September 2020

School Board Vacancy in Nottoway District

The Greensville County School Board announces a vacancy on its Board.  Citizens residing in the Nottoway Voting District may apply for appointment to the School Board as an interim School Board member.  The interim School Board member will serve until a Special Election is held.

Applicants must meet requirements of the Code of Virginia for School Board membership including, at the time of his/her appointment or election, the applicant be a qualified voter and bone fide resident of the district from which he/she will represent if appointed or elected by district.  If a School Board member ceases to meet these residency requirements, he/she shall be deemed to have vacated his/her position on the School Board.  A School Board member cannot be an employee of the School Board of which he/she is a member and cannot hold an incompatible dual office.

Interested applicants should submit or deliver a letter of interest to

Mr. Jason Rook
105 Ruffin Street
Emporia, VA  23847

Letters must be received on or before close of business on September 28, 2020.  (Please include address of current residence, email address, and phone number in the letter of interest.)

Marie W. Holland

May 16, 1930-Nvember 29, 2020

Graveside Services

2 p.m. Tuesday, December 1

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Mrs. Marie W. Holland, 90, of Emporia, widow of Walton R. “Red” Holland, passed away Sunday, November 29, 2020. She was the daughter of the late James Bernard Wills, Sr. and Margaret K. Wills and was also preceded in death by two brothers, James Bernard “Pete” Wills, Jr., William Alfred Wills and a sister, Margaret “Peggy” Wills.

Mrs. Holland is survived by a son, Al Holland (Penny); two daughters, Rita Barnes (Harrell) and Debbie Delbridge (Tom); grandsons, Chris and Brandon Holland and Matthew and Logan Delbridge; great-grandchildren, Mason Holland and Waylynn Delbridge; sister-in-law, Annie Wills and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 1 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

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

Brandon “Bran-Bran” Johnson,

September 13, 1992 - October 23, 2020

Memorial Service

2 p.m. Tuesday, November 3

Calvary Baptist Church
310 N. Main St
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Brandon “Bran-Bran” Johnson, 28, passed away Friday, October 23, 2020.

He is survived by his son, Brayden Levi Johnson; his mother, Wendy Lucy (Gary Barrett); his father, Charlie & Angie Johnson; brothers, Joshua Johnson (Savannah) and Neal Lucy (Heather); sister, Jessica Dannielle Johnson; stepbrothers, Peyton Lucy (Ashley), Thomas Barrett (Stephanie Rose) and JayProctor (Sandi); stepsisters, Heather Chisman (Max), Deavon Barrett, Heidi Mclane (Jeremy); maternal grandparents, Dorothy and Ray Traylor; paternal grandparents, Dennis and Juanita Carter. Brandon is also survived by a large extended family of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, November 3 at Calvary Baptist Church, 310 N. Main St., Emporia, Virginia 23847.

Due to restrictions of the pandemic, social distancing and mask requirements are to be followed for attendance at the memorial service.

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

 

Sam Ben Acree

September 05, 1943 - October 16, 2020

Visitation Graveside Services

6-8 pm Thursday, October 22

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

Friday, October 23, 2020, 2:00 PM

First Christian Church Cemetery
427 Ruritan Dr
Emporia, VA 23847

Sam Ben Acree, 77, “Honey”, of Emporia, passed away Friday, October 16, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife, Judith Acree and a daughter, Judith Walton.
Mr. Acree is survived by four daughters, Sherry Temple (David), Terry Gutshall (Phillip), Phyllis Macclellan, and Catherine Acree; 12 grandchildren, Kerri Musselman (Tim), Matthew Temple (Michele), Krystal Featherstun (Ryan), Rusti Moore, Amanda Gutshall (Jared), Bobby Walton (Rebecca), Danielle Walton, Samantha Walton, Christopher Epps, Patrick Epps (Kelly), Stephanie Epps and Ashley Lensey (Chan); 23 great-grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, a brother, Cecil Acree (Sheryl) and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends 6-8 Thursday, October 22 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Friday, October 23 at First Christian Church Cemetery.
Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Johnny C. “J.C.” Ogburn

October 18, 1943 - October 10, 2020

Visitation Services

Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:00 PM

Faith Baptist Church
951 W. Atlantic St
Emporia, Virginia

Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 2:00 PM

Faith Baptist Church
951 W. Atlantic St
Emporia, Virginia

Johnny C. “J.C.” Ogburn, 76, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, October 10, 2020. He was the son of the late Edward Thomas Ogburn and Willie Daniels and was also preceded in death by his wife, Betty Jean Ogburn; two brothers, Wibur “Bug” Ogburn and William “Man” Ogburn and two sisters, Virginia Pauline Prince and Ethel Knapp.

Mr. Ogburn is survived by his son, John “Eddie” Ogburn (Brandy); two stepsons, Michael Pair (Bernadette) and Darryl Pair (Amy); three grandsons, Dylan, E. J. and Jackson Ogburn; eight step-grandchildren, Curt Pair, Stephanie Mitchell (Mike), Rachel Pair, Landen Pair Lizzie Pair, Exia Pair, Brayden Mevins and Sarah Davis; three step-great-grandchildren, Makayla aand Luke Pair and Mckenzie Hamilton; brother, Thomas Ogburn (Judy); three sisters, Betty Romine, Joyce Smith (Harry), and Ella Sims Brumbles and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 13 at Faith Baptist Church. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. The family will receive friends at church one hour prior to the service.

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

Alyssandra Nicole Reeves

November 22, 1998-October 7, 2020

Visitation

2-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 13

The Home of Tiffany Rook
400 Harding Street
Emporia, Virginia

Alyssandra Nicole Reeves, 21, of Stony Creek, passed away Wednesday, October 7, 2020. She was preceded in death by her mother, Tammy Reeves; grandmother, Shelia Bennett; grandfather, Donald Draper, Sr.; great-grandfather, Francis Draper, Sr; uncle, Christian Lee and great-aunt, Donna Whitby.

Alyssandra is survived by two daughters, Kaydence Reeves and Kinsley Tisdale; her father, Steven Reeves (Alicia); sister, Amber Reeves; brothers, Holden and Dakota Lee, grandmother, Devina Draper, her “Nanna”, Marie Lee;  grandfather, Steven Reeves, Sr.; great-uncle, James Grant (Lynn); her boyfriend, Andrew Tisdale; aunt, Tiffany Rook; great-aunt, Connie Story; great-uncle, Sonny Draper; uncles, Donald Draper, Jr., Jesse Draper and Jason Jones and great-grandmothers, Shirley Rowe (Russ) and Virginia Draper.

The family will receive friends 2-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 13 at the home of her aunt, Tiffany Rook at 400 Harding St. in Emporia.

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

James A. Vincent, Sr.,

November 9 1940-September 26, 2020

James A. Vincent, Sr., passed away on September 26, 2020 at the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center. He was born on November 9, 1940 in Emporia, VA., to the late Billy B. and Frances Somner Vincent. He was also predeceased by his wife, Gwen Francis Vincent, children, James A. Vincent, Jr., Jill Frances Vincent, Amanda Francis Emerson, brother, Ronald F. Vincent, nephew, Jason B. Vincent.

