of stores that you can skip Black Friday to spend time with your friends and family. Start a Trivial Pursuit Tournament or Monopoly Marathon. If the weather is nice, gather all the kids in the neighborhood and host a kick-ball game with some spiced cider at half-time.

SBA Celebrates Small Business Saturday in Communities across America

#ShopSmall on Saturday, November 30

WASHINGTON –U.S. Small Business Administration Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton is encouraging Americans to support local communities by shopping at small businesses on Saturday, November 30. Celebrated each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday allows consumers to make a tremendous impact in their neighborhoods by supporting local small businesses. Last year, an estimated 104 million consumers nationwide “shopped small” on Small Business Saturday. 

“Supporting the local economy is the driving force behind Small Business Saturday, and every year the SBA has been proud to rally the community during this vibrant holiday shopping season event,” said Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton. “The SBA helps empower America’s 30 million small businesses by providing them with tools they need to start, grow and expand during the holiday season and throughout the year.”

This year marks the tenth Small Business Saturday, an annual celebration of America’s small business community. Last year on Small Business Saturday, Americans spent a combined $17.8 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants.

Today, there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three net new jobs are created by small businesses.  For more Small Business Saturday details, visit www.sba.gov/saturday.

Cosponsorship Authorization # 19-2050-93. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Ethel Rogers Faison

February 28, 1925 - November 24, 2019

Visitation Services

Tuesday, November 26, from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM

Echols Funeral Home
803 Brunswick Ave
Emporia, Virginia

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Echols Funeral Home Chapel
803 Brunswick Ave

Emporia, Virginia

Ethel Rogers Faison, 94, died Sunday at the Bloom Retirement Center.

A native of Mecklenburg County, she was the daughter of the late Walter Lee Rogers and Jessie Irene Thompson Rogers. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death, by her brothers and sisters; Edith Cannon, Rachel Thompson, Irene Ford, Doris Gregory, George Rogers, Isla Boyd, and Dennis Rogers. Ethel was a retired telephone operator, a longtime member of Calvary Baptist Church, and a very loving Mother and Grandmother.

Surviving are her two sons; Glenn Keith Faison and his wife June, and Kenneth Charles Faison, a sister; Geneva Collins of Sanford, NC, grandchildren; Justin Ray Faison of Riceville TN, Pamela Faison Prince of Calhoun TN, Tammy Liles, Donald B. Tudor, Jr, and Nicole Faison Cole, all of Chesterfield VA, and 11 great grandchildren. Along with many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Echols Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor David Everett officiating. An interment will follow the service at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. The family will receive friends Tuesday, November 26, from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Echols Funeral Home.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

Organization Aims To Feed More People In Need

By Emma Gauthier, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Every Thursday at 10:30 a.m., John White packs the trunk of his black Mercedes-Benz with meals that he distributes to people in need in Central Virginia. 

For two years, White has been a volunteer with Feed More, a local organization involved with Meals on Wheels and Feeding America that serves Central Virginia through its 10 nutrition-assistance programs.

“It’s been an education for me,” White said. “There’s quite a bit of poverty out there and it’s so good to see the outreach that we have with Meals on Wheels.” 

This Thursday, Kroger is funding over 800 Thanksgiving dinners with a donation of $7,500. This marks the fifth consecutive year that Kroger has donated to Feed More for the holidays. 

“We’re immensely grateful to Kroger for their continued dedication to giving back to the community and their enthusiasm and passion for fighting hunger in Richmond,” Feed More CEO Doug Pick said in a news release. 

The partnership makes it possible for families in need to spend their Thanksgiving enjoying turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and more. 

At least 11% of U.S. households lived in a state of food insecurity at some point in 2018, according to the USDA

Food insecurity is classified as households that are either uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of their family. 

Feed More has existed in Virginia for more than five decades, beginning with the formation of its Meals on Wheels program, which in 1967, served just eight clients.

Since then, the organization has grown to serve almost 200,000 people throughout 29 counties and five cities across Central Virginia. 

“With the support of our community, we are able to provide our neighbors who face hunger with one of the most basic necessities: nourishment,” said Audrey Gilani, marketing coordinator at Feed More. 

More than 1,600 people volunteered with Feed More in 2018, donating a total of nearly 70,000 hours. About 460 groups also volunteered for almost 83,000 hours. 

“I am so impressed with the organization, the efficiency and the good-will spirit of the volunteers at Feed More,” White stated in a social media message. 

Feed More received nearly $45 million worth of donated food in 2018, primarily from retailers, manufacturers and produce growers. Half of the donated food consisted of fresh produce and meat. 

The organization receives millions of pounds of donated food each year. During 2018 the largest donor was Food Lion with more than 5 million pounds, followed by Walmart with about 4.5 million pounds. 

Multiple Feed More programs are dedicated to children living in food insecurity. The Weekend Backpack program distributed over 55,000 meals to 54 schools for children to take home on weekends.

In Central Virginia, one in seven children do not know when their next meal will be, according to Feed More. Gilani says she is pleased with how programs such as Mobile Pantry, School Market and Weekend Backpacks reach vulnerable communities struggling with food access.

“Feed More is there for our neighbors when they need us most,” Gilani said.

Collectively, Feed More has distributed nearly 21 million meals to those in need.

“If the rest of us will just provide them with the resources,” volunteer Bill McCoy said, “the chances of anybody in the region having to go to bed hungry go way down.”

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE URGING MOTORISTS TO DRIVE SAFE AND MAKE IT TO THE HOLIDAY TABLE THIS THANKSGIVING

Buckle Up, Phone Down – Don’t Drive Intexticated

RICHMOND – As Virginians take to the roads this Thanksgiving to celebrate the holiday with family and friends, Virginia State Police is urging motorists to put down their phones and buckle up so everyone makes it safely to the holiday table.

With the onset of the 2019 winter holiday season, state police is proud to support the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Highway Safety Office and AAA Mid-Atlantic with its new traffic safety campaign aimed at heightening awareness of the deadly dangers of distracted driving. Earlier this month, Virginia State Police Superintendent, Col. Gary T. Settle, and Trooper-Trainees of the 131st Basic Academy Session signed a banner to pledge their support to the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign and its life-saving messaging.

“The choices you make as a vehicle driver impact not only you and your passengers, but everyone else you happen to be sharing the road with at that given moment,” said Settle. “Avoid distractions, ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up, comply with speed limits and never drive drunk. If we drive like every car is filled with our friends and family, we can make sure there are no empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table this year.”

To further prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. As part of the state-sponsored, national program, state police will be increasing its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period, Nov. 27, 2019 through Dec. 1, 2019.

The 2018 Thanksgiving Holiday C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 599 individuals who failed to obey the law and buckle up, as well as issuing 199 citations for child safety seat violations on Virginia’s highways statewide. In addition, state police cited 7,629 speeders and 2,192 reckless drivers. A total of 102 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.

