March 2017

  1. Save on Gasoline at CornerStone Market BP -TODAY!

    CornerStone Market BP - #1 BP Rewards Site in the USA

    EMPORIA, VA. — BP North America just announced the #1 BP Rewards site in the USA and it is right here in Emporia – CornerStone Market BP and Subway.  The award was based on average registrations per month in 2016.   CornerStone Market BP and Subway is located at 501 W. Atlantic Street is the brainchild of Slate and Spivey of Emporia and Little Oil Company of Richmond.  Both companies are third generation family businesses who both diversified with the partnership at CornerStone as neither have been in the c-store or fast food business in the last 20 years.    For the year, CornerStone Market BP averaged 64 BP Rewards registrations per month with most all registrations by our residents of Emporia/Greensville.  Year-to-date registrations topped 384 by Dec. 31 saving thousands of dollars for the reward users. 

    To continue the momentum from 2016, CornerStone Market BP will be having a BP Rewards Registration Event at the store this Friday, March 31st from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM with big savings for all who participate.  There will be employees at the dispensers explaining the promotion and giving immediate savings on gas to lower your price to under $1.8990 if you buy a minimum of 12 gallons.  An additional employee will be registering people in the store to help save you the time and effort of registering at home.  The registration takes less than a minute providing ongoing savings through BP Rewards on each fill-up.  CornerStone Market BP hopes to break their one day record for registrations with this promotion with new enrollments and re-enrolling current BP Rewards members.  The goal for the day is to save locals over $1,000 or more in gas or diesel on Friday.



    “We are so pleased that our community has embraced saving 15¢-40¢ off the pump price on each fill-up depending on the specific purchase of the Reward user” says Clint Slate, one of the CornerStone owners.  “With an average purchase of 12 gallons of gas or diesel purchased, the average savings is 19¢ per gallon on each fill-up for a period of 90 days during the introductory period.  For people driving large vehicles that take 20 gallons on a fill-up, customers can save up to 38¢ per gallon on a maximum fill-up of 20 gallons.  That is not 38¢ off the purchase but 38¢ off PER GALLON giving a 20-gallon fill-up savings of $7.60 on one fill-up.  Once the introductory period is up, there will always be 10¢ a gallon for each $100 purchased.  As one customer said, “I can get a free Subway sandwich with my savings on each fill-up.”

    During the month of December alone, 28% of all the fuel gallons sold at CornerStone Market BP were purchased by members of the BP Rewards program.  When asked what this milestone tells customers about CornerStone Market BP, Barry Grizzard Sales Manager of Little Oil Company says, "It proves that we put our customers first in trying to save them money on every trip to CornerStone Market BP, and that we will give the best customer service to all of our valued customers by providing the BP Rewards program and the ease to get into it." he explained.

    The store's enrollment process for the rewards program is what sets it apart, Grizzard believes.  While any customer can go online and register for the BP Rewards program, CornerStone Market BP employees have personally enrolled every interested customer as asked via the store's computer as led by store manager Teresa Simmons. The registration is tied to a customer's phone number, which is given at the time of enrollment so another loyalty card is not needed.  "The personal touch with [enrollment] is the No. 1 way this program has been successful and led to us being #1 in the country," Grizzard says.  "Many people have the best intentions to enroll at a later time, but getting it done on the spot is the best way to get it done."

    Monthly, CornerStone Market lines up employees and places them at the fuel pumps for a big event for the personal explanation of the program.  While at the pumps, employees engage with customers and ask for permission to help save them money on their fuel purchase that day.  With customers' consent, employees use a preprogrammed demo BP Rewards loyalty number to offer an on-the-spot discount for their fill-up without a prior purchase needed.  The discount can be any number of cents off per gallon based on the prior customer’s purchase.  These savings average 25¢ per gallon.  While filling up, employees take those few minutes to explain the BP Rewards program and encourage the customer to enroll.  If he or she would like to enroll, all they have to do is provide a personal phone number or 10-digit number to tie to their account for instant enrollment.  Employees then engage with the next customer and reset the preprogrammed BP Rewards loyalty number which gives out a different cents-off-per-gallon discount each time during the promotion.

    Under the BP Rewards program, CornerStone Market BP Rewards members can:

    • Apply rewards toward purchases of up to 20 gallons per fill-up;
    • Use any form of payment to take advantage of the BP Rewards savings - a corporate or consumer credit card, debit card, or use with cash in-store to pay for the product all work;
    • Share their BP Rewards number with more than one person if the customer wants;
    • Even after the 90-day introductory promotion period, there will always be a rewards on every purchase but re-enrollment will extend the 90 day promotion period.

    When members use a fuel dispenser at CornerStone Market BP, the screen prompts them with their current rewards balance and asks if they would like to use their accrued rewards now or later.  "The reason for this is you would like to maximize your purchase to get as many of the 20 gallons allowed under the program with the current fill, or postpone your rewards to another fill while continuing to grow the rewards on each fill," Chris Slate, an owner explains.   "Some people like to keep earning rewards until a fill-up only costs 1¢ per gallon for up to 20 gallons."

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  2. VSP Warns of IRS Phone Cloning Scam

    CHATHAM, Va. - Within the past 24 hours, the Virginia State Police have received calls from two Virginians and one New Yorker about IRS-impersonation telephone calls linked to a Virginia State Police Area 43 Office in Chatham. The scammers have cloned the state police office’s main number – (434) 432-7287 – as a tactic to help convince a caller that they are legitimate. This is a common ploy utilized by scammers as the annual IRS filing season comes to a close.

    The Internal Revenue Service will never:

    • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
    • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
    • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
    • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

    According to the IRS Website, the aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

    Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

    ·         Please See: Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

    Some con artists have used video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Taxpayers are urged not trust calls just because they are made through VRS, as interpreters don’t screen calls for validity. For more details see the IRS YouTube video: Tax Scams via Video Relay Service .   

    If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page.


  3. Virginia State University Selects New Leader for Hospitality Management Program

    Dr. Berkita Bradford, who has been serving as the interim chairwoman of Virginia State University’s Hospitality Management Department, has been formally appointed to the position. The appointment is effective immediately.

    Bradford, who arrived at VSU in fall 2015 to serve as an associate professor and program coordinator, stepped into the interim chairman position January 2016 after Dr. Dianne Williams left the university for a position at Bethune Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Fla. She managed the unit for more than 10 years.

    As chairwoman, Bradford will provide the department with administrative oversight and manage the day-to-day operations.

    "Dr. Bradford’s passion for the hospitality industry and wealth of experience in the field have positioned her to be an ideal fit to lead VSU’s Hospitality Management Department into the future,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, dean of VSU’s College of Agriculture, which houses the Hospitality Management Department.

    In accepting the position, Bradford said, “I’m both honored and humbled to serve the VSU family. I look forward to the hard work, numerous challenges and working with the wonderful faculty and staff in the department.”

    VSU's hospitality management program is one of only five Historically Black College and University (HBCU) programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), which proves the program exceeds standards in educational quality. The objective of the program is to provide students leadership and managerial training with real world hospitality educational experiences. The curriculum is designed to develop students’ focus on operations management at the property level and prepare them for management careers in the hotel and restaurant industry, food and beverage industry, convention and event planning, as well as at resorts, casinos and more.

    Recent VSU hospitality management graduates have been hired by top national and international companies, including: Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Inc., Thompson Hospitality®, Sodexo, Aramark, U.S. Omni, Hilton, Four Seasons, Outback, Darden, and Loews® Hotels & Resorts, among many others.

    Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick.

    Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. 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, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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  4. Happenings at Brunswick Academy

    Local Author and BA Alum Visits Campus

    Brunswick Academy was fortunate to have local author, Francis Eugene Wood, visit campus on Wednesday, March 29th. Mr. Wood attended B.A. in the early 1970's before moving back to Farmville..  Wood had the opportunity to talk to students in grades 3-12 about his books and writing styles, along with sharing stories about his childhood in Brunswick County. For more information on Francis Eugene Wood go to his website

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  5. More Virginians have health insurance, data show

    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – The percentage of Virginians without health insurance fell by 2 percentage points in 2015, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. All but two localities in Virginia saw a drop in the number of uninsured residents.

    The uninsured population of Virginia fell from 12.4 percent in 2014 to 10.4 percent in 2015, the data showed. Nationwide, the proportion of Americans lacking health insurance went from 13.5 percent to 10.9 percent.

    Health insurance has been the subject of political debate at the federal and state levels. The goal of the Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare, was to get more people insured. Republicans say the law has been a disaster; Democrats say it’s working but needs improvement.

    Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Virginia ranked No. 28 in its percentage of uninsured residents in 2015. Massachusetts had the lowest uninsured population (3.2 percent); Texas had the highest (19.2 percent).

    From 2014 to 2015, the uninsured population dropped in all states except South Dakota, where the percentage rose 0.2 percent.

    Among Virginia localities, the city of Lexington showed the biggest decrease in uninsured residents: Its percentage fell from 15 percent to 10.2 percent. The uninsured rate also dropped significantly in Highland County, Cumberland County and Roanoke.

    The city of Richmond also had a sizable decline: Its proportion of uninsured residents declined from 18.4 percent in 2014 to 14.5 percent the following year.

    Despite the improvements, more than 15 percent of the population was uninsured in a dozen localities in Virginia, including Harrisonburg, Accomack County and Manassas Park.

    In many states, the reason for the decrease in uninsured residents could be the expansion of Medicaid, the government-funded health program for lower-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act offered states federal funding to expand Medicaid. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have done so, according to the Census Bureau.

    Other states, including Virginia, declined to expand Medicaid for fear that they would be saddled with the costs down the road.

    On Monday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe again urged Virginia legislators to expand Medicaid.

    “Failing to expand Medicaid has cost Virginia $10.4 billion and has left 400,000 of our residents without health care,” McAuliffe said. “President Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, and even Speaker (Paul) Ryan has said that Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future. The time has come for us to bring our taxpayer dollars back to serve the individuals who need them the most.”

    Republicans, who control the Virginia General Assembly, are likely to reject McAuliffe’s request.


  6. Limit handgun purchases to 1 a month, McAuliffe says

    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proposed an amendment to restore Virginia’s “one handgun a month” law. The amendment would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone other than a licensed firearms dealer to purchase more than one handgun within a 30-day period.

    Virginia limited handgun purchases to one a month in 1993 when Democrats controlled the General Assembly and Douglas Wilder was governor. Back then, McAuliffe said, Virginia had the reputation of being “the gun-running capital of the East Coast.”

    The law was repealed in 2012 when Republicans controlled the House and Senate and Bob McDonnell was governor. As a result, McAuliffe said Monday, “Virginia is once again becoming the go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk.”

    Earlier this month, 24 people, including 22 from Virginia, were arrested on gun-smuggling charges. They transported more than 200 weapons north on Interstate 95 to New York, law enforcement officials said.

    According to prosecutors, one of the suspects was recorded as saying, “There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. . . . I can do that Monday through Friday. . . . They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.”

    New York officials have urged Virginia to take action.

    “When you hear a trafficker boasting about the weak gun laws in Virginia, it is crystal clear that this needs to be addressed,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told The New York Times.

    Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said he supports reinstating the “one handgun a month” law.

    “This is a great step to restore a common-sense measure that never should have been repealed in the first place,” Herring said. “Virginia’s weak gun laws make it too easy for guns to get into the hands of criminals, making our families, communities, and especially our law enforcement officers less safe, not to mention the heartbreak and damage these guns cause in neighboring states.”

    McAuliffe proposed amending Senate Bill 1023 to include a one-a-month limit on handgun purchases in Virginia. The bill would prohibit Virginia from sharing information about its concealed handgun permit holders with states that do not recognize Virginia’s permits as valid within their borders.

    Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, sponsored SB 1023. He called the governor’s amendment disingenuous.

    “He’s just making a game out of it,” Stuart told The Washington Post. “It’s disheartening to me that the governor is more concerned about the people in New York City than he is about Virginia citizens who are actually . . . playing by the rules.”

    The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5 to consider McAuliffe’s vetoes and recommendations. Republicans control the House and Senate and are unlikely to agree to the “one handgun a month” proposal, Stuart said.


  7. Improvement Asspc Celebrates Dr. Seuss' Birthday

    Students participating in The Improvement Association’s Head Start initiative received a special treat when students participating in the agency’s Project Discovery initiative visited their classrooms on March 2. Project Discovery students read various books to the children in honor of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

    Head Start is now recreating for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, at 434-634-2490 or Linda Bailey, Family Community Partnership Coordinator at 434-634-2044. For more information about Project Discovery, contact William Ricks at or email

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    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Lovleen Kaur has been chosen the  March 2017 Student of the Month.  Loveleen is the daughter of Karamjit Kaur of South Hill and has one sister.  Lovleen has played JV basketball at Brunswick Academy and is a member of the Latin Club.   

    She enjoys reading and painting.  Her future plans include attending Southside Virginia Community College and hopes to work in local banking. 



  9. Alfred A. Allen

    Alfred A. Allen, 82, of Emporia, a retired farmer, passed away Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at his home. He was preceded in death by his wife, Irene Gordon Allen; an infant daughter and daughter Vicky T. Allen- Pearce; four brothers and three sisters. He is survived by his son, Todd B. Allen and wife, Kristie and his daughter, Lisa A. Fox and husband, Jett; three grandchildren, Marcus Allen, Katie Whitehead and husband, Stuart and Keith Harrell; two sisters, Josephine Covington and Esther Allen and numerous nieces and nephews. The family wants to convey their heartfelt appreciation to longtime caregivers, Becky Presson and Karen Drummond and the staff and nurses of New Century Hospice. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 30 at Owen Funeral Home, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Friday, March 31 at High Hills Baptist Church with interment to follow in the church cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to High Hills Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 296, Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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  10. Donna Rae Bozard

    Donna Rae Bozard, 66, of Skippers, passed away, Monday, March 27, 2017. She was the daughter of the late Curtis and Louise Bozard and was also preceded in death by three brothers, John, Robert and Billy Bozard. She is survived by her son, William Bozard; two grandchildren, Robbie and Connor Bozard; sisters, Mary Balmer, Marcy Woodruff, brothers, Keith Bozard, Mike Bozard and Jeffrey Bozard. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, April 1 at Faith Baptist Church where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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  11. SVCC Welding Lab Opens in Greensville County

    The Southside Virginia Community College Welding Lab, located at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Greensville County, was officially opened March 14, 2017 with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony and open house. 

    Welding impacts virtually every industry and students using this new lab will have the opportunity to pursue high paying welding careers in a wide range of areas.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welding is a solid career in addition to a growing field.  The BLS estimates there will be a need for 14,400 more welders by the year 2024.

    The lab contains 14 welding booths with separate ventilation systems and represents an impressive public/private partnership.

    Fluor is a Fortune 500® company headquartered in Irving, Texas, that came to Southside Virginia to build two colossal power stations for Dominion Virginia Power; their presence has made a huge impact on the area as well.  The global company designs, builds and maintains the world’s toughest projects; and, fortunately, actually involves itself with the communities in the regions where they work.

    Dr. Al Roberts, SVCC President, said, “Southside Virginia Community College is the recipient of the benevolent nature of Fluor for spearheading the funding of this state-of-the art Welding Lab.  The presence of the company in the area increases welding jobs and encourages workers to learn new skills for better compensation.”

    When Fluor comes into a community, they like to leave it better off than it was when they arrived.  This permanent welding facility is evidence of their commitment to enhancing Greensville, Emporia and Southside Virginia.

    Other partners in the creation of the lab are Virginia Tobacco Commission, Dominion Virginia Power, Greensville County and American Equipment Company (Ameco).


  12. "Just a Little Smile"

    A smile is not apparel
    That one puts on to wear
    A smile is your initiative
    To let all know you care.
    Yes, while you are attending
    A patient’s greatest need
    That little bit of curled lip
    Is on what they often feed.
    It isn’t hard; it will not hurt
    But many barriers it will break
    Yes, and very soon you’ll realize
    The short time it does take.
    Now no two are alike, you’ll find
    At times you must increase
    Yet when you go and they return
    You’ll see that inner peace.
    Well the time and need will vary
    For their problems aren’t the same
    Still all will remember your smile
    Much quicker than your name.
    I witnessed this quite personal
    When as a patient I did enter
    I commend the staff for easing my pain
    At Southern Virginia Regional medical Center
    May God Bless,
    Roy E. Schepp
    (3/14-3/16) 2017

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  13. McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’

    By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

    McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

    Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” The governor’s supporters say he is a firewall to block bad bills passed by a gerrymandered legislature.

    “This new record is the disappointing result of four years of failed leadership by a disengaged governor, and is certainly not something to be celebrated,” Speaker William Howell and other GOP House leaders said in a statement last week. “Divided government has been the norm over the past two decades of Virginia politics, but this governor has brought a new level of animosity and acrimony than we’ve ever seen.”

    McAuliffe maintains that it’s Republicans who are playing politics – by sending him bills that he says are unnecessary or dangerous. On Monday morning, he vetoed:

    • SB 1253, sponsored by Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, which would have required electronic poll books to include photo identification of registered voters.
    • SB 1455, sponsored by Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, which would have made it a Class 1 misdemeanor to solicit or accept payment in exchange for registering people to vote.
    • SB 1581, sponsored by Sen. Mark J. Peake, R-Lynchburg, which would have required voter registrars to contact the Social Security Administration to verify the name, date of birth and Social Security number of all voter applicants.

    McAuliffe said that the state already has strict voter registration laws and that there is no evidence to suggest that voter fraud is a problem in Virginia.

    On Monday afternoon, McAuliffe vetoed HB 2000, sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin, which stated that “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” The bill, which took aim at so-called “sanctuary cities,” would “send a hostile message to immigrant communities,” McAuliffe said.

    He also vetoed HB 2092, by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, which sought more scrutiny of people seeking public assistance, including whether they have received undeclared winnings from the Virginia Lottery; and HB 1790, by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, which supporters said would streamline government regulations but McAuliffe said would do the opposite.

    On Friday, the governor rejected five gun-related bills, including HB 1852, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and SB 1299, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester.

    Under that legislation, people protected by a restraining order could carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the order was issued, provided that they are not prohibited from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm.

    “It provides petitioners of a protective order the ability to carry a concealed firearm for a limited period time in order to protect themselves as they see fit while they await the issuance of their permanent concealed carry permit,” Gilbert said.

    In announcing his veto, McAuliffe said the legislation perpetuates a false narrative that victims of domestic violence are made safer by arming themselves.

    “It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more,” McAuliffe said. “I will not allow this bill to become law when too many Virginia women have already fallen victim to firearms violence at the hands of their intimate partner.”

    McAuliffe also vetoed two other identical bills by Gilbert and Vogel: HB 1853and SB 1300. Under those bills, the state would have provided funding to businesses that offer free gun safety and training programs for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking or family abuse.

    Moreover, anyone who gets a protective order would have received a list of firearm training courses approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

    The fifth gun-related bill vetoed by McAuliffe was SB 1362, sponsored by Black. It would have allowed military personnel who are not on duty to carry a concealed firearm in Virginia, as long as they have their military identification card.

    McAuliffe called the bill an unnecessary expansion of concealed handgun carrying rights.

    “The bill would create a separate class of individuals who do not require a concealed handgun permit,” he said.

    The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5 to consider override McAuliffe’s vetoes.



    The following article was provided to Emporia News by Lauren Grizzard and was written as part of her Master's Degree program in Clinical Social Work at VCU. 

    Lauren is a lifelong resident of Emporia and graduated from GCHS in 2012. After high school Lauren graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015 with BA in psychology and will graduate from VCU with my Masters in Social Work in May. 

    She is currently interning at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services, and plans on pursuing her LCSW licensure upon graduation. Lauren's professional interests include working with children, families, and Survivors of trauma.

    Let’s take a survey.  Have you ever…

    o   Been cursed at, insulted, put down, or humiliated by your parents?

    o   Hit, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at you?

    o   Been hit so hard it left marks or caused injury?

    o   Felt like no one loved you or thought you were important?

    o   Worry that you didn’t have enough to eat?

    o   Had parents who were too drunk or high to care for you? 

    o   Had parents who divorced?

    o   Seen one of your parents get hit?

    o   Lived with an alcoholic or drug user?

    o   Lived with someone who was depressed or who had attempted to commit suicide?

    o   Lived with someone who went to prison? (Felitti et al., 1998)

    Add up your YES responses.  That number is your Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score, a sum of childhood traumas and adverse experiences in your life that has significant public health implications (Felitti et al., 1998). We will return to this number later.

    When living in a small town like Emporia, it’s common to know all of the “latest news” of the community.  In a short trip to the grocery store, we are able to hear everyone’s latest medical concerns, learn about who passed away from cancer last week, and we take notice of who has gained a significant amount of weight in a short period of time.  In that same supermarket, we hear about the stories of trauma and adverse experiences of those individuals in our community.  We hear about the cases of child abuse, the prevalence of poverty, and the lack of affordable health care.  We become infuriated when we hear about children who do not have access to healthy meals.  We offer our pity to the couple getting a divorce, and we gawk at the drained mother whose life circumstances have contributed to her mental breakdown and suicide attempt. These dialogues are familiar to us all.  However, in our conversations, we unconsciously separate medical issues from psychological issues, categorizing and assigning value as if they are inherently distinct: medical issues and psychological issues.  Why do we find ourselves doing this and why does this separation matter?