He was a graduate of Greensville County High School and attended Louisburg Junior College in Louisburg, NC. He farmed in Greensville County in a family farming operation with his father, Billy B. Vincent and brothers Ronald and Lindsey for many years. Later he operated Vincent Grocery in Skippers, VA., until he retired.

He is survived by his siblings, Billy B. Vincent, Jr., (Helen), Joan V. Herring (Jack), Lindsey S. Vincent (Scott), his beloved granddaughter, two grandsons, along with nephews, nieces, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Online Condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

College Republicans Discuss Future of GOP in Virginia

By Brandon Shillingford, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Young Republicans say this is a crucial time in the country's history amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the country facing a reckoning in its relationship with racial justice and an open Supreme Court seat.

Many of the Generation Z Republican and conservative voters, ages 18-23, are participating in their first or second presidential election and are ready for their voices to be heard.

Cameron Cox, vice president of campaigns for the College Republicans at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, sees the pandemic as a priority that must be at the forefront of the government's concerns, but it shouldn’t be handled by shutting the economy down. Cox is no stranger to politics. His father Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has served in the General Assembly since 1990 and is considering a run for Virginia governor. 

“At a national level, this means continuing to give states the guidance and tools they need to effectively manage their people,” Cox said in an email. “It means helping, not hindering the market, in aiding our nation’s economic recovery. It means empowering people to get back to work and provide for their families.”

Andrew Vail, chairman of the College Republicans at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, believes COVID-19 and racial injustice are challenges for the country which will eventually pass. 

“People organize and politicians make laws and, you know, social movements go on,” Vail said. “At some point the world will calm down.”

Vail thinks that cities in Virginia had less of a challenge containing Black Lives Matter protests compared to New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C., where protests attracted tens of thousands of people and often saw conflicts between opposing groups. 

He said the protests throughout the commonwealth were “pretty normal protests” with people utilizing their constitutional rights. 

Courtney Hope Britt, southern regional vice chair for the College Republican National Committee and chair emeritus to the College Republican Federation of Virginia, was disappointed with responses to the protests in Richmond. Painting murals and taking down Confederate statues “don’t change the day-to-day reality of Black people in our state,” Britt said in an email. 

More schools are shedding Confederate names, but Britt doesn’t believe those moves will effectively deal with educational disparities between Black and white students.

“These problems are complex and incredibly deep rooted in our systems, and so it will take time to rework things,” she said. “I don't really see that being done right now.” 

Britt also disagrees with Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of the pandemic. A poll conducted by Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities found 59% of respondents agreed with the governor’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in July but only 46% echoed that sentiment in August.

Virginia’s rate of 2.2 COVID-19 tests per 1,000 residents puts it at No. 29 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Britt said that while testing has improved, “we’re still lagging way behind where we should be.”

“Governor Northam is a medical doctor; he should have been as well prepared to respond to the pandemic as anyone and yet he did worse than almost everyone,” she said.

Cox said the Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly needs to address the state’s projected $2.7 billion shortfall. He also said that reopening schools safely are issues that need to be resolved. There needs to be “safe, in-person learning for students, as well as resources for kids not in the classroom to avoid being left behind,” he said. 

“Education is at the center of entities affected by the coronavirus,” Cox said. “As school systems handle their students in different ways, it’s important for the state to help, not hinder, schools in this process.”

Vail and Britt, a recent graduate of The T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, said that there is plenty of ideological diversity between the younger and older members of the Republican Party. Britt said the Republican Party has been better about “intentionally recruiting greater diversity into the party.”

“I'm really proud of that,” she said.

Vail echoed this sentiment.

 “I’ve seen that a lot of conservatives lean more in a Libertarian direction, and most Republicans in their ’40s and ’50s are sort of your George Bush brand of conservative,” Vail said.

Richard Anderson, chairman for the Republican Party of Virginia, sees young Republicans as invaluable assets that will serve the nation for years to come. He said they play a crucial element in campaigns through door knocking, phone banking, and registration of new voters. 

“Many will go on to serve in local, state, and federal offices,” Anderson said. “In that capacity, they have vital roles to play in shaping public policy today and in the future."

Many millennials and Gen Zers who recently have become active in the Republican Party are prioritizing issues that may be considered more liberal. According to a Pew Research study, almost half of millennials and Gen Z Republicans are more likely than their older counterparts to say that the federal government is doing too little to lessen the impact of climate change. 

Rather than just being against the Green New Deal, young conservatives are working on their own climate proposals like the American Conservative Coalition’s American Climate Contract and the Declaration of Energy Independence, according to Britt. The movements seek to fight climate change and provide clean energy to Americans. 

“We are beginning to address issues that have often been left to the Democrats with positive arguments,” Britt said. 

There are younger conservatives who do not support President Donald Trump and who want to see a new Republican platform grounded in Constitutional principles but “more conducive to an evolving American landscape.” A Georgetown University graduate launched gen z gop in July to reach younger voters and establish a “palatable alternative to the left.”

Britt views Trump positively, however. He has brought an invigoration and excitement to the party that hasn’t been seen before, she said. This makes her excited and optimistic about the party’s future.

“I'm excited for us to continue building on that for the next four years and beyond,” Britt said.

STATEMENT OF SENATE INTEL VICE CHAIR SEN. MARK R. WARNER ON THE INTEGRITY OF OUR ELECTIONS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement:

“Our nation has a 200-year history of successful elections, followed by a peaceful transfer of power. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a briefing on election security from our nation’s top officials. We all know that the election process will look different this year, in light of COVID-19, and we may not know the results on election night. The Intelligence Community (IC) warned that, as a result, the period immediately before and after the election could be uniquely volatile. But we should continue to have faith in the state and local officials who are responsible for the conduct of our elections and the IC and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) officials who help to protect them, and make sure that all the votes are counted. 

“The President of the United States should not be aiding and abetting foreign adversaries who are working  to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the American election system.”

In February 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the third volume in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian election interference, “U.S. Government Response to Russian Activities,” which was approved on a bipartisan basis by the Republican-led Committee. That report included a series of recommendations for improving the security of our elections in the future, including:

(U) Sitting officials and candidates should use the absolute greatest amount of restraint and caution if they are considering publicly calling the validity of an upcoming election into question. Such a grave allegation can have significant national security and electoral consequences, including limiting the response options of the appropriate authorities, and exacerbating the already damaging messaging efforts of foreign intelligence services. (Page 45)

USDA Reminds Farmers of September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

Don’t Miss This One-Time Opportunity - First Since 2014

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners that they have a one-time opportunity to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. The deadline is September 30, 2020, to update yields, which are used to calculate the PLC payments for 2020 through 2023. Additionally, producers who elected Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) should also consider updating their yields.

“The last time farmers could update yields for these important safety-net programs was in 2014,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “It is the farm owner’s choice whether to update or keep existing yields. So, if you rent, you’ll need to communicate with your landlord who will be the one to sign off on the yield updates.”

