September 2020

Poll of Virginia voters favors Biden; shows mixed support for mail-in voting

By Anya Sczerzenie, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- A poll released this week by the Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government shows presidential candidate Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner leading by double-digit margins in the commonwealth. 

The Richmond-based university conducted a telephone poll of just over 800 adults from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. 

The results show Democratic nominee Biden ahead of President Donald Trump by 14 percentage points (53% to 39%). Warner, a Democrat who has represented Virginia in Congress for more than a decade, is ahead of his Republican challenger Daniel Gade by 17 percentage points (55% to 38%). The poll had a margin of error of 5.17 percentage points for all adults sampled and 6.22 percentage points for likely voters.

Biden is leading in the Northern, South Central and Tidewater regions of the state, while Trump leads in Western and Northwestern Virginia. 

Stephen Farnsworth, director at the Fredericksburg-based University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said that Trump’s message resonates with rural voters in the western part of the state.

“His focus on the message of Christian conservatives resonates well in rural areas,” Farnsworth said. “Trump has appointed politically conservative judges, and Christians have been well served by him.”

Farnsworth said that Trump tends to lose in suburban areas of Virginia such as Northern Virginia, where voters tend to be socially progressive but fiscally conservative.

The poll also provided insight into the demographics of Biden voters. 

“Something that was interesting was the strength of women as an indicator of support for Biden,” said Farrah Stone, who directed the VCU poll.

Women were more likely to support Biden over Trump by 22 percentage points (58% to 36%). Men preferred Biden over Trump by five percentage points (47% to 42%). In July, a Wilder School poll found that men were more likely to say they would vote for Trump.

The poll also shows Biden’s nomination of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his running mate does not significantly affect his support among women or minorities. 

“If you’re looking at Kamala Harris, there aren’t significant differences between whites and minorities, or men and women,” Stone said. “What was significant was whether you were a Democrat or Republican.” 

Farnsworth said that vice presidential candidates often don’t change people’s votes, but they can help a candidate by increasing turnout among people who support the candidate but wouldn’t otherwise vote.

“If Biden’s pick of Harris ramps up turnout among African American voters, then that was a smart decision by Biden,” Farnsworth said. “This election is largely frozen in place; there aren’t many voters who are undecided.”

Hillary Clinton secured a Democratic victory in the commonwealth during the last presidential race, beating Trump by over 212,000 votes. The 2016 turnout of registered voters was higher than in 2012, but lower than 2008, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. 

The poll also asked voters about an issue that has recently come to the forefront of election news: the reliability of mail-in voting. 

Virginians are split on whether mail-in voting is trustworthy. When combined, 50% of respondents are “somewhat or very confident” that mail-in votes will be accurately cast and counted, while a combined 48% are not too or not at all confident about the process. Trust in mail-in voting is affected by party affiliation, with a majority of Republicans finding it untrustworthy, according to the VCU poll. 

“The differences are significant across party lines, which line up with voting and support for Trump,” Stone said. 

Sixty-seven percent of Republicans said they were “not at all” or “not too” confident in the accuracy of mail-in ballots. 

“Trump has tried to increase public doubts about mail-in voting,” Farnsworth said. “No previous candidates have emphasized mail-in voting this much, but it’s never been this significant before.”

Virginia Department of Health Confirms First Age 10 – 19 Fatality Due to COVID-19

RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that an adolescent resident in the Southside Health District who tested positive for COVID-19 has died. This is the first reported COVID-19 death of a child in the Commonwealth. VDH will disclose no further information about the teenager to protect privacy and out of respect for the patient’s family.

“We were extremely saddened to learn of the loss of the state’s first adolescent with COVID-19. On behalf of all of us at VDH, I extend sincere condolences to the teenager’s family and loved ones,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A.  “No age group is immune from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this unfortunate event, along with the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases we are seeing in some areas of the Commonwealth, is a reminder that we all need to do our part to help slow the spread of virus in the community.”

This fatality will be reflected on the data dashboard update for Saturday, September 19, 2020.

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages everyone to:

  • Stay home as much as possible, except for essential travel;
  • If you must go out in public, wear a cloth face covering;
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Avoid contact with sick people;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor; and
  • Avoid large gatherings and contact with crowds, especially with those not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines.

For more information on COVID-19 in Virginia, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Virginia bill seeks to guarantee free school meals to students advances to Senate

By Aliviah Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill this month to provide free school meals for 109,000 more public school students in the commonwealth.

House Bill 5113, introduced by Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, passed the chamber unanimously. Roem’s bill requires eligible public elementary and secondary schools to apply for the Community Eligibility Provision through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

“School food should be seen as an essential service that is free for everyone regardless of their income,” Roem said.

The program allows all students in an eligible school to receive free breakfast and lunch. Currently, 425 schools are eligible for CEP but don’t take part in the program, according to a document that details the financial impact of the legislation. More than 420 schools and 200,000 students participated in CEP during the 2018 to 2019 school year, according to the Virginia Department of Education. 

The bill allows eligible schools to opt out of the program if participating is not financially possible.
Most Virginia food banks have purchased twice as much food each month since the pandemic started when compared to last year, according to Eddie Oliver, executive director of Federation of Virginia Food Banks.

“We're just seeing a lot of need out there and we know that school meal programs are really the front line of ensuring that kids in Virginia have the food they need to learn and thrive,” Oliver said.

Virginia school districts qualify for CEP if they have 40% or more enrolled students in a specified meal program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It also includes homeless, runaway, migrant and foster children, Roem said.

Sandy Curwood, director of the Virginia Department of Education Office of School Nutrition Programs, said school districts receive federal reimbursement based on a formula. 

“Making sure that children have access to good healthy food, and particularly through school meals I think is a great opportunity,” Curwood said.

The federal government will reimburse schools who have more than 62.5% students who qualify for free meals, Roem said. Schools with between 55% and 62.4% students enrolled will receive between 80% and 99% reimbursement. 

“If HB 5113 is law, how their children will eat during the school day will be one less worry for students and their families,”, said Semora Ward, community organizer for the Hampton Roads-based Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative. The meals are available whether children are physically in schools or attending virtual classes.

The Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative has raised $8,000 in the past three years for unpaid school meals in Hampton and Newport News, according to Ward.

“While we are pleased with these efforts and the outpouring of community support, we should have never had to do this in the first place,” she said. 

Roem was one of several legislators that took on the USDA earlier this year to not require students to be present when receiving free school meals during the pandemic. The Virginia General Assembly passed Roem’s bill earlier this year that allows school districts to distribute excess food to students eligible for the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program administered by the USDA.

HB 5113 has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Raymond Martin Prince,

July 23, 1941-September 14, 2020

Graveside Services

Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 2:00 P.M.

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery
16489 Dry Bread Rd
Emporia, VA 23847

Raymond Martin Prince, 79, passed away suddenly on September 14, 2020. He is the son of the late, Edward Martin Prince and Mildred Louise Slagle. He is survived by his wife, Betty Mitchell Prince of Emporia, Va., son, Larry Wayne Prince of Emporia, Va, daughter, Melissa Prince Evans of Rocky Mount, NC., son-in-law, Joel Scott, brother, Billy Prince of Emporia, Va., sister, Frances Butler of Emporia, Va., grandchildren, Victoria Christian, Wayne Scott Evans, Mindi Marie Prince, great-granchildren, Kaylie Marie Batchlor, Jordan Gilbert, Nathan Wade Caraway. Raymond was a member of Mt. Vernom Baptist Church and worked as a mechanic for Powell Tire.