There were 12 traffic fatalities during the 2018 five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period and 14 traffic fatalities during the same period in 2017. *

With increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

*Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

Laura R. Poarch

October 12, 1929 - November 22, 2019

 

Visitation Services

6-8 p.m. Monday, November 25

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Tuesday, November 26

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road

Jarratt, Virginia

Laura R. Poarch, 90, of Stony Creek, passed away Friday, November 22, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bruce A. Poarch; daughter, Brenda Poarch Ozmar and two sisters, Katie Potts and Ella Lewallen.

Mrs. Poarch is survived by two daughters, Jean Poarch Tucker (Dennis) and Kathy Poarch Harrell (Melvin); four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandson; brother, Gilbert Rawlings (Martha) and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Monday, November 25 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, November 26. Interment will follow at Poarch Family Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Purdy Baptist Church Sanctuary Building Project, 186 Smokey Ordinary Rd, Emporia, Virginia 23847.

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

Shop Small® this Holiday Season with the Small Business Administration

Supporting Small Businesses Supports Our Communities

BY: SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator (acting) Steve Bulger

As the voice of our nation’s entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrates the 30 million small businesses igniting our economy and enriching our communities throughout the year. We are once again partnering with organizations across the country this holiday shopping season to celebrate Small Business Saturday® (the Saturday after Thanksgiving); a day to honor and support small businesses for all they contribute to our communities. 

Supporting America’s entrepreneurs can be as simple as “Shopping Small” at Main Street merchants, which create two out of three net new jobs in our communities. Your dollars make an impact. Last year, total reported spending among U.S. consumers who said they shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the day reached a record high of $17.8 billion. Shoppers also turned out for online small businesses in 2018 – among consumers who said they participated on the day, 41% reported that they shopped small online on Small Business Saturday. This is positive news for all of us, especially during the holiday season, as Americans boost their local economies.

In so many ways, small businesses are the glue that holds our communities together. In addition to providing jobs and contributing to the local tax base, small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to local non-profits and community causes. Seventy five percent donate an average of 6% of their profits to charitable organizations annually. 81% of small businesses plan on giving back to their community in 2019.

Each small business typically has a list of different organizations and causes it donates to: 66% give to local charities, 48% support local youth organizations, 42% donate to local first responders… the list goes on. I encourage you to join me and more than 100 million Americans in shopping and dining small on Small Business Saturday® as you check off items on your holiday shopping list.

This year, to help bring attention to our locally owned retailers and restauranteurs, SBA is visiting neighborhoods near you. In Virginia, we’re visiting small businesses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Fredericksburg and the greater Richmond area providing tips and tricks for Small Business Saturday® through Nov 26th. Join us and meet with local business owners to highlight the impact their presence and your dollars have on making our Virginia communities a great place to live and shop.

Thank you for shopping small this holiday season. Let us know how you’re supporting your local entrepreneurs on Small Business Saturday by using #ShopSmall on social media as you go about your shopping. For more information, visit  www.sba.gov/saturday.

Barbara Sykes Stroud

February 5, 1953 - November 20, 2019

Visitation Services

6:00 - 8:00 P.M. Saturday, November 23, 2019

Echols Funeral Home
803 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia 23847

2:00 P.M. Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sykes Family Cemetery

Barbara Sykes Stroud, 66, died Wednesday, November 20, 2019, at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center.

Although born in North Carolina, Barbara lived and worked her whole life in Greensville County, the daughter of Alice Brickell Sykes and the late Dana Weaver Sykes. In addition to her father, she was preceded in death by her husband, Clarence Eugene Stroud. Barbara attended Chowan College, where she was later named “Person of the Year” in the Womens Recreational Association and was inducted into the Chowan College Sports Hall of Fame. She later earned her Bachelors degree from Longwood College. Barbara served with the Greensville County Sheriff’s Department for 24 years, retiring as a Captain. She was an avid hunter and golfer, a great cook, and loved spending time with her grandchildren.

In addition to her mother, Alice Brickell Sykes, Barbara is survived by her son, Brian W. Stroud and his wife Ashlee, her daughter, Mary Alice Banner, a sister, Wanda W. Wilson, grandchildren, Brantley Eugene Stroud, Kiersten Banner, and Kandie Hicks.

Graveside Services will be held Sunday, November 24, 2019, at 2:00 P.M. at the Sykes Family Cemetery with Pastor Tom Spizzirri officiating. The family will receive friends Saturday, November 23, 2019 from 6:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. at Echols Funeral Home.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.6%

 

By Yahya Alzahrany, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginia had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the United States last month, officials announced Tuesday.

The commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 2.7% in September to 2.6% in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Virginia’s jobless rate continues to be much lower than the national average of 3.6%.

Only three states had an unemployment rate in October lower than Virginia’s: Vermont (at 2.2%) and North Dakota and Utah (both at 2.5%).

Virginia was tied with Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina with a jobless rate of 2.6%.

The state with the highest unemployment rate last month was Alaska at 6.2%, followed by Mississippi (5.5%) and the District of Columbia (5.4%).

Gov. Ralph Northam said more people are working in Virginia than ever before. He said October was the 16th consecutive month that the commonwealth’s labor force had expanded.

“Virginia’s economy is headed in the right direction,” Northam said in a statement issued during an economic development mission in the Middle East. “The competition for talent is on, because low unemployment gives workers more options about where to work.”

Competition can also help boost wages. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the average weekly wage in Virginia had risen 3.7%, to $1,113, between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019. Nationally, wages increased 3.8%, to $1,095, during that period.

“Next month, we will put forward a budget that continues investing in workforce development to ensure long-term, shared economic growth in our Commonwealth,” Northam said. “We want Virginia to be the best state to work in and the best place to run a business.”

Virginia’s unemployment rate has been dropping:

● In October 2018, it was 2.8% — tied for the seventh lowest in the U.S.

● In September of this year, the rate was 2.7% — tied for the fifth lowest.

“It is very satisfying whenever the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate drops, as it has been doing consistently throughout 2019,” Brian Ball, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, said in a statement.

“Virginia’s highly trained and skilled workforce makes us a natural fit for top employers. We will continue to recruit those businesses that create productive job opportunities for Virginians.”

Baby Names Reflect Demographic Shifts

 

By Erica Mokun, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Bye-bye, Betty. You were one of the most popular names for girls in Virginia when Betty Grable ruled the silver screen in the 1930s. But last year, you didn’t even register a “boop” on the Social Security Administration’s list of common baby names in the commonwealth.

Mateo, on the other hand, has seen a meteoric rise. First appearing on the SSA’s list 20 years ago, it was the 46th most popular name for boys born in Virginia in 2018 — ahead of Robert, Jonathan and Adam.

Mateo, the Spanish form of Matthew, has emerged in Virginia as the state’s Latino population has grown. Last year, 179 boys born in the state were named Mateo.

The most common names for male babies in Virginia last year were William, Liam and Noah. The most common names for girls were Ava, Olivia and Emma. The SSA’s data, based on applications for Social Security cards, shows how names can rise and fall in popularity based on cultural and demographic trends.

“We see many more Spanish names rising through the charts in the U.S. as the Spanish-speaking population grows and people become more comfortable with diversity and interested in using names from their own culture,” said Pamela Redmond, an expert on the subject.

