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April 2018

"G. G. Hunter"

to all you out there with a pet
I ask that you listen up
it matters not if it's a kitten
or a pup.
 
They will not live forever
though at times this may seem
yes in all reality
this is but a dream.
 
Now they are a great companion
and all will return your love
yet don't forget what's written
in the paragraph above.
 
Well I had a cat named G. G.
and I thought she would forever be
now it seems the Lord did need her
a little more than me.
 
The Vet told me there was nothing else
that for her he could do
so I took her home and held on my lap
repeating that my love was true.
 
She look up like she understood
and snuggled in real tight
well the one I was counting on forever
did pass away that night.
 
Well for all the love I gave her
I got it back two-fold
yes and I learned about forever
before I got to old.
 
Roy E. Schepp

Greensville County High School SkillsUSA organization attended Virginia State Leadership Conference

 

The Greensville County High School SkillsUSA organization attended the 54th Virginia State SkillsUSA Leadership Conference April 20-21, 2018 in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The conference was attended by the following members:  Nathanial Grizzard, Mae Hammad, Destiny Johnson, Antonio Atchinson, Neal Powell, Samantha Dickens, Taylor Powell, Kamaray Sykes, and Joshua Sutton. The following club advisors were in attendance Jerry Brown, Brittany Wright, Marsha Campbell, and James E. Wright. Students’ competition areas include Presidential Volunteer Service Award, American Degree, promotional bulletin board, and chapter display. The chapter also competed in the Chapter of Excellence program. Nathanial Grizzard, Kamaray Sykes and Mae Hammad represented the chapter as voting delegates. The students placed in the following competitions:

  • Chapter Display: First Place: Neal Powell, Destiny Johnson, Antonio Atchinson

  • Promotional Bulletin Board: Third Place: Samantha Dickens, Taylor Powell, and Joshua Sutton

  • American Degree- Samantha Dickens

Service usually springs from selflessness. Through the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the President of the United States recognizes volunteers for sustained service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families and groups who have achieved a certain standard — measured by the number of hours served over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime.

The following students won the Presidential Volunteer Service Award:

Gold Level- Samantha Dickens

Silver Level- Taylor Powell

Bronze Level- Neal Powell and Maci Powell

The chapter also received the following awards:

  • Chapter of Excellence- Chapter of Quality Award
  • Chapter of Excellence- Chapter of Distinction Award- Gold Level
  • 100% Membership Award
  • Plus Member Award

The Chapter Excellence Program relates to the development of personal, workplace and technical skills.  The framework actualizes SkillsUSA’s mission “to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens”.  It also serves as the blueprint for career readiness--- our ultimate goal as an organization.  Greensville is one of only two schools to earn Gold out of 125 Virginia schools.

The first place winners will represent the state of Virginia at the National Leadership Conference June 26-30, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Students will be sponsoring fundraisers during April- May. Please support the club in their efforts to attend the national conference.

Members will be selling tickets for the Annual Boston Butt sale starting this month until the day of the sale, Wednesday, May 23, 2018.  Please see any member to purchase a Boston Butt party pack for $50.00 or Boston Butt Only for $35.00.

If you would like to make a donation to support the club, send to Greensville County High School SkillsUSA Club, 403 Harding Street Emporia, Virginia, 23847. If you need additional information please contact one of the advisors: Jerry Brown, Brittany Wright, Gerald Wozinak, Marsha Campbell, Stephen Wells, or James E. Wright at 434-634-2195.  Greensville County High School SkillsUSA would like to extend a special thanks to the GCHS CTE Department, GCHS faculty, parents, and community for their support and donations to the club.

A New Generation Takes the Forefront in Gun Control Debate

Tuition and Student Debt Increasing in Virginia

Moses Clements VT Scholarship Golf Tournament

Over the last 20+ years the Emporia/Roanoke Rapids Hokie Club and Alumni Chapter (ERRHC) has supported freshmen entering Virginia Tech with scholarships exceeding $40,000.  These donations have been funded by hole sponsors and teams entering the annual golf tournament as this is the one fund raiser annually.

This year the tournament has a new name as the Scholarship Committee has been run for years by Moses Clements, our beloved Hokie who passed away this past year.  The Scholarship and the Tournament will now bear his name Moses Clements VT Scholarship Golf Tournament, in remembrance of his dedicated service to the club and especially the Scholarship Program.  It was his annual joy to review and present the scholarships at the summer dinner.

