October 2020

Rep. McEachin Hosting Virtual Education Listening Session with Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni

 

RICHMOND, VA – On Wednesday, October 21 at 6:30PM, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) will host a Virtual Education Listening Session on Zoom. Congressman McEachin and Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni will hear from parents and teachers from Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District about their experiences with virtual education this school year.

“I have heard from parents and teachers across my district about both the difficulties and unexpected advantages they are experiencing with virtual learning this school year,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am eager to hear more from educators and parents about their needs and to find additional opportunities for me to help at the federal level.”

     Who: Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04)
                 Secretary Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education
                 Parents and Teachers from VA04

      What: Virtual Education Listening Session

      When: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 6:30PM

      Where: Zoom, Register at: https://bit.ly/VA04VELS

Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session. 

Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.

“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance. 

Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.

“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.” 

The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration usually is a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president and artistic director. 

“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”

Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.

“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said. 

The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence. 

Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.

“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”

State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come in to work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill. 

The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

“Bird Feeder Time”

I have birds at all my feeders
But I’m funning short on my supply
It looks like a trip to the store
For some more seed to buy.
 
Since the weather has been so erratic
They don’t know what to do
All are about in search of food
I’ve seen them at fast food too.
 
Yes the wind, rain and snow at times
Pose a challenge they must meet
It’s a must that they must leave their shelter
In search of food to eat.
 
Whatever you and I can do for them
I’m sure they’ll appreciate
Yes, put up some feeders in your yard
Then just sit back and wait.
 
First comes one, then maybe two
In time many more will find
The food and goodies you’ve displayed
By being oh so kind.
 
Now it isn’t that much trouble
And a bag of seed lasts quite a while
The pleasure of watching at the feeders
Will even lake the old folks smile.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Virginia legislators advance police and criminal justice reform measures

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the agenda this month for the special session that began Aug. 18. Legislators introduced over 50 police and criminal justice reform bills during the session. 

Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and make amendments or veto bills. 

Among the police and criminal justice reform measures were proposals that would change policing methods, impose new disciplinary actions for law enforcement and reduce penalties of certain crimes. Both parties introduced legislation that seemed to be inspired by months of protests across Virginia.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the organization supports several criminal justice reform bills except the legislature’s approval of bills that make certain traffic violations secondary offences and the ban on no-knock search warrants.

“The way it was [the no-knock search warrant bill] delays the issuance of a search warrant that could lead to deaths, injuries and destruction of evidence,” Schrad wrote in an email. “We plan to seek [the] governor’s amendments to make final corrections to the bill to ensure the safety of officers and potential victims.”

Some Republican-backed bills aimed to increase penalties for certain crimes, including pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer and for an assault on an officer, and to criminalize the act of cursing at an officer while on duty.

Below is a sample of the police and criminal justice related legislation that were approved by both chambers.

PASSED LEGISLATION

Mental health response. House Bill 5043, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, and Senate Bill 5038, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Dale City, establishes an alert system when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Marijuana charge prepay. SB 5013, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, gives people charged with marijuana possession the option to prepay a fee.

Crisis intervention. SB 5014, introduced by Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish standards and update policies for law enforcement concerning sensitivity and awareness of racism.

Civilian oversight. SB 5035, introduced by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Midlothian, allows localities to establish a civilian oversight body for their police department. The civilian oversight body can investigate incidents involving law enforcement as well as complaints from citizens, and make binding disciplinary decisions, including termination, in the event that an officer breaches departmental and professional standards. 

Sentencing reform. Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, called his bill SB 5007 “the most transformative criminal justice reform legislation” to pass in two decades. The measure allows for defendants to be tried by a jury but sentenced by a judge.

“It has long been the practice in Virginia to be sentenced by a jury after selecting a jury trial, which has led to excessive sentences far beyond what sentencing guidelines state,” Morrissey posted online.

Conditional release. SB 5034, introduced by Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko, D-Fairfax, grants consideration for conditional release for certain qualifying terminally ill prisoners. 

Marijuana and certain traffic offenses. HB 5058, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, prohibits an officer from stopping a motor vehicle for operating without a license plate, with defective equipment such as a brake light, window tinting materials, a loud exhaust system or hanging objects inside the vehicle. It also prohibits officers from searching a vehicle solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana.

Earned sentence credits. HB 5148, introduced by Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, establishes a four-level classification system for earned sentence credits. The system allows a range of 3.5 days to 15 days to be deducted from an inmate’s sentence for every 30 days served, with exceptions based on severity of crime. The bill directs the Department of Corrections to convene a work group by next July to study the impact of the sentence credit amendments and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2022. Parts of the bill have a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022.

Criminal justice board. HB 5108, introduced by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, makes changes to the Criminal Justice Services Board and its Committee on Training. The board, currently made up exclusively of members with backgrounds in law enforcement and private security, will be required to add representatives from civil rights groups, mental health service providers and groups that advocate for the interests of minority communities. Guzmán said she got the idea for this bill while she was visiting the Criminal Justice Services Board with fellow legislators.

“We only have law enforcement voices at the table,” Guzmán said. “So, how can you learn about what is going on in the community if you don’t have their voice at the table?”

Guzmán said the bill will improve crisis intervention training and help police officers who may experience traumatic events while on the job. 

Misconduct and termination. HB 5051, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, requires a police department authority figure to notify the Criminal Justice Services Board if an officer is terminated for serious misconduct, as defined by the board, within 48 hours of the department becoming aware of it.

Disclosure of information. HB 5104, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, requires sheriff, police chief or police department directors to disclose to a potential law enforcement or jail employer information regarding the arrest, prosecution or civil suit filed against their former officers seeking employment. The applicant would have to sign a waiver to allow that information to be disclosed. The bill also may require an officer to undergo a psychological evaluation before taking a job in a jail or police department. 

Ban no-knock warrants. HB 5099, introduced by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, bans law enforcement officers from executing a search warrant without giving notice of their identity or purpose before entering a residence.

“The use of no-knock search warrants have long been a controversial practice, since the beginning of their use during the Nixon administration in the 70’s,” Aird said in an email. “The tragic loss of Breonna Taylor renewed the concern regarding the use of this search warrant, the risk to residents and officers and their disproportionate application in minority communities.” 

Unlawful use of excessive force. HB 5029, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, requires that a law enforcement officer intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force while on duty. 

Carnal knowledge of detainees. HB 5045, introduced by Del. Karrie K. Delaney, D-Centreville, closes a loophole within the state law and makes it a Class 6 felony for a law enforcement officer to have sexual relations with a detainee, pre-arrest.

Prohibition of the use of neck restraints. HB 5069, introduced by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, prohibits a law enforcement officer to use a neck restraint or chokehold while on the job. New York has had a ban on chokeholds since 1993, but the effectiveness of the law was called into question in 2014 when Eric Garner died after an apparent chokehold was used during his arrest by a New York City Police officer. The officer involved was not indicted, but was later fired.

Guzmán said that even though some of these bills may not be perfect, it’s better to improve civil rights in Virginia one piece of legislation at a time rather than to be dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I would say that inaction is enabling, and if we don’t act, in a way we are saying we are OK with what is going on in today’s society,” Guzmán said. “We recognize the struggles, we recognize that there are problems, and we need to start tackling those issues and try to improve the lives of communities of color.” 

Below are some pieces of legislation that didn’t make it through the House or Senate.

ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS

Record expungement. SB 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and HB 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, sought to expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. Legislators did not reach a compromise in the conference committee over proposed substitutes to the bills. 

“This is a very important issue,” Herring said at the close of Friday’s session. “It will change the lives of so many people who have served their time and have turned their lives around.”

Parole notification. SB 5050, Introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, would require the Department of Corrections to release a paroled prisoner no sooner than 21 days after the date of notification by the Virginia Parole Board.

Qualified immunity. HB 5013, introduced by Bourne, would have ended qualified immunity for police officers. Guzmán, who voted for the bill, was disappointed it didn’t pass, but said she feels good about the House Democrats’ bills and is looking forward to the next General Assembly session in January.

Virginia led the way during the special session where others haven’t, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn said in a press release.