    In the early 1990s, researchers began to look at how trauma or “adverse childhood experiences” affect individuals (Felitti et al., 1998).  The results were alarming! The study showed that individuals with an ACE score of 3 or more have a huge risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, and alcoholism (Felitti et al., 1998).  Unfortunately, in the United States, 1 out of every 4 adults has an ACE score of three or more, suggesting that many adults have been exposed to adverse experiences (Redford, 2016).  In Greensville County, like most of the nation, we see a prevalence of these chronic health problems with 1 in 3 individuals suffering from obesity, 1 in 5 individuals being diagnosed with diabetes, 1 in 5 individuals suffering from excessive alcohol use, and teenage pregnancy rates that are three times the state’s average (Catlin, Jovaag & Dijk, 2015).  We also have health statistics that support the anecdotal stories of trauma and adverse experiences of the individuals in the community: 1 in every 4 children live in poverty, 1 in 2 children live in single-parent households, and 1 in 4 children are food insecure (Catlin, Jovaag & Dijk, 2015).  Is there a connection between the psychosocial adverse experiences and the high chronic health issues that our community is suffering from?   We cannot be certain, but the statistics are suggestive that yes, there is a connection (Redford, 2016). 

    So, what’s next?  What does this connection between trauma and chronic health problems leave us with in our little community? More than likely, you have been or you know someone who has been exposed to adverse experiences that increase the risk of experiencing chronic health issues. Take a look your results from the survey above, and imagine the results of the people in your community.  This is not an “us” versus “them” problem.  Rather, it is our problem. Our communities are suffering from this infectious germ.  Our schools are not fairing well, our obesity rates are high, and our teens are depressed (Bornstein, 2016).  Just as insurance companies would much rather provide coverage for the flu shot rather than treat the flu, it is more cost-effective for our community to prevent and treat the trauma-exposure, rather than tackle the chronic health concerns that can develop if left untreated.

    So why aren’t we paying more attention to this issue? What would happen if more people acknowledged how trauma and adverse experiences are impacting these our lives—at the doctor’s office, in the classroom, or in the community?  More doctors and mental health professionals are acknowledging that medicine and psychology are parallel, not separate fields, and we need the community to believe and support this, too (Bornstein, 2016).   Understanding trauma and these adverse experiences would change the ways in which we tackled bigger problems, such as improving our test scores and battling obesity.  We know that there are no easy answers. There is no magic formula for solving our community problems.  However, it is imperative that we acknowledge the role of trauma and its health impact rather than allowing it to continue to silently infect our community. 


    Bornstein, D. (2016). “How Community Networks Stem Childhood Traumas.” The New York Times. Retrieved from

    Catlin, B., Jovaag, A., & Dijk, J. (2015). “County Health Rankings” Key Findings Report. Madison: WI: University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

    Felitti, V.J., Anda, R.F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D.F., Spitz, A.M., Edwards, V., & Koss, M. P. (1998) Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 14(4), 245-258.

    Redford, J. (2016). Resilience: The biology of stress and the science of hope [Motion Picture]. United States: KPJR Films.

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  15. VCU Massey Cancer Center Presents “Cooking with Sweet Potatoes”

    How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for cancer? Much more than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are two key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk according to the American Cancer Society. Youcan protect your health, feel better, and boost your ability to fight off cancer and other diseases by making smart food choices.

    VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Cancer Research and Resource Center of Lawrenceville is pleased to present the second in a series to the community a demonstration on “Cooking with Sweet Potatoes”, Friday, April 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm.  The event will be held at the Center at 221 North Main Street, Lawrenceville, VA. 

    Sweet potatoes are a member of the red/orange vegetable subgroup.  They are high in beta-carotene, the plant version of Vitamin A and also are high in potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C reports the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense food that we should be eating more of.

    Chef Angie East and Gardner Bernard Jones, Sr. will provide tips on growing sweet potatoes, different types of sweet potatoes and demonstrate cooking sweet potatoes. Samples of their products will be available for tasting at no charge. They brings years of experience to the event.  Their passion for gardening and cooking are shown through their enthusiasm and their contagious smiles when they speak on the topics.     

    Eating well is an important part of improving your health and reducing your cancer risk. We look forward to offering the residents of Brunswick County an opportunity to learn how to prepare and cook healthy vegetables with delicious samples. 

    You may contact the Cancer Research and Resource Center at 434-532-8190 or email Vivian Taylor at vjtaylor@vcu.edufor more information.  The Center is funded by VCU Massey Cancer Center and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Like us on Facebook.

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  16. VCU Health CMH February 2017 Team Member of the Month

    (Left to Right) W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Katherine DiPaulo, Discharge Planner in Care Management, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for February.  There to congratulate Katherine was Amy Lynch, Care Management Manager, Tammy House, Director of Social Work and Ken Libby, Vice President of Finance.

    Katherine has been employed at VCU Health CMH for a year and two months.  Katherine resides in Victoria, VA and graduated from both Central of Lunenburg High School and James Madison University.  Her dedication and work ethic are just two of the qualities that make her a wonderful asset to VCU Health CMH. 

    The nomination form submitted on her behalf stated, “I am nominating Katherine for Team Member of the Month for her willingness to assist the Hundley Center Social Work Department for approximately five weeks when our full time employee was on leave.  She performed MDS interviews daily with the residents, which is a necessary requirement for our facility.  She willingly provided two hours each afternoon to assist us, before returning to the hospital to her Case Management role.  Her assistance was greatly appreciated.  Great team player!”

    In addition to the award certificate, Katherine received a STAR Service lapel pin, letter of commendation from Administration, a $40 gift certificate, and a parking place of her choice for the month.

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    ~ Only 22 percent of workers at small firms currently have access to a workplace savings plan or pension ~

    WASHINGTON— Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reduce duplicative filing costs for small businesses looking to offer retirement plans to their employees was introduced today in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

    The legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee. In the House, the legislation was sponsored by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA), a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

    “As the nature of work continues to change, increasing access to workplace retirement plans is a crucial step in providing a secure retirement to millions of Americans,” Sen. Warner said. “For smaller employers, offering a retirement plan can be expensive and complex, so we should make it easier and reduce duplicative filing costs for them to offer retirement plans and promote retirement security for all workers.”

    “Americans simply aren’t saving enough to be able to afford a comfortable retirement. In fact, there is an estimated $7.7 trillion gap between what Americans have saved for retirement and what they will actually need,” said Senator Collins. “When employers provide their employees with access to retirement plans, approximately 80 percent of them contribute. Our legislation will help promote retirement security by making it easier and less expensive for small businesses to establish retirement plans, increasing their accessibility to employees and helping to ensure that those who worked hard for decades do not spend their retirement in poverty.”

    The legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate Finance Committee in the 114th Congress.

    “Too many Americans simply aren’t putting enough money away to be able to afford a secure retirement. By helping more small businesses provide workplace retirement plans we can give millions of hardworking families more financial peace of mind,” Congresswoman Sánchez said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan and bicameral legislation to make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to establish retirement plans for their workers. This common sense legislation will help provide greater retirement security to more Americans.”

    “With nearly 40 million working families who haven’t saved a dime for retirement, it is imperative we do all we can to help encourage affordable, accessible retirement savings,” said Congressman Roe. “By alleviating duplicative reporting requirements for plan administrators, we are making it easier for small businesses to provide secure retirement plans to their workers and reducing the costs for small business owners who provide retirement plans.”

    A 2016 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that only 22 percent of workers at small firms have access to a workplace savings plan or pension, compared to 74 percent at firms with 500 or more employees. For smaller employers, offering a retirement plan can be expensive and complex.

    The bill directs the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Treasury Department to allow employers and sole-proprietors participating in retirement plans administered in the same way to file a single aggregated Form 5500, a required annual return that provides important compliance information to DOL and Treasury.

    Under current law, despite sharing a common administrative framework, each individual plan is still required to file a separate Form 5500 to satisfy reporting requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. Today’s proposal will eliminate duplicative reporting by plan administrators, which will reduce costs for small businesses that maintain retirement plans. To file an aggregated Form 5500, the retirement plans would need to have the same trustee, fiduciary, plan administrator, plan year and investment menu.

    The self-employed, including sole proprietors and small business owners, are the most likely to establish a retirement savings plan that would benefit from and meet the requirements necessary to file an aggregated Form 5500. According to 2016 survey findings from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in collaboration with Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, only one-third of self-employed respondents indicated that they make sure they are saving for retirement.

    To provide DOL and Treasury time to implement this change, the proposal has an effective date of no later than January 1, 2021. A copy of the legislative text is available here.


  18. Jagdish R. Patel

    Jagdish R. Patel of Emporia, Virginia passed away on Friday, March 24, 2017.  Jagdish was born on June, 28, 1943 in Gujarat, India and married Saroj Patel on April 20, 1968. He emigrated from India in 1968 to attend Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania where he received a Master of Business Administration.  Jagdish and Saroj moved to Emporia where they became, for the last 38 years, prominent contributors to the hospitality industry and local community. His beloved wife, Saroj, predeceased him in 2012.  Jagdish is survived by his three daughters, Alpa, Nisha, and Leena, and five grandchildren.  Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 1 from 11 AM to 1 PM at Woody’s Funeral Home, 1771 N Parham Rd, Richmond, VA 23229, (804) 288-3013.  Private ceremony to follow.

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  19. Print may die but journalism won’t, veteran columnist says

    By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Print journalism will eventually end, says former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, but the close of the print era hardly means the death of journalism.

    Levey, a visiting journalism professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, delivered a lecture Thursday on “the future of the media,” examining journalism in the digital age – and in the era of President Trump.

    For Levey, sustaining responsible journalism requires overhauling the business models and content systems that guide the news industry today. As newspaper advertising has fled online to Craigslist, Facebook, Yahoo and Google, publishers have all but lost their ability to charge for news.

    “If journalism is going to survive in its best form – authoritative, accurate, fair, unbiased and on the ball in terms of timing – the business problem is going to have to be solved or dealt with,” said Levey, who has been a working journalist for nearly 50 years, including 36 as a reporter and columnist at The Washington Post.

    He compared The Post’s acquisition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with The New York Time’s public ownership and resulting pressure of “being beholden to Wall Street.” Journalism requires revenue to thrive, and Levey discussed philanthropy and government funding as emerging channels of financial support for news sites.

    Revamping media content for today’s audiences may be a more complicated task. Levey described a modern breed of readers who use news as a way to confirm, rather than challenge, their knowledge. This trend, Levey said, will only fragment audiences, promote intolerance and discourage fresh news sources and journalists in the field.

    “We no longer trust news sources to open our eyes to things we don’t know, and we don’t seek them to provide things that we don’t know,” Levey said, speaking to several hundred people gathered in the VCU Commons Theater and watching the lecture online.

    “We are going home. We are going to a stripe and a political orientation that we know, that we expect and that we trust.”

    Equally troubling to the landscape of journalism is the popularity of online platforms that seek to cement an identity somewhere between legitimate news and pop-culture listicles.

    Case in point: BuzzFeed and its decision to publish private information regarding then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s personal life. Levey criticized online news outlet for presenting the information to readers without a filter of journalistic standards. Responsible journalism involving editing, and a brand of accuracy will always exist, he said, but it must increasingly compete with content that shies away from editorial involvement and responsibility.

    Toward the end of his lecture, Levey outlined his predictions for the future of journalism and received questions from the audience. Newspapers will eventually halt circulation, Levey said, and television and radio news will continue to decline each year.

    As for the internet, Levey predicts Facebook will rise as a dominant publisher of journalism in a time as media outlets are sucked into larger enterprises, much in the way of The Washington Post and Amazon.

    After fielding questions about censorship, commoditization of content and journalism ethics, Levey summarized his thoughts regarding journalism’s future as the lecture drew to a close.

    “Journalism depends on patience, time and editing,” he said. “My money’s on journalism. We always find a way.”

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  20. Governor vetoes Republicans’ ‘educational choice’ legislation

    By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed several bills that Republicans say would have increased school choice but McAuliffe said would have undermined public schools.

    Two bills, House Bill 1400 and Senate Bill 1240, would have established the Board of Virginia Virtual School as an agency in the executive branch of state government to oversee online education in kindergarten through high school. Currently, online courses fall under the Virginia Board of Education.

    “In establishing the Virginia Virtual School outside of the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, and most importantly, local school boards, this legislation raises significant constitutional concerns,” McAuliffe stated in his veto statement.

    HB 1400 was sponsored by Del. Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, and SB 1240 by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico. The bills were identical to legislation the governor vetoed last year.

    McAuliffe also vetoed HB 2342 and SB 1283, which would have authorized the State Board of Education to allow local school boards to collaborate in establishing regional charter schools. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently and are exempt from certain policies regular schools must follow.

    “In establishing regional governing school boards that remove authority from local school boards and their members, this legislation proposes a governance model that is in conflict with the Constitution of Virginia,” McAuliffe wrote in his veto statement. “Public charter school arrangements are already available to divisions at the discretion of the local school board.”

    HB 2342 was sponsored by Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta. Sen Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, sponsored SB 1283. Obenshain was disappointed in the Democratic governor’s decision.

    “Florida has upwards of 500 charter schools; Virginia has just nine that serve 2,000 students,” Obenshain said. “If we’re serious about providing families with meaningful educational choices when faced with failing schools, then that has to change.”

    Obenshain said charter schools provide parents with a choice when their local schools are failing.

    McAuliffe also vetoed:

    • HB 1605, sponsored by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun. It which would have established “Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts.” The governor said such savings accounts would divert state funds from public schools and redirect them for educational services outside of the public school system.
    • HB 2191, introduced by Landes. It would have required school boards to notify parents of any material assigned to students that could be deemed as sexually explicit. Schools would have had to provide substitute materials if the parents requested.

    Ed Gillespie, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in this year’s election, criticized McAuliffe for vetoing the bills.

    “I’ve never seen a governor so proud of everything he didn’t get done for the Commonwealth,” Gillespie said. “Unfortunately for Virginians, he’s added to his record by vetoing four pieces of legislation to expand opportunities in education. These were common-sense bills that would have helped all Virginia students.”

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  21. Virginia sees slower population growth


    By Haley Winn, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginia’s population is increasing only half as fast as it was at the start of the decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    From 2010 to 2011, the commonwealth’s population grew by more than 1 percent. But data released Thursday showed that the state’s population increased only about 0.5 percent between mid-2015 and mid-2016.

    Nationwide, the U.S. population rose by 0.7 percent last year. Among the 50 states, Virginia ranked in the middle in its one-year growth rate, sandwiched between Alaska and Oklahoma.

    Utah had the biggest increase in population last year – 2 percent. Nevada, Idaho, Florida and Washington were fractions of a percentage point behind.

    Eight states lost population, with West Virginia losing the most (0.5 percent).

    Since the start of the decade, Virginia’s statewide population has grown about 5 percent, similar to states such as California and Hawaii. Washington, D.C., with a 13 percent increase, grew faster than any state during those six years. Then came North Dakota (just under 13 percent) and Texas (almost 11 percent).

    Virginia is home to some of the fastest-growing localities, as well as some with the steepest declines in population.

    New Kent and Loudoun counties were among the fastest growing localities in the United States from 2015 to 2016. Jumping more than 700 people, New Kent’s population rose 3.5 percent; that ranked 36th among the nation’s 3,142 counties.

    From 2015 to 2016, Loudoun County’s population grew by 3 percent. Although that is slower than in the past, Loudoun has grown almost 24 percent since 2010. Of the 211 counties with at least 300,000 residents, Loudoun County is the third fast-growing locality this decade (behind Fort Bend and Williamson counties in Texas).

    Among U.S. counties with more 300,000 residents, Prince William County was No. 17 in population growth since 2010. Its population has increased more than a 13 percent growth since the beginning of the decade.

    In 2016, for the first time, Prince William County (population 455,210) surpassed Virginia Beach (population 452,602) as Virginia’s second most populous locality. Fairfax County remains No. 1 with more than 1.1 million residents. Fairfax County has grown 5.3 percent since 2010 but registered just a tiny increase last year.

    While many Virginia localities are growing, 63 have seen their population decline this decade. Emporia, for example, has lost 10.5 percent of its population since 2010, including 3.5 percent in the past year.

    About 1,700 counties across the U.S. have seen a decline in population since the start of the decade. Only 27 of them have had a bigger decrease than Emporia.

    Buchanan County has also experienced a significant decline since 2010, losing 8 percent of its population. It was among the 100 counties where, percentage-wise, population has dropped the most this decade.

    Tazewell County, also in the western part of the state, lost more than 2,900 residents – about 6.5 percent of its population – since 2010.

    Richmond – both the city and the metro area – continued to show steady growth. (The Census Bureau treats Virginia’s “independent cities” as if they were counties and included them in the data release.)

    The city of Richmond grew 1.6 percent in the past year and 9.3 percent since 2010. Its population stands at 223,170 – the 10th most populous locality in Virginia.

    The Richmond metro area – which consists of the city of Richmond, the counties of Henrico and Chesterfield, and 14 other localities, including New Kent County – now has a population of 1,281,708. It remains the 45th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

    The Richmond area’s population grew 0.9 percent last year and 6.1 percent since 2010.

    An interactive map is available at

    Local Population Data
    Emporia City
    2016 Population: 5,305
    Change Since 2010: -620
    Percent Change: -10.5%
    Births Since 2010: 334
    Deaths Since 2010: 545
    Natural Change: -211
    International Migration: 18
    Domestic Migration: -438
    Net Migration: -420
    Greensville County
    2016 Population: 11,706
    Change Since 2010: -539
    Percent Change: -4.4%
    Births Since 2010: 724
    Deaths Since 2010: 743
    Natural Change: -19
    International Migration: 34
    Domestic Migration: -604
    Net Migration: -570
    Brunswick County
    2016 Population: 16,243
    Change Since 2010: -1,182
    Percent Change: -6.8%
    Births Since 2010: 914
    Deaths Since 2010: 1,245
    Natural Change: -331
    International Migration: 21
    Domestic Migration: -855
    Net Migration: -834
    Southampton County
    2016 Population: 18,057
    Change Since 2010: -513
    Percent Change: -2.8%
    Births Since 2010: 1,043
    Deaths Since 2010: 1,209
    Natural Change: -166
    International Migration: 16
    Domestic Migration: -399
    Net Migration: -383
    Franklin City
    2016 Population: 8,306
    Change Since 2010: -274
    Percent Change: -3.2%
    Births Since 2010: 656
    Deaths Since 2010: 743
    Natural Change: -87
    International Migration: 75
    Domestic Migration: -273
    Net Migration: -198
    Sussex County
    2016 Population: 11,504
    Change Since 2010: -566
    Percent Change: -4.7%
    Births Since 2010: 646
    Deaths Since 2010: 823
    Natural Change: -177
    International Migration: 27
    Domestic Migration: -426
    Net Migration: -399

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  22. Cover 3 Foundation Receives $50k from Obici Healthcare Foundation

    Cover 3 Foundation, Franklin, Va.-is pleased to announce that they have been recently awarded a $50k grant from Obici Healthcare Foundation. This grant from Obici Healthcare Foundation will support Cover 3 Foundation’s expansion of it’s C3 Kid’s Meals Program throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Cover 3 Foundation has been passionately Reaching, Teaching and Feeding thousands of Virginia children since 2009. In 2010, Cover 3 Foundation implemented the C3’s Kid’s Meals Program. This program exists to provide nutritious and healthy meal and snacks to children in after-school programs as well as summer feeding sites. C3’s Kid’s Meals serves children in the City of Franklin, Southampton County, Greensville County, Sussex County, Emporia, Richmond, Petersburg, Suffolk, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Newport News and Henrico County. Effective this summer Cover 3 Foundation expands the C3’s Kid’s Meals reach into North Carolina. To date C3’s Kid’s Meals has served over 2 million snacks and meals. Defeating Childhood Hunger is the major purpose of Cover 3 Foundation.

    Mr. Scott expresses his thanks and gratitude to Obici Healthcare Foundation by stating, “It is truly a blessing to have Obici Healthcare Foundation’s continued support throughout the years”. Mr. Scott also states, “The funds received from this grant will help to expand C3’s Kid’s Meals Programs as well as update our central kitchen production area, again we are truly grateful and thankful.”

    To learn more about Cover 3 Foundation and the programs geared towards Reaching, Teaching and Feeding the youth of our communities please visit or call 757-562-2252.