Updating yields requires the signature of one owner on a farm and not all owners. If a yield update is not made, no action is required to maintain the existing base crop yield on file with FSA. 

For program payments, updated yields will apply beginning with the 2020 crop year which, should payments trigger, will be paid out in October of 2021.

Determining Yield Updates

The updated yield will be equal to 90% of the average yield per planted acre in crop years 2013-2017. That excludes any year where the applicable covered commodity was not planted and is subject to the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for the covered commodity.

The chart below provides the ratio obtained by this calculation.

Covered Commodity

National Yield Factor

Barley

0.9437

Canola

0.9643

Chickpeas, Large

1.0000

Chickpeas, Small

0.9760

Corn

0.9000

Crambe

1.0000

Flaxseed

1.0000

Grain Sorghum

0.9077

Lentils

1.0000

Mustard Seed

0.9460

Oats

0.9524

Peanuts

0.9273

Peas, Dry

0.9988

Rapeseed

1.0000

Rice, Long

0.9330

Rice, Medium

0.9887

Rice, Temp Japonica

0.9591

Safflower

1.0000

Seed Cotton

0.9000

Sesame Seed

0.9673

Soybeans

0.9000

Sunflower Seed

0.9396

Wheat

0.9545

If the reported yield in any year is less than 75 percent of the 2013-2017 average county yield, the yield will be substituted with 75 percent of the county average yield.

More information

PLC yields may be updated on a covered commodity-by-covered commodity basis by submitting FSA form CCC-867to include a farm owner’s signature.

For more information, reference resources, and decision tools, visit farmers.gov/arc-plc. Contact your local FSA county office for assistance at farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

Governor Northam Announces More Than $8.4 Million to Support COVID-19 Recovery and Response Efforts in Rural Virginia

Funding will help small businesses and community partners with rent relief, equipment purchases

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced more than $8.4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for 14 projects that will help rural communities across Virginia respond to recover from the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our administration remains committed to investing in rural communities during this unprecedented health crisis and as we work to rebuild Virginia’s economy,” said Governor Northam. “This funding will go a long way to address the immediate needs of Virginia families and provide relief to small businesses, so they are better prepared for economic growth despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

Since 1982, the federally funded CDBG program has been administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Virginia receives funding annually to distribute to small cities, towns, and counties, and funding is allocated among local government applicants through an open submission application process using objective scoring criteria developed in consultation with eligible localities. Large cities and counties receive direct allocation of CDBG resources from the federal government, so the state administered funds must focus on smaller and more rural regions of the state. This year, more than $20.4 million has been distributed to communities across Virginia through the CDBG program.

DHCD reallocated existing CDBG funding to assist with COVID-19 response and recovery activities. Funding can be used for: 

  • Construction or rehab of structures for shelters
  • Testing or equipment manufacturing
  • Training programs for healthcare workers or service industry jobs transitioning to food or pharmaceutical delivery systems
  • Acquisition costs for telework or telemedicine services
  • Job creation or business development for manufacturing of COVID-related materials
  • Business assistance for job training or re-tooling business services to reopen and adapt in a new environment
  • Small business recovery funds for rent/mortgage assistance
  • Personal protective equipment, sanitization, dining equipment, and barrier devices to meet social distancing requirements

“Virginia continues to take an innovative approach in providing resources to assist households and businesses throughout the Commonwealth as they navigate this pandemic,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “From housing to business assistance, this CDBG funding will create healthy and safe ways for Virginians to move forward with recovery efforts.”

The following projects (among others) will receive CDBG funding:

Brunswick County Small Business Recovery Assistance
$520,000
Brunswick County

Brunswick County will provide recovery assistance to small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $5,000 for retooling and technology activities and up to $10,000 for three to six months of rent and mortgage relief. Brunswick County will work with its local partners to assist at least 40 businesses.

Mecklenburg County Small Business Recovery Assistance
$520,000
Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County will assist at least 40 businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $5,000 for retooling and technology activities and up to $10,000 for three to six months of rent and mortgage relief.

SCOTT, WARNER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO INCREASE ACCESS FOR DIABETES CARE

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the PREVENT DIABETES Act. This legislation would increase access to the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Expanded Model by allowing CDC-recognized virtual suppliers to participate in the program.

"Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in South Carolina and disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities,” said Senator Tim Scott. “The PREVENT DIABETES Act could deliver life-saving results for older Americans in the Palmetto State and across the country."

"It’s no secret that diabetes is a disease that has disproportionately affected minority communities across the country. To ensure that all individuals have the tools needed to combat this preventable disease, the PREVENT DIABETES Act would help expand access to virtual classes under the existing Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program. This commonsense and cost-saving expansion will ensure that more Americans at-risk of developing diabetes who are living in either rural or medically underserved communities, can participate in this critical program that has been proven to delay the full onset of this preventable disease," said Sen. Warner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is a higher prevalence of diabetes within minority populations. Diabetes affects 16.4 percent of Black adults, 14.9 percent of Asian adults, and 14.7 percent of Latino adults, compared to 11.9 percent of White adults. To help combat these alarming trends, the PREVENT DIABETES Act would provide access to virtual programs under the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. The MDPP Expanded Model (EM) leverages evidence-based interventions to prevent the full onset of type 2 diabetes in at-risk Medicare beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the existing MDPP Expanded Model is only available through in-person sessions, making it more difficult for individuals in rural or medically underserved areas to participate in the program.

In October 2019, Senators Scott and Warner wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging him to expand the program by administrative action and more recently, to allow beneficiaries to access the program via a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has temporarily allowed individuals to access the program via a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this administrative change still excludes a number of providers and does not ensure long-term access to a virtual benefit. This legislation will improve access to the program by ensuring individuals can access the MDPP Expanded Model via virtual suppliers.

This legislation is supported by American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, The Connected Health Initiative, Endocrine Society, Healthcare Leadership Council, Livongo, Noom, National Kidney Foundation, Novo Nordisk Inc., Omada Health, and YMCA of the USA.

To view the one-pager, click here.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Etta Mae Bryant Jarratt

May 10, 1939-September 27, 2020

Etta Mae Bryant Jarratt, 81, of Jarratt, passed away Sunday, September 27, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband, Tom Jarratt and a grandson, Adam Bryant Harrell.

Etta Mae is survived by her daughter, Joan Harrell and husband, Ricky; sons, Richard Benjamin Jones, Jr. and Benji Jarratt (Hope Pittman); grandson, Eric Jones and fiancée’, Brandy Nickelston; granddaughter-in-law, Samantha Jo Harrell and great-granddaughter, Ava Harrell.

Funeral services will be private.

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

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING OUTLINES PROTECTIONS AGAINST VOTER INTIMIDATION

~ Herring issues advisory opinion outlining protections in both state and federal law against voter intimidation in response to recent events ~

RICHMOND (September 24, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has issued an advisory opinion outlining protections in both state and federal law against voter intimidation in response to “reports of activity near polling places that led some voters to fear for their safety while waiting to cast their vote, or led them to believe that they would be harmed for supporting a particular candidate.”
 
