October 2020

  1. Voters worry about voter suppression despite recent legislative changes

    By Brandon Shillingford, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Despite the commonwealth recently passing a number of laws to make it easier to vote, some Virginians are concerned over voter suppression.

    Michael Fauntroy, an associate professor of political science at Howard University in Washington, said political campaigns have a long history of trying to suppress Black voters.

    “I think it happens in every election,” Fauntroy said. “The extent to how sophisticated an operation it is will depend on the sophistication of the campaign and the resources they have to go out and identify voters and try to discourage them from voting.” 

    Carlette Bailey, a Richmond resident, said she fears ballots will be lost, stolen, or disappear before they have a chance to be counted.

    “My main concern is the mail-in votes and making sure they're there on time,” Bailey said. “The votes have to come from our mailbox and be where they have to be on Election Day so they can be counted.”

    The Democratic Party of Virginia recently sued the Richmond General Registrar, J. Kirk Showalter, over an effort to get a list of names whose absentee ballots  were rejected because of ballot errors. The organization said they wanted to inform voters of the ballot errors and that other localities had provided similar lists.

    Tony Whitehead, another Richmond resident, said he is concerned about the possibility of ballots being stolen from mailboxes by groups who want the opposing party to win.

    In early October six outdoor mailboxes were broken into in Henrico and Chesterfield counties and Richmond. The United States Postal Service and Virginia Department of Elections are currently investigating the incident, but it is unknown if the mailboxes contained ballots. 

    “You can’t really point the finger as to who's doing it, but if my ballots are stolen, that's voter suppression right there,” Whitehead said. “That one vote that’s been suppressed could be the difference between who you want in office and who I want in office, and that's just not right.”

    Bailey and Whitehead are not alone. A number of Americans are concerned about their votes being accurately counted this election. Democrats are more concerned than Republicans, according to the Pew Research Center. Forty-six percent of Democrats believe the election will be conducted fairly and accurately, while 75% of Republicans share the same sentiment. 

    Fauntroy said Black voters in Virginia will be subjected to less suppression than Black voters in states such as Georgia and Florida with majority Republican leadership.

    “The Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, and other leadership in Virginia have been drawing enough attention to this that voters will know what's at stake,” Fauntroy said.

    The Virginia General Assembly has recently taken steps to make it easier to vote, including laws that allow no-excuse absentee voting, early voting that starts 45 days prior to an election and making Election Day a state holiday. 

    Legislators also passed a bill that repeals a 2013 Republican-backed law requiring a photo ID to vote. The new law also makes additional forms of identification acceptable, such as a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. 

    Fauntroy said that photo ID bills are an example of Black voter suppression.

    Fauntroy said voter suppression has occurred more frequently since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County V. Holder, which found part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. The decision struck down a formula that required certain states which had discriminatory laws, such as requiring tests to vote, to obtain federal approval before changing voting laws. 

    Fauntroy said that almost immediately after the ruling North Carolina moved forward with voter ID laws that would not have passed if the preclearance provisions had remained. 

    “In the 2014 elections, we saw a number of Republicans winning seats because of redrawn districts and voter ID laws that they would not have won,” he said.

    Fauntroy said national voter suppression in this election will be a multifaceted effort coming from different levels. This could include litigation, reducing the amount of early voting locations, and moving or eliminating polling locations that could make it harder for people of color to vote. 

    With no formula dictating which states obtain federal review, communities or individuals who feel they are being targeted by discriminatory voting laws must file lawsuits themselves or rely on ones filed by outside advocates or the Justice Department, according to an opinion piece in The Atlantic. This happens often after laws have been passed.

    Federal legislators have introduced bills to establish new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain federal approval before changing voting laws, but the measures haven’t advanced. 

    Local Majority, a progressive political action committee, said common voter suppression strategies include restricting absentee voting, reducing the number of polling places in a jurisdiction and disenfranchising citizens with past criminal records.

    A joint resolution introduced in the 2019 General Assembly session that would allow felons to vote was continued until the 2021 session.

    Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, noted that the challenges the country faces aren’t new. The fate of the country is on the line and with that, Black voters and voices matter now more than ever, McClellan said.

    “When we have gained social, political, and economic power, there has always been a swift and violent backlash, but we cannot and have not been deterred,” McClellan said. “We owe it to our ancestors, our children, and their children, to vote and help shape the future of our country because democracy and our very existence are on the ballot.”

  2. VDH Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers to Help Local Officials Encourage Safe Voting Practices on Election Day

    (RICHMOND, VA) – Hundreds of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers throughout the Commonwealth have volunteered with the state to help provide Election Day support for in-person voting during Virginia’s COVID-19 public health emergency. MRC volunteers will help local election officials safely conduct in-person voting in their communities by encouraging appropriate COVID-19 precautions.

    “We are very proud of Virginia’s residents who have volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic response. These trained and dedicated professionals have helped care for residents of nursing homes, tested people for COVID-19, worked countless hours at call centers and served in many other ways,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We recognize the importance of voting, and the MRC will be there to help protect the health of our residents exercising that important right at polling places.”

    Virginia Department of Health (VDH) State Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Freeland and MRC staff have been making plans for Election Day efforts since the spring. “The Governor’s Office activated the Virginia MRC to ensure that voters could vote safely during the elections in May.  Since then, MRC volunteers have eagerly stepped up to serve for early and in-person voting.  Our teams are prepared and ready to make the November Election Infection Prevention deployment a safe experience for voters and poll workers,” said Freeland.

    Statewide, 50 localities have asked for MRC assistance at more than 1,000 polling locations for Election Day, November 3. The Medical Reserve Corps expects to provide nearly 900 trained volunteers across the state to assist with the general election. Training has jointly been provided by the Virginia Department of Elections and VDH.

    MRC volunteers will staff local polling places to encourage voters to use masks and hand sanitizer and to help staff and voters remember to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. They are also trained to spot opportunities to reduce transmission of germs, such as keeping doors propped open where possible to minimize the number of surfaces voters may touch, increase area ventilation and to safely enter and exit the building. Tips for Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

    1. Make a plan. Visit the Virginia Department of Elections website for more information on options for voting in Virginia.
    2. Wear a cloth face covering/mask, if you are able, at all times while voting.
    3. Exercise proper social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet of separation from other voters and poll workers. Consider staying more than 6 feet away from people who are not wearing cloth face coverings.
    4. Practice good hygiene.
      1. Do not use physical greetings, such as handshaking.
      2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after voting. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
      3. Avoid touching your face and face covering.

    For more information, see the Vote Safely section of this web page.

  3. The issues guiding first-time Gen Z presidential voters

    By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- As Election Day draws near, people are on the edge of their seats, especially those voting in the presidential election for the first time. 

    Generation Z makes up 10% of eligible voters in the 2020 election, according to the Pew Research Center. This percentage is expected to continue to rise at the same rate as more Gen Zers become eligible to vote. Some of the oldest members of this generation became eligible to vote in the 2016 election. Anyone born between 1997 and 2012 is considered a member of Gen Z, according to Pew

    In addition to COVID-19, there are many issues motivating young voters to the polls. Gen Z voters say they’re concerned with police violence, prison reform, mental health issues, immigration and reproductive rights. 

    Millennials and members of Gen Z tend to be more liberal, even those who identify as or lean Republican, according to a 2018 Pew survey. This survey also says that 43% of Gen Z Republicans are “more likely than older generations of Republicans to say blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the U.S. today.”

    “Gen Zers are progressive and pro-government, most see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing, and they’re less likely than older generations to see the United States as superior to other nations,” the survey found. 

    Below are key concerns for Gen Z voters. 

    THE ISSUES

    Kendal Ferguson, a 20-year-old student studying criminology, law and society at George Mason University in Fairfax, cares about prison reform and combating police brutality. She wants all prisons to be government funded and said “private prisons are morally wrong” because they profit off people who break laws. 

    “As for police brutality, there definitely needs to be more training for officers,” Ferguson said.

    Selena Johnson, a 20-year-old student studying computer science at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, is concerned with police violence, reproductive rights and climate change.

    “I want to see some sort of regulation on the big companies that are contributing to like 70% of the world’s pollution,” she said. She believes that these companies should be “in the front of our minds” when combating climate change.

    The recent confirmation of Amy Coney Barret as a Supreme Court justice has drawn concern from pro-choice advocates due to her past comments on abortion. Johnson said that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned and police officers “need to face consequences for their actions.”