This year the tournament will be held on Friday May 11th at the Emporia Country Club at noon.  The event will start with a box lunch and open driving range.  There will be a shotgun start at 1:00 PM.  The cost to play is $60 per player which includes golf, golf cart, green fees, goody bag, beverages, 2 mulligans, box lunch and hors d’oeuvres after the event at the awards ceremony.

The Emporia Country Club is located at 578 Country Club Road, Emporia.

Hole sponsorships are $100 and should be reserved in the next 10 days as the new signs will need to be produced and placed on the holes.

To enter the tournament or to be a hole sponsor, please contact Barry Grizzard at barry.grizzard@littleoilco.com or 804.929.3146 or any ERRHC Board Member – Wilson Clary, Meade Horne, Mike Roach, Jeff Robinson, Hall Squire, Kevin Swenson, Brian Thrower or Roly Weaver.

The registration form may be downloaded here.

KAINE, MANCHIN, CAPITO INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO CARE FOR CHILDREN IMPACTED BY OPIOID ABUSE

Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent: this bill ‘will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive’

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Handle with Care Act to connect children who experience traumatic events, including domestic violence situations, drug raids, overdoses, and more, to school resources that are designed to provide the child with trauma-informed care.

“All too often, traumatic events have a devastating ripple effect across children’s lives. Given the right resources, schools can play a critical support role for kids impacted by trauma and provide them with a safe haven. I’m proud to partner with Senators Manchin and Capito to help ensure students affected by the opioid crisis and other trauma get the resources they need to thrive,” Kaine said.

“Unfortunately, schools are seeing more and more students dealing with trauma outside of the normal school day,” said Dr. Keith Perrigan, Superintendent of Bristol Virginia Public Schools. “Even though we try to keep that in mind in all of our interactions with students, this bill ensures that lines of communication are open between community agencies as we all try to support our most vulnerable students. The Handle with Care Act will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive, regardless of the obstacles they may face.”

“We are happy to support legislation that makes the Handle with Care initiative a national model for replication. Crittenton Services, Inc., in West Virginia has been a key partner in this initiative and can attest to the difference it makes when schools, law enforcement and their partners work together with a sense of urgency to mitigate the impact of childhood trauma and support healing for children and youth, particularly marginalized girls and young women, across this country,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, President of the National Crittenton Foundation.

The Handle with Care Act of 2018 is important legislation that will boost coordination between law enforcement and school-level personnel to better support students affected by trauma-related events. We must do all we can to ensure these students receive timely interventions to mitigate the impact of trauma so they can focus on learning,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

“Nothing offends a principal more than the loss of human potential. Yet every, day, principals see that potential robbed from their students by an opioid epidemic that devastates their schools and their families. With every student who suffers the trauma of opioid abuse, we lose a bit more of our future. I applaud Senators Manchin, Kaine, and Capito for casting a spotlight on this public health crisis and, more important, for championing legislation to battle it,” said Joann Bartoletti, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The Handle with Care program, which originated in West Virginia, is as simple as law enforcement sending a “Handle with Care” alert to the child’s school. While the school does not receive any information other than the child’s name and the alert, it enables the school to exercise the trauma-informed training provided in coordination with the Handle with Care program. The goal of the program is to promote safe schools, and communities, while ensuring that every child is able to thrive in school even when they face trauma at home. 

The Handle with Care Act would authorize $10 million in federal funding to establish 5-year demonstration grants for states to address the impact of substance use related and other trauma on children and youth in public schools by strengthening or building Handle with Care programs. These programs would:

  1. Develop and share evidence-based or evidence-informed training for trauma informed care and provide that training in schools connected to the program.
  2. Connect students who experience trauma at home to those resources in schools via the “Handle with Care” alert from law enforcement.
  3. Require programs to report on the success of the Handle with Care programs in improving student outcomes.

Endorsed By:            

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • AASA – School Superintendents Association
  • American School Counselor Association
  • National Association for School Psychologists
  • National Education Association
  • The National Crittenton Association
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • American Psychological Association
  • West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice

Examination of NRA Spending Shows a Tactic of Hidden Influence

DRUG TAKEBACK DAY EVENTS TO BE HELD ACROSS SOUTHSIDE VIRGINIA

~Attorney General Herring reminds Virginians to dispose of unused prescriptions, especially opioids, at one of many drop-off sites across the Commonwealth~

RICHMOND (April 24, 2018) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring is encouraging Virginians to take advantage of Saturday's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to dispose of unused or expired medications, especially prescription opioids, before they can be misused, abused, or accidentally ingested. Law enforcement agencies, community partners, and members of the Attorney General's team will be stationed at dozens of locations throughout the Commonwealth to accept medications for proper disposal. Takeback locations in the Southwide area, which will be open from 10am - 2pm, are listed below, and you can find a site near you by searching here.