    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ burial, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine introduced legislation to federally recognize six Virginia Indian tribes, which include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 would grant the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

    Coinciding with the anniversary, Upper Mattaponi Chief Ken Adams, Chickahominy Chief Stephen Adkins, and Rappahannock Chief Anne Richardson traveled to England to participate in a series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ death. On Tuesday, there will be a plaque dedication ceremony at the church where Pocahontas is buried.

    “Four hundred years after the death of Pocahontas, our country continues to do a disservice to her descendants by failing to recognize the major role Virginia’s tribes have played in American history and the fabric of our nation,” said the Senators. “These six tribes have treaties that predated the United States, but because of this historical quirk and the systematic destruction of their records, they have been denied federal recognition and the services that come along with it. Congress can fix this injustice by passing our bill and granting these tribes the federal recognition they deserve.”

    Federal recognition would allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to:

    • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
    • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
    • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

    The bill has passed the House of Representatives in two previous Congresses. Kaine and Warner introduced two previous versions of the bill in the 113th and 114th Congress. Both passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs but never were brought to the floor for a vote.


  24. Hello Kitty Truck rolls into Richmond on Saturday

    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Hello Kitty fans, rejoice. On Saturday, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, described as “a mobile vehicle of cuteness,” will make its first visit to Richmond.

    The truck will be at Short Pump Town Center, 11800 W. Broad St., from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The vehicle will be near the mall’s main entrance by Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

    The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck has been traveling nationwide since its debut at the 2014 Hello Kitty Con, a convention for fans of the iconic character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. The truck has made stops in major cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles.

    The mobile cafe will be selling sweets and other items, including macarons, mini cakes and bow-shaped water bottles. According to Yelp reviews, treats cost around $15. Besides food, you can purchase souvenirs such as a Hello Kitty Cafe Truck T-shirts and mugs.

    Because of the success of the truck, Sanrio opened the Hello Kitty Pop-Up Container in Irvine, California, last July. The pop-up store, which will be there only for a year, was founded to spread “a message of happiness, friendship, and fun through yummy goodies and beverages featuring Hello Kitty and other Sanrio friends.”

    For updates about the truck’s visit to Richmond and other cities, you can follow the venture’s postings on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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  25. Pender Lee Smith, Jr.

    Pender Lee Smith, Jr., 84, of Emporia, Virginia died on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Pender was born on April 2, 1932 in the Brink area of Greensville County and was a life-long resident.

    Farming was in his blood, and never was he happier than when he was on a tractor or combine on his farm. He was also a partner in PL Smith and Sons Peanut Warehouse. Pender was loved by many and had friends near and far. He had a winning smile and never met a stranger. Pender had a warm laugh and quick wit. He loved the outdoors and was an avid fisherman, hunter, bird watcher, gardener, and loved to do woodwork in his shop on the farm.

    Pender was married to the love of his life, Jo Anne Hancock for 62 years. Together Pender and Jo could be found spending time with friends and family; often going out to eat, dancing, or just visiting.

    Pender was active in church, civic, and community organizations. He was a Christian and was a member of the Forest Hill Baptist Church. There he served as a Trustee, Deacon, and was on numerous committees over his 60 year membership. Pender was a charter member of the Brink Ruritan Club where he was a past president and secretary. Pender was on the Greensville County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and served as treasurer. He was also a member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Peanut Advisory Committee. For many years Pender served on the Greensville County Farm Committee.

    Pender was preceded in death by his parents, Pender Lee Smith and Virginia Harrell Smith, and his beloved son, David Smith. He is survived by his wife, Jo Anne Hancock Smith; sister, Alice Smith Bivins (Billy Joe); brother, Alfred Smith (Christine), sisters-in-law, Alma Lanier of Roanoke Rapids and Hazel Welch of Pinehurst; special niece, Angela Fanney (Rick) of Smithfield; and many other much loved nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

    A funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at Forest Hill Baptist Church, Skippers, VA. at 2:00 pm followed by interment in the church cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the cemetery fund at Forest Hill Baptist Church, c/o Michael Ferguson, 5070 Brink Road, Emporia, VA 23847. Condolences may be sent to

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    Due to unfortunate circumstances, Julie Boyd of Blackstone, was unable to complete high school. 

    “I've talked about getting my GED ever since. I am 21 years old and it took me two weeks to obtain it. I couldn't be more proud of myself,” she said.

    She noted that the person that inspired her to move forward with her education is her recently deceased brother. 

    “He was my 18 year old brother, his name was Joshua Baughan. He died in a car accident December 21, 2016. He was my best friend, my rock. He pushed me every day to do better for myself. When he passed away, it showed me life was too short to take the small things for granted,” she said. 

    She also added that he lived his life to the fullest and accomplished everything he started.   

    “He inspired me on so many levels. I did this, not just for me, but for him as well. I will work hard and succeed in everything I do, because he is always with me. This achievement means so much to me. But it's only a start,” she said.

    Boyd also has a fiancé’ who has also played a huge roll in her life.

    “He supports me in everything I do, and he has stood by my side faithfully for three years. I am very thankful to have him in my life. I love all of my family and friends. I wouldn't be where I am today without them,” she said.

     She plans to continue her education in the nursing field or forensic science.   

    Her advice to others, you can do anything you put your mind to if you believe in yourself.

    “Never give up. Knowledge is power. With power you can do great things in life. I am grateful for the support of my family. They never gave up on me,” she said.

    Southside Virginia Community College offers Adult Basic Education and GED® preparation.  For information, call 434-949-1090.  The schedule of classes is below.



    Christanna Campus


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    Monday & Wednesday



    9:00 am – 12:00 noon


    5:30 pm – 8:30 pm





    A. Lewis


    Boydton Library


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    Clarksville YMCA


    South Hill LCAKC


    South Hill Bank Building

    South Hill Bank Building


    Tuesday & Thursday


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    Monday & Tuesday


    Monday & Wednesday


    Monday & Wednesday


    Tuesday & Thursday


    5:00 pm - 8:00 pm


    9:00 am - 12:00 noon


    5:30 pm - 8:00 pm


    9:00 am - 12:00 pm


    5:30 pm - 8:30 pm


    5:30 pm - 8:30 pm












    F. Lewis



    South Boston


    South Boston



    Monday - Thursday


    Tuesday & Thursday



    9:00 am – 12:00 noon


    5:30 pm – 8:30 pm







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  27. Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey

    By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

    SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

    The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.”

    According to the bill, Washington was also a “gentleman planter” who began distilling rye whiskey on his property at Mount Vernon in early 1797 at the suggestion of James Anderson, his farm manager.

    Today, the staff at Mount Vernon continues to distill the whiskey for sale at the property’s gift shop.

    In a speech on the floor of the Virginia Senate on Feb. 22, Washington’s 285th birthday, Ebbin explained the historical pairing of Washington’s political career and booze.

    According to Ebbin’s speech, when Washington first ran for the House of Burgesses in Frederick County in 1755, he lost by a landslide, receiving only 40 of the 581 votes. Ebbin attributed this loss to his failure to provide “bumbo” – a common practice at the time to provide alcohol to voters.

    Three years later, Washington tried once more to win over voters and won, but switched his campaigning technique.

    “During that election, he supplied 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer and 2 gallons of cider (an impressive 160 gallons of liquor) to 391 voters,” Ebbin said during his commemoration speech. “That’s more than a quart and a half per voter. Washington had clearly learned his lesson, because a key to victory was ‘swilling the planters with bumbo.’”

    After retiring from politics, Washington began distilling whiskey at his Mount Vernon property. In the year of Washington’s death – 1799 – the distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey.

    The Mount Vernon distillery was reconstructed at the original location that Washington used and produces small batches of distilled spirit for sale on site, including the rye whiskey that now holds the state title. The distillery attempts to produce the whiskey through the same techniques that Washington would have used at the time.

    Besides declaring the official state spirit, McAuliffe also signed a bill designating the TV show “Song of the Mountains” as Virginia’s official state television series.

    SB 1332, sponsored by Sen. Charles Carrico of Galax, noted that “Song of the Mountains” is the first nationwide television program featuring the bluegrass music of Appalachia.

    The show was founded in 2003 as a monthly stage concert series hosted by the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia. “Song of the Mountains” is broadcast on more than 150 PBS stations in about 30 states.

    The program “continues to consistently present to the nation the unique musical and cultural heritage of not only the Southwest region of the state but the entire Commonwealth,” the bill stated.

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  28. McAuliffe OKs $1.6 million for wrongfully imprisoned man

    By Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has cleared Keith Allen Harward to receive nearly $1.6 million from the commonwealth of Virginia for the 33 years he spent in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.

    McAuliffe last week signed House Bill 1650approving the compensation package for Harward.

    “On April 7, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted Mr. Harward’s Writ of Actual Innocence, formally exonerating him of all the crimes for which he had been convicted,” the legislation stated.

    Harward, now 60, was convicted of a 1982 rape and murder in Newport News. According to trial summaries, the rape victim was awakened around 2 a.m. by a loud thumping sound as her husband was being beaten by a man.

    The woman was thrown out of bed and repeatedly sexually assaulted as her husband lay dying. Her assailant held a diaper over her head and threatened to harm her children if she did not cooperate.

    In 1986, Harward was tried and convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life when two forensic odontologists testified that Harward’s teeth matched those of the bites on the woman.

    He was released from prison on April 8, 2016 after DNA testing proved he was not the killer. Harward had always maintained his innocence.

    The bill, sponsored by Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Arlington, notes that because of his wrongful conviction, Harward “suffers from numerous painful physical injuries, systemic health conditions, and severe mental anguish and emotional distress and has lost countless opportunities, including the opportunity to marry and have children” and that he “is an impoverished man, with no job skills or career prospects and no savings or accumulated pension benefits, and does not qualify for social security benefits.”

    The legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by McAuliffe will take effect July 1. To receive the money, Harward must sign documents releasing the state of any present or future claims.

    Then, within 60 days, Harward will receive a check for $309,688. By Sept. 30, the state treasurer will buy a $1,238,751 annuity for Harward. He also will be provided up to $10,000 for tuition for career and technical training from the Virginia Community College System.

    During his ordeal in prison, Harward received legal support from the Innocence Project.

    He is at least the 25th person to have been wrongfully convicted or indicted based at least in part on bite mark evidence, according to the project.

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  29. Middle School Forensics Competition

    On Friday, March 17th, Brunswick Academy’s fifth, sixth, and seventh grade Middle School Forensics Team participated in the AVA Forensics Competition at Kenston Forest School. This exceptional group of students left the competition with third place in fifth grade, second place in sixth grade, and first place in seventh grade. Overall, the Middle School Forensics Team placed second in the competition. The students who participated and their rankings are as follows:

    Fifth Grade

    5th grade photo - Front (l to r) - Charlie Pope, Natalie Hall*, Bryn Montgomery*, Lane Whitehead, Madalynn Writtenberry. Back(l to r) Savannah Nunnally*, Chris Parrish, Denver Wright, and Berkeley Jones*.

    Girls’ Prose – Madalynn Writtenberry, Boys’ Prose – Chris Parrish, Girls’ Poetry – Lane Whitehead, Boys’ Poetry – Charlie Pope, Girls’ Monologue – Bryn Montgomery – 3rd Place, Boys’ Monologue – Berkeley Jones – 2nd Place, Serious Speech – Savannah Nunnally – 3rd Place, Humorous Speech – Denver Wright, Spelling – Natalie Hall – 1st Place

    Sixth Grade

    6th grade photo - Front (l to r) - Cullen Corum, Rahilly Abernathy*, Allie Short*, Ashton Phillips*. Back (l to r) - Cassidy Smith*, Meredith Greene*, Katie Lambert, Matthew Gullivan*,  and Davis Whitehead*.

    Girls’ Prose – Allie Short – 1st Place, Boys’ Prose – Ashton Phillips – 1st Place, Girls’ Poetry – Rahilly Abernathy – 2nd Place, Boys’ Poetry – Matthew Gullivan – 1st Place, Girls’ Monologue – Meredith Greene – 1st Place, Boys’ Monologue – Davis Whitehead – 3rd Place, Serious Speech – Cassidy Smith – 2nd Place, Humorous Speech – Katie Lambert, Spelling – Cullen Corum

    Seventh Grade

    7th grade photo - Front (l to r) - Alora Decorte, Harrison Harper*, Vincent Edmunds*, Lydia Smith*, Bryson Poarch*.  Back (l to r) - Shana Love*, Alyssa Rivas*, Emily Roberts*, and Brett Allen*.

    Girls’ Prose – Lydia Smith – 1st Place, Boys’ Prose – Vincent Edmunds – 2nd Place, Girls’ Poetry – Alyssa Rivas – 3rd Place, Boys’ Poetry – Brett Allen – 2nd Place, Girls’ Monologue – Shana Love – 1st Place, Boys’ Monologue – Harrison Harper – 2nd Place, Serious Speech – Alora DeCorte, Humorous Speech – Emily Roberts – 1st Place, Spelling – Bryson Poarch – 1st Place

    *denotes placed in their category

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  30. The Good News about Shoulder, Knee and Hip Joints

    Community Out-Reach Education

    South Hill – Joints can be damaged by arthritis and other diseases or injuries.  Arthritis, or simply years of use may cause the joint to wear away.  This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling.  Your doctor may suggest a joint replacement to improve your quality of life.  When something goes wrong with the shoulder, hip and knee joints, what are the options for treatment?  Can joint injections help?  What can joint protection exercise/therapy do for you?

    If you are seeking answers to questions like these you should attend June’s C.O.R.E. (Community Out-Reach Education) Program at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Rehab & Exercise Therapy Center to learn more about shoulder, knee and hip joints.

    This FREE program will be on Thursday, March 23rd at 11:00 a.m. in the CMH Rehab and Exercise Therapy Center located at 750 Lombardy Street in South Hill.

    Patti Turczany, PT, LAT, MS, CDT/MLD will be the speaker for the program.  Patti received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University, a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Athletics from Fort Hayes State University in Kansas and a Master of Science degree from the University of Indianapolis Krannert School of Physical Therapy.  She holds an oncology certification, complete complex decongestive therapy certification in lymph drainage and has pediatric specialty.  She is McKenzie trained in treatment of spine therapy, has manual skills training in therapy, orthopedic training and is a certified licensed athletic trainer.

    Other joint information classes for 2017 will be held from 11:00AM – 12:00PM at the CMH Rehab and Exercise Therapy Center on the following dates:  May 11, August 10, October 12. 

    Reservations are not required for this program; however, they are recommended.  For more information or to register to attend, please call (434) 774-2506.


    Patti Turczany, PT, LAT, MS, CDT/MLD

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  31. Walk seeks to raise awareness about eating disorders


    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Bayan Atari, a public relations major at Virginia Commonwealth University, has spent nine months in treatment for an invisible ailment. Two of her friends have died from the disorder. Atari is one of 30 million Americans struggling with an eating disorder.

    Despite the prevalence and severity of the condition, Atari and others have had trouble getting help. That’s because many people have misconceptions about eating disorders, experts say.

    “If you’re not underweight, they might not take you seriously. At my sickest, I was still at a normal weight, and that was enough to be like, ‘Well, you’re not dying, you have an electrolyte imbalance, but you’re not dead,’” Atari said. “Even in the medical system, I’ve known people whose kidneys were failing, but because they were overweight or normal weight, they were not given the care they needed.”

    Efforts are underway to bring attention to eating disorders.

    On Saturday, the National Eating Disorders Association will hold its first NEDA Walk in Richmond in hopes of raising awareness about the problem. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. at the VCU Commons Plaza.

    Kristen Tully, the organizer of the walk, expects 200 to 300 people to participate.

    Tully decided to organize the walk because she herself is in recovery. When she was in the throes of her eating disorder, Richmond didn’t have an eating disorder clinic or other resources to help.

    However, in the last five years, more resources have popped up. One is Stay Strong Virginia, which has compiled lists and maps of treatment programs and support groups for people with eating disorders. Stay Strong Virginia helped Tully organize Saturday’s walk.

    Another resource is Veritas Collaborative, a treatment center for eating disorderson Broad Street. Veritas is a sponsor of the NEDA Walk.

    It’s important to get someone with an eating disorder into treatment because the illness can be fatal. Someone dies from their eating disorder every 62 minutes, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition.

    The main kinds of eating disorders are:

    • Anorexia, or restricted eating. This can lead to severe dehydration, which sometimes results in kidney failure.
    • Bulimia, or binging and purging. This can cause inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from repeated vomiting.
    • Binge eating, or eating to excess. This can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and other health problems.

    Meredith Kerley, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, said getting treatment is important, but recovery involves more than that.

    “I always say the work really begins when someone leaves treatment,” Kerley said. “Treatment is a kind of way to break the pattern and get one’s body into a healthy place. Once they leave that bubble, there’s the pressure of doing all these things whether or not someone tells them to. It’s far from cured when someone leaves treatment.”

    Tully agreed. She said recovery is never linear. “It’s hills and valleys, and recovery isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do.”

    Not everyone with an eating disorder is lucky enough to get treatment. Only one-third of people suffering from anorexia receive treatment – and only 6 percent of those suffering bulimia.

    Part of this may be due to the stigma of an eating disorder. According to a 2010 study, 12 percent of people surveyed believed eating disorders are related to vanity. Kerley said that notion is patently false.

    “There’s always emotion underlying it (the eating disorder),” Kerley said. “It’s not about the food, and it’s not the vanity, but that’s how it manifests.”

    For Atari, the trigger was personal issues rather than her body image.

    “I was miserable,” Atari said. That is when she turned to using bulimia. “The terrible part is that it works. You need to cope with something, and it works, and I couldn’t see anything else working as well.”

    Eating disorders are often accompanied by other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

    “Sometimes, eating disorders do develop as a way to cope with anxiety or depression,” Kerley said. “Other times, malnutrition can certainly affect the brain and cause depression.” She said it can be hard to tell which mental illness comes first.

    It also can be impossible to tell who has an eating disorder and who doesn’t. Kerley has had 20 to 30 patients over the years, ranging in age from 12 to 50. Many have been of normal weight, and the patients include men.

    “There’s kind of a stigma it’s an adolescent girl’s issue, but I see the whole range, and again, it is males and females,” Kerley said.

    More about Saturday’s NEDA Walk

    You can register for the walk on the NEDA website. Online registration ends Friday, but that’s to guarantee getting a T-shirt. People also can register in person at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the VCU Commons Plaza, 907 Floyd Ave., Richmond. If you can’t walk, you can sponsor a walker or make a donation on the NEDA website.


  32. New laws target puppy mills and allow lifetime pet licenses

    By Ashley Luck, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginia soon will have three new laws that will impact its furry residents and their owners. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed bills that will bar pet stores from buying dogs from unscrupulous sellers, allow local governments to offer lifetime pet licenses and change the legal description of a “dangerous dog.”

    McAuliffe signed the legislation last week. The bills will take effect July 1.

    SB 852, introduced by Sen. William Stanley, R-Franklin, is aimed at brokers and breeders who sell dogs to pet shops. The new statute says the seller must have a valid license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Moreover, pet stores may not procure a dog “from a person who has received citations for one critical violation or three or more noncritical violations from the USDA in the two years prior to receiving the dog,” according to a summary of the bill by the Legislative Information System.

    Violating the law will be a Class 1 misdemeanor for each dog sold or offered for sale. That is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    Tabitha Treloar, director of communications at the Richmond SPCA, said the organization is grateful for the new law.

    “SB 852 closed loopholes in a section of code that became law in 2015, making it clear that pet stores may not acquire pets either directly or indirectly from puppy mills,” Treloar said. “While adopting from a reputable shelter or humane society will always be the best way to get a new companion, this is a law that helps to protect Virginia customers, and we are grateful to Sen. Stanley for carrying this bill and to Gov. McAuliffe for signing it into law.”

    McAuliffe also signed HB 1477, sponsored by Del. Robert Orrock, R-Caroline County. It will allow local governments to provide lifetime licenses for cats and dogs for a maximum fee of $50. (The cost of an annual pet license will remain at up to $10.)

    The lifetime license will be valid if the animal’s owner continues to reside in the locality and keeps up the animal’s rabies vaccinations. If an animal’s tag is lost, destroyed or stolen, the legislation sets a $1 fee for getting a duplicate tag.

    The bill also states that local ordinances can require an animal to have an identifying microchip.

    Pet owners must get a license for any dog or cat that is 4 months or older. Guide dogs or service dogs that serve disabled people are exempt.

    McAuliffe also signed HB 2381, sponsored by Del. Matthew Farris, R-Rustburg. It modifies the legal description of a “dangerous dog.” It’s a designation with big ramifications: If a dog is officially labeled as dangerous, it is listed in an online registry, and the owner must get insurance and pay a $150 annual fee.

    Farris wanted to give a dog the benefit of the doubt if it bites a person or another animal. The bill will give animal control officers the option of determining whether a dog should be considered dangerous just because it inflicts a nip, scratch or minor injury on someone, or on another pet.