    Jessica Callahan, a 21-year-old Republican voter from Dinwiddie, said that Barrett is a “great fit” for her position on the Supreme Court due to her educational background at Notre Dame Law School. She also believes that more racial tension will inevitably come out of this election.

    “It’s going to be a bunch of name-calling and finger pointing until some sort of civil unrest occurs,” Callahan said. 

    Callahan is also worried about the future of healthcare in the U.S. if Democrats win the election, as well as Second Amendment rights. She thinks health care would “go down considerably” and that “they would push even harder for restrictions” on firearms. 

    Ada Ezeaputa, a 20-year-old student majoring in business at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, is passionate about ensuring abortion access and ending police brutality.

    “I don’t think the police need to be abolished, but I do think the whole system needs to be reformed,” she says. “When you look at countries like the U.K., their police officers don’t even carry weapons, so that already decreases the amount of incidents that happen all over the world.”

    In addition to police reform, she is pro-choice and believes that women should have full autonomy over their bodies.

    Alyssa Tyson, a 20-year-old recent graduate of Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, wants to protect personal freedoms and mental health care.

    “Mental health care is something that doesn’t get addressed a lot,” she said. “I think a lot of the problems we’re trying to address as a nation start with dealing with mental health issues and providing affordable or even free mental health care to people who need it.” 

    Tyson also said she is passionate about social justice issues, and that the government should not regulate reproductive rights or make laws that hinder LGBTQ rights.

    Emily Wrenn, a 20-year-old student majoring in psychology at Sweet Briar College in Amherst County, considers her political views to be liberal. Wrenn describes herself as pro-choice, and said the main issues she cares about are women’s rights and dismantling racism.

    “One of the biggest reasons why I am swaying more to the Democratic side is that I am very much in favor of women’s rights,” she said. “We need to make sure we are on the right track in seeing that women and men receive equal pay.”

    Wrenn also said that this is “the most debate on the quality of our president that I’ve ever seen,” and that “this is one of the most significant elections we’ve had in a long time.”

    THE IMPACT

    Despite the encouragement to vote, first-time, Gen Z voters are divided on whether they can sway the election.

    Johnson said she knows many people her age will vote third party or not at all because they are disinterested in either major presidential candidate, but she thinks the youngest generation of voters has a lot of power in this election.

    “I believe that we have the most diverse population of eligible voters in America’s history,” she said. “I’m voting for who I view as ‘the lesser of two evils,’ but many people my age don’t want to vote at all because the lesser of two evils is still an evil.”

    In 2016, young voters ages 18 to 29 were the only age group to report increased turnout compared to 2012, with a reported turnout increase of 1.1%, according to the U.S. Census. 

    Ferguson, however, doesn’t believe that Gen Z has the power to sway this election.

    “Our generation is still very apathetic about voting despite how vocal we are on social media and through other means,” Ferguson said. “I honestly think not a lot of people our age will bother to vote.”

    Wrenn, however, believes that Gen Z could help secure a Democratic win.

    “I think because we are so seemingly liberal that that will make a huge difference,” Wrenn said.

  4. Governor Northam Signs Sweeping New Laws to Reform Policing in Virginia

    Measures ban no-knock warrants, strengthen officer decertification process, limit use of neck restraints

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced he has signed new laws that will significantly advance police and criminal justice reform in Virginia. Governor Northam has been working closely with legislators on these measures since early summer, when the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor led to a national reckoning on racial bias in policing.

    “Too many families, in Virginia and across our nation, live in fear of being hurt or killed by police,” said Governor Northam. “These new laws represent a tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. I am grateful to the legislators and advocates who have worked so hard to make this change happen. Virginia is better, more just, and more equitable with these laws on our books.”

    Governor Northam took action on the following bills that reform policing:

    • Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 5030, sponsored by Senator Locke, omnibus police reform legislation, which incorporates a number of critical reform measures passed by the House of Delegates:
      • House Bill 5099, sponsored by Delegate Aird, prohibits law enforcement officers from seeking or executing a no-knock search warrant. With Governor Northam’s signature, Virginia becomes the third state in the nation to ban no-knock warrants.
      • House Bill 5049, sponsored by Delegate Helmer, reduces the militarization of police by prohibiting law enforcement from obtaining or using specified equipment, including grenades, weaponized aircraft, and high caliber firearms. Governor Northam amended this bill to clarify that law enforcement agencies can seek a waiver to use restricted equipment for search and rescue missions.
      • House Bill 5109, sponsored by Delegate Hope, creates statewide minimum training standards for law enforcement officers, including training on awareness of racism, the potential for biased profiling, and de-escalation techniques. Governor Northam made technical amendments to this bill to align it with Senate Bill 5030.
      • House Bill 5104, sponsored by Delegate Price, mandates law enforcement agencies and jails request the prior employment and disciplinary history of new hires.
      • House Bill 5108, sponsored by Delegate Guzman, expands and diversifies the Criminal Justice Services Board, ensuring that the perspectives of social justice leaders, people of color, and mental health providers are represented in the state’s criminal justice policymaking.
      • House Bill 5051, sponsored by Delegate Simon, strengthens the process by which law enforcement officers can be decertified and allows the Criminal Justice Services Board to initiate decertification proceedings.
      • House Bill 5069, sponsored by Delegate Carroll Foy, limits the circumstances in which law enforcement officers can use neck restraints.
      • House Bill 5029, sponsored by Delegate McQuinn, requires law enforcement officers intervene when they witness another officer engaging or attempting to engage in the use of excessive force.
      • House Bill 5045, sponsored by Delegate Delaney, makes it a Class 6 felony for law enforcement officers to “carnally know” someone they have arrested or detained, an inmate, parolee, probationer, pretrial defendant, or post trial offender, if the officer is in a position of authority over such individual.
    • Governor Northam signed House Bill 5055 and Senate Bill 5035, sponsored by Leader Herring and Senator Hashmi, respectively, which empower localities to create civilian law enforcement review boards. These new laws also permit civilian review boards the authority to issue subpoenas and make binding disciplinary decisions.
    • Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 5014, sponsored by Senator Edwards, which mandates the creation of minimum crisis intervention training standards and requires law enforcement officers complete crisis intervention training.

    Governor Northam also took action on the following bills that make Virginia’s criminal justice system more equitable:

    • Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 5018, sponsored by Senator Bell, which allows individuals serving a sentence for certain felony offenses who are terminally ill to petition the Parole Board for conditional release.
    • Governor Northam amended House Bill 5148 and Senate Bill 5034, sponsored by Delegate Scott and Senator Boysko, respectively, which allow for increased earned sentencing credits. The Governor proposed a six-month delay to give the Department of Corrections sufficient time to implement this program.

    “The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery woke Americans to a longstanding problem that has existed for generations—and we know Virginia is not immune,” said Senator Mamie Locke. “These are transformative bills that will make Virginians’ lives better, and I’m so proud to see them signed into law.”

    “Today is about progress,” said Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “After generations of work on this issue, we are finally taking steps to hold police accountable and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. It’s a new day in Virginia.”

    Governor Northam also signed measures to support COVID-19 relief. A full list of legislation signed by the Governor from the Special Session can be found here.

  5. Governor Northam Invites Small Businesses and Nonprofits to Apply for Up to $100,000 from Rebuild VA Grant Fund

    Program allotted additional $30 million, eligibility expanded

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Rebuild VA, a grant program to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, will expand eligibility criteria and increase the amount of grant money businesses receive.

    Rebuild VA launched in August with $70 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Governor Northam is directing an additional $30 million to support the expansion of the program. Businesses with less than $10 million in gross revenue or fewer than 250 employees will be eligible under the new criteria, and the maximum grant award will increase from $10,000 to $100,000.

    “We started Rebuild VA to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “These changes to the program will ensure that we can provide additional financial assistance to even more Virginians so they can weather this public health crisis and emerge stronger.” 

    Rebuild VA will now be open to all types of Virginia small businesses that meet size and other eligibility requirements, from restaurants and summer camps, to farmers and retail shops. Businesses that previously received a Rebuild VA grant will receive a second award correlated with the updated guidelines.

    Rebuild VA is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Eligible businesses and nonprofits must demonstrate that their normal operations were limited by Governor Northam’s Executive Orders Fifty-Three or Fifty-Five, or that they were directly impacted by the closure of such businesses. In September, the program expanded eligibility to supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the pandemic. 

