February 2016

  1. How to Help Those Affected by the Tornadoes in Virginia

    RICHMOND, Va. — In Virginia communities struggling to respond to and recover from the recent tornadoes, an influx of unexpected or unrequested volunteers and donations can make the process of recovery even more difficult. 

    Financial support to voluntary agencies is often the best way to help. Cash is easier for organizations and agencies to manage; it can address a wide variety of needs, and can be quickly distributed to support those with critical needs. Cash also allows disaster agencies to purchase exactly what is needed.
    The following voluntary organizations are currently supporting tornado relief in Virginia:

    The Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (Virginia VOAD) does not promote one charity over another. Financial gifts made to voluntary organizations, funds and foundations are managed and allocated by those entities. Virginia VOAD and the Commonwealth of Virginia are not involved in how voluntary organizations, funds and foundations manage or distribute financial contributions.

    Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
    The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund is a state-managed relief fund established to help Virginia residents who are impacted by disasters recover. This program is necessary because federal disaster is not a guarantee. Proceeds from the fund will be distributed as a grant to non-profits, faith-based organizations and local long-term recovery groups so those groups can aid individual households impacted by disasters.

    Grants can be used for the following types of projects:

    • Repair or rebuilding of uninsured/underinsured and uninhabitable owner-occupied dwellings.
    • Assistance with transportation needs when a victim’s only vehicle was severely damaged or destroyed.
    • Assistance in replacing essential household items, such as appliances and furnishings.
    • Assistance for renters in establishing a new rental residence.
    • Assistance with temporary living expenses while residence is being repaired or new rental residence identified.

    Individuals can donate to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund by submitting a check made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line. Checks should be sent to:

    Comptroller’s Office
    P.O. Box 1971
    Richmond, VA 23218-1971

    Individuals with unmet needs should contact their local emergency manager for assistance.

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  2. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces January Employee of the Month

    Emporia, VA – Jasmine Harveyhas been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2016. Ms. Harvey works in SVRMC’s Registration Department.

    Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for January was commitment to coworkers.  Ms. Harvey’s nomination included the following statement: “Jasmine is a team player who is always willing to help the ED staff in any way possible. She is very supportive to all of the staff and committed to ensuring that everyone has what they need to get the job done. Not only is Jasmine committed to her co-workers, she is also committed to our patients. She is a great patient advocate and works with the ED staff to ensure patient satisfaction. She is a wonderful window to our front door.”

    As SVRMC’s January Employee of the Month, Ms. Harvey received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, and a cash prize.

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  3. Obituary-Deanna Maitland Roberts

    Deanna Maitland Roberts, 70, of Emporia, VA passed away on February 28, 2016. She was preceded in death by her parents, George Maitland and Irene Maitland Gwaltney; husband, Floyd Roberts, Jr. and daughter, Penny Rae Roberts. She is survived by her sons, Walter Wingate Futrell, III and wife Pattie and David Lyn Futrell; sisters, Barbara M. Moore and Phyllis M. Capps and husband Jim; granddaughter, Lindsey Brooke Futrell; niece, Lauren Drummond and nephew, Shawn Allen. A visitation will be held 6-8pm, Thursday, March 3rd, at the home of Barbara M. Moore, 626 Madison Street, Emporia, VA. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

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  4. Greensville Elementary Presents Wizard of Reading

    Students at Greensville Elementary School and Belfield Elementary school were treated to a show honoring Dr. Seuss.  Mr. Dean Alan, an artist, author, and magician, presented the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss to the students. The presenter shared well-known Dr. Seuss stories through magic, read aloud, and student participation.

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  5. Chamber of Commerce Joins Suit Against EPA Rules

    By Margaret Carmel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has joined 166 other business organizations in supporting a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s Clean Power Plan, which would require states to cut carbon emissions.

    The move puts the chamber on the opposite side of the issue from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. He has joined 17 other states in filing a brief supporting the regulations.

    Since its unveiling by President Barack Obama in August 2014, the Clean Power Plan has been a contentious issue across the nation. It aims to reduce carbon emissions in the United States by 30 percent by 2030, mostly by regulating coal-burning power plants.

    Like many other business groups, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce worries that the regulations would hurt economic development, especially in rural areas.

    The plan “threatens to drive jobs overseas and force businesses to close, causing harm to communities that provide the workforce for this industry,” the chamber said last week in a friend of the court brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

    “Poor and rural communities will suffer disproportionately because they are served by smaller utilities that will be compelled to shut down or purchasing allowances and credits in renewable energy technologies, the costs of which will be borne by their relatively small base of ratepayers.”

    In November, Herring filed a friend of the court brief in support of the regulations, which would be implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    “I’m proud to stand up for cleaner air and cleaner energy in Virginia,” Herring said. “Our pollution reduction goal is ambitious and achievable, and it gives us a real opportunity to improve the health of our people, our environment, and to grow jobs and businesses in our clean energy sector. We should seize this opportunity.”

    Fighting climate change and sea level rise has been a priority of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Officials have been especially concerned about Hampton Roads, home to Norfolk Naval Base and Langley Air Force Base.

    In the Virginia General Assembly, Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the Clean Power Plan, while Democrats generally support it. Voting along party lines, legislators passed a bill requiring the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to get the assembly’s approval on any state efforts to implement the federal rules. McAuliffe has until midnight Tuesday to sign or veto the legislation (Senate Bill 21).

    Legislators representing Virginia’s coalfields fear that the plan would put many miners out of work. Another major concern is that the regulations would cause a spike in electricity rates. According to an independent study commissioned by National Economic Research Associates, the Clean Power Plan could push electricity prices up between 11 and 14 percent nationwide.

    West Virginia and 28 other states have sued to block the plan. On Feb. 9, in an unprecedented move, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the regulations until the D.C. Court of Appeals rules later this year. The case is expected to return to the Supreme Court.

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  6. Panel Kills Bill to Keep Officers’ Names Secret

    By Margaret Carmel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – After nearly an hour of debate, a legislative panel killed a bill that would have exempted law enforcement officers’ names and training records from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

    A subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee tabled Senate Bill 552 for the General Assembly’s current session. State officials plan to study the issue as part of a review of the state’s FOIA law.

    FOIA allows any citizen to gain access to government documents, including names and salaries of public employees. Currently, personal information such as health records, home addresses, Social Security numbers and bank account information is exempt.

    SB 552, proposed by Sen. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, would have exempted the names and other information about police officers as well. Cosgrove said his measure sought to protect law enforcement officers.

    “Once this information is received by a media outlet, a lawyer or anybody, there’s no controlling that information anymore,” Cosgrove told the subcommittee. “Anybody can FOIA information. It can even be the council of MS-13,” or Mara Salvatrucha, a notorious criminal gang.

    Speaking on the behalf of the Virginia Press Association, attorney Craig T. Merritt stressed the importance of transparency and emphasized the safeguards in existing law to protect police officers.

    “The express purpose of this bill is to take away names produced in bulk – to take away the ability for the public to associate with individual officers with the information that you can get everybody else,” Merritt said. “If you take all of the names out of the database, you can’t tell what a particular officer’s position is or what they’re being paid.”

    Current Virginia law already exempts the identities of undercover officers, mobile phone numbers and tactical plans from FOIA.

    Several high-ranking law enforcement administrators and officers came to speak in support of the bill. Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia, expressed concerns about someone using FOIA to get a database of officers’ names digitally in bulk and then posting it on the Internet.

    “I agree the public has a right to know who their police officers are,” Carroll said. “My concern goes beyond Chesterfield County. This is the World Wide Web when this stuff gets posted.”

    Carroll described several unsolved shooting deaths of off-duty police officers – all assumed to be in retaliation for arresting or testifying against gang members. But Merritt said FOIA wasn’t involved in such incidents.

    “One thing we know for sure is, it could not have been because of a FOIA request, because had there been a FOIA request, there would have been a record,” Merritt said. “The idea that people would use FOIA to accomplish that outcome and identify themselves doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

    M. Wayne Huggins of the Virginia State Police Association cited the need to protect law enforcement officers from new threats, both international and domestic.

    “I never thought I would see the day when a terrorist attack in Paris, France, would cause police officers in Virginia to be threatened,” Huggins said. “I also never thought I would see the day when American citizens marched in the street chanting for dead cops.”

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  7. Home-schoolers Ask Governor to ‘Let Us Play’

    By Margaret Carmel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Supporters of home-schooled students playing sports in public schools unleashed their secret weapon at the Virginia Capital on Wednesday – home-schoolers themselves.

    Home-schooling advocates and their children gathered in the state Capitol to hear remarks from Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, and Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Lynchburg, the sponsors of legislation commonly called the “Tebow bill.”

    Afterward, the home-schoolers and parents signed a large card urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe to sign the legislation into law. The group presented the message to the front gate guard at the Governor’s Mansion.

    The legislation is named after star quarterback Tim Tebow, who played football for a public high school in Florida while being home-schooled. The General Assembly has passed two identical bills that would allow home-schooled students in Virginia to participate in interscholastic sports and other programs at their local public school:

    ·         Senate Bill 612, proposed by Garrett, passed the Senate 22-17 on Feb. 2 and then the House 58-40 on Feb. 19. McAuliffe must decide whether to sign, veto or amend the bill by Monday.

    ·         House Bill 131, introduced by Bell. It cleared the House 58-41 on Jan. 27 and the Senate 23-17 on Monday. McAuliffe’s deadline to act on the measure is next Thursday.

    The bills would prohibit Virginia public schools from joining interscholastic organizations that ban home-schoolers from participating. This would put pressure on the Virginia High School League to allow home-schooled students. The legislation does not require local school boards to let home-schooled students participate in sports or other activities.

    Moreover, the legislation states, “Reasonable fees may be charged to students who receive home instruction to cover the costs of participation in such interscholastic programs, including the costs of additional insurance, uniforms, and equipment.”

    Republicans favor the Tebow bill concept, while Democrats generally oppose it. McAuliffe vetoed similar legislation last year.

    Public school teachers oppose the Tebow bill on grounds that students who do not attend a school should not represent that school on the athletic field. They say there is no way to verify whether home-schoolers have the grades and meet other criteria required of regular school students.

    Garrett said home-schoolers in Virginia deserve the right to participate in school activities.

    “There are home-schoolers in science labs,” he said. “There are home-schoolers on stages. There are home-schoolers in college credit courses. Why aren’t there home-schoolers on our playing fields?”

    Bell added, “For 21 years, we have brought the Tebow bill here to Virginia. There is now only one man who is stopping this from becoming law in Virginia, and that is Gov. McAuliffe.”

    The governor has not indicated what action he might take on the legislation. Home-schooling parents like Polly Seymour from Fluvanna said it was important to come and let their voices be heard.

    “I have a younger son coming up who is excited about sports,” Seymour said. “I’m hoping that by the time he gets to high school, he’ll be able to play in the public schools. Sports is very important in our family, and opportunities to play disappear as they get older.”


  8. Poll: Virginians Think Prisons Cost Too Much

    By Sarah King, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Most Virginians agree that the prison population costs too much money, according to a recent poll by the Charles Koch Institute, an educational public-policy organization, and Prison Fellowship, a Christian nonprofit that advocates for criminal justice reform.

    On Wednesday, the two groups hosted a panel of experts to discuss the poll results and fiscally responsible ways to both reform the prison system and make communities safer.

    “In Virginia, there are actions that can be taken in the short run to dramatically improve our current justice system,” said Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow at the Koch Institute. “We can improve public safety, reduce costs and respect each individual’s dignity.”

    According to the poll:

    ●       36 percent of Virginians rate criminal justice reform among the top five issues most important to them.

    ●       75 percent agree or strongly agree that the prison population is costing too much money.

    ●       80 percent believe people with felony records should have the right to get work certification licenses after their release.

    ●       80 percent agree that the theft of $200 of goods from a retail store should be a misdemeanor offense (not a felony, as under current law).

    ●       By a 3-to-1 margin (64 percent to 21 percent), Virginians support reinstating a parole system.

    ●       Self-described conservative or very conservative Virginians support reinstating parole by a 2-to-1 margin.

    Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran were among the attendees at Wednesday’s panel.

    “We’ve been working on these issues since we took office with Gov. (Terry) McAuliffe,” Moran said. “We’ve had a number of legislation before the General Assembly, and the governor appointed a parole review commission.”

    The discussion was moderated by Christian Braunlich, vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a former member of the Fairfax School Board and a past president of the Virginia Board of Education.

    “For a long time, criminal justice reform was considered something center-left, but recently there’s been some morphing on this issue,” Braunlich said as he opened the panel discussion. “Why are conservatives shifting, and how did Ken Cuccinelli and the ACLU end up in bed together?”

    Braunlich’s question garnered laughs around the room, but Joe Luppino-Esposito had a straightforward answer.

    “A lot of these ideas are based on civil liberties and public safety, which are issues I don’t think anyone’s going to oppose,” said Luppino-Esposito, a policy analyst for the conservative criminal justice initiative Right on Crime.

    Luppino-Esposito pointed at the 75 percent recidivism rate among juvenile offenders at the cost of $150,000 per juvenile.

    “The ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric doesn’t work anymore,” Luppino-Esposito said.

    Eric Alston, the senior policy and research analyst for the Charles Koch Institute, agreed. He cited the added difficulties of re-entry into society when job opportunities are scarce following a conviction.

    “There’s a startling consensus for the need for reform on this issue,” Alston said. “There are 854 collateral consequences for a conviction in Virginia,” Alston said. “For felons alone, there are 404 collateral consequences – 404 routes of opportunity that are now closed.”

    Alston said that he’s not suggesting the elimination of all collateral consequences but that the number of them severely limits an individual’s ability to secure gainful employment.

    “I’m not going to want to invest with someone convicted of a ponzi scheme, but 404 things you generally can’t do? That’s a driving force behind recidivism,” Alston said.

    Craig DeRoche, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at Prison Fellowship, referred to the 75 percent recidivism rate among juveniles as a “failure rate” and stressed the importance of smaller, more accountable facilities to rehabilitate offenders.

    “This is a values discussion,” DeRoche said. “Money is a value, but more importantly is the value of human life. These polling results tell us that the commonwealth has an appetite for a system of criminal justice that truly restores.”

    Martin Brown, former commissioner for the Virginia Department of Social Services and special advisor to the governor, said services must be more family-oriented and help offenders transition back into living their best lives.

    “Fathers, in particular,” Brown said. “There are things I would do for my daughters I would never do for myself. And incarcerated individuals are no different.”

    Brown said it is important to reform the corrections system so it respects both the perpetrators and victims of crime.

    “The state gets everything they can out of the offender,” Brown said. “Often, the victim is looking for a restorative process while the state plays this kabuki dance.”

    The Koch Institute and Prison Fellowship poll was conducted by Survey Sampling International in December. All participants were Virginia residents and were surveyed by use of an opt-in Web-based panel. The survey had 1,000 total respondents with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.