A graveside memorial service will be held at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery, Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 2:00 P.M. with C. W. Bing officiating.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Louise Shaw Ellis

August 25, 1933-September 17, 2020

Graveside Services

Monday, September 21, 2020, at 2:00 P.M

Emporia Cemetery
Brusnwick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Louise Shaw Ellis, 87, passed away on September 17, 2020. She was preceded in death by beloved son-in-law, Eddie Leinwand. She is survived by her son, Mike Ellis (Lauren Shearin) of Emporia, VA., daughters Kaye Whitehead of Boykins, Va and Betty Leinwand of Suffolk, VA.  Grandchildren Keith Tomlin (Joyce) of Franklin, VA., Tori Hargrave of Emporia VA, Angela and Wayne Whitehead of Fayetteville, NC.  Great grandchildren Nate and Zak Tomlin.   Special nieces Joyce Gardner, Frances Vincent, Novella Casey and Marybelle Lynch.  Special nephews Walter Rook and Calvin Ramsey.

Louise was best known for how much she loved her family and friends. Everybody who knew her loved her famous biscuits.  She was a very special person.  Life was not always easy for her but she persevered and stayed true to her beliefs.  Her passion for travel and family gatherings left her with many great memories.  She will forever be missed.

A graveside service will be held Monday, September 21, 2020, at Emporia Cemetery, 2:00 P.M., with Rev. Jeremy Kobernat officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association, 4217 Park PI Ct, Glen Allen, VA, 23060.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Virginia female lawyers, lawmakers remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Noah Fleischman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is being mourned by the country, and in Virginia, female lawyers and legislators are reflecting on her legacy. Some called her a role model, others called her a trailblazer, but they all admired the impact she left.

Ginsburg died Friday at age 87 from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Alison McKee, president of the Virginia Bar Association, said Ginsburg was one of the most empowering women in the law profession. The VBA is a membership organization of state attorneys who promote legislative changes.

“She was an extraordinary force in attempts to overcome gender inequality,” McKee said. “Overall, to borrow a phrase from Sheryl Sandberg, she leaned in for all women in our profession and helped to close the gap on gender inequality.”

Ginsburg’s fight for gender equality changed a Virginia college’s admissions process in the 1990s. She wrote the majority opinion in the 1996 case that allowed women to attend the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. VMI was the last male-only college in the United States until the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion that since a 1971 ruling, the Court “has repeatedly recognized” laws incompatible with the equal protection principle and that denied women access “simply because they are women, full citizenship stature-equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.”

Ginsburg was also a longtime advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that seeks to guarantee equal rights for all regardless of sex.The ERA first passed Congress in 1972 but could not collect the three-fourths state support needed to ratify it. In January, Virginia became the final state needed to ratify the amendment, though the 1982 deadline has passed. A congressional bill to eliminate the ratification deadline passed the House in February and is sitting in a Senate committee. Over the years Ginsburg has still vocalized support for the ERA, though in February she saidshe would like “it to start over.”

Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, was a co-patron of the ERA in Virginia.

“I think we’re carrying on her work, carrying on her legacy to make life, liberty and justice for all include all and include women equally,” McClellan said. “We carried on her work with that, very much an inspiration there too.”

Del. Hala Ayala, D-Woodbridge, who was a co-patron on the ERA in the House of Delegates, called Ginsburg “our firewall to protect civil rights, voting rights and everything that we fight for” in a statement Friday night.

“My life’s work for women’s equal justice, including championing the Equal Rights Amendment in the Virginia House of Delegates, was inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s work,” Ayala wrote. “Her determined spirit gave me the motivation to fight everyday for what is right, knowing that we would make our Commonwealth and our country a better place.”

Ginsburg was a pioneer for women in the law profession, becoming the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 after Sandra Day O’Connor.

Margaret Hardy, president of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, said seeing someone that looked like her in the law profession is “critically important,” and that’s why diversity is important—so everyone has a role model.

“I think that just seeing a woman because in her case, in many instances, she was the woman, not just one of many,” Hardy said. “I think just for anyone seeing someone in a profession that you’re entering who looks just like you is an inspiration.”

Lucia Anna “Pia” Trigiani, former president of the Virginia Bar Association, called Ginsburg a role model for all lawyers, not just women.

“For her to do what she did, she also showed not only women that it could be done, but men,” Trigiani said. “She showed everyone that it could be done.”

McClellan equated Ginsburg to civil rights lawyer and former Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“I think she for women’s rights was what Thurgood Marshall was for civil rights,” McClellan said. “I as a woman lawyer, as a woman lawmaker, stand on her shoulders.”

Governor Northam Casts Vote in November General Election on First Day of Early Voting in Virginia

 

 

Reminds voters of options to vote absentee by mail or early in person, urges all Virginians to make a voting plan

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today voted early in person at the Richmond general registrar’s office on the first day of Virginia’s 45-day early voting period.

New laws allow all Virginians to vote absentee by mail, or in person at their local registrar’s office or satellite locations. The Governor signed legislation this year removing a previous provision that required absentee voters to provide a reason for voting early, so any Virginia voter may vote early without providing a specific reason.

“Virginians can be confident their vote is secure, and will be counted,” said Governor Northam. “While the pandemic has made this an unprecedented election year, Virginia voters have several safe and easy ways to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Voting is an essential part of our democracy, and I encourage every Virginia voter to know their options and make a plan for safely casting their ballot.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a higher number of Virginians are expected to vote by mail in the 2020 election. As of Thursday, the Department of Elections had received 824,000 requests for absentee ballots by mail. For comparison, 566,000 votes were cast absentee in the 2016 General Election—half by mail.

Virginians have several options for safely casting their ballots for the November General Election.

Absentee by Mail
Beginning today, September 18, Virginia general registrars will mail absentee ballots to voters who request them. Virginians can request a ballot online at elections.virginia.gov. The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Friday, October 23 at 5:00 p.m.

All absentee ballots will include a return envelope with prepaid postage. Ballots with a postmark of November 3 or earlier will be accepted until noon on Friday, November 6.

As an additional layer of security, every absentee ballot envelope is required to have an intelligent mail barcode and an election mail insignia. The insignia tells the United States Postal Service that this piece of mail is a ballot and should be prioritized. The barcode lets voters track their ballot once it leaves the registrar’s office—so a voter will know when their ballot has been mailed to them, and when it is delivered back to the registrar. Voters can track their absentee ballot using the absentee ballot look-up tool available here.

Drop-off Locations
Absentee ballots may also be hand delivered to your local registrar’s office or returned to a secure drop-off location, which include any satellite voting location. A list of drop-off locations is available on your county or city’s official website. On Election Day, you can also drop off your completed absentee ballot at any polling place in the county or city in which you are registered to vote.

For voters who prefer to vote in person, there are two options.

Early In Person
Starting today, September 18, Virginia voters can vote absentee in person at their local registrar’s office as Governor Northam did. Voters can simply go to their local general registrar’s office or a satellite voting location identified by the registrar’s office and cast their vote. Voters may use this option through Saturday, October 31—one of the longest early voting periods of any state.

Election Day
The other option is the traditional one: voting in person on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, at your polling place. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Virginia has allocated federal CARES Act funding to ensure that all election officers have personal protective equipment, and Virginia Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will assist at polling places to ensure social distancing and sanitization measures are followed.

Virginia considers election security to be a top priority and has made significant progress in recent years to ensure a secure election process that places election integrity and voter confidence at the forefront. Additional information about election security in Virginia can be found here.

To register to vote or learn more about absentee voting in Virginia, visit elections.virginia.gov/absentee. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

Follow the Department of Elections on Twitter at @vaElect, on Facebook at @VirginiaELECT, and on Instagram at @va_election.

See below for photos of Governor Northam casting his ballot at the Richmond general registrar’s office.

Meherrin River Forecast to Crest at 23 Feet After Rain From Remnants from Tropical Storm Sally

The rain from the remains of Tropical Storm Sally, which began falling on Thursday morning, have already raised the water level in the Meherrin River at the Main Street Bridge in Emporia from just over three feet to nearly 18 feet are forecast to stop on Friday, September 18. By the time they do stop and all of the rainfall from up stream gets here the Meherrin River is currently forecast to crest at 23 feet at about 8 pm on Saturday evening, September 19. Twenty-three feet is the beginning of the Minor Flood stage for the Meherrin River.