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

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

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

     

  6. How Biden and Trump plan to face the COVID-19 pandemic

    By Anya Sczerzenie, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va.-- Both major presidential candidates hope to convince voters they have plans in place to protect the health of Americans and the economy as COVID-19 cases rise nationally. 

    As of Oct. 28, there have been almost 8.8 million total coronavirus cases in the United States and 176,754 in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past week, the country has reached a record high level of daily new cases, according to The New York Times.

    Candidates addressed their plans to address the COVID-19 crisis during the final presidential debate held earlier this month. President Donald Trump criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for wanting to “shut down the country” and said that a vaccine will come soon. 

    “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country,” Biden responded, adding that there need to be “standards,” or response protocols, in place for when rates increase in a community. 

    Below are more details on Trump and Biden’s plans for handling the pandemic. 

    Trump’s Plan

    Samantha Zager, Trump’s deputy national press secretary, said that the president’s administration will continue to respond to the virus as they have been.

    “When reelected, the President will continue his work on developing a vaccine to achieve his vision of a return to normal life and a roaring, post-COVID economy where all Virginians can achieve their version of the American Dream,” Zager wrote in an email. 

    Zager also criticized Biden’s proposed response to the virus.

    “Joe Biden has actively demeaned a coronavirus vaccine for political purposes, and he would surrender to the virus, hurting Virginia’s small businesses and families with another draconian shutdown of our economy,” Zager said. 

    Under Trump, Congress passed an over $2 trillion dollar coronavirus stimulus package—the CARES Act—that gave money to every eligible adult in the country, as well as small businesses and healthcare facilities. Legislators recently failed to advance another stimulus package. 

    Trump has stated that the U.S. is the world leader in testing, having performed 100 million COVID-19 tests. The U.S. however, does not have the highest number of tests per capita, which some health experts say is a more useful metric, according to PolitiFact, a fact checking project run by the nonprofit Poynter Institute.

     Trump said the U.S. has led the “largest mobilization since World War II” to combat the coronavirus and that no American who needed a ventilator has gone without one. Additionally, his administration has launched “Operation Warp Speed” to fast-track vaccine production. In July, Trump hoped to have 300 million doses of vaccines available by early 2021. The administration announced agreements just weeks before the election with CVS and Walgreens to provide COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities with no out-of-pocket costs.

    Trump has also stated that the U.S. will withdraw from the World Health Organization to hold the organization “accountable for mismanagement of the coronavirus.” 

    Biden’s Plan

    Biden's campaign did not answer direct questions but referred to the candidate’s website which outlines ways that Biden plans to fight the virus. If elected, his administration would “spend whatever it takes, without delay, to meet public health needs and deal with the mounting economic consequences.”

    He has accused Trump of having “no comprehensive plan” to curtail the pandemic that has killed over 225,000 Americans. Biden also said he backs the accelerated development of a vaccine, something that has also been a priority for Trump’s administration. 

    Biden promotes swift and aggressive action from the federal government to protect families, small businesses, first responders and caregivers. Biden said helping individuals and small businesses is essential. Corporations shouldn’t be bailed out. 

    Biden states that if elected he will make COVID-19 tests “widely available and free” by establishing at least 10 mobile testing sites per state and expanding programs which offer tests to people who may not know how to ask for a test, such as nursing home residents. He also plans to amend the Public Health Service Act and the Social Security Act to make sure individuals aren’t charged for COVID-19 tests, treatment or vaccines. 

    Biden has also called on every state governor, as well as local authorities like mayors, to pass a mask mandate.

    The Biden administration plans to provide up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave for U.S. workers. Biden promotes the passage of an emergency paid leave program that would require 14 days of paid leave for individuals who get sick from the virus or have to quarantine. 

    Biden’s plan also includes helping “vulnerable nations” treat coronavirus outbreaks. 

    What should the next president do?

    Dr. Bill Petri, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, said that the next president needs to focus on finding a vaccine for the disease and producing those vaccines within the U.S.

    “First, the federal government needs to support fundamental research on immunization and vaccines,” Petri said. “We should be leading the world in providing COVID-19 vaccines, we don’t want China or Russia doing that.”

    Petri also said that the federal government should be more involved in coordinating the COVID-19 responses of individual states, which have differed depending on individual governors. 

    “What one state does affects us all,” Petri said. 

    Many Democratic state governors have criticized the federal government for providing a slow-paced COVID-19 response. Some state governors have coordinated their COVID-19 responses with other states. The governors of Virginia and Maryland, as well as the mayor of Washington D.C, have attempted regional cooperation in battling the pandemic. 

    Petri said that the next president should continue to support the CDC as well as individual state departments of health, including the Virginia Department of Health. 

    In a recent Pew Research poll, 57% of registered voters surveyed said they are “very or somewhat” confident in Biden’s ability to handle the impact of the coronavirus, while 40 percent say they are “very or somewhat” confident in Trump’s ability to do so.

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

  7. Statewide Pumpkin Contest Aims to Keep Youth and Teens Safe on Halloween Night

    SALEM, VA—Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) is joining with the Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office, and State Farm to encourage youth and teens to make good choices and celebrate responsibly as part of the statewide Halloween Safety Campaign and Pumpkin Carving Contest. The campaign’s focus is to prevent a tragedy on what is supposed to be a fun night for youth.

    The peer-to-peer campaign traditionally involves activities planned through school and youth group programs across the Commonwealth, however, this year students will participate from their homes. YOVASO is taking the campaign virtual with the #ProtectYourPumpkin Pumpkin Carving Contest. The only requirement for participation is to include a safety message (i.e. Buckle Up, Slow Down, etc.) and “YOVASO” on the pumpkin, and tag @_yovaso_ on social media with #ProtectYourPumpkin. Those who do not have social media can submit their entry to YOVASO by completing a simple entry form.

    All are welcome to participate, but only youth ages 11-20 are eligible for prizes. Pumpkin entries are due to YOVASO by October 31, 2020 at midnight. YOVASO will pick 10 pumpkins for public voting November 2-4, 2020. Voting will close at noon on the 4th. The five entries with the most votes will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

    Schools and youth groups that plan to participate in trunk-or-treats or other Halloween safety events may request activity books, safety banners, and posters with the message: Staying Safe is the Trick, Having Fun is the Treat. Buckle Up, Be Seen, and Make Good Choices.

    Nationwide, between 2014 and 2018, there were 145 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. October 31 – 5:59 a.m. November 1).* According to NHTSA, 41% of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2014 to 2018 were in crashes involving a drunk driver.

    “Halloween falls on a weekend this year and that typically means more celebrations and an increase in risk for drivers and young trick-or-treaters,” said Mary King, YOVASO program manager.  “Poor decisions behind the wheel, such as texting and driving, underage drinking and drug use, speeding, and forgetting to buckle up can ruin what is supposed to be a fun occasion. Help keep this Halloween safe for all by celebrating responsibly and using extra caution when driving in neighborhoods.”  

    Here Are Some Suggested Safety Tips for Teens to Follow for a safe Halloween:

    • Avoid driving during “Halloween Rush Hour” from 5:30-9 p.m. when children are trick–or-treating.

    • Drive below the speed limit in residential neighborhoods and use alternate routes when possible.

    • Scan ahead for trick-or-treaters and yield to pedestrians.

    • Use caution around stopped vehicles in neighborhoods and proceed slowly.

    • Drive distraction-free.

    • Celebrate responsibly and resist any peer pressure to celebrate Halloween with alcohol and/or drugs or to drive while impaired—it’s illegal.

    • Do not ride with any drivers who may have used alcohol and/or drugs.

    • Be on the alert for drivers who could be under the influence of something other than sweets.

    • Remember to always buckle up.

    Safety Tips for Youth to Follow for a Fun and Safe Halloween:

    • Avoid distractions and leave electronic devices at home while walking or biking

    • Wear reflective clothing

    • Carry a flashlight or glow stick

    • Walk on sidewalks when possible

    • Only trick-or-treat in well-lit neighborhoods

    • Older students should always travel in pairs or large groups and let parents know where you      are going

    • Younger students should always trick or treat with a parent or adult supervision

    • Never approach a stranger’s car

    • Make good decisions and avoid any mischief that could ruin a fun night

    • Stay alert and Be Seen on Halloween in case motorists are not be watching out for you

     For more information on the Pumpkin Carving Contest and safety tips, visit the YOVASO website.