  9. Obituary-Wiley Thomas “Tootie” Jones

    Wiley Thomas “Tootie” Jones, age 77, passed away peacefully, just the way he lived his life, on Saturday, February 27, 2016.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Lonnie Weaver and Florence Ellen Jones; grandson, Joshua Thomas Benton; brother, Wilmer Lee Jones; and nephew, Gary Lee Jones.  He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Patricia Hobbs “Pat” Jones; one daughter, Ellen Jones Abney and husband, Darrell, of Virginia Beach; and “Papa” to one granddaughter, Kaitlyn Anne Benton, Freshman at Longwood University.  Also survived by nephew, Keith Jones, and niece, Alice Jones-McNett.  Family was very important to him.  Graduated from Brunswick High School in 1956 and attended Smithdeal Business College.  Wiley served six years in the Army Reserves, 80th Division Training, Richmond, VA where he was honorably discharged as E-6, Staff Sergeant, in 1974.  Tootie loved the Lord, family and friends and never met a stranger.  He was passionate about giving back in the community he lived. He devoted his time and was a charter and life member of both Eastern Hanover Volunteer Fire Department (member for seven and one-half years) and Triplet Volunteer Fire Department for 40 years.

    A celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville, VA with interment to follow at James Square Baptist Church Cemetery.  Pastor Greg Hand officiating.  Visitation will be from 6:00 to 7:30 PM on Monday, February 29, 2016 at Williams Funeral Home.  In lieu of flowers please consider memorial donations to James Square Baptist Church, P.O. Box 643, 9440 Christanna Highway, Lawrenceville, VA 23868 or to Triplet Volunteer Fire Department, 3548 Triplet Road, Triplet, VA 23868.  Online condolences may be made at www.wmsfhva.com.

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  10. Governor Tours Storm Damaged Areas

    Appomattox County:

    This morning the Governor landed in Appomattox County and toured the community of Evergreen. This is where the county’s one fatality, Edward K. Harris, 78, was living. He was thrown from his residence when the tornado struck his mobile home. His wife was among the 7 who were injured in Wednesday afternoon’s storms. Five of the injured have been treated and released; 2 suffered serious injuries and are still hospitalized.

    All residents in Appomattox County are accounted for and there have been no additional injuries. The county and local residents are spending the day recovering and retrieving their belongings from the 20 homes destroyed in Appomattox County. At least 100 structures suffered damage as a result of the tornado that cut an 8 to 10 mile swath of destruction along Route 460 and through the communities of Evergreen and Red House. See photos

    Town of Waverly:

    Governor McAuliffe’s next stop was in the Town of Waverly to tour the damage and speak with local residents. When a mobile home on Maifield Avenue in the town was struck by the sever storm, three of its residents were killed and a fourth person seriously injured. The deceased have been identified as Larry D. Turner, 50; Devine J. Stringfield, 26, and Ivan T. Lewis, 2. The 30-year-old woman who survived is the mother of the 2-year-old and she remains hospitalized.

    In addition, there were 7 non-life threatening injuries to also occur during the storm in Waverly.

    Anyone needing assistance in the vicinity of Waverly because of yesterday’s storm, or who would like to volunteer to help, or wants to provide donations can contact the Sussex County Housing Office at 804-834-1302.

    Essex County/Tappahannock:

    Later Thursday, Governor McAuliffe made a final stopover in Essex County. A total of 25 persons were injured in the county and Town of Tappahannock as a result of the storm Wednesday night. Injuries ranged from minor to serious.

    Shenandoah County:

    The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the possible death of an elderly female whose vehicle was swept away Thursday morning (Feb. 25) in rising floodwaters from a swollen creek. 

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  11. New Classes Beginning AT SVCC In Mid March

    It is not too late to take a class at Southside Virginia Community College this semester.  Students can catch up or get a head-start with eight week classes beginning the week of March 14, 2016. 

    For more information, call Student Services at 434-736-2022 or 434-949-1067 or visit the college website at www.southside.edu

    New offerings include Online Classes that can be taken from any computer.  The classes are Intermediate Accounting II, Specialized Software Applications, Principles of Microeconomics, College Composition I, Survey of African American Lit. II, Ethics, Principles of Psychology and Religions of the World. 

    Christanna Campus in Alberta is offering Developmental Chemistry for Health Sciences, Intro to Computer Applications and Concepts and College Skills and the John H. Daniel Campus offers Basic Switching and Routing-Cisco, Aerobic Dance and Zumba, and College Success Skills.  At the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, the new 8-week classes are Human Anatomy and Physiology including a Lab.

    Students can also begin registration for Summer classes on March 14, 2016.  For information about Your Community College, visit www.southside.edu

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  12. Powerful Storms Kill Three in Waverly and One in Appomattox

    Town of Waverly:

    At approximately 2:40 p.m., Virginia State Police began responding to incidents of severe storm damage in the Town of Waverly along Route 40.

    A 50-year-old male, 26-year-old male and 2-year-old male were killed when their mobile home was destroyed in the storm. All three were found approximately 300 yards from the mobile home. The bodies were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Norfolk for positive identification.

    In addition, there are at least 4 other structures damaged within the town limits as a result of this storm. There are no reports of any missing persons.

    There were reports in the area of seeing a funnel cloud, but there has been no official declaration of it being a tornado.

    A second band of storm warnings are moving through the region at this time…and area residents are advised to take shelter and stay tuned to weather alerts and warnings.

    A 7:30 p.m. curfew was put into effect for the Town of Waverly, meaning that no residents should be driving/walking within the town limits. This is for their safety as crews continue clean up in the area. Residents are also asked to stay at their residences, as first responders are going door-to-door overnight to make certain all residents are accounted for. Town and county residents are asked to avoid travel overnight due to debris and downed trees in the roadways.


    Appomattox County:

    APPOMATTOX CO., Va. – Appomattox County was severely impacted Wednesday (Feb. 24) by a reported funnel cloud that left an 8-10 mile path of destruction in its wake. At this hour, there are seven confirmed injuries resulting from the storm and multiple structures damaged along Route 460 and Route 727, and into the communities of Evergreen and Promise Land.  Of the seven injuries, two are serious. State and local first responders are currently in Evergreen searching for a missing adult male whose residence was destroyed in the storm.

    There are numerous downed trees and power lines county wide, with an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 residences currently without electricity.

    Appomattox County has set up two shelters for local residents:

    • The Community Center at 220 Community Lane in the Town of Appomattox
    • Pamplin Fire Department

    All Appomattox County schools are closed Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, as clean up continues through the morning hours and roads are re-opened. Many students remain at the Appomattox Primary School, as the school district is working to contact parents. Buses were cancelled for the students’ safety as roads became impassable due the volume of downed trees and power lines blocking so numerous county roads.

    The county is currently in the process of setting up a Help Line at 434-352-2637 for residents with up-to-date information and available resources. In addition, the county is posting updates on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Appomattox-County-Virginia-128985430508618/

    The Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police are advising residents to avoid traveling in and around the county, especially overnight. Roads are extremely hazardous due to debris, downed trees, and damaged utility poles. There may also be standing/high water in some areas.

    At approximately 10:30 p.m., Wednesday (Feb. 24), the missing adult male in the Evergreen community of Appomattox County was located. His residence was destroyed by the reported funnel cloud that swept through the region of Evergreen and Red House. His remains will be transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for positive identification. Total injured in Appomattox County remain at 7.

    Essex County/Town of Tappahannock:

    At approximately 7:30 p.m., Wednesday (Feb. 24), the storm passed through Essex County and the Town of Tappahannock. At least 30 structures were damaged, with 15 completely destroyed. A total of 25 injuries reported, ranging from minor to serious. There are no confirmed fatalities.

    At this time several local roads are closed due to downed trees, power lines and debris. Local residents are being asked to avoid driving as it is dangerous due to the many road hazards and closures.  

    Top Photo: State and local law enforcement took shelter inside an on-scene Command Post during the 2nd wave of storms and to brief/plan for the overnight scene security within the Town, resources necessary for continuing clean up and residential safety checks.  Lower Photo:  Funnel Cloud in Appomattox County,

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  13. Obituary-Bennie Lee Acree

    Mr. Bennie Lee Acree, age 73, passed away peacefully at his home,  February 24, 2016, surrounded by his family and friends.  Mr. Acree was a member of Calvary Baptist Church and a deacon.  He was a self-employed contractor for 41-years, a  avid fisherman and a Stew-Master.  He is survived by 1-son Bruce Acree and wife Sharon of Emporia, daughters, Darlene Woodard and husband Dennis, of Branchville, Va., Hope Carter & husband Jason of Lake Gaston and Tina Hantz and husband John of Roanoke Rapids, N. C.; companion, Yvonne Wilhelm, of the home, Grandchildren, Andrew Acree, Austin Falwell, Scott Acree, Brittany Carter , Michael Hantz, Kayla Carter and Emilee Hantz and numerous brothers and sisters.

    A visitation will be held Saturday, February 27 from 11:00 A. M. to 1:00 P. M. at the Echols Funeral Home Chapel, 806 Brunswick Ave., Emporia, Virginia where funeral services will be conducted at 1:00 P. M. with interment to follow at the Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences  may be made to the family at. www.echolsfuneralhome.com.


  14. City of Emporia Business Licenses Due March 1

    2016 Business Personal Property and 2016 Business and Professional Business Licenses are due to be filed with the Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue, 201 South Main Street no later than Tuesday, March 1st to avoid penalties.  The mailing address is Commissioner of the Revenue, P.O. Box 956, Emporia, VA 23847.  If you have any questions or concerns please call 434/634-5405.

    Joyce E. Prince

    Commissioner of the Revenue



  15. GOP Presidential Candidate Kasich Speaks at VCU

    By Sterling Giles, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Ohio Gov. John Kasich, often seen as a moderate among the candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, brought his campaign Monday night to Virginia Commonwealth University, where he was greeted by hundreds of supporters and a handful of protesters.

    “I like to call it how I see it,” Kasich said during a town hall meeting on VCU’s Medical College of Virginia campus. During the event, he discussed topics such as immigration – something GOP frontrunner Donald Trump adamantly opposes. Kasich said he does not condone illegal immigration but wasn’t opposed to having illegal aliens pursue legalization.

    Kasich’s visit came eight days before Super Tuesday, when Virginia and nine other states will hold their presidential primary elections.

    Kasich received less than 2 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1 – far behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But Kasich made a strong showing in the Feb. 23 New Hampshire primary: He received about 16 percent of the vote, finishing second to Trump’s 35 percent.

    In Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Kasich finished fifth with less than 8 percent of the vote. Trump won that primary with more than 32 percent of the vote; Rubio and Cruz each received about 22 percent.

    Despite his poor showing in opinion surveys, Kasich remains tenacious, Barney Skladany, a longtime friend of the Ohio governor, said in an interview at VCU.

    “He woke up for 120 mornings and worked from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Then, he would come home and tune in to CNN and see that he is at 1 percent in the national polls. But he kept waking up each day,” Skladany said.

    The College Republicans at VCU hosted the town hall at the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building. In the adjacent courtyard, a small group of college-aged protesters shouted criticisms of Kasich and his positions.

    Emily Bolton, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said Kasich “claims he is a moderate but he really is a Republican. He is anti-women, he doesn’t give them the right to choose and he has been cutting funding to abortion clinics. He also said that ‘women left the kitchen’ to campaign for him.”

    That was a reference to a remark Kasich made earlier Monday at a town hall at George Mason University in Fairfax. Describing how he got elected to the Ohio Legislature in the 1970s, Kasich said, “I didn't have anybody for me. We just got an army of people who, um, and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and to put yard signs up for me.”

    A few hours before the VCU event, Kasich apologized for the comment on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

    “Without the power of all the women who helped me out early in my career to give me a chance to hold public office, I wouldn’t have made it – and I’m grateful for all the work they put in for me and many of them that still do,” Kasich said on the news program.

    In one of the most memorable moments at the VCU meeting, a woman told Kasich that five members of her family – including her 16-year-old son – had committed suicide. She asked the candidate how he would improve mental health care. Kasich said the government must help people who “live in the shadows.” He also reminisced on the death of his parents, who were killed by a drunken driver.

    One of Kasich’s top campaign issues has been to balance the federal government’s budget and pay down the national debt. He said that as a result of his reforms, Ohio was able to rebound from recession. The state budget has climbed out of the red and is currently balanced, Kasich said, and the unemployment rate is at 4.7 percent – the lowest in more than a decade.

    Unlike most of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, Kasich has not bashed the other candidates and their policies. That approach appeals to his supporters.

    Jordan Gray, a student assembly delegate at Christopher Newport University, said he appreciated how empowering Kasich was. “He is a man who isn’t going to attack for personal gain. He is about building up the common people.”


  16. Brunswick Academy "All A Breakfast"

    Several years ago Brunswick Academy began recognizing High School students who make the Headmaster's List at the end of each semester.  To obtain the Headmaster's List, students in Grades 9 - 12 must maintain all A's (95 and above) for the entire semester.  

    This year students and their parents were honored at an "All A Breakfast" on Friday, February 19, 2016 at Brian's Steak House.  Mr. Peebles Harrison, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Hampden-Sydney College and a Brunswick Academy graduate of the Class of 1985 spoke to the students.  Congratulations to all students!

    Front Row - (L-R:)  Sydney Robertson, Halie Sadler, Howard Wright, Hannah Glenn, Courtney Walton, Hannah Waller, Savannah Greene, Morgan Moore, Ashley Clary, Samantha Woyer and Yuwei (Tiffany) Wang.  Back Row:  (L-R) Dallas Hawthorne, Garrett Ramsey, Grant Bradley, Zachary Clary

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  17. What’s Alive and Dead as Bills ‘Cross Over’

    By Sarah King, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Wednesday marked the midpoint of the General Assembly’s session – colloquially referred to as “crossover day.” From this day forward, the House can consider only bills passed by the Senate, and the Senate can consider only legislation passed by the House.

    That is why lawmakers were in a frenzy through Tuesday trying to get their bills through their chamber of origin. Now is a good time to take stock of what measures have “crossed over” and are still alive – and what proposals are dead for the session.

    Still alive: These bills may become law

    Passed in the House

    Of the 1,391 House bills introduced at the start of the session, 575 have passed the House. Here is a sampling.

    Home Schooling: HB 131 would allow home-schooled students to participate in afterschool activities – including sports – as long as they qualify academically and live in the school district where they are participating.

    Aircraft Regulation: HB 412 would prevent Virginia localities from creating laws to regulate drones unless explicitly given that power by the General Assembly.

    International Trade: HB 858 would create the Virginia International Trade Authority to promote trade with other nations. Officials hope it would lead to an increase in Virginia exports.

    Corkage Law: HB 706 would allow customers bring their own beer or cider to a restaurant and drink it there; the restaurant could charge the customers a corkage fee. The existing corkage law applies only to wine.

    Government Nondiscrimination Act: HB 773 would prohibit government agencies from taking “any discriminatory action” against someone who has “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” opposing same-sex marriage.

    Freedom of Information Act: HB 220 states any resumes or applications submitted by people appointed by the governor should be available to the public upon request.

    Passed in the Senate

    Of the 781 Senate bills introduced at the start of the session, 383 have passed the Senate. They include:

    Alcohol at Restaurants: SB 488 would change the rules on how restaurants calculate the percentage of alcohol-to-food sale requirement. Currently, restaurants must make 55 percent or more of their sales from food products and a maximum of 45 percent of sales from liquor and mixed drinks. SB 488 would let restaurants calculate the percentages based on the costs they pay for food and alcohol, instead of on the sales.