Redmond is co-founder and CEO of Nameberry, which describes itself as the internet’s “largest and most complete resource devoted to baby names.”

Baby names reflect what is fashionable as well as society’s appreciation for diversity.

“Baby names are completely barometers of who we are and what we like in a culture, ranging from our ethnic identity to our feelings about education and class to what we are watching on TV,” Redmond said.

The Social Security Administration annually tracks the names given to boys and girls in each state and has posted online data going back to 1910.

Some names stand the test of time. For boys, for example, James has been a top-10 name every year in Virginia; it was No. 4 in 2018.

Other names can fall out of favor as the decades pass. For instance, Shirley was the most common name for girls born in Virginia in 1936. But last year, it was given to fewer than five babies in the state — the threshold for being included in the SSA’s database.

Some names can suddenly surface and quickly soar in popularity. That is what happened with Liam. It first appeared on the SSA’s list for Virginia in 1985, ranking No. 138 with just five births. But by 2012, Liam was the third most common name for boys born in the commonwealth — and it took first place in 2017.

The data also shows what Virginia has in common with other states. Last year, for example, Ava was the No. 1 girls’ name in 10 other states, from Mississippi to Ohio, as well as in Washington, D.C.

According to the SSA database, parents today are drawing from a wider range of names than Virginians had in the past.

In 1910, parents having a girl chose from fewer than 300 names. By the 1950s, the SSA’s annual list had about 600 girls’ names. And in recent years, the number of girls’ names has hovered around 1,400.

For boys, the choices have been more limited: fewer than 200 different names in 1910, about 500 in the 1950s and fewer than 1,200 today.

Richmond resident Maya Slater, who is expecting her first child, has turned to resources like the SSA and Nameberry to find names that will stand out.

“I chose the name Raelynn for my child because I really wanted a unique name that I did not want all my friends to have,” Slater said. “So I downloaded an app, did some research on the name and went with it.”

Raelynn is relatively uncommon in Virginia. Last year, 88 girls born in the state received that name — so it ranked No. 72.

Redmond, who has written “Beyond Jennifer & Jason” and other books on the subject, noted that names can fall out of favor and then make a comeback. So don’t rule Betty out, she said.

“It’s getting just vintage enough to make a comeback, but we may not see it till the next generation,” Redmond said. “Names usually take four generations or 100 years to come back.”

Greensville County Public Schools Receive 2019 Dorothy S. McAuliffe School Nutrition Award

Richmond, VA (Nov. 18, 2019) – Greensville County Public Schools was one of 15 school divisions across the Commonwealth that received the Dorothy S. McAuliffe School Nutrition presented by No Kid Hungry Virginia this November. This is the first year Greensville County Public Schools received the award.

 

The Dorothy S. McAuliffe School Nutrition Award celebrates Virginia school divisions that have gone above and beyond by operating all available federal child nutrition programs and achieving exceptional participation in the school breakfast program. Originally launched in 2017, the award is named in honor of former First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, in recognition of her efforts to end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth.

 

“Virginia has become a national model for ending childhood hunger because of the hard work and innovative approaches of this year’s School Nutrition Award recipients,” said Mrs. McAuliffe. “We’re thrilled to celebrate districts like Greensville County Public Schools for their ongoing commitment to making sure students can access the meals and other resources they need to succeed.”

 

Franklin County Public Schools joined Greensville County Public Schools and Suffolk City Public Schools as first-time award recipients. Other winning school districts included Bristol City Public Schools, Buchanan County Public Schools, Colonial Beach Public Schools, Danville Public Schools, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Newport News City Public schools, Pulaski County Public Schools, Richmond City Public Schools, Southampton County Public Schools, Staunton City Public Schools, Westmoreland County Public School and West Point Public Schools.

 

“Schools play a critical role in connecting children with the nutrition they need to fuel their bodies and their brains,” said Claire Mansfield, No Kid Hungry Virginia state director. “We’re excited to honor more schools this year. It’s thanks to strong public-private partnerships and commitments from community members, school leadership, teachers and school nutrition teams that we’ve been able to connect more schools – and students – with federal nutrition programs.”

 

To qualify for the award, school divisions met the following criteria:

  • School Breakfast: At least 70% of students who qualify for free/reduced meals and eat school lunch are also eating school breakfast.
  • Afterschool Meals: Division is sponsoring and serving meals/snacks through the At-Risk Afterschool Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), if eligible.
  • Summer Meals: Division is sponsoring and serving summer meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO), if eligible.

 

No Kid Hungry Virginia partners with schools and districts to connect eligible kids to federal nutrition programs. Programs like Breakfast After the Bell, afterschool meals and summer meals help feed kids throughout the school day and in the summertime.

 

The nonprofit shares best practices via webinars and educational events, along with expanding access to meal programs through grants. Visit va.nokidhungry.org for more information about No Kid Hungry Virginia’s work.

Republicans Say New House Leadership Lacks Regional Diversity

By Jason Boleman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Earlier this month Democrats elected a new House of Delegates leadership team as the party took control of the chamber for the first time since 1999. 

For outgoing House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, the Democratic leadership team lacks diversity in one area: their home districts.

In a statement released Nov. 9, and retweeted by Republican leadership, Gilbert congratulated the new House leadership and said Republicans are looking forward to working with them, but also expressed concern with the party electing “an entire leadership team that is centered in the deepest parts of Northern Virginia.”

“The House of Delegates represents our entire commonwealth, and the varying and often conflicting interests of Northern Virginia, metro Richmond, Hampton Roads, and rural Virginia deserve a fair hearing in our legislative process,” Gilbert said. 

Among the new leadership is Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, who is set to become the first female speaker in the chamber’s 400-year history.

Joining Filler-Corn in leadership positions are Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Fairfax. Herring will serve as House majority leader and Sullivan will serve as majority caucus chair in the upcoming General Assembly session. 

Under the current House District map, all three delegates are from northern Virginia. The outgoing leadership team represented central, western and northern areas of the state.

“It is a bit unusual to have an entire leadership team drawn from one region of the state,” said Bob Holsworth, political analyst and managing partner at the consulting firm DecideSmart, by email. 

Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said that regionalism has been “a fairly common theme here in the commonwealth.”

“As for whether the regional dominance translates into an actual resource or representation imbalance: not likely,” Bitecofer said. “But keep in mind, every time a resource gets distributed to NoVa the accusation will be leveled.”

Holly Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Filler-Corn, said the delegate does not have a response to Gilbert’s statement, instead choosing to focus on policy matters.

“Her decisions on leadership, including committee chairs, will speak for themselves,” Armstrong said. “The policy agenda will begin to take shape as the committee chair decisions are made and caucus members continue to discuss priorities.”

 On Thursday, Filler-Corn announced Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, Del. Vivian Watts, D-Fairfax, Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton and Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-Sussex would receive chair positions – respectively – to the Appropriations, Finance, Commerce and Labor, and Education committees.

With more chair decisions to be made, Bitecofer said she would not be surprised to see more regional diversity in the assignments.