    Matthew Gray, Virginia state director of the Humane Society of the United States, applauded McAuliffe for signing the bills but was disappointed that other legislation failed during the General Assembly’s 2017 session.

    “We are grateful that these bills have been signed by Gov. McAuliffe, who has traditionally supported our agenda,” Gray said. “But the House of Delegates defeated nine of 11 bills that would have expanded protections for animals, including bills to protect dogs from living their lives at the end of a chainand to prevent indiscriminate euthanasia in animal shelters. That’s a dismal failure and a profound illustration of the challenge animal welfare advocates face in Virginia.”

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  33. In Honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day, Local Non-profit Convenes Important Conversations

    Crater Community Hospice Hosts Screenings of PBS "Being Mortal" and Coffee Chat on Estate Planning

    Petersburg, March 20, 2017 --- Crater Community Hospice will offer three events as part of the organization's recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). This annual event aims to help people across the U.S. understand the value of advance healthcare planning. For 2017, NHDD will be a week-long event, from April 16 to 22.

    Two free screenings of the PBS program "Being Mortal," paired with panel discussions with local experts will be held on April 4th and April 12th, one in Petersburg and one in Chesterfield. 

    A free Coffee Chat with Mike Perdue on "Avoiding Family Conflict in Estate Planning" will take place at Crater Community Hospice in Petersburg on April 6th.  

    Each event will be part of a national dialog that asks "Have you and your family had the tough conversations and planned ahead?" Certificates of Attendance are available.

    Tuesday, April 4, 2017: Being Mortal - Screening and Panel Discussion

    9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (Registration begins at 9:00 am with program to begin at 9:20)

    Bethia United Methodist Church

    10700 Winterpock Road Chesterfield, VA 23832

    Sponsored by Crater Community Hospice and the Office of the Chesterfield County Senior Advocate

    Free, please rsvp by March 31, 2017

    Thursday, April 6, 2017: Coffee Chat on Avoiding Family Conflict in Estate Planning

    8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

    Crater Community Hospice

    3916 S. Crater Road, Petersburg, VA 23805

    Free, please rsvp by April 4, 2017

    Wednesday, April 12, 2017: Being Mortal - Screening and Panel Discussion

    2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Registration begins at 2:00 pm with program to begin at 2:20)

    Southside Regional Medical Center

    200 Medical Park Blvd, Petersburg, VA 23805

    A/B Classroom on the first floor

    Free, please rsvp by April 10, 2017

    "Being Mortal" delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness. The film investigates the practice of caring for the dying and explores the relationships between patients and their doctors. It follows a surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, as he shares stories from the people and families he encounters. When Dr. Gawande's own father gets cancer, his search for answers about how to best care for the dying becomes a personal quest. After the screening, attendees can participate in a guided conversation on concrete steps to identify and communicate wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences. The free screenings of "Being Mortal" are made possible by a grant from The John and Wauna Harman Foundation in partnership with the Hospice Foundation of America.

    Every month Crater Community Hospice hosts a free coffee chat providing an educational presentation and networking opportunities. This month, local attorney Mike Purdue of Paul/Perdue Attorneys presents "Avoiding Family Conflict in Estate Planning." Mr. Purdue will discuss planning strategies to help maintain family harmony. He will cover an overview of specific aspects of pre-planning including estates, wills, trusts, and advance directives.

    For more information, or to RSVP contact Patti Cox  at or (804) 526-4300.


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  34. Public Notice

    Call to Democratic Party Caucus

    Virginia 75th House of Delegates District

    1. Call. Pursuant to the Democratic Party Plan of Virginia ("the Party Plan"), the 75th House     District Nominating Committee ("the Committee") hereby calls an Unassembled Caucus for the sole purpose of choosing a Democratic nominee for the 75th House of Delegates District ("the 75th District").

    2. Caucus Rules, Forms, and Information. Caucus Rules, along with other pertinent forms and information about the nominating process, may be obtained from Kyle Williamson, Chair of the 75th House District Democratic Nominating Committee any time at or (434) 532-2672

    3. General Participation Requirements. Each participant in the Caucus must be a qualified voter in the 75th District at the time of their participation. No participant in the Caucus may intend to support any candidate who is opposed to the Democratic nominee in that Special Election.

    4. Voting Opportunities. Participants in the Caucus may vote only in person and at the following location (Note: Each voter may arrive during the time listed below, cast his or her vote, and leave.):

    Saturday, April 29, 2017
    11:00 am – 2:00pm
    Edward W. Wyatt Middle School
    206 Slagles Lake Rd. Emporia, VA  23847

    5. Candidate Requirements. Each candidate for nomination must meet all applicable requirements of state law, the Party Plan, and the Caucus Rules. Each candidate for Nomination must submit a completed Declaration of Candidacy form to the Chair of the Committee no later than April 13, 2017 at 5 p.m. ET. Each form must bear the original signature of the candidate, and must be accompanied by a filing fee of $1,500.00 made payable to the Brunswick County Democratic Committee. If only one qualified candidate files by the deadline, that person will be the nominee of the Democratic Party and the Caucus will be cancelled.

    For questions about the Caucus, to request any accommodation necessary to ensure full participation, or to file a Declaration of Candidacy, please contact Kyle Williamson, Chair of the 75th House District Democratic Nominating Committee, any time at or (434) 532-2672

    Authorized by the 75th House Democratic Nominating Committee and

    Paid for by the Brunswick County Democratic Committee

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  35. Rev. Donald Orlando Collins

    Rev. Donald Orlando Collins, 91, of Emporia, Virginia went to be with the Lord on  March 18th, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife,  Ann Smith Collins, and his son, Donald Stephen Collins. He is survived by his daughters, Beverly C. Flippo ( Carter ) of Doswell, Virginia and Kim C. Johnson ( Mike) of Jackson, NC.; grandchildren Brittany and Emily Flippo, Mason and Claire Collins, Lauren Ashley Collins, Lauren Hasty and Brad Johnson; 2 great-grandsons, Aubrey and Hunter Hasty; brother, Ben F. Collins of Greensboro, NC. and many nieces and nephews. He served as Seaman 1st classman on the USS Gunston Hall in the Pacific area during WWII. After being honorably discharged from the military, he completed his education in broadcasting at RPI in Richmond, VA in 1947.  He spent the next 41 years as a broadcaster and the sales manager at WEVA in Emporia. During the early 70’s, he spent much time lay-ministering in the prisons or filling in at local pulpits. In 1987, he decided to retire from radio and pursue his real passion, the ministry. In 1988, he completed his coursework at Duke University to be ordained as a minister within the United Methodist Church.  He became the minister of 3 small churches in Dinwiddie County on June 16, 1988. Oak Grove UMC, one of these 3 churches, became his passion and he spent 19 years ministering there until his retirement in 2007.  A funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at Oak Grove United Methodist Church with burial in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends following the service in the Collins Building Social Hall.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Oak Grove United Methodist Church, 12715 Acorn Road, Petersburg, Virginia 23805. Owen Funeral Home, Jarratt, VA is assisting the family with arrangements and online condolences may be made at

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    Job Fair is returning to Southside Virginia Education Center on Thursday, April 27, 2017.  The event is sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College, Crater Regional Workforce and Lakes Media:  WPTM 102.3, WWDW 107.7, WTRG 97.9, WSMY 14000 “All Sports” 995 JAMS, WDLZ 98.3 

    The event is free and open to the public and will be held at SVEC at 1300 Greensville Country Circle, Emporia, VA from 2 to 4:30 p.m.  Those with proof of WorkKeys CRC can gain entrance at 1:45 p.m.  Be sure to dress to impress, bring copies of your resume, a photo ID and copy of WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate (CRC). 

    Job Fair Prep workshops will be held prior to the event at the Center.  These are:  Resume Writing, Job Search/Applying for Jobs on April 11 from 1 to 4 p.m.; Interview Skills on April 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. and Soft Skills on April 20from 1 to 4 p.m.  Pre-registration is required at htts:/

    For employers interested in registering, contact Angela McClintock at or 434-949-1026.

    There are currently 31 employeers. See advertisement on this page for more information.

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  37. Key to business success — think positive

    Ellen Templeton, new director of the Crater Small Business Development Center of Longwood University, believes her job is all about being positive.

    “When you work with small businesses, you have to smile,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is contagious.”

    Working as an economic developer for ten years in Hampton, Templeton often countered negative comments like, “There’s too much traffic here,” with her own take. “That’s because a lot of people want to be here,” she said. “That’s an example of how to look for the positive in a community.”

    Director of Crater SBDC since November, Templeton is well suited for the job. She started her career in commercial real estate before moving on to a Virginia Economic Development Partnership job in Richmond. She later started her own insurance company.

    “Throughout my career, I found that I gravitated toward small businesses,” she said. “When you work with big businesses, you help to create jobs but never have a chance to interact on a day-to-day level. Working with small businesses is more personal — you really get to see and feel that impact.”

    Another facet of Templeton’s positive approach is seeing each community’s uniqueness. Crater SBDC covers Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Emporia, Greenville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George County, Surry and Sussex.

    “Every one of these communities is fabulous,” Templeton said. She is currently meeting with Chamber of Commerce and economic development officials in each area. “I see them as our partners and allies — our goals are the same.”

    Templeton has compiled some tips for new and existing clients; these are three she considers important:

    #1 Learn before you leap

    Have knowledge about what you want to do. If you want to be an artist and can’t draw stick people, that might be a problem. Templeton’s experience as a small business owner is a valuable tool in advising clients. “Talking about a business and doing it were two very different things,” she said. “A business plan serves as a guidebook, but there are things only experience will teach you.”

    #2 Love what you do

    Passion is important for any small business owner. “If you lack passion, you’re going to do just what you have to do,” she said. “Then it becomes work — it shouldn’t be that way!”

    #3 Honesty’s the best policy

     “If someone tells me they don’t want to invest the time to make a business plan, I ask them, ‘Then why do you want to invest this money?’ It’s not fair to mislead clients. I love their excitement, but we’re here to help them succeed.”

    The Longwood Small Business Development Center provides free education, consulting, and economic research for potential and existing businesses throughout Southside Virginia. It is a non-profit organization funded through Longwood University, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and local governments where we have offices.To make an appointment or for more information on the services SBDC provides, contact the Longwood Small Business Development center at (434) 395-2086 or visit

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  38. David Lee Sledge

    David Lee Sledge of Emporia, VA died on March 15, 2017.  David grew up in Emporia.  He was a veteran of the Virginia National Guard and  attended Barton College in Wilson, NC.  He retired from Greensville County as a maintenance supervisor.  David was a past president and Ruritan of the Year for the Meherrin Ruritan Club.  He was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity at Barton College. David was a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Drewyville, VA.  He was always very involved with the Emporia Greensville Recreation Association, and he loved fishing, the Outer Banks, and all things sports related. 

      He was preceded in death by his father, Louis Finton Sledge.  He is survived by his wife, Patsy Claud Sledge; two daughters, Kathyrne Harrison Turner and husband, Steve; Pamela Harrison Crichton; three granddaughters, Kaycee Claud Ackaway, Kirsten Juliette Crichton, and Kathryne Jane Crichton; three great grand children; his mother, Shirley Sledge Williams; three brothers, Steve Sledge and wife Betty Jo, Jerry Sledge, and Michael Sledge and wife Ginny.  David also had many cherished nieces and nephews. 

    The funeral service will be held 2pm on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 South Halifax Road, Jarratt, VA where the family will receive friends preceding the service beginning at 12:30 pm.  Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.   In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Barton College, 800 Vance Street NE, Wilson, NC 27893. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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    RICHMOND – For millions of Americans, partying is in the plan this St. Patrick’s Day, but Virginia State Police wants to remind those celebrating to plan for a safe ride home. 

    Unfortunately on March 17, the number of drunk drivers on the road makes St. Patrick’s Day one of the deadliest holidays. Every 72 minutes during the holiday, a life is claimed in an alcohol-related crash. Virginia State Police will be increasing patrols to deter and detect those motorists who choose to drive under the influence.

    Between 2011 and 2015, 252 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes during St. Patrick’s Day nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015, from 6 p.m. March 16, to 5:59 a.m. March 18, 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.*

    “Buzzed or drunk driving puts everyone’s life at risk,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Impaired driving claimed 241 lives on Virginia’s highways in 2015 and each of these deaths was 100% preventable. There is no excuse for it when today’s technology allows you to call for a ride at the press of a button. A rideshare will cost you a few dollars, but driving drunk could cost someone their life.”

    According to personal finance website WalletHub, the average St. Patrick’s Day partier will spent $38. The average cost of a taxi in the U.S, which is one of many options for a safe ride this holiday, is just $11-$18.

    Did you know NHTSA has a SaferRide app which is available for Android and Apple users? The app can help call a taxi, or a friend for a ride home or identify your location so you can be picked up. For more information:

    The Android app:

    For Apple users:

    Let’s make 2017 safer. Plan Before You Party:

    • Ensure you have a designated sober driver before any drinking begins.
    • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call for a rideshare such as Uber or Lyft, call a friend or family member or stay where you are if possible.
    • Consider using your local community’s Sober Rides program – in Northern Virginia call 1-800-200-TAXI;
    • To drink and drive is a crime. If you witness a drunk driver on the road, dial #77 on a cell phone for the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center or call 911;
    • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take the keys and help them make arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

    All Virginians are reminded to drive to save lives on the road this St. Patrick’s Day and every day by always buckling up, avoiding distractions, sharing the road, driving drug & alcohol free, and obeying speed limits.

    *National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA

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  40. Documenting the forgotten contributions of black legislators

    By Dai Já Norman, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – At the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868, James Carter, who represented Chesterfield and Powhatan counties, introduced a resolution requiring students to attend public school for at least three months a year.

    Also at the convention, James William D. Bland, who represented Appomattox and Prince Edward counties, called for guaranteeing the right of “every person to enter any college, seminary, or other public institution of learning, as students, upon equal terms with any other, regardless of race, color, or previous condition.”

    In the Virginia House of Delegates in 1879, Johnson Collins, who represented Brunswick County, advocated eliminating the poll tax that prevented many people from voting. He also called for reducing the public debt.

    Carter, Bland and Collins were among the first African-American legislators in Virginia. Their biographies are part of an online database that state officials are compiling to ensure that these political figures and their contributions aren’t lost to history.

    Created by the state’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, the database currently features only Reconstruction-era legislators but eventually will include all African-American members of the General Assembly up to the present day.

    The database is the brainchild of Brenda Edwards, a staff member for the Division of Legislative Services assigned to the MLK Commission. While doing research years ago, she came across the names of African-American men who participated in the Underwood Constitutional Convention in 1867-68 and in the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia during Reconstruction.

    “I inadvertently made the discovery when fulfilling a research request” from a legislator who wanted to honor a former lawmaker, Edwards said. “I brought my discovery to the attention of the member who requested the research, who requested that the chairman of the MLK Commission add the creation of the database to the commission’s work plan for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.”

    Most Virginians don’t know about the African-Americans who were elected to serve in state government in the years shortly after the Civil War. So the MLK Commission decided to take on the task of creating the database. Edwards, former Secretary of Administration Viola Baskerville and the Library of Virginia conducted the research.

    According to the commission, Virginia is the only state that has researched and commemorated its early African-American legislators through such a project.

    When reading the biographies of black legislators, it is easy to notice that chunks of information are missing compared with their white counterparts. This was due to the blatant discrimination and prejudice during that era. Black men were sometimes former slaves or descendants of slaves, and it was common for them to lack birth certificates, marriage licenses or other documentation.

    That has made it hard to acquire well-rounded information on the legislators.

    “In constructing the database, the primary challenge was the accuracy of and access to information because little if any information concerning African-American history, culture, achievements, contributions, education, sociopolitical status and biographies was preserved during the slavery and Reconstruction eras, and prior to the civil rights movement,” Edwards said.

    “It was difficult for pioneering African-American historians to chronicle the history of black people. Due to the culture during the periods of the ‘Black Codes’ and Jim Crow, curators of African-American history and culture were basically nonexistent.”

    The MLK Commission started compiling the database in 2004. In 2013, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, the commission launched the website with a roll call of the African-Americans elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 and to the General Assembly during Reconstruction from 1869 to 1890.

    Around that time, however, Virginia and other Southern states enacted legislation known as “Black Codes” to thwart the newfound freedoms of former slaves – for example, by imposing poll taxes, literacy tests and elaborate registration systems to keep African-Americans from voting. As a result, from 1890 until the late 1960s, African-Americans were not represented in the Virginia General Assembly.

    Finally, in 1967, William Ferguson Reid, a Richmond doctor and civil rights leader, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

    Edwards is currently researching the African-Americans legislators in the 20th and 21st century so they can be added to the database in the coming months.

    More on the web

    To learn more about African-Americans who have served as legislators in Virginia, visit

    Editor's Note: Though not included in the Capitol News Service Article, Greensville County was represented both at the Constitutional Convention and in the General Assembly by an African American. Peter K. Jones (pictured left) represented Greensville and Sussex counties in the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868 and then served four terms in the House of Delegates (1869–1877). Born free in Petersburg, he first acquired property in 1857. Soon after the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he became active in politics and began urging blacks to become self-sufficient and advocating for black suffrage and unity. He moved to Greensville County about 1867, and that same year he won a seat at the convention required by the Reconstruction Acts to write a new state constitution. A member of the convention's radical faction, Jones voted in favor of granting the vote to African American men and against segregating public schools. He represented Greensville County for four consecutive terms from 1869 to 1877. During his time in office he worked tirelessly to protect the rights of African Americans. By 1881 Jones had moved to Washington, D.C., and he continued his work in support of African American interests and of the Republican Party. He died in Washington in 1895. You may read more about Peter K. Jones in the Enclycopedia Virginia.

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  41. Farmville District United Methodist Women Support Jackson-Feild

    Members of the Farmville District United Methodist Women; Jackson-Feild is the FDUMW 2017 mission recipient.

    Each year at the Farmville District United Methodist Women’s annual prayer breakfast, a mission recipient is selected.  Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services (JFBHS) was thrilled to be chosen as the 2017 recipient.

    JFBHS Vice President Tod Balsbaugh spoke to the 171 women present about Jackson-Feild and its programs, services and needs. Members were asked to bring games, arts & craft supplies, knitted items, sports equipment and school supplies. One member’s husband built two corn hole boards for which she made the bean bags.  Additionally, an offering was collected with the funds going to Jackson-Feild.

    After the meeting held in South Hill, a number of attendees approached Balsbaugh with offers to help in the future.

    JFBHS thanks the members of the Farmville District United Methodist Women for all they’ve done to help the children.


  42. Students lobby Kaine’s office over Trump’s budget proposals

    By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – After President Donald Trump proposed slashing the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, students with the group Environment Virginia urged Sen. Tim Kaine to fight back.

    Trump’s budget would cut funding for the EPA by about a third and eliminate federal funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed budget cuts followed Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times and has questioned whether humans are responsible for global warming.

    About a dozen students from Virginia Commonwealth University visited Kaine’s Richmond office Thursday afternoon to protest the Trump administration’s actions that they say will hurt the environment. The students met with John Knapp, Kaine’s state director.

    “There’s a lot of energy out there, and it’s good. It’s exciting, and it’s good for our democracy,” Knapp said.

    The students aren’t the only Virginians worried about the impact of Trump’s budget. State Democratic officials also have expressed concerns.

    “Eliminating federal support to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, doing away with the Appalachian Regional Commission and slashing investments in community development, affordable housing, home weatherization, and heating assistance will do significant harm to Virginia families and our economy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Thursday.

    Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who hopes to succeed McAuliffe as governor, also criticized the budget. “I am particularly disappointed by the total elimination of funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. As an Eastern Shore native, I know protecting the bay has both economic and environmental impacts.”

    VCU students also are concerned about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the energy giant Dominion hopes to construct through Virginia. Dominion says the interstate pipeline would transmit natural gas to multiple public utilities and serve the “growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina.” McAuliffe supports the project.

    During the meeting with Knapp, Crystal Bishop, an intern for McAuliffe in constituent services, said she has received a lot of calls with concerns about the pipeline, which spawned protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Bishop also shared her concerns over the state of recycling in Virginia. She said she comes from Montclair, a community in Prince William County that does not have easy access to recycling. There’s a wide discrepancy in access to recycling across Virginia, Bishop said.

    Bishop said her concerns grew after she spent time in Belgium, where even the tiniest piece of trash is recycled.

    Knapp encouraged the students to stay active. He said:

    • Individual voices do matter. Knapp urged individuals to call their representatives. Elected officials do listen, he said. A lot of people get discouraged when the phone lines are busy, but that means people care and are making their voices heard. If you cannot get through, email the office, Knapp said.
    • Collective voices matter. Knapp told individuals to find an organization that supports what they believe in.
    • Voting in state elections is crucial. No matter what your opinion or political affiliation, voting in this year legislative, gubernatorial and other elections is sure to send a message to D.C., Knapp said. Only Virginia and New Jersey are holding statewide elections this year.
    • People should run for office or get involved by working for someone with a platform they support.