    Loyalty Oaths: SB 686 would prohibit political parties from requiring loyalty oaths as a requirement to vote in Virginia’s traditionally open presidential primary.

    Drug Offenses / Suspended Licenses: SB 327 would change the existing law that motorists lose their driver’s license for six months when convicted of a drug offense. Under the bill, the law would no longer apply to simple possession of marijuana.

    Unmanned Aircraft Regulation: SB 729 would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly use a drone to commit a crime or interfere with police or emergency medical personnel.

    Spirit Consumption / Licensure: SB 536 would increase from 1.5 ounces to 4.5 ounces the quantity of spirits a licensed distiller may serve a consumer at a tasting event.

    Sex Offender Registry: SB 11 would remove the name and address of the employer of a sex offender from the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry that the Virginia State Police post on the Internet.

    Dead for this year: These bills stalled in their house of origin

    Most of these bills never made it out of committee; some were defeated on floor votes.

    Same-Sex Marriage: Democrats were pushing for HB 5 and SB 10, as well as Senate Joint Resolutions 2, 9 and 32. These bills and proposed constitutional amendments sought to remove the prohibitions in state law and the Virginia Constitution against same-sex marriage.

    School Calendar: HB 93 would have allowed local school board to start classes before Labor Day. Under current law, schools must open after Labor Day unless state officials grant the local district a waiver.

    Voting Rights / Nonviolent Felons: HB 107 would have provided the automatic restoration of voting eligibility for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, with the exception of drug offenses and election fraud.

    Abortion: HB 43 would have removed the requirement for women to undergo fetal transabdominal ultrasounds before getting an abortion.

    Conceal Carry: HB 443 would have allowed anyone to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

    Cigarette Taxes: HB 419 would have allowed all counties to impose a cigarette tax; currently only Fairfax and Arlington counties can do so.

    Texting While Driving: HB 73 would have increased the fines for texting while driving from $125 to $250 for the first offense and $250 to $500 for subsequent offenses.

    Fireworks: SB 208 would have legalized the sale and use of fireworks in Virginia.

    Marijuana: SB 104 sought to decriminalize simple marijuana possession and instead provide a civil penalty of no more than $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation and $500 for a third or subsequent violation. Currently, first offenders face up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

    Casinos: SB 32, 33 and 34 would have legalized casino gambling in localities where at least 40 percent of the land is government-owned and exempt from local property taxes.

    License Plates / Sons of Confederate Veterans: SB 45 would have allowed the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use its logo on specialty license plates.

    Hate Crimes: SB 82 would have expanded the definition of hate crimes to include criminal acts committed because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Handguns: SB 97 would have prohibited anyone who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period.

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  18. Greensville Elementary School Celebrates 100 Days

    Some students in Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Ramirez's Kindergarten classes came to school "100 Years Old" in celebration of 100 Days of School.


  19. GES Students Earn Field Trip

    Greensville Elementary third and fourth grade students who made straight A's for the 2nd nine weeks were treated to a day at Swader's and CiCi's Pizza for lunch.

    2nd 9 Weeks All A’s

    4th grade

    Arlie Archer and Aidan Dickens

    Inez Smith

    3rd grade

    Kashayla Crawley, Dishon Drumgoole, Jackson Link, and Noah Magness

    Ryan Dickens, Allie Jarratt, Ja’Miracle Lewis, and Blake Vincent

    Nikolas Gillam and Jonathan Mise

    Tatiana Jones

    Maliek Murrell

    Malik Franklin and Marlos Stith

    Da’Niyah Hicks

     Lucy Watson and Kasey Scott

    Zoie Williams

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  20. Eight Arrested in Protest Against Dominion

    By Kyle Taylor, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Eight people were arrested for trespassing on the Capitol steps Saturday, following a rowdy march of environmental activists against Dominion Power’s plans to release treated water from coal ash ponds into the James River.

    The event – “Dump Dominion, a march for our rivers” – was sponsored by the group No ACP. That abbreviation stands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which Dominion plans to build across western Virginia to carry natural gas. Many environmentalists oppose the pipeline as well as the company’s plans for disposing of coal ash.

    Hundreds of environmental activists and other citizens rallied at noon at the Bell Tower in the Capitol Square, protesting what they see as Dominion’s environmentally destructive practices. The environmentalists want the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to rescind state permits that Dominion has received to release treated water from the coal ash ponds into waterways.

    According to the organization’s pamphlet, “spreading toxic coal ash throughout our communities and poisoning our water is not a solution. The DEQ must repeal these discharge permits immediately and rewrite them to ensure that Dominion complies with their own promises to treat the wastewater to drinking quality standards.”

    After hearing from guest speakers, the protesters were lined up at the entrance to Capitol Square on Ninth Street by the event’s organizers. The group included trained legal observers, media liaisons and liaisons to communicate specifically with police officers.

    Participants in the march wrapped around the block and to the entrance to the visitor center under the state Capitol building. Many of the protesters were dressed in costumes or wore anti-coal-ash logos on their shirts.

    They carried signs painted with such messages as “Poisoning waters will poison you” and “Dominion, we see you power here, but what about your conscience?” In the crowd were large-scale puppets, dogs with protest signs around their necks, and men beating drums.

    People with megaphones led chants, including “Dump Dominion, protect our children” and “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like.”

    There were about 700 to 800 protesters in all, and they spanned the entire block. They included young children on the shoulders of their parents and other youth helping to hold signs.

    After marching past both the headquarters of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Dominion Power, the protesters returned to Capitol Square. They branched off into two groups at the fork in the sidewalk leading to the steps of the Capitol.

    Encouraged by the crowd, more than 110 protesters ascended and stood on the Capitol steps, with their banners and signs. They continued to shout until the time for the march permit ran out at 3 p.m.

    Evan Hoffman, a Richmond native, shared his reason for staying on the stairs until the permit time expired.

    “I am on the stairs because I care deeply about the river. It has nourished us in many different ways, and we’re just being irresponsible with our future. It’s mind-blowing,” Hoffman said. “I’m here to offer my support and show that there are many people who want alternatives for the environment. With enough people power, we can hopefully make it right.”

    By 3:30, more than 40 police officers assembled on the Capitol steps or around the Capitol building, ready to take action against the handful of protesters who remained. The police gave the demonstrators a five-minute warning.

    The demonstrators on the Capitol steps linked arms and waited until the warning was up. Police officers un-linked the protesters one by one and removed them from the steps. They were led around the side of the Capitol, where all of them signed a summons to appear before a local court for trespassing.

    In all, eight people were arrested, including this reporter, who was on the Capitol steps interviewing demonstrators.

    Before the arrests, during the march through downtown Richmond, speakers from several organizations talked about a variety of topics. Camille Spencer, of the Virginian Student Environmental Coalition, used a bullhorn to discuss the connection between climate change and colonialism.

    “Climate change is economic injustice, it’s colonialism. Right now, our government values profit from the fossil fuel industry over human life,” Spencer said. She cited as an example “what we’re experiencing right now with them (Dominion) trying to dump coal ash in rivers and lakes.”

    Dennis Williams, the mobile market manager at Shalom Farms, said environmental destruction and racism are linked.

    “The constellations of oppression in our society depend on the ethics of domination and neglect passed down through the generations from land-owning whites of the 15th century to today’s corporation owners and politicians whose power grows from social inequality and environmental degradation,” Williams said.

    “Today, we stand in that tradition. We are holding corporations and governments accountable for the segregation of communities and of environment. We will shine light on the accumulated cause and the embedded destruction of greed and capitalism, the inhalation of coal dust and the drinking of lead water is on their tab.”

    Drew Gallagher, field organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, shared his thoughts on Dominion before the march began.

    “When I think of Dominion, I think of a company that’s really good at two things,” Gallagher said. “I think of a company that’s really good at finding anything and everything they can to stick their name on – including ironically, a festival designed to celebrate life on a river which they want to dump hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic coal ash into. I also think of a company that’s really good at giving money to politicians – the No. 1 campaign contributor to everyone that works in the General Assembly Building.”

    Representatives for Dominion said that there has been misinformation about the coal ash issue.

    “No coal ash will be released into Virginia’s waterways. In fact, our plan is designed to safeguard against that,” said Janell Hancock, senior communications specialist and media relations for Dominion Virginia Power.

    “The Virginia State Water Control Board in January approved strict permits regulating the discharge of water from the Possum Point and Bremo ponds. The de-watering of these impoundments is a key part of the closure process. The water will be thoroughly processed in treatment facilities to make sure it meets or surpasses all permit requirements and protects human health and the environment.”

    Hancock added: “We are committed to keeping the public informed about this important project, including regularly posting information about the plan on our website at https://www.dom.com/coalash. The project will be transparent – the public will have access to the results of the water quality tests and can see for themselves that the water meets the permit requirements and will protect human health and the environment.”

    David Botkins, director of media relations and communications for Dominion Virginia Power, said environmentalists have distorted the company’s actions to alarm the public and raise money.

    “Our employees love and cherish the rivers and environment as much as they do. The difference is we aren’t going to spread misinformation and distort the truth as part of a larger fundraising campaign. We’ll continue to do the right thing of keeping the lights on and securing Virginia’s energy future,” Botkins said.

    “While we respectfully appreciate the right to peaceful protest, there is a lot of misinformation out there being perpetuated about our closure of coal ash pond.”

    Botkins said that the federal government has required Dominion to close the coal ash ponds and that “we are going about it in a very safe and environmentally responsible way.”

    “Oftentimes, the organizations such as the ones that are protesting at the Capitol today get people riled up and unnecessarily worried and concerned, creating anxiety and panic – by spreading misinformation all in an effort to raise funds and generate media attention for their organization or nonprofit.”

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  21. A Report from the Virginia General Assembly

    The Virginia General Assembly has now reached the midpoint of the 2016 legislative session known as the “Cross Over” on February 16, 2016.  A total of 2,798 was introduced during this year session. I would like to inform you of the most important bipartisan legislative actions and updates that was passed in the House of Delegates and now proceeds to the Senate committees. 

     There has been an increasing concerns on Public Safety across the country.  However, with much intensive bipartisan negotiations several public safety legislation was passed to help save lives in the Commonwealth.

     HB 1163 – This piece of legislation requires weapon permits from individuals who enter Virginia from states have a Virginia to honor concealed carry permitting process. It also will preserve the right of Virginia concealed carry permit holders to have their permits honored in states that require mutual agreements.

    HB 1386 – This bill will give the Virginia State Police statutory authority to perform background checks on the behalf of private sellers at firearms shows.This bill will require the Virginia State Police to be present at every gun show inthe Commonwealth to perform background checks and the apprehension of those making illegal purchases.

    HB 1391– This bill will prohibit a person subject to a permanent protective order from possessing a firearm for the duration of the order.  The bill will require the subjects of the protective order to transfer or sell his or her firearms within 24 hours.   

    HB 20 - Requested by the peanut grower extends the sunset of $0.30 per pound excise tax on all peanuts grown in and sold in Virginia from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2021. The proceeds from tax are used for promoting the sales and use of Virginia Peanuts.

    HB 1377- Decreases class sizes for elementary grades and at any time the number of students in a class exceeds the class limits, the local school division shall notify the parent of each student in such a class of such fact no later than 10 days after the date on which the class exceeded the class size limit.

    HB 46 -Secretary of Education will establish a 21 member Early Education Workforce Committee with the key goal of ensuring an effective professional development and credentialing system for the early childhood education workforce in the Commonwealth.

     Additionally, I submitted budget amendments that are being discussed in the Appropriations committee.   Item 3.6-05 #3h request would delete language that would allow the state to seize a portion of local fines and forfeitures resulting from traffic tickets and over 1 million dollars in funds would return to 33 localities including Sussex ($32,352.58), Greensville ($41,495.97) Southampton ($29,605.47), and Emporia ($95,115.08).  

    Item 394 #4Hrequested payment in lieu of taxes from the Department of Corrections for Sussex ($450,00), Southampton( 47,000 and Greensville County (200,000). Item 73 #1h – This amendment provides additional funding necessary to convert the Commonwealth Attorney office in Surry County from a part time to a full time position and lastly, Item 495 #2h would provide $55,000 for the Southampton Historical Society.   A budget is expected to be printed on Sunday, February 21, 2016.

    Your help is need to fight for funding for Southside Virginia. Please feel free to contact or email members of the Appropriation Committee and voice your concern.  Always feel free to contact me at my Richmond office 804 698-1075 or email delrtyler@house.virginia.gov.

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  22. Obituary-Linda Simmons Newsome

    Linda Simmons Newsome, 55, of Emporia passed away on February 17, 2016. She is survived by her husband, W.C. Newsome, Jr.; children, Crystal Bowen, James Burnette, Michelle Alexanders, Jessie Burnette, Jimmy Burnette, and Christopher Lucas; step-daughters, Lori Harrup and Amanda Newsome; grandchildren, Ashley Newsome, Taylor Newsome, Hayley Newsome, Logan Burnette, Morgan Burnette, Maddie Burnette, Dylan Newsome, Alexis Burnette, Makenzie Burnette, BriAnna Alexanders, Raigen Alexanders, Valerie Harrup, and Presley Butler; mother, Grace Clark; five brothers, one sister and numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held Friday, 6:30-8pm, in Echols Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, 2pm, in Echols Funeral Home Chapel followed by interment in Mount Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

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  23. Cancer Research and Resource Center Hosts Veteran’s Support Group

    Mr. Jose Illa, Transition Patient Advocate shares with Veterans the HealtheVet.com program at the first Veterans Support Group hosted by the Cancer Research and Resource Center.

    The Cancer Research and Resource Center hosted the first Veteran’s Support Group facilitated by Mr. Jose Illa, Transition Patient Advocate from McGuire VAMC.  Many topics were discussed including billing and benefits.  Next month’s meeting will be held on March 8, 2016 from 10:00 am until noon at the Center 221 North Main Street, Lawrenceville, VA and will include a segment devoted to the VA’s My HealtheVet program.  My HealtheVet is a web-based application that creates a new, online environment where Veterans, family, and clinicians may come together to optimize Veterans’ health care.  Veterans with a premium My HealtheVet account will have access to the following features:

    1. The VA Blue Button to print, save or download personal health information and portions of VA health records
    2. VA Prescription refills
    3. VA Appointments
    4. VA Lab results
    5. Secure Messaging to communicate non-urgent matters with their VA health care team.

    All Veterans are welcome to attend.  Gwen McMillian, the My HealtheVet coordinator from McGuire VAMC will be available to answer any My HealtheVet questions and assist with enrollment.  If you need further information, please feel free to stop by the Center at 221 North Main Street, Lawrenceville, VA  23868, phone 434-532-8190 or email vjtaylor@vcu.edu or ttaylor37@vcu.edu.  The Center is funded by VCU Massey Cancer Center and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

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  24. GCHS Celebrates SkillsUSA Week

    SkillsUSA members at Greensville County Highs School are celebrated SkillsUSA Week during February 7-13, 2016 in conjunction with National Career and Technical Education Month.