“Voting is a fundamental right and the bedrock of our democracy. No Virginian should ever feel intimidated or afraid while exercising their duty as an American and casting their vote,” said Attorney General Herring. “My hope is that the behavior we saw last week will not happen again, and I remain committed to ensuring that every Virginian is able to safely and comfortably cast their ballot without fearing for their safety or wellbeing.”
 
Attorney General Herring concludes his opinion saying, “[t]he legitimacy of our government—and its success in fulfilling the promises of our Constitution—rely on the notion of uncoerced choice. Virginia and federal law protect the fundamental right to vote freely. Accordingly, it is my opinion that the conduct you describe could violate state and/or federal law if it threatens or intimidates voters casting their ballots at polling places.”
 
The opinion outlines applicable provisions in the Code of Virginia “[that] expressly prohibit[] voter intimidation” including:
  • Section 24.2-607(A) makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor “’for any person to hinder, intimidate, or interfere with any qualified voter so as to prevent the voter from casting a secret ballot.’”
  • Section 24.2-1005 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to use “’threats, bribery, or other means in violation of the election laws’ to ‘attempt[] to influence any person in giving his vote or ballot or . . . deter him from voting.’”
  • Section 24.2-1015, makes it a Class 5 felony to “’conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate, prevent, or hinder any citizen of this Commonwealth in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the provisions of [the election laws].’”
 
The opinion also highlights provisions in the Virginia state code that “prohibit[] certain conduct at polling places that might interfere with the right to vote free from influence,” including:
  • Section 24.2-607(B) that says “’[n]o person shall conduct himself in a noisy or riotous manner at or about the polls so as to disturb the election.’”
  • “While polls are open, it is unlawful to ‘loiter or congregate,’ ‘give, tender, or exhibit any . . . campaign material,’ or ‘solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any person in casting his vote’ within 40 feet of ‘any entrance of any polling place.’”
  • “It is also unlawful to ‘use[]’ a ‘loudspeaker…within 300 feet of a polling place on an election day.’”
 
Additionally, the opinion notes that “Virginia and federal law provide that voters shall not be harassed for exercising their rights”, highlighting that “[b]oth state and local law protect citizens from violent threats, and in particular from being threatened with firearms” and that “[i]t is a criminal offense for private individuals to usurp the role of actual law enforcement, and it is accordingly unlawful to appear at the polls attempting to exercise roles that rightfully belong to law enforcement.” Attorney General Herring says that “[t]hese types of protection have an important history in our law. They have helped vindicate racial equality in voting, ensure the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws, and invoke the basic respect that is due every voter at the polls.”
 
Other key passages from the opinion:
 
In our democratic system of governance, the right to vote is “a fundamental political right.” Voting both ensures “a representative form of government” and also “preserv[es] . . . other basic civil and political rights.” “[T]he right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner” is therefore a “bedrock” principle in any “free and democratic society.” Intimidation of citizens who are seeking to vote is both illegal and antithetical to one of the basic promises that binds us together: that of democratic self-governance. [Page 1]
 
Federal criminal law similarly provides that any person who “intimidates, threatens, [or] coerces” another person “for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose” in a federal election—or “attempts” to do the same—may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to one year. [Page 2]
 
Should they so choose, officers of election—with the consent of the locality’s chief law-enforcement officer—are empowered to “designate a law-enforcement officer” to “preserve order inside and outside at the polling place.” [Page 2]
 
Voters similarly should not fear for their safety when voting, whether they are within the forty-foot zone of a polling place or in socially-distanced lines beyond that zone. [Page 2]
 
Virginia law also prohibits carrying or possessing firearms or weapons at specific locations that may be used as polling places, such as schools and courthouses. [Page 3]
 
Virginia law makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to “falsely assume[] or exercise[] the functions, powers, duties, and privileges incident to the office of sheriff, police officer, marshal, or other peace officer, or any local, city, county, state, or federal law-enforcement officer.” This criminal prohibition can apply to “a group of private militia members coming as a unit, heavily armed with assault-style weapons, dressed in fatigues and other military accessories, and acting in a coordinated fashion” where the “militia members patrol[] a line of citizens” and “project[] authority to manage the crowd.” [Page 3]

Virginia early voting nears 200,000 in first week

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period. 

Over 164,000 citizens have voted in person, while more than 926,000 absentee ballots have been issued as of Sept. 25, said Andrea Gaines, director of community relations and compliance support at the Virginia Department of Elections. Over half a million people returned absentee ballots in the 2016 presidential election, according to the department

Breaking the traditional custom of voting on Election Day, the governor and other top officials hit the polls when they opened Sept. 18. The General Assembly earlier this year removed restrictions to vote absentee and allowed early, in-person voting until Oct. 31. The move allowed individuals to cast their ballots 45 days early.

“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,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release. “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.” 

About 20 people were lined up, six-feet apart, to vote Friday morning at the Henrico County registrar’s office. Carrington Blencowe was one of the voters. She said that voting early is more convenient for her family. 

“This makes it a lot easier than trying to vote the day of because it gives people more time and we’re a working country,” Blencowe said.

Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote in person early.They just head to their general registrar’s office or satellite voting location, show ID and cast a ballot.

Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said previous early voting and absentee ballots were much more inconvenient. 

“It involved signing a statement saying you had one of a range of acceptable excuses, they included military service, being away at college, travel plans, working from out of county, or disabilities,” Farnsworth said. “When you think about how much easier it is to vote via mail-in, my guess is that it will remain popular after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.”

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 23. The Virginia Department of Electionsrecommends that applicants return their ballot as soon as possible due to the high number of ballots issued. In2018 and 2019,90% and 85% of requested absentee ballots were returned, respectively.

Despite pandemic, some Virginia registrars report surge of poll workers

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Several places in Virginia say they’ve seen a surge in people applying to be Election Day-workers, despite initial concerns there would be a shortage.

The U.S. is facing a nationwide poll workers shortage, Gov. Ralph Northam said in a Tweet posted in early September urging Virginians to apply for the position. Some districts expected a shortage because they anticipated high turnout. Poll workers fulfill a variety of part-time and full-time roles, from assisting with absentee ballot distribution, answering phone calls, supervising early voting, and helping at the polls on Election Day. 

Before polls opened last week, Virginia Beach said it needed 1,200 poll workers this year instead of the 800 they usually have, according to CBS-3 (WTKR-TV). 

On the other hand, Arlington County, posted online that it has filled “beyond capacity” its need for poll workers in its 54 precincts. No shortage of poll workers is expected in Fairfax County, which will have more than 3,800 election officers to work the county’s 243 polling locations, about half of which are first-time poll workers, according to Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesperson. The county’s 3,800 workers this year is about 500 more than it had in the last election, and extra staff is on hand to process the mail-in ballots.

“Unlike other jurisdictions that I’ve heard may be having difficulty recruiting election officers, Fairfax County has experienced a very strong interest from people who want to serve,” Worthy stated over email. “In fact, we’ve had about ten times the normal number of people apply to become election officers.” 