“Together with our colleagues in the Senate, Virginia is now a national leader in the effort to pass necessary improvements to policing and criminal justice,” Filler-Corn said. 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

VCU announces spring semester changes as other colleges mull options

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Virginia Commonwealth University announced Thursday that the spring semester will start one week later and spring break will be canceled to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

The start date will move from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. After the conclusion of winter break the university will implement a phased re-opening similar to the fall semester. That means classes will be a combination of in-person, hybrid and online.

Spring break was removed from the university's academic calendar and two reading days were added on Feb. 23 and March 24. The last day of classes will now be on May 5 for the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 for the MCV Campus.

“Our public health response team, which includes medical and infectious disease

experts, recommended eliminating spring break to mitigate the risk of COVID-19,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a press release.

Rao said the university’s priority is to be able to conduct classes while maintaining the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and other members of the community.

“Flexibility remains critical in addressing evolving situations presented by COVID-19, including changes in the prevalence of infection in our community, as well as changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices,” Rao said.

Other university officials across the state are also exploring options in regard to the spring opening and semester.

Michael Stowe, spokesman at Virginia Tech, said in an email that he expects the school will announce plans about the spring semester by Monday. The spring semester starts at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19.

McGregor McCance, spokesman for the University of Virginia, said in an email that the university will announce any plans about its spring semester later this month. The spring semester is currently scheduled to begin at Virginia on Jan. 20.

Other Virginia universities have various start dates for the 2021 academic year. James Madison University is scheduled to start classes on Jan. 11. The University of Richmond will begin classes on Jan. 19. George Mason University begins the spring semester on Jan. 25.

Final examinations for VCU’s Monroe Park Campus will be held May 6-13, while the MCV Campus final examinations will be held May 10-14.

“We will update you soon on COVID-19 testing and other measures we will be taking as we conclude the fall semester and prepare for our return to campus for spring semester,” Rao said.

Peter Jung is Brunswick Academey October 2020 Student of the Month

Peter Jung, a Senior at Brunswick Academy, is from South Korea and currently resides with Rev. James Kim’s family in Alberta.

Since the 9th grade, Peter has focused on earning an Academic diploma from Brunswick Academy. His dedication to his academic success has resulted in achieving the ultimate level of all A’s. While remaining steadfast to high academic standards, Peter is a proud member of Brunswick Academy’s chapter of the National Honor Society; he thoroughly enjoys reading to the Elementary and Lower School students as part of the chapter’s school-wide literacy program.

Peter is also a member of Red Oak Ruritan Club where he serves the local community through a variety of activities. He participates in cooking and selling Brunswick Stew and Boston Butts for fundraisers for the town. In addition to serving his local community,

Peter stays busy with his church; he has been a member of the church choir for the past three years and is an active participant in the Youth Group. Furthermore, Peter devotes time to his church by fulfilling its technological needs to include broadcasting Zoom meetings, setting up of microphones for services, and creating PowerPoint presentations.

After graduating from Brunswick Academy in May of 2021, Peter is planning to major in Aviation at North Dakota University.

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Governor Northam Announces Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance to Build Wind Energy Workforce in Virginia

New College Institute, Centura College, and Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy will join forces to position Virginia as leader in offshore wind industry training

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the formation of Virginia’s first offshore and onshore wind workforce training collaborative, the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance. The program will offer industry required certifications that are critical to the operations and long-term maintenance of wind projects. The Governor made the announcement addressing the 2020 Offshore WINDPOWER Virtual Summit hosted by the American Wind Energy Association.

The New College Institute, which will serve as the host institution, is joining forces with Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy to create the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance (the Alliance). This partnership will bring courses certified by the Global Wind Organization and National Center for Construction, Education, and Research wind technician training to onshore and offshore wind projects to Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

“Building a strong wind energy workforce will give the Commonwealth a significant competitive advantage in attracting onshore and offshore wind projects,” said Governor Northam. “There is currently massive potential for offshore wind up and down the East Coast, and we look forward to working with our partners across Virginia and in neighboring states to grow this industry and reap the tremendous economic benefits for our communities, especially those that have been historically disadvantaged.”

The Alliance represents an important first step in what will be a much larger workforce development effort to support the renewable energy industries in Virginia. Course offerings will span a wide variety of wind energy related disciplines and provide students with a customizable portfolio of training options. Programs will range from specific certifications to a year-long wind turbine technician program that bundles several industry-recognized certifications and prepares students to serve as certified installation technicians, inspectors, and maintenance technicians. The Alliance plans to start offering programs in early 2021. 

“Virginia is actively working to welcome new and expanding business in the offshore and onshore wind sector,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These companies require a skilled workforce to reach their highest potential, and fortunately, because of our deep maritime roots, that workforce is here.”

The wind industry in the United States continues to experience exponential growth, supporting 120,000 American jobs in 2019, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The AWEA also estimates that the wind industry has invested more than $208 billion in wind projects across the country with the capacity to produce at least 109 gigawatts of power to date. Dominion Energy and Avangrid Renewables have nearly 400 offshore wind turbines under development off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.

“Clean energy jobs in construction and operations will serve as a catalyst for delivering clean, renewable energy to the Commonwealth,” said Josh Bennett, Vice President of Offshore Wind for Dominion Energy. “The formation of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance is a critical step to developing a talented offshore wind workforce here in Virginia.”

“As Avangrid Renewables builds the future of clean energy offshore, establishing the workforce that will maintain and operate these projects for decades will be critical,” said Eric Thumma, Interim Vice President of Offshore Wind for Avangrid Renewables. “The Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance will facilitate the development of that workforce and the success of the offshore wind industry.”

“Virginia is taking important steps forward in harnessing the significant economic and job opportunities of American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, American Wind Energy Association CEO. “Wind turbine technicians are America’s fastest growing career and today’s foresighted move to train additional workers in this field shows that the Commonwealth continues to lead our nation toward a cleaner and more prosperous energy future.”

Located in Martinsville, the New College Institute is a Commonwealth Higher Education Center that partners with industry and academia to provide post-secondary education, industry relevant workforce development and training opportunities in cutting-edge industries.

Centura College has seven education centers across eastern Virginia, including Tidewater Tech, which is home to the largest welding training center in the Commonwealth, with 100 welding booths. Centura is also parent to Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which has 13 aviation technician training centers nationwide and focuses on the repair and maintenance of aircraft including engineering fiberglass and composites.

Located in Norfolk, the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy (MAMA) is the largest training center for United States Coast Guard (USCG) certifications on the East Coast. MAMA is certified by the USCG to teach 90 deck and engineering courses that are critical to the safe operation of the United States commercial fleet.

For more information on the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, please visit vaoffshorewind.org/workforce.

Social Security Announces 1.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2021

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700. 

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.    

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced.  Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Facebook Bans Anti-Vax Ads and Partners with Global Health Organizations

Facebook announced Tuesday they are prohibiting ads on the platform discouraging people from getting vaccinated. While a COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be available for some time, health authorities recommend taking preventative measures, including getting a flu vaccine, to stay healthy. Ads discouraging the flu vaccine will be rejected globally, starting today.

Only 50.6% of Virginia residents got a flu shot, according to the last CDC report in 2018-19. As COVID continues to plague our state, doctors and public health officials are sounding the alarm about the importance of getting a flu shot this year. With flu vaccination rates remaining low, Facebook also announced today new tools to connect users to important information about the flu vaccine and identify the nearest location to receive a flu vaccination.

Starting today, Facebook users will see reminders at the top of their newsfeeds leading them to the Preventative Health tool for information from the CDC on flu vaccine administration and nearby locations. With millions of Americans still working from home, it is important to provide updated information on vaccine locations that may be different from years past.

According to the CDC, only 48% of U.S. adults received the flu vaccination last year. The CDC recommends people get their flu shot by the end of October, but the sooner people can receive the flu vaccine, the better prepared Americans and health providers will be to control a flu outbreak on top of COVID-19.