    Jada Brown (pictured at right, participating with the AKA One Million Backpacks project) is chairperson of SkillsUSA Week Activities at Greensville County High School where students are active in SkillsUSA. Members have plan the following activities for this week:

    • Monday: Signing of the SkillsUSA proclamation with principal Mrs. Burton
    • Tuesday: Business and Industry Field Trips: Gateway Bank and SteelFab
    • Wednesday:  Presentation of SkillsUSA power point in various classrooms
    • Thursday: Campus Cleanup – cancelled due to inclement weather
    • Friday:   SkillsUSA  Valentine Social

    Greensville County High School SkillsUSA has been busy since the beginning of school attending competition at the Virginia State Fair, participating in leadership development training, and various community service projects. The organization officers are Jada Brown (President), Taylor Powell, (Vice President), Samantha Dickens, (Secretary), Titiana Nicholson (Treasurer), Regan Drake (Reporter), Ishmael Muhammad (Parliamentary) and Haylee Miller (Chaplain).

    SkillsUSA is a national organization serving high school and college students and professional members enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled, and service occupations, including health occupations in high schools and college/technical schools.

    SkillsUSA has more than 360,000 members annually, organized into 18,000 sections and 53 state and territorial associations (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).

    SkillsUSA prepares America’s high performance workers. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills.

    SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA improves the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training. For more information visit www.skillsusa.org.


    Above right: SkillsUSA members participating in The Heart Truth Walk and balloon release.  Above left: SkillsUSA members on a tour at SteelFab

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  25. Obituary-Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

    Harry F. Byrd, Sr., 80, of Emporia, passed away Monday, February 15, 2016. He is survived by his wife, Martha P. Byrd; son, Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and wife, Tane; grandson, William “Will” Watson Byrd and a number of nieces and nephews. Mr. Byrd was preceded in death by two brothers and three sisters. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb 18 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, February 19. Entombment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may to Faith Baptist Church, 951 W. Atlantic St., Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

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  26. Obituary-Frances Pope Tillar

    Frances Pope Tillar, age 96, of Emporia, died on February 15, 2016, after a long battle with failing health.  She was born on June 9, 1919, to Amos Person and Grace Wilroy Pope in Drewyville, Virginia.  She was educated in Southampton County and graduated as Valedictorian of her senior class.  She then attended Farmville State Teachers College (now Longwood University) and graduated in 1940 with a B.S. in Education.  She taught school in Southampton County for a year before marrying Vernon I’Anson Tillar, DDS on April 15, 1941.  They were married for sixty-five years until his death on July 5, 2006. In December 1941, she and Vernon heard on the radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Vernon volunteered and served as Captain in the Army Dental Corps during World War II.  Frances accompanied him to Camp Blanding in Gainesville, Florida, where he was stationed for three and a half years as Chief of Prosthodontics at a three thousand-bed Army hospital.  Frances taught school while living in Gainesville.  After the war, they returned to Emporia where he practiced dentistry for fifty-two years.  Frances worked with him in his office on Hicksford Avenue until he retired in 1986.  In 1963, she and Vernon acquired one of the first lots on Lake Gaston in Little Emporia before the lake was even filled with water.  The lake home always held a special place in her heart for more than fifty years, and she loved spending time there with her family.

    Frances was active in the Emporia community until she moved to Richmond to live with her daughter, Kay, on December 13, 2013.  She was a long-time member of the Emporia Book Club, several bridge clubs and the Hicksford Chapter of the N.S.D.A.R., where she served as Registrar for more than thirty years.  She was the leader of Girl Scout Troop 23 for ten years.  Although she was raised a Methodist, she joined Main Street Baptist Church after marrying Vernon.  She served there in many capacities including Sunday school teacher, GA leader, Vacation Bible School Director, choir member, Building Committee member for the new Sanctuary, George Braswell Circle member, Trustee and deacon.  In 1979, she became the first woman to be elected Chairman of the Board of Deacons.  She always loved her church, and it was a very important part of her life.

    She is predeceased by both of her parents, her husband, and one sister, Kathryn Wilroy Pope.  She is survived by two daughters of Richmond, Terry Tillar Fields, her husband, William George Fields, and Kathryn Tillar Montgomery and her husband, William Louis Montgomery; three grandchildren, Tillar Scott Fields and his wife Melissa, Mason Tillar Montgomery and Kathryn Pope Montgomery; and three great grandchildren, Grace Tillar Fields, William George Fields II, and EsméFee Fields. 

    Visitation will be held on Friday, February 19 from 4-6 p.m. at Echols Funeral Home, 806 Brunswick Avenue, Emporia, VA. Graveside funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 20 at 11 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 12:00 p.m. at Main Street Baptist Church conducted by the Rev. Dr. Ricky Hurst and the Rev. Dr. George Braswell.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Main Street Baptist Church, 440 S. Main Street, Emporia, VA 23847.

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  27. 10 Communities Get ‘Main Street’ Grants

    By Margaret Carmel, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Before the rise of chain discount stories and online shopping, all across the country Main Street was the place where a town’s residents would come together. Now, many of these once-cherished areas have fallen by the wayside as stores and restaurants turned to shuttered storefronts and empty office buildings.

    To help revitalize these downtowns, Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday awarded $150,000 in community development grants to 10 towns and small cities around the state as part the Virginia Main Street program. They can use the money to renovate buildings, revitalize historic neighborhoods and attract businesses to aging downtowns.

    “Main Street communities play an important role in building a new Virginia economy by energizing our downtowns, providing access to capital and creating very unique places for entrepreneurs to work and grow their businesses,” McAuliffe said.

    The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development administers the Virginia Main Street funding. Grant recipients can use the money in different ways.

    The city of Hopewell and the towns of Altavista, Blackstone and Saint Paul were awarded financial feasibility grants, which help communities conduct engineering studies and construction evaluations to repurpose specific buildings. (Hopewell will receive $15,000; Altavista and Blackstone, $10,000 each; and Saint Paul, $2,500.)

    The cities of Bristol and Staunton and the towns of Bedford, Culpeper, Luray and Marion were awarded downtown investment grants. These funds help communities implement a long-term strategy for growing downtown business districts. (Staunton will get $25,000; Bedford, Bristol and Marion, $20,000 each; Luray, $15,000; and Culpeper, $12,500.)

    As a past recipient of a downtown investment grant, the Hopewell Downtown Partnership used $100,000 to help new businesses launch in the downtown business district.

    “We were able to launch four new businesses: a restaurant, pizzeria, fitness center and a candy store,” said Evan Kaufman, the executive director of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership. ”We’ve taken an area that used to see a 50 percent vacancy rate, and now we’re turning it around through a combination of historical renovation, façade improvements and planning new events and festivals.”

    Hopewell will use its financial feasibility grant to repurpose an empty city office building into a maker space – a workshop where residents can come and design prototypes for new business ideas.

    “It’s like a gym, but for people who like to work with their hands. It offers them a place to work with tools and make things,” Kaufman explained. “We want to put a new use to a historic building that’s been vacant to bring a new vitality to the district.”

    Staunton will use its grant for business retention. The city will put the money toward improving the connections between downtown businesses and the surrounding communities, said Julie Markowitz, executive director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association.

    “The whole idea is to connect and reconnect the community with downtown,” Markowitz said. “We’re going to be implementing a campaign called ‘Shop Staunton’ and launching our downtown discount card.”

    Staunton will also launch an event called “Staunton Stories” where residents bring in items and tell stories about their communities. The items and stories will be digitized and displayed in a downtown exhibit in June.

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  28. House OK’s Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

    By James Miessler, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In a swipe at Planned Parenthood, the House on Tuesday passed a bill to prohibit the Virginia Department of Health from funding clinics that provide abortions except in the case of rape or incest or if the mother’s life is endangered.

    Delegates voted 64-35 along party lines for House Bill 1090, which would cut off state funding for programs or facilities that offer abortions that would not be reimbursed under Medicaid, a federal-state program for low-income Americans. Republicans supported the measure; Democrats opposed it.

    The bill, sponsored by Del. Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst, states, “The Department shall not enter into a contract with, or make a grant to, any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where non-federally qualified abortions are performed.”

    Except in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment of the mother, abortion is not a Medicaid service.

    Supporters of Planned Parenthood say HB 1090 is aimed at that organization. Planned Parenthood clinics provide an array of health-care services, including abortions.

    “This bill cannot become law. The intent of this bill is clear – to shame and coerce women from accessing safe and legal abortion and ban access to Planned Parenthood,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

    “We need to trust and respect women to make their own private, personal health-care decisions, and that includes selecting their own health care providers.”

    Cline said his bill would “defund Planned Parenthood and redirect funds to more comprehensive health care for women.” Planned Parenthood could continue receiving state funds if it stopped offering abortions, he said.

    “It’s up to them whether they want to provide non-Medicaid funded abortions,” Cline said.

    However, according to an analysis of HB 1090 by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget, the bill would affect more than Planned Parenthood.

    The department’s impact statement said the legislation would prevent the Virginia Department of Health from doing business with many hospitals, including those operated by Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia.

    “The provisions of the bill would require VDH to cancel all agreements with entities such as VCU Health Systems, the UVA Medical Centers, and most other hospitals throughout the Commonwealth that maintain or operate facilities where non-federally qualified abortions are performed,” the statement said.

    After being passed by the House, HB 1090 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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  29. Weather Wreaks Havoc on Virginia Roads

    With nightfall and continuing precipitation, Virginia’s highways – especially in the Metro-Richmond area – turned exceptionally slick and deadly. State police are currently on scene of two fatal traffic crashes – one in Chesterfield County and a second in Loudoun County. In addition, two troopers and a firefighter have been struck at existing crash scenes within the past few hours in the Metro-Richmond region.

    At this time, there have been 3 reported fatal crashes to occur Monday (Feb. 15) in Virginia.

    Due to the icy conditions, Virginians are still being asked to avoid unnecessary travel, if at all possible, overnight.

    As of 9:15 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police are on scene of 97 traffic crashes statewide and responding to an additional 14 disabled vehicles across the Commonwealth:

    Division I–Richmond (Metro Richmond/Northern Neck/Tri-Cities)

    Traffic Crashes=64       

    • Henrico County: At 4:59 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police responded to three separate vehicles that had spun off and around the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 at the 195 mile marker in Henrico County. As a VSP sergeant was on scene assisting a male driver of a Jeep that had spun out, when a Chevrolet Camaro spun out and struck the Jeep. The male driver was struck by the Jeep and then the Camaro. The Camaro then struck the Sergeant’s patrol car. As the Sergeant and a trooper were aiding the struck male driver, who was in the interstate lane…another vehicle lost control and struck the sergeant’s patrol car. The sergeant was not injured. The male driver was transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The driver and passenger of the Camaro were transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
    • Chesterfield County: At 5:14 p.m. Monday (Feb. 15), Virginia State Police were called to a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of Route 288 north of Lucks Lane in Chesterfield County. The vehicles ran off the road and into the median. One of the drivers was transported from the scene for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The trooper, one of the drivers and a passenger were standing in the median when another vehicle ran off of Route 288 and crashed into them. The vehicle kept going and came to a stop after striking the trooper’s patrol car. The impact of the crash threw one of the pedestrians into a nearby Chesterfield County firefighter. That pedestrian died at the scene. The state trooper and other pedestrian were transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. The Chesterfield County firefighter was transported to St. Francis Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. The Virginia State Police Richmond Division Crash Reconstruction Team is assisting with the crash investigation, which remains ongoing at this time.
    • Hanover County: At 7:53 p.m., a Virginia State Police trooper was struck while seated inside his vehicle in the southbound lanes of I-295 at the 32 mile marker. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

    Division II–Culpeper (Fredericksburg/Culpeper/Warrenton/Harrisonburg/Winchester)

    Traffic Crashes=2  

    • Fauquier County:At 6:59 a.m., Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash in Fauquier County. A 1999 Chevrolet Suburban was traveling west on Crest Hill Road, near Ada Road, when it crossed the centerline and struck head-on an eastbound snow plow. The driver of the SUV, Steven H. Gibbs, 63, of Linden, Va., died at the scene. The driver of the snow plow was not injured in the crash. Speed and slick road conditions were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation at this time. Crest Hill Road was re-opened by 9:40 a.m. Monday.

    Division III-Appomattox (Charlottesville/Waynesboro/Staunton/Lynchburg/South Boston/South Hill)

    Traffic Crashes=7          

    Division IV-Wytheville (Wytheville/Dublin/Galax/Bristol/Vansant/Wise)

    Traffic Crashes=6         

    Division V-Chesapeake (Hampton Roads/Tidewater/Eastern Shore/Williamsburg/Franklin/Emporia)

    Traffic Crashes=5        

    Division VI-Salem (Lexington/Clifton Forge/Roanoke/Blacksburg/Bedford/Martinsville/Danville)

    Traffic Crashes=4        

    Division VII-Fairfax (Prince William/Loudoun/Arlington/Alexandria/Fairfax)

    Traffic Crashes=4                  

    • Loudoun County: At 7:07 p.m., Monday (Feb. 13), Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Route 7/Harry Byrd Highway in Loudoun County. A passenger vehicle was traveling west on Route 7 when it rear-ended a backhoe traveling west in the right lane. The driver of the passenger vehicle, an adult female, died at the scene. The operator of the backhoe was not injured in the crash. The road was slick at the time of the crash, which remains under investigation at this time. State police are still in the process of notifying the decedent’s next of kin.

    Drivers are also advised NOT to call 911 or #77 to find out about road conditions. These phone lines must remain clear for real emergencies. Call 511 for road conditions or click on www.511virginia.org.

    With the freezing temperatures, roads will remain frozen overnight and into the morning. If you HAVE to travel, then please keep these safety tips in mind:

    • Bridges freeze first!
    • Clear off ALL snow from your vehicle – windows, roof, trunk and lights
    • Add extra time to reach travel destination
    • Slow speed for road conditions
    • Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
    • Buckle up and don’t drive distracted
    • MOVE OVER for all stopped emergency vehicles, highway vehicles and tow trucks.

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  30. Fire Closes Carolina BBQ

    Members of the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department work to put out an early morning fire at Carolina BBQ and Chicken.  Photo from the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department's Facebook page.

    Carolina BBQ and Chicken will be closed until further notice following a fire in the early morning hours of Sunday Morning.

    More than 30 firefighters from Emporia and Jarratt brought the fire under control in frigid temperatures.

    Crews work to put out an early morning fire at Carolina BBQ and Chicken.  Photo from the Emporia Volunteer Fire Department

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  31. House OKs Amendment to Increase Charter Schools

    By Grant Smith, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – By a 52-47 vote, the Virginia House of Delegates on Friday approved a constitutional amendment that could open the doors for more charter schools in the state.

    House Joint Resolution 1, introduced by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, would allow the State Board of Education to authorize such schools if the local school board refuses. Republicans have championed the issue, saying Virginia school districts have thwarted attempts to create charter schools, which are public schools that are freed from certain regulations and often offer innovative or specialized programs.

    Increasing the number of charter schools was a priority on the GOP education agenda for this legislative session. Virginia has nine charter schools; several states have hundreds. Nationwide, there are more than 6,400 charter schools.

    “Public charter schools are some of the nation’s most successful public schools,” said Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta, who chairs the House Education Committee.