"One of the simplest things we can all do to fight the opioid epidemic and make our homes and our communities safer is to get rid of unused prescriptions before they are misused, abused, or even accidentally ingested by a child or grandchild," said Attorney General Herring. "We know that opioid abuse often starts with drugs from the medicine cabinet, not the streets. Taking just a few minutes of your weekend to clean out your medicine cabinet and get rid of unneeded medication can be a huge step forward in making your home and you family safer."

There is a strong link between misuse of prescription opioids, opioid addiction, and even subsequent use of heroin once prescriptions become too expensive or are no longer accessible. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Heroin abuse is 19 times more likely among those who abuse prescription opioids.
  • Half of young people who used heroin got started by abusing prescription opioids.
  • One in fifteen individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers will try heroin within 10 years.
  • Studies show a link between the availability of prescription and illicit drugs and the likelihood of abuse.

In Virginia, opioid overdose deaths have risen steadily since 2010:

  • Heroin overdose deaths have risen more than 1,060% between 2010 and 2015, from 48 to 558.
  • Fentanyl deaths have risen by over 1,500% percent from 2007 to 2017, from 48 to 770.
  • Prescription opioid overdose deaths have risen 26% between 2007 and 2017, from 400 deaths to 504.

Attorney General Herring has made combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic a top priority, attacking the problem with a multifaceted approach that includes enforcementeducation, prevention, and legislation to encourage reporting of overdoses in progress, expand the availability of naloxone, and expand access to the Prescription Monitoring Program. He has supported federal efforts to improve the availability of treatment and recovery resources and made prescription drug disposal kits availableacross the Commonwealth. Attorney General Herring recently outlined his recommended next steps for combating the crisis, focusing on law enforcement initiatives, support from the medical community, and recovery, treatment, prevention and education. He is also participating in a multistate investigation into the practices of drug manufacturers and distributors to determine what role they may have played in creating or prolonging the crisis.

Drug Takeback locations include:

DANVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

CENTRA MEDICAL GROUP DANVILLE 
PARKING LOT - WEST END OF THE BUILDING

414 PARK AVE

DANVILLE

VA, 24541

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

MT. HERMON SHOPPING CENTER 
FOOD LION PARKING LOT

4048 FRANKLIN TURNPIKE

DANVILLE

VA, 24540

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE 
IN FRONT OF SHERIFF'S OFFICE

21 NORTH MAIN STREET

CHATHAM

VA, 24531

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

FOOD LION 
PARKING LOT

100 VADEN STREET

GRETNA

VA, 24557

MARTINSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

MARTINSVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT 
FRONT ENTRANCE

65 WEST CHURCH ST.

MARTINSVILLE

VA, 24112

LAWRENCEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

LAWRENCEVILLE MUNICIPAL BUILDING 
AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT

400 N. MAIN STREET

LAWRENCEVILLE

VA, 23868

FARMVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT/LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY PD

MIDTOWN SQUARE 
IN FRONT OF CHICK-FIL-A

156 S. SOUTH STREET

FARMVILLE

VA, 23901

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE DIVISION III HQS 
POC: SGT DREW MCCORMICK

240 THIRD DIVISION LOOP

APPOMATTOX

VA, 24522

APPOMATTOX COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

KROGER

7851 RICHMOND HWY

APPOMATTOX

VA, 24522

AMELIA COUNTY SHERFF'S OFFICE

AMELIA PHARMACY INC. 
FRONT SIDEWALK BY STORE ENTRANCE

15412 PATRICK HENRY HWY.

AMELIA

VA, 23002

AMELIA COUNTY SHERFF'S OFFICE

RITE AID PHARMACY 
FRONT SIDEWALK BY STORE ENTRANCE

15105 PATRICK HENRY HWY

AMELIA

VA, 23002

 