At 23 feet the river will have overtopped the dam and will be flowing at a very dangerous 11, 586 cubic feet per second and should be avoided.

There may be standing water on Center Street and in the back yards of homes on Park Avenue. The parking lot at EGRA Park will begin to flood. Flood waters will also begin to infiltrate the Sewarage System.

As of 10 am Friday, all warnings have expired, but residents should still be wary of driving though standing water.

Charles Martin, Sr.,

June 1, 1937-September 17-1937

Graveside Services

2 p.m. Saturday, September 19

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Charles Martin, Sr., 83, of Emporia, passed away Thursday, September 17, 2020. He was the son of the late Wilbur Lawrence Martin and Ruby Gill Martin and was also preceded in death by three brothers and three sisters.

Mr. Martin is survived by his wife, Betty B. Martin; son, Charles Martin, Jr.; two daughters, Lelia Boney (James) and Tammy Veliky (Stewart); grandchildren, David, Tiffany, Joseph, Lisa and Anthony; four step-grandchildren, Brent, Brad, Eric and Leslie; fifteen great-grandchildren; two sisters, Carol Suggs (Gene) and Martha Blankenship and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be held graveside 2 p.m. Saturday, September 19 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Lucy Mitchell Davis

June 4, 1922-September 15, 2020

Graveside Services

September 17, 2020, 11:00 A.M.

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Lucy Mitchell Davis passed away on September 15, 2020 at the age of 98. She was the daughter of the late, Peter and India Mitchell. She was preceded in death by her husband, Emmett L. Davis, sisters, Nell Spence, Elie Smith, Alice Hale, brothers, Shelby Mitchell, Beauford Mitchell, Fred Mitchell. She is survived by her daughter, Jacqueline Gordon of Roanoke Rapids, NC., grandchildren, Donna Dixon (Jimmy) of Chocowinity, NC., Carol Dildy of Roanoke Rapids, NC., great-grandchildren, Kyle Barnes, Brandon Dixon, great-great grandchildren, Ella Blake Barnes, Graham Barnes.

Lucy was a longtime member at Forest Hill Baptist Church, She loved her family, and loved when her church family came to visit.

A graveside service will be held on September 17, 2020, at Greensville Memorial Cemetery, at 11:00 A.M., with Rev. Rick Ragan officiating.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Change Your Future in Weeks

Southside Virginia Community College will offer an 80 hour American Welding Society (AWS) certification program at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia beginning September 28th and running through December 9th.  Classes will be held on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

According to Dennis Smith, SVCC’s Director of Workforce Development, “These classes are open to anyone interested in gaining this valuable, in-demand skill that can lead to well-paying job opportunities.”

Topics will include safety, general welding shop practice, routine equipment maintenance, metal preparation, OSHA 10, the Gas Metal Arc Welding process (MIG) and more. 

Grants and scholarships are available.  For more information contact Courtney Starke at (434) 949-6614 or visit southside.edu.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SECURES $15.3 MILLION IN DEBT RELIEF FOR FORMER ITT TECH STUDENTS IN VIRGINIA

~ Herring joins CFPB, 47 other state attorneys general in securing $330 million agreement over PEAKS loans at defunct for-profit school ~

RICHMOND (September 15, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has secured an agreement to obtain approximately $15.3 million in debt relief for at least 1,840 former ITT Tech students in Virginia as part of a settlement with 48 attorneys general and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Nationally, the settlement will result in debt relief of about $330 million for 35,000 borrowers who have outstanding principal balances.   
 
The settlement is with PEAKS Trust, a private loan program run by the for-profit college and affiliated with Deutsche Bank entities. ITT filed bankruptcy in 2016 amid investigations by state attorneys general and following action by the U.S. Department of Education to restrict ITT’s access to federal student aid. 
 
“Student loan debt continues to be a significant burden to Virginians and their families across the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Herring. “As Attorney General, I am committed to protecting Virginians from unscrupulous for-profit schools and shady lenders who try to pressure, abuse, and exploit student loan borrowers. I am glad we were able to reach this agreement that I hope will alleviate some of the financial pressure on Virginians who were taken advantage of by this scheme.”
 
PEAKS was formed after the 2008 financial crisis when private sources of lending available to for-profit colleges dried up. ITT developed a plan with PEAKS to offer students temporary credit to cover the gap in tuition between federal student aid and the full cost of the education. 
 
According to the settlement agreement, ITT and PEAKS knew or should have known that the students would not be able to repay the temporary credit when it became due nine months later. Many students complained that they thought the temporary credit was like a federal loan and would not be due until six months after they graduated. 
 
When the temporary credit became due, ITT pressured and coerced students into accepting loans from PEAKS, which for many students carried high interest rates, far above rates for federal loans. Pressure tactics used by ITT included pulling students out of class and threatening to expel them if they did not accept the loan terms. Many of the ITT students were from low-income backgrounds and were left with the choice of enrolling in the PEAKS loans or dropping out and losing any benefit of the credits they had earned, because ITT’s credits would not transfer to most schools. 
 
The default rate on the PEAKS loans is projected to exceed 80%, due to both the high cost of the loans as well as the lack of success ITT graduates had getting jobs that earned enough to make repayment feasible. The defaulted loans continue to affect students’ credit ratings and are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
 
Under the settlement, PEAKS has agreed that it will forgo collection of the outstanding loans and cease doing business. PEAKS will send notices to borrowers about the cancelled debt and ensure that automatic payments are cancelled. The settlement also requires PEAKS to supply credit reporting agencies with information to update credit information for affected borrowers. 
 
Students will not need to do anything to receive the debt relief and the notices they receive will explain their rights under the settlement. Students can direct any questions they may have to PEAKS at customerservice@peaksloans.com or 866-747-0273. They can also reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with questions at (855) 411-2372.
 
In June 2019, Attorney General Herring announced that he had secured $9.29 million in debt relief for nearly 1,000 former ITT Tech students in Virginia as part of a $186 million settlement that resulted in debt relief for 18,664 former ITT students nationally. That agreement was with Student CU Connect CUSO, LLC, which also offered loans to finance students’ tuition at ITT Tech.
 
Additionally last year, Attorney General Herring and 48 other attorneys general reached a settlement with for-profit education company Career Education Corporation (CEC). The terms of the settlement required CEC to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally. In Virginia, 3,094 students will receive relief totaling $8,022,178.
 
In December 2016, the Attorney General announced that more than 5,000 Virginia students formerly enrolled in schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. may be eligible for loan forgiveness. This came after the U.S Department of Education found that Corinthian College and its subsidiaries published misleading job placement rates for many programs between 2010 and 2014. Following this announcement, Attorney General Herring urged Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to follow through on their commitment to cancel student debt for students in Virginia and around the country who were victimized by Corinthian Colleges' practices.
 
Attorney General Herring has stood up against the Trump Administration’s numerous attempts to rollback student borrower protections. In January, he urged Congress to reject the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 Borrower Defense Rule that fails to protect students and taxpayers from the misconduct of unscrupulous schools. Previously, Attorney General Herring won a victory in federal court when a judge rejected the Trump Administration’s challenge to the Obama-era Borrower Defense Rule, ordering its immediate implementation for students nationwide. This ruling followed a victory Attorney General Herring won in federal court after he and a coalition of state attorneys general challenged the U.S. Department of Education’s plan to abruptly rescind its Borrower Defense Rule which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. The immediate implementation of the 2016 Borrower Defense rule meant that the U.S. Department of Education had to automatically discharge $381 million in loans for students whose schools closed.
 
Students with questions about their rights under the settlement will receive information in the Notices that are sent. Students may also contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section:

 
Overall, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $334 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. The Section has transferred more than $61 million to the Commonwealth’s General Fund, and following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016 the Section has been even more effective in fighting for Virginia consumers.
 