    If both houses of the General Assembly approve the proposed constitutional amendment and related legislation, the issue would be put on the ballot in this November’s general election for a statewide vote.

    Delegates also are considering House Bill 3, which would authorize a referendum on the proposed constitutional amendment. This bill was engrossed Friday and will return to the House floor for a final vote next week.

    Opposition to the charter school initiative was vocalized during the debate over HB 565, which was also on the floor Friday. The bill would set rules for the establishment and operation of charter schools – specifying, for example, that such schools must be managed by a nonprofit education organization under the control of a governing board.

    Del. Dave Albo, R-Springfield, offered an amendment to HB 565 stating that “the Commonwealth or the public charter school applicant will pay for the construction of such public charter school.”

    “The problem I have with the concept of these charter schools is not that I don’t like charter schools, but I want to know who is going to pay for it,” Albo said.

    Republican Dels. Bob Marshall of Manassas and Tag Greason of Loudoun County criticized the amendment. They voiced concern over its exacting terms: funding the construction of new schools but not the renovations of existing buildings. House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, commented that the amendment was “inartfully drawn.”

    Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, spoke in its favor: “Without the gentleman from Fairfax’s amendment, it is possible that the state could override the locality and have a charter school go in place with no plan for the building it's going to be in,” she said. “Then the locality will be on the hook to build it.”

    Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, responded in opposition to the amendment. “We have seen step after step after step to try to take charters of the table,” he said. “I’m not sure she (Delegate McClellan) would vote for the underlying bill.”

    Indeed, after the amendment was approved in a vote of 66-28, McClellan spoke in opposition to HB 565. She cited the period of Massive Resistance, when Virginia shut down public schools to block racial integration, as the only time since Reconstruction when the General Assembly encroached on local control of public education.

    “That is why there are a large number of people who do not believe it is a good idea to take control away from the locality in deciding whether and how to implement charter schools,” McClellan said.

    She cited studies that found charter schools have not improved academic performance across the country, noting that the charter school in Richmond failed to be accredited this year.

    HB 565 and HB 3 will return to the floor next week for a final vote.

    Meanwhile, the issue also is before the Senate: Senate Joint Resolution 6 would amend the Virginia Constitution the same way HJR 1 would; and SJR 93 and Senate Bill 588 would authorize a statewide referendum on the amendment. All of those measures are to be voted on in the Senate next week.

    Under the proposed constitutional amendment, a group that wants to start a charter school would first apply to the local school board. If the school board denies the application, the decision could be appealed to the State Board of Education. The State Board would be limited to hearing five appeals per year.

    “Charter schools provide parents and students with additional opportunities,” Bell said. “Not every child is a good fit for traditional public schools, but every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.” He cited studies showing that charter schools “help to close the achievement gap, giving children in minority and underserved communities the opportunity to succeed.”

    But public school teachers oppose charter schools. They fear that such programs will divert money and resources from regular public schools.

    Howell hailed the House vote in favor of HJR 1.

    “The fact that this legislation is House Joint Resolution 1 demonstrates how important this amendment is to the House of Delegates and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said. “We have an historic opportunity to bring about a meaningful change in our education system.”

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  32. 2 Divergent Views on ‘Conversion Therapy’

    By Diana DiGangi, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – “For fifteen years of my life, I experienced unwanted same-sex attractions,” Christopher Doyle said.

    Doyle grew up with strained relationships with his parents. He said he couldn’t bond with his father, whom he characterizes as “not a bad man” but emotionally absent: “It set me up on a trajectory of not really being able to bond and connect with my peers and my male friends.”

    Doyle’s mother, on the other hand, was “always emotionally needy” because of his father’s distance. “And then when I was about 8 years old,” Doyle said, “I was sexually abused by an older female cousin for about a year, which created a lot of fear of the opposite sex.”

    At around 9 years old, Doyle began to experience what he refers to as “unwanted same-sex attractions.”

    “I was very confused because in my heart, I didn’t really believe I was a gay person. But of course, as an 8 year old or 9 year old, I didn’t really understand,” Doyle said. “And I had interest in girls and attractions toward girls, and dated girls, too. But for me, having a healthy relationship with either a boy or a girl was simply impossible because of these early experiences of trauma.”

    At 23, still searching for a resolution to the traumas he had experienced as a child, Doyle entered therapy with a counselor. After making peace with those issues, Doyle says he no longer experienced same-sex attraction.

    “I was using sex with men to fill an emotional void, when what I really wanted was healthy relationships with guys,” Doyle said. “And that was my story. And ever since that time, I haven’t struggled with same-sex attractions at all.”

    Over the years, Doyle sought out a variety of counseling methods to address what he refers to as “the issues underneath same-sex attractions and sexual identity.”

    “I didn’t feel this was who I really was,” he said. “It was in conflict with my faith; it was in conflict with who I really thought I was for a person.”

    Doyle has been married to a woman for nine years, and they have five children. He is now a licensed psychotherapist in Arlington whose methodologies include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – all of them standard therapeutic tools.

    He describes his work as therapy that specializes in sexual identity and orientation, helping gay-identified clients deal with the stigma of being gay while addressing the unwanted same-sex attraction of his other clients.

    Doyle’s detractors have a more succinct label for what he does: conversion therapy, a controversial practice that has been banned for minors in four states – California, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon. Some Virginia lawmakers wanted to add Virginia to the list. That effort failed during this year’s session of the General Assembly.

    * * *

    “I believe Chris Doyle when he says that he’s not doing harm using outlandish methodology,” Apryl Prentiss says. “What their new term of rhetoric is – it’s to say, ‘Oh no, it’s just talk therapy; we’re not doing any damage.’ And the bottom line is, talk therapy is actually the most insidious of all of those methodologies.”

    Prentiss and Doyle have several things in common. They have both struggled to reconcile their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs. They had negative experiences with religious leaders as same-sex attracted people. They have both been through therapy that specifically addresses sexual orientation.

    And they both now describe themselves as happily married to women.

    The major difference between them is that Prentiss identifies proudly as a lesbian and is an outspoken opponent of the type of therapy Doyle and his colleagues perform.

    Prentiss is the deputy director for the Alliance for Progressive Values, a Richmond-based nonprofit that advocates for “economic fairness, social justice and good government.” She was instrumental in developing legislation to ban conversion therapy in Virginia.

    Three bills, all sponsored by Democrats, tried to do that. HB 427 died in a House subcommittee; SB 262 and SB 267 were killed by the Senate Education and Health Committee. The legislative hearings drew both proponents and critics of the therapy.

    The Senate hearing was a lightning rod for media attention, as Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax, compared homosexuality to childhood cancer and John Linder, a self-described former homosexual, said he considers the therapy successful but still experiences same-sex attractions.

    Prentiss speaks freely about her experiences with conversion therapy because, she says, “There are many survivors that are not able to stand up and advocate this way because of the harm done to them.”

    Prentiss was raised Christian. When she began to realize she might be gay, she feared losing her religious community as well as the acceptance of her family. These fears, she said, caused her to deny her sexuality and seek out therapy to help her move past her same-sex attraction.

    Prentiss spent months in an ex-gay ministry that used ascetic methods, as well as time with a psychotherapist who she said used methods similar to Doyle’s.

    “Conversion therapy is predicated on the belief that you’re not born gay – there has to be a cause for it,” Prentiss said. “So there’s abuse in your past, or a mother issue, or a father issue, or something like that. The first thing that a conversion therapist does is dig and dig and dig for that cause – to the point where some people, myself included, have felt pressure to create one.”

    Prentiss said the therapy she underwent prompted her to fixate on her sexuality to a distressing degree.

    “If I were to go to lunch with a female friend, my conversion therapist would be say, ‘Well, why did you want to go to lunch with her? Did you have any sexual thoughts while you were sitting there talking to her?’” Prentiss recalled.

    “And I’d say, ‘No, we were just hanging out.’ But it teaches you to overanalyze everything, to perseverate on everything that’s coming through your head. And that in itself just causes severe introspection. When you’re already depressed, as anyone in that situation would be, it can be really dangerous.”

    * * *

    So far, what is referred to in law as conversion therapy has been banned in four states and Washington, D.C. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York recently said he will take steps toward a ban there as well.

    In 2009, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution expressing concerns about “sexual orientation change efforts.”

    “Recent studies of participants in SOCE identify a population of individuals who experience serious distress related to same sex sexual attractions. Most of these participants are Caucasian males who report that their religion is extremely important to them,” the resolution said.

    The APA ultimately concluded that “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.”

    The association cited a study that “some individuals modified their sexual orientation identity (i.e., group membership and affiliation), behavior, and values.”

    “They did so in a variety of ways and with varied and unpredictable outcomes, some of which were temporary,” the resolution reported.

    Prentiss and Doyle have diverging opinions on the success of SOCE.

    “I would say that in my personal experience of the people I know who have been through conversion therapy or other ex-gay efforts, my personal experience would be that 95 percent of those people are now living happy lives as gay people,” Prentiss said.

    “The people that I know who have gone through conversion therapy and ex-gay programs and are now living a heterosexual life, most of those people were really abused as children. So I don’t know that their orientation was ever homosexual, as much as they were having trauma that was leading them to act out in a homosexual way or be confused about their sexuality.”

    Doyle describes his therapeutic efforts as effective for clients who are distressed by their same-sex attraction. But he said some of his conflicted clients do end up ultimately identifying as gay.

    “Not all times where someone comes in conflicted with same-sex attraction, is that person is going to go toward the heterosexual spectrum,” Doyle says. “That’s a reality that we don’t dispute, and it’s not necessarily even the point. ... I work with clients like that, and I advocate for a lot of gay and lesbian minors who have parents who are unaccepting of their sexual orientation.”

    Doyle was asked if unwanted same-sex attraction was something that could be addressed in a more general therapeutic context, instead of by a specialist. He expressed reservations.

    “Let’s just say this therapist is a gay-identified therapist that is adamantly against the idea that there is any fluidity in sexuality,” Doyle said. “Then that therapist may actually steer that client against his or her will into embracing a gay identity when the client didn’t want that.”

    Doyle went on to say that he has personal biases, as all therapists do, but that he would refer a client to another therapist if he felt he could not help them.

    Prentiss disputed the idea that the average therapist who identifies as gay would counsel clients in a biased way.

    “A real therapist would never make a judgment and then encourage someone one way or the other based on their own judgment. A real therapist lets the client say, ‘I think I’m gay’; lets the client say, ‘I think I’m straight but I have these fractions’; or lets the client be the one to say, ‘I’m going to try to choose to be gay or straight,’” Prentiss said.

    “Good therapists don’t have an agenda; that’s not what’s happening in real therapy sessions. That is what happens with conversion therapists.”

    Prentiss stressed that the bill she worked on was aimed at protecting children under 18, not banning the therapy for adults.

    “You’re talking about a minor who is still in the normal phase of identity formation, period – not just sexual identity, but their overall identity being formed,” she said.

    Doyle challenged the suggestion that his therapy methods might be harmful to children.

    “I am the last person that would ever force a teenager to go through therapy,” he said. “But in my experience, that doesn’t really happen that much.”

    Is “unwanted opposite sex attraction” really a common concern for people? Not according to Google. A search for that exact phrase turns up only 106 results, most of which are tongue-in-cheek.

    In an email, Doyle said he doesn’t even know any therapists who specifically help clients who are gay resolve unwanted opposite-sex attractions.

    “But I have had cases where a client had trauma from females and experienced unwanted sexual compulsions/attractions for the opposite sex that they felt were unhealthy and destructive, while also experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions,” he said.

    Though they disagree on many points, Prentiss and Doyle agree on one thing: “Sexual orientation change efforts” can be dangerous when left up to religious leaders.

    “The therapy that we do isn’t the same thing as maybe some of the bad experiences that people have had,” Doyle said. “And it really grieves my heart that they’ve had those bad experiences, because I had the same bad experiences with a pastor when I was their age. And if I had worked with a licensed professional who knew what they were doing, it could have saved me years of heartache.”

    The attempt to ban conversion therapy for minors in Virginia failed in part because some legislators feared it might infringe on freedom of religion. They said such a ban could stop clergy from counseling young members of the congregation who are gay. Prentiss expressed frustration with this argument.

    “There is definitely a gray area over here, which is hugely dangerous, which is these pastors who are acting like counselors and maybe even pastors who are licensed as counselors. We can’t do a lot about that legislatively,” she said.

    “What we’re trying to avoid right now is parents with good intentions going and desperately looking someone up online, saying, ‘Oh, this is a licensed therapist; this person can help my kid.’ And going to them in the most dire of circumstances, and having this person say, ‘Oh, absolutely, I can help you with that.’ I mean, it’s predatory.”

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  33. Tophand to hold Baseball/softball clinic and workout session

    Emporia, VA- TopHand will be holding a Baseball/Softball Clinic and Workout Session on April 12, 2016. The clinic is open to ages: 6-15 and all skill levels are welcome.  The price is $10.00 for any EGRA participant and $20.00 for any other participant. The cost includes a three hour clinic plus a one hour instructional session.  To sign up for this event stop by the Emporia YMCA or Jarratt Fire Department on February 20th or 27th from 9am-12pm.  The skills that will be discussed are hitting, fielding, pitching and catching. EGRA Coaches Are Welcome to Attend & Assist!!!

    For more information, please contact TopHand Sports @ 757-537-8480, 434-336-1950, or rjessee5@gmail.com



  34. Farm to Fork coming to Emporia

    Owner and operator of International Events and established restaurateur Marcus Gilliam, is not new to the food business, he has cooked and catered events up and down the East Coast since 2005.  Now, with the launching of his new venture Farm To Fork, Marcus proudly returns to his home town of Emporia, VA to promote healthier living through combining modern sensibilities with southern soul; in an effort to create a place that bridges the gap between locally grown foods and the community at a distinctive dining destination in the south end of town.

    The new location will be a casual dinner that treasures the best of Southern living, both in style and culture. “Our style is what we like to call Rustic Chic,” says Gilliam, while highlighting the importance of local, naturally grown food and the relationship between suppliers and the chef.

    “Our goal with Farm To Fork is to create an atmosphere that truly resonates with the local community and celebrates the best of what surrounds us— great food and great people!!!

    Rooted in a core belief of cultivating community through a conscious commitment to locality and sustainability, Marcus and his team are tirelessly committed to seeking outstanding local products and the talents of passionate artisans, growers and purveyors to provide them with the defining ingredients that create the overall experience at Farm To Fork.

    Lead by Marcus Gilliam himself, Farm To Fork’s kitchen will be a workshop where a dedicated team creates ever-changing menus dictated by the season’s finest farm raised products and responsibly raised meats.

    “The specialty of our product is the defining factor in everything that we do,” says Marcus.  “Sourcing for us is a constant, and the core of our inspiration.”  From Organic produce, naturally raised meats, fresh-from-the farm eggs, locally sourced dairy, you will be able to taste the quality in every bite.  “We wanted to create a space that resonated with the community and pay tribute to the past farmers whose hard work and passion once carried our town.”