“I expected that the fact that Democrats have chosen leaders from NoVa would be raised as concerns among the minority,” Bitecofer said. “This detail has not been overlooked, and I assume we'll see some nice committee chairs doled out to members representing other regions to offset that.”

Holsworth agreed that committee chairs will play a role in offsetting Gilbert’s concerns.

“Key committee chairs - who have greater power and leadership than some of the leaders - exhibit considerable diversity in terms of region,” Holsworth said.

The current House leadership team, which has been in place since 2018, includes Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, Gilbert and Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax. Republicans are still determining the new Republican minority leadership roles. Cox, outgoing speaker of the House, said he will not pursue a leadership position in the upcoming session. Hugo, the current majority caucus chair, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Dan Helmer. 

 Gilbert, House majority leader since 2018, and Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, are likely contenders for the minority leader position, according to the Washington Post. They are both influential figures in the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus, Holsworth said. 

The last Democratic Speaker of the House was Tom Moss, a delegate from Norfolk who served as speaker from 1991 until the Republicans took control of the chamber in 2000. Moss’s House majority leader was Richard Cranwell, who represented Danville until leaving the House in 2001.

Democrats now hold a 55 to 45 majority over Republicans in the House, and a 21 to 19 majority in the Senate. No change in Senate leadership is expected, according to Senate Democrats. Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, will assume the majority leader position currently held by Thomas Norment, R-James City.

Virginia Republicans Mull Over New House Leadership

By Jeff Raines, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- After Democrats seized control of the General Assembly on Election Day and proceeded to vote on key leadership positions, Republicans began meeting behind closed doors and mulling over who will steer their party forward.

As the minority party, Republican power in the House has been severely reduced, according to Bob Holsworth, a political analyst and managing partner at DecideSmart.

“The new minority leader will be the spokesperson for the opposition and have the additional job of recruiting candidates who can help the GOP regain power in future elections,” Holsworth said in an email.

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, House majority leader since 2018, and Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, are likely contenders for the minority leader position, according to the Washington Post. They are both influential figures in the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus, Holsworth said. 

Gilbert has already served as majority leader and has not broken from more conservative values of the caucus, whereas Kilgore has supported Medicaid expansion. 

Holsworth said “it will be interesting to see whether Kilgore’s support for Medicaid expansion, a policy that provided significant benefits to his constituents, is seen as a negative by the majority of Republican members who opposed it.”

Del. Kirk Cox has served as speaker of the House since 2018 and prior to that served as House majority leader since 2010. He has held the House District 66 seat for 29 years, since 1990. 

The Republican Party is meeting to decide who will be the new minority leader in the House and will announce their decision aftward, which is a normal proceeding according to Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

“The question is, does the majority leader become the minority leader or does the caucus move in a different direction,” Farnsworth said.

Cox has announced he will not pursue a leadership position. He held onto his seat in slimmest margin he has ever won by in a hard fought Election Day victory against Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman.

 House District 66 was redistricted in 2018 and now leans Democratic by 32 percentage points, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Cox won with 51.7%, against Bynum-Coleman’s 47% of the vote -- or close to a 1,300 vote margin. The Independent candidate, Linnard Harris Sr., picked up a little over 1% of votes.

Cox and members of the caucus have not responded to multiple requests for comment on minority leadership proceedings, which Farnsworth said was common.

“Republicans on ballots tend to be more reticent in terms of dealing with the media,” he said. “But that reticence is certainly intensified in the age of Trump.”

Farnsworth offered insight into the proceedings. 

Party leaders tend to hold districts they will not lose in an election, Farnsworth said. “If you are representing a vulnerable district, you would be less interested in leadership responsibilities.”

Republicans are increasingly losing ground in urban and suburban districts. Moderate Republicans in these areas are the most likely to lose their seats, according to Farnsworth, and the party is becoming increasingly conservative as they lose ground to Democrats.

  The Republicans took over the House in the late 1990s and have held it since. Republicans and Democrats have grappled over the Senate and there hasn't been consistent Republican control. 

Democrats now hold a 55 to 45 majority over Republicans in the House, and a 21 to 19 majority in the Senate.

The key factor according to Farnsworth, is the consolidation of power in state government, with a Democratic governor leading Virginia. 

“The last time the Democrats controlled the Governor's office and the House and the Senate was 1994, the end of Douglas Wilder's term as governor,” he said. 

Democrats voted Eileen Filler-Corn the speaker of the House four days after the election. Del. Charniele Herring was tapped as majority leader, and Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan Jr. will serve as caucus chairman.

 Filler-Corn is the first female and Jewish speaker of the House and Herring is the first woman and African American to serve as majority leader.

No change in Senate leadership is expected, according to Senate Democrats. Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, will assume the majority leader position currently held by Thomas Norment, R-James City.

Carolyn Jarratt

September 8, 1956 - November 16, 2019

 

Visitation Services

1 p.m. Wednesday, November 20

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road

Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Wednesday, November 20

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

Carolyn Jarratt, 63, of Boykins, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on Saturday, November 16, 2019. She is survived by her devoted husband of 45 years, Wayne Jarratt; two sons, Richard Jarratt (Crissy) and Chad Jarratt (Karen); six grandchildren, Hailee Jarratt, Tyler Jarratt, Rachel Jarratt, Matthew Jarratt, Austin Jarratt and Madilyn Jarratt; five sisters, Gloria Kolodziej, Cathy White (Doug), Brenda Thomas (Wynne), Robin Bryant (Jerry) and Diane Lipari and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Jarratt was a devoted wife and loving mother and grandmother. Spending time with her family, especially with her grandchildren, was the light of her life.

The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 20 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. Interment will follow at Capron Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home one hour prior to the service and at other times at the residence of her sister, Brenda Thomas in Drewryville.

Memorial contributions may be made to Boykins Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 347, Boykins, Virginia 23827.

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

Jackson-Feild’s Children Celebrate Harvest Fest

Resident’s showing their dance moves.

The week of October 28, the children at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services celebrated Harvest Week with fun-filled daily activities.

The week kicked off with a game night on Monday that included a cornhole tournament, card and board games, t-shirt tie-dyeing, and refreshments. Tuesday’s events included pumpkin carving, paint-by-numbers and a volleyball round robin. Wednesday’s agenda involved basketball games, and decorating goofy socks followed by a cookout. On Thursday, the Gwaltney School hosted a Halloween bingo tournament and trunk or treating after a talent and step show. Friday’s events included hay rides, face painting, line dancing, lawn games and a cookout.  Residents enjoyed treats of candy apples, popcorn and snow cones.

Thanks to the staff who gave freely of their time and talents, the boys and girls had a wonderful time celebrating autumn and Harvest Fest.

VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month for October 2019

W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Jessica Carter, Care Partner in Acute Care, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for October.  There to congratulate Jessica was Mary Hardin, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Melissa Black, Acute Care Nursing Director.

Providing assistance seems to be second nature to Jessica Carter, a Care Partner in Acute Care. Her giving attitude has earned her the VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Star Service Team Member of the Month Award for October.

Jessica was nominated two times in the month, which speaks highly for her efforts at work.