Joining Attorney General Herring in announcing today’s settlement are the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

 

A Message from Virginia Chamber President & CEO, Barry DuVal

On Friday, Governor Northam announced that Hampton Roads will re-join the rest of the Commonwealth in Phase 3 of the “Forward Virginia” plan. Over the last six weeks, the Hampton Roads region was placed under targeted COVID-19 restrictions including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, a requirement to stop the sale of alcohol at 10:00pm, and a requirement that all restaurants close by midnight. In last week’s announcement, the Governor attributed the easing of these restrictions to the improved health metrics, stating that number of positive cases in Hampton Roads has been decreasing for more than 45 days. More information can be found here.
 
Last month, I announced that the Virginia Chamber Foundation would be partnering with Dominion Energy to bring relief to small businesses in the Commonwealth. Dominion Energy Virginia has pledged $500,000 to help provide energy bill relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship in its Virginia service territory. The program funding will be covered by shareholders and will not impact customer rates. Qualified businesses may be eligible to receive one-time assistance with their past due Dominion Energy electric bill balances up to $1,000. I encourage our small business community to visit the website to learn more information about this invaluable program and apply today. More information can be found here. I would also like to thank and acknowledge our other partners in this important initiative:
 
  • The Asian American Chamber of Commerce
  • The Metropolitan Business League
  • The Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce
  • The Urban League of Hampton Roads
  • The Virginia Asian American Chamber of Commerce
  • The Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
  • The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
 
This Thursday, September 17, the Virginia Chamber will host our next signature event – The Virginia Conference on Energy Diversity & Corporate Sustainability. Now hosted as a virtual conference, attendees will have the opportunity to hear directly from business and policy leaders on how we can make Virginia more competitive through corporate sustainability and a diverse energy portfolio. Follow this link to review the full agenda and register today. 
 
This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize Appalachian Power for its continued support of communities across the Commonwealth and nation during COVID-19.  
 
Appalachian Power’s history in Virginia dates back more than 100 years. A part of American Electric Power, the company today provides safe and reliable electric service to approximately 1 million customers in far southwest, southern and central Virginia, as well as portions of West Virginia and Tennessee. Through the work of dedicated employees, Appalachian Power achieves its mission to power the economy, while investing in its communities to help meet economic development, environmental, educational and other needs. Appalachian Power has applied this same approach to helping its customers, employees and communities during the pandemic. 
 
In response to COVID-19, Appalachian Power temporarily stopped all service disconnections for non-payment. As part of its return to standard business operations, the company has since focused its efforts on helping residential and business customers affected by the pandemic find a flexible payment arrangement that meets their needs. The company also put a program together to help business customers fully leverage the CARES Act and brought awareness to other loans and funding available.
 
I want to applaud Appalachian Power for its efforts to help the community and encourage you to learn more about this week’s “Member Spotlight” below. 
 
Best regards,
 
Barry DuVal
President

Virginia Chamber 2020 Event Updates

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and ever-evolving situation, the Virginia Chamber made the decision to postpone all of our scheduled events for the spring. We have secured new dates for each of these events later in the year. 
 
Please find below an updated tentative event calendar for the fall months. Additional details on each event with be released in the coming weeks. 
 
SAVE THE DATE
 

Dominion Energy Small Business EnergyShare Relief Program

Dominion Energy is partnering with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation to temporarily expand its EnergyShare program to assist those small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Dominion Energy Virginia has pledged $500,000 to help provide energy bill relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship in its Virginia service territory. The program funding will be covered by shareholders and will not impact customer rates. Qualified businesses may be eligible to receive one-time assistance with their past due Dominion Energy electric bill balances up to $1,000.
 
How to Submit An Application
  • Before submitting an application, please review the eligibility requirements HERE.
  • The application can be downloaded HERE
  • The applicant must submit their completed and e-signed application via e-mail to Foundation@vachamber.com for review. 
  • Applications MUST be submitted with a file name that lists the numerical date and organization name. Ex: 09.01.20 Virginia Chamber Foundation
  • Upon submission of the application, the applicant will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of the materials. Notification of the assistance decision will be made via e-mail within 14 business days.
  • The application period will remain open until the funds allocated to the program are exhausted. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
For more information, please visit our website.

 

 

 

Efforts falter to require schools to provide in-person options

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- An effort to require Virginia school districts provide in-person classes to students with poor internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic is most likely dead. 

House Bill 5009, introduced by Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, would require public schools to offer in-person classes to elementary, middle and high school students who have substandard internet connections at home. 

The bill was referred in August to the House Committee on Education during the Virginia General Assembly special session, but the legislation still hasn’t been addressed as the legislature nears crossover day—when each chamber must act on bills for them to advance.

“Anything still left in committee, will essentially die. So it doesn’t look like this bill will progress,” Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, who co-sponsored the bill, said in an email. 

Mark Cole’s bill would have required schools to provide in-person instruction to individuals who can’t access an internet speed of more than 10 megabits per second download and one Mbps upload. 

“This is an equity issue,” Mark Cole wrote in an email earlier this month. “Some children do not have access to the internet or internet of sufficient capacity to be able participants in online instruction, primarily rural and poor children.”

More than 1 million public school students were slated to start school in an online-only format, according to data posted in August by the Virginia Public Access Project. That includes Fairfax County, home to almost 189,000 students. More than 269,000 children were set to start school in a hybrid format that offers in-person and online instruction. Many of those students are located in rural areas. Hanover County, which enrolls more than 17,500 students, is the largest school district offering a blended format, according to VPAP. 

Russell County in Southwest Virginia is among the schools offering an in-person and online learning format. The school has set up an internet hotspot on school grounds to help students download material for class, and zip drives to store what they download, according to Janice Barton, a teacher at the school. High schools in the surrounding area have also done the same, Barton said. 

Even though schools are offering ways to access the internet, they’re still not offering high-speed access, Mark Cole said.

“This still puts children without high speed internet at a disadvantage over those that can participate in the comfort of their homes,” he said. “Children have to be driven to a hotspot, often a school parking lot, where they try to receive instruction while sitting in their car.”

Joshua Cole believes children should have an equal opportunity to learn without having to worry about attending online classes.

“If you don’t have internet, if you don’t have high speed internet, if your speeds are low, we want to make sure that your student is not left out,” he said. 

Stafford County gives some students an opportunity to come to school if they need to, said Joshua Cole, who is one of the county’s representatives in the House. The lawmaker said only some students are attending in-person classes in Stafford County, primarily students with disabilities or those without reliable internet access.

“It's not a bunch of students coming in,” he said.

Fredericksburg City Public Schools partnered with business owners in the area who are helping fund internet hotspots for students to access from their homes, according to Joshua Cole.

Many schools that are offering in-person instruction have created spaces to accommodate students and follow social distancing guidelines.

“We have signs in the hallways, in our classrooms. We have it set up 6 feet apart,” Barton said. “We have cleaning supplies, every teacher has that.”

Russell County Public Schools also provide students and teachers with masks, Barton said. 

Senate Bill 5114, sponsored by Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Mechanicsville, had similar wording to Mark Cole’s bill, but it was passed by indefinitely, which means the bill is dead unless the committee takes additional action.

Remains of Tropical Storm Sally Have Potential for Heavy Thrusday and Friday, Flood Watch Issued

Flash Flood Watch

National Weather Service Wakefield VA, 351 AM EDT Wed Sep 16 2020

...Moderate to heavy rainfall expected late Thursday through much of Friday...