From Gun Shows to Capitol Debates, Firearms Are in the Crosshairs

2018 SVCC Corrections Awards

Southside Virginia Community College recently hosted the 10th Annual Corrections Awards Banquet  sponsored by Lawrenceville Correctional Center at the Christanna Campus in Alberta.  This night recognizes an officer of the year and employee of the year for Southside Virginia's correctional facilities.  Those recognized are (Front Row, Left to Right) Dora D. Hardy, employee for Baskerville Correctional Center, Officer Kathy Turner for Greensville Correctional Center, Officer Regina Pearson for Lawrenceville Correctional Center, Officer Joyce H. Bruce for Baskerville Correctional, Lt. Cynthia Power for Deerfield Correctional Center, Dinah Kreitz, employee for Lawrenceville  Correctional, Cecilia Presseau, employee for Lunenburg Correctional Center, and Sgt. Elsie Pennington for Lunenburg Correctional and (Back row, L to R) Sylvia Lawrence, employee for Greensville Correctional, guest speaker Warden Eddie L. Pearson of Greensville, Elizabeth Carr, employee for Deerfield Correctional, Sheron Jenkins, employee for Dillwyn Correctional Center, Officer Dolly Scruggs for Dillwyn, Pamela Labriola for Nottoway Correctional Center, Officer Tyrone Craighead for Nottoway Correctional Center, Officer John Towns for Buckingham Correctional Center, and Jennifer Andrews, Employee for Buckingham  Halifax Correctional  #23 was unable to attend but awards went to Officer Jonathan Carey and Rickey Childress, employee. 

USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development

RICHMOND, April 25, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity.

“Rural communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong, resilient futures,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use and access.”

The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural America.

An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery. Innovation Center staff will review these recommendations and direct customers to resources, services and expertise that will help their communities create transformative solutions to complex rural challenges.

The webpage also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation. These resources include USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant ProgramCommunity Connect Grant Program, and Community Facilities Programs.

Secretary Perdue established the Rural Development Innovation Center to streamline, modernize and strengthen the delivery of Rural Development programs. To do this, the Innovation Center is focused on improving customer service to rural communities and increasing rural prosperity through strategic partnerships and capacity-building, data analytics and evaluation, and regulatory reform.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Greensville County High School Scores $986 Athletics Grant from California Casualty

(L to R): Assistant Superintendent - Roland 'Tommy' Coleman, Coach - Charles D. Ross, Greensville County High School Principal - Lameka Harrison, Greensville UniServe Director Evette Wilson, Greensville County Education Association Building Rep Nateesha Maryland, California Casualty’s Scott McKenna
 
Emporia, VA, April 24, 2018 – Athletes at Greensville County High School (Emporia) will benefit from the 2018 California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program. It is one of 79 public middle schools and high schools in 32 states awarded a total of $83,000 to aid sports programs affected by tight budgets.
 
The school will use the $986 to provide new resistance bands, medicine balls and other equipment for the weight room that will benefit all PE classes and student athletes. Coach Charles Ross says the new equipment will help him provide a quality sports program at the school, and the items will have a positive effect on student-athletes for years to come.
 
Two other Virginia schools, Holston High School (Damascus) and Huguenot High School (Richmond), also received athletics grants from California Casualty this year.
 
The grant is named for California Casualty Chairman Emeritus Tom Brown, an avid sportsman who believes that teamwork, confidence and sportsmanship help develop high achievers in academics and in life.
 
Since its inception in 2011, more than $660,000 has been awarded to some 600 schools across the nation.
 
“All students should have the opportunity to compete,” said Lisa Almeida, Assistant Vice President. “California Casualty’s 67 year commitment to educators and schools also reaches to athletic fields.”
 
Public middle and high schools in the Old Dominion State with an unmet need for a sports program can try for next year; applications for the 2018/2019 California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grants are now being taken at www.calcasathleticsgrant.com. The deadline for consideration is January 15, 2019.
 
California Casualty has other initiatives that give back to educators for all their hard work including the “Wherever Your Journey Takes you…We’ll be there” sweepstakes for a chance to win a Dodge Journey, www.winajourney.com; $7,500 School Lounge Makeover®, www.schoolloungemakeover.com; and $200 Help Your Classroom grants, www.calcas.com/help-your-classroom.

 
Founded in 1914, California Casualty provides the NEA® Auto & Home Insurance Program, available to VEA members. Headquartered in San Mateo, California, with Service Centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas, California Casualty has been led by four generations of the Brown family. To learn more about California Casualty, or to request an auto insurance quote, please visit www.calcas.com/NEA or call 1.800.800.9410.

