2020-5-28

Governor and First Lady Northam to Host “Virginia Graduates Together” Honoring Class of 2020

Broadcast and streaming event on Friday, May 29 at 5:00 PM will include special guests, recognize accomplishments of graduates

RICHMOND—Virginians across the Commonwealth are invited to join Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam in honoring the remarkable achievements of the class of 2020 during a statewide virtual celebration at 5:00 PM on Friday, May 29. The broadcast and streaming event, “Virginia Graduates Together,” is produced by Virginia Public Media (VPM) in partnership with the Office of the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education, and will be distributed by public television stations throughout Virginia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on students across the country and prompted the cancellation of traditional graduation ceremonies. “Virginia Graduates Together” will salute 2020 graduates with a special address from the Governor and First Lady, musical performances, a keynote speech from United States Women’s National Soccer champion Angela Hucles Mangano, and well-wishes from notable Virginians.

“Virginia’s class of 2020 is graduating during an unprecedented and difficult time, and I know this is not the end of the school year that any of us imagined,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia students have demonstrated tremendous resilience throughout this health crisis, and we want to ensure their accomplishments are celebrated in a big way. We look forward to commemorating one of life’s greatest milestones together as a Commonwealth and giving our graduates a strong send-off to their bright futures.”

Hucles Mangano, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is a native of Virginia Beach and a graduate of the University of Virginia. The 4-time All-ACC soccer player and member of two United States women’s World Cup soccer teams is also a businesswoman and is known as an advocate for gender diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

“We are excited to honor our next generation of leaders with something revolutionary,” said First Lady Northam. “Never before have we had all Virginia graduates celebrate together in one place and at the same time. This will be special event, and we are honored to get to celebrate with you.”

Prominent Virginians appearing in the program include former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, University of Virginia’s men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox, Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris, United States Senator Tim Kaine, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Micah Kiser, musician Dave Matthews, comedian Jay Pharoah, Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, New York Liberty forward Megan Walker, United States Senator Mark Warner, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, actress Constance Wu, and World Series Champion Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

“After a school year that has been like no other, our graduating class of 2020 deserves a true celebration of their hard work,” said Jayme Swain, CEO of Virginia Foundation for Public Media and President of VPM. “We congratulate this year’s seniors and hope ‘Virginia Graduates Together’ allows friends and loved ones to share in the celebration of their wonderful accomplishments.”

Many of the nearly 600 videos and photos submitted to VPM by graduates will be featured in the 30-minute program. Students, families, and teachers can join the celebration on social media by sharing cap and gown photos, well-wishes, videos, and more using the hashtag #GraduateTogetherVA.

“Virginia Graduates Together” premieres at 5:00 PM on Friday, May 29 on Blue Ridge PBSVPM and WHRO, and will stream on Facebook Live and YouTube through WETA and East Tennessee PBS.

More information about the program can be found at VPM.org/grad.

Dianne Tindall Mitchell

August 30, 1949-May 23, 2020

Dianne T. Mitchell, 70, formerly of Emporia, Virginia, and then of Charlotte, North Carolina, departed from her life here on Saturday, May 23, 2020, to enter her Heavenly home for eternity. She had waged a valiant battle with congestive heart failure, diabetes, and other related complications.

She is survived by her faithful husband of 52 years, Keith W. Mitchell; son Lance W. Mitchell and wife Cheryl, and granddaughter Emerson, of Houston, Texas; son Sean K. Mitchell and wife Shannon, and grandchildren Silas, Ezra, and Clara, of Charlotte; a sister, Janet T. Clarke and husband Edward of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina; a brother, James H. Tindall and wife Carole of Houston; and several nieces and nephews.

Greeting her in her new eternal home are a grandson, Jude James Mitchell; her parents, Dorothy and Harold Tindall; a sister, Kathy T. Bailey; a special mother-in-law, Dorothy R. Mitchell; and so many other special friends and fellow believers whom she loved dearly.

Dianne was born and raised in Marion, South Carolina. She moved to Emporia during her senior year in high school, after the plant that her daddy managed in Marion was destroyed by fire, and he was transferred to Emporia to manage a plant there. During that same time period, Keith was sitting out a semester in college after the sudden death of his daddy. Even then, God was working out a plan in their lives for their paths to cross (Romans 8:28). They met, fell in love, and were married a few short months later.