Recruiting poll workers is also not an issue in Orange County, located 20 miles from Charlottesville. Donna Harpold, the county’s director of elections and general registrar, said she doesn’t know if being in a smaller county impacts volunteer availability compared to Northern Virginia.

“They obviously have the population advantage, but that may also lead to people being more wary of serving due to exposure concerns,” Harpold wrote in an email.

 Lisa Betterton, general registrar and director of elections in Isle of Wight, which has roughly 37,000 residents, said the Hampton Roads county has plenty of poll workers.

Poll workers and voters have expressed concern over potential exposure to the COVID-19 if polls are crowded on Election Day. Many people who volunteer at polling places across the country are retirees, the most at-risk demographic for serious complications and death from the disease. Election officials in Washington D.C. decided this year that working at a poll will count toward the community service hours required to graduate high school in the district.

Breaking with the tradition of voting on Election Day, Virginia’s top officials cast their votes on Sept. 18, the first day polls were open. Northam emphasized voters will have “several safe and easy ways” to vote. Over 164,000 residents hit the polls within the first week, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Virginia has allocated federal CARES Act funding to ensure that 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, according to Northam’s office.

Voters are required to wear masks. In order to limit physical interaction between individuals and to avoid voters sharing pens, Fairfax County will provide voters with “I voted” pens that they can use to fill out their ballots and keep instead of offering stickers.

The General Assembly passed several bills in the spring to make voting easier, such as turning Election Day into a state holiday, no excuse required to vote absentee and allowing early voting 45 days ahead of the election. Residents may vote early at their local registrar’s office from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31, or request a mail-in absentee ballot until Oct. 23, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Sean Rae Pair

June 11, 1938-September 23, 2020

Visitation Greveside Services

2:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, September 27, 2020

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

3:00 P.M., Sunday, September 27, 2020

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Avenue

Emporia, Virginia

Sean Rae Pair, 82, passed away on September 23, 2020. He was the son of the late Thomas Wayne Pair and Lillie Mitchell Pair. He was preceded in death by his brother, Roy Pair, sister, Emmogene Morgan. He is survived by his two sons, Michael Wayne Pair of Roanoke Rapids, NC., Darryl Pair (Amy) of Roanoke Rapids, NC., six grandchildren, Michael Curt Pair, Stephanie Pair Mitchell, Lizzie Pair, Exia Pair, Rachel Pair, Landen Pair, all of Roanoke Rapids, NC., three great-grandchildren, Makayla Pair Luke Pair, Mckenzie Hamilton. Sean Pair served in the National Guard and was the owner of a retail furniture store (Mattress Center Discounters).

The family will receive friends from 2:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, September 27, 2020, at Echols Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 3:00 P.M., Sunday, September 27, 2020, with Rev. John Kinsley officiating. Interment to follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Cameron Cole Pearson

March 26, 2005-September 20, 2020

Graveside Services

Saturday, September 26 at 1:00

Independence United Methodist Church Cemetery
4438 Independence Church Road
Emporia, Virginia

Livestream Available Here

Cameron Cole Pearson went to be with God on Sunday, September 20. He was the sweetest boy and will be remembered by the many people he touched in his short life.

He loved hunting with his uncle and friends at the hunt club, fishing, spending time with Jackson and Kyle, playing Xbox with friends all over the world, listening to music, and he loved his mom most of all.

He will be greeted in Heaven by his granddaddy, William Pearson. He is survived by his mother, Pam Pearson, his grandmother, JoAnn Pearson, aunts Sandy Pearson, Susan Moore (Calvin), Jennifer Jones (Ted), cousins Brandon, Billie Jean, Jordan, Morgan, Jenna and Ava, his great aunt Evangeline Taylor (Harry) and his dog, Chloe.

There will be a small graveside service at Independence United Methodist Church on Saturday, September 26 at 1:00. The service will also stream on the church’s Facebook page. Donations in his honor may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The American Heart Association, or Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

Jones Pharmacy Team Wins Jackson-Feild’s Golf Tournament

The Winning Team: the Jones LTC Pharmacy Team.

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services held is 25th anniversary tournament on September 21st at the Country Club of the Highlands in Chesterfield County. It was a picture perfect day for golf and the course was in perfect shape. Hardees, who has served as the tournament sponsor since day one provided a box lunch for each player. Players teed off at 1:00 p.m. and the format was captain’s choice.

This year’s tournament was like no other due to COVID-19 guidelines. Nevertheless the golfers had a great time in spite of current restrictions and appreciated the opportunity to support the children and mission of Jackson-Feild.

The Jones LTC pharmacy team shot a tournament best sixty-one which is eleven strokes under par for the course.  The team Jones team consisted of John Jones, Johnny Jones, Rick Jones and Steve Abernathy. Jones LTC Pharmacy has been a sponsor of this event for years and their team always has a strong showing and finishes in the top three teams annually.

Proceeds from the 2020 tournament will be used to fund services for which Jackson-Feild receives no reimbursement primarily Neurotherapy services and educational scholarships to fund the education of children whose school division does not pay for their education.

This tournament has raised over $550,000 since its inception and the funds have been used for a variety of need including special projects, capital purchases, capital improvements and educational scholarships.

VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA REACH SETTLEMENT OVER DAN RIVER SPILL

~ 2014 Duke Energy spill resulted in approximately 27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater and between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River ~

RICHMOND (September 21, 2020) – Attorney General Herring, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have entered into a consent decree to finalize the restoration plan and environmental assessment related to the 2014 Dan River spill.
 
“This final restoration plan ensures that any damage caused by the Dan River spill is reversed and restored, as well as holds those who were responsible for the spill accountable,” said Attorney General Herring. “The community was directly impacted by this spill and I’m glad we were able to involve them in coming up with a suitable plan for everyone. I want to thank our state and federal partners for their help and collaboration on reaching this important settlement.”
 
Four projects have been selected as meeting these goals and three of those have already been completed as early restoration. Completion of the last project – improved recreational access to the Dan River – is expected after the court filing. Selected projects include:
 
  • Acquisition and conservation of the Mayo River floodplain and riverbank adding up to 619 acres to the Mayo River State Parks in North Carolina and Virginia for long-term stewardship (completed)
  • Aquatic habitat restoration in the Pigg River via removal of the Power Dam returning riverine conditions to 2.2 miles, benefitting game fish such as smallmouth bass, and the federally and state listed Roanoke logperch and other nongame fish (completed)
  • Establishment of public boat launch facilities on the Dan River (ongoing)
  • Improvements to the Abreu Grogan Park in Danville, Virginia, including new amenities and other improvements that address impacts related to park closure during spill response activities (completed)
 
“Transparent community involvement was a vital part of this multi-agency partnership between Virginia and North Carolina as we shaped the important projects in the restoration plan to rehabilitate our natural resources,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Filing the consent decree will ensure all work is completed to enhance cleaner water, beautiful landscapes and our many outdoor recreation venues.”
 