In nominating her, a patient’s family member said, “While checking on my uncle and needing assistance, I went to the nurse’s station to ask for assistance. Jessica Carter came and assisted immediately and even offered more items of comfort I hadn’t event thought of. When leaving I found out he was not in her patient assignment. Not once while helping me did she suggest I ask for his RN or Care Partner – but rather helped even though he wasn’t her patient.”

Her second nomination came from Dr. Rani Reddy, a CMH Hospitalist, who said, “Jessica is a hard working team player who takes great care of my patients.”

Mellisa Black, Director of Acute Care Services, added, “Jessica always takes the time and puts forth extra effort to make her patients feel special. She innately knows the needs of her patients and team members and goes above and beyond to exceed their needs.”

Jessica enjoys her job because of the interaction with co-workers and patients. She has been with VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital for nearly four years and believes in the old adage of treating others like she wants to be treated.

She and her husband, Benjamin, have two children, five-year-old Skarlett and three-year-old Ember. Jessica is from Brodnax, VA.

In addition to the award certificate, Jessica 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.

Other employees nominated in October were Linda Allen, Food and Nutrition Services; Ashton Carter, Acute Care; Jessica Chapman, Orthopedics; Molly Hatchell, Intensive Care Unit; Jaimee Newcomb, Acute Care; Lucero Vasquez, Outpatient Rehab; and John Watson, Acute Rehab.

Virginians Are Recycling More of Their Trash

By Eric Everington, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginia recycled almost half of its trash last year, setting a record despite China’s ban on importing plastic and other solid waste.

The statewide recycling rate in 2018 was 46% — up 3 percentage points from the previous year, according to data released this week by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The data showed that:

  • The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, which includes Richmond and surrounding localities, had the highest recycling rate in the commonwealth — 59%.
  • The Virginia Peninsulas Public Service Authority, which includes Hampton, Poquoson and Williamsburg and nearby counties, had the lowest rate — 29%.
  • The city of Newport News had the biggest improvement in recycling in recent years. Its rate jumped from 38% in 2016 to 57% last year.

The numbers represent the percentage of municipal solid waste that is sent for recycling. Local governments also get credit for activities such as programs to reduce the amount of trash generated.

Several factors affect an area’s recycling rate. They include population, population density, location of recycling facilities and funding.

By April 30 each year, the local governments and regional planning units that oversee recycling collect their data and submit a report to the Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ reviews the information and then calculates an overall recycling rate for the state.

“DEQ works with businesses and localities and environmental groups to promote environmental awareness through recycling,” said Leslie Beckwith, the agency’s director of financial responsibility and waste management programs.

The statewide recycling rate was 44% in 2015. It dropped to 43% in 2016 and 2017 before jumping to 46% last year.

The increase came despite an unstable market for various types of trash to be recycled — especially China’s decision to stop accepting solid waste.

“China’s revisions in recycling material acceptance is having a big impact on the recycling market,” Beckwith said.

As a result, DEQ has asked localities and planning units to identify any changes or challenges regarding their recycling efforts when they submit their 2019 reports.

One change is that many localities have dropped recycling glass because it is hard to find a market for that product. That is why DEQ is asking Virginians to minimize their use of glass.

“Citizens should try to generate less waste, like purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and those that are readily recyclable, such as aluminum cans vs. glass bottles,” said Anissa Rafeh, the department’s communications coordinator.

Glass can be problematic to recycle for several reasons, said Joe Romuno, director of national accounts for an environmental consulting firm called Great Forest Sustainability Solutions.

“Broken glass can contaminate other recyclables like paper and cardboard, lowering their value,” Romuno said. Moreover, broken glass can be a safety hazard to workers and can damage machines at recycling facilities.

Also, glass must be sorted by color in order to reprocess for recycling. “Glass is difficult to sort when broken, and if broken down too finely, it may become too difficult to reprocess,” Romuno said.

Four localities in Northern Virginia have teamed up to tackle the challenge of glass recycling.

The city of Alexandria and the counties of Fairfax, Arlington Prince William have joined forces to collect source-separated glass in purple bins for better recovery. The glass is then crushed at Fairfax County’s Glass Processing Center to produce sand and gravel that can be used in construction and landscaping projects.

DEQ is also keeping an eye on new technologies to improve Virginia’s recycling efforts. For example, the agency was on hand when the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority announced it was deploying 2,000 recycling bins from an Israeli company called UBQ.

The bins are made with a thermoplastic created from household waste that would normally end up in a landfill, including banana peels, chicken bones, plastics and old pizza boxes.

Mail Often Arrives Late in Richmond Area, Data Shows

By Jaclyn Barton, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Rachel Westfall, who lives in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood, says her mail service has always been hit or miss. But since April, there have been a lot more misses.

“My personal property tax check apparently never made it to City Hall, even though I mailed it at the beginning of April, two months before the due date,” Westfall said.

Her complaint is a common one in the Richmond area, which has some of the worst mail delivery in the country, according to data from the U.S. Postal Service. Last spring, less than 84% of the region’s first-class mail was delivered on time. Only two service areas in the U.S. had a worse on-time delivery rate.

According to the Postal Service, single-piece first-class mail service is the least expensive and fastest option for mailing items such as postcards, letters and large flat envelopes. Delivery time is measured from the collection box drop point to delivery.

Every quarter, the service posts on its website data showing what percentage of first-class mail arrives on time in each of its service districts.

One measure looks at mail that is supposed to arrive within three to five days. On that metric, the Richmond area has been below the national average since the summer of 2017.

For example, between April and June of this year, 86.5% of the mail nationwide arrived on time, the latest quarterly performance report shows. But for the Richmond area, the figure was 83.8%. Only two service areas in the U.S. — both in New York City — had on-time delivery rates lower than Richmond’s.

The Richmond area’s worst quarter in recent years was October through December of 2018, when less than 66% of the mail that was supposed to be delivered in three to five days arrived on time. That was a difficult quarter throughout the country for the Postal Service: The nationwide on-time delivery rate for that period was just over 72%.

The Postal Service also measures on-time delivery for mail that ought to arrive in two days. On that yardstick, too, the Richmond area is usually below the national average.

Between April and June, for example, about 92% of two-day mail in the Richmond area arrived on time, the Postal Service’s data showed. Nationwide, the figure was about 94%.

The Postal Service’s target is to deliver 96.5% of two-day mail and 95.3% of three- to five-day mail to arrive on time. The service set those targets in 2014 but has never met them.

The Postal Service’s media relations staff did not respond to several requests for comment about the performance data.

Mail delivery depends on several factors. Mistakes during sorting can occur at the post office by machines or clerks. Moreover, mail carriers may have more than 1,000 addresses per route.

On social networks such as Nextdoor.com, many Richmond-area residents have complained about poor mail service.

“We constantly get mail in our box with someone else’s address on it — several times a week. A few months ago, I even got some poor person’s medication delivered to me by mistake. I had to carry it several blocks to the proper recipient,” a resident of Richmond’s Highland Park neighborhood commented on Nextdoor.com.

Another said, “I have missing mail every month. This has been a problem for several years. I have called and wrote the Postal Service with no resolution. This has caused me anxiety.”