VA, WV SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO RENAME DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AS ‘DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT’

~ Bipartisan legislation would recognize Department’s focus on increasing economic opportunities in rural communities ~

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation that would rename the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The change would accurately reflect theDepartment’s increasing focus on improving the quality of life of more than 45 million Americans living in rural areas. The Department already provides significant financial resources and technical assistance to rural communities in the form of loans, loan guarantees, and grants that help support economic development in these areas. Renaming the agency would help highlight its mission of providing rural communities with access to critical infrastructure, broadband, telecommunications connectivity, capital, healthcare, and other essential resources.

“President Lincoln called USDA ‘The People’s Department’ because, dating back to its founding in 1862, it has always been the primary government entity charged with boosting economic development in rural communities. But at the time of USDA’s creation, nearly half of all Americans lived on farms, compared to just 2 percent today,” said Sen. Warner. “This bipartisan bill would highlight the USDA’s ongoing efforts to help rural communities thrive and underscore that part of its mission is increasing economic opportunity in rural America.”

“USDA plays an instrumental role in improving the lives of millions of Americans living in rural areas—especially in states like West Virginia,” said Sen. Capito. “The department has provided West Virginians access to increased broadband connectivity, improved health services, and critical infrastructure, and remains an important partner in these and other efforts. Renaming USDA will make it possible to recognize the agency’s role in creating more economic opportunity in rural communities, as well as its increasing role in rural development.”

“Today, the Department of Agriculture does more than provide assistance to farmers, it provides residents in rural areas in West Virginia with financial and technical assistance to confront the challenges many areas currently face,” said Sen. Manchin. “That’s why I believe the Department should be renamed and known for the services it should be focusing on, such as improving access to critical infrastructure, broadband, telecommunications connectivity, capital, healthcare, and other essential resources. Last year, I co-chaired the Appalachia Initiative where I discussed ways to address the challenges the rural communities in West Virginia face. This legislation will help shine a light on the Department of Agriculture’s vital work to ensure rural America does not get left behind.”

“USDA plays a critical role in promoting infrastructure and economic development in rural America. Too many rural communities lack clean drinking water, reliable broadband internet, and adequate health and transportation resources,” said Sen. Kaine. “The rural development mission of USDA is just as important as its agriculture, food safety, and nutrition missions and should be reflected in its title.”

President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress in 1862 that established the United States Department of Agriculture. Currently, USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The Department is the federal agency in charge of meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers, promoting agricultural trade and production, working to assure food safety, protecting natural resources, fostering rural communities and ending hunger in the United States and internationally. In 2012, USDA commemorated its 150th anniversary.

“Rural communities are a key pillar of America, however, they are often challenged by geographic isolation and persistent poverty. For the residents of rural America that continue to feel left behind in today’s economy, The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Act of 2017 offers a renewed focus on the economic matters specific to their community. BPC Action hopes this step by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) will better focus federal efforts around conditions in rural America and produce pragmatic solutions such as those recommended by BPC’s Appalachia Initiative,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of BPC Action.

“The National Cotton Council greatly appreciates the work and support of Sen. Warner to help address economic challenges facing the cotton industry and broader concerns in agriculture and across rural America.  We support the Senator’s efforts to highlight the critically important role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in providing rural development support and economic opportunities in our rural communities,” said Reece Langley, VP of Washington Operations of the National Cotton Council.

"America's turkey farmers appreciate Sen. Warner's support for the rural communities that supply our farm inputs and where many of the facilities that process the turkeys we raise are located. This effort to rename the Department of Agriculture "the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development" reinforces the importance of rural development in the mission of the Department and to rural communities. The National Turkey Federation thanks Sen. Warner for working to ensure the communities where our families, friends and neighbors work and go to school have access to the infrastructure and resources needed to thrive and grow" said Joel Brandenberger, President of the National Turkey Federation.  

“Historically, Rural Development programs have not been a priority within the Agriculture Department, regardless of political party in charge. We believe renaming the Department would elevate the Rural Development mission area and better reflect the importance of these programs for rural communities across the country,” said Robert A. Rapoza, Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition.

Sens. Warner and Manchin, along with Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), are co-chairs of the bipartisan Appalachia Initiative, a task force convened with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to find pragmatic, bipartisan solutions to Appalachia’s challenges. Last year, they released a report with a set of bipartisan recommendations to boost economic growth in Appalachia. Sens. Warner, Capito, and Manchin, along with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), have also introduced bipartisan legislation to expand economic opportunity in Appalachia.