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  43. 647th RSG Soldiers complete Best Warrior Competition

    Soldiers assigned to 647th Regional Support Group, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, don protective masks during a battle drill of react to a nuclear, biological and chemical attack to earn points during a best warrior competition held by 647th RSG here Saturday. Courtesy photo.

    Soldiers assigned to 647th Regional Support Group, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, don protective masks during a battle drill of react to a nuclear, biological and chemical attack to earn points during a best warrior competition held by 647th RSG here Saturday. Courtesy photo.

    By Maj. Amabilia Payen, 647th RSG Public Affairs:

    (El Paso, Texas, Jan. 12, 2017) The 647th Regional Support Group, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, planned and executed a best warrior competition here Jan. 6 through 8.

    Four Soldiers assigned to 647th RSG competed, and two will be heading to the next level of competition with the 4th ESC at the end of January.

    Staff Sgt. Joseph Powell, assigned to the 900th Quartermaster Company, 647th RSG, won the top score category for the entire event and received an Army Commendation Medal. Spc. Jordan Neiman, assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 647th RSG, won the top Soldier category and received an Army Achievement Medal. Spc. Andres Guiterrez, assigned to the 974th Quartermaster Company, 647th RSG, and Pfc. Mark McGee, assigned to HHC, 647th RSG, also competed and received an AAM.

    The competition included a physical fitness test, a land navigation course, an M4 carbine qualification on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, a test requiring competitors to dissemble and reassemble the M4 carbine with a functions check, a six-mile ruck march, a written essay, and a leadership board with five sergeants major judging and executing an Army Service Uniform inspection.


    There were also four basic battle drills: a nine-line medevac, a functions check on a weapon, a reaction to a nuclear, biological and chemical contamination and set ups and communications on a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System and a Combat Net Radio.

    Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Rouse, noncommissioned officer in charge of the event, said the competition has been dormant for four years but unit leaders have brought the completion back.

    “I’m glad we started it back up and we hope to continue because this is really a good event for the Soldiers,” Rouse said. “It is a good morale builder for Soldiers and the units and we get a chance to showcase the best of the best against other Army components like the active duty.”

    Spc. Jordan Neiman, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 647th Regional Support Group, listens to questions asked by a sergeant major board, hoping to respond correctly and earn points during a best warrior competition held by the 647th RSG, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, here Saturday.

    Spc. Jordan Neiman, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 647th Regional Support Group, listens to questions asked by a sergeant major board, hoping to respond correctly and earn points during a best warrior competition held by the 647th RSG, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, here Saturday.

    Having only one year of service, it was McGee’s first time competing. McGee, a military analyst for the 647th RSG, said he decided to give it a shot.

    “On the first day, I was like ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ and then by the evening, reality hit me and I was like, ‘Ut-oh, I haven’t prepared!’ McGee said. “After actually going through it, I am glad I did it.”

    McGee said he plans to compete next year and he looks forward to that goal. He advises his peers to compete as well.

    “I would tell them to just do it,” McGee said. “Even if you haven’t prepared or think you will be good at it, just do it so that you can experience it and see how you do and then you will know what you need to do for next time.”

    The competition ended with an awards ceremony Sunday that brought espirit de corps and camaraderie to the unit members.

    Staff Sgt. Joseph Powell is a 2009 graduate of Greensville County High School. He is the son of Sherri Woodard and grandson of Geneva Woodard.

    This article origanally appeared in the in the Fort Bliss Bugle.

    Soldiers assigned to 647th Regional Support Group, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, attempt to disassemble and reassemble an M4 carbine in record time to earn points for a best warrior competition here Friday.

    Soldiers assigned to 647th Regional Support Group, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Army Reserve, attempt to disassemble and reassemble an M4 carbine in record time to earn points for a best warrior competition here Friday.


  44. McAuliffe vetoes bills he says could restrict voting rights

    By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed a bill that he said could disenfranchise qualified voters but Republican legislators said could reduce voter fraud.

    HB 2343, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, would have required the state Department of Elections to provide local registrars with a list of voters who, according to data-matching systems, have been found to be registered in another state.

    In support of his proposal, Bell said it would have given localities direct access to information regarding possible voter fraud among residents.

    “Information would be provided to the general registrars from each county or city when it’s found that one of their voters is also registered in another state, and it gives them the liberty to do what they want to with that information,” he said.

    In a statement explaining his veto, McAuliffe said he believed the bill would have endangered the voting rights of some Virginians and increased the administrative burden on local governments.

    “This bill would invite confusion and increase the possibility of violating federal law,” McAuliffe said. “Moreover, it would expose eligible and properly registered Virginians to the risk of improper disenfranchisement.”

    The governor said that the measure would have generated confusion and unnecessary stress among localities throughout the state by decentralizing the commonwealth’s process for maintaining voter registration data.

    “The commonwealth’s proven and efficient methods of list maintenance serve as a national model,” McAuliffe said. “We should focus on improving this system rather than needlessly increasing administrative burdens.”

    HB 2343had passed the House, 68-30, and the Senate, 23-15, during the recent legislative session. To override the veto, supporters of the bill must muster a two-thirds majority in both chambers when the General Assembly returns for a one-day session on April 5.

    Also Wednesday, McAuliffe vetoed SB 872, which he said would be an “unnecessary and impractical barrier” to Virginia voters. The bill, sponsored by Del. Amanda F. Chase, R-Midlothian, would have required voters to submit photo identification when applying to vote absentee by mail.

    The bill was identical to HB 1428, sponsored by Del. Buddy Fowler, R-Glen Allen. McAuliffe vetoed Fowler’s measure last week.

    “The right to vote is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, and we should be doing all we can to facilitate eligible citizens’ access to the ballot,” McAuliffe said. “The requirement would not in any way deter fraudulent voting since it provides no means of verifying the identity of the individual depicted in the submitted photograph.”

    The vetoed bills were among about 200 pieces of legislation that McAuliffe acted on this week. He signed into law such bills as:

    • HB 2113, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, which would help the state Department of Taxation deter identity theft.
    • HB 2119, also by Keam, which would require laser hair removal to be performed under the supervision of a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
    • HB 2217, sponsored by Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, which would aid victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.
    • SB 982, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, which would extend tax breaks for motion pictures being produced in Virginia.
    • HB 1664, sponsored by Del. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason, R-Loudoun, which requires state universities to release reports regarding their graduates’ job employment rates.
    • HB 2258, sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield, which would create a task force to raise awareness of suicide prevention services.

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  45. Activists, lawmakers demand attorney general resign

    By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Bearing signs that read “No Concessions for Sessions!”, “Perjury = Prison” and “Nyet Paid,” more than 50 protesters in downtown Richmond demanded the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.

    Calling him racist and unfit, the protesters gathered outside the SunTrust building on Main Street, where Sessions addressed law enforcement officers on combating violent crime and restoring public safety. “President Trump gave us a clear directive. It’s the policy of this administration to reduce crime in America,” he said.

    Sessions was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month despite previously being denied a federal judgeship because of accusations that he had made racist remarks. He has also been in hot water regarding allegations that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential race.

    During his confirmation hearing, Sessions denied having communications with the Russian government, but The Washington Post recently revealed that he had met twice last year with the Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. As a result, Sessions has had to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Russia tried to influence the election.

    The protesters marched around the perimeter of the SunTrust building, led by an enthusiastic woman rhythmically banging a pan with a wooden spoon and chanting, “No bans, no walls, sanctuary for all” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions has got to go.” Many of the demonstrators objected to Session’s alleged involvement with Russia, his record on civil rights and his stance on immigration.

    “He’s the person who’s supposed to hold other people accountable for their incongruities and their unlawfulness, and I’m very concerned about those characteristics and those qualities in our attorney general,” said Rev. Jay McNeal, executive director of United Faith Leaders, an interfaith interdenominational group that helped organize the protest.

    A number of progressive organizations including the Sierra Club, Indivisible Richmond, Equality Virginia, and ICA Out of RVA collaborated to organize Wednesday’s rally. The American Civil Liberties Union was not involved in organizing the protest, but legal observers from the group were there to ensure that no one’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to organize were violated.

    Charlie Schmidt, public policy associate for the ACLU of Virginia, said he is concerned that the top prosecutor for the country will negatively impact civil rights in the U.S.

    “The administration has a lot of leeway to say, ‘Well, we’re not going to hire any more staff attorneys for the Office of Civil Rights; we’re not going to investigate police when there’s misconduct.’ They have a lot of discretion and a lot of power,” Schmidt said.

    Last month, in his first speech as attorney general, Sessions said the Justice Department will pull back its monitoring of police departments with civil rights abuses. He said that the authority of police departments had been undermined by scrutiny from the Justice Department, and scaling back on federal oversight would improve their effectiveness.

    “We want the Justice Department to continue to root out corruption and racism in our police department, instead of falling into the false narrative that police are the victims,” said Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

    A few minutes before the protest, Swecker and several members of the General Assembly held a press conference and called on Sessions to resign for misleading the Senate. The legislators, all of them Democrats, included Dels. Delores McQuinn, Jeff Bourne and Betsy Carr of Richmond and Sen. Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg.

    While in Richmond, Sessions praised Project Exile, which imposes a mandatory five-year prison sentence on felons convicted of possessing firearms.

    While crime rates have been at historic lows nationwide, Sessions said violent crime has been increasing in some cities, including Richmond. He blamed the increase in part on the growing opioid epidemic, saying, “We have too much of a tolerance for drug use.”

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  46. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Colonoscopies are a Slam Dunk

    EMPORIA, VA - According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the top five most common cancers in the United States—and it is the third leading cause of death by cancer in Americans. Colorectal cancer often goes undetected because symptoms do not usually occur until the disease is advanced.

    “Colorectal cancer affects both men and women equally,” says colorectal surgeon Homayoon Akbari, MD, PhD, FACS. “Because your risk for the cancer increases after age 50, regular screenings are recommended for adults age 50 and older. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, certain gastroenterological conditions or diseases, eat a diet high in fat content, or smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.”

    The good news is that with early detection – through a colonoscopy – the survival rate dramatically increases. If colon cancer is detected before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute, but if not caught before the cancer spreads to other organs, the survival rate dips to about 14 percent.

    “A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, to see inside the colon and rectum,” explains Dr. Akbari. “Used as either a screening test or a diagnostic tool, it can help your doctor investigate early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum, as well as help diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits, including abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss. If anything abnormal is observed, such as a polyp or growth, it is painlessly removed at that time and later tested in a laboratory for signs of cancer.”

    Depending on your age, a colonoscopy screening may be a covered “wellness” test under your insurance plan, and most plans cover a colonoscopy completely as a follow-up test or diagnostic tool. To find a doctor or learn about the colonoscopy and other gastroenterology and surgical services offered at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, visit And as you watch the basketball games this month, remember that the ball is in your court to take action to reduce your risk for this preventable cancer.

    Board certified in general and colorectal surgery, Dr. Homayoon Akbari practices at Southern Virginia Medical Group. Dr. Akbari specializes in colon and rectal surgery, including the treatment of colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and constipation. He is an active member of the medical staff of both Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center and Southside Regional Medical Center.


  47. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces February Employee of the Month

    February 2017 SVRMC Employee of the Month,

    Emporia, VA – Virginia Worrell has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for February 2017. Ms. Worrell, who works in SVRMC’s Environmental Services Department, has been employed at SVRMC since June 1993.

    Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for February was Communication.  Ms. Worrell’s nomination included the following statement: “Virginia has exemplary communication skills.  She always introduces herself to our patients prior to going into their room and always greets everyone she meets in the hallways with a smile.  When answering the phone, she is always polite and utilizes proper phone etiquette, you can hear Virginia’s smile through the phone.Virginia is well deserving of the Employee of the Month.”  

    As SVRMC’s February Employee of the Month, Ms. Worrell received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, a cash award, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2017 Employee of the Year.

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  48. Phillip Earl “Flipp” Clements

    Phillip Earl “Flipp” Clements, 30, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, March 11, 2017. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Hubert “Pete” Phillips and Shirley Mitchell “NaNa” Phillips and paternal grandparents, William “Bill” Clements and Dorothy Mae “Grammy” Clements, all from Emporia. Phillip was a lifelong member of Adams Grove Baptist Church where he served as assistant pianist and assistant choir director. He had an engaging and outgoing manner and enjoyed playing music and singing and was known by many for his talents working on and detailing automobiles. He is survived by his parents, Earl and BeeBee Clements of Emporia; uncles, D. L. Phillips of Capron; Donnie Wayne Clements (Bonnie) of Lake Gaston and Tony Michael Clements, with whom he shared a special bond, of Emporia; his aunt, Carolyn Phillips Gillette (Pope) of Capron; cousins, Hollie Gillette Bobbitt (William) of Roanoke Rapids, NC and Emily Gillette Jarratt (Dustan) of Emporia. He is also survived by Peggy Harrell who he considered his “Second Mom” and her daughters, Alice, Allison and Rhonda and a special group of close friends, Stephanie, Beth, Brooke, Shannon and Billi Jo. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 15 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16. Interment will follow at Independence United Methodist Church. The family suggests contributions in Phillip’s memory be made to a favorite charity of your choice. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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  49. Mary Ann Dunlow

    Mary Ann Dunlow, 58, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, March 11, 2017. She was the daughter of the late William B. and Martha E. Dunlow and was also preceded in death by sisters, Pat Schofield, Margaret E. Dunlow and Joyce Marie Dunlow. She is survived by her sisters, Pamela Sue “Pam” Dunlow and Peggy D. Goddard and husband, Joe and a number of nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 16 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Friday, March 17. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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  50. Law ensures Virginians can resell tickets

    By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In a defeat for Ticketmaster, a new state law will allow Virginians to resell tickets they’ve bought for concerts, football and basketball games, and other public events.

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed two bills that would protect people involved in reselling tickets – a practice critics call scalping. The law also says you can’t be turned away if you show up at an event with a ticket you received from someone else.

    One of the measures – House Bill 1825– was sponsored by Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax. He had a personal reason for proposing the legislation. It stemmed from a secret that, for a while, he kept even from his wife, Rita.

    “One thing she did not know about me when we got married is, she figured Republican, lawyer – you know, straight guy. She does not know I am a metalhead,” said Albo, 54.

    One of his favorite bands is Iron Maiden. And when Albo found out they were coming to Virginia to play at Nissan Pavilion (now called JiffyLube Live) in Bristow, he bought two $200 tickets as soon as sales opened up on Ticketmaster.

    Rita Albo later broke it to her husband that the Iron Maiden concert was the same week as the family’s vacation. Del. Albo decided he needed to bite the bullet and try to resell the tickets.

    But he couldn’t do that on the Ticketmaster website because the show wasn’t sold out. And Ticketmaster prohibits reselling its tickets anywhere else.

    Albo said he couldn’t even give the tickets to a friend because Ticketmaster’s policies require the concert-goer to show an ID or credit card of the original ticket purchaser.

    After Albo told legislators about his ordeal, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1825 and Senate Bill 1425, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin. The bills state that:

    • Tickets to any professional concert, sporting event or theatrical production cannot be sold “solely through a delivery method that substantially prevents the purchaser of the ticket from lawfully reselling the ticket on the Internet ticketing platform of the ticket purchaser’s choice.”
    • “No person shall be discriminated against or denied admission to an event solely on the basis that the person resold a ticket, or purchased a resold ticket, on a specific Internet ticketing platform.”

    McAuliffe signed the bills March 3. The law will take effect July 1. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

    Critics say the legislation opens the door for ticket scalping or “touting,” in which people, sometimes using computer software, buy tickets only with the intention of reselling them at a higher price to make a profit.

    Ticketmaster did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment about Virginia’s new law. However, when Albo’s bill came before the House of Delegates in January, the company issued a statement saying, “This scalper friendly legislation is harmful to every sports and music fan in the Commonwealth, and the bill should be rejected just as it has been in other states across the country.”

    Two other states – New York and Colorado – have adopted laws similar to Virginia’s.

    On the other hand, ticket vendors like StubHub, a website owned by eBay designed for people to resell and buy second-hand tickets, applauded the new state law.

    “This legislation protects Virginia fans and ensures an open and unrestricted ticket marketplace,” said Laura Dooley, senior manager of government relations at StubHub. “We are proud to advocate in support of legislation like the Virginia bills on behalf of our users.”

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  51. Virginia Schools Encouraged to Participate in Statewide Campaign to Encourage Safe Teen Driving During Upcoming High-Risk Months

    May through August Most Dangerous Months for Virginia Teen Drivers

    Salem, VA – Youth of Virginia Speak Out (YOVASO) and the Virginia State Police are encouraging high and middle schools across the state to participate in a safety campaign for youth and teens to encourage safe driving behaviors and passenger safety. The campaign, called “Arrive Alive,” focuses on the increased risk these age groups face during the spring and summer months and during prom and graduation season. The campaign is set to kick off on Monday, March 20 and runs through May 5.

    Middle schools will focus their campaign efforts on how to be a safe passenger, pedestrian, and cyclist. High schools will focus on preventing such risky driving and passenger behaviors as driving distracted, speeding, driving with too many passengers, not wearing a seat belt, drowsy driving, underage drinking and driving, and joy riding or “cruising.”

    Schools interested in participating in this exciting campaign, should contact Casey Taylor, Program Development Coordinator at 540-375-3596 or visit  Registering is quick and simple, and will provide schools with free resources to promote safe driving, passenger safety, and traffic safety. The materials for middle schools will include: posters, tip cards, pledge banners, pencils, and sunglasses to promote passenger, pedestrian, and bike safety. High schools that register will receive: tip cards, prom/floral Arrive Alive cards, “What to do After a Crash” cards, posters, pledge banners, Text Later Live Longer Stickers, and sunglasses to promote safe driving and celebrating responsibly.  

    Arrive Alive is sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) and the Virginia State Police, and is funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Highway Safety Office. Other partners include Allstate, State Farm, the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education, a nonprofit charitable organization affiliated with AAA Mid-Atlantic, and WFXR Television.

    YOVASO is Virginia's Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver Safety and is a program of the Virginia State Police. Membership in YOVASO is free and open to all Virginia high schools and middle schools.  Schools do not have to be a member of YOVASO to participate in the Arrive Alive campaign.

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Todd Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to raise the quality of CTE programs at schools in Virginia and across the country. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act amends the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to better meet the needs of a 21st century workforce and ensure students have access to the highest-quality CTE programs. Kaine, who introduced an earlier version of the legislation in the 114th Congress, has traveled across Virginia to visit career and tech education programs. Later today, Kaine will co-host the Senate CTE Caucus’ 3rd annual Career and Technical Education Fair where students from Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin will showcase and demonstrate projects that highlight how real-world problem solving skills and CTE are preparing America’s future workforce to meet real-world challenges.

    “Programs that give kids the skills in high school to prepare them for post-secondary education and employment can yield benefits after graduation and later in students’ careers,” said Kaine. “This bipartisan bill helps workers and the economy by equipping more students with skills needed to get a job in an in-demand field in their state and ensuring employers have access to a skilled workforce.”

    “Career and Technical Education makes our kids job-ready on graduation day, giving them skills that are in demand and a running start on their careers,” said Portman. “Our bipartisan legislation would improve the quality of CTE programs so that these kids get a better education using the equipment and the standards of today’s industry. That’s good for our economy because it would help us keep skilled jobs from going overseas. It’s good for employers, who are looking for skilled workers, but most of all it’s good for thousands kids in Ohio and across the country, because it will help them get good jobs and live out their God-given potential.”

    “I’ve heard firsthand from students, businesses and manufacturers in Wisconsin and it’s clear that we need to do more to support career and technical education so people are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Senator Baldwin. “Career and technical education has shown to be one of the most effective ways to respond to our workforce readiness needs and create shared prosperity. Our bipartisan effort will support Wisconsin’s career and technical students and provide companies with the skilled workforce they need to create stronger growth for our economy.”

    “Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Young.  With almost half of employers nationwide experiencing a lack of skilled workers, this legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap and addressing the needs of our local communities.”

    Kaine, who grew up working in his dad’s ironworking shop and later spearheaded the creation of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia – now Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies – has made improving and strengthening access to CTE a top priority in the Senate. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies like the Governor’s Academies in Virginia established by then-Governor Kaine. The bill encourages schools to incorporate key elements of high-quality CTE programs and promotes partnerships between local businesses, regional industries and other community stakeholders to create work-based learning opportunities for students.   

    Numerous career and education groups support the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, including the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Academy Foundation (NAF), and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).

    A full fact sheet on the bill can be found here.


  53. Community Easter Drama To Be Performed At Main Street Baptist Church

    Main Street Baptist Church located at 440 South Main Street, Emporia, VA will be presenting a Community Easter Drama entitled “No Greater Love” on April 6, 7, and 8 at 8:00 p.m. The doors will open at 7:30 p.m. FREE tickets are available at the church office on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 10:00 to 2:00. Tickets are also available by calling 434-535-7268. Tickets requested by calling will be held before each performance at the Will Call Desk. Large group attendees requesting tickets are asked to call the above number so that seating arrangements can be made prior to performance.