Such complaints became so prevalent that U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin of Richmond held a town hall meeting with his constituents about the issue last spring.

“The constituents of the 4th Congressional District deserve reliable and predictable mail delivery. They deserve the best quality service, and right now that is not happening,” McEachin said in a press release in April.

Westfall, a private music teacher in Richmond, said she tried reaching out to her local post office about her missing tax-payment check to City Hall. But she said she was unable to speak with someone who could resolve the issue.

Eventually, Westfall said, she was told to fill out a “missing mail” form on the Postal Service’s website. She said she experienced error messages and technical difficulties on the site and couldn’t find a technical support number to help her.

After resubmitting her request for three weeks, she received a confirmation email that her request had been submitted. Claims remain active for seven days and then are deleted.

Westfall’s lost check appeared at the end of July. She knew the check resurfaced only because she had put a stop payment on the missing check and was notified by her bank that someone had tried to process it.

Westfall said no one from the Postal Service ever contacted her about the missing mail.

Virginia Estelle Whitehead Grizzard

May 14-1937-November 10, 2019

Visitation Services

12 Noon Wednesday November 13, 2019

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road

Jarratt, Virginia

2 PM Wednesday November 13, 2019

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

Virginia Estelle Whitehead Grizzard, 82, widow of Maurice Lee Grizzard Sr., passed away Sunday, November 10, 2019.  She was preceded in death by her parents Vernon James Whitehead Sr. And Nellie Winborne Whitehead and a brother Charles Harley Whitehead. Virginia is survived by her children Maurice Lee Grizzard Jr. (Dixie) of Middlesex, NC, Carolyn G. Salter (Derril) of Shannon, NC, Danny Ray Grizzard (Paula) of Emporia, and Patti G. O’Donnell (Timmy) of Graham, NC. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, one great great granddaughter, a brother, Vernon James Whitehead Jr. and a number of nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday November 13, 2019 at 2PM at Owen Funeral Home 303 S. Halifax Rd Jarratt, VA where the family will receive friends 12-2 PM prior to the service. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

GOVA Region 3 Accepting Requests for Qualifications for Broadband Deployment Strategy

GO Virginia Region 3 is accepting Requests for Qualifications from organizations to assess and develop a regional strategy for broadband deployment in the Region 3 footprint, that includes an assessment of incumbent providers and existing on-site broadband coverage. 

The Council is seeking Requests for Qualifications that demonstrate the responders’ ability to develop a regional broadband strategy that provides a framework for the Council which can be used to guide its investment decisions. 

The strategy will include the following.  The deliverable would be completed by May 30, 2020:

 1.    An assessment of existing current broadband deployment plans and strategies at the local and sub-region level;
2.    An assessment of which incumbent providers currently actively provide broadband service in Region 3 (including specific service territories).
3.    An assessment of and recommendations to leverage electric utilities in Region 3 including Dominion Power, AEP, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Southside Electric Cooperative.
4.    Recommendations for optimizing the ongoing efforts to result in ubiquitous broadband coverage within 5 years in Region 3, prioritizing areas that are development sites, existing employers, commercial centers, and public and community venues.

Interested responders should submit a Statement of Qualifications that is no more than 5 pages and that addresses the responder’s ability to develop a strategy document that includes the deliverables noted above. Interested parties should feel free to contact Liz Povar at riverlinkllc@gmail.com or 804-399-8297 with questions.

For more information, go to: https://govirginia3.org/request-for-letters-of-interest-3/

Statements of Qualifications must be received by 5:00PM EST Friday, December 6.

Virginia State Police fatal Brunswick County

Virginia State Police was called to the 3500 block of Robinson Ferry Road in Brunswick County on November 9, to investigate a single vehicle, single occupant fatal accident. 

Preliminary investigations reveal, at approximately 7:39 p.m., Mr. Steven Blythe was driving a 2003 Honda Accord  when he ran off the roadway into the southbound lanes of Robinson Ferry Road. The vehicle then struck several mailboxes and a tree. Mr. Steven Ray Blythe, 30 YOA, of the 11500 block of Robinson Ferry Road, Broadnax, Virginia, died upon impact.

Mr. Blythe was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident, and it is unknown at this time if alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. Notification to next of kin has been made.

Rebecca T. Delbridge

October 19, 1945 - November 08, 2019

Visitation Services

6-8 p.m. Saturday, November 9

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Sunday, November 10

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road

Jarratt, Virginia

Rebecca T. Delbridge, 74, of Emporia, passed away Friday, November 8, 2019. She was preceded in death by a sister, Betty Sue Bryant and a brother, Elmer Thompson.

Mrs. Delbridge is survived by her husband, Albert Lee Delbridge, Jr.; daughter, Susan Conwell (Tony); two sons, Albert Gene Delbridge (Terri) and William L. Delbridge (Laurie); grandchildren, Casey Vaughn (Chris), Nic Conwell (Stephanie), Lauren Delbridge, Sydney Delbridge and William C. Delbridge; step-grandson, Luke Evans; four great-grandchildren; sister, Clara Gillette; brother, Dana Thompson (Gina) and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Saturday, November 9 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, November 10. Interment will follow at Capron Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Zion Baptist Church, c/o Melissa Bullock, 2755 Rolling Acres Rd., Emporia, Virginia 23847.

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

Earl C. “Billy” Bennett

December 9, 1931-November 5, 2109

Visitation Services

6-8 p.m. Friday Nov 8

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

11 a.m. Saturday, November 9

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road

Jarratt, Virginia

Earl C. “Billy” Bennett, 84, of Emporia, passed away, Tuesday, November 5, 2019. He was preceded in death by a sister, Alice Long and a brother, James Lee Bennett. Mr. Bennett is survived by his wife, Jean M. Bennett; daughter, Denna B. Glover (Brian); son, Douglas Earl Bennett (Wanda); grandchildren, Kristin Quarles (Ronnie), Logan Glover and Madison Glover; great-grandchildren, Akaela, Braelen and Braxon; two brothers, Robert Bennett (Rose) and Tommy Bennett (Lee); sister, Thelma Wells; faithful and devoted brother-in-law, Hersheal Mitchell (Cathy) and special friends, Tammy Jackson and Don Tudor. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday Nov 8 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, November 9. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Central Life Saving and Rescue Squad, 5736 Gasburg Rd, Gasburg, Virginia 23857. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

WARNER URGES SENATE TO SWIFTLY RENEW FUNDING FOR VIRGINIA HBCUs

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus, joined Senate colleagues and leaders from HBCUs – including a student from Virginia Union University in Richmond – in calling on the Senate to pass the bipartisan FUTURE Act, which would restore $255 million in federal funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that expired on September 30. While the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the FUTURE Act in September, Senate Republicans have blocked this critical legislation from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Virginia is home to Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Hampton University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg – all of which stand to lose funding if the Senate fails to act.

“In Virginia, we’re talking about nearly $4 million in funding last year that is at risk unless we pass the FUTURE Act,” said Sen. Warner during today’s press conference. “This is an investment in our students. It’s an investment in the middle class. And it’s time for the federal government to live up its commitment.”