The text of the bill can be found here.

Own a Business or Live in Brunswick County? Take the Broadband Survey

Dear Editor,

Greetings from the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors!

The Board of Supervisors adopted its Vision for 2035 in February 2017 to provide a guide, or road map if you will, for our County. Among those priorities in the Vision for 2035 included the following:

Premier Location for Economic Growth and Development

In response to this goal the Board of Supervisors voted to partner with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) - at no cost to the County — to conduct a comprehensive Broadband Needs Assessment Survey for the County to:

  • Identify gaps in broadband service,
  • Identify key vertical assets that could address the un-»“under-served areas,
  • Provide funding options for new infrastructure,
  • Define strategies for partnering with incumbent providers, and
  • Document methods for addressing broadband awareness and adoption to improve utilization for all citizens.

As you may be aware, better broadband access can enhance the quality of life for many through increased access to health services, improved communication with friends and family, and faster home entertainment streaming, as well as opportunities for working, shopping, and education from home.

I am certain that by now everyone has either seen in our local newspaper or on social media a request to go online to complete the Brunswick County Broadband Needs Assessment Survey. If you have filled out the survey we GREATLY appreciate your participation. The deadline to respond to this survey has been extended to Monday, April 30, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. The deadline to participate has been extended to permit more households and businesses an opportunity to be heard — as we stand today we are at an average of 9 % participation whereas we need to be in the 12 to 15 percent participation level to attract and be competitive with various broadband providers. The higher level of participation clearly signals that our citizens are serious about their interest in as well as showing concern for our education systems (public/private/higher ed/job retraining) and dire interest in attracting Economic Development opportunities to the County! Again, we need EVERY HOUSEHOLD OR BUSINESS to either complete a paper copy that is located at the public library, the County Government Building — Administration or Planning Offices or the Chamber of Commerce. You may still go online and complete the Broadband Needs Assesment Survey.

We look forward to your responses to the County’s Broadband Needs Assessment Survey.

Sincerely,

Barbara Jarrett Harris

Chair Brunswick County Board of Supervisors

Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. Reports First Quarter Earnings

KENBRIDGE, VA, April 23, 2018 - Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. (BMBN), the Kenbridge-based hold­ing company for Benchmark Community Bank, announced unaudited results for the first quarter of 2018.  Net income of $2,127,433, or $0.41 per share, for the first quarter of 2018 was up $459 thousand, or 27.5% over net income of $1,667,506, or $0.32 per share, for the first quarter of 2017.  Return on average assets increased from 1.20% to 1.45% and return on average equity increased from 10.43% to 12.52% when comparing the first quarter of 2018 the same period one year ago.

Loan demand remains strong.  Total loans, up by $5.9 million year-to-date, have increased by $39.8 million over the past twelve months.  Loan demand in the Henderson, NC and Wake Forest, NC markets have been the primary driver of this growth.  Total loans have increased by $7.5 million and $3.3 million, respectively, in these markets for the quarter and by $13.9 million and $21.6 million, respectively, over the past twelve months.  Yield on loans increased from 5.28% to 5.42% as the Federal Reserve continues to increase interest rates.  The result was an increase of $658 thousand, or 11.21%, in interest and fees on loans when comparing the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2017.

Total deposits at quarter-end amounted to $536.1 million, an increase of $12.2 million during the quarter and an increase of $29.2 million over the past twelve months.  During this time noninterest-bearing checking deposits are up $8.2 million, interest-bearing checking accounts are up $10.7 million, savings accounts are up $5.3 million, money market accounts are up $17.1 million, and time deposits are down $12.1 million.  The bank’s cost of funds has remained steady at 0.40%, resulting in a small $28 thousand increase in interest expense for the quarter.  The bank’s net interest margin increased from 4.47% to 4.71% when compared to one year ago. 

Net interest income, before the provision for loan losses, amounted to $6.35 million in the first quarter of 2018, up 11.3% from $5.70 million in the first quarter of 2017. 

Total noninterest income declined by $44 thousand, or 2.93%, as the gain on the sale of loans decreased from $292 thousand to $223 thousand for the quarter.  During the first quarter of 2017 the bank incurred a gain on the sale of securities of $52 thousand while no securities were sold during the first quarter of 2018.