In 1976, Dianne was the first to surrender her life to Jesus, followed by Keith a few short months later. Their sons, too, did likewise when they were young, and the four of them traveled all over the United States to attend Christian gatherings of believers. They were baptized at the same time at Calvary Baptist Church in Emporia, Virginia.

Many years later, after Lance and Sean had moved away and married, Dianne and Keith returned to Monumental Methodist Church in Emporia, where Keith had grown up and he and Dianne had attended when Lance and Sean were young. They taught a Sunday school class together until they moved to Charlotte four years ago. On several occasions, Dianne was asked to speak at various churches and Christian ladies’ groups, attesting to her love for the Lord. For 10 years, she conducted Christian services at a nearby ladies’ prison, and for several years, she and her family held weekly services at a local nursing home. Dianne was also a long-time member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and served excellently for several years as the treasurer in her regional chapter.

Dianne operated Christian Love & Care Daycare center for many years, where she instilled so many Christian values into the children she kept, many of whom became believers in their later years in part due to her witness to them. Some years later, she went to work for Keith in his financial services business, and his business immediately increased.

In January of 2016, she had a device attached next to her stomach to help in the digestion of food. She suffered from gastroparesis, a side effect of diabetes, and even with a limited diet, she was at least then able to get the nutrients necessary to live. But in December of that year, she had to undergo emergency surgery for a blockage, thought to have been caused by the wires from that device becoming entangled around her colon. Three days later, she suffered a heart attack, which left the left ventricle of her heart severely damaged. When it failed to repair itself, she had a device attached next to her heart and a PICC line inserted through her arm to feed medicine directly to the heart to assist that ventricle in pumping.

She was also told that the survival rate for people who began that treatment was about 50 percent after the first year. She was offered the opportunity to receive an artificial pump or possible transplant, but she turned it down and said that she wanted to live out whatever time she had left enjoying being with her family, and especially her grandchildren, without undergoing more hospitalization and risky surgery should she elect that route. Though she suffered many ups and downs with her heart, diabetes, and other related illnesses, she did beat the odds and survived for 19 more months after having that procedure done. She never returned to a hospital until the day she breathed her last, with Keith at her side.

Dianne’s sister, Janet, told Keith the night after she died that Dianne had told her a year ago that she was ready and anxious to go and be with the Lord, but that she did not think Keith was ready for her departure. The night before she died, Keith asked her that if she had a choice, would she want to go ahead then and be with the Lord. She nodded her head and said yes. He told her that he was willing to pray with her for that, and their prayer together was answered.

That, alone, demonstrates the unselfishness of this strong and faithful servant of the Lord. And now, She has risen!   

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in her name at https://billygraham.org/checkout/give-honor-memorial.php, and a card can be sent to Keith Mitchell at 3305 Open Field Lane, Apt 528, Charlotte, NC 28226. You can also contact BGEA directly and mail a check to 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201, or over the phone at 1-877-247-2426.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held later in Charlotte.

The Crater Planning District Commission Announces the Establishment of a New Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

 

The Crater Planning District Commission has established a Business Continuity Loan Program to assist existing for-profit small businesses to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  The goal is to provide working capital for small businesses to retain employees and support other working capital needs.

The Business Continuity Loan can range in size from $10,000 to $50,000 and the term of the loan can be up to 1-year.  The interest rate is fixed at the prime interest rate which is currently 3.25%.

The small business must be located within the Crater Region:  Cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg; and the Counties of Charles City, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

The Crater Commission is looking forward to doing its part to assist the region’s many small businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

This loan program is in total accord with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work initiative.

For more detailed information, please visit the Crater Commission’s website- www.craterpdc.org.

 

Farmers and Ranchers in Virginia Can Now Apply for Financial Assistance through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Online Tools and Toll-Free Number Available to Assist Producers

RICHMOND, VA, May 26, 2020 – Agricultural producers can now apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The application and a payment calculator are now available online, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation.