     

    YOVASO is Virginia’s peer‐to‐peer education and prevention program for teen driver and passenger safety. Through YOVASO, teens work to advocate for safer driving among their peers and to develop positive prevention strategies for their schools and communities. The program, which currently has 115 active member schools and youth groups across Virginia, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. YOVASO also receives support from State Farm.

  8. Martha Huskey Pearson

    October 31, 1941 - October 27, 2020

    Graveside Services

    Thursday, October 29, 2020, at 2:00 P.M.

    Emporia Cemetery
    Brunswick Avenue
    Emporia, Virginia

    Martha Huskey Pearson, 78, passed away on October 27, 2020. She was the daughter of the late Willard E. Huskey and Louise Edwards Huskey. Martha was preceded in death by her parents, and brother, Willard Huskey, Jr. She is survived by her daughters, Lisa G. Pearson, Julia P. Mitchell (Pete), brother, Jimmy W. Huskey (Diane), sister, Carolyn H. Darden, grandchildren Matthew T. Mitchell, Allison N. Mitchell, former husband, Thomas H. Pearson, along with several nieces and nephews.

    A graveside service will be held at Emporia Cemetery on Thursday, October 29, 2020, starting at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Bob Pipkin officiating.

    The family would like to send a special thanks to the Greensville Health and Rehabilitation Center for the excellent care that they gave to Martha.

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  9. VIRGINIA CELEBRATES FARM TO CACFP WEEK

    Activities Encourage Increased Awareness of Virginia Agriculture

    (Richmond, VA) – Food is a foundation of living well, which is more important now than ever. This year, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will recognize Virginia Farm to Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Week October 18 through 24, with virtual activities throughout the Commonwealth. Farm to CACFP connects participants to nutrition education, Virginia grown foods, and gardening opportunities. Through these activities, CACFP participants will learn about Virginia agriculture while building knowledge of and interest in healthy foods.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a critical need for the provision of nutritious meals and snacks in the Commonwealth. Farm to CACFP is an innovative approach to prioritizing access to healthy food and nutrition education, while also supporting Virginia agriculture,” said Director of the Division of Community Nutrition Paula Garrett. CACFP provides reimbursement for meals served to children, older adults and chronically impaired or disabled persons enrolled at participating care centers.

    In recognition of the week, VDH encourages day care facilities and families at home to conduct activities that bring awareness to Virginia agriculture and seasonal food. “We are hoping day care centers, and families learning at home, take advantage of this free opportunity to celebrate Virginia agriculture and healthy, seasonal food. Our website provides a virtual toolkit filled with activity ideas, printable posters, and links to register for some fun, free virtual events for all ages,” said Garrett.

    Virtual events include cooking classes, informational webinars, and educational videos. For more information on the week and to register for a free virtual activity toolkit, visit VirginiaCACFP.com/FarmtoCACFP. VDH also encourages everyone to promote activities and share your participation on social media using #VAFarmtoCACFP.

    For information about these activities, contact Taya Jarman at 804-864-7299 or email taya.jarman@vdh.virginia.gov.

  10. Brandon “Bran-Bran” Johnson,

    September 13, 1992 - October 23, 2020

    Memorial Service

    2 p.m. Tuesday, November 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

  11. Jane Mitchell Rodgester

    October 1, 1935 - October 24, 2020

    Jane Mitchell Rodgester, 85, of Emporia, VA, departed this life on October 24, 2020. Jane was preceded in death by her husband of forty-three years, Rufus Rucker Rodgester, daughter, Kathy Ann Rodgester Lucy, great-grandson, Lyle Hayes Grizzard, four sisters, and three brothers. Jane is survived by her daughters, Connie R. Grizzard, Karen R. Watkins (Hardee), and Kimberly R. Edwards (Calvin); grandchildren, Ashley Lucy Wrenn (Dustin), Michael Lee Grizzard II (Kristen), Matthew Grizzard (Alison), and Dylan Edwards; great-grandchildren, Kellan Michael Grizzard, Violet Jane Grizzard, Alden Lee Grizzard, Linden Joah Grizzard and Emersyn Paige Wrenn; sister, Emma M. Powell and brother, Thomas B. Mitchell (Betty).

    Jane was a life-long member of Independence United Methodist Church and was a devoted mother and grandmother.

    A private graveside service will be held at Round Hill Cemetery with Rev. Shaun Smith and Rev. Jeaux Simmons officiating.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Independence United Methodist Church, ℅ Evangeline Taylor, 5066 Dry Bread Rd, Emporia, VA 23847.

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  12. Emporia-Greensville GOP Committee to Host Meet & Greet at Johns-Manville Clubhouse

    Emporia- - -The newly reinvigorated Emporia-Greensville Republican Committee will host a Meet & Greet gathering on Wednesday, Oct. 28 starting at 7 p.m. at the Johns-Manville Club House in Jarratt with Leon Benjamin as the guest speaker.

    “This casual event is a chance for local residents to taste and purchase homemade goodies and chat with folks about the upcoming elections”, according to Chairman Fred Maldonado.  It is also an opportunity to donate to the ‘Benjamin For Congress’ campaign. 

    Republican Leon Benjamin is running against incumbent Democrat Congressman Donald McEachin for Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District. 

    According to Maldonado, this event is an opportunity for local residents to show off their baking skills by bringing their favorite goodies to the event, and maybe even sharing a few recipes.   Free samples will be available.  In addition to the baked goodies, there will also be free coffee, hot apple cider and iced-cold water.  There is no charge to attend.

    The wearing of masks and practicing social distancing will be encouraged.

  13. Yvonne Weiss Tripp Slagle

    June 10, 1931 - October 24, 2020

    Graveside Services

    Monday, October 26, 2020 at 2:00 P.M.

    Emporia Cemetery
    Brunswick Avenue
    Emporia, Virginia

    Yvonne Weiss Tripp Slagle, 89, passed away on Saturday, October 24, 2020. She was the daughter of the late William L. Tripp, Sr., and Lila B. Weiss. Mrs. Slagle was the Office Manager at the local Independent Messenger in Emporia, VA.

     She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, W.L. Slagle, sister, Carol Lambert. She is survived by her son, Kelly Slagle (Lelia) of Emporia, VA., brother, William L. Tripp, Jr. (JoAnne) of Littleton, NC., sister, Beverly Ethridge (Cecil) of Roanoke Rapids, NC., grandchildren, Bryan Slagle (Dawn) of Chesterfield, VA., Christopher Link (Cristina) of Emporia, VA., Jonathan Link (Ashley) of Lakeland, FL., great-grandchildren, Jacob Slagle, Austin Link, Jackson Link, Hudson Link.

    A graveside service will be held Monday, October 26, 2020 at Emporia Cemetery starting at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Bob Pipkin officiating.

    The family would like to give a special thanks to friends, Treva Pernell, Betty Harrell, Ruth Koch, Bonnie Sykes, as well as the Bloom Center, Southern Virginia Regional Home Health especially Alexa and Jordain, and Crater Hospice for all the wonderful care she received.

    In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 310 North Main Street, Emporia, VA., 23847.

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  14. Students Say Protests Motivating Them to the Polls

     

    By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Voters are more divided now than they were in the 2016 election, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Many young Virginians believe the passion could translate to the polls on Election Day.

    Rickia Sykes, a senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, said that her political views have grown stronger since protests erupted globally in late May. The death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, inspired months of protests.

    Sykes said that her political views line up with her faith. She considers herself pro-life, believes in advocating for the working class, and supports law-enforcement.

    “The protests have shown me we need to keep God first, but it has also shown me that good cops are important to help keep law and order,” Sykes said in a text message. “I do realize that there are bad cops, but in order to make a change, I believe we need to work together with the good cops.”

    Sykes said that now she researches politicians more thoroughly before deciding which candidate gets her vote. She looks at voting records to see if they vote in a way that “will help us middle and lower-class families.”

    Erik Haugen, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who considers himself a Libertarian, said his political views haven’t changed much since the protests started.

    “I just see the stronger push for equality, and I think it’s a good step in our nation so long as it proceeds peacefully,” Haugen said.

    Equality is at the center of issues that student voters are concerned about this election. From racial injustice to prison reform to healthcare concerns, many students say they want to enact positive change.

    Students have varying opinions on whether or not the importance of voting has become more significant in recent years. Sykes said that she has always found voting significant, but she believes the importance of it has grown for others. Haugen said that while his political views haven’t changed, he believes voting has become more important in general and especially for the younger generations as tension in the U.S. grows and protests become more prominent.