Net charge-offs for the quarter amounted to $32 thousand, down from $139 thousand charged off during the first quarter of 2017.  Although charge-offs remain low and past-due loans are declining, management provisioned $156 thousand to the loan loss reserve during the first quarter of 2018, primarily as a result of loan growth.  Management provisioned $181 thousand to the reserve during the first quarter of 2017.  The current loan loss reserve stands at $4.8 million, or 0.98% of total loans. 

Foreclosed assets, at $3.2 million, are down from $3.8 million one year ago.  The bank incurred expenses, including valuation write-downs, related to foreclosed assets of $227 thousand in the first quarter.  This compares to $42 thousand expensed during the first quarter last year. 

The common stock of Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. trades on the OTC Pink marketplace under the symbol BMBN. Any stockbroker can assist with purchases of the company's stock, as well as with sales of holdings.

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge, VA, and is the company's sole subsidiary which oper­ates twelve banking offices through­out central Southside Vir­ginia and loan production offices in Wake Forest, NC and Henderson, NC.  Additional information is available at the company’s website, www.BCBonline.com.

  Three Months Ended March 31,
  (Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
  2018   2017   2016
Assets $608,800   $576,196   $535,440
Loans (gross) $492,684   $452,823   $427,689
Deposits $536,165   $506,992   $469,501
Equity $69,399   $65,672   $61,801
Equity to Assets 11.40%   11.40%   11.54%
Loans to Deposits 91.89%   89.32%   91.09%
           
Net Income $2,127   $1,668   $1,600
Effective Tax Rate* 19.09%   30.51%   30.61%
           
Return on Avg. Equity 12.52%   10.43%   10.48%
Return on Avg. Assets 1.45%   1.20%   1.21%
Earnings per Share $0.41   $0.32   $0.31
Book Value per Share $13.49   $12.71   $11.97
*Corporate tax rate reduced from 34% to 21% as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Erma F. Vincent

Erma F. Vincent, 85, of Emporia, passed away Monday, April 23, 2018. She was the daughter of the late Joseph W. and Annie Harrell Ferguson and was also preceded in death by three brothers, Kennon Ferguson, Wade Ferguson and Clayton Ferguson and sisters, Mamie Driver and Avis Frazier.

Mrs.Vincent is survived by her husband, Arnold S. Vincent; two daughters, Vicki V. Story and husband, Robert “Bobby” and Cindy V. Holloman and husband, Ricky; two grandchildren, Brandon R. Story and wife, Kristin and Eric L. Holloman; two great-granddaughters, Allison Grace Story and Anna Morgan Story; two sisters, Ruby Pearson and Bettie Veliky; a brother, Melvin Ferguson and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 25 at Forest Hill Baptist Church where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow in the church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Forest Hill Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 2103 Pine Log Rd, Skippers, VA 23879.

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

VCU Health CMH Saved My Life

Karen Kurz, a native of Ohio, whom currently resides in Bracey, VA.

SOUTH HILL -- You might not think it’s possible to mistake an appendicitis attack for the flu, but if you ask Karen Kurz from Bracey, Virginia, she will assure you it was actually pretty easy.

Karen was scheduled for a colonoscopy on a Wednesday at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital and began her prep on Tuesday. But prior to starting the prep, she began experiencing stomach cramps, which she attributed to being hungry since you can’t eat prior to a colonoscopy.

Being a compliant patient, Karen started her prep, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work as she got sick to her stomach. Stomach cramps, nausea and what inevitably happens when you begin prep for a colonoscopy certainly check off a lot of boxes that would lead a lay person to believe she had the flu. She also started running a slight fever that first day.

Move to day two and now the fever is rising and all the other symptoms continue unabated. She even had her husband text their son to let him know they wouldn’t be traveling to visit the grandkids that weekend because she ‘had the flu.’

Day two saw her fever spike to 102.2 with no let-up of her other symptoms. Unable to keep things down, Karen was quickly becoming dehydrated. Fast forward to day three and she finally experienced right lower quadrant abdominal pain  - severe enough abdominal pain to prompt a visit to VCU Health CMH’s Family Care.

There she was seen by Teresa Parham, nurse practitioner, and Dr. Paul Weidman.  A blood draw showed an extremely high white blood cell count, coupled with severe dehydration, nausea and pain and the Family Care providers moved her quickly to the Emergency Department.

That move, according to Karen’s husband, Ken, most likely saved her life.