Facebook is also partnering with global health partners, including WHO and UNICEF, to increase messaging around vaccine education and to advance programs of research on vaccine communication. This announcement comes as part of Facebook’s work to help the public health industry build trust in vaccines for the long term.

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Governor Northam, VMFA Recognize Healthcare Workers and First Responders with Free Admission to “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities”

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and Alex Nyerges, Director and CEO of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), today announced that healthcare workers and first responders can receive free admission to the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities on view now through January 18, 2021.

First responders include 911 dispatchers, law-enforcement officers, professional and volunteer firefighters, professional and volunteer emergency medical services personnel, emergency management professionals, search and rescue teams, rescue pilots and divers, the Virginia National Guard, and members of other organizations in the public safety sector.

“Our healthcare workers and first responders have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working tirelessly to keep our communities safe and healthy over the past seven months,” said Governor Northam. “We are extending this well-deserved ‘thank you’ from the Commonwealth and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and hope those who continue to serve Virginia so ably can experience this special exhibition.”

“VMFA welcomes first responders and all who work in healthcare to take advantage of free admission and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the wonders of ancient Egypt,” said Nyerges.

Among the nearly 300 objects featured in the exhibition are 250 works recovered from the underwater excavations of the ancient Egyptian cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion. An additional 40 objects were loaned by museums in Egypt. Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities was curated by Franck Goddio, the director of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and organized for VMFA by Dr. Peter Schertz, the museum’s Jack and Mary Anne Frable Curator of Ancient Art.

Highlights of the exhibition include a nearly 18-foot-tall, 5.6-ton statue of the god Hapy, the largest stone statue of a god recovered from ancient Egypt, beautiful statues of other gods and rulers of that civilization, and fascinating objects used to celebrate the annual Mysteries of Osiris.

Healthcare workers and first responders should call (804) 340-1405 to make their reservations and show their employee IDs or badges at the Visitors Services Desk when picking up their tickets. One free ticket is available per badge. Reservations for first-available tickets to the exhibition can also be made in person at the Visitors Service Desk. Reservations may not be available on weekends due to heightened visitation on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are scheduled to help limit gallery capacity during the pandemic.

Visitors to VMFA will notice several measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the well-being of visitors, volunteers, and employees in mind. Masks are required in the museum and disposable masks will be provided to people who do not bring their own. For complete information about the museum’s safeguards please visit the museum’s website at VMFA.museum/covid-19.

Ticket Information
The exhibition is free for VMFA members, children ages six and under, state employees, teachers, healthcare workers, first responders, and active duty military personnel. Tickets to see the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors 65+, and $10 for youth aged 7–17 and college students with ID.

Sponsorship Information
Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is presented by Dominion Energy. In addition to previous exhibition sponsorships, the museum’s Dominion Energy Galleries house one of the strongest public collections of African art in the United States.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is organized by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology with the generous support of the Hilti Foundation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund. Additional sponsors include The Reverend Doctor Vienna Cobb Anderson, The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Cabaniss, Jr., Sharon Merwin, Capital One Bank, Mrs. Frances Dulaney, Mary Ann and Jack Frable, Virginia H. Spratley Charitable Fund II, Elizabeth and Tom Allen, Lilli and William Beyer, Dr. Donald S. and Ms. Beejay Brown Endowment, Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, The Christian Family Foundation, The VMFA Council Exhibition Fund, Birch Douglass, Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner, Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust, Peter and Nancy Huber, The Manuel and Carol Loupassi Foundation, Margaret and Thomas Mackell, Deanna M. Maneker, Alexandria Rogers McGrath, McGue Millhiser Family Trust, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr., Foundation, Joanne B. Robinson, Stauer, Anne Marie Whittemore, YHB | CPAs & Consultants, YouDecide, and two anonymous donors.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 40,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver, and French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its history.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, call (804) 340-1400 or visit VMFA.museum.

Delegate Plans To Reintroduce Quarantine Pay Bill Next Session

 

By Zachary Klosko, By Capital New Source

RICHMOND, Va. -- Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Woodbridge, said she is no stranger to the struggles of low-paying jobs. Guzmán said she immigrated to the United States from Peru as a single mother and worked multiple minimum wage jobs just to be able to pay rent and care for her daughter.

Guzmán has a mission to secure better financial benefits for minimum wage workers, but she said it’s not going as planned.

Guzmán’s House Bill 5116 was killed in a Senate committee during the Virginia General Assembly special session after being passed by the House. The General Assembly is currently meeting to tackle the state budget and other issues that have come up due to COVID-19.

The bill would have mandated quarantine pay for employees of businesses with more than 25 workers. It would require public and private employers to provide paid quarantine leave that could be immediately used by the employee, regardless of how long they had been employed. The paid quarantine leave could be used for the employee’s health care needs or for care of a family member with an illness or health condition related to COVID-19.

Guzmán said she’s frustrated, but she plans to introduce the bill again during the next legislative session. 

“Most of the arguments that I heard was because businesses are hurting and it was not the right time,” Guzmán said. “I think it's like we hear a lot about businesses but we don't hear about the working class and who's going to be, you know, fighting for them.”

Guzmán introduced a bill in the spring session before the coronavirus to require employers to provide paid sick leave for employees. After the Committee on Appropriations killed that bill, Guzmán introduced her current bill as an effort to keep advocating for worker's rights.

Kim Bobo, executive director for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said her organization is in favor of Guzmán’s bill. Bobo said paid sick days and getting paid a minimum wage are basic standards employers should be able to provide for their employees without government assistance.

“We really don't believe that public funds should be used to subsidize employers providing such a basic core standard as paid sick days,” Bobo said. “We will not include anything like that in a bill going forward.”

Being able to take paid time off can have a larger impact on the community because workers don’t have to choose between their families’ well-being and a paycheck, Bobo said.

“They will stay home when their children are sick and they won't send their kids to school sick, which is what happens right now,” she said.

Bobo isn’t the only supporter of Guzmán’s bill. Eighty-three percent of Virginians support paid time off mandates, according to a recent YouGov poll commissioned in part by the Interfaith Center. 

Del. Chris Head, R-Roanoke, voiced his concerns during the bill’s third reading on Sept. 10. Head said Guzmán’s bill largely mirrors federal legislation. 

“This bill is going to cause businesses who might hire people to think twice about it,” Head said. “It's going to raise their expenses for hiring people, and it's going to end up hurting many of the very people that you're trying to help with this legislation.”

The Department of Labor and Industry estimated the bill would cost the department over $46,000 in 2021 and an additional $92,000 in 2022, according to the bill’s impact statement. The Department of Medical Assisted Services estimated the costs at $28.8 million for fiscal year 2021 and $29.8 million for fiscal year 2022. The bill would last until July 1, 2021, or until Gov. Ralph Northam’s state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic expires.

Guzmán said she isn’t deterred. After Northam and first lady Pamela Northam announced they tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 25, Guzmán said she needed to quarantine at home. She had visited a school with the first lady just a few days prior.

“Listen, there are 1.2 million Virginians out there that, if they were in the same situation that we are today, they would continue to go to work, because they don't have a dime,” Guzmán said firmly. “Please pass the message to the governor and the first lady.”

VIRGINIA VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE EXTENDED BY FEDERAL COURT

RICHMOND, VA – Today, a federal district judge extended the deadline for citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia to register to vote through Thursday, October 15, 2020.

This extension will provide all eligible Virginians with the opportunity to participate in the 2020 November General and Special Elections by registering to vote on or before October 15, 2020. Eligible Virginians may submit a voter registration application or update an existing voter registration record in any of the following methods:

  • In-person to the office of their local general registrar by 5pm on Thursday, October 15th
  • By mail postmarked on or before Thursday, October 15th
  • Online at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo through 11:59pm on Thursday, October 15th
  • To an NVRA designated state agency, such as the DMV or a social services office, by October 15th

Currently registered Virginia voters and eligible Virginians that have already submitted a registration application do not need to take any additional action.

Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper stated, “The Department welcomes today’s court decision to extend the voter registration deadline through Thursday, October 15th. This gives eligible Virginians additional time to register or update their current voter registration record. We encourage Virginians to access the Citizen’s Portal at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo today or use one of the many other options available for registering to vote.”