We know Virginia producers are facing a tough time now, and we are making every effort to provide much needed support as quickly as possible,” said Nivin A. Elgohary, State Executive Director for FSA in Virginia. “FSA is available over the phone and virtually to walk you through the application process, whether it’s the first time you’ve worked with FSA, or if you know us quite well.” 

Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

“We also want to remind producers that the program is structured to ensure the availability of funding for all eligible producers who apply,” Elgohary said.

In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.

Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a good first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Applying for Assistance

Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print off a pre-filled CFAP application, sign, and submit to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred method. Find contact information for your local office at farmers.gov/cfap.

Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested after the application is filed. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed.

Additional Commodities

USDA is also establishing a process for the public to identify additional commodities for potential inclusion in CFAP. Specifically, USDA is looking for data on agricultural commodities, that are not currently eligible for CFAP, that the public believes to have either:

  1. suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
  2. shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, or
  3. not left the farm or remained unharvested as mature crops.

More information about this process is available on farmers.gov/cfap.

More Information

To find the latest information on CFAP, visit farmers.gov/cfap

or call 877-508-8364.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.  

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

 

WARNER, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ENSURE NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ACTIVATED IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 RECEIVE FULL BENEFITS DURING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing legislation to ensure that all National Guard troops activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic receive full benefits. The National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act would extend Title 32 authority for all troops activated in response to the crisis through the end of the public health emergency – a move that would ensure that the federal government continues covering 100 percent of the costs of this activation. Currently, states have to continue requesting support to avoid a lapse in authorities or federal funding for the troops on the frontline of this crisis. While the Trump Administration gave an extension, it cynically chose a peculiar date that was later revealed to result in a hard deployment stop at 89 days for thousands of National Guard members – one day short of the 90-day threshold to receive additional federal benefits, like access to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Our nation is lucky to be able to count on the men and women of the National Guard who are stepping up during this public health crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “While we may not be able to repay them for their selflessness and courage, the very least we can do is make sure they have access to full benefits as they work to fight this deadly pandemic.”

“The Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to nickel and dime members of the National Guard would be wrong under any circumstance, but it is particularly offensive when these troops are responding to a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed more than 90,000 Americans,” said Sen. Duckworth. “This legislation would ensure that all National Guard troops activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are provided with the full benefits they’ve earned and will give states much-needed certainty during these uncertain times.”

Specifically, this legislation would amend federal law to authorize state governors to order members of the National Guard to active duty in connection with COVID-19 response with full federal benefits. This enhanced authority would be in place through the end of the Trump Administration’s declared public health emergency, plus an additional 30 days to allow the Guard to shift away from Title 32 operations. Most recently, the public health emergency declaration was renewed on April 26, 2020 for a period of 90 days.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Duckworth, the legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for National Guard troops during this crisis. In March, he wrote a letter urging the President to approve Governor Northam’s request to deploy the National Guard to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Virginia.

Rep. McEachin Hosts COVID-19: Managing Our Grief, Mental Health, Stress & Trauma

RICHMOND, VA. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) yesterday hosted COVID-19: Managing Our Grief, Mental Health, Stress & Trauma, a virtual event to discuss mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Congressman McEachin was joined by mental health experts who provided advice and tips for constituents who are struggling with the additional daily stress and worry caused by COVID-19. 

“I am so grateful that these incredible panelists were able to join me this evening to provide much-needed advice for my constituents,” said Congressman McEachin. “This is an incredibly stressful and heartbreaking time for us all, and I wanted to host this event to make sure that my constituents have the tools they need to take care of themselves. Maintaining our mental health is so critical, but it is easy to forget to check in on yourself with so much else going on. I hope tonight was an opportunity for folks to get connected to resources they may need.”

Moderated by Jessica Lark from WTKR, the panel included: Ms. Kathy Harkey, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Virginia; Dr. Faye Belgrave, Virginia Commonwealth University Professor of Healthy Psychology; Dr. Rebecca Vauter, Virginia Board of Psychology; Mr. Jesse Wysocki, Chief Operating Officer, The McShin Foundation; Ms. Ashley Everette Airington, Children’s Mental Health Policy Analyst, Voices for Virginia Kids; and Ms. Frederika Jones, Interim Executive Director, Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance (SAARA) of Virginia.