    With a hip Design, the sunlit urban space revokes a modern theme with a vibrant colors scheme, wide-open windows that wrap around the corner, creates an urban culinary experience.  For our décor we used a lot of reclaimed materials, natural woods, clean vintage details that come together to create a hip space.  A large 20-foot counter serves as a centerpiece of the interior, while the high-top tables and comfortable seating provides a place for friends and neighbors to await their orders.  When you arrive to the location the first thing you will see is the outdoor patio, with plenty of parking in the back.

    Daily menus will offer market-fresh options such as  the Free Range Chicken Sandwich or the Earth burger, 100% Grass Fed Beef burger which defines simple perfection with a slice of aged cheddar and a smearing of fancy sauce served on a fresh bun with organic toppings and a side of hand cut fries ($8) and the essential comfort dishes such as:  Gilliam’s Famous Goal Post Wings ($8). Fresh Fish, Shrimp or Chicken served with a gourmet side dish and fresh vegetables ($12) and an assortment of Hand Crafted Taco’s ($3).

    Mornings at Farm to Fork start with our custom roasted coffee, we also serve “Sweet Stuff” Fresh baked Muffins and Loafs, served with house made spreads such as Apple Butter, Quince Jam, and Blueberry Compote ($2).  Breakfast bowls with Creamy White Cheddar Stone ground Grits, topped with Eggs, choice of cheese and your choice of “Meat” turkey or pork bacon and sausage patty layered in a large bowl ($3).  Breakfast sandwiches starting at ($2).  Other tempting options include Organic Steel Cut Oatmeal with brown sugar and Organic raisins ($4).  Breakfast Plate with 2 Farm Fresh Eggs, cracked to order, choice of meat, grits, potatoes and bread ($5).

    Farm To Fork will also specialize in Corporate Catering, providing daily drop-offs to your office or place of business. We also offer full-service catering for weddings, corporate events, fundraisers, diner parties, showers, cocktail parties, family reunions and more.  We craft each event individually and can accommodate a range of visions and budgets.  We can provide the following services to make your event effortless, gorgeous, and delicious: customized menus; venue selection; pre-event tastings; event design; coordination of rentals and staffing; onsite set up, plating, and breakdown.

    Farm to Fork will be open daily, serving Breakfast from 6:00 to 10:30 a.m.; followed by lunch and dinner served until 10:00 p.m. offering daily specials like Taco Tuesday with $2  taco’s , 35 cent Wing Wednesdays and Fish Fry Fridays just to name a few. Farm to Fork is Located at 647 South Main St in the city of Emporia, Virginia.  For additional information, please contact 434-632-8161.

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  35. Partnerships and Education

    By Dr. Al Roberts

    In the early seventeenth century, poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” (Meditation XVII, 1624).

    The observation about the ways in which we are all interconnected is especially evident in education. Education requires diligent work by a student and a teacher. The teacher prepares lessons, presents material, and provides a feedback mechanism to evaluate progress. The student attends to lessons, completes assignments, and employs an active mind to push beyond barriers and overcome obstacles. In the most effective learning environments, students become teachers and teachers become learners. Everyone benefits.

    But education is more than just the relationship between a single teacher and one student. At Southside Virginia Community College, virtually all our programs involve collaborative efforts. SVCC’s service region, the largest in the Commonwealth, spans ten counties plus the city of Emporia. In order to deliver education opportunities throughout this vast territory, we work in concert with many other entities that provide classroom space and other services. Off-campus centers include the Estes Community Center in Chase City, the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, the Occupational Technical Center at Pickett Park in Blackstone, the Southside Virginia Education Center in Greensville County, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston.

    In addition, local high school students and their families benefit from our dual enrollment program, which involves partnerships with K-12 schools and regional superintendents. Area hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers offer resources and job opportunities for students in SVCC’s nursing and allied health programs. And, since its inception, the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has provided much-needed financial support for innovative programming focused on finding creative solutions to problems that result from poverty and unemployment.

    Another superb example of teamwork between education and employers is the recently launched Power Line Worker Program at Pickett Park. Virginia’s 13 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, together with their peers in Maryland and Delaware, projected a critical shortage of experienced electric utility line workers. To help address this skills gap, SVCC acted in collaboration with other public and private sector entities to develop a program that would prepare students for entry into the profession. The Power Line Worker Program relies on curriculum developed by the National Association for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), whose credentials are internationally recognized.

    A complete list of SVCC’s partners would go on and on, but these few serve to illustrate some of the ways in which education partnerships build bridges to connect and enhance our communities. Businesses benefit from the availability of a qualified workforce, and local citizens earn industry-recognized credentials that open the doors of opportunity to sustainable, self- or family-supporting careers.

    Dr. Al Roberts 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 al.roberts@southside.edu.

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  36. Home Health Care Aide Training at Jackson-Feild

    Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services is now providing home health care aide vocational training for students at its Gwaltney School.  Home health care aides provide basic medical services that include administering medications, changing bandages, and checking vital signs.

    Nationally, more than one million people are employed as home health care aides, and the profession is growing far more rapidly than other occupations.

    Jackson-Feild’s program follows a standard curriculum in which students take 60 hours of classroom instruction and participate in 10 hours of off-site training at a facility that provides medical care.

    Abbey Webb, a community relations specialist with Southern Care Hospice Services, recently spoke to Gwaltney School students about hospice care; what it is and, how they can become a part this service.

    In late February, four students will complete their training and a new group of ten will begin the program.

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  37. Obituary-Barbara Moore “Sister” Jones

    Barbara Moore “Sister” Jones, 72, of Jarratt, widow of Russell L. Jones, Jr, passed away Wednesday, February 10, 2016. She was the daughter of the late Sanford and Ruby Moore and was also preceded in death by two brothers, Sanford Moore, Jr. and Linwood Earl Moore. She is survived by her daughter, Pam Gainey and husband, Tony, four grandchildren, Jessica Petry and husband, Elliott, Leanna Collins and husband, Dave, Chad Randall and Josiah Gainey; three great-grandchildren, Isabelle Petry, Noah Petry and Blake Collins; two brothers, Franklin B. Moore, Sr. and John Wayne Moore and wife, Deanna and a dear friend, William S. Poarch, Sr. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday, February 12 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, February 13. Interment will follow at High Hills Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Purdy Baptist Church, 186 Smoky Ordinary Rd, Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com

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  38. Obituary-Dorothy A. Jarratt

    Dorothy A. Jarratt, 66, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, February 10, 2016. She was preceded in death by a daughter, Loretta Woodruff; five brothers and two sisters. She is survived by a daughter, Linda Gail Tomlin, son, Timothy Tomlin; five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren; three brothers, Sam Ben Acree, Bennie Acree and Cecil Acree and a number of nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, February 16 at Owen Funeral Home. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

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  39. Accellerated Readers at Greensville Elementary

    Students at Greensville Elementary School began the Accelerated Reader Challenge today. Students were recognized for points they earned 1st Semester and will receive prizes each marking period based on the total number of AR points they earn.  Students will continue to be recognized this week for earning points ranging from 10, 15, 25, 50, and 100.  Continue to encourage your child to read each night. Way to go GES readers!!

    Students who earned between 25-49 Accelerated Reader points.

    Back row (left to right): Dennis Brickell, Donavon Smith, Inez Smith, Darrius Dunn, Patrick Brown, Hayden Lackey.  Front row (left to right): Royalty Plum, Morgan Bryant,Cameron Pulliam, Janell Franklin, Eddie Franklin.


    Pictured above (left picture): Dakota Lee - 65.2 points, (right picture): Davis Robinson - 165.5 points

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  40. Brunswick Academy Receives Grant from Exxon/Mobil

    Brunswick Academy has received a $1,000 grant from the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance Program. This grant is given to schools across the country in communities served by Exxon/Mobil stations. The grant was made possible by funding from Exxon Mobil Corporation in conjunction with Parker Oil Company. Mr. Ed Low of Parker Oil Company presents the check to Head of School, Mr. Dave Newsom.

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  41. William Marvin "Billy" Pruett

    William Marvin Pruett, 73, of Emporia, Va., passed away on February 1, 2016. Bill is survived by his mother, sister, nieces, great-nephew and great-nieces. Bill had a long and varied career in education. Most notably, as principal of Hunterdale Elementary School and as a VASS Legislative Liaison. Bill was a devoted son, brother, uncle, great-uncle, and friend. A memorial service will be held at 11am, February 13, 2016 at Echols Funeral Home Chapel. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Franklin City Public Schools/Teacher Incentive Fund, 207 W. Second Ave., Franklin, Va., 23851. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

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  42. Court-Ordered Parenting Classes – Living Apart, Parenting Together

    When a family goes through divorce or separation, parents need to help their children adjust to the changes in their family. Our educational program, “Living Apart, Parenting Together” teaches parents about the impact of divorce/separation and gives them strategies to help both parents and children adjust to a new way of being a family.

    Classes are scheduled for:

    • Monday, February 15, 2016 - 9 am-1 pm
    • Monday, April 11, 2016 - 5 pm-9 pm
    • Monday, June 13, 2016 - 9 am-1 pm
    • Monday, August 15, 2016 - 5 pm-9 pm
    • Monday, October 17, 2016 - 5 pm-9 pm.

    Classes are held by Donna Daniel, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Greensville/Emporia Office. Class fee and pre-registration is required. For more information or to register call 434-348-4223 or stop by the Greensville/Emporia Extension office at 105 Oak Street in Emporia.

    If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at (434) 348-4223 during business hours of Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event.*TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

    Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.


  43. Go Red Event to Close the Gap on Heart Disease for Women

    Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women because it’s not just a man’s disease. In fact, more women than men die every year from heart disease and stroke. The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Go Red for Women advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease and stroke. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them the tools they need to lead a heart-healthy life.

    Cardiovascular diseases cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.

    ♦ An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases.

    ♦ 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

    ♦ 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented

    The Eta Eta Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated would like to invite you to attend their Annual Go Red Event Luncheon on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 12 noon on the campus of Greensville County High School. Tickets are available for $20.00 per person.  The speaker for the event will be Dr.Edwina Wilson, family practice physician from Farmville, Virginia.  Dr. Wilson will explain the true meaning of “Go Red”.

    Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.

    Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.

    Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.

    Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you & your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.

    Donate: Show your support with a donation of time and money

     We encourage everyone in the community to come out and support this event. Southside Virginia has one the highest rates in the United States related to heart disease and deaths associated with heart disease. So, put on your red tie, suit, hat or dress and come out to support our fight against heart disease among women.  Emporia let’s paint the town –RED!

    If you need tickets please contact Michele R. Green Wright at 804-721-9241 or via email at nurse1986@ Hotmail.com  or any local member of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated. Members include: Peggy Dunn, Tasha Boone, Sharon Adams, Aletheia Gaither, Wanda Williams, and Wanda Murrell.

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  44. Panel Backs ‘Religious Freedom’ to Reject Same-Sex Marriage

    By Kyle Taylor, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Government officials who are authorized to perform marriages could refuse to marry same-sex couples under a bill approved Monday by the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee over the objections of LGBT advocates.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Virginia and other groups opposed Senate Bill 41, which also states that religious organizations and their employees may deny “services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges” for a marriage if it would “violate a sincerely held religious belief.”

    Splitting along party lines, the committee voted 8-7 in favor of SB 41, which was sponsored by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax. All of the Republicans on the panel voted for the bill; all of the Democrats voted against it.

    Carrico filed the legislation in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June to legalize same-sex marriages. He said it would protect “religious freedom” by letting people and groups who have religious objections to same-sex marriage refuse to participate in such ceremonies.

    “Our founders got it right,” Carrico said at a press conference last month. “They didn’t want to infringe upon those deep-held beliefs. They didn’t expect the government to step in and say to an individual, because you have this deep-held belief that you have to do X, Y and Z.”

    But opponents of SB 41 said it would allow discrimination against same-sex couples even by government officials who are supposed to uphold the law.

    “We think that it is unconstitutional in that respect because it allows public officials to deny services to groups of people based on their personal beliefs,” Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, told the Senate committee.

    The Human Rights Act in Virginia already forbids discriminate based on religion. And under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ministers already have the right to refuse to marry a couple based on their religious beliefs.

    “That’s what the legislators supporting SB41 are saying they are concerned about, but that’s not true. This bill is in conflict of existing law,” Gastañaga said. “It also extends beyond existing law by specifically allowing even judges to limit what they do by saying that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.”

    Equality Virginia, an advocacy group for gay Virginians, and Right Way Forward Virginia also oppose SB 41, according to statements they have posted on Richmond Sunlight, a legislative information website.

    Right Way Forward Virginia said the bill would “help perpetuate a commonly-held misconception that equal treatment under law of same-sex couples who wish to marry imposes obligations on houses of worship and clergy.”

    The members of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee who voted for SB 41 were Republican Sens. Frank Ruff of Clarksville, Dick Black of Leesburg, Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, Tom Garrett of Lynchburg, Bryce Reeves of Spotsylvania, Richard Stuart of Westmoreland, David Suetterlein of Salem and Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester.

    The committee members who opposed the bill were Democratic Sens. George Barker and Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, Mamie Locke of Hampton, Jeremy McPike of Dale City, Chap Petersen of Fairfax, Scott Surovell of Mount Vernon and Jennifer Wexton of Leesburg.

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  45. ‘Eli’s Law’ Would Publicize Child Abusers

    By Kyle Taylor, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – A Hanover County mother, whose son suffered brain damage and other injuries when he was abused by a man in 2010, urged state lawmakers Monday to expand who must be listed on Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes against Minors Registry. A legislative subcommittee appeared receptive to the idea.

    Courtney Maddox told the panel about her son Elijah’s harrowing ordeal: “My son suffered a brain injury, a stroke and was left paralyzed and with two broken legs” after he was abused by a family friend. The abuser was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. But under the state’s current laws, the offender’s name won’t be on the public registry when he is released.

    That is why Maddox is pushing for House Bill 672, also known as Eli’s Law. It would add malicious wounding (if the victim is under 13 and the perpetrator is an adult) to the crimes that require offenders to be listed on the registry.

    “I think that common sense tells you that if you’re going to take an infant child and bash its brain in, then you’re going to be pretty likely to commit some other type of crime later. I think public notice is the minimum that we would expect in certain circumstances such as that,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Christopher Peace, R-Mechanicsville.

    Peace and Maddox spoke Monday to the Criminal Law Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee.

    When her son nearly died, Maddox explained, she looked into whether the assailant would be listed on the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. However, under the existing law, the registry lists only offenders who have murdered children or been convicted of certain sex crimes. So Maddox reached out to Peace and the commonwealth’s attorney for Hanover County.

    “We came up with a solution that we believe will help our community – Eli’s Law,” she said.

    “Here I am fighting, and I believe that the public needs to be made aware of those that commit violent crimes against children. I know it’s going to make the public more aware of those who are violent around us. We’re better able and equipped to determine who we can trust and who we can’t trust around our children. That’s the important thing. It’s not just sex offenders that hurt our children.”

    At the meeting, the Criminal Law Subcommittee tabled HB 672 but agreed to incorporate its purpose into other legislation. There were two other bills that sought changes in the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry:

    • HB 604, which would include in the registry the crimes of “receiving money for procuring a person for prostitution” and “receiving money from the earnings of a person engaged in prostitution” if they involve a minor. This bill was sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville.
    • HB 177, which would list on the registry “any person convicted of having carnal knowledge of a brute animal.” This bill was filed by Del. David Albo, R-Springfield.