“You have to know my wife to understand how tough she is,” he said. “I knew she was truly ill because she didn’t fight going to the doctor. For two days she thought she had the flu. But Teresa (Parham) took one look at her and sprang into action ordering a stat complete blood count to go along with a urinalysis and the physical exam. I firmly believe they, along with the ED staff and Dr. Michael Tozzi, saved her life. I can’t say enough good about the care provided by them and everyone at CMH.”

As Karen was wheeled from the CARE Building to the emergency department, things were already in motion. A CT confirmed a ruptured appendix which meant emergency surgery on a Thursday night.

Ken explained, “Dr. Tozzi came in and told us he would be performing the emergency appendectomy and he feared that she was going to face a serious ordeal. He explained that he would most likely have to open Karen up completely to take care of the problem.”

Normally the appendix can be removed through laparoscopic surgery, but because of the rupture, Karen would be looking at a full-blown 3-4 hour surgery.

“Karen was really, really sick,” her husband said. “When we got to the doctor’s office her blood pressure was 80 over 50 and everyone was afraid she was going into septic shock. Dr. Tozzi told me after surgery that she was in shock. This is the kind of stuff that people die from.”

According to Ken they worked in the emergency department infusing fluids into Karen prior to the surgery to get her BP up, but they also began an extensive regimen of antibiotics to battle the poison that was flooding her system from the ruptured appendix.

A three-hour surgery that saw Dr. Tozzi use about 10 liters of saline to flush Karen’s abdominal cavity saved her life.

“I can’t say enough about how everyone worked so well together, from Teresa and Dr. Weidman through the Emergency Department, Dr. Tozzi and all the nurses,” Ken said. “When someone you love experiences a life-threatening emergency, you don’t want to worry about the people taking care of that person.  I will tell you that I never once worried that she wasn’t receiving outstanding care. They kept me informed throughout the surgery, they all answered questions about what was going on, what could happen, what should happen.  It was exactly how I feel things should have been handled. They showed confidence in their abilities and I felt they were certainly capable of taking care of my wife.”

The good news is, Karen is home now after a six-day hospital stay.  She has an eight-inch incision to show for her “flu.” She does face a prolonged recovery period because of the seriousness of the surgery, cutting of her stomach muscles, and the infection because of the ruptured appendix, but the prognosis is very good.

“I believe we owe an incredible debt to VCU Health CMH, Teresa Parham, Paul Weidman, Michael Tozzi and all the other staff,” Ken said. “I know they saved Karen’s life.”

VSU Receives $249,800 Grant to Expand Urban Agriculture Education Through Distance Learning

Virginia State University has been awarded $249,800 by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to expand its urban agriculture education through distance learning.

“On behalf of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program, I am very excited about the new grant award, which will to enable us to expand the program and to reach a wider audience through distance education,” said Dr. Leonard Githinji, Extension specialist, sustainable & urban agriculture. “The distance-learning format will give many more people access to course content developed by experts from Virginia State and Virginia Tech Universities, and will appeal to participants who cannot physically attend the classes due to distance or time conflicts.”

Githinji plans to adapt his Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program from its current face-to-face format to a self-paced, online option that will increase the number of participants. The grant money will help cover the costs of acquiring the technology to deliver the program and supporting the personnel needed to implement the distance learning modules. The online learning format will offer participants some flexibility to complete the course’s 16 modules according to their schedules. Upon completing the program, participants will receive a certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture.

The program’s target audience includes Extension educators, Master Gardeners, teachers, home gardeners and commercial growers. At least 17 percent of Virginia’s population is affected by limited food access or food deserts. Urban agriculture, defined as the growing of plants and the raising of animals for food and other uses within and around cities and towns, has a huge potential in mitigating food deserts and situations of limited food access. Urban agriculture can help to remedy food desert situations, create economic opportunities in urban neighborhoods and help to nourish the health and social fabric of communities.

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.

SVCC Offers Apprenticeship Opportunties

Global Safety Textile (GST) of South Hill, developers and manufactures of airbags, airbag textiles and technical textiles, has partnered with Southside Virginia Community College to help develop and train twelve employees to become industrial maintenance technicians.

“In today’s current economy, hiring qualified maintenance mechanics is a challenge”, said Rob Deutsch, Director of Human Resources for the company.

For years, colleges saw enrollments declining in technical degrees such as Electrical and Mechanical. Unfortunately, for manufacturing this decline presents a real crisis. In fact, the hardest segment of the