Northampton-Hertford-Gates-Pasquotank-Camden-Western Currituck-Bertie-Chowan-Perquimans-Eastern Currituck-Mecklenburg-Lunenburg-Brunswick-Greensville-Sussex-Surry-Southampton-Isle of Wight-Norfolk/Portsmouth-Suffolk-Chesapeake-Virginia Beach-York-Newport News-Hampton/Poquoson-Including the cities of Margarettsville, Ahoskie, Corapeake,Elizabeth City, Horseshoe, Lilly, Sharon, Knotts Island, Quitsna, Edenhouse, Merry Hill, Midway, Windsor, Cape Colony, Edenton, Hancock, Macedonia, Mavaton, Saint Johns, Valhalla, Jacocks, Woodville, Corolla, South Hill, Fort Mitchell, Kells Corner, Arvins Store, Loves Mill, Lunenburg, Nutbush, Rehoboth, Lawrenceville, Emporia, Wakefield, Barham, Gwaltney Corner, Bacons Castle, Chippokes State Park, Hog Island Game Reserve, Poolesville, Booth Fork, Franklin, Carrsville, Lees Mill, Benns Church, Bethel Church, Carrollton, Lawson, Longview, Downtown Norfolk, Ghent, Norfolk International Arpt, Norfolk NAS, Norview, Ocean View, Wards Corner, Chuckatuck, Cleopus,Crittenden, Deanes, Downtown Suffolk, Driver, Elwood, Mount Pleasant, Bowers Hill, Chesapeake Airport, Deep Creek, Fentress, Great Bridge, Greenbrier, Back Bay, Bayside, Cape Henry, Dam Neck, Gallups Corner, Kempsville, London Bridge, Grafton, Tabb, Beaconsdale, Denbigh, Fort Eustis, Hilton Village, Lee Hall, Menchville, Newport News, Buckroe Beach, Fort Monroe, Fox Hill, Grand View, Hallwood, Hampton, and Langley AFB

351 AM EDT Wed Sep 16 2020

...FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH FRIDAY EVENING...

The National Weather Service in Wakefield has issued a

  • * Flash Flood Watch for portions of northeast North Carolina and  Virginia, including the following areas, in northeast North  Carolina, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Eastern Currituck, Gates,  Hertford, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Western  Currituck. In Virginia, Brunswick, Chesapeake, Greensville, Hampton/Poquoson, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg,   Newport News, Norfolk/Portsmouth, Southampton, Suffolk, Surry, Sussex, Virginia Beach, and York.
  • * From Thursday afternoon through Friday evening
  • * Rain will overspread the area Thursday afternoon as the moisture  from Tropical Cyclone Sally merges with a slow moving frontal boundary. The rain will become heavy at times Thursday night before slowly tapering off to light rain Friday. 3 to 5 inches of rain will be likely with locally higher amounts near the North Carolina - Virginia border. The runoff from this much rainfall will likely result in localized flash flooding.
  • * Potential impacts include rapid rises of water, flooded roads, and flooding of structures in low lying areas near streams.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.


Hazardous Weather Outlook, National Weather Service Wakefield VA, 410 AM EDT Wed Sep 16 2020

NCZ012>017-030>032-VAZ065-066-079-087>089-092-093-095>097-523>525-
170815-
Northampton-Hertford-Gates-Pasquotank-Camden-Western Currituck-Bertie-Chowan-Perquimans-Mecklenburg-Lunenburg-Brunswick-Greensville-Sussex-Surry-Southampton-Isle of Wight-Norfolk/Portsmouth-Suffolk-Chesapeake-York-Newport News-Hampton/Poquoson-410 AM EDT Wed Sep 16 2020

...FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH FRIDAY EVENING...

This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for northeast North Carolina, south central Virginia and southeast Virginia.

.DAY ONE...Today and tonight.

Hazardous weather is not expected at this time.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...Thursday through Tuesday.

Please listen to NOAA Weather Radio or go to weather.gov on the Internet for more information about the following hazards.

   Flash Flood Watch.

The remnants of tropical cyclone Sally will bring the potential for heavy rain to the region late Thursday through Friday. Flash flooding will be possible.

Impact Study Highlights SVCC’s Contributions

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

A recent Economic Impact study undertaken by Dr. Vincent Magnini, a researcher at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business in Blacksburg, examined the impact Southside Virginia Community College makes across its ten-county service area and throughout the Commonwealth. The findings identified economic contributions and other social benefits in our local region and beyond. The research emphasized that what makes SVCC different and what makes us special is how we take care of our students, how we take care of each other, and how we contribute to the communities we serve.

SVCC’s statewide economic impact for fiscal year 2019 was estimated at $166 million, of which $147.5 million remained within the counties that comprise the southside service area. Salaries and wages represented part of the total. The college’s work contributed to 877 direct and secondary full-time equivalent jobs, leading to combined incomes of $45 million. Other financial elements represented in the economic impact study included local spending by students and other campus visitors, increased income earned as a result of completed programs of study, and the value of federal, state, and local tax revenues.

Benefits beyond direct economic effects included expanding the workforce training pipeline to attract new businesses, using student-centric initiatives to achieve high satisfaction rates, and preparing transfer students to fill upper-level enrollment gaps at four-year institutions. In addition, SVCC offers opportunities to high school students seeking to earn college credits through the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia, career and technical programs, and other dual enrollment options.

In fact, more than 1,800 high school students earned credits for college courses at SVCC in FY 2019. We appreciate the opportunity to help young adults from our region as they pursue academic and career goals. National statistics suggest that secondary students who earn college credentials graduate from four-year colleges or universities (senior institutions of higher education) within four years at a rate that is twice that of their traditional college-going peers who enroll at four-year colleges and universities directly out of high school. Furthermore, they will spend less on college expenses and accrue less debt.

We are also proud of the accomplishments among students who are the first in their families to attend college. In colleges nationwide, fewer than 33% of attendees are first generation students. At SVCC, 65% of our program completers are first generation college students. By increasing access to education and supporting the success of students from low-income, ethnic minorities, and rural families, we play an important role in improving their employability and earnings potential. These are vital ingredients in efforts to address racial equity and fairness.

SVCC’s strategic plan, “One College. One Mission,” focuses on continual improvement to student experiences and achievements. It also aligns with the Virginia Community College System’s strategic plan “Complete 2020-21,” which emphasizes a tripling of earned credentials across our service area. Our efforts to track, monitor, and document evidence of success toward this goal will bring further clarity to the ways SVCC contributes to the wellbeing of the communities we serve.

The Virginia Tech study also noted SVCC’s regular recognition among honorees in the “Great Colleges to Work For” assessment. SVCC has earned specific distinctions in the categories of job satisfaction, professional and career development programs, and employee relationships with supervisors and academic leaders.

The SVCC family brings strength and passion to accomplishing the college’s mission. As our students and alumni know, SVCC’s mascot is the panther, and our “Panther Pride” continues to energize us in the pursuit of excellence.

________

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.

“Heaven is Her Home”

Belva Irene Hess
April 3, 1934 – August 26, 2020
 
Belva was my only sister
And special as could be
We shared together brothers
Yet Sis spent more time with me.
 
The Lord did make His Calling
And Sis did so reply
Yes, she is on her way to heaven
So far up in the sky.
 
I know that I shall miss her
Though the many memories I’ll retain
She helped me in so many ways
More than I can explain.
 
We grew up in the Midwest
Where lots of snow did light
Yes, and she beat me often
When we had a a snowball fight!
 
One day I pray we’ll meet again
In that Kingdom in the sky
I know for sure I’ll think of her
Each day that passes by.

 

Little Brother “Roy”

September 2020

 
                      

House Advances MARCUS Alert Bill

By Andrew Ringle, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The House of Delegates approved a bill Thursday that would create teams of mental health service providers and peer recovery specialists to accompany police officers responding to individual crises.

House Bill 5043, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, was approved by a vote of 57-39. The legislation needs passage from the state Senate and a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam to become law. 

“This was brought about by a tragedy,” Bourne said.

Dubbed the mental health awareness response and community understanding services (MARCUS) alert system, Bourne’s proposal references the death of a Black man who was shot and killed during an encounter with the Richmond Police Department in 2018.

Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old high school biology teacher and Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus, was shot and killed by a Richmond Police officer as he charged the officer after a taser was deployed. Peters was unarmed and his family said he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

“It’s horrific to watch,” Bourne said about police body camera footage of the incident.

Bourne’s bill would require the Virginia Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Criminal Justice Services departments to work together to create evidence-based training programs for the care teams and to develop a plan by June 1, 2021 for statewide implementation.

Del. Carrie Coyner, R-Chesterfield, said she supports the end goal of the proposal but is concerned it will endanger more people without a slower rollout and because mental health resources are “stretched thin.”

Coyner said she is “very emotional” about the issue after growing up with an aunt who suffered from intellectual disabilities and who attempted suicide multiple times. She said while over time, “mental health providers did everything they could,” her family ultimately had to call 911 for the police’s help.

“If we had to wait longer for someone to arrive, she may not have been with us still,” Coyner said.

Del. Michael Mullin, D-Newport News, said he appreciated Coyner’s words and understands the concern for public safety. However, Mullin — an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Hampton — said the state has “criminalized mental health issues.”

“So much of the work we have been doing today and in the days preceding this has been to reverse 30 years of overcriminalization,” Mullin said. “This bill does a small step in making sure that individuals who are in crisis are not treated as criminals.”

Princess Blanding, Peters’ sister, recently testified during the bill’s hearing before the House Public Safety Committee. She said her brother “absolutely deserved help, not death” on the day of his fatal shooting.

“When a person’s kidneys stop functioning properly, they receive dialysis if needed,” Blanding said. “When a person’s heart stops functioning properly, they receive bypass surgery if needed. But the brain is the only major organ that, when it stops functioning properly, we demonize, we incarcerate, and in the case of so many Black people, death is the final answer.”

Blanding has spoken at multiple demonstrations in Richmond since protests sparked by the death of George Floyd began in late May, demanding the city fully fund the alert system as well as establish a civilian review board to investigate allegations of police misconduct.

Senate Bill 5038, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Woodbridge, also seeks to establish an alert system. It still needs to pass the Senate before moving to the House of Delegates.

SBA Announces Registration for National Small Business Week Virtual Conference September 22-24

WASHINGTON –As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration and cosponsors will host all events virtually. This year’s National Small Business Week, September 22-24, 2020, includes numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as our nation’s small businesses look to pivot and recover, contributing to a stronger economy.

The National Small Business Week event schedule includes three days recognizing America’s outstanding entrepreneurs, shining a spotlight on the nation’s 30 million small businesses across the country, including national award winners, and naming of the 2020 National Small Business Person of the Year.

Details and registration information are posted on https://www.sba.gov/NSBW. 

The SBA Virginia-Richmond District Office is happy and proud to announce George Nyfeler, owner of Nyfeler Associates, as the 2020 Small Business Person of the Year for the state. 

“We will recognize Mr. Nyfeler on September 23rd. He is an owner who cares about his employees supporting their success and his community,” said VA-Richmond District Director Carl Knoblock.

“Also, a thanks to Mike King, host of “On The Mic with MikeRVA,” for having the SBA appear on the show every Wednesday and hosting our NSBW event.,” said Knoblock.

Radio Show: “SBA Wednesday-NSBW” Event with “On The Mic with MikeRVA”

Date: 9/23/2020 Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Tune-In/Viewing: WJFN-"On The MIC With MIKE RVA" 100.5/92.7 FM/820 AM

Listen Live: Click Here

Facebook Live: Click Here

William Hunter Greene is the Brunswick Academy Student of the Month for Septmeber 2020

Brunswick Academy is proud to announce Brunswick County’s Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month for September:  William Hunter Greene. Hunter, a Senior at Brunswick Academy, is the son of Kevin and Diane Greene. In addition to earning an Honors diploma, Hunter is currently enrolled in four dual enrollment college courses. Hunter is a member of Brunswick Academy’s chapter of the National Honor Society and also serves as the Co-Philanthropic Chair of the Brunswick Academy Latin Club. Also, Hunter volunteers his time as the Co-Head of the Tech Crew for the BA Theatre. During the summer of his Junior year, Hunter attended the distinguished Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar at James Madison University.  Currently, Hunter participates in his church’s youth group and enjoys playing soccer with his friends. He has visited Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, North Carolina State University, and James Madison University to tour their engineering departments. Ultimately, he hopes to attend Virginia Tech to study electrical engineering.

 

Linda Beale Thompson

April 18, 1947-September 7, 2020

Visitation Services

Wednesday, September 9, 2020, from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

Wrenn, Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Services
1015 West 5th Street
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870

Thursday, September 10, 2020, starting at 2:00 P.M.

Forrest Hills Baptist Church
2103 Pine Log Road
Skippers, Va, 23879

Linda Beale Thompson, 73, passed away on Monday, September 7, 2020. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clara Davis and Carole Quinton Beale, along with her two brothers, Linwood C. Warrick “Bubba” and Eddie W. Warrick. Linda was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and was a retired employee from the City of Emporia.

She is survived by, her husband, Allen W. Thompson of Emporia, VA., sons, Jason D. Rook (Rhonda) of Emporia, VA., Allen W. Thompson, Jr. (Crystal) of Lexington, SC., grandchildren, Joshua D. Rook, Emma L. Rook, Devin W. Thompson, Cassie H. Thompson, along with her two pets, Muff and Lady.

The family will receive friends at Wrenn, Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Services, Wednesday, September 9, 2020, from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

A funeral service will be held at Forrest Hills Baptist Church, 2103 Pine Log Road, Skippers, Va, 23879, on Thursday, September 10, 2020, starting at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Terry Corder and Rev. Rick Ragan officiating with an interment to follow at Forrest Hills Baptist Church Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Emporia/Greensville Human Society of Emporia, 206 Industrial Dr., Emporia, VA, 23847.

Evelyn Woodruff Moore

February 26, 1936-September 7, 2020

Visitation Services

10 a.m. Thursday, September 10

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

11 a.m. Thursday, September 10

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

Evelyn Woodruff Moore, 84, of Jarratt, widow of Wilbur H. Moore, passed away Monday, September 7, 2020. She was the daughter of the late William Albert Woodruff and Verna Braxton Woodruff. She was also preceded in death by brothers, Frank, William “Bill”, Cecil, Charles “Tuck” and Daniel Woodruff and sisters, Sue W. Odom, Betty Jarratt Fitzgerald and Katherine “Kitty” Ehrhart.

Mrs. Moore is survived by her children, Wilbur H. Moore, Jr. (Peggy), Kathy M. Carroll (Mike), Richard D. “Doug” Moore (Sherri) and Albert “Keith” Moore (Renee’); grandchildren, Melissa Moore, Michelle Carroll, Danny Moore, Ricky Moore, Rebecca Moore Chester and Bryan K. Moore; nine great-grandchildren and one on the way; brother, Onnie L. Woodruff (Brenda); sisters, Shelia W. Pierce (Bobby) and Ann W. Floyd (Luke) and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, September 10 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at High Hills Cemetery.

Please consider all protocols for covid-19 including masks and social distancing.

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

 

House, Senate committees advance bills for expungement of criminal records

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia House and Senate committees have advanced legislation that would remove certain criminal records in a criminal justice reform effort that allows people to petition for expungement of convictions, not just charges. 

Senate Bill 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and House Bill 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, would expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. 

Deeds said the bill expands the cases available for expungement and will create an easier process for individuals seeking expungement. 

Deeds’ bill heads to the Senate floor after moving through two Senate committees. The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee gave the bill the green light Thursday with a 16-0 vote. Herring’s bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee with a 13-9 vote.

Deed’s bill would allow expungement of records for cases such as misdemeanor marijuana possession, underage alcohol or tobacco possession, and using a fake ID to buy alcohol. The bill allows expungement five years past conviction and once court fines have been paid. The bill excludes violent felonies and drug-related offenses such as marijuana possession over an ounce, distribution of drugs to a person under 18, and the manufacturing, possession or distribution of controlled substances like heroin and methamphetamine.