    The Easter Production Committee notes that it takes many people to put on a production of this size. Main Street Baptist Church, Main Street United Methodist Church, Independence United Methodist Church, Franklin Christian Church, Roanoke Rapids Christian Fellowship and First Christian Church of Emporia have lent their support to this drama. “From actors, to costumes, to sets and behind the scenes, it truly takes a community to get it all done,” say the production committee members. This year’s drama includes 30 actors ranging in age from 8 to 87, many playing multiple roles. Mr. Kevin Barnes, a member of Main Street Baptist Church, will play the role of Jesus Christ. Mr. Tom Spivey will be returning as the Narrator.

    To further expand on the life and death of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior during this Easter Season, the dramatic presentation will feature seven new scenes. Those scenes include: Gabriel Visiting Mary, Jesus Calling His Disciples Into Service, Jesus and The Woman at the Well, Miracles Performed, a Conversation Between Pilate and His Wife and Jesus Speaking to His Disciples Before Ascending Into Heaven. The Easter Story would not be complete without focusing on these biblical events.

     The Main Street Baptist Church Easter Drama Committee encourages everyone to come experience and reflect on the true meaning of Easter.

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  54. Gov. McAuliffe expected to sign marijuana reforms

    By SaraRose Martin, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Virginia probably will ease up a bit in its laws against marijuana by making it easier for epilepsy patients to obtain cannabis extract oils and by relaxing the penalty for people caught with small amounts of marijuana.

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign the handful of marijuana-related bills passed by the General Assembly during its recent session. They include SB 1027, which will allow Virginia pharmacies to make and sell marijuana extract oils for treating intractable epilepsy, and HB 2051andSB 1091,which will eliminate the state’s punishment of automatically suspending the driver’s license of adults convicted of simple marijuana possession.

    Currently, it is illegal in Virginia to purchase THC-A or CBD oils. In 2015, the General Assembly carved out one exception – for people who suffer from intractable epilepsy. Epilepsy patients and their caregivers are allowed to possess the marijuana extract oils. But they face problems buying the medication.

    SB 1027, sponsored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, will allow “pharmaceutical processors” – after obtaining a permit from the state Board of Pharmacy and under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist – to grow low-THC cannabis, manufacture the oil and then provide it to epilepsy patients who have a written certification from a doctor.

    “Virginia will only be the second state in the nation that has this type of program, the first being Missouri,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates liberalizing marijuana laws.

    “It’s a far cry from an effective medical marijuana program, but it’s still a step in the right direction.”

    Ellinger-Locke said 28 states and the District of Columbia have full-fledged programs in which people with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases can get a prescription to use marijuana.

    Marsden’s bill includes an emergency clause. So when the governor signs it, the law will take effect immediately.

    Del. Les. Adams, R-Chatham, and Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, carried the measures regarding driver’s licenses. Under the legislation, which would take effect July 1, judges will have the discretion to suspend the license of an adult convicted of marijuana possession – but the penalty would not be automatic. Juveniles would still be subject to an automatic six-month suspension of their driver’s license.

    Ellinger-Locke said the laws are in step with reforms happening across the country.

    “We are optimistic,” she said. “The polling shows that Virginians desperately want their marijuana policy changed and laws reformed in some capacity, and I think that lawmakers are starting to hear the call in Virginia as well as throughout the U.S.”

    Those calls went largely unheeded during the 2017 legislative session, as about a dozen proposals, ranging from establishing a medical marijuana program to decriminalizing marijuana possession, failed.

    For example, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester introduced bills to make marijuana products available to people with cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and several other diseases (SB 1298) and to create a pilot program for farmers to grow hemp (SB 1306). Both bills cleared the Senate but died in the House.

    Marijuana likely will be an issue in statewide elections this year. Vogel, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, has vowed to be an advocate for medical marijuana.

    “It has no psychotropic effects, and no one is dealing it on the illicit market. For the people that are sick and really wanted the bill to pass, it was heartbreaking,” Vogel said. “I think this is a little bit of bias and a little bit of lack of education ... The overwhelming majority of the voting public believes having access to that kind of medication is very helpful.”

    Medical marijuana bills faced opposition from legislators afraid that expansion may become a slippery slope. Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, recalled returning from serving in the Marines in Vietnam in the 1960s when, he said, marijuana use caused a collapse of “good order and discipline.”

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    RICHMOND – As the Virginia State Police prepares for the impending nor’easter, Virginians are encouraged to get ready and plan ahead, too. Forecasts are currently calling for regions of the Commonwealth to get either several inches of snow, rain and/or a combination of both.

    Virginia State Police will have all available troopers and supervisors working in advance of and the duration of the storm as it makes its way across the Commonwealth. To prevent unnecessary traffic crashes from occurring on Virginia’s highways during the storm, state police advises residents to postpone travel plans and avoid driving, when possible.

    If having to travel during the storm, drivers are reminded to do the following:

    • Use headlights. Increasing your visibility helps you to avoid slick and dangerous spots on the road, to include standing water and/or flooding. Headlights also help other drivers see you better.
    • Slow your speed. Though state police works closely with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to identify problem areas on Virginia’s highways during a storm, drivers still must drive for conditions. Slowing your speed gives you more time to safely react and avoid a crash. Drive your vehicle based on your ability to properly maintain control of your vehicle.
    • Don’t tailgate. You need increased stopping distance on slick road surfaces. Give yourself more space between vehicles traveling ahead of you in order to avoid rear end collisions.
    • Buckle Up. Most crashes that occur during inclement weather are caused by vehicles sliding off the road or other vehicles. Wearing your seat belt protects you from being thrown around the inside of your vehicle and suffering serious injury in a crash.
    • Put down your phone. Having to drive in severe snow or rain requires a driver’s full, uninterrupted attention. Do not text and drive or shoot video of the bad conditions while driving, as these actions put you, your passengers and other vehicles at extreme risk of a crash and/or injury.
    • Check Your Vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order for the conditions. Fill up the tank in advance. Check windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, tire tread, battery life, etc.
    • Don’t leave home without a window scraper, blanket, bottled water, snack, cell phone charger and flashlight.

    For the latest in road conditions and updates, please call 511 on a cell phone, download the App or go online to the VDOT Virginia Traffic Information Website at

    Virginians are advised to only call 911 or #77 on a cell phone in case of emergency. It is essential to keep emergency dispatch lines open for those in serious need of police, fire or medical response.

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  56. Let’s Celebrate Reading

    By Dr. Al Roberts

    When people think of March festivities, they may envision green-themed parties for St. Patrick’s Day or look forward to basketball madness. I like to remember that March is also National Reading Awareness Month.

    Read Across America, sponsored by the National Education Association, kicked off the month with events in all 50 states and numerous locations abroad. The observance began in 1998 to honor the legacy of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) whose birthday falls on March 2. The annual remembrance encourages people to enjoy the fun of reading.

    Also in March, the National Head Start Association sponsors National Read-Aloud Month to challenge parents and caregivers to read books aloud to children at home. National Head Start notes that "When children listen to books read aloud, they learn about people, places, and how things work. They learn about emotions and feelings and how to use words to share their ideas."

    One of my favorite books for reading to children is The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. It was originally published in 1922 and has become a classic. It tells about a stuffed toy rabbit and how it became real through being loved. Many equally wonderful tales await children's ears. If you need help finding one, stop by your local public library and ask for assistance.

    Several other organizations also focus on the benefits of reading aloud to children. For example, a group called Read Aloud 15 Minutes, emphasizes that reading to a child for just fifteen minutes a day can have life-long benefits. Fifteen minutes may not seem like much, but, if practiced consistently during a child's first five years, it adds up to more than 450 hours. Those extra hours of literacy skills building can bestow a measurable benefit in future learning success.

    And the benefits of reading don't end with childhood. In fact, they're just beginning. The crucial role that strong reading skills play in academic achievement among older students is also well-documented. In fact, some researchers have estimated that college students can expect to read between 600–750 pages a semester per course.

    To help foster life-long growth in literacy achievement, Southside Virginia Community College is embarking on a new Quality Enhancement Plan: iRead, iLead, iSucceed. The QEP embraces a commitment to literacy that focuses on analytical reading comprehension and is designed to promote student achievement and academic success. Through faculty development and training in the promotion of analytical literacy skills, we hope to create students with stronger literacy skills. One of the anticipated outcomes of this new initiative is that students will demonstrate an increased level of engagement in literacy activities through supported reading and writing opportunities both at the academic level and personal level.

    Reading. It's something we celebrate all year long.

    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

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  57. VCU edges Richmond in overtime in A10

    By Zach Joachim and Sophia Belletti, Capital News Service

    PITTSBURGH – A well-rounded stat sheet, a dominant 14-6 overtime period and some timely senior leadership propelled VCU to its fifth consecutive Atlantic 10 championship finals after a heart-stopping 87-77 win over the University of Richmond.

    VCU’s scoring depth lead the Black and Gold to victory – the Rams posted 35 bench points, compared to Richmond’s meager two. All five UR starters finished in double figures, while three of VCU’s starters reached the mark.

    Senior guard JeQuan Lewis led the Rams in scoring with 18, followed closely by redshirt-freshman guard Samir Doughty (17), redshirt-senior forward Mo Alie-Cox (15) and junior forward Justin Tillman (11). Nine VCU players scored in the contest.

    “We outrebounded them and scored 56 points in the paint,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “That’s our formula. We made some plays when we needed to.”

    Richmond freshman guard De’Monte Buckingham was nothing short of sensational – he led all scorers with 26 and went 9-14 from the field.

    The Rams found themselves in dire straits at the end of regulation. Richmond’s freshman guard Nick Sherod hit a corner-three with 25 seconds left to give the Spiders a 3-point lead.

    When all seemed lost, Wade and the Rams looked to their senior leader and asked the world of him – and Lewis delivered.

    The first-team all-conference guard rose up from the wing and tied the game after running a curl off a screen in the post. Junior guard Jonathan Williams fed him right in the shooting pocket on a play Wade said the Rams run frequently.

    “I had shooting in my mind before the play even started,” Lewis said. “We practice that play a lot.”

    On the final possession of regulation, Richmond senior guard ShawnDre’ Jones had a chance to give his Spiders the win. UR got the switch it wanted, with Alie-Cox matched up against Jones on the perimeter. The VCU senior forward showed off his versatility by forcing a fade-away, contested jump shot that went begging.

    “A team that forces overtime wins 72 percent of the time,” Wade said. “They were going to have hit a crazy shot in regulation to beat us – and they didn’t.”

    “Mo helps us so much defensively. How many other fives can switch off defensively onto a guard and just bottle him up and make him shoot an 18 foot, contested fade-away jump shot? He’s a freak of nature – that’s why he’s going to be playing in the NFL, or whatever he’s going to do.”

    Freshman guard Samir Doughty, who was recently relegated to a six-man role after starting for much of the season, was a catalyst for the Black and Gold. Doughty’s ability to get to the rim was key for a VCU team that – according to Wade – settled for too many jump shots in the second half.

    “We took so many pull-up jumpers in the second half, I was so mad,” Wade said. “Samir’s instinct is to put his head down and drive the ball. We needed that mentality today.”

    Lewis agreed. “Samir is a great player and scorer. We need that from him. He’s scrappy.”

    The VCU Rams will face the University of Rhode Island Rams on Sunday in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 on CBS. The last time the Rams played each other, Rhode Island out muscled VCU and won by a final of 69-59 up north. RI did not visit the Siegel Center this year.

    “It’s going to be up and down. It’s going to be physical,” Lewis said. “We have good guards; they have good guards. We have good post players; they have good post players.”

    “They obliterated us on the glass,” Wade said. “We weren’t strong in the paint. They’re the one team in the league that’s as physical as we are.”

    One thing is for certain: By Sunday afternoon, a team named the Rams will be the 2017 Atlantic 10 tournament champions.

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  58. VCU beats George Mason in A10 tournament

    By Zach Joachim and Sophia Belletti, Capital News Service

    PITTSBURGH – In his third game back following a foot injury, freshman guard De’Riante Jenkins led the VCU Rams with 15 points to knock George Mason University out of the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, 71-60, Friday evening.

    “It’s really nice to have De’Riante back,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “He was tremendous.”

    PPG Paints Arena felt a lot like a home game at the Siegel Center Friday night, as RamNation traveled in superb fashion. At least 3,000 VCU supporters made their voices heard in the Steel City.

    Following nine ties and 10 lead changes, VCU pulled away in the final six minutes of the game. Senior guards JeQuan Lewis and Doug Brooks fueled the late onslaught with a pair of three pointers each.

    Lewis pointed to his team’s mindset as a cause for the late run.

    “(We got) more aggressive,” Lewis said. “We were settling a lot for perimeter shots. We just ran plays to get us driving downhill.”

    Lewis knocked down five shots in the second half en route to 13 points on the evening, following a dry spell for the Dixon, Tennessee, native. He also recorded six assists and three steals.

    Redshirt-senior forward Mo Alie-Cox went 0-4 from the floor and junior forward Justin Tillman recorded seven points. The struggles down low rendered it pivotal for the guards to knock down outside shots. Alie-Cox did, however, did chip in a pair of vintage blocks, which came on consecutive possessions in the second half and fueled the late momentum shift.

    VCU shot 57 percent from beyond the arc in the second half, largely thanks to Lewis (2-4), Brooks (2-3) and Jenkins (3-3).

    The Black and Gold applied pressure early and often, attacking the Patriots in a full-court zone press for most of the night before dropping back into a half-court zone. The Rams forced 14 turnovers and created 20 points off the resulting opportunities.

    “We talk about the last six minutes of the game a lot – we call it winning time,” said Wade, whose team finished second in the A10 regular season. The conference champion, Dayton, lost to Davidson in the A10 tournament earlier Friday.

    “We executed down the stretch,” Wade said. “When we’re making threes like that, the scoreboard really adds up. They threw a bunch of junk defenses at us, and it took a second for us to adjust. But once we figured it out, our guys were tremendous. I’m really proud of all of them.”

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  59. Virginia State Board for Community Colleges March 2017 Business Meeting to be Held at Reynolds Community College

    RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges will convene its regular meeting on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. in the Conference Center Gallery on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College at 1651 E. Parham Rd., Richmond, VA 23228.

    State Board Committees will meet on Wednesday, March 15, also in the Conference Center Gallery. The Academic, Student Affairs and Workforce Development Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee meet at 1:30 p.m. (Salons 3 and 2 respectively); the Facilities Committee and the Personnel Committee meet at 3 p.m. (Salon 2 and the Executive Board Room respectively); and the Audit Committee meets at 3:45 p.m. in Salon 3. An Executive Committee meeting will take place at the conclusion of all other committee meetings in the Executive Board Room.

    Public comment will be received at each regular meeting of the board following the approval of minutes. Persons desiring to comment must notify the Chancellor’s Office in advance as specified by the VCCS Policy Manual.

    A complete agenda for the State Board meeting is available at:

    About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit

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     RICHMOND – On Friday, March 10, 2017, the Commonwealth will graduate its 125th generation of Virginia State Troopers. The 49 new troopers will be presented their diplomas during commencement exercises at 10 a.m. at the State Police Training Academy located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County.

    The new troopers have received more than 1,600 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, survival Spanish, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival, cultural diversity and crisis management. The members of the 125th Basic Session began their 29 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy Aug. 25, 2017.

    The soon-to-be graduates of the 125th Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

    Upon graduation, the new troopers will report to their individual duty assignments across Virginia beginning March 13, 2017, for their final phase of training. Each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.


  61. Recent Emporia Truck Driving Training Graduates

    Southside Virginia Community College Truck Driver Training held a class in Emporia, Virginia recently.  Those attending the graduation ceremony are L-R Bobby Wrenn, Skyler Turner (Suffok), Dr. Roberts, Doug Kemerer (Instructor), Richard Mattson, Jr. (Roanoke Rapids, NC), Terence Hendricks (Kenbridge), Keshawn Bennett (Lawrenceville), Darin Williams (Emporia), Jaquante' King (Petersburg), Ron Bagley (Victoria), Jerrell Tisdale (Kenbridge0, Dr. Keith Harkins, VP Workforce SVCC, Randy Betz, VP Workforce Paul D. Camp Community College, Renee Felts, VP Institutional Advancement PDCCC and Duncan Quicke, TDTS Coordinator.

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  62. Panther Prep Advising Day Returns to SVCC

    Panther Prep Day is coming back to Southside Virgnia Community College.  Everyone is invited to a huge event happening at five locations of the college on Thursday, April 6, 2017.   Panther Prep Advising Day will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. for all current students, those interested in becoming a student or learning more about the college.  The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

    The event is being held at the Christanna Campus, Alberta, John H. Daniel Campus, Keysville, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, South Boston, Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia and Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center, South Hill.

    SVCC will show its Panther Pride on this day with fun, food, door prizes, help with registering for Fall and Summer classes, applying for financial aid and advisors getting students on the right path to success.  There will also be information about the college, entertainment, and college tours.

    RSVP to call Leslie Perkins at 434 736 2022.

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    ~ Published reports say Trump has proposed 93% Bay funding cut ~

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote to President Trump today to urge him to reconsider steep budget cuts within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. Several recent published reports indicate the Trump Administration will recommend cutting the Bay program from $73 million annually to $5 million. The Senators, both of whom were Virginia governors, each played vital roles managing Virginia’s multi-year, multi-state Bay restoration efforts.   

    “The Chesapeake Bay is an essential economic engine in our region, supporting thousands of jobs in the fishery and tourism industries and generating millions in revenue each year. We have worked tirelessly to improve the health of the Bay to ensure that these industries will continue to grow and flourish for years to come,” the Senators wrote. “While we’ve seen real improvements in the health of the Chesapeake Bay in recent years, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such a significant and jarring cut in funding.”

    The full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

    March 8, 2017

    The Honorable Donald J. Trump
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President:

    We write today to express our deep concerns over recent reports indicating your Administration is proposing significant funding reductions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to published reports, this includes draconian cuts in the Chesapeake Bay Program – a multi-year, multi-state partnership with the federal government to restore the largest estuary in the United States. We believe these cuts would be incredibly shortsighted and would endanger the years of progress that have been made in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

    We are both former Governors of Virginia, and are proud to continue our service in the United States Senate. The Chesapeake Bay is an essential economic engine in our region, supporting thousands of jobs in the fishery and tourism industries and generating millions in revenue each year. We have worked tirelessly to improve the health of the Bay to ensure that these industries will continue to grow and flourish for years to come.

    The Chesapeake Bay Program was formed in 1983 in a collaborative effort among Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. Since then, New York, West Virginia, and Delaware have joined the effort to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Through this program, EPA supports the cleanup of the Bay by fostering collaboration among the regional partners and the federal government and coordinating the science, research, and data collection needed to support such an ambitious project. Two thirds of the funding supported by the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program is distributed directly to the states through grants.

    Since the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Program in 1983, we’ve witnessed tremendous improvements in the health of the Bay. The latest “Bay Barometer” report released earlier this year indicated that years of collaboration, funding, and hard work are paying dividends. Among other highlights, the report stated that underwater grasses in the Bay are at record levels and that the blue crab population has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. Continued funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program is essential to making sure we are able to build on this progress.