    Sarah Dowless, a junior at William & Mary in Williamsburg, said that voting has always been important, but the protests have made voting more prominent, “like people encouraging folks to vote and making information about voting accessible, especially among young people." Dowless said the recent protests have reinforced her progressive beliefs. 

    “If anything, the protests have only amplified my concern for racial injustice in America and my concern about police brutality,” she said. “It’s a fundamental issue about freedom and it calls into question the very principles on which this country was founded and continues to claim.”

    The protests also influenced a host of legislation in the recent special legislative session of the General Assembly that ended last week. Virginia legislators passed numerous bills focused on police and criminal justice reform.

    According to the United States Census Bureau, voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds jumped 15.7% between 2014 and 2018. This was the largest percentage point increase for any age group. Turnout is expected to be high this year as well, but there are no final numbers for age groups. Voter registration in Virginia set a record this year with almost 5.9 million voters  registering. During the last presidential election a little more than 5.5 million people registered to vote.

    Sykes is also concerned about the economy and health care.  She wants a political leader who will increase the odds that people have a stable source of income to afford medical treatment. 

    “As a graduating senior, I want and need a good paying/stable job for when I graduate,” she said. “I need someone who will make sure we have a strong and reliable economy.”

    Dowless wants U.S. prisons, which she describes as currently being “more punitive than rehabilitative,” to undergo major reform. Haugen would like police academy programs to be longer and implement de-escalation training. 

    “I first and foremost care about the safety of the American people,” Haugen said. 

    Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting are currently underway throughout the state. The deadline to request to vote absentee by mail is Oct. 23. Early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day, or Oct. 31.

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

  15. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND COVID RESPONSE BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW

    ~ This afternoon, two of Herring’s special session bills were signed into law by Gov. Northam – one gives the OAG the ability to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations and the other strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging statute ~

    RICHMOND (October 21, 2020) – This afternoon, two of Attorney General Herring’s special session bills were signed into law by Governor Northam – one bill gives the Office of the Attorney General the ability to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations and the other strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging statute.
     
    “Enabling the Office of the Attorney general to conduct ‘pattern and practice’ investigations will give my office the ability to help identify and put a stop to police misconduct and other unconstitutional policing practices,” said Attorney General Herring. “We used to be able to count on the federal government to be a reliable partner in these kinds of investigations, but under the Trump Administration they have all but ceased, which is why it’s so important that my office can do these kinds of investigations at the state level.
     
    “It’s unfortunate that a business or an individual will take advantage of a public health crisis or a state of emergency and make more money by raising prices on necessary goods like cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, or even PPE. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many shortcomings in our laws and I’m glad that we were able to fix one of those by strengthening Virginia’s price gouging statute.
     
    “I want to thank my partners in both the House and the Senate, as well as the many advocacy groups, including the Center for American Progress, for all their hard work and dedication to helping get my bills passed and onto the Governor’s desk during this productive special session.”
     
    House Bill 5072 (Delegate Alfonso Lopez) and Senate Bill 5024 (Senator Louise Lucas) enable the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement agencies to identify and put a stop to unconstitutional practices, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, biased policing, or other unconstitutional practices. For decades the U.S. Department of Justice was a reliable partner in identifying and ending unconstitutional policing practices, often through negotiated agreements for reforms, called “consent decrees,” in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO. Under the Trump Administration the DOJ has explicitly walked away from this responsibility, making it more important for state attorneys general to have this important tool. 
     
    Virginia is one of the first states in the country to give this investigative power to their Office of the Attorney General and the first state to include a provision that says any police department that fails to comply with the findings of a “pattern and practice” investigation could be deprived of funding.
     
     
    This legislation was part of Attorney General Herring’s larger package of criminal justice and police reform legislative priorities that he announced ahead of the special session.
     
    “The federal government has failed to provide this kind of oversight when a police department may be violating citizens’ rights and it’s important for the state to have a backstop that can conduct these kinds of investigations,” said Senator Louise Lucas. “Now that the bill enabling the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct ‘patterns and practice’ investigations of local police departments has passed, communities around Virginia will finally get the due process that they deserve.”
     
    “After years of the Trump Administration refusing to be a reliable partner in identifying and ending policing practices where there was a history of misconduct, my legislation (HB 5702) will finally enable the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations of law enforcement agencies to investigate, identify, and put a stop to unconstitutional practices, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, or racially biased policing,” stated Delegate Alfonso Lopez. “I’m so happy that this important criminal justice reform that will help ensure compliance with constitutional policing standards has been signed into law by the Governor.”  
     
    House Bill 5047 (Delegate Kathleen Murphy) expands protections against price gouging for PPE and other necessary items during an emergency. This bill will ensure that existing price gouging prohibitions also apply to manufacturers and distributors that charge unconscionable prices for necessary goods or services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or President.
     
    Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has received more than 500 consumer complaints and inquiries regarding suspected price gouging by businesses during the COIVD-19 state of emergency and sent out more than 150 letters to businesses demanding that they cease any illegal price gouging.
     
    Investigation of these complaints has revealed that many retail businesses claim that price increases occurred further up the supply chain with manufacturers or distributors, making it more difficult to address the problem at the retail level.
     
    The legislation will amend the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act (“Anti-Price Gouging Act”), Va. Code §§ 59.1-525 through 59.1-529.1, to also apply to manufacturers and distributors that charge unconscionable prices for necessary goods or services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or President.
     
    In April, Attorney General Herring led a national effort to address price gouging in the PPE supply chain, urging 3M as one of the largest manufacturers of PPE, particularly masks, to do more to address price gouging within its supply and distribution chains that was causing hospitals and healthcare providers to pay exorbitant prices for PPE.

    Tags: 

  16. Good Dental Hygiene Makes A Big Difference

    By Natasha Grover, DDS, VCU Health CMH Family Dental Clinic

    Maintaining your teeth isn’t only about looking good.  Poor dental hygiene can lead to problems that are much bigger than an unpleasant smile. Tooth decay and gum disease can affect other parts of your body, including your heart.

    Why is it important to practice good dental hygiene?

    Good oral/dental health translates to good health overall. Dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can impair your ability to eat and speak properly, cause pain and bad breath. And what many people may not realize, is that poor dental health can have a profoundly, negative affect on areas outside of the mouth, including your heart, diabetes, pregnancy and chronic inflammation, such as arthritis — to name a few.

    Some studies suggest that the bacteria in gum disease can travel to your heart and cause heart disease, clogged arteries or stroke. Gum infections, such as periodontitis, have been linked to premature births and low-birth weight in pregnant women. Diabetics should be especially careful about dental health because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, making the gums more susceptible to infection, which can adversely affect blood sugar.

    Practicing good dental hygiene is so important because it can prevent these type of oral disease and dental problems. And prevention should be the primary focus. I advise the following:

    1. BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY

    Brushing at least twice a day for good oral health. If you get the chance, it can be good to brush after every meal. Make sure you floss daily, too. Floss can clean crevices even the most thorough brushing might miss.

    2. USE PRODUCTS WITH FLUORIDE

    Fluoride is super important to healthy teeth. Fluoride is a salt that is shown to prevent tooth decay. It is so important, fluoride is even added to our water. When choosing dental hygiene products, make sure to choose products that contain fluoride. This helps reduce your chance of getting cavities.

    3. REPLACE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REGULARLY

    An old toothbrush might feel like it’s doing the job, but your toothbrush should be replaced about every three months. The bristles soften over time, and bend out of shape. Both of these things mean they do their job less well. Also, toothbrushes get dirty. Bacteria can collect in your toothbrush over time. It is important to replace your toothbrush before those bacteria can damage your teeth or make you sick.

    4. MAINTAIN A GOOD DIET

    You might be surprised how much of an affect what you eat can have on your teeth. Of course we all know that sugary foods like candy and soda can cause cavities. Some foods can also do your teeth a world of good. Dairy products are high in bone-healthy calcium to strengthen your teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery can scrape food particles off of teeth and also stimulate saliva production to clean your mouth.

    5. SCHEDULE REGULAR PROFESSIONAL CLEANINGS

    Even the most diligent tooth-brusher can’t get the same clean that a dental professional can. Many people think it is unnecessary to visit the dentist, but a hygienist can reach places it can be hard to clean on your own. Specialized tools can also get teeth cleaner than a toothbrush can. Your regular dental visit also includes an exam, so we can keep an eye out for any signs of decay or developing problems. For most patients, we recommend visiting the dentist’s office every six months.