In addition to registering to vote, Virginians may also check their current voter registration status, find their polling location and apply for an absentee ballot on the Department’s Citizen Portal at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo.

VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month for September 2020

Hannah Conway, Occupational Therapy Assistant

W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Hannah Conway, Occupational Therapy Assistant, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for September.  There to congratulate Hannah was Todd Howell, Vice President of Professional Services, Donna Jarrell, Director of Rehab Services and Mike Simmons, Respiratory Manager.

Hannah has been employed at VCU Health CMH for two years.  The nomination form submitted on her behalf stated, “Hannah is such a caring team member.  She willingly stayed late to help with patients without a hint of frustration, only smiles and warmth.  She went above and beyond to make sure I was safe when seeing patients.  She is a selfless team player and I can’t thank her enough.

When asked what words of wisdom she would give other employees, Hannah stated, “If you can spend a little extra time with a patient to meet their needs it can really make their day."  Hannah also added, “CMH is a great place to work, everyone works together so well as a team.” 

In addition to the “star” award, Hannah 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.

Hannah currently resides in Brodnax, VA.

SBA and Treasury Announce Simpler PPP Forgiveness for Loans of $50,000 or Less

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, today released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Today’s action streamlines the forgiveness process for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less and thousands of PPP lenders who worked around the clock to process loans quickly,” he continued.  “We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds.  We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”

“Nothing will stop the Trump Administration from supporting great American businesses and our great American workers. The Paycheck Protection Program has been an overwhelming success and served as a historic lifeline to America’s hurting small businesses and tens of millions of workers. The new form introduced today demonstrates our relentless commitment to using every tool in our toolbelt to help small businesses and the banks that have participated in this program,” said Administrator Jovita Carranza. “We are continuing to ensure that small businesses are supported as they recover.”

SBA and Treasury have also eased the burden on PPP lenders, allowing lenders to process forgiveness applications more swiftly.  

SBA began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for PPP borrowers on October 2, 2020.  SBA will continue to process all PPP forgiveness applications in an expeditious manner.

Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application.

Click here to view the instructions for completing the simpler loan forgiveness application.

Click here to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.

Transferrable Success

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Every October, the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students celebrates National Transfer Student Week. This year Southside Virginia Community College will participate with a Virtual Transfer Fair, which will run October 19–23, 2020.

Plans are underway for an informative, participatory event that can be experienced through socially distant conditions. Institutions to which SVCC students frequently transfer will provide informational videos and have personnel available for scheduled meetings using Zoom video conferencing technology. Students will be able to attend through in-person options at SVCC’s two main campuses or from their homes.

For many students, time spent at SVCC represents a first and foundational step in a longer postsecondary academic journey. At the end of the 2018-19 school year, more than 150 students transferred from SVCC to four-year institutions. Nearly 100 had earned an Associate’s degree, awarding them credit for two full years of academic achievement. Other students focused on earning specific credits that enabled them to skip prerequisites and be better prepared for success in advanced coursework.

About two-thirds of transferring SVCC graduates head to one of Virginia’s public four-year institutions. Popular destinations include Old Dominion University, Longwood University, Virginia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and James Madison University. Other students prefer private, nonprofit institutions, such as Liberty University and Mary Baldwin University. To ensure students’ future successes, SVCC maintains transfer and guaranteed admissions agreements with more than 30 of Virginia’s colleges and universities.

The Agribusiness program, established by Dr. Dixie Dalton, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, provides an example transfer pathway. Dr. Dalton recently talked with sisters Dottie and Cassie Long, who completed Associate of Arts and Sciences degrees with an emphasis in Agribusiness and then transferred to Virginia Tech, where they went on to earn bachelors’ degrees in Animal Science.

Cassie told Dr. Dalton, “One of the best decisions I made in my college career was enrolling at SVCC with plans to transfer to Virginia Tech. I say this because my experience at SVCC helped me transition into college smoothly, complete general education classes in a smaller setting, and focus solely on Animal and Poultry Sciences courses while at VT.”

Dottie reported a similar experience, “Completing my first two years at SVCC helped me transition into the college life. I enjoyed the smaller class sizes at SVCC, then jumped right into my major at VT. Also, having a good advisor in my corner that helped me take the classes I needed to transfer helped a lot.”

Dottie and Cassie now work managing Long’s Farm Supply in Brookneal, a family-owned store that meets the needs of local farmers and homeowners. Cassie is also pursuing graduate studies and may eventually become a high school agriculture teacher.

Like these sisters, all students who start their academic journeys at SVCC before transferring to a four-year institution can benefit from SVCC’s outstanding student support, advising, and financial aid services. They can also save money because the annual tuition bill at SVCC comes to half or one-third of the tuition at public four-year institutions. Furthermore, by beginning an academic journey close to home, students and their families save on the added costs of room and board.

For more information about SVCC’s transfer programs and the Virtual Transfer Fair, contact Matt Dunn, Career and Transfer Counselor, by phone at 434-736-2020 or by email at matt.dunn@southside.edu.

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

Virginia voter registration continues to climb as deadline looms

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is Tuesday, Oct. 13, and organizations and government officials continue to remind people to register by the deadline. 

Gov. Ralph Northam encouraged residents to register to vote before the deadline, and said in a statement Friday that it has never been easier to vote. The statement coincides with Virginia’s annual High School Student Voter Registration Week. 

This year over 1 million absentee ballots have been requested, Andrea Gaines, director of community relations at the Virginia Department of Elections, said in an email. Around 370,000 absentee ballots have been returned as of Thursday, Gaines said. 

Early, in-person voting has also yielded a large turnout. More than 420,000 people have voted in-person as of Oct. 8.

“It is the largest turnout we have seen at this time of year in Virginia,” Gaines said.

This is the first year there has been no-excuse absentee voting and a 45-day early voting period. The General Assembly recently passed a host of voting reform bills to allow for these changes. 

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is spreading the message to vote through VCU Votes, a class that coordinates voter engagement events and educates students and faculty members about voting.

“Our messages emphasize that registering to vote is easy,” Nicole O’Donnell, an assistant professor in public relations who teaches the class said in an email. “It should take less than five minutes of your time.”

VCU Votes has reached thousands of individuals through social media. Students are excited to vote, and they are well versed and knowledgeable about politics, O’Donnell said.

Getting students to register to vote has not been a problem at VCU, Jacqueline Smith-Mason, senior associate dean at VCU and co-chair of VCU Votes Advisory Council said in an email. However, she encourages people to check the Virginia Department of Elections website to ensure they’re registered to vote.

“It would be disappointing to think that you are registered to vote and later learn that your application was not processed,” Smith-Mason said.

Problems can arise if students renew or update their license with their home address, according to Adam Lockett, a VCU student who volunteers with Virginia21, which aims to drive civic engagement among college students. That updated information is sent to a registrar in the student’s home district, but the student may have planned to vote where their university is located.

Lockett said that students who renewed their driver's license in the past year should verify their address at the Department of Elections website before the registration deadline.

VCU Votes has arranged a number of events, including film screenings and registration drives. There are still two drives left. One will take place Oct. 12 at the Hunton Student Center on the MCV campus while the other will occur Oct. 13 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Nationwide initiatives such as National Voter Registration Day, which occurred Sept. 22, broke new ground. An estimated 1.5 million people registered to vote nationally during the event this year, the largest number of registrations since the campaign started in 2012, according to the organization’s website. Celebrities got involved to help the cause trend on Twitter with #NationalVoterRegistrationDay. 

A record number of over 5.8 million Virginians have registered to vote as of Aug. 31, when looking at records that go back to 1976. Over 5.5 million voters were registered in the 2016 presidential election year, and turnout that year hit 72%. 

Individuals can register to vote through the state elections website or by mailing in a registration form, which must be postmarked by Oct. 13.

Other upcoming deadlines include Oct. 23 to request an absentee ballot by mail, or Oct. 31 to request an absentee ballot in person. All absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by noon on the third day after the election.