“Simple marijuana possession is no longer a crime in Virginia, so you ought to be able to expunge those convictions,” Deeds said.

Herring’s bill creates an automatic system that after eight years expunges certain charges that have been abandoned or dismissed, as well as certain convictions, including some felonies if there are no subsequent convictions.

The current process includes filing a petition, being fingerprinted, paying a filing fee and possibly attending a court hearing, according to Colin Drabert, deputy director of the Virginia State Crime Commission, who spoke during a commission hearing Monday. Virginia is one of nine states that do not allow the expungement of a misdemeanor and one of 14 states that do not allow the expungement of a felony, he said. 

Virginia State Police receive approximately 4,000 expungement orders for non-convictions per year for the past three years, Drabert said. If Herring’s bill passes,  cases that are acquitted, dismissed or a nolle prosequi entered, will be automatically expunged by the court handling the case -- excluding traffic violations. For convictions, Herring’s bill outlines a new, at least monthly process that has state police provide to the courts an electronic list of qualifying offenses that meet automatic expungement. Once a judge approves the names and offenses, the records are expunged.

“There is a stigma attached when someone has a mark on their record from difficulty in finding employment,” Herring said during a House Courts of Justice hearing. Criminal records also can impact an individual’s ability to attend college, receive financial aid or find housing, she said. 

Andy Elders, policy director at Justice Forward Virginia and chief public defender for Fairfax County, said expungement helps people re-establish themselves in society. 

“Many people who have criminal convictions on their records, have them as a result of over-policing of communities of color,” Elders said. 

Dana G. Schrad, executive director of Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the proposed changes won’t allow certain employers to access expungement records, including police chiefs who conduct thorough background checks before hiring individuals.

“If these expungement proposals are enacted into law, law enforcement hiring processes will be further compromised,” Schrad said.

Deed’s bill would not require disclosure of expungement. Herring’s  bill will prohibit automatically expunged records from being seen unless applying for law enforcement and certain federal and state positions.

Schrad also said the law change could impact background checks for teachers, child care providers, mental health and social workers.

Though the governor promised sweeping criminal justice reform in January, the newly-elected Democratic majority failed during the regular session to pass bills such as reinstating parole and expungement of records. Deeds’ bill, if passed, would take effect January 2022. Herring’s bill would be phased in and require multiple agencies to sign off on the implementations.

Virginians debate whether COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Though the federal government is asking states to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine within months, some Virginians differ on whether the vaccine should be mandatory when it becomes available.

Virginia Freedom Keepers, a nonprofit that advocates for medical freedom, gathered in Richmond this week for a “March Against Mandates,” in protest of the statewide mask mandate, as well as a potential vaccine mandate, in response to COVID-19. The Virginia General Assembly is currently holding a special session to discuss the budget, along with COVID-19 and criminal justice reform measures.

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said in a recent interview with ABC-8 (WRIC-TV), that if he is still Virginia’s acting Health Commissioner when a COVID-19 vaccine is made available, he will make immunization mandatory.

“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Oliver said.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office did not back up the health commissioner’s statement. Northam’s administration told WRIC it had “taken no official policy position on whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine for adults should be mandatory.” Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Capital News Service. According to the Virginia Department of Health press office, when Dr. Oliver spoke in support of a mandate for a future COVID-19 vaccine, he was “sharing his personal opinion as a physician.”

Virginia law currently gives the health commissioner the authority to issue a mandate for a vaccine in the case of an epidemic. The law allows doctors to exempt people from vaccination if their health would be negatively affected. A. E. Dick Howard, a professor of international law at the University of Virginia, says this statute must be read in light of the state constitution, which states the commonwealth’s executive power is vested in the governor, meaning it’s unlikely that Oliver would have the final word.

“This provision is meant to focus both authority and responsibility of the governor. It therefore argues against the splintering of authority in the executive branch,” Howard said in an email.

 The current language exempts those with a note written by a doctor, but two Virginia delegates wanted to exempt people who object to vaccination on religious grounds.

HB 5070, introduced by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, and HB 5016, introduced by Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, have similar wording. The two bills, which were tabled during the special session, would have eliminated the health commissioner’s authority to enforce a vaccination mandate for people who object due to religious beliefs. 

“I am concerned that there is such a rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, that normal safety and effectiveness testing may be bypassed, leading to the distribution of a vaccine that has not been fully tested,” Cole said in an email. “Who knows what the health consequences of short-circuiting the process may be?”

LaRock did not respond to a request for comment about his bill. Cole said constituents concerned about a mandatory vaccine asked him to introduce HB 5016, and that “religious beliefs” in the bill incorporates any belief system, including secularism. 

“I am old enough to remember the Swine Flu scare more than 40 years ago. President Ford started a program of public vaccinations to protect people from it,” Cole said. “I received the vaccine when I was in college.” 

In 1976, a swine flu outbreak in New Jersey led President Gerald Ford to issue a nationwide immunization program, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of the 40 million Americans who received the vaccine around 500 are suspected to have contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that damages nerve cells and causes paralysis in some cases.

“No one should be forced to take a vaccine. Every vaccine has some health risks associated with it; they may be relatively minor, but they are there,” Cole said. “Vaccines that have been tested and found to be effective and safe should be offered to the public, and I am confident that most people will take advantage of it, including myself.” 

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states have the authority to regulate for the protection of the public and a community has the right to protect itself against an “epidemic of disease,” regardless of one’s political or religious objections, according to the National Constitution Center. The ruling allowed the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts to fine residents who refused to receive smallpox injections. According to Howard, in the case of a mandatory vaccine, the court ruled that states may create an exemption based on religion but are not obliged to do so.

“Thus, the question of what qualifies as a religious exemption depends on how a statute is drafted and interpreted,” Howard said.

Robert W. Harding

December 3, 1932-September 2, 2020

Graveside Services

Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 2 p.m.

Emporia Cemetery.

Robert W. Harding, of Emporia, Virginia, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, after being diagnosed with ALS this spring following months of early symptoms. Bobby, as everyone knew him, was a long standing member of Monumental Methodist Church in Emporia. His favorite place to be was outdoors, either hunting, fishing, or golfing. He also loved to cheer on his favorite sports teams throughout the year. Bobby was born on December 3, 1932, and lived most of his life in Emporia. He earned his Eagle Scout as a child and graduated from Emporia High School. He then earned a Business Administration degree from Virginia Tech in 1956. He was drafted into the Army in 1956, and spent 2 years in active duty at the Pentagon, and 4 years in the reserves. He married his sweetheart, Joyce Ann Livesay, on September 20, 1962. They were married for 55 years until Joyce went to Heaven in 2017. Bobby worked in the telephone industry his entire career.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Robert Vance Harding, Jr and Louise Poole Harding, and his wife, Joyce Livesay Harding. He is survived by his children, Tricia (Rob) Parker of Alto Boquete, Panama, Doug (Diane) Harding of Mableton, GA, and three grandchildren: Jaeson Moore and Joshua and Taylor Harding. In celebration of Bobby’s life, there will be a graveside service on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 2 p.m. at Emporia Cemetery.

If you feel led to give a donation, any donations to Monumental Methodist Church are appreciated.

Dr. Daryl Minus Joins Leadership Team at Southside Virginia Community College

Dr. Daryl Minus recently joined the leadership team at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) as Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services. 

Dr. Minus came to SVCC from the Marine Corps Community Services (United States Department of Defense) where he was Education Assistant Branch Manager/Education Services Officer.  Prior to that he served as Vice President, Student Services and Enrollment Management, for Cape Fear Community College. 

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Minus to SVCC.  He brings a wealth of experience, an entrepreneurial mindset, an understanding of the challenges of community colleges in rural communities, and an excellent team leadership philosophy to the role.  We look forward to his leadership as we respond to the unprecedented evolving challenges, demands and opportunities facing us,” President Quentin R. Johnson said.