    While we’ve seen real improvements in the health of the Chesapeake Bay in recent years, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such a significant and jarring cut in funding.  To ensure our goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, we urge you to include at least $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program in your Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


    MARK R. WARNER , United States Senator  

    TIM KAINE, United States Senator

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  64. Greensville County High School Celebrates Career and Technical Education Month

    Students and faculty at Greensville County High School joined others across the nation during the month of February to celebrate national Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month®. This year’s theme is Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow! CTE Month provides CTE programs across the country an opportunity to demonstrate how CTE makes students college- and career- ready and prepares them for high-wage, high-demand career fields. The CTE department held their annual Career Fair Wednesday, February 23, 2017GCHS gymnasium.
    Greensville County offers nine CTE programs. Wyatt Middle School provides the foundation course for these programs.  “The activities planned illustrated the rigor and relevance CTE courses offer our students,” said LaMeka Harrison, CTE director. “By partnering with the business community, CTE programs are investing in students and providing them with the latest technology and skills that will prepare them to become successful employees and future leaders.” GCHS and SVCC have a partnership agreement to offer dual enrollment options in Business, Culinary Arts, Drafting, Welding, and Health Occupations.
    CTE encompasses 94 percent of high school students and 13 million postsecondary students in the United States and includes high schools, career centers, community and technical colleges, four-year universities and more. CTE is a major part of the solution to myriad national economic and workforce problems, such as high school dropout rates, a weakened economy, global competitiveness and massive layoffs. At a time when opportunity for employment is so critical, CTE programs in every community are ensuring students are equipped with the skills to successfully enter the workforce. 
    Career Fair had over 40 vendors from various career clusters and areas of the state. The day concluded with a luncheon coordinated by the GCHS culinary arts students and instructor.  The highlights of the event included CTE Proclamations from Delegate Rosalyn Tyler, 75th District and Honorable Mary Pearson, Mayor of Emporia.  Career and Technical Student Organizations SkillsUSA, HOSA and FBLA provide information their organization recognition weeks.  The guest speaker was Brian Thrower, City Manager, City of Emporia who provided information on how Career and Technical Education directly relates to the infrastructure and employment factors in Emporia.
    The CTE faculty, staff, and students would like to thank everyone who help to coordinate, plan, and implement the CTE month career fair.
    CTE faculty and staff include:
    • LaMeka Harrison, CTE Director
    •  Aaron Morris, Business, CTE Chair, FBLA Advisor
    • Jerry Brown, Welding, SkillsUSA Advisor,
    •  Marsha Campbell, Business, SkillsUSA Advisor
    • First Sergeant Clarence Bowdry, JROTC
    • Major Sergeant Christian, JROTC
    • Dennis Holland, Graphic Imaging, SkillsUSA Advisor
    • Heather Lackey, Business
    • Teresa Lindberg, Agriscience, FFA
    • Carla Martindale, Business
    • Courtney Moseley, Business, NTHS
    • Stephen Wells, Culinary Arts, SkillsUSA Advisor
    • Mozelle Rose, Health Occupations, HOSA Advisor
    • Martha Smith, Business, FBLA
    • Gerald Wozniak, Drafting, SkillsUSA Advisor
    • James Wright, Building Management, SkillsUSA Advisor


  65. Greensville County Skills USA District 12 Competition

    The Greensville County SkillsUSA student organization participated in competitive events last week.

    On Saturday, February 11, 2017 Greensville County SkillsUSA hosted the District 12 SkillsUSA Leadership competitions in Chapter Display and Promotional Bulletin Board. Students placed as follows:

    • Neal Powell, Ricky Norwood, and Ciara Wright  first place for Chapter Display
    • Samantha Dickens, Taylor Powell, and Anesia Powell first place Promotional Bulletin Board

    On Monday, February 13, 2017 Greensville County Skills USA hosted the District 12 Welding competition.

    • Joshua Vaughan, first place  Welding
    • Hunter Cifers, second place  Welding

    On Friday, February 17, 2017 Greenville County Skills USA hosted the District 12 Additive Manufacturing competitions.

    • All students competing in Additive Manufacturing will progress on to state competition
    • Jessie Gay and Austin Dixon  first place Additive Manufacturing Team
    • Cody Delgado and Deidra Mangrum second place  Additive Manufacturing Team

    Congratulations to all members on job well done. The members will now move on to the State Leadership Competition in Fredericksburg, Virginia April 28-29, 2017.

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  66. ‘Ambassador of the Arts’ views poetry as activism

    James Ragan 2

    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – In 1985, James Ragan and three other poets from Western countries were invited to perform before 10,000 Russians at the first International Poetry Festival in Moscow.

    “I still remember how I’m thinking the audience is looking at the stage and they’re saying ‘Oh, my God, there’s Bob Dylan. Oh, my God, that’s Seamus Heaney, Robert Bly … Who the hell is that?’ That was me – the ‘who the hell is that?’” Ragan said.

    Ragan managed to make himself stand out by speaking Russian. He told the audience in their native tongue that his parents were born in Czechoslovakia and that his translator, who was born in Siberia, was “my brother.”

    “The place went crazy. ‘The American is speaking Russian to us!’” Ragan said. “I could have whispered my poem after that.”

    Ragan is back on center stage in a new documentary, ““Flowers and Roots, James Ragan, An Ambassador of the Arts.” The film, which explores how Ragan’s poetry and writing provided an outlet for his social activism, was featured on Sunday, the last day of the weeklong Richmond International Film Festival.

    When the documentary producers first approved Ragan in 2014, he had no idea why they wanted to make a movie about him. After all, he is not a household name, even though Ragan has read his poetry for seven heads of state, published nine books and had several internationally produced plays.

    “It was amazing how they were looking in at me, and seeing this as all being spectacular, whereas I was looking out and saying, ‘We were supposed to be doing this back in the ’60s and ’70s – we didn’t see it as spectacular,’” Ragan said. “And they immediately liked that response.”

    The movie navigates the Cold War era through Ragan’s own life. Born into a Czechoslovakian immigrant family in Philadelphia as one of 13 children, Ragan said that growing up speaking Slovakian got him into a lot of physical fights.

    “As I learned English, I learned to fight less,” Ragan said. “I had a huge respect for the language, and a huge respect for the arts. I just loved that you could win fights with words and not fists.”

    When Ragan grew older, his personal experiences continued to shape his use of language and art as a means of addressing issues. In college, Ragan received multiple bones spurs in his legs from playing basketball. The doctor treating him gave him radiation therapy to heal the spurs, but ending up giving Ragan an overdose that caused cancer.

    Rather than simply writing about the pain his cancer caused him, Ragan used his pain to discuss “the cancers of the world,” such as the injustices that triggered the civil rights movement and communism.

    To this day, Ragan uses his work to reflect “the truth of the times” – for example, in the poem “The Dumbing Down Finale,” which will debut in an upcoming book. In the poem, he explores his belief that American society is devolving with the increase of social media, reality TV and “alternative facts.” Ragan fears that a lack of respect for education and the arts will destroy America.

    Despite his harsh commentary on society, Ragan calls himself an optimist. From seeing young people protesting as their counterparts did in the 1960s and ’70s, to seeing Americans treating each other kindly, Ragan believes there is hope for the moral foundation and future of the country.

    “I’ve seen beautiful things happen with people who wouldn’t normally want to help that neighbor and they do,” Ragan said. “Recently someone had leveled the headstones in a Jewish cemetery, and the Muslims came to help the backup, as well as Protestant and other religions.”

    Ragan has often used his work to speak out about communism, and his writings were banned in one country. When he was studying under a Fulbright scholarship in Slovakia, the U.S. Embassy asked him to distribute 10 copies of Newsweek and Times magazine at one of his candlelight readings. Ragan said the people in attendance were eager to receive the publications and were “grabbing at the truth.”

    “Journalists have also played a very important part in that history, and especially now we need that,” Ragan said. “To see these people that had very much so been the victim of propaganda and also oppression, that one moment of truth I was giving them through a poem on the stage or through these magazines brought a great sense of responsibility to me, of what I could do. The power of language, the power words.”

    Ragan said Americans sometimes take freedom of speech for granted – a freedom many people in the world don’t have. He thinks it’s important to use this freedom to stand up and speak out.

    People must make “a moral decision to stand up or lay down,” Ragan said. “And I’ve never been one not to stand up

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  67. New laws would help and hurt access to information

    By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – For advocates of government transparency, the General Assembly’s 2017 session was a mixed bag, resulting in bills that both increased and decreased information available under the Freedom of Information Act.

    According to Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the session saw fewer FOIA-related bills than in past years. Even so, the group stayed busy opposing legislation that Rhyne said would keep important information from the public.

    She said one such bill was HB 1678, which would have allowed information on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to be withheld from mandatory disclosure under FOIA. The bill cleared the House of Delegates but was ultimately defeated in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee.

    Rhyne said the “most concerning” bill this legislative session was HB 2043, which would have made the release of the names of police officers involved in police shooting investigations a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    The bill, sponsored by Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, was narrowly approved by the House General Laws Committee. However, Miller withdrew the measure when it reached the House floor.

    Many FOIA-related bills did make it through the General Assembly.

    Rhyne was glad to see SB 1102 pass both the House and Senate. It would require that records of “unattended deaths” – in which the dead person is not found for several days or weeks – be accessible to family members of the victims involved.

    According to Rhyne, “unattended deaths” usually end up being police-confirmed suicides. Under a current FOIA exemption, family members of the deceased can be denied access to the records in the case.

    “Now police will have to give families that information instead of using the exemption that allows them to withhold investigative records,” Rhyne said.

    To Rhyne, this reflects a greater awareness among lawmakers about openness in government. “I don’t know that we would have seen that kind of incremental change five years ago,” she said.

    The 2017 General Assembly also passed bills requiring a list of FOIA officers to be available online, clarifying where minutes from public meetings should be posted and requiring the Freedom of Information Advisory Council to develop an online form that allows the public to comment on the quality of assistance from that agency.

    At the same time, several bills were passed that will result in less access to information under FOIA, Rhyne said. They include HB 1587, which would create a FOIA exemption for engineering and construction plans for single-family homes except when requested by the home’s applicant.

    Legislators also passed HB 1971, which would allow government agencies to withhold information on investigations into cases of child abuse, neglect or assault.

    And SB 1226 would create a FOIA exemption for certain records when a government agency contracts for solar photovoltaic services or buys solar power equipment. The business involved could specify that certain documents are proprietary information or trade secrets, and they would be exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA.

    Those bills now go to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for approval.

    Other bills that would have opened government to more disclosure failed in the General Assembly. For example, HB 2401, which would have required public bodies to take minutes and make audio recordings of closed meetings, died in the House General Laws Committee.

    Although this was a low-key session for bills concerning open government, Rhyne is optimistic for the future.

    “It has been encouraging to see a growing number of legislators introducing access-friendly bills and also getting good votes on some of these bills,” she said.

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  68. Some female hunters have sights set on pink camo

    By Jessica Samuels, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Cassie Crouch of Bedford, Virginia, started hunting when she met the man whom she later would marry. “It was one of our first dates,” she said. In 2010, Crouch and her husband Daniel even celebrated their wedding anniversary by hunting wild hogs.

    Crouch, who uses a variety of guns as well as a bow and arrow, likes the fact that hunters soon may have a choice of colors for their hunting safety apparel: Hunters would be able to wear bright pink, instead of being limited to blaze orange, under a bill approved by the General Assembly during its recent session.

    Another female hunter – Amanda Bailey of Tazewell County – also is looking forward to the new law.

    “I would love having the option of wearing pink camouflage or orange,” said Bailey, who hunts deer, elk, coyotes and bear and uses a variety of firearms.

    Crouch and Bailey are among a number of female hunters hoping Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs HB 1939into law. If he does, the bill – which was approved unanimously by the House of Delegates and 35-5 by the Senate – will take effect July 1.

    HB 1939, sponsored by Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, states that “every hunter and every person accompanying a hunter shall (i) wear a blaze orange or blaze pink hat … or blaze orange or blaze pink upper body clothing, that is visible from 360 degrees or (ii) display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or blaze pink material at shoulder level within body reach visible from 360 degrees.”

    Many female hunters and stores that cater to them already have been considering pink as a camo option. It’s all part of an effort to give women a choice of colors to wear out in the field. Retailers have begun marketing hoodies, hats and T-shirts for hunters – all in pink.

    Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, is among the legislators who voted for the bill.

    “My fellow House members who support the addition of blaze pink to be approved hunting clothing explained that blaze pink is more readily seen at a distance than the traditional hunter’s orange,” Kory said. “Therefore, I supported HB 1939.”

    Virginia is not the only state offering blaze pink as a substitute for blaze orange for hunters. Wisconsin was the first, and since then, New York, Colorado and Louisiana have followed suit.

    Some believe that the color option will draw more women to hunting. About 13,000 women currently are registered to hunt in Virginia.

    While some women see the new law as a fashion statement, other female hunters prefer blaze orange to blaze pink.

    Tamala Doup, who lives in Midlothian, has been hunting most of her life. She killed her first deer at age 11. Doup hunts every year between November and beginning of January, using a black powder rifle.

    “I personally prefer the blaze orange from a safety aspect,” Doup said. “It seems much brighter and easily recognizable in the woods, especially in dense areas.”

    Doup has another reason for preferring orange over pink: She is colorblind. Experts say colorblind people may have more trouble seeing pink than seeing orange.

    “That bright blaze orange is better for me, personally,” Doup said. “It’s all about safety, not fashion.”


  69. Greensville/ Emporia Jr. 4-H Summer Camp - Let your child become part of the tradition!

    What is the best thing to do when it is cold outside?  Plan for summer!  Greensville/ Emporia   4-H camp is the perfect way for your child to have a new, exciting experience this summer while making friends that will last a lifetime.  The 2017 Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp will be held July 10 – 14th at the beautiful Airfield 4-H Educational Center in Wakefield, VA.  A variety of camp classes, afternoon activities, and special evening programs are great fun for all youth. Camp class examples include swimming, archery, riflery, arts and crafts, canoeing, nature, cooking, fishing, leather craft, sports, theater arts, climbing wall, high ropes and much more!

    Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp is open to all youth 9-13 years that are residents of Greensville/ Emporia.The cost of camp is $220 for the first child, $215 for a second child, and $200 for each additional child. Scholarship applications are available upon request at time of registration.

    To register for camp, we are having a one-day sign-up this year.  The 2017 Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp Sign-up Day will be Saturday, March 18, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office in Emporia, VA.  A non-refundable $40.00 deposit is due the day of camp sign-up. We accept cash in the exact amount (we do not keep change in the office), check, and money orders. We are not able to accept debit or credit cards.  4-H Camp Sign-up will continue until camp is full or 12:00 p.m. that day on a first come first serve basis. There will be a $15.00 credit towards your child’s camp balance to the first 15 campers to register on sign-up day!!!

    Please contact the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office for further information or to request a brochure for more information (434) 348-4223 or .

    4-H Camp would not be possible without the help of adult volunteers.  There is no cost for an adult volunteer to attend camp, just the completion of camp training.   This is a great way to share this experience with your child!

    If interested In Becoming an Adult Volunteer, contact the Extension Office for an application.

    If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in the 2017 4-H Camp, please contact Drexel W. Pierce, Jr. at the Extension Office no later than two weeks prior to the date assistance is needed.  Our office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

    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,  Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg

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  70. SVCC Grads Cool Job Helps Others

    Saving lives and helping the sick and injured is a cool way to spend your working days.  Being an emergency room physician is the cool choice for Michael Cieslinski who started his higher education path at Southside Virginia Community College. 

    A native of Gasburg, Virginia, Ciesllnski graduated from Brunswick Academy before coming to SVCC where received an associate’s degree in general studies/science.  Cieslinski then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, graduated from VCU Medical School and also, received a Post Baccalaureate certificate in anatomy and neurobiology. He is doing his Emergency Medicine Residency through East Carolina University and at Vidant Medical Center.

    This year, he will return to Southside Virginia to work as an Emergency Physician at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center in Emporia.

    “SVCC is such a great community of teachers and learners.  The faculty really seem to love what they do and pass that love of learning on to their students,” he said.

    Coming to SVCC directly from service in the United States Marine Corps, he notes that he had no clear direction for his future and is thankful to faculty members who helped him define his course.  He noted Susan Slayton, Sharon Freeman and Shanley Dorin as mentors.

    “Enjoy the journey,” are his words of advice.  Cieslinski said that he left SVCC to pursue a degree in economics and ended up in medicine.  He says it was definitely a long and circuitous route but he would not change it for anything.

    “Embrace your failures and your critics,” he said.  “I’ve learned more from the times I messed than ever from the times I ‘got it right’.”

    His only F grade in college was received at SVCC from Teresa Hudson in Calculus. 

    He notes, “I thought I could float through the course and floated my way to an F.  I learned a hard lesson about my limitations, how to expand them and also, received a healthy dose of humility.”

    Through his many experiences in life, Cieslinksi has formulated an outlook that encompasses empathy, happiness and health.

    He said, “Empathize, be kind, be happy, be healthy.  You don’t have to work in an emergency room to know that no one gets out of this life alive.  What I have learned is, the life we lead is both fragile and unpredictable.  Entire families can be broken up at the drop of a hat; lost to violence, car accidents, drugs, random acts of nature, bad health and chance.”

    He reminds us to make healthy decisions and be a blessing to others, quite a cool prescription for living.

    For information about SVCC,

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  71. 7th Annual Women’s Conference Planned

    Williamsburg, VA.  Friday, March 24 and Saturday March 25, Walk In It, Inc. will be hosting the 7th Annual Women’s Conference at the Doubletree by Hilton in Williamsburg, VA.

    The theme for the 7th annual Women’s Conference is “Walking In Your New Thing” taken from Isaiah 43:19. Women of faith will gather together to fellowship, be empowered and learn to unapologetically walk in all that has been ordained for their lives. Special speakers and presenters include Rev. Pamela McLaughlin, Pastor Kim White, Rev. Charla Armstead, and Karen Portman.

    Registration is $60 and includes Friday comedy night, buffet luncheon, conference materials, and 5 dynamic sessions. Registration can be completed at Special hotel rates apply and can be accessed by emailing

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  72. Programs bridge gender gap in male-dominated STEM careers

    By Alexa Nash, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – Kathryn Duda, a third-year computer engineering student at Virginia Commonwealth University, walked into the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) lab her first year and sat down next to a male student working on a project. She was curious and wanted to know what he was doing.

    “I walked in there, and it was like he was intimidated by my female presence,” Duda said.

    This kind of interaction is not uncommon; women are chronically underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, especially in computer science and engineering. According to a 2016 study by the National Science Board, 29 percent of women in the workforce are in STEM careers. Of that percentage, 15 percent are engineers and 25 percent are computer scientists or mathematicians. However, local schools are making progress to promote gender equality in STEM fields.

    Duda and her classmate Hiba Nabi, a third-year electrical engineering major, are aware of their minority status, and they say academic and social challenges arise when they could be the only females in the room.

    “More women doubt themselves going into STEM areas,” Nabi said. Electrical and computer engineering, Duda and Nabi said, are majors within the school that has a low number of females in comparison to others.

    “When I say I’m doing electrical, I get more looks than if I had said I’m doing biomedical engineering,” Nabi said.

    This disconnect within STEM-related fields is felt even before women reach college. Dr. Terrie Hale Scheckelhoff, Head of School at St. Catherine’s Schoolin Richmond, saw the underrepresentation of women in STEM as a great disadvantage to society due to untapped potential.

    “The world in the past has not been as focused in science, technology, engineering and math, and we’re realizing that’s such a lost opportunity,” Scheckelhoff said. “For young women who haven’t had the skill development and deep exposure to STEM, it could cause them to be discounted out of lots of career options; it could cause them to not be able to fully utilize the many tools available to them beyond college and in life.”

    Scheckelhoff spearheaded the all-girls Episcopal school’s STEM-centered curriculum from junior kindergarten through 12th grade. Research by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools show that three times as many graduates from single-sex schools plan to become engineers, and 48 percent of alumnae say they are great at math as opposed to 37 percent from co-ed schools.

    “When we teach science, technology, engineering or math, we are looking at through the lens of women,” Scheckelhoff said. “Women tend to want to understand its relevancy more. It’s helpful if you have female role models, either in person or in the books they read about them, or the stories they hear.” This teaching style promotes confidence in the students’ abilities to pursue STEM careers to supplement the underrepresentation of women in the workforce.

    A new independent public school in Richmond is testing a model for STEM education. CodeRVA High School is the result of a need to build a workforce in computer science and technology in the Richmond region. It’s an open, project-based, in-class and online learning environment that focuses on mastery of skills as opposed to grades.

    Director Michael Bolling said that gender, race and socioeconomic diversity is emphasized when selecting the students for admission. As of Feb. 22, there are 631 applications for 91 spots in the first ninth and 10th grade class. Of those 631, approximately 30 percent were female. Bolling said that CodeRVA will admit a higher percentage of that 30 percent to promote equality in the student population.

    “What we’ll do is set a goal for year one, two, three, four, so that by the time we’re at full capacity, we’ll have a ratio that’s representative of the Richmond region which would be 50/50,” Bolling said.

    CodeRVA will work on a multimedia campaign directed toward girls to encourage them to apply. However, the students will inspire final decisions about the marketing campaign approach.

    “I’m going to let my female students tell me what we need to do,” Bolling said. He hopes to partner with organizations like Women Who Codeto show the female students that they can be successful in a STEM field, as well as have mentors that share their experiences.

    Mentorship and support from other females in STEM careers have repeatedly been cited as important factors from those in the community.

    “You look for people who are like you and can share your experience,” Duda said. “Seeing that the stereotypes aren’t true and that could be me.”

    Biases and stereotypes, Duda said, discourage women from attempting a career like computer or electrical engineering. Ideas that women are inferior to men and individuals that assume STEM careers are anti-social are two stereotypes that Duda and Nabi said are the most common. Bringing awareness to those false generalizations in and outside of the classroom, they said, would be the first step in changing the dialogue.

    “People are like, ‘Oh, so you’re going to sit behind a screen and program’ and I’m like no, no, no, I understand the theory of electronics, but I’m going to go out and work on this car, and I’m going to interact with people,” Duda said. “Pull some of the gender out of academics and make it into what it is.”

    Dr. Lorraine Parker, director of diversity and student programs at VCU, is also committed to changing the dialogue. She saw the need for a community in which the women in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering could feel comfortable, so she began VINE: Vertically Integrated Network of Engineers. It’s a group of women from each major comprised of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors who meet once a month for complimentary coffee to talk about their academic and social lives. This gives the women a chance to connect with others in their field.