 

 

Phyllis Doyle Weaver

September 21, 1929-October 9, 2020

Graveside Services

Monday, October 12, 2020 at 11:00 A.M

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Phyllis Doyle Weaver, 91, passed away on Friday, October 9, 2020 at her home after a lengthy illness.

She was the daughter of the late Johnny Swanson and Lila Williams Doyle. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Wylie Edward Weaver; her brother, Johnny Swanson Doyle, Jr.; sisters-in-law, Jeannette M. Doyle, Shirley Doyle, Frances Doyle, Marie Doyle; and brother-in-law, T.J. Allen.

Phyllis is survived by her devoted husband of sixty years, Graham Weaver; son, Tim Weaver (Kim); grandchildren, Brad Weaver (Deb), Brooke Morefield (Corey); great-granddaughters, Blair Elmore and Peighton Weaver; sister, Judy Allen; brothers, Roy E. Doyle, William Neal Doyle, Tommy Gene Doyle.

A graveside service will be held on Monday, October 12, 2020 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery starting at 11:00 A.M. with Rev. Larry Grizzard officiating.

The family expresses sincere thanks to Hospice of Virginia and to special caregivers, Joyce Lynch and Erica Robinson.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Ann Kei Newsome

April 26, 1928-October 9, 2020

Visitation Services

October 12, 2020, from 6:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

October 13, 2020, 11:00 A.M

St. Richard's Catholic Church
117 Laurel Street
Emporia, Virginia

Ann Kei Newsome, 92, passed away on October 9, 2020. She was born on April 26, 1928 to the late Vendel and Bessie M. Kei. Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Vendel and Bessie Kei, her husband, Russell C. “Spot” Newsome, along with her twelve brothers and sisters.

She is survived by her son, Lane Newsome (Mary Anne), grandsons, Russell Newsome, Sandy Newsome, great-grandsons, Chandler, Carter, Connor, along with numerous, loving nieces and nephews.

Ann worked at VA Dyeing and Finishing for twenty years until she began working with her husband. She was an avid golfer with a hole-in-one to her credit as well as being a wonderful cook known especially for her cakes and pies. She loved her family and was proud to be a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She spent the last five years being cared for at the Bloom Center, where she was given care by a special group that treated her with love and compassion.

The family will receive friends at Echols Funeral Home, Monday, October 12, 2020, from 6:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.

A funeral service will be held at St. Richard’s Catholic Church, Tuesday, October 13, 2020, starting at 11:00 A.M. with Father Jong officiating, with an interment to follow at Emporia Cemetery.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

‘Black Space Matters’ Exhibit Transforms Asphalt Lot into Garden

The “Commonwealth” exhibit features work from 10 artists including an outdoor installation created by community farmer, Duron Chavis, who builds gardens throughout Richmond. The resiliency garden is installed in an asphalt lot next to the Institute for Contemporary Art and features 30 raised beds of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Photo by VCU CNS.

By India Espy-Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- A local activist transformed a vacant lot outside the Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond to highlight issues of food security and the importance of Black and brown community spaces.

The “Commonwealth” exhibit at Virginia Commonwealth University’s ICA features work from 10 artists including an outdoor installation created by activist and community farmer Duron Chavis who builds gardens throughout Richmond. The full exhibit seeks to examine how common resources influence the wealth and well-being of communities.

Chavis proposed the resiliency garden exhibit in 2019 during a public forum at the ICA. The resiliency garden—food grown to weather the tough times and to have food independence— is installed in an asphalt lot at Grace and Belvidere streets next to the ICA and features 30 raised beds of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

An extension of the garden exhibit is the “Black Space Matters” mural by Southside artist Silly Genius. A wall in the lot is painted, with fruit making the word Black and beneath the garden in big, yellow letters is “Space Matters.” The garden beds have historic quotes from civil rights leaders Kwame Ture and Malcolm X, among other activists. 

“Black Space Matters means that Black people need space,” Chavis said. “We need space that is explicitly designed, planned, and implemented by Black and brown people.”

Chavis, along with a crew of volunteers, started building the garden on Aug. 10 while the ICA temporarily closed to install other exhibits.

“We invited him to think with us about how to activate a vacant lot next to the ICA,” said Stephanie Smith, ICA chief curator. “You could think about what it means to take a space and institutional resources, then give them over to an activist.”

Chavis seeks to address lack of food access through his activism. Food insecurity, defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” is an issue in Richmond’s low-income neighborhoods. The city had over 35,000 food insecure people in 2018, according to Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks.

“In a conversation about food justice, Black people are predominately impacted by lack of food access,” Chavis said. “We need space to address that issue.”

Low income communities need access to resources and necessary skills to solve food wealth issues on their own, he said. 

“We do not need anybody to come into our community to drop off food,” Chavis said. 

He’s been doing work like this since 2012 and doesn’t have a hard count of how many garden beds have been built. 

“Dozens, oh God, it’s all across the city,” he said. 

Chavis amplified his efforts this year because of the pandemic. He fundraised and received a grant, according to a VPM report, to build over 200 resiliency gardens with the help of volunteers. 

Quilian Riano, an architect at New York studio DSGN AGNC, designed the concept drawing for the ICA garden, which was envisioned as a public space for conversation and lecture. The completed garden is near identical to the original design except with an added texture and dimension, Riano said.

 The “Commonwealth” exhibit will be open until Jan. 17, 2021. After the exhibit ends, the gardens’ supplies and plants will be redistributed to other resiliency garden project locations throughout Richmond. Chavis collaborates with other groups and people to help people grow their own food during the pandemic.

Tickets to the indoor exhibitions can be reserved on the ICA website. Exhibits include a video performance by indigenous artist Tanya Lukin Linklater, Carolina Caycedo’s “Distressed Debt” and a sculpture by Lukin Linklater and Tiffany Shaw-Collinge.

Governor Northam Directs More Than $220 Million in CARES Act Funding to Virginia’s K-12 Schools

All 132 school districts to receive at least $100,000 for COVID-19 preparedness and response

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new allocation of more than $220 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to help K-12 public schools in Virginia. The funding will support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures for the 2020–2021 school year, including testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitization, and technology for distance learning. Funding will be distributed to all 132 public school districts using an allocation formula of $175 per pupil based on fall enrollment, with a minimum of $100,000 for each school division. 

“Students, teachers, principals, and parents are going to great lengths to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic amid a new school year, and we must do everything we can to support them,” said Governor Northam. “This additional $220 million in federal funding will give our schools the resources they need to continue operating and provide Virginians with a world-class education, whether safely in person or remotely from home.” 

This funding will supplement $66.8 million provided to Virginia through the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and an additional $587.5 million allocated to the Commonwealth in May under the CARES Act. This included $238.6 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund for K-12 activities. Additionally, the CARES Act provided $343.9 million for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

“This funding is critical as we continue to provide safe, high-quality education for Virginia students,” said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “I am grateful to Governor Northam for his ongoing support of public education—and I can assure you that his funding will immediately be put to good use.”

Governor Northam was one of the first governors in the country to close schools for in-person instruction when COVID-19 began to spread quickly during the 2020 spring semester. Virginia school divisions have been working overtime to adapt during the fall semester, and many continue to face challenges associated with maintaining public health protocols and increased technology needs. In June, the Commonwealth provided guidance for the phased reopening of PreK-12 schools, including guidelines for safely resuming in-person instruction and school activities.

“We applaud Governor Northam’s commitment of more than $220 million in federal CARES Act funding to our public schools,” said Dr. James Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association. “COVID-19 has brought huge new challenges for our students and educators, and members of the Virginia Education Association have made clear throughout the pandemic that additional, necessary services require additional funding. This action will help keep our students safe, healthy, and learning.”

“Virginia’s teachers are heroes, and they are doing an incredible job in the midst of this pandemic,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This funding will help ensure the safety of students, families, and teaching staff, all while providing critical support for our most at-risk students.”

“School divisions, teachers, and families are working overtime for the safety and wellbeing of Virginia’s students,” said Senator L. Louise Lucas. “Whether this funding is used for personal protective equipment, testing, or technology for distance learning, it will help keep our children safe and ensure no student is left behind.”