    What are the signs of a serious dental problem?

    You should see your dentist if you experience pain, bleeding gums, swelling, both inside and outside the mouth, tenderness, blisters and ulcers that don’t heal, or noticeable changes in color or texture of the soft tissues. These could all be indications of a serious, or potentially serious condition, such as mouth cancer or chronic gum disease.

    The CMH Family Dental Clinic is able to see patients who do not have the ability to pay for dental care in part because of a grant the clinic received from the Virginia Health Care Foundation.

    The CMH Family Dental Clinic is accepting new patients. If you need a dentist, please call 434-584-5590.

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

     

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

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

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

          What: Virtual Education Listening Session

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

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

  18. Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

    By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  19. “Bird Feeder Time”

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

    By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PASSED LEGISLATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  21. Sam Ben Acree

    September 05, 1943 - October 16, 2020

    Visitation Graveside Services

    6-8 pm Thursday, October 22

    Owen Funeral Home
    303 S. Halifax Rd
    Jarratt, Virginia

    Friday, October 23, 2020, 2:00 PM

    First Christian Church Cemetery
    427 Ruritan Dr
    Emporia, VA 23847

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

  22. VCU announces spring semester changes as other colleges mull options

    By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  23. Peter Jung is Brunswick Academey October 2020 Student of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  25. Social Security Announces 1.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  28. Delegate Plans To Reintroduce Quarantine Pay Bill Next Session

     

    By Zachary Klosko, By Capital New Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  29. VIRGINIA VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE EXTENDED BY FEDERAL COURT

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

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

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

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

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

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

  30. Letter to the Editor - GO VOTE!

    Dear Editor:

    There is nothing more ominous or straight forward that can be said other than:

    GO VOTE!

    As a citizen of the United States of America, we have an obligation in our Constitution and duty to our nation, family and fellow citizens to exercise our right to VOTE!  

    In history some of our ancestors were enslaved and were counted as three-fifths of a person and couldn’t VOTE, some were never allowed to vote because of their sex - they were women, yet others were charged poll taxes or asked to play the guessing game of gum drops in a jar before they were allowed to VOTE, if at all.  While others made the ultimate commitment – they died and were beaten so that ALL of us could participate in free and open elections.

    If you will be 18 on or before Election Day – go register to VOTE!  If you have registered but have not exercised your right to VOTE in years – check your registration and register again, if need be, to VOTE!  If you have moved from your previous address go now and update your address so that you will be able to VOTE!  If you have never registered to VOTE and you finally realize that this election is THE most important election of your lifetime, which it is, go register and then VOTE!!!

    Be a significant part of history – for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth we are allowed to VOTE early!  Early voting started on September 18th and will end on October 31st. If you want to be counted but don’t want to be in the crowds come Election Day take this opportunity to go by your respective Voter Registrar’s office either in the County at Government Building,1781 Greensville County Circle, Emporia or in the City at the Municipal Building, 201 South Main Street, Emporia during hours of operation and VOTE!

    You may still request an Absentee Ballot with no excuse necessary by Friday, October 23rd. Your ballot may be mailed back to the Registrar’s Office or you may drop it off in person to avoid the rush!  If you should not feel comfortable having someone to witness your Absentee Ballot Envelope you are permitted to return it without a witness’ signature during this election due to COVID-19.

    If you feel nostalgic and are compelled to VOTE in person on Election Day you may still do so!  The polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. however, remember to mask up and keep your social distance to protect the Election Officials, fellow citizens and yourself most of all!

    As Chair of the Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee, I implore you to cast your VOTE for a well-qualified and most experienced team!  This year we have incumbents Mark Warner for the United States Senate and Donald McEachin for the United States House of Representatives!  At the top of our superior ticket we have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!  Our team of Leaders will protect Social Security and Medicare while rebuilding our economy and creating and attracting jobs here in Virginia while they will work with public health experts to defeat COVID-19.  In their efforts to continue to work hard for us they will seek to expand access to healthcare and lower prescription drug costs – much needed help for a healthy and industrious middle class!

    Our candidates are hard working and will continue to fight to put our Nation, State, County and City in the forefront! They know that we work hard and they will work even harder to return our Country to be the envy of the world!

    And on the Constitutional Amendments, VOTE NO on Number 1 and YES on Number 2!

    For an Emporia-Greensville Dems Sample ballot please go to our Facebook page at “Emporia Greensville Democratic Committee”.  Feel free to refer to our committee’s sample ballots and use it as a guide when you VOTE!!!

    If you should need a ride to the polls or have questions please, do not hesitate to contact us through our Facebook page or call 434.634.5499.

    VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! – It can’t be said enough!!!

    Thank you,

    George E. Morrison, 111

    George E. Morrison, III, Chair

    Emporia-Greensville Democrats

    (Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to news@emporianews.com and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)

  31. VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month for September 2020

    Hannah Conway, Occupational Therapy Assistant

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

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

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

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

    Hannah currently resides in Brodnax, VA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application.

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

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

  33. Transferrable Success

    By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  34. Virginia voter registration continues to climb as deadline looms

    By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

  35. Johnny C. “J.C.” Ogburn

    October 18, 1943 - October 10, 2020

    Visitation Services

    Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:00 PM

    Faith Baptist Church
    951 W. Atlantic St
    Emporia, Virginia

    Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 2:00 PM

    Faith Baptist Church
    951 W. Atlantic St
    Emporia, Virginia

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

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

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

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

  36. Alyssandra Nicole Reeves

    November 22, 1998-October 7, 2020

    Visitation

    2-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 13

    The Home of Tiffany Rook
    400 Harding Street
    Emporia, Virginia

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

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

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

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

  37. Phyllis Doyle Weaver

    September 21, 1929-October 9, 2020

    Graveside Services

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

    Greensville Memorial Cemetery
    1250 Skippers Road
    Emporia, Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  38. Ann Kei Newsome

    April 26, 1928-October 9, 2020

    Visitation Services

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

    Echols Funeral Home
    806 Brunswick Avenue
    Emporia, Virginia

    October 13, 2020, 11:00 A.M

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  39. ‘Black Space Matters’ Exhibit Transforms Asphalt Lot into Garden

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

    By India Espy-Jones, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Noah Fleischman, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  42. Spanberger, Freitas race outspends presidential campaign in Virginia

    By Brandon Shillingford, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  43. Sussex Resident Killed in Head On-Collision

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

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

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

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

  44. Richard Elmo Clary

    March 11, 1928-October 2, 2020

    Services

    Friday October 9, 1:00pm

    Echols Funeral Home Chapel
    806 Brunswick Avenue
    Emporia, Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  46. VCU emergency room sees increase in opioid overdoses patients

    By Aliviah Jones, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  47. Virginia Raises a Glass to 32nd Annual Wine Month in October

    Virtual Harvest Party celebrations held on October 17

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginians to celebrate the richness of Virginia wine and raise a glass to the 32nd annual Virginia Wine Month this October. The oldest wine month in the country, the annual celebration occurs as winemakers traditionally harvest grapes off the vine and prepare their next vintages. This year, the month-long festivities will be held in accordance with social distancing guidelines and culminate with multi-faceted virtual Harvest Party celebrations on October 17. 

    Home to 312 wineries, Virginia is now the sixth-largest wine region in the United States. The Virginia wine industry generates an estimated $1.37 billion in economic impact and 8,218 jobs for the Commonwealth and drew more than 2.2 million tourists to Virginia wineries in 2015, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

    “Virginia Wine Month is a time to honor the resilience and pioneering spirit that cultivated our world-class wines,” said Governor Northam. “Winemakers are no strangers to uncertainty, and the wine industry has demonstrated its ability to adapt and thrive despite the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic this year. This October, I encourage people across the Commonwealth to join me in celebrating the diversity, distinction, and unique character of our wine and the Virginians who make them.”

    Virginia’s diverse landscape means winemakers have learned to listen to the land and craft wines that speak to the grace and grit of the Commonwealth. In recognition of their efforts and the end of the harvest season, the Virginia Wine Board has designated the third Saturday of October as the annual Harvest Party, a home-grown tradition that encourages revelers to gather safely in vineyards, restaurants, open fields, or virtual settings for a feast of Virginia food and wine.