    The dean of the School of Engineering, Dr. Barbara Boyan, forged the initiative for diversity and inclusion. It includes educating faculty on unconscious biases and stereotypes to reduce them in the classroom. Parker said that VCU is lucky to have Boyan as a leader for promoting gender equality in STEM education.

    “We’ve had talks with faculty and said, if you get teams doing stuff in your class for projects and one is all girls, don’t say, ‘come on girls, show them you can do it,’ which they think is encouragement. But what they’ve really done is triggered this subconscious bias that they’re not supposed to do as well,” Parker said. “The women tend to believe it, which is silly, because they’re the ones doing it.”

    Showing the women that they belong in their respective disciplines through peer and professional support is key to pushing them forward into the workplace. Studies have shown that women perform just as well on math tests as men, but once they have to identify their gender, they tend to perform worse. The process to change that mentality begins in the home.

    “Expose [girls] to a variety of things when they’re young,” Duda said. “Show them that if they’re interested in something, encourage it. If you hear them say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that because I’m …,’ say, ‘No, of course you can. Of course you can.’”

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  73. Most House bills die on unrecorded votes

    By Jesse Adcock, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – During the recently concluded legislative session, three bills to increase the minimum wagein Virginia died in the House Labor and Commerce Committee. Want to know who voted for or against the measures? Sorry; the votes went unrecorded.

    A billrequiring transgender people to use the restroom for the sex on their birth certificate died in the House General Laws Committee. Want to know who voted for or against it? No luck; those votes weren’t recorded, either.

    A billprohibiting politicians from converting their campaign funds for personal use died in the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Want to know who voted for or against it? Forget it; that bill was killed on an unrecorded voice vote, too.

    Of the 571 House bills that failed during the session, more than two-thirds were anonymously killed on voice votes in subcommittees that went unrecorded, according to data from the Legislative Information System, the General Assembly’s official recordkeeping arm. Proponents of open government say the lack of transparency muddies the waters of Virginia’s democracy.

    “For a final disposition on a vote, it is crucial they be recorded,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

    People elect their representatives based on how politicians stand on issues vital to voters’ interests, Rhyne said. If they can’t see how public officials have voted on an issue, citizens can’t accurately choose their representatives, she added.

    Delegates have said in the pastthat using voice votes keeps the legislative process moving quickly and lessens the burden on lawmakers.

    Rhyne disputed that notion. “I really don’t see that with electronic voting measures and small committees,” she said. “It doesn’t hold water.”

    Unlike the House, votes by Senate panels are generally recorded.

    LIS data showed that 1,086 bills were filed by members of the House for consideration during the legislative session that ran from Jan. 11 through Feb. 25. Of the total, 515 bills passed and 571 failed. Of the failed bills, 390 died on unrecorded voice votes, according to LIS data.

    In addition, at least 20 other House bills were simply ignored this session. These measures were assigned to committees, but the panels did not hold hearings on them. As a result, the bills were left in their committees without a vote.

    They included a bill to repeal Virginia’s legal prohibitions against same sex-marriage(because they are no longer valid in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling), as well as bills to expandand to restrict abortion rights.

    Republican Del. Benjamin Cline of Rockbridge introduced a bill during this session that would have required every bill, budget amendment and resolution to receive a recorded vote. It died in the House Rules Committee – on an unrecorded vote. In 2016, a similar proposal by Cline met the same fate.

    House officials say both Democrats and Republicans have supported the system of unrecorded votes in subcommittees.

    “It only takes two members to request a recorded vote,” said Christopher West, policy and communications director for House Speaker William Howell and the House Republican leadership. “Based on the ratio that’s set up, there’s almost always two Democrats on a subcommittee.”

    West added that when a subcommittee tables or strikes a bill, it is only a suggestion to its parent committee. The full committee can consider any piece of legislation killed in subcommittee.

    “The reason we do it is because it doesn’t take final action on the bill,” West said.

    On last day of the 2017 session, 85 delegates and senators – members of the Virginia Transparency Caucus – signed a letterseeking more accountability throughout the legislative process.

    “The vast majority of debates and decisions determining how bills are crafted occurs in Committee or Subcommittee. Indeed, more than half of all bills die there,” Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, a co-founder of the caucus, said in the letter. “Constituents have a right to know how and why bills they support or oppose ultimately met their fate.”

    The caucus sent the letter to the clerks of the House and Senate as the state is preparing to tear down and replace the decrepit General Assembly Building. The letter asked that “the new General Assembly Building (and, if possible, the interim Pocahontas Building) maintain full audio and visual recording capability, as well as transparent vote recording machines for all Committee and Subcommittee hearings rooms in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.”

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  74. Frances Gay Mountjoy

    Frances Gay Mountjoy, 52, of Emporia, passed away Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017. She is survived by her husband, Bobby Mountjoy; son, Matt Mountjoy; two grandchildren, Morgan and Colin Mountjoy; her mother, Irene Bass; two brothers, Bubba Gay and Jamie Gay; three sisters, Jean Moss, Marie Lee and Alice Diehm and a number of nieces and nephews. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Thursday, March 2 at Victory Fellowship Church with interment to follow at Round Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at church one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be made to Victory Fellowship Church, 200 South Main St., Emporia, Virginia 23847. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

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  75. The Improvement Association Honors Famous Americans

    Zyric Gibbons shared his presentation on Ray Charles during the parent meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church.

    Head Start students and their parents were asked to select a “Famous American” and prepare a presentation to be shared during February’s parent meetings. Children and parents throughout the agency’s 15 Head Start centers are participating in the presentations. Alexis Harris and her father Antwuan Harris share a presentation on Kanye West and his daughter North West during the parent meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church while Zyric Gibbons shared his presentation on Ray Charles. Other famous Americans included Barrack Obama, Rosa Parks, Jay-Z, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Garret Morgan.

    Head Start is now recruiting for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information, contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, or Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist at 434-634-2490.

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  76. Dominion Invests in Virginia’s Community Colleges to Train Workers for Emerging Solar/Renewables Industries

    ~Funds support solar/renewable workforce development at seven community colleges~

    Richmond, Va. – Virginia’s Community Colleges are creating and expanding training programs for those seeking careers in renewable energy, thanks in part to a grant of $150,000 from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Virginia Power.

    The grant to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, or VFCCE, is helping seven community colleges fund new energy labs and equipment, allowing them to offer solar panel technician training and other renewable energy courses. The community colleges benefitting from the initiative are John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Virginia Highlands, Mountain Empire, Southside Virginia and Central Virginia. 

    Virginia aspires to be a leader in solar produced power, but needs to bolster its solar workforce to leverage significant investments being made in the sector. Installing and maintaining solar panels for solar farms, residential communities, commercial developments and other structures will require more skilled workers. 

    “Virginia can’t afford to miss out on a growing industry like solar energy because our workforce lacks the training and skills to seize the opportunity,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We are delighted to work with Dominion to prepare the next generation of solar workers – another big example of our efforts to meet the needs of Virginia’s business community to help grow the Commonwealth’s economy.” 

    Virginia currently ranks 30th in the nation for solar energy production, but many companies, including Dominion Virginia Power, are forging ahead to add solar energy to the grid. Dominion is committed to developing 400 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. It currently has 398 megawatts of large-scale solar facilities (enough to power 95,000 homes) under development or in operation in 12 Virginia localities. In January, the company completed three large-scale solar farms that employed 550 workers during construction. 

    “Virginia’s community colleges are uniquely positioned to provide the training for skilled workers in renewable energy fields,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Foundation. “We are excited to support these initiatives that will help boost job growth in Virginia.”

    This workforce development project started in 2016. It will grow in 2017 to expand the curriculum to all community colleges that offer energy programs. The curriculum will also support expansion of energy programs at high schools through dual enrollment and usage of mobile solar labs.

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  77. Virginia Housing Development Authority Homeownership Workshop Offered in Emporia

    VHDA’s Home Ownership Education Workshop will be offered Monday, April 10th and Tuesday, April 11th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office located at 105 Oak Street, Emporia. Participants must attend both sessions in order to receive a certificate of completion.

    The workshop is free and being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Greensville/Emporia Office and the Emporia- Greensville Financial Literacy Coalition. It is aimed at first-time homebuyers who are financially ready to become homeowners. The workshop covers the educational requirement for a VHDA mortgage and it may also count as first-time home buyer education for other loan programs.

    Topics to be covered in this six-hour workshop include: Personal Finances, Credit and Credit Issues, Working with a Realtor, Role of the Lender, Loan Closing and the Home Inspection. Space is limited and registration is required. Please contact the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at 434-348-4233 by Monday, April 3rd to register. You may also register online at A minimum of 5 participants must be registered for class to be conducted.

    If you are a person with a disability and require assistance or accommodation to participate in this program, please call the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at 434-348-4233 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at least five days prior to this 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.

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  78. Feild Family Visits Jackson-Feild

    Ninety eight years ago Mr. & Mrs. George W. Feild donated their ancestral home, Walnut Grove, to Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services.  It was the dream of Mr. & Mrs. Feild to help girls with no home. They had lost a daughter in her infancy and made the gift of their home to help orphan girls.

    Their generosity is and has been an inspiration to countless others to help children who have obstacles to overcome.

    Members of the Feild family recently visited the campus. Beth Feild, her parents and children traveled to the campus and Grace Church. Beth is a former board member and hopes to re-join the Board of Directors. Her parents have visited many times over the years but it was the first time her children had visited the campus.

    They met with Tricia Delano, CEO, and had lunch with the children.  The staff were thrilled to have members of the Feild family on campus and shared information about how they were helping boys and girls with emotional disorders.

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  79. Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces January 2017 Employee of the Month

    Emporia, VA – Clint Paseos, RNhas been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2017.  Mr. Paseos, who works in SVRMC’s Behavioral Health Unit, has been employed at SVRMC since December 2015.

    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 Co-Workers.  Mr. Paseos’ nomination included the following statement: “Clint always treats his peers and co-workers with respect and courtesy. He is kind and honest in all his interactions and is willing to do whatever is best for the Behavioral Health Unit, his patients, and his co-workers. An outstanding example of his commitment was shown most recently when Clint came in to cover a shift during the snow storm, although he was not scheduled to work.  That example shows a commitment, not only to his job, but also to those he works with every day.”

    As SVRMC’s January Employee of the Month, Mr. Paseos received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cake to share with his co-workers, a cash award, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2017 Employee of the Year.

    Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is an 80-bed, acute-care facility located at 727 N. Main Street in Emporia, VA. With a medical staff of more than 70 physicians representing over 25 specialties, SVRMC serves nearly 50,000 residents in Emporia and the surrounding communities. The medical center is conveniently located near Interstate 95, Hwy 58 and Hwy 301. For more information about SVRMC and the services it provides, please visit

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  80. Ellen Templeton Joins the Crater SBDC

    Ellen Templeton, new director of the Crater Small Business Development Center of Longwood University, believes her job is all about being positive.

    “When you work with small businesses, you have to smile,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is contagious.”

    Working as an economic developer for ten years in Hampton, Templeton often countered negative comments like, “There’s too much traffic here,” with her own take. “That’s because a lot of people want to be here,” she said. “That’s an example of how to look for the positive in a community.”

    Director of Crater SBDC since November, Templeton is well suited for the job. She started her career in commercial real estate before moving on to a Virginia Economic Development Partnership job in Richmond. She later started her own insurance company.

    “Throughout my career, I found that I gravitated toward small businesses,” she said. “When you work with big businesses, you help to create jobs but never have a chance to interact on a day-to-day level. Working with small businesses is more personal — you really get to see and feel that impact.”

    Another facet of Templeton’s positive approach is seeing each community’s uniqueness. Crater SBDC covers Colonial Heights, Emporia, Greenville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George County, Surry and Sussex.

    “Every one of these communities is fabulous,” Templeton said. She is currently meeting with Chamber of Commerce and economic development officials in each area. “I see them as our partners and allies — our goals are the same.”

    Templeton has compiled some tips for new and existing clients; these are three she considers important:

    #1 Learn before you leap

    Have knowledge about what you want to do. If you want to be an artist and can’t draw stick people, that might be a problem. Templeton’s experience as a small business owner is a valuable tool in advising clients. “Talking about a business and doing it were two very different things,” she said. “A business plan serves as a guidebook, but there are things only experience will teach you.”

    #2 Love what you do

    Passion is important for any small business owner. “If you lack passion, you’re going to do just what you have to do,” she said. “Then it becomes work — it shouldn’t be that way!”

    #3 Honesty’s the best policy

    “If someone tells me they don’t want to invest the time to make a business plan, I ask them, ‘Then why do you want to invest this money?’ It’s not fair to mislead clients. I love their excitement, but we’re here to help them succeed.”

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  81. Richmond Film Festival kicks off with musical acts

    By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – With an electric six-string cellist and an orchestra playing a fusion of classical-jazz and hip-hop, the sixth annual Richmond International Film Festival kicked off and will run through Sunday, featuring more than 150 films from more than 35 countries as well as more than 50 bands and other musical performers.

    The diverse lineup and competitive nature evoke the South by Southwest festival that will be held next week in Austin, Texas. Heather Waters, founder and producer of the Richmond event, says this year is different from the past. In its premiere, the festival featured only 15 films. This week, it will show 10 times as many and offer a full range of musical acts.

    “This is the year I decided to go full blown with the music festival side,” Waters said.

    Waters has performed in film and music since she was a child in Nashville, Tennessee. When she moved to Richmond seven years ago, she noticed that the city lacked a competitive film festival, such as Sundance in Utah. As a member of the Virginia Producers Association, which has brought film productions such as “Lincoln” to the commonwealth, Waters wanted to help showcase Richmond’s talent.

    “I absolutely love working with other creatives and promoting them, developing them, so really I was inspired by that,” Waters said. “Richmond has so many things going for it. This is something that can help really support the development of artists here and economic development through tourism.”

    Waters isn’t the only one looking forward to working with other artists.

    In a crescendo of heavy beats and brasswind notes, Ryan Easter rapped along with the other members of the Trap Music Orchestra for their debut in Richmond. The performance was the festival’s opening act on Monday night.

    “We’re incredibly excited,” Easter said. “It felt cool to do a musical act in a space that doesn’t entirely focus on music – to really get a better feel of what the community of the arts is like in Richmond.”

    Events are being held all over the city at locations such as the Byrd Theatre, Bow Tie Movieland at Boulevard Square and The Broadberry. Most events are open to the public and range from professionally led workshops to live music.

    Tuesday was the premiere of “The Last Punch,” a film based on the last fight of Muhammad Ali. The director, Jesse Vaughan, held a workshop before the film. Karon Riley, the actor who plays Muhammad Ali, also was at the festival.

    On Wednesday evening, Smoothe da Hustler and Trigger tha Gambler will perform at the Broadberry. Smoothe just finished a feature film with fellow rapper and actor Ice-T. Waters said Smoothe is coming to Richmond to complete the soundtrack to the film, which includes hit artists like Jay-Z and Beyonce.

    French actress Irene Jacob will be in Richmond to attend the Thursday screening of the film “Tales of Mexico,” in which she stars. That evening, she will perform jazz with her brother, Francis Jacob, at the Hofheimer Building in Scott’s Addition.

    Friday evening is the VIP Gala at the Hofheimer. The late-night party will have musical performances by hip-hop musicians from the U.S. and internationally. Despite the exclusivity implied by the event’s name, the general public can buy tickets to the Gala.

    On Saturday, the Byrd Theatre will host “Women in Film Spotlight,” featuring three short films by female directors. “‘Year of the woman’ is a theme we are wrapping into some of our events,” Waters said.

    On Sunday, the festival will end with a Red Carpet Awards Ceremony. Awards will be given to films, filmmakers and musicians.

    Like South by Southwest, the Richmond International Film Festival is competitive. Unlike curated film festivals, all movies and music must be submitted to be featured. Then at the festival, all films and performances compete for honors. Some of the winners are selected by the audience and others by a jury of professionals.

    Tickets can be purchased online at Prices generally range from $10 to $15 for tickets to individual events and $25 to $400 for multiple-event access passes. While most of the events are open to the public, some are exclusive to filmmakers, musicians, full-access pass holders or VIP pass members.

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  82. Legislative highlights: What passed and what didn’t

    By Haley Winn, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND – During their 46-day session, the Virginia General Assembly passed 880 bills and myriad resolutions ranging from constitutional amendments to the designation of Taekwondo Day. Many more pieces of legislation were tossed out before lawmakers adjourned on Saturday. Here are some key issues and laws that legislators addressed in 2017.

    Bills that passed and are likely to become law:

    Airbnb Regulation

    SB 1578 would require most people renting out their homes on short-term rental sites, like Airbnb, to pay a registration fee in an attempt to regulate these rentals. Failure to do so would result in a fine.

    Alcohol Sales

    HB 1842will allow the state’s ABC stores to sell 151-proof grain alcohol, increasing the proof from 101. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law last week. Like most legislation, it will take effect July 1.

    Birth Control

    HB 2267would allow doctors to prescribe women 12 months’ worth of contraceptives.

    Driver’s License Suspension for Possession of Marijuana

    HB 2051, SB 784and SB 1091would revoke the current law requiring a six-month suspension of a driver’s license when a person is convicted of marijuana possession. While adults would no longer face that punishment, juveniles will still be subject to license suspension.

    Laser Hair Removal Regulation

    HB 2119would limit the practice of laser hair removal to someone under the supervision of a doctor or trained health professional. Virginia and New York are currently the only two states that allow non-licensed professionals to perform laser hair removal.


    Several bills created to fight against opioid abuse and fatal overdoses were passed. HB 2165will mandate all opioid prescriptions be electronically submitted to pharmacies, while two other bills call for community organization training to treat opioid overdoses.

    Bills that failed:

    Animal Tethering

    HB 1802and HB 1877would have created laws involving how long and when an animal could be tethered outside. HB 1802 would have made tethering a criminal offense.

    Electoral College

    HB 1425and SB 837would have allocated Virginia’s electoral votes in presidential races by congressional district.

    Felon’s Voting Rights

    SJR 223would have required convicted felons to pay restitution before they were allowed to vote again. The restitutions would have included the fines and charges associated with their charges.

    Hunting Dogs

    HB 1900would require hunters to pay a fine if their dog trespasses on private property.

    Marijuana Bills

    Bills allowing the use of marijuana in Virginia failed. HB 1906, SB 908 and SB 1269called for the decriminalization of simple possession, while HB 1637, HB 2135, SB 841, SB 1298and SB 1452involved the legalization of medical marijuana.

    Minimum Wage Legislation

    Five bills were killed early on in the session that would have increased the minimum wage in Virginia.


    Several bills calling for redistricting in an attempt to end gerrymandering were killed.

    School Calendar

    HB 1983 would have ended a rule nicknamed the “Kings Dominion Law,” which requires schools to start classes after Labor Day unless they get a waiver from the Virginia Department of Education. SB 1111 attempted to expand the reasons districts could apply for the waiver.

    School Suspensions

    Bills such as HB 1534 and SB 995 would have limited schools’ use of long-term suspensions to punish students. HB 1536 would have prohibited students in preschool through grade three from being suspended for more than five school days or being expelled except for serious crimes.

    Bills that passed but have been (or may be) vetoed:

    Anti-Sanctuary Bill

    HB 2000would prohibit local governments from designating themselves as “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants. The bill says localities cannot adopt ordinances that would restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

    Coal Tax

    Identical bills HB 2198and SB 1470would have reinstated the Virginia coal employment and production incentive tax credit. It was vetoed for the third year in a row.

    Explicit School Materials

    The governor plans to veto a bill (HB 2191) that would require parental notification before explicit material was shown in classrooms.


    McAuliffe has vetoed HB 1582, which sought to allow active duty or discharged military service members between the ages of 18 and 20 to apply for a handgun permit.

    Planned Parenthood Defunding

    The governor vetoed HB 2264, which called for defunding Planned Parenthood. The House tried to override the veto but failed because an override requires a two-thirds majority.

    Religious Freedom/Solemnization of Marriage bill

    HB 2025and SB 1324would protect religious organizations and ministers who refuse to marry same-sex couples, stating that no person should be required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage.

    Tebow Bill

    HB 1578, already vetoed by McAuliffe, would have allowed home-schooled students to play sports at their local public high school.


    Bills that passed but the governor may want to amend

    Fines for “Left-Lane Bandits”

    HB 1725would impose a fine on drivers going too slowly in the left lane. The bill suggested a $250 fine; McAuliffe suggested making it to $100.

    State Budget

    HB 1500revised the state budget for 2016-18. It closes a budget shortfall, increases funding for education and gives pay raises to state employees, teachers and law enforcement officers. McAuliffe praised legislators for doing that but said, “I remain concerned that the state budget includes no additional funding to provide local and regional jails with the tools and training to perform mental health screenings and assessments.”

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