“This pandemic has disproportionately impacted vulnerable Virginians, including our most at-risk students,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler. “I am grateful to Governor Northam for this additional support, which will increase access to education for all families—including those who need it most.”

More information on the amount of funding allocated to each school division can be found here.

Civil Rights trail adds 12 new sites with focus on education struggle

By Noah Fleischman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The half-mile road leading to a park in Prince Edward County was packed with cars parked on one side and a park ranger directing traffic on the other side. This was a normal 1950s summer day at what was then the only state park for African Americans in Virginia.

Prince Edward State Park for Negroes, as it was then called, could draw up to a thousand African American visitors per day that could rent bathing suits and cabins overnight.

“It was a place for people to recreate and be—they didn’t have that opportunity in other places,” recounted Veronica Flick, Twin Lakes State Park manager.

Prince Edward State Park was adjacent to Goodwin Lake Recreational Area where only whites patrons were allowed. The two areas merged and were renamed Twin Lakes State Park in 1986, according to the park’s website.

Twin Lakes is one of 12 new sites added this fall to the Virginia’s Crossroads Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail spanning Central and Southern Virginia. The trail was established in 2004 and focuses on the struggle African Americans, Native Americans and women faced to receive an education in the commonwealth.

The parks were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program established by Congress to help men find work during the Great Depression. Twin Lakes was added to the trail because of the education the CCC provided to African Americans who helped build the park in the 1930s. The builders were taught framing and roofing skills, Flick said.

“In ‘those days,’ education was the most important and it was denied,” said Magi Van Eps, tourism coordinator for Prince Edward County. “If you were not a white male, you didn’t have access to an education.”

The impact of being on the trail brings more attention to Twin Lakes and its history, Flick said.

“For us to be a part of this trail, it not only brings more awareness to what the history of this park is, and its importance to so many people,” Flick said.

The park has added roadside historical markers, explaining the origins of Prince Edward State Park. One sign on the grounds of the park tells the story of Maceo Martin, who sued the state when he was denied access to Staunton River State Park. The lawsuit led Virginia to add the Prince Edward State Park for African American visitors to follow the “separate but equal” law at the time.

The trail also has added stops at Greensville County Training School in Emporia and Buckingham Training School in Dillwyn, according to Van Eps. The sites were Rosenwald schools, established by former Sears President Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington to help Southern, African American children and teenagers receive an education.

The expansion of the trail 16 years after its establishment was a result of additional funding. The trail was originally envisioned to have more than 60 sites, Van Eps said. Instead, the trail was only able to add 41 sites using a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“There were all these other sites that were still very important, but they were overlooked at that time just because there wasn’t enough funding to fund them all,” Van Eps said.

After receiving $70,000 in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission in 2020 the trail was able to add a dozen more sites. Virginia’s Crossroads matched the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission funding.

The L.E. Coleman African-American Museum in Halifax and the Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden Sydney in Prince Edward County were also added to the trail during the expansion. Bobby Conner, who helped found James Solomon Russell-Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives, another site on the trail that displays the history of the historically Black college that closed in 2013, said the additions couldn’t have happened at a better time.

“The expansion of it has come at a perfect time with everything that’s gone on this past spring,” Conner said, referring to the protests that took place in Virginia and around the country after George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minnesota.

“Anybody that goes along this trail will learn incredible amounts of history on what the struggle was from right after the Civil War all the way up until recently,” Conner said.

Spanberger, Freitas race outspends presidential campaign in Virginia

By Brandon Shillingford, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- A closely contested congressional race has spent almost $1.7 million more on political advertisements in Virginia than the presidential campaign.

More than $11 million has been spent on ads for the Congressional 7th District race. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the incumbent Democrat, faces challenger Nick Freitas, a Republican state delegate. The district includes Culpeper, Chesterfield, Henrico and Nottoway counties. 

Meanwhile, more than $9 million has been spent in Virginia this year on ads for the presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. The data posted on the Virginia Public Access Project’s website includes money spent on broadcast TV, cable, radio, and internet ads. 

This is Spanberger’s first re-election campaign, after defeating two-term Republican incumbent Dave Brat in 2018. 

“The 7th District of Virginia is one of the marquee congressional elections in the country and is drawing very significant amounts of money,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Fredericksburg-based University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “Virginia may not be getting the attention it received four or eight years ago, but the 7th District is one of three highly competitive congressional districts in Virginia.”

The Democrats have outspent more Republican candidates in both races. More than $6.6 million has been invested in ads that are either pro-Spanberger or anti-Freitas, while there has been $4.4 million invested in ads that promote Freitas or criticize Spanberger.

Biden and groups supporting him have spent more than $6 million on ads compared to nearly $3 million spent to promote Trump.

Farnsworth sees this as less of an anomaly but more of a continuing strategy in presidential campaigns.

“The nature of the way the state has changed over these last several election cycles, new donations to presidential campaigns would be better off being directed to states that are more competitive, like Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or Ohio,” he said. “Polls have shown Virginia wouldn't be the best place to spend your presidential campaign dollars in 2020.”

Other closely contested congressional races are the 2nd District in Hampton Roads and the 5th District, which stretches from Fauquier County in Northern Virginia to Danville in Southern Virginia. Democrats have also outspent their opponents in these races.

“All three districts are winnable for the Democrats and Republicans, and this results in a very large amount of donations and large sums of money spent on advertisements,” Farnsworth said.

More than $8 million has been spent on ads in the 2nd Congressional District, while more than $4 million has been spent in the race for the 5th Congressional District.

The 5th District has also been in the headlines lately due to Republicans declining to re-nominate incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman after he officiated a same-sex wedding in 2019. Republicans instead nominated Bob Good who won the primary and is running against Democrat Cameron Webb. 

However, the 7th District is unique because of the different segments of the electorate that live within it, making it an invaluable asset to candidates, Farnsworth said. 

“You have suburban voters in the Richmond area and suburban voters in the Fredericksburg area, then a number of more rural jurisdictions in between,” he said.

Farnsworth pointed out that the 7th District was originally drawn to help Republicans get elected, but has recently struggled to do so due to the lack of support from suburban voters during the Trump administration. Over $4 million was spent on broadcast ads to elect Spanberger in 2018, with spending for Brat’s campaign trailing behind at just over $3 million.

“One of the effects of the Trump presidency has been increasingly aggressive donations on the part of Democrats,” he said. “The 7th District is a highly competitive district, that’s why both Democrats and Republicans are investing very large sums of money in that contest.”

The most money in the 7th District race has been invested in broadcast ads, followed by cable, radio and Facebook, respectively, according to VPAP. 

Sussex Resident Killed in Head On-Collision

SUSSEX COUNTY, VA: On the evening of October 7, 2020, at approximately 5:39 p.m., the Virginia State Police responded to a two vehicle accident with life threatening injuries on Hunt Road, west of Little Mill Road. 

The driver of a 2009 Honda Fit, Elyssandra Nicole Reeves, was transported via med-flight to Chippenham Hospital where she later succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident. 

Preliminary investigations reveal that Reeves was traveling in the center of the roadway, on Hunts Road, when she collided head on with a 1994 Kenworth dump truck. The driver of the dump truck was not injured. Reeves was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the accident. Alcohol nor speed seem to be contributing factors in the crash.

Notification has been made for the deceased; 21 year old Elyssandra Nicole Reeves, of the 1800 block of Walkers Mill Road, Sussex, Virginia.

Richard Elmo Clary

March 11, 1928-October 2, 2020

Services

Friday October 9, 1:00pm

Echols Funeral Home Chapel
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Richard Elmo Clary, 92, Passed away Friday, October,2, 2020 where he was residing at Commonwealth (Leigh Hall) Assisted Living in Norfolk, Va. Richard was born March 11, 1928 in Brunswick County, VA.  He Served our Country in the Army during WWII and he retired from the State of Virginia ABC Board in 1993.

He is preceded in death by his loving wife of 58 years Louise Woodruff Carter Clary; his parents Richard B. Clary and Ocie Baird Clary; his son Larry Woodruff Carter; brother Wayne Clary and sister Tina Carpenter.