    The subcommittee tabled both Eli’s Law and HB 604 but decided to fold their intentions into Albo’s bill. The panel then voted 10-1 in favor of HB 177.

    The subcommittee recommended that the amended HB 177 be sent to the House Appropriations Committee for funding. State officials estimate it would cost $50,000 to expand the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry.

    Steve Royalty, senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Hanover County, testified in support of Eli’s Law at the subcommittee hearing.

    “In a nutshell, it would protect children from becoming victims of criminal offenders by helping to suspend such individuals from being allowed to work directly with children,” Royalty said.

    “If that person is on a registry, it becomes a matter of public record, so to speak, and people in the public have access to that registry. They will know in a way that they may not have known before that this person has engaged in a very violent crime against a child.”

    Though Eli is too young to understand what happened to him, his mother promised him that something good would come of the traumatic events.

    “I tell him he’s a hero,” Maddox said. “And he is.”

    Only six months after the abuse, Eli took his first steps. Now 5 years old, Eli has some weakness in his left arm and a scar on his head, but his mother is extremely grateful that he is no longer paralyzed.

    Maddox is optimistic that the House Appropriations Committee will endorse the concept of Eli’s Law. “It’s $50,000 – a small price for such an impactful cause.”

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  46. Poll Finds Support for More School Funding

    By Brian Williams, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In a poll conducted by the Virginia Education Association, most Virginians say the state budget doesn’t adequately cover the needs of the state’s public schools or properly compensate teachers. The poll found that 66 percent of respondents feel that the current budget for public schools is not enough.

    “The public is squarely behind the need to improve funding for our public schools,” said Meg Gruber, president of the VEA. “Members of the House and Senate deliberating the budget need to know that as it stands now, Virginia is 41st in the country on funding public schools.”

    According to the latest “National Report Card” by the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University and the Education Law Center, teacher salaries and benefits make up the bulk of school budgets. The report said Virginia teachers are paid $6,700 below the national average. And according to the poll, residents of the commonwealth agree that teachers aren’t paid enough. That sentiment was expressed by:

    • 66 percent of adults with children currently in public school
    • 67 percent who have had children in public school in the past
    • 65 percent who have never had children in public school

    “When Rutgers University ranked all states on wage competitiveness of its teachers’ pay compared to other professionals, Virginia ranked worst in the country,” Gruber said.

    The General Assembly is drafting a state budget for the next two years. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proposed a $139 million appropriation to add 2,000 teachers to schools around the commonwealth. McAuliffe also is seeking a 2 percent pay increase for teachers, but Gruber says it’s not enough.

    “The governor’s biennial budget has zero percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second. We believe that when it’s been six out of eight years for zero, we don’t need to see seven out of nine to be a zero,” Gruber said.

    The VEA poll surveyed 600 Virginia adults between Jan. 4 and 7. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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  47. Elections Board Removes GOP’s ‘Loyalty Oath’

    By Matt Chaney, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – State officials agreed Thursday to honor the Republican Party of Virginia’s request to remove a requirement that voters sign a “loyalty oath” before voting in the March 1 presidential primary.

    The State Board of Elections voted 2-0 to remove the requirement despite objections from the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    “Much as we decry and dispute the original decision to implement an affirmation requirement, simply said, two wrongs don’t make a right,” Hope Amezquita, staff attorney and legislative counsel at ACLU-VA, told the board.

    The ACLU initially opposed the requirement that voters in the GOP primary sign a statement that “I am a Republican.” However, now that the pledge has been in place for absentee voters, removing it would be illegal, Amezquita said.

    “The Republican Party is before this board asking to have a voter requirement rescinded after an election has begun and ballots have been cast,” Amezquita said. “Voters have a constitutional right to experience the election process uniformly and equally. If there is an affirmation requirement, it must be equally applicable to all voters regardless of when they vote.”

    According to the State Board of Elections, more than 1,300 absentee ballots have already been cast.

    Meanwhile, in the General Assembly, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, has proposed a bill to make it illegal for parties to require voters to “sign any pledge” when voting in a primary. His measure, Senate Bill 686, is currently before the Senate. The bill cleared the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee on an 11-1 vote Tuesday.

    Committee members voting for the bill were Republican Sens. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester, Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg, Ben Chafin of Lebanon, Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, Amanda Chase of Midlothian and Glen Sturtevant of Midlothian, as well as Democratic Sens. Janet Howell of Reston, John Edwards of Roanoke, Donald McEachin of Richmond, John Miller of Newport News and Adam Ebbin of Alexandria.

    Voting against SB 686 was Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County. Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Hadensville, abstained.

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  48. Panel Seeks to Expand Law Against Texting While Driving

    By Rachel Beatrice, Capital News Service

    A legislative panel Monday approved a bill to expand Virginia’s law against texting while driving to other distracting activities, such as reading social media postings.

    Subcommittee No. 1 of the House Transportation Committee voted 6-1 in favor of House Bill 461, which would make it illegal for a driver to “manually select multiple icons” on a cellphone or other handheld personal communication device.

    The bill also would prohibit the driver from reading “any information displayed on the device”; the current law applies only to email and text messages. The measure would not apply to making a cellphone call or navigating with GPS.

    Moreover, HB 461, proposed by Del. Richard Anderson, a Republican representing Prince William County, would prohibit drivers from texting or reading on their cellphones even when the vehicle is stopped. The existing law applies only to moving vehicles.

    Anderson is passionate about the issue: His brother-in-law was injured in an automobile accident involving a driver who was texting. “It should be called impaired driving, not distracted driving,” Anderson said.

    Texting and driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, Anderson said. He suggested that, as with laws mandating seatbelts, it will take time for the public to come around. Eventually, people will realize that the ban on texting while driving saves lives, Anderson said.

    Between January and July of 2015, 68 people died in crashes involving distracted driving in Virginia, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

    “We don’t worry about drunk drivers anymore,” Lt. Robert Marland of the Richmond Police Department told the subcommittee. Texting while driving is a bigger concern, he said. This is especially true after officers have pulled over a vehicle for a violation: The officers then are in danger of getting hit by an oncoming motorist who is texting.

    That is what happened to Heather Munsterman, who has worked for the Manassas City Police Department for the past 11 years. During a routine traffic stop, she was hit by someone who was texting while driving, Munsterman told legislators.

    She tearfully admitted to being in the hospital for two months and suffering brain damage. Munsterman has not yet been able to return to her former position and is currently on light duty.

    “I support this bill with all my heart,” Munsterman said.

    Also in support of HB 461 was Madeline Abbitt, a lobbyist representing AT&T. She listed statistics about what people do while behind the wheel of a car: Seven out of 10 drivers text; 33 percent email; 28 percent browse the Internet; 17 percent of people take a selfie; 14 percent post on Instagram and Twitter; 12 percent of people make videos; and 11 percent use Snapchat.

    “This is a good and necessary bill,” Abbitt said.

    But some questions were raised about HB 461. Del. James LeMunyon, a Republican from Fairfax and Loudoun counties and a member of the subcommittee, wondered whether taking a picture would constitute as a violation of HB 461. Anderson responded by saying his bill was focused more on decreasing the number of distracted drivers immersed in social media on their phones.

    In the end, six subcommittee members voted for HB 461. Besides Anderson and LeMunyon, they included Republican Dels. Les Adams of Chatham and Todd Pillion of Abingdon and Democratic Dels. Kenneth Plum of Reston and Jeion Ward of Hampton.

    The subcommittee chairman – Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg – voted against HB 461 because of uncertainty over what would constitute “multiple icons.”

    HB 461 now will be considered by the full House Transportation Committee. If the committee endorses the bill, it will advance to the full House of Delegates for a vote.

    Also at its meeting on Monday, the subcommittee:

    • Tabled HB 73, which would have increased the fines for texting while driving from $125 to $250 for a first offense and from $250 to $500 for a repeat offense. The bill had been proposed by Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico.
    • Tabled HB 569, which would have required vehicles to display lighted headlights at all times – not just from sunset to sunrise or during low visibility. Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, had introduced the measure.
    • Approved HB 1360, which require every bicyclist under 18 in Virginia to wear a helmet. Currently, local governments may require bicyclists under 14 to wear helmets. The proposal by Del. Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, would make helmets a statewide requirement for all bicyclists under 18. The subcommittee voted 6-1 in favor of HB 1360, with Garrett dissenting. The bill now goes to the full committee.

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  49. New Owner of WHLQ Radio

    Lawrenceville, VA January 27, 2016:  WHLQ was placed for sale by the three owners of Brunswick Broadcasting - Jimmy Johnson, John Trent and Terry Suggs. Application for purchase was made to Brunswick Broadcasting and the Federal Communication Commission by The Philadelphia Fellowship(Baptist) and its parent ministry The Ronnie D. Joyner Ministries, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non- profit October 2015. On December 29, 2015 the FCC provided notice that the transaction had been approved. Transfer of Ownership was made on January 6, 2016.Hot Joy Radio’s new format has a blend of talk, gospel music, and ministry 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

    Dr. Joyner has functioned in pastoral ministry since November 1975 serving Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Chesapeake, VA; Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, Norfolk, VA; and is the founder of the Philadelphia Fellowship (Baptist) Church in June 2000. He is married to Lady Olliette since November 1, 1974 and Out of 41 years of marriage, they are the proud parents of two sons: Julian Leville who is married to Trin’ea, they have a daughter named Reynah Trin’ea; the other son is Ronnie Jr. our station programmer, both sons are Ordain Elders in the Gospel Ministry.

    Dr. Joyner’s formal education is comprised of him being: a 1975 graduate of Norfolk State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science; a 1978 graduate of Virginia Union University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, with a Master of Divinity; and  a 1983 graduate of Howard University’s School of Religion with a Doctor of Ministry. He recently completed a 12 month sabbatical at Boston University observing Divorce Among African Clergy during the Sabbath In The City Series.

    In addition to Dr. Joyner’s pastoral ministry he has served as: a writer of the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention USA; former president of the Division of Clergy, Baptist General Convention of Virginia; former president of the Tidewater Metro Baptist Minister’s Conference; and featured speaker at colleges, churches, and convention settings in 35 states and foreign countries. Dr. Joyner has earned an Adjunct Professor status at Virginia Union University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology and Hampton University Religious Studies Program. He has written 8 books: Breaking Free From Financial Bondage; The Year of Jubilee Family Legacy Ministry;The Power of Prayer;Actions of Healthy Leaders and Families;Biblical Leadership;Lessons in Family Development;Functioning As A Deaconess;and The Bible Based Family.

    Dr. Joyner can be heard nationally and internationally daily on the Priesthood of Prayer as well as The Family Legacy Radio Broadcast on www.hotjoyradio.comand locally on WHLQ-Hot Joy Radio 105.5 FM. Dr. Joyner can be reached by email at RonnieD.Joyner@gmail.comor by phone at 1-866-540-0745. You can contact or visit our local office at 102 E. Hicks Street, Suite 200, Lawrenceville, VA. Cathy Fielding, general manager can be reached at 804-596-WHLQ(9457) or whlq1055fm@gmail.com. The station manager, Percy Williams, can be reached at 434-532-8214 or managerwhlq@yahoo.com.

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  50. VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Program Certified by Industry Leader

    Left to Right:  Dr. Keyur Mavani, Cardiologist; Dr. Bethany Denlinger, Cardiologist, Mike Simmons, Assistant Director of Rehab Services, Judy Brandenburg, RN-BC, Donna Jarrell, Director of Rehab Services and Todd Howell, Vice President of Professional Services.

    South Hill, Virginia – VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is proud to announce the certification of its cardiovascular rehabilitation program by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR).  VCU Health CMH was recognized for its commitment to improving the quality of life by enhancing standards of care.

    Cardiovascular rehabilitation programs are designed to help people with cardiovascular problems (e.g., heart attacks, coronary artery bypass graft surgery) recover faster and improve their quality of life. The program includes exercise, education, counseling, and support for patients and their families.

    VCU Health CMH’s cardiovascular rehabilitation program participated in an application process that requires extensive documentation of the program’s practices. AACVPR Program Certification is the only peer-review accreditation process designed to review individual programs for adherence to standards and guidelines developed and published by AACVPR and other professional societies. Each program is reviewed by the AACVPR Program Certification Committee and Certification is awarded by the AACVPR Board of Directors.

    AACVPR-certified programs are recognized as leaders in the field of cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation because they offer the most advanced practices available. AACVPR Program Certification is valid for three years.

    About AACVPR

    Founded in 1985, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the mission of reducing morbidity, mortality and disability from cardiovascular and pulmonary disease through education, prevention, rehabilitation, research and disease management. Central to the core mission is improvement in quality of life for patients and their families.




    Decision marks culmination of delegation’s fight against attempts to derail construction in Blackstone, Virginia

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Rob Wittman, Gerry Connolly, Robert Hurt, Dave Brat, Don Beyer and Scott Rigell released the following statement welcoming the groundbreaking of a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia.

    “After years of unnecessary delays and hurdles, the brave men and women who serve in our embassies around the world – many of whom call Virginia home – will finally have a dedicated facility to receive the best possible security training before they embark on assignments in high threat countries across the globe. We are especially proud that such an important facility will be located in Virginia. As four different federal agency evaluations and an independent cost-benefit analysis made clear, only Fort Pickett meets every requirement for a consolidated Foreign Affairs Security Training Center making it by far the best site – both from a strategic and cost perspective. We are pleased that groundbreaking is finally underway in Nottoway County.”

    For months, members of the Virginia delegation have fought back against attempts to derail the construction of a FASTC at Fort Pickett. According to an independent cost-benefit-analysis released in December and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last September, Fort Pickett is the only site that meets four requirements deemed critical in the selection of a diplomatic security training center, including: 1) consolidation of training venues; 2) proximity to Washington, D.C.; 3) exclusive use of the facility for State Department diplomatic security training; 4) use of the facility 24 hours/7 days a week to allow for nighttime training missions. In addition to meeting these four critical training criteria, the independent analysis found Fort Pickett to be the lowest-risk, most cost-efficient option - by approximately $90 million - when compared to the next closest alternative.

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  52. Obituary-Jerry Mattox

    Jerry Mattox, 67, of Drewryville, passed away Wednesday, February 3, 2016. He is survived by his wife, Kim Mattox; son, Ashton Mattox and wife, Theresa; four grandchildren, Austin Lee Mattox, Braelyn Mattox, Cameron Mattox and Grayson Mattox; a sister, Becky Ferrell and a brother, Stan Mattox. A graveside funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, February 6, 2016 at Drewryville Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Drewryville Volunteer Fire Department or Thomas Memorial Baptist Church or to a favorite charity. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

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  53. Obituary-Agnes Conwell Holloway

    Agnes Conwell Holloway, 86, of Jarratt, passed away at home on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Clinton W. Holloway, Sr.; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Morton Lee Conwell and a brother, M. L. Conwell.

    She was a longtime member of Concord United Methodist Church and an educator in the Sussex County Public School System for 31 years.