Dr. Minus graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.  He earned his master’s degree from New York University in business education/higher education and his doctorate in educational leadership from University of Phoenix. 

“I am thrilled to be part of the SVCC Family,” Minus said.  “I am looking forward to working alongside staff and faculty to impact the lives of students and the communities served by the College."

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE URGING MOTORISTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON SAFETY AS FATAL CRASHES CONTINUE TO RISE IN THE COMMONWEALTH

RICHMOND – With most Virginians refraining from traditional vacations this year, Virginia State Police is urging those who are using the Labor Day weekend as a last chance for a getaway to do so safely and responsibly. AAA has reported road trips to be the main mode of vacation travel this summer and with Labor Day traffic fatalities on the rise for the past three years, motorists need to stay alert, stay sober and wear their seatbelts.
 
“It’s really quite simple - seatbelts save lives, distractions are deadly on roadways and driving impaired is unacceptable,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “I understand that this year has been particularly stressful and Virginians are looking to get away. We want you and your family to reach your destination safely and throughout Virginia you can expect to see more state troopers conducting patrols to ensure that safety.”
 
Virginia State Police’s traffic safety and enforcement efforts are part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program begins Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., and continues through midnight Monday, Sept. 7, 2020.
 
The 2019 Labor Day weekend saw a rise in fatal crashes across the Commonwealth. A total of 17 individuals died in traffic crashes in Virginia during the 2019 four-day, holiday statistical counting period, compared to 14 deaths in 2018 and 5 deaths in 2017. In addition, according to preliminary data, as of Sept. 2, there have been 532 fatalities on Virginia highways in 2020 as compared to 531 in 2019.
 
“In a year where there have been fewer cars on the roads, this trend is disturbing,” said Settle. “Virginians must realize that actions have consequences and when you’re unsafe on the road, people pay the price. These are strong words, but this is a serious subject. Every day State Troopers notify family members of a loved one’s death. It’s not a job we want to do and no one wants to get that knock at the door. Your safety habits can help reverse the trend and save a life.”
 
Drivers and passengers are encouraged to safeguard themselves by always buckling up. State police is also actively participating in the annual “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” an anti-DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). State police is one of nearly 100 law enforcement agencies conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols through Labor Day in an effort to prevent and deter impaired driving and DUI/DUID-related crashes. In addition, state police reminds all motorists to drive phone- and distraction-free.

Floyd Lee Hobbs, Jr.,

October 8, 1939-August 30, 2020

Graveside Services

Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 2:00 P.M.

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Floyd Lee Hobbs, Jr., 80, passed away on August 30, 2020. He was an Army veteran, and was a contractor in the construction industry. He was the son of the late, Floyd Lee Hobbs, Sr., and Elsie Morriss.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Cooper Hobbs, son, Lee Hobbs (Joy), grandchildren, John Lee Hobbs (Nikki), Ashlei Hobbs True (Justin), great-grandchildren, Olivia Grace True, John David True, Leiana Nichole Hobbs, brother-in-law, Norman Cooper, along with four nieces and two nephews.

A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at Greensville Memorial Cemetery, at 2:00 P.M., with Rev. Larry Grizzard officiating.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Greensville County Fire Department.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

 

Joe Kiser Robinson

May 13, 1936-August 30, 2020

Graveside Services

Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 11:00 A.M.

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Joe Kiser Robinson, 84, of Emporia, VA., passed away on Sunday, August 30, 2020.  He was a member at Forrest Hill Baptist Church. He worked as a Loom Fixer at J.P. Stevens/The Bibb Company for over 40 years and retired from Franklin Braid. He was preceded in death by the love of his life and wife of 52 years, Vadie Louise Hobbs Robinson, daughter, Vanessa Robinson Raiford, grandson, Donald Keith Raiford, son-in-law, Donald Lee Raiford, sister, Christine Robinson Butler, brother, James Henry (Frog) Robinson.

He is survived by, his son, Craig Robinson (Jackie) of Roanoke Rapids, NC., grandchildren, Casey Raiford (Penny) of Courtland, VA., Justin Robinson of Roanoke Rapids, NC., great-grandchildren, Ava Raiford, Elena Raiford, Kaley Raiford, Jason Raiford, all of Courtland, VA.

Kiser Robinson loved his family and friends, and enjoyed spending time with them. He always had a joke or something funny to say. He also loved to watch baseball, and he talked to everybody and never met a stranger.

A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 11:00 A.M. at Greensville Memorial Cemetery with Rev. Rick Ragan officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Forrest Hill Baptist Church, 2103 Pine Log Road, Skippers, VA., 23879.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

 

Governor Northam Announces $4 Million to Expand Legal Aid Services for Virginians Facing Eviction

Governor will match $2 million IKEA donation with $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $4 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia, which will support 20 Legal Aid attorneys in providing services to Virginia tenants facing eviction for the next two years. This critical investment comes as thousands of Virginians continue to be at risk of eviction and is supported in part by a $2 million donation from IKEA U.S. Community Foundation. The Governor will match the donation with $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which was approved by the General Assembly in April.

“Our Commonwealth faced an eviction crisis before COVID-19 arrived in early March, and the ongoing global pandemic is making this problem even worse,” said Governor Northam. “We are deeply grateful to IKEA for this generous donation that, coupled with money from the COVID-19 Relief Fund and other federal resources, will help more Virginians stay in their homes as we fight this virus. In an unprecedented crisis and financial uncertainty, we must be able to get relief to vulnerable populations quickly and efficiently—this additional funding will make that possible.”

IKEA Retail U.S. has stores in Norfolk and Woodbridge and employs approximately 550 Virginians. As part of the company’s efforts to support COVID-19 recovery across the country, IKEA is providing partner states with a donation equal to the amount given to their employees in the form of unemployment benefits. Housing security continues to be a top priority for Virginia amid the ongoing public health crisis, and Governor Northam asked that the $2 million donation from IKEA to the Commonwealth be directed to support eviction relief.

IKEA has continued to follow Governor Northam’s orders to protect the health and safety of both employees and customers. After Governor Northam issued a statewide Stay at Home order, IKEA closed its two Virginia retail locations to keep their staff and customers safe. Now IKEA is giving back to ensure the Commonwealth has the funding to provide essential services and goods to those who need it most.  

“We are appreciative of the ongoing support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the unemployment funds paid to our co-workers who were furloughed in the early weeks of the pandemic,” said Javier Quiñones, IKEA Retail U.S. president. “People are the heart of our business, and these unemployment benefits helped IKEA U.S. co-workers during a difficult time. We now have a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and we’ve decided to pay it forward to support the ongoing relief efforts in our local communities.” 

This funding will be matched by $2 million from Virginia’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is supported by tax revenue from electronic skill machines. Governor Northam proposed this one-year alternative funding mechanism as a way of providing additional support to small businesses, Virginians who are out of work due to the pandemic, and individuals struggling to stay in their homes.

Although $1.5 million per year for Legal Aid was unallotted from Virginia’s biennial budget, this $4 million in funding will allow for additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legal Aid attorneys play a critical role in eviction diversion in the Commonwealth—Virginia families facing eviction have successful outcomes 72 percent of the time when represented by Legal Aid lawyers, as opposed to just 34 percent without representation.

Governor Northam also established the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) with an initial $50 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds and proposed an additional $88 million in funding for the Housing Trust Fund over the biennium to prevent evictions and expand affordable housing. Since launching at the end of June, the RMRP has served more than 3,100 households in Virginia, and over 60 percent of the households served have children in the home.

The Legal Services Corporation of Virginia funds and oversees the work of nine regional Legal Aid programs and a statewide support center, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, that provide services to low-income Virginians in every city and county in the Commonwealth.

Watch the video of today’s announcement here.

 

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