Sen. Warner was also joined today by Jalynn Hodges, a biology major currently serving as the first-ever elected student representative for the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union University (VUU), who underscored how renewing this funding would enable the Virginia Union community to continue to support students who pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“When I arrived at my prestigious HBCU in fall of 2017, I entered the gateway into my future. During my first year, I conducted research in our neuroscience and chemistry laboratory where I learned technical and analytical skills that are essential to my long-term academic and professional goals,” said Jalynn Hodges, biology major at VUU.  “With continued mandatory funding, students and faculty will be afforded access to ever changing equipment and laboratories that are consistent with industry standards. It is because of VUU that I am a better version of myself - one who is confident and assured that resources that have been afforded to me have prepared me for my graduate studies in medicine.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Warner joined more than three dozen Senators in a letter to Senate leaders calling for passage of the bipartisan FUTURE Act legislation to renew this vital funding for Virginia’s HBCUs.

“As Virginia’s most affordable 4-year public university, Norfolk State provides access to a quality higher education in a culturally diverse and supportive learning environment. Failure to restore Title III Part F mandatory funding for HBCUs will represent more than a $5.8 million loss for NSU. Without this funding, Norfolk State’s educational programs in both teacher preparation and the STEM fields will be put at risk at a time when we are working to increase diversity in the front of our classrooms, and grow the pipeline of diverse STEM graduates to fill the jobs of the new economy. Norfolk State University expresses appreciation to Senators Warner and Kaine for their leadership on this critical issue, and urges all Senators to join them in securing the future of America’s HBCUs and the students they serve by passing the FUTURE Act,” said Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, President of Norfolk State University.

“Failure to pass the FUTURE Act will have serious consequences for America’s HBCUs, their students, and my peers. Norfolk State University’s supportive and culturally aware learning environment has helped me to grow as a leader and put me on the path to success. I would likely not have had these opportunities at other schools. All students regardless of their socio-economic background deserve access to a quality higher education and the opportunity to realize their full potential. It is time for Congress to stand with the students of America’s HBCUs by voting to pass the FUTURE Act,” said Linei Woodson, President of Norfolk State University’s Student Government Association.  

In the mid-1990s, as a successful tech entrepreneur, Warner – who is also a former member of the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union – helped to create the Virginia High-Tech Partnership (VHTP) to connect students attending Virginia’s five HBCUs with internship opportunities in tech firms across the Commonwealth.

A Message about Improving Service from Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security

“Thank you for your interest in the Social Security Administration and for reading this Open Letter to the Public to learn more about what we are doing to improve service.

A Little about Me:

I have been frequently asked why, at age 73 with a loving wife of 51 years, a beautiful family, and a successful business career, I would want to take on the responsibility and stress of running a huge government organization that affects nearly every American.  My answer is simple.  I took the job as Commissioner of Social Security because I saw that this very important agency faced an increasing number of challenges.  Millions of Americans depend on SSA to do our job well, each day, no excuses—because when we don’t, people suffer.  I took the job because SSA must dramatically improve customer service for you, your loved ones, and everyone who depends on our programs.

What is My Plan?

When I speak to groups of SSA employees, to my senior managers, and to external groups including Congress, they ask what I plan to accomplish.  It is no secret that the government is full of bureaucratic processes.  There are Agency Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans, Budget documents for this and future years, IT strategic plans, and any number of internal organization planning documents.  I understand that these writings serve to provide direction and transparency, but I doubt most employees or members of the public read them.  I am hopeful that this letter will answer your questions in a straightforward and easy to follow way. 

My plan is rooted in common sense.  SSA has many departments and over 60,000 employees who perform millions of functions each year.  But, whether it is issuing retirement checks, processing disability claims, or providing Social Security cards, our fundamental mission is to ensure timely and accurate service for the public.  My plan is to emphasize and restore fundamental public service so that when you call us, we answer timely.  When you come to our offices, we serve you timely.  When you apply for benefits, you receive a timely answer from us and, if you are approved for benefits, you receive a timely check from us.  Some SSA employees and the three unions who represent them may suggest we simply want to push employees even harder.  I’ve run enough businesses and organizations to know that no employer gets 100% from every employee every day—there is always room to improve.  Over the past 5 months, I have met with and observed many, many SSA employees.  Let me tell you what I determined:  they care.  They are just as concerned and stressed about work piling up as I am.  They dread the feeling of coming into work knowing the public will line up and wait far too long for correct answers.  That is demoralizing.  I don’t want our excellent employees to feel beaten down or think that headquarters fails to appreciate their challenges.  By getting wait times down, we allow our employees to do their work in a better environment where they can focus on the action in front of them not the piles of work around them.

As important as it is to serve you timely, we need to serve you well.  We need to evaluate how we train our employees, review their work and give feedback, and appropriately simplify our policies to be easier to implement and understand.  I have reviewed audits and noted that we consistently receive poor marks in certain areas.  You should expect that we will properly pay benefits to only the folks who are entitled to them and we should always pay them the correct amount.  That is important not only for stewardship but also to each of you who receives a check from us.  I also cannot ignore the message from significant workloads like litigation, which can occur when we do not properly apply policy.  Yes, we must address the affected cases but we must also fix the root cause.  Getting things wrong has been very costly to us.  It is time to invest in ensuring we get things right.

Part of the answer is technology.  However, before we can readily implement more efficient systems, we have to fix some core issues.  Did you know we store a beneficiary’s address in something close to 20 different systems?  If you move, we can change your address in one place but that may not change it in the others.  We are working to fix this and other problems.  Our new approach will not look at our services from our vantage point, such as using a specific system to complete a singular action we are working on in the moment.  We will look at our work from your perspective.  Meaning, if you go online and then call us and then come in to an SSA office, our employees will know that history and you don’t have to start from square one each time.

However, technology alone is not the solution.  Sure, many people like the idea of going online for convenient service and we need to modernize and meet that need.  But, many other people need a little extra help, a little more information, maybe even some reassurance from an expert.  Thus, we need a responsive workforce.  We already have people who care deeply about our mission and the public.  Now we need to have enough folks to meet the demand so that they can spend the time they need to handle each customer’s need correctly.  We need to implement additional quality checks so that we can let our employees know when they misapplied a policy or missed a key issue.  Our employees want this feedback.  We need to give our employees what they need to get you the right result.

We need to assess how we do our work, how we use technology, and how we empower our employees at SSA.  All of those things are complicated, but they are necessary to accomplish my plan for SSA.  What is the plan?  We are going to work every day to improve the public service you receive from us.  As I said, common sense. 

What happens next?

Right now, SSA’s Office of Systems is working with public and private sector experts to modernize our technology infrastructure so that we can serve you more efficiently and with greater accuracy.  At the same time, we are shifting resources to the front lines of our public service operation.  Our Office of Operations manages nearly all of our public facing services like the field offices in your communities and the National 800 Number.  It is logical and appropriate that we focus on these offices first.  Some people may believe that is a “hiring freeze” but I call it “smart hiring”—sending our resources to the front lines where you benefit most.  Dependent on our final appropriation for fiscal year 2020, we are targeting additional hiring in these public service offices, and I have already directed that SSA hire 1,100 more people to do this work.  During a time of more constrained resources, the agency closed field offices early on Wednesdays.  We are ending that practice to provide you with additional access to our services.  We are also ending a telework pilot, which was implemented without necessary controls or data collection to evaluate effectiveness or impact on public service.  I support work-life balance for SSA employees consistent with meeting our first obligation: to serve the public.  A time of workload crisis is not the time to experiment with working at home, especially for the more than 40,000 employees who staff our public facing offices. 