    Mrs. Holloway is survived by a daughter, Cindy Holloway Strickland and husband, Peter of Angier, NC; a son, Clinton W. Holloway, Jr. and wife, Beth of Jarratt; three grandsons, Clay Holloway and wife, Amory, Adam Holloway and wife, Stephanie and David Holloway and wife, Morgan; one granddaughter, Sadie Strickland; three great grandchildren, Claire, Braxton and Belle; two sisters, Florence C. Atkins and Edith C. Carraway and a number of nieces and nephews.

    The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Friday, February 5 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, February 6 at Concord United Methodist Church with interment to follow in the church cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sappony Ruritan Club Scholarship Fund c/o Robert Douglas Poarch, 10305 Reed Rd, Stony Creek, Virginia 23882, or to Concord United Methodist Church, c/o of Alice Spiers, 25713 Courthouse Rd, Stony Creek, Virginia 23882.

    Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com

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  54. Lawmakers Honor Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer

    By James Miessler, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – After a successful career at Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer won’t be forgotten any time soon. On Thursday, both houses of the General Assembly honored the recently retired football coach with a center-aisle ceremony.

    Legislators presented Beamer with a resolution to express their “admiration for his achievements and best wishes on a happy retirement.”

    “We’re here today to honor one of the greatest football coaches in all America on his retirement,” said Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, whose district includes the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

    With the former coach and his wife Cheryl standing by, Edwards delivered a speech praising Beamer.

    “He is one of the most successful and respected college football coaches in the entire country,” Edwards said. “He coaches the way that he is as a person – with character and decency – which is part of the reason for his remarkable success.”

    Edwards shared the accolades that comprise Beamer’s illustrious career at Virginia Tech.

    “At Virginia Tech, he’s had 23 consecutive winning seasons and Bowl game appearances and a national championship football game appearance,” Edwards said. “The team’s very first season with the ACC in 2004, the Hokies won the ACC title and an appearance in a Bowl championship series game, and Frank Beamer was named the ACC Coach of the Year. Altogether, the Hokies have won four ACC championships since 2004.”

    Beamer was well known for getting all of his players involved in scoring. This style of play was successful enough to garner its own nickname.

    “Coach Beamer pioneered an aggressive style of special-teams play that has come known far and wide as ‘Beamer Ball,’ ” Edwards said.

    But Beamer didn’t just see success on the field. Throughout the years, he saw many of his players earn their degrees.

    “Of particular pride to Frank Beamer and to Virginia Tech is that over 94 percent of his senior football players from 2001 to 2014 earned their college degrees,” Edwards said.

    Edwards drove home Beamer’s impact on college football at the end of the speech: “Frank Beamer has finished his career as the winningest active football coach in all of the NCAA.”

    Lawmakers presented Beamer with House Joint Resolution 75, which they had passed last month. The primary sponsors of the resolution were Republican Dels. Joseph Yost of Pearisburg, Greg Habeeb of Salem and Nick Rush of Christiansburg.

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  55. Birthday Gifts & Parties for Kids who Don’t Get to Celebrate

    VIRGINIA, February 1, 2016 – Every child deserves to have a special birthday! Connecting Hearts is making that possible in 2016 with a new program – Birthday Bags and Birthday Bashes. Partnering with local business, Connecting Hearts will fulfill birthday wishes for children ages 2 through 17 in foster care and will hold a monthly birthday party for kids in Central Virginia.

    The Birthday Bag is a reusable tote filled with complete party supplies, including theme decorations, paper goods, cake (or cake mix with frosting), candles, balloons, a personalized card and gifts for the child in foster care. Bags will be mailed or can be picked up just in time for a child’s special day!

    Connecting Hearts recently held the very first Birthday Bash at Einstein Brothers Bagels for kids with January birthdays! The kids celebrated by making pizza bagels in a private room! There were decorations, cookies, and cupcakes. Each child got their very own Birthday Bag. It was a positive day for children who don’t normally get celebrated.

    Some local business have already volunteered to help out, but Connecting Hearts seeks more community involvement to ensure every child who wants a special birthday can have one! There are several ways you or your business can help:

    • BIRTHDAY BAG SPONSOR- If you'd like to assemble a birthday bag for a foster child, there is a checklist to follow. Simply pick a theme and fill a reusable bag with the listed items. When a request comes in that matches the theme, we will personalize for the specific child and add their gift wishes. A sticker with your name will be on the bag saying, "Happy Birthday from the xyz Family."
    • BIRTHDAY BAG VOLUNTEER- Send your name and email. Our monthly email newsletter includes upcoming birthday requests. You will see the child's first name, age and requested theme, as well as instructions for assembling. These requests usually have a 1-2 week turnaround time, but allows you to really personalize for the specific child!
    • BIRTHDAY BAG DONOR- Help is always needed by donating online and let us do the shopping for you! Your gift will help cover the cost for a complete Birthday Bag experience ($50). We will also gladly accept any new party supplies, wrapping supplies or new gift items you may have.

    Oftentimes children in foster care are unfortunately not used to celebrating their birthdays in a special way. You can help make their day just a little bit brighter with a Connecting Hearts Birthday Bag!

    Connecting Hearts in Virginia – A Deborah J Johnston Charity is an adoption and foster care support nonprofit founded by Virginia’s Governor-appointed Adoption Champion Debbie Johnston. Connecting Hearts ensures that every child in Virginia has the opportunity for a loving home through addressing support needs across the state, partnering with other organizations, spreading awareness, and advocating. Virginia is home to over 5,000 children in foster care and over 860 children are waiting to be adopted.

    To learn more about the available kids, call 1-800-DO-ADOPT or visit www.dss.virginia.gov. For more information about Connecting Hearts and to learn how you can get involved, visit www.ConnectingHeartsVA.orgor connect at www.facebook.com/ConnectingHeartsVAor www.twitter.com/ConnectHeartsVA.

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  56. Business Leaders Support Bill to Boost International Trade

    By Matt Chaney, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, along with business leaders from across Virginia, promoted a bill Tuesday afternoon that they say will make it easier for businesses in Richmond and elsewhere in the state to export goods internationally.

    “This could really be a game changer for Virginia; promoting our exports and getting international companies to come into Virginia and do trade with us,” Landes said at a press conference in the General Assembly Building.

    Landes’ proposal, House Bill 858, would create the Virginia International Trade Authority. It would be formed by reorganizing existing programs within the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, another state agency. Thus, the proposal would not affect the state budget, according to Landes and leaders from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the Virginia Maritime Association.

    As a result, Landes said, the new authority would not cost taxpayers anything, while devoting more resources toward helping state businesses sell their products abroad.

    According to a press release distributed by an alliance of more than 100 Virginia businesses and trade associations, the proposed International Trade Authority will help Virginia meet its goals of adding “14,000 international trade-supported jobs and increase Virginia exports of products and services by $1.6 billion by 2020.”

    Van Wood, a professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, said creating an authority devoted to expanding international trade will “help businesses expand overseas, generate more revenue, and put the Virginia brand name out into the world.”

    “I want when people to walk into a grocery store in France, and they see French wines, South African wines, Napa Valley wines … I want them to say, ‘We got Virginia wines.’ You got to be out there. That’s what we’re doing,” Wood said in an interview after the press conference.

    Wood has a great deal of experience working within the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. He is one of several Virginia college professors who have been asked by the governor to help local businesses find an international market for their products.

    “There’s a small distillery located in Richmond, Virginia, in Scott’s Addition called Reservoir Distillery. It makes excellent rye whiskey and bourbon – $150 a bottle,” Wood said. He said that with globalization, such products might find a demand in emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil and Turkey.

    “They have a middle class now that these prestige products like American bourbon are going to resonate with,” Wood said.

    Landes’ bill has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Commerce, Technology and Natural Resources.


  57. Attorney General Targets Patent Trolls

    By Matt Chaney, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Matthew Osenga, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and patent prosecution, said that in all his years of practicing law, he has had only one case in which somebody came to him fearing a lawsuit about a fraudulent patent claim. What happened?

    “We chose to not do anything, and nothing came of it,” Osenga said Monday from his office at the Richmond law firm of Goodman, Allen and Donnelly.

    But some experts say fraudulent claims filed by so-called “patent trolls” are a major problem. That’s why Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring recently created a “Patent Troll Unit” to go after people who try to extort money by fraudulently claiming that someone has stolen their patent.

    According to a studycited by Herring’s office, patent trolls cost the U.S. economy about $29 billion a year, with individuals and companies bearing the brunt of the loss. At this point, it is unclear how much patent trolls cost the Virginia economy.

    “One of the things that could be really valuable about the Patent Troll Unit is that by having a more centralized unit working on the issue, we can get a better feel for which businesses are at risk, and how much of a problem this is in the commonwealth,” said Michael Kelly, the director of communications for Herring’s office.

    “Right now, there’s no one really looking at this issue in a coordinated way to establish the scale or impact of patent trolls at the state level.”

    Kristen Osenga, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in patent law, said there are a few problems with establishing a “Patent Troll Unit.”

    “By calling it a ‘Patent Troll Unit,’ basically [Herring is] saying, ‘Hey, let’s go after these people who are bad because they don’t make anything,’ ” said Professor Osenga, the wife of attorney Matthew Osenga.

    Osenga said she understands there are people who send letters falsely alleging that a company or individual has committed patent infringement. But at the same time, she said, there are other people who have a solid legal basis for suing for copyright infringement. She cited the company Conversant.

    “Back in the ’70s and ’80s, they developed, manufactured and sold semiconductor chips. They were a real company, manufacturing and selling real things,” Professor Osenga said. “In the ’90s, it turned out that the semiconductor industry was full of rampant infringement … So they were losing significant amounts of market share to all of these infringers, until they faced the choice: Do we sue all these people, or go out of business?”

    According to Osenga, the company eventually began licensing its patents to the infringing companies, which were better at manufacturing products. Conversant then became a research and development firm that licensed its patents instead of selling them. As a result, the company became known for its patent lawsuits and developed a bad rap among some people in the patent community.

    Osenga said she fears that Herring’s office might unfairly prosecute similar companies that look like patent trolls but don’t do anything unethical. Herring’s office found her concerns unwarranted.

    “Of course the Unit will not pursue action against companies that make legitimate claims of patent infringement,” Kelly said in an email response. “In fact, these efforts will strengthen the overall patent system by weeding out some of the bad actors that are abusing it.”

    Regardless, as a result of legislation passed last year, Herring’s office now has the power to investigate and prosecute patent trolls and impose financial penalties for misdeeds.

    In an open invitation to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest business advocacy group, Herring asked business people who think they may have been victims of patent trolling to report it by:

    “Because my office is authorized to seek injunctions against that kind of behavior,” Herring said, “we can identify and bring action against a few of these bad actors and really send a strong message that these kind of abusive tactics will not be tolerated in Virginia.”

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  58. Foreign Persons Must Report U.S. Agricultural Land Holdings

    The Executive Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Greensville County, Melvin E. Hill, Jr., CED, reminds foreign persons with an interest in agricultural lands in the United States that they are required to report their holdings and any transactions to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

    Any foreign person who acquires, transfers or holds any interest, other than a security interest, including leaseholds of 10 years or more, in agricultural land in the United States is required by law to report the transaction no later than 90 days after the date of the transaction.

    Foreign investors must file Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) reports with the FSA county office that maintains reports for the county where the land is located.

    Failure to file a report, filing a late report or filing an inaccurate report can result in a penalty with fines up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land

    For AFIDA purposes, agricultural land is defined as any land used for farming, ranching or timber production, if the tracts total 10 acres or more.

    Disclosure reports are also required when there are changes in land use. For example, reports are required when land use changes from nonagricultural to agricultural or from agricultural to nonagricultural. Foreign investors must also file a report when there is a change in the status of ownership such as the owner changes from foreign to non-foreign, from non-foreign to foreign or from foreign to foreign.

    Data gained from these disclosures is used to prepare an annual report to the President and Congress concerning the effect of such holdings upon family farms and rural communities in the United States.

    For more information regarding AFIDA and FSA programs, contact the Greensville County FSA office at 434-634-2462 or visit the USDA website at http://www.usda.gov.



  59. The Church Periodical Club’s Miles of Pennies Benefits Jackson-Feild

    Founded in 1888, the Church Periodical Club (CPC) is an independent organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church, and it relies on volunteers, clergy, and friends to promote its Ministry of the Printed Word.  In 1988 – on its 100th anniversary – the CPC established the Miles of Pennies Fund focuses exclusively on the educational needs of children from kindergarten through high school.

    Grants in the amount of $844.80 are awarded to provide books, magazines, audiotape, videos and CDs.  Why $844.80?  Because it takes 84,840 pennies laid edge-to-edge to cover the distance of one mile.  Hence, the name of the fund and the amount of the grants provided.

    The Hayden Gwaltney School at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services recently received a full grant of $844.80 from this fund.  Over the years, The Gwaltney School has received more than $7,745 from the program. This year’s grant was used to purchase 69 hardcover and 77 paperback books written by a wide variety of authors.

    Teachers and students alike are thrilled to be recipients of this grant, and the books are being checked out and read with enthusiasm.


  60. Dr. John J. Cavan Named President Emeritus By VCCS

    Former Southside Virginia Community College President Dr. John J. Cavan has been granted president emeritus status by the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges.  The honor was awarded in recognition of his more than three decades of service as SVCC president and for his exceptional leadership, innovation and service to education in Virginia.

    Nominated for the honor by the SVCC Local Board, candidates for this status must have provided ten or more years of outstanding, distinguished and honorable service to the VCCS.  The appointment of President Emeritus is for life.

    Current SVCC President Dr. Al Roberts said, “In his 31 plus years as president, Dr. Cavan set the groundwork and directed a course toward SVCC's continued success and prosperity.  Dr. Cavan often spoke of Southside as “democracy’s college” and was committed to creating a culture of higher education across Southside Virginia.  I consider myself privileged to have served with him for more than 20 years and I am grateful for his mentorship and support.

    According to the letter of nomination, “When Dr. Cavan took the helm in 1983, there were rumors of closing the college but he accepted the challenge and by 1986, headcount had increased by 47 percent.  Through tenacity and hard work, he set about the task of serving the underserved and building a strong tradition of education for the largest service region in the Virginia Community College System.”

    Under Cavan’s Leadership, there were many accomplishments including:

    • The opening of six off-campus centers to take education to the people in their community
    • Starting practical and associate degree nursing programs at the college
    • Opening the door for a Truck Driver Training School along with Diesel Tech Program
    • Securing the first new construction since the 70s on the campuses with the Workforce Development Centers and later, the Learning Resources and Student Services Building on the Daniel Campus
    • Dr. Cavan also oversaw the implementation of the Dual Enrollment Program that involved many area high school students in college
    • He was also an advocate for the Campus Within Walls program offering education to inmates in local prisons

    He served as President from 1983 until 2014.

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ decision to grant federal recognition to the Pamunkey tribe:

    “We are thrilled that federal recognition of the Pamunkey tribe is finally official. With this long-overdue designation, the Pamunkey is the first Virginia tribe to be recognized and receive access to critical federal benefits – a development we hope will pave the way for Congress to grant federal recognition of six more tribes through passage of our Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act,” the Senators said.

    Warner and Kaine have introduced the bipartisan Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, legislation that would grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond. While these tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, they have yet to receive federal recognition. The bill cleared its first procedural hurdle in March 2015 with passage out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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