On February 2, 2014, a stormwater pipe underneath the primary coal ash basin at the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Station failed, resulting in the spill of approximately 27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater and between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, resulting in documented ash or ash-like material co-mingled with native sediment in North Carolina and Virginia as far as 70 river miles downstream.
 
The Dan River spill NRDAR process included collecting and reviewing monitoring data in the Dan River for several years after the completion of the cleanup, as well as identifying projects that would restore the habitat and gathering public input about those project ideas. In October 2014, the Trustees invited restoration project ideas from the public to help identify the types and scale of restoration needed to compensate for those injuries. Public feedback showed support for land protection and conservation projects, dam removals, and increasing public access to the river.
 
The final restoration plan and environmental assessment can be found here.

(Editor's Note: While this spill was out of the Emporia News reading area, the Dan River is a tributary of the Roanake River. Conditions upriver have the potential to effect conditions downriver; including the Kerr Reservoir, Lake Gaston, Roanoke Rapids Lake and the Roanoke River, all recreation and angling areas used by local readers.)

Governor Northam Announces Refinancing Plan to Save Virginia Colleges and Universities More Than $300 Million Over Next Two Years

FAIRFAX—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a higher education refinancing plan that will save Virginia’s public colleges and universities more than $300 million over the next two years. The Commonwealth of Virginia will take advantage of low interest rates by refinancing bonds issued by the Treasury Board of Virginia (TBV) and the Virginia College Building Authority (VCBA), which institutions of higher education use for capital projects. The Governor was joined by George Mason University President Dr. Gregory Washington and state legislators for the announcement at the university’s Fairfax campus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have tremendous impacts on higher education, including the fiscal health of our colleges and universities,” said Governor Northam. “Families all over the country are taking advantage of record low interest rates to refinance their home mortgages, and we want our public institutions to benefit as well. Refinancing will free up millions of dollars in savings allowing our colleges and universities to make critical investments, meet the needs of Virginia students, and continue offering a world-class education.”

Virginia has successfully avoided cuts to higher education during the pandemic. The Commonwealth has worked hard to maintain its valued AAA bond rating, which has allowed the state to be eligible for these favorable interest rates.

“Our public higher education institutions are critical to Virginia’s success, and we know they are hurting right now,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Janet Howell. “Allowing them to refinance some of their debt is an innovative way to save money when they need it most, and I look forward to supporting the legislative portion of this proposal next session.”

Many Virginia colleges and universities have seen a decline in revenue traditionally used for bond payments. These institutions are also navigating uncertainty regarding in-person learning, with many unsure when or how students will return to campus. Under the Governor’s plan, institutions will make no principal payments on their VCBA bonds through fiscal year 2023. The proposed restructuring would also extend institutions’ payment plans for two years beyond their current schedule, for both VCBA and TBV bonds.

“As stewards of the Commonwealth’s finances, we are always seeking creative solutions to financial issues,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian. “Helping public colleges and universities restructure their debt obligations allows them to focus their resources on the pressing needs they face right now as a result of the pandemic.”

As part of his plan, Governor Northam will work with the General Assembly to allow additional flexibility for higher education refinancing during the 2021 General Assembly session.

“Governor Northam is committed to supporting Virginia’s institutions of higher education,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “These savings will make a tremendous difference for our colleges and universities as they navigate these challenging times.”

The following savings are expected:

  • Christopher Newport University: $14.4 million
  • George Mason University: $58.3 million
  • James Madison University: $43.7 million
  • Longwood University: $8.2 million
  • Norfolk State University: $8.2 million
  • Old Dominion University: $29.8 million
  • Radford University: $5.1 million
  • Richard Bland College of William & Mary: $320,000
  • University of Mary Washington: $9.3 million
  • University of Virginia: $344,000
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: $23.1 million
  • Virginia Community College System: $9.7 million
  • Virginia Military Institute: $2.8 million
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: $40.1 million
  • Virginia State University: $12.8 million
  • William & Mary: $33.7 million

Emporia Medical Center Welcomes New Provider

Emporia Medical Center is pleased to announce that Rasha Kafi, FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner) has joined our medical team.

Rasha Kafi, FNP-C

Rasha Kafi attended Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and graduated in 2015 with her BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing).  She continued her education at George Washington University School of Nursing and earned her MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner in 2019.  Rasha also has a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree in Global and Community Health from George Mason University.

Rasha worked as an RN for four years and 8 months (January 2016-August 2020) in the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.  She also worked as a Certified Nurse Practitioner at the GYN office (Women’s Health Partners LLC) for three months, in Maryland.  Then, in the Spring of 2020, she had a three-month contract position at Chimes Organization, working mainly with COVID-19 positive patients.  On August 17, 2020 Rasha Kafi became the newest addition to the Southern Dominion Health System, Inc. medical team.

Rasha Kafi is a certified Family Nurse practitioner and is also certified in chemotherapy biotherapy.  Her special interest includes Women’s health and oncology.  Rasha enjoys traveling, shopping, and reading.

Rasha Kafi is currently seeing patients at Emporia Medical Center Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm.  She welcomes all ages, scheduled appointments, and same day appointments. Please call (434) 634-7723.  Emporia Medical Center is located at 510 N. Main Street, Emporia, VA 23847.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DEMAND RESPONSE FROM BUREAU OF PRISONS REGARDING WORSENING CONDITIONS AT VIRGINIA FACILITIES

~ Lack of PPE, limited access to essential facilities & worsening food are among some of the issues at Virginia’s facilities ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Reps. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), demanded answers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regarding reports of troubling conditions at Virginia facilities amid the COVID-19 crisis. Expressing frustration with Director Michael Carvajal’s failure to respond to a letter from earlier this year, the lawmakers pressed for answers concerning an ongoing lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and diminished quality of life for incarcerated individuals.

“Nearly four months ago, we sent you a letter detailing the significant risks and challenges COVID-19 posed to the health and safety of staff, incarcerated individuals at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities. We remain deeply concerned that the conditions within those facilities have failed to improve – and in many ways, appear to have deteriorated,” the lawmakers wrote. “One area of particular concern is the continued lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). According to employees at FCC Petersburg, both staff and incarcerated individuals are forced to re-use supplies and masks, which presents serious health and safety risks. Given the close quarters and frequent person-to-person interaction, correctional staff and incarcerated individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Lack of PPE also creates additional risk of community spread outside the facilities. Relatedly, we have learned from facility staff that showers are restricted for individuals incarcerated at FCC Petersburg, a policy which further exacerbates sanitation and hygiene issues during a global pandemic.”

“We have also received numerous reports related to other declining conditions at FCC Petersburg. It is our understanding that access to outdoor recreation, exercise facilities, and phones have been reduced due to the pandemic. We recognize the importance of limiting large group gatherings, and that coordinating these activities can present logistical, health, and safety challenges. However, it is imperative that correctional facilities find new ways to maintain and support a healthy quality of life for incarcerated individuals during this crisis,” they continued. “We have also heard disturbing reports that the food the incarcerated individuals are receiving has declined significantly in both quantity and quality, including being served spoiled food. Such conditions are unacceptable.”