"We are grateful to Rep. McEachin for shining a light on the impact this pandemic has had on the mental health of children and families,” said Ashley Airington. “Supporting and protecting the emotional well-being of our children is critical now, more than ever. The good news is that nurturing relationships between children and their caregivers are the most important factor in developing resilience and overcoming the negative impacts of this collective trauma."

“As we move into a new lifestyle norm, we must have the courage to go forward,” said Frederika Jones,  SAARA Interim Executive Director. “For some, it will be right on the surface of their mindset, but for others it will require reaching deeper within themselves to muster the strength needed to deal with each new day.  Nevertheless, we must stay hopeful because the sun will still shine and as Stevie Wonders sings, ‘Tomorrow Robins Will Sing.’”

“It was an honor and a privilege to be join this diverse panel of experts in their respective fields. We know that COVID 19 is real, causing harm throughout our community and nation [and] we must not forget about those who suffer from substance use disorders or mental health struggles,” said Jesse Wysocki, McShin Foundation Chief Operating Officer. “Having these open talks and panelists of experts to discuss and answer questions is part of the solution, but we must now turn our discussion into action, doing everything we can to continue to have access to services for those with SUD and MH.”

“COVID 19 has impacted the mental health of everyone through disruption in major life events such as unemployment, financial problems, changes in living situations and routines, and changes in the health status of self or loved ones,” said Dr. Faye Belgrave, VCU Professor. “Poor mental health is directly linked to poor physical health so we must always be attentive to our mental health.  Although there are many things we cannot control about COVID 19, there are things we can control.  Let's center ourselves and be mindful of every day mental health care.

FULL VIDEO LINK

TRAFFIC CRASHES CLAIM EIGHT LIVES DURING 2020 MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

11 Traffic Crashes During 2019 Memorial Day Weekend

RICHMOND – The 2020 Memorial Day weekend not only netted a reduction in overall traffic volumes on Virginia’s highways, but also a decrease in traffic deaths. Preliminary reports indicate eight people lost their lives during the four-day, holiday statistical counting period. During the same statistical counting period in 2019 and 2018, traffic crashes on Virginia highways resulted in 11 deaths.

Of the eight individuals killed this year on Virginia highways, two were riding on motorcycles and one was a pedestrian. The statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday (May 22) and ended at midnight Monday (May 25). Virginia State Police statewide responded to 480 total traffic crashes during this past holiday weekend.

The fatal crashes occurred in the city of Virginia Beach and the counties of Caroline, Montgomery, Pittsylvania, Prince William, Rockingham, Southampton and Sussex. The two fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in Pittsylvania and Rockingham counties. The pedestrian, who was pushing his bicycle when he was struck and killed, was in Sussex County.

"Even though we are thankful for the slight decrease in traffic fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend, eight deaths are still too many,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “It is also concerning to see reckless driving citations and DUI arrests practically on par with last year’s holiday weekend. Fewer drivers should have demonstrated a significant decline in the number of citations and traffic deaths. Sadly, that was not the case and too many motorists were putting too many lives at risk due to reckless choices and deadly driving behaviors.”

During the weekend’s statistical counting period, Virginia troopers statewide cited 2,489 reckless drivers and arrested 70 impaired drivers. During the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, state police cited 2,548 reckless drivers and arrested 75 drivers for DUI.

"Considering that traffic was much less than what we normally see on this particular holiday weekend, it is very concerning to have only reduced the death toll by three in comparison to the past two years,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “As Virginia continues to gradually re-open through the Governor’s ‘Forward Virginia’ plan and more motorists return to the highways, it is imperative that Virginians make traffic safety a priority.”

The Virginia State Police holiday enforcement efforts are part of the Department’s annual participation in the Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seatbelt. During the 2020 Operation CARE Memorial Day statistical counting period, Virginia troopers also cited 2,469 speeders and 224 seatbelt violations. State police assisted 1,460 disabled motorists during the holiday weekend.

Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

 

For more information on traffic safety and how to keep Virginia “Moving Toward Zero Roadway Deaths,” go to www.tzdva.org.

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