Modernizing technology and getting more employees back into the offices are critical first steps. We will take additional steps to chip away at our current wait times; however, the first obvious move is an infusion of resources into key offices, increasing the availability of those offices to the public, and holding all of our employees accountable.  We know how important our work is and understand the consequences of poor service. 

You will hear from me again with straightforward information about our progress.  I appreciate your patience as we work to improve our performance in service to you.”

Virginia Government Shifts With Democrats Dominating Election Day

By Rodney Robinson, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Democrats have taken control of the Virginia General Assembly, flipping both the Senate and House blue.

“Tonight, the ground has shifted in Virginia government,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release late Tuesday. “The voters have spoken, and they have elected landmark Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.” 

Key House Victories

Democrats grabbed six additional seats, giving them a 55-45 lead in the House.

In House District 94, Democrat Shelly Simonds defeated Republican incumbent David Yancey in a rematch from 2017. Simonds garnered 58% of the votes for the district, while Yancey earned 40%, according to unofficial election results.

In House District 76, Democratic candidate Clint Jenkins defeated Republican incumbent Chris Jones. Jenkins tallied 56% of the vote, while Jones gathered 44%. 

Democrat Martha Mugler won House District 91, an open seat previously held by Republican Gordon Helsel since 2011. Mugler garnered 55% of the vote in the district and Republican Colleen Holcomb won 45% of the vote. 

   In House District 40, Republican incumbent Tim Hugo lost to Democratic challenger Dan Helmer. Helmer accumulated 53% of the vote to Hugo’s 47%.  

In House District 28, Democrat Joshua Cole defeated Republican Paul Milde in an open seat. Cole amassed 52% of the vote, while Milde won 48%. 

Democrat Nancy Guy won House District 83, defeating Republican incumbent Chris Stolle. Guy garnered 49.95% percent of the vote, while Stolle earned 49.87%.

Key Senate Victories

In the Senate, Democrats gained two seats previously held by Republicans. They will now lead the chamber 21-19. 

In Senate District 13, Democratic candidate John Bell defeated Republican candidate Geary Higgins. Bell garnered 55% of the vote in the district, while Higgins gathered 45%.

Democratic challenger Ghazala Hashmi defeated Republican incumbent Glen Sturtevant to flip Senate District 10. It was a tight race throughout, but Hashmi garnered 54% of the vote in the District.

Though the Democrats celebrated many wins, they fell short of flipping some competitive districts. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, fought off Democratic challenger Sheila Bynum-Coleman, despite redistricting which left House District 66 more Democratic. In a competitive race not called until well after midnight, Republican Siobhan Dunnavant maintained her seat in Senate District 12, in a tight race against Debra Rodman.

The last time Virginia Democrats controlled the House, Senate and governorship was in the mid-1990s. This trifecta could make it easier for the party to pass its agenda.

“Since I took office two years ago, we have made historic progress as a Commonwealth,” Northam said. “Tonight, Virginians made it clear they want us to continue building on that progress.”

Black Children More Likely to Live in ‘Concentrated Poverty’

By Emma Gauthier, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — African American children are more than seven times as likely as white children in Virginia to live in “concentrated poverty” — neighborhoods where at least 30% of the residents are poor, according to census data compiled by a children’s advocacy group.

Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods is “one of the greatest risks to child development,” say officials at the nonprofit organization Voices for Virginia’s Children.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released a report showing that 91,000 children in Virginia live in concentrated poverty. That figure includes 2% of white children in the commonwealth but 4% of Latino children and 15% of black children.

Overall, 5% of Virginia’s children live in concentrated poverty. That is below the national average of 12%. But while concentrated poverty rates have fallen in most states in recent years, Virginia hasn’t seen any improvement, the study said.

“Children deserve to grow up in neighborhoods where they have the opportunity to thrive. This report shows us that current policies in Virginia are not benefitting all children equitably, and informs where we need to focus our efforts,” said Margaret Nimmo Holland, executive director of Voices for Virginia’s Children.

“One might think a strong economy would have a positive impact on all families, but we can see from the data that is not the case. Certain groups of children and their families are disproportionately left behind, so we need to target policies that will reach these children specifically.”

According to a news release issued by Voices for Virginia’s Children, children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care, and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality and toxins such as lead. When these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have moved away from communities of concentrated poverty.

The report issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation is titled “Children Living in High Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods.” The report is part of a project called KIDS COUNT.

Children in concentrated poverty are a subset of all children living in poverty. In connection with the report, KIDS COUNT released data on the overall poverty rates for children in each state. The data was drawn from the American Community Survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Virginia, 28% of African American children and 9% of white children live in poverty, the data showed. For children of all races, the state’s poverty rate is 14%.

Nationwide, 33% of African American children and 11% of white children live in poverty. For children of all races, the national poverty rate is 18%. The rate had been decreasing since 2014 but stalled from 2017 to 2018.

The poverty level is based on income and family size. The poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,858 in 2017, the most recent year in the KIDS COUNT data set.

The states with the highest overall child poverty rates in 2017 were Louisiana (28%) and Mississippi and New Mexico (both 27%). Then came the District of Columbia and West Virginia at 26%.

The states with the highest rates of African American children in poverty were Louisiana (47%) and Mississippi (42%). Then came Ohio at 42% and Alabama, Michigan and Nevada at 41%.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report said it is important to tackle the problem of concentrated poverty. The problem is especially prevalent in urban areas. About 23% of children in cities live in high-poverty neighborhoods, compared with 5% of children in suburban communities.

Getting children out of concentrated poverty pays off.

“Children under age 13 who moved from low-income neighborhoods to more affluent communities had higher incomes as adults compared to peers who remained in impoverished areas,” the report stated. It urged governments to:

  • End housing discrimination against people who have been incarcerated.
  • Support subsidies and other incentives for developers to expand the number of affordable housing units.
  • Provide incentives to large community institutions, such as hospitals and universities, that hire and purchase locally and contract with businesses owned by women and people of color.

Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, said public education also is part of the solution.

“Ensuring that children are in a safe community with access to a high-quality school — these are important goals to help children escape from poverty,” Tegeler said. “The educational disadvantage that is associated with high-poverty neighborhoods is possible to overcome, but very difficult.”

Tegeler said concentrated poverty resulted from “a long history of intentional segregation.” He blamed “municipal fragmentation” and the way land use, schools and taxation were used to separate communities by income.

Nationwide, 13 million children live in poverty, with 8.5 million in concentrated poverty.

“It’s important to recognize that children are only young once, and there’s only a few pressing years we have to really help children realize their potential,” Tegeler said.

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