In Virginia, there are two federal correctional institutions in operation, including the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County and the Petersburg Federal Correctional Complex. Correctional officers at Virginia’s facilities are responsible for approximately 4,144 incarcerated individuals.

In their letter, the four members of Congress also raised concern with reports that correctional staff at FCI Petersburg continue to be denied a lunch break despite working shifts as long as sixteen hours – an issue originally raised in the lawmakers’ May 21st letter. Calling this “unacceptable and dangerous,” they encouraged Director Carvajal to institute a nation-wide break policy in order to address correctional staff’s basic needs.

Additionally, they expressed dismay regarding the transfer of incarcerated individuals between facilities, highlighting that at least one person with a positive case of COVID-19 was transferred to USP Lee. The lawmakers noted that this this lapse in judgment could result in an entirely preventable COVID-19 outbreak inside the prison, endangering staff, inmates and local communities.

The members of Congress have advocated for vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this year, they requested answers from Director Carvajal regarding issues at the Virginia facilities. Sen. Warner also joined his Senate colleagues in a letter to BOP and the three largest private prison operators inquiring about any policies and procedures in place to manage a potential spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, Sen. Warner and Kaine have urged the Trump Administration time and time and time again to cease the inter-state transfer of people held at immigration detention facilities during the public health crisis.

Full text of today’s letter is available here or below.

Dear Director Carvajal:

We write to reiterate our serious concerns about the health and safety of staff and individuals incarcerated at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Petersburg and United States Penitentiary (USP) Lee, the two federal correctional facilities in Virginia, and to express our severe frustration at your failure to respond to our letter from May 21, 2020. After speaking with employees and the families of individuals incarcerated at both facilities, it is clear that the situation is worsening. According to figures shared with our offices, there are over 200 incarcerated individuals and at least 12 staff who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at FCC Petersburg.

Nearly four months ago, we sent you a letter detailing the significant risks and challenges COVID-19 posed to the health and safety of staff, incarcerated individuals at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities. We remain deeply concerned that the conditions within those facilities have failed to improve – and in many ways, appear to have deteriorated.

One area of particular concern is the continued lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). According to employees at FCC Petersburg, both staff and incarcerated individuals are forced to re-use supplies and masks, which presents serious health and safety risks. Given the close quarters and frequent person-to-person interaction, correctional staff and incarcerated individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Lack of PPE also creates additional risk of community spread outside the facilities. Relatedly, we have learned from facility staff that showers are restricted for individuals incarcerated at FCC Petersburg, a policy which further exacerbates sanitation and hygiene issues during a global pandemic.

We have also received numerous reports related to other declining conditions at FCC Petersburg. It is our understanding that access to outdoor recreation, exercise facilities, and phones have been reduced due to the pandemic. We recognize the importance of limiting large group gatherings, and that coordinating these activities can present logistical, health, and safety challenges. However, it is imperative that correctional facilities find new ways to maintain and support a healthy quality of life for incarcerated individuals during this crisis. We have also heard disturbing reports that the food the incarcerated individuals are receiving has declined significantly in both quantity and quality, including being served spoiled food. Such conditions are unacceptable.  

Further, as we detailed in our letter nearly four months ago, correctional staff at FCC Petersburg continue to be denied a lunch break, despite reportedly working shifts as long as sixteen hours. This is unacceptable and dangerous. We once again encourage you to institute a break policy—not only at the Petersburg facility, but at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) facilities across the nation—that more appropriately responds to correctional staff’s basic needs.

Additionally, we are particularly dismayed to learn that, despite our concerns, BOP is transferring individuals to facilities without a record of COVID-19 cases. A group of individuals was recently transferred to USP Lee, which included at least one person with a positive case of COVID-19. Such transfers are a potentially deadly lapse in judgment. USP Lee is one of the largest employers in Lee County, Virginia, and not only could this transfer result in an entirely preventable outbreak inside the prison, it is also dangerous for the public health of local community members. 

Finally, your failure to respond to our serious concerns is further heightened by the recent announcement from the BOP that facilities will allow visitations to resume in early October. While we agree that resuming visitations is incredibly important for incarcerated individuals and their families, proper protocols must be in place and followed to ensure the health and safety of the incarcerated individuals, their families, and the surrounding communities. We urge you to take all available steps to ensure vitiations can resume as soon as possible while preserving the health and safety of visitors, staff, and incarcerated individuals.

Given the magnitude of the worsening conditions at USP Lee and FCC Petersburg, we demand an immediate response to how BOP is addressing our concerns by no later than October 5, 2020. As COVID-19 continues to present a significant health challenge at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities, we are committed to working with you to address the needs of incarcerated individuals and correctional staff.

We appreciate your attention to these important issues impacting our constituents and look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

 

 

McEachin Statement on House Passage of Strength in Diversity Act

RICHMOND, V.A.  Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today released the following statement on the House passage of the Strength in Diversity Act, legislation he co-sponsored to support local communities in thier efforts to desegregate public schools:

 

"More than 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, school systems across our country are more segregated today than at any time since the 1960s. This is unacceptable (or whatever word choice you think is best) and we must do more to make education a more diverse and inclusive experience. 

 

"Today, I was pleased to join my House colleagues in passing the Strength in Diversity Act, which will take meaningful steps toward fulfilling the promise of equity in education. This bill provides critical funding to support school districts’ efforts to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity in the classroom and across school district lines. 

 

"Together, we can move our communities beyond compliance solely with the letter of the law and towards continued progress in increasing diversity in schools and ensuring an equitable learning experiences for all students."

 

 

About the Strength in Diversity Act

The Strength in Diversity Act helps fulfill the promise of equity in education by offering support to districts that are developing, implementing, or expanding school diversity initiatives. The bill:

  • Establishes a grant program that provides federal funding to support voluntary local efforts to increase diversity in schools. Grants could fund a range of proposals, including (but not limited to):
    • Studying segregation, evaluating current policies, and developing evidence-based plans to address socioeconomic and racial isolation.
       
    • Establishing public school choice zones, revising school boundaries, or expanding equitable access to transportation for students.
       
    • Creating or expanding innovative school programs that can attract students from outside the local area. 
       
    • Recruiting, hiring, and training new teachers to support specialized schools.
  • Supports the development and maintenance of best practices for grantees and experts in the field of school diversity.
     
  • Makes available grant funding to school districts, independently or in collaboration with neighboring districts, as well as regional educational authorities and educational service agencies.

The Strength in Diversity Act is endorsed by: American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD); Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity – Rutgers Law School; Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice – Harvard Law School; Integrate NYC4me; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Legal Defense Fund, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP-LDF); The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Magnet Schools of America; National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP); National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP); National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD); National Education Association (NEA); National Women’s Law Center (NWLC); New York Appleseed; the Office of Transformation and Innovation at the Dallas Independent School District; Poverty & Race Research Action Council; The School Superintendents Association (AASA); Unidos; and the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation.
 