Richard is survived by his loving children Edward Wilson Carter and Linda Louise Carter Sandifer; Brother Woody Clary and sisters Elsie Chambliss, Betty Jones and Martha Ann Brewer Hitchcock.

Grandchildren Julie Carter Roberge Secura, Monica Sandifer Hart, Brian Eugene Sandifer, Andrea Carter Boutelle, Brandon Edward Carter and Cathy Sandifer Geddings.

Great-Grandchildren Daniellle Alexis Hart, Erica Lynn Hart, Ian Riley Sandifer, Ashley Lynne Sandifer, Mark Alton Boutelle, Blake Edward Carter and Cole Andrew Carter.

The family will receive friends at Echols Funeral Home in the Chapel on Friday October 9, for the service at 1:00pm, following the service he will be interned at Emporia Cemetery on Brunswick Ave., Emporia, VA.

Many thanks to the staff at Leigh Hall for the loving care that was given while he was resident in their care.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

WARNER URGES FACEBOOK, TWITTER & GOOGLE TO REINFORCE EFFORTS AGAINST POLITICAL CONTENT ABUSE AHEAD OF NOVEMBER ELECTION

~ Pushes social media giants to fully embrace the requirements of his bipartisan Honest Ads Act ~

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged Facebook, Twitter, and Google to implement robust accountability and transparency standards ahead of the November election, including requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act – bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Warner to help prevent foreign interference in elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.

In individual letters to FacebookGoogle, and Twitter, Sen. Warner detailed the various ways in which each company continues to contribute to the spread of disinformation, viral misinformation, and voter suppression efforts. He also warned about the imminent risk of bad actors once again weaponizing American-bred social media tools to undermine democracy ahead of the November election, and urged each company to take proactive measures to safeguard against these efforts.

In his letter to Facebook, Sen. Warner criticized the platform’s efforts to label manipulated or synthetic content, describing these as “wholly inadequate.” He also raised alarm with instances of Facebook’s amplification of harmful content.

“The pervasiveness of political misinformation on Facebook – and the ways in which your company chooses to amplify it – was on display just this week, when a baseless conspiracy about Vice President Biden was highlighted on Facebook’s own News Tab, a result of Facebook choosing to amplify The Daily Caller as a verified news publisher and fact-checker despite its long track record of promoting false information,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “More broadly, Facebook has repeatedly failed to ensure that its existing policies on political advertising are being enforced– an issue that my colleagues and I recently raised in a separate context relating to Facebook’s failure to enforce its policies against violent far-right organizations.  Facebook has long been accused of facilitating divisive advertisements from dark money groups.  A recent report by Avaaz revealed that despite Facebook’s claims to prohibit false and misleading information in ads by outside political groups, it allowed hundreds of such ads in key swing states earlier this month to be run by super PACs.  And despite your personal pledge to stamp out voter suppression efforts on Facebook, a recent report by ProPublica revealed that voting misinformation continues to flourish on Facebook.”

Similarly, in a letter to Google, Sen. Warner raised concern with the company’s efforts to combat harmful misinformation – particularly disinformation about voting, spread by right-leaning YouTube channels. He also criticized the comprehensiveness of Google’s ad archive, which presently excludes issue ads.

“Concerns with the comprehensiveness of Google’s archive extend beyond simply Google’s under-inclusive policies. Prominent researchers have identified multiple glaring examples where qualifying political advertisers have been omitted from the ad archive… Moreover, a marketer recently demonstrated how easy it is to circumvent Google’s verification systems for political ads – running a series of search ads, targeted to run alongside election-related search queries, that attacked Presidential candidates without being included in Google’s ads database or being accompanied by a disclaimer,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Further, researchers found a particularly egregious example of election disinformation – spread via Google search ads – that ostensibly targeted to users looking for information about voter fraud.  The ad would not appear in Google’s ad archive, given its exclusion of issue ads; moreover, the ad clearly violated ad policies relating to “claims that are demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” The same researchers have found similar ads promoting false information about the election  – ostensibly indicating a systemic failure by Google in enforcing its advertising policies.”

In his letter to Twitter, which has banned paid political content and placed restrictions on cause-based advertising, Sen. Warner noted that doctored political content continues to spread organically without adequate labeling that slows its spread or contextualizes it for users. 

“I ask that Twitter examine and strengthen its synthetic and manipulated media policy as it applies to political misinformation – particularly in the context of organic content,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “I appreciate the leadership Twitter has demonstrated to take steps against the promotion of false, deceptive, and manipulated political content; however, more must be done to secure our political discourse from disinformation on digital platforms like yours. Under your company’s existing policy, manipulated media has still reached millions of users with only limited response from your platform. 

In all three letters, Sen. Warner urged the companies to reinforce their efforts against abuse of paid and organic content policies, and to more aggressively identify, label, and remove manipulated or synthetic media to prevent efforts to amplify disinformation by Russia and other bad actors, both foreign and domestic. Sen. Warner also posed a series of different questions for each company on a number of issues, including the availability of political ad targeting information, the enforcement of companies' own policies, the adoption of a bounty to remunerate researchers who identify policy violations, and the measures being taken to slow the coordinated dissemination of deceptive, synthetic, or manipulated media.

The Honest Ads Act, as introduced by Sens. Warner, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would safeguard the integrity of American democracy by requiring large online platforms to maintain public records of advertisers who purchase political ads. It would:

  • Amend the definition of ‘electioneering communication’ in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
  • Require digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. This file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Require online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

Sen. Warner has written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Among these are the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act – bipartisan legislation to require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data; and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act – bipartisan legislation to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose.

VCU emergency room sees increase in opioid overdoses patients

By Aliviah Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The pandemic could be driving an increase in opioid overdoses, according to recently published data and insights from people who work in a local treatment center.

Virginia Commonwealth University has released a new study that shows a surge in patients at the VCU Medical Center in Richmond who were admitted due to opioid overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers reported a 123% increase in non-fatal opioid overdoses at the emergency room between March and June 2019 to the same period this year. The research has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Taylor Ochalek, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, was the lead author of the study. She said researchers have been collecting data on opioid overdoses since last year, but they recently decided to examine overdose trends to see if the pandemic was impacting overdoses.

“Social isolation, increased psychiatric symptoms, decreased access to non medical care and the stress that might come from unemployment could increase the risk of relapse to opioid use and then potential overdose,” Ochalek said. 

The study’s authors found that Black patients were among the largest demographic associated with overdoses during the pandemic in the hospital they tracked. In March and June of 2019, 63% of opioid overdose patients were Black. In March and June 2020 the number increased to 80%. The authors noted that the findings were a small sample of patients and may not be generalizable to other locations. 

The McShin Foundation, a Henrico County-based drug recovery organization, has seen an increase of people coming in for treatment during the pandemic. The organization provides 11 recovery houses and 122 beds for participants. 

 “With a pandemic and an epidemic going on at once, It was important for us to have a safe place for those that needed help,” said Honesty Liller, the organization’s CEO.

The McShin Foundation started a podcast called Get in The Herd as a creative way to reach out once 12-step meetings were canceled because of the pandemic. The podcast offers discussion on addiction, recovery, stigma and advocacy.

The McShin Foundation also felt it was important to develop a recovery plan for participants who received stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, Liller said. The goal is to provide individuals in recovery with resources to manage finances during the pandemic. Some individuals made more money while on unemployment benefits than when they were working, according to a May report by NPR. 

“If you're someone using and you don't have any money every day, and you struggle to get $20 and then you're getting $800 a week? I mean, yeah, it's rough around here,” Liller said.

The Virginia Department of Health publishes quarterly reports on drug-related deaths. According to the report, fentanyl caused or contributed to death in almost 60% of fatal overdoses in 2019. That same year, almost 80% of all fatal overdoses of any substance were due to one or more opioids.

Overall, the number of fatal drug overdoses has increased annually since 2013, VDH reports. Opioids have been the leading force behind the increases in fatal overdoses since that year. 