    “Nearly 50 years ago, a small group of Virginia winemakers embarked on an endeavor of viticulture, despite skepticism from the global wine community,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “This has yielded not only a thriving economic sector of agriculture and tourism, but also expressive and one-of-a-kind wines. Opening Harvest Party to a number of celebrations, in-person and virtual, allows Virginia wine fans anywhere in the world to join in on the festivities, and I hope to see those in the Commonwealth and beyond join me in raising a glass on October 17.”

    Planned Harvest Party activities include virtual and socially distant events at vineyards featuring local food trucks, live music, and more, as well as restaurant-curated cuisine paired with a variety of Virginia Wine. Select wineries will offer “Harvest Party Bundles,” complete with wines and local artisanal foods. In partnership with SevenFifty Daily, a resource on the history and character of Virginia Wine can be found here

    Individuals, wineries, restaurants, and retailers celebrating October Wine Month have access to how to-guides, seasonal recipes and wine pairing information and events planned across Virginia. Virginians can participate in a social media sweepstakes to win a virtual guided tasting with a local expert with tasty food and wine pairings included. As wineries begin to reopen, retailers and restaurants are participating in the Virginia Wine Board’s “Toast Our Local Bounty” program, which offers incentives to those creating Virginia Wine displays and by-the-glass and bottle promotions. Those interested in celebrating the richness of the region’s food, wine, and culture can visit the Virginia Wine Month homepage for more information.

    To find out more information about Virginia wine and wine travel in the Commonwealth, visit VirginiaWine.org or click here to download the Virginia Wine App.

  48. Ridley Foundation Awards Jackson-Feild Grant

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

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

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

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

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

  49. New poll shows Virginia voters strongly support police reform

    By Megan Lee, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  50. William Thomas “Tommy” Jarratt, Sr.

    May 21, 1946-October 3, 2020

    Visitation Services

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

    Echols Funeral Home
    806 Brunswick Avenue
    Emporia, Virginia

    Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 2:00PM

    Drewryville Memorial Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

  51. Alpha Pi Donates to VCU Health CMH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  52. VIRGINIA STATE POLICE LAUNCHES NEW FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST WEBSITE

    New System Aids Public/Attorneys/Media with Submission & Tracking of FOIA Requests

    RICHMOND – Effective Oct. 1, 2020, the Virginia State Police launched a new website strictly designed to aid the public with submitting and tracking Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to the Department. Located at www.vsp.nextrequest.com, the public may now use the web-based public records portal to submit their FOIA requests. The records management system also is available to attorneys to upload subpoena duces tecums* and discovery requests. Media are encouraged to use the system to submit FOIA requests to the Virginia State Police, as well.

    “Within the first nine months of 2020, our Office of Legal Affairs has received, processed and responded to more than 3,180 FOIA requests for Virginia State Police records,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Public record, subpoena and discovery requests have been steadily increasing in recent years. This new online records management system will not only be of great benefit to requesters, but also streamlines the FOIA process within our statewide agency and helps the Department to more efficiently process and respond to requests.”

    The new website, hosted by NextRequest©, is a secure platform that enables a requester to complete a simple form to submit a FOIA request to the Virginia State Police. The new website features a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to help requesters with understanding their FOIA rights, how to submit a request, costs, contacts, list of FOIA exemptions as granted by the Code of Virginia, and a link to the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council. The secure platform assists the state police Office of Legal Affairs with redaction, reporting and payment of FOIA requests.

    The new online portal is not for use for those seeking to request a criminal history background check. Such requests are still to be submitted via the Virginia State Police website at www.vsp.virginia.gov/CJIS_Criminal_Record_Check.shtm.

    NextRequest© supports the records request software, which is used by city, county and state governments, law enforcement agencies and universities across the nation.

  53. Rep. McEachin Calls for Parent and Teacher Feedback on Virtual Learning

    RICHMOND, V.A. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced an online form which parents and teachers can use to submit feedback and share their virtual learning experiences with him. Most school systems in Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District are wrapping up their first month of virtual learning next week and while some will continue virtually, others may return to in-person learning.

    “I know there have been challenges adapting to online learning this school year, and I want to hear from parents and teachers about what is going well and what could be improved,” said Congressman McEachin. “If there is an opportunity for me to help at the federal level, I want to make sure I know about it, whether that is through additional relief funding for school systems, legislation to expand access to child care, or grants for technology and broadband expansion. We must keep our students and educators safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that we are providing the best learning environment possible during this challenging time.”

    Parents and teachers can submit their feedback online at https://bit.ly/VA04OnlineEd

    School districts within Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District include: Charles City County, Chesapeake, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Henrico, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, Richmond, Southampton, Suffolk, Surry and Sussex.

  54. Pauline B. Moss

    Junr 5, 1929-October 1,2020

    Services

    2 p.m. Saturday, October 3, 2020

    Greensville Memorial Cemetery
    1250 Skippers Road
    Emporia, Virginia

    Pauline B. Moss, 91, of Emporia, passed away Thursday, October 1, 2020. She was the widow of Willard Moss and also was preceded in death by a son, E. Kirby Moss and a sister, Serena Brockwell.

    Mrs. Moss is survived by two sons, Danny Moss, Sr. and Darrell Moss, grandchildren, Candice Bowe, Jessica Grant, Brian Blanton, Danny Lee Moss, Jr., Melissa Ann Moss, Lori Story and Vanna Story; 16 great-grandchildren and a brother, Robert Bailey.

    The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct 3 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

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

  55. Library Increases Hours

    Beginning Monday, October 5th, Meherrin Regional Library System increases hours open to the public. New hours are Mondays 10:00 am - 6:00 pm and Tuesdays – Fridays 9:30 am - 5:00 pm. Contact free and after hour locker service will remain available and bookdrops are open. Patrons must wear face coverings when visiting. Other restrictions may apply. For questions, please contact the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at 434-848-2418, ext. 301, Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at 434-634-2539 or visit www.meherrinlib.org.

     

  56. VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Receives $600,000 to Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced more than $53 million in grant funding across three unique agricultural programs to help U.S. farmers, ranchers and military veterans.
     
    USDA-NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) awarded more than $16.7 million in 48 projects to deliver support new farmers and ranchers need. Virginia State University’s Small Farm Outreach Program (VSU/SFOP) was included in the projects, receiving nearly $600,000 to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (SDVFR) in the Commonwealth.
     
    This is the second time SFOP has been awarded the grant from USDA-NIFA to help small farmers. It received the grant in 2016 and reapplied in 2019 when funding expired. VSU is one of only four of the nation’s 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) established as 1890 land-grant universities to receive the funding, and one of only two HBCUs awarded the maximum funding amount.
     
    “We’re grateful for the renewed commitment from USDA-NIFA to support small disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and veterans,” said SFOP director William Crutchfield.  “We will use these funds to continue our training and outreach efforts to help new and beginning famers build successful and sustainable businesses.”
    This grant is especially critical in helping to encourage new farmers and ranchers and addressing the decline in Virginia farmers as older farmers leave or retire from agriculture, Crutchfield added.
     
    SFOP, which is part of the Virginia Cooperative Extension at VSU, will use a holistic approach to equip socially disadvantaged and veteran beginning farmers and ranchers (SDVBFR) in Virginia with the tools and skills needed for them to make informed decisions in owning and operating successful farm businesses. The approach will include outreach, training and technical assistance to help them with planning, production and marketing.
     
    The project will provide education about USDA opportunities, programs and services; farm estate planning and financial planning and management; production techniques to produce high value, profitable crops and livestock; marketing strategies to attract new and existing markets to sell products; and collaborative partnerships to increase capacity and ensure sustainability of farm operations. The project will target 70 Virginia counties, where disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have been traditionally underserved because of barriers, such as high start-up costs; limited access to credit; lack of knowledge on land acquisition and transition; lack of skills in financial planning; lack of production skills; and limited access to existing and viable markets. In a continued partnership with Virginia Tech's Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition (VBFRC), VSU will address these barriers by using the "Whole Farm Planning" curriculum developed by VBFRC as a tool to train farmers.
     
    Additionally, USDA-NIFA awarded $9.6 million to help support projects through its Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program (AgVets) and $28.7 million to help address farmer stress through its Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). 
     

     
    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.

  57. Marcus alert bill passes House and Senate, moves to Northam’s desk

    By Andrew Ringle, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have approved a proposal to establish a statewide system that pairs teams of mental health professionals and peer recovery specialists with police officers responding to mental health crises.