National Small Business Week to Kick-off September 22-24

SBA Hosts Virtual Event to Honor America’s Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – Today, Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced the kick-off for National Small Business Week. The virtual event, rescheduled from May due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held September 22-24. National Small Business Week honors the nation’s small businesses, many of which are veteran, women and minority-owned, for their achievements and dedication to their communities. This year’s National Small Business Week activities will include numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as our nation’s small businesses look to pivot and recover toward a stronger economy. The event will recognize the national award winners, including the naming of this year’s National Small Business Person of the Year.

“I am thrilled to host SBA’s virtual National Small Business Week ceremony and provide this opportunity to recognize inspiring entrepreneurs from across the country for their innovation, and in many cases this year, resilience,” said SBA Administrator Carranza. “This year, we will spotlight America’s outstanding small businesses and their stories of perseverance and their ability to pivot and overcome adversity.  This event will also feature many educational forums that will inspire entrepreneurs around the country as they recover and sustain their operations.”

National Small Business Week will also recognize small business advocates for their involvement in disaster recovery, government contracting, and their support for small businesses and entrepreneurship.  Awards will be presented to SBA partners in financial and entrepreneurial development, including top SCORE Chapter, Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, and Veterans Business Outreach Center.

For registration and additional information on National Small Business Week, please visit sba.gov/NSBW

Mary Belle Harrison Parker Nye

Photo Caption

July 28, 1933-September 20, 2020

Visitation Services

5-7 p.m. Friday, September 25

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

11 a.m. Saturday, September 26

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

Mary Belle Harrison Parker Nye, 87, of Jarratt, Virginia, departed this life on Sunday, September 20, 2020 to go be with her Father in Heaven, along with many departed loved ones and pets. Born to Claude and Pearl Harrison on July 28, 1933, Mary was preceded in death by her husband of 39 years, Garland Slade Parker. She was also preceded in death by her son, Garland Slade "Rusty" Parker and her second husband, Abner Alexander Nye. 

At a young age, Mary started her career at Johns-Manville Corporation in Jarratt. She retired from Georgia-Pacific Corporation, (which bought the Johns-Manville plant at Jarratt), after 43 years of service. She also worked as the Town Clerk of Jarratt and eventually became the Mayor after serving on Town Council. She was very active in her community and in her church, Centenary United Methodist Church in Jarratt where she served as Treasurer for many years and was also on several committees. She also served as delegate for the church conference. She was an officer in the Quarter Century Club of Johns-Manville. Earlier in life, she was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Stony Creek Chapter. Mary was an incredibly talented person, as evidenced by her many accomplishments. She used to make her own fresh evergreen Christmas decorations, and even made her children's clothes. Mary loved God, her husbands, her children, stepchildren, her friends and her beloved pets. 

Mary is survived by her daughters, Sherri Dawn Parker and companion, Bill Dutton, Jr. and Sandra Slade Parker York and husband, Peter York of Sault Ste Marie, Michigan and a number of nieces and nephews; step-sons, Paul Nye and wife, Diane and Peter Nye and wife, Valerie. She is also survived by her special friend, Hazel Ann Leonard and her beloved cats, who brought her much company near the end of her life. 

The family will receive friends 5-7 p.m. Friday, September 25 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd in Jarratt where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, September 26. (Please consider all protocols of social distancing and face coverings). Private family interment will follow. 

Floral tributes are welcomed, as Mary loved her flowers, but if you prefer a memorial donation please make it to Centenary United Methodist Church, P.O Box 472, Jarratt, Virginia 23867 or to the Emporia-Greensville Humane Society, 113 Baker St., Emporia, Virginia 23847.

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

Governor Northam Announces Expansion of $70 Million Rebuild VA Grant Fund for Small Businesses, Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19

Eligibility criteria expanded to include businesses that received federal CARES Act funds, supply chain partners affected by closures

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fund launched in August, is expanding its eligibility criteria to allow more small businesses to apply. Businesses that received funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. Businesses that have received federal funds must certify that they will only use the Rebuild VA grant for recurring expenses and that the grant will not be used to cover the same expenses as the other CARES Act funds.

Rebuild VA, which is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), successfully launched on August 10. SBSD and its program partners, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, made the decision to expand eligibility criteria after analysis of eligible and ineligible applications received within the first 30 days of the launch.

“When we initially launched Rebuild VA, we focused on reaching the small businesses and nonprofit organizations most in need,” said Governor Northam. “I am deeply grateful for the work of our state agencies to swiftly adjust the parameters of this program so we can assist more Virginia businesses as they weather this health crisis and build back stronger.”

Eligible businesses and nonprofits must demonstrate that their normal operations were limited by Governor Northam’s Executive Orders Fifty-Three or Fifty-Five, or that they were directly impacted by the closure of such businesses. In March, Governor Northam took executive action to protect the health and safety of Virginians, which included limiting operations for food and beverage, non-essential brick and mortar retail, exercise and fitness, entertainment and public amusement, personal care and personal grooming, and private campground and overnight summer camps. Expanded business sectors now eligible to apply for Rebuild VA grants include small hotels and bed and breakfasts lodging facilities along with film companies supporting production in the Commonwealth. Businesses that provide goods or services for those identified in one or more of the eligible business categories previously mentioned are now eligible.

Businesses must also certify that they have not received grant or loan dollars from federal, state, or local CARES Act funded programs, or if they have received CARES Act funding, that they will use the Rebuild VA grant only for recurring expenses. These businesses must also certify that the Rebuild VA funds will not be used to cover the same expenses as other CARES Act funds.

Rebuild VA still requires that businesses and nonprofit organizations must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees.

Rebuild VA funding may be utilized for the following eligible expenses:

  • Payroll support, including paid sick, medical, or family leave, and costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during those periods of leave;
  • Employee salaries;
  • Mortgage payments, rent, and utilities;
  • Principal and interest payments for any business loans from national or state-chartered banking, savings and loan institutions, or credit unions, that were incurred before or during the emergency;
  • Eligible personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting materials, or other working capital needed to address COVID-19 response.

For additional information about Rebuild VA, expanded eligibility criteria, covered expenses, and how to submit an application, please visit governor.virginia.gov/RebuildVA.

Joanne Newsome House

May 25, 1936-September 18, 2020

Visitation

Thursday, September 24, 2020, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Joanne Newsome House, 84, passed away on September 18, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas A. House, son, William Smith, brothers, Robert Newsome, Albert Newsome, John Newsome, Russell Newsome, Irvin Newsome, Oliver Newsome. She is survived by her sons, Robert Smith (Tracy) of Colonial Heights.VA, James Smith (Bobbie Jo) of Hopewell, VA., brothers, Richard Newsome (Stalla) of Emporia, VA., Donald Newsome (Marion) of Emporia, VA., Frankie Newsome (Linda) of Sedley, VA., Butch Newsome (Ruth) of Myrtle Beach, SC, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at Echols Funeral Home, Thursday, September 24, 2020, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a charity of ones’ choice.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

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.

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