The most recent report from the health department shows 355 fatal opioid overdoses in the first three months of the year. That includes fentanyl, heroin and prescription opioids, and is an 8.6% increase from the same reporting period last year. 

VDH didn’t publish data for the second quarter of the year due to the pandemic. The organization plans to publish overdose data ranging from July to September on Oct.15, according to the health department.

Ridley Foundation Awards Jackson-Feild Grant

The Ridley Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia has awarded Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services a grant for specialized training.

The Ridley Foundation was established and funded by Mrs. Roberta Ridley in the 1940’s.  Mrs. Ridley, affectionately known as “Miss Bert”, was a resident of Southampton County. She established a trust to help local organizations and to provide college scholarship funding for Episcopalian students within the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

The grant will fund specialized trauma-focused and trauma-informed training for residential, educational, and clinical staff members. The training was developed by the Klingberg Trauma Stress Institute which was founded in 1986. This Institute is a recognized leader in the treatment of psychological trauma and attachment disruptions. The Institute has helped more than 4,000 mental health organizations nationally.

The goal is to train our staff and to make a transformational impact on Jackson-Feild’s ability to create better outcomes for its mentally ill children.

The Ridley Foundation has been a wonderful partner with Jackson-Feild and has made a profound impact on its mission and the children it serves.

New poll shows Virginia voters strongly support police reform

By Megan Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- A recent poll finds Virginia voters strongly support police reform and nearly half of respondents say Joe Biden would handle the pandemic better than President Donald Trump.

The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University released the poll Sept. 29 following a poll earlier that month which found Biden is leading Trump by 5 points among the state’s likely voters. 

The poll surveyed 796 registered Virginia voters by landline and cell phone. The Wason Center is 95% confident that the projected populations of those surveyed in this poll are accurate within a 3.9% margin of error, said Wason Center Research Lab Director Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo.

Of those surveyed, 29% identify as Republican, 34% as Democrat and 32% as Independent. The remaining 6% had no preference, identified with another party or did not respond.

Bromley-Trujillo said the center chose to focus on two key issues among voters: police reform and the pandemic. The poll asked about police reform opinions in response to the civil unrest seen across the country since May. Protests began around the nation after the death of George Floyd and in response to a series of fatal encounters between police and Black individuals. Protests swelled again recently after a grand jury did not indict any officers with the death of Kentucky woman Breonna Taylor. The protests have demanded more accountability within police operations.

More than 90% of respondents supported de-escalation training for police, requiring police body cameras, and mandating police officers intervene when a colleague uses unlawful force. 

A majority of Republicans say police are either excellent or good regarding the equal treatment of racial and ethnic groups, while a low percentage of Democrats agree (62%-9%). Females rated police lower on this question than males.

When asked if civilian oversight boards should be created to investigate police misconduct, 70% of voters supported the proposal.

Just over 75% of voters supported both the requirement of police departments to publicly report incidents involving the use of force and the establishment of a public database to track police officers found responsible for misconduct.

“I was somewhat surprised by the level of agreement on some of the police reform measures,” Bromley-Trujillo said. “Though the public is very polarized, there are still places where they show agreement.”

Voters are also divided when it comes to allowing civilians to sue police officers for excessive force or misconduct (52% say it should be allowed and 44% say it should not be). Voters narrowly oppose banning police use of military-grade weapons (50%-47%).

Recent state legislation reflects this voter interest in police reform and criminal justice. Bills establishing a statewide system that pairs teams of mental health professionals and peer recovery specialists with police officers and the automatic expungement of certain convictions are examples of legislation that have advanced in the Virginia General Assembly in the last two months.

Almost half of surveyed voters believe Biden would handle COVID-19 issues better than Trump, while 36% thought the opposite. The remaining 11% said neither candidate would be good. 

The poll found that a majority of respondents said the U.S. is loosening COVID-19 restrictions too quickly, and 41% said the country is taking too long. Democrats and Republicans are strongly divided over the country’s rate of reducing COVID-19 restrictions; 86% of Democrats said restrictions are being reduced too fast, while nearly 75% of Republicans said it is taking too long.

The poll was sent out before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, which is why opinions on Supreme Court confirmations were not surveyed, said Bromley-Trujillo. 

In order to hone in on police reform as much as possible, Bromley-Trujillo said the center did not explore the economy, healthcare, climate change and immigration. However, she noted voters mention these topics as reasons to choose a candidate. 

“The wildfires in the West have also highlighted the issue of climate change, and I suspect that immigration and other issues will come back to the forefront as related events occur and as political elites, the public and interest groups raise them,” Bromley-Trujillo said. 

William Thomas “Tommy” Jarratt, Sr.

May 21, 1946-October 3, 2020

Visitation Services

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 from 11:00AM until 1:00PM

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 2:00PM

Drewryville Memorial Cemetery

William Thomas “Tommy” Jarratt, Sr., 74, passed away Saturday, October 3, 2020 at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center.

Tommy was born May 21, 1946 in Emporia, Virginia. He worked for Georgia Pacific Corporation in Emporia, Virginia where he retired after thirty years of service. Tommy spent his spare time maintaining the grounds for the EGRA. Throughout his life and following retirement, he enjoyed working on vehicles in his shop.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna Smith Jarratt; his parents, Waverly Richard Jarratt, Sr. and Fannie Wells Jarratt, and brothers Waverly Richard Jarratt, Jr., Edward Carol Jarratt, and Benjamin Jarratt.

Tommy is survived by his loving children; William T. Jarratt, Jr. “Timmy” (Lori), Stuart Craig Jarratt, and Trista Jarratt Clements (Robert); sister, Ginger Shackelford (James) of Urbanna, VA; grandchildren, Dustan T. Jarratt (Emily) of Emporia, Va, Lynsey Jarratt Overstreet of Farmville, VA, Brooklyn N. Jarratt of Urbanna, VA, Kayla L. Jarratt, Austin C. Jarratt, Sumer B. Clements, Carleigh B. Jarratt, Allie M. Jarratt, and Cora, Alyce and Anna Clements, all of Emporia, VA; great-grandchildren, Hudson and Ryland Jarratt of Emporia, Lailah and Rilee Baylor of Urbanna, VA, Aubrie and Reed Overstreet of Farmville, VA, Dakota and Daxton Ferguson of Emporia, VA and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends at Echols Funeral Home on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 from 11:00AM until 1:00PM. A graveside service will be held Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 2:00PM at Drewryville Memorial Cemetery.

A heartfelt thank you to the staff, especially the nurses, at Greensville Health and Rehabilitation that have “kept up” with Tommy over the course of his stay at their facility.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Alpha Pi Donates to VCU Health CMH

Yvette Morris, president of the Alpha Pi chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority, presents Ashley Wallace, RN (center) and Jordan Young, RN, both nurses in the Birthing Center, with books that the nurses are able to give out to each newborn at VCU Health CMH.

Most teachers will tell you that reading is a great way to get ahead in school. A group of teachers from eastern Mecklenburg County is hoping to instill the love of reading from a very early age. 

The Alpha Pi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma made another donation of books to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Garland Birthing Center recently. 

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. 

The president of the local chapter, Yvette Morris, said, “We want to build a passion for reading. We are thrilled to be able to help bring books to children.” 

With more than 70 books, the group has helped make sure all new parents at the Garland Birthing Center at VCU Health CMH will be able to take home a book for their newborn. 

According to Sarah Carlton, MSN, RNC-OB, LCCE, Clinical Coordinator of the Garland Birthing Center, “The nurses on labor and delivery love being able to gift a book to our new babies. Some nurses even write personalized birthday notes to the newborns. The parents are always so appreciative of the support and love our community shows! Big brothers and sisters also get to enjoy picking a new book off the shelf, as well. The book donations and the amazing support from Alpha Pi make a lifelong impression on our new parents, babies and siblings!” 

For Ken Kurz, director of the CMH Foundation, the ladies of the Alpha Pi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma prove what he has come to learn about Southside Virginia. 

“The way people like these fine ladies care, it just builds my belief in what a great place we live,” he said. 

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