    The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 24-15 on Thursday. The House gave the legislation the green light in September with a vote of 57-39. The proposal now needs a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam to become law.

    House Bill 5043 is sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond. Dubbed the mental health awareness response and community understanding services, or Marcus alert system, the bill honors the life of Marcus-David Peters, who was shot and killed in 2018 during an encounter with Richmond police. Peters, a 24-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus and high school biology teacher, was naked and unarmed during the shooting. After running into traffic on the interstate, Peters charged at an officer who deployed a Taser and then fired his gun. Peters’ family said he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

    Bourne’s bill requires law enforcement to consider mitigating “impact to care” by having officers not wearing their uniforms and using unmarked vehicles, when possible. 

    Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, did not directly comment on Bourne’s bill, but she said mental health calls are “volatile and dangerous” and that co-response teams require extensive training for officers and mental health workers.

    “Additionally, there needs to be sufficient funding to make both trained officers and mental health workers who serve on co-response teams available at any time of day,” Schrad said  in a message.

    Schrad said the organization supports efforts to create co-responder teams for mental health calls. She said the commonwealth must address the “overwhelming need” to improve mental health and preventative services locally.

    “However, we cannot support efforts that would disarm law enforcement officers and take them out of uniform on mental health calls,” Schrad said. 

    Bourne’s bill would require Virginia Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, in collaboration with Criminal Justice Services, to create two plans by July 1, 2021. One creates a written plan for the development of a Marcus alert system, and another sets guidelines for law enforcement. By the same date, localities must also create a database identifying individuals with mental or behavioral health illness, developmental or intellectual disability or brain injury. Such individuals or a legal guardian may voluntarily provide the individual’s address and relevant health information to the database, which would be accessible to 911 and the Marcus alert system.

    The bill would require Virginia Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Criminal Justice Services to establish guidelines and training programs for crisis teams, call center employees, clinical staff and Marcus alert system users by Dec. 1, 2021.

    Every locality must have a Marcus alert system with care teams by July 1, 2022, according to the bill. 

    Mental Health America of Virginia Executive Director Bruce Cruser, who called the bill “a significant step forward” during a House committee meeting on Aug. 25, said the proposal may need further review in order to promote coordinated responses across localities. 

    “We’re just anxious to see how we can work out language that is coordinated,” Cruser said.

    Opinions vary among mental health personnel regarding potential safety risks posed by crisis situations, Cruser said. 

    “If a mental health professional is being put in harm’s way, I mean obviously that’s a concern,” he said. “But I think how the system is structured is really the key.”

    Cruser said there’s uncertainty in the mental health field regarding how the system would work in different areas across Virginia and whether personnel would be equipped to respond to crises.

    “Some are well trained in de-escalation, and some are not,” Cruser said. “That’s really one of the challenges here, is to work with local community service boards and localities to determine the best way to intervene that brings about the desired result, which is less injury to anyone and better outcomes.”

    Cruser said Mental Health America of Virginia supports the goals of Bourne’s legislation, but that a larger effort is needed to prevent crisis situations from happening in the first place.

    “If there’s a call for service and it’s a mental health call, well then the response should be mental health-focused,” Cruser said. “The law enforcement response should be reserved for what law enforcement are trained to deal with best. The challenge is how you determine the nature of the call in the first place.”

  58. Careers 4 Women in Technology Summit

    Considering a career in technology?  On Tuesday, October 20th from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, Southside Virginia Community College will be hosting a virtual summit for women interested in pursuing a career in today’s digital world. 

    Presenters include:

    • Kat Roney – Network Acquisition Specialist, Microsoft
    • Pepsi Wirth – Chief of Staff, Xbox Compliance
    • Lesley Kipling – Network Cross Functional Team, US Army Future Command
    • Kia Preston – Information Technology Specialist, Southside Virginia Community College
    • Latarsha Walton – Desktop Support Technician, Department of State Foreign Affairs Security Training Center
    • Kristin Puleo – Microsoft Datacenter Academy Scholar, Intern and Datacenter Technician, Microsoft

    Learn about the training and skills necessary for in-demand careers!  Panelists will discuss current positions and how they embarked on their career pathways and obstacles they overcame along the way. 

    Registration is required by October 15th.  To register or for more information go to Southside.edu/article/careers-4-women-technology or call 434-955-2252.

  59. Bill stalls to hold localities responsible for protest damage

    By Ada Romano, Capital News Service

    RICHMOND, Va. -- A General Assembly bill is likely dead for the session that would have held localities accountable for damages caused by protesters if an adequate police response was not provided.

    Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, said he proposed House Bill 5026 to assure localities provide proper police protection during protests in an effort to minimize damages to personal property and businesses. The bill was referred to the House Courts of Justice committee in August but has not been addressed, and probably won’t be according to its sponsor. 

     Protests erupted around the state and nation since May, with demonstrators calling for social justice and police reform after George Floyd died in police custody. The protests swelled again last week after a grand jury indicted on wanton endangerment charges one out of three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky woman who died after police fired shots in her apartment while serving a no-knock warrant. 

    Cole submitted the bill in response to what he said was Virginia local government officials ordering police to stand down and not break up unlawful protests that included rioting and looting. 

    “It should be obvious now, that you cannot count on Democrats to keep you safe,” Cole said. “When violent protests hit, they order the police to back off and let rioters run wild.”

    Buildings and vehicles were burned in Richmond in the initial days of protests following Floyd’s death, including a public transit bus. There was widespread property damage throughout the city which included graffitti, broken windows and stolen property. 

    The Richmond Police Department instituted an 8 p.m. curfew a few days later and the Virginia State Police department, along with other local counties, began providing additional support. 

    The Richmond Fire Department recently estimated that the city saw nearly $4 million in fire damage in the first 18 days of protests, according to a report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Police spent more than $1.6 million on police overtime pay during the first month of protests in Richmond, according to a report by Richmond BizSense.

    Protests have included calls from demonstrators to defund the police. Cole said defunding police would make communities less safe, and early police intervention could prevent situations from turning violent. 

    “People pay taxes for police protection, so if local elected officials withhold that protection, they should be held liable for the results of their actions,” Cole said. 

    Steve Neal, an author and retired Chesterfield County police captain, said the bill contradicts a 2005 Supreme Court ruling stating police have “no duty” to protect civilians from harm from another person.

    Neal said the language in the bill is too vague to enforce and said he felt an obligation to protect citizens since becoming a law enforcement officer.

    “Every police officer I’ve ever known, including myself, would risk their lives trying to protect other people. That’s what we do on a daily basis,” Neal said. “The police are actually doing that even though the law says we don’t exactly have that duty.” 

    The staff of the Commission on Local Government analyzed the bill’s fiscal impact and collected responses from several localities. The Commission wrote that a majority of localities responded the bill would likely raise insurance premiums and legal fees because it can increase litigation resulting from the bill. 

    A Virginia Beach representative questioned what evidence would have to be submitted or found to prove a locality “intentionally” or “negligently” provided an adequate police response.

    A Wise County representative stated: “What is adequate in my mind may not be adequate in the minds of others.”

     A representative from the town of Marion stated: “This could open Pandora's Box for localities already suffering from reduced police staffing and increased incidents of civil unrest.”

    Jessica Moore has been at the forefront of Richmond protests. She said she became more involved in the movement after learning about the lack of protection against COVID-19 in the Richmond City Justice Center, where her friend is incarcerated. 

    “It’s become a lot more passionate for me just because no one else is listening. Our mayor is not listening, our governor is not listening,” Moore said. “We’re going to take matters into our own hands.”

     Moore, along with thousands who protested in Richmond over the past five months, advocates defunding the Richmond Police Department. She said it’s essential to reallocate tax dollars to schools and other community services. 

    “If they’re going to continue to fund the police, then the funds need to be spread out into programs to teach them to work with people with mental illnesses and other training to help them be more sensitive to certain situations,” Moore said.

    Moore believes less response is needed, not more, as Cole’s bill proposes. Moore said the police are provided tear gas and other weapons, which are unnecessary. 

    Legislators advanced several bills regarding criminal justice reform during the General Assembly special session, which kicked off in August to tackle criminal justice reform, the budget and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cole said that he has not decided if he will introduce the same bill in the next session.

  60. James A. Vincent, Sr.,

    November 9 1940-September 26, 2020

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

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

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

    A memorial service will be held at a later date.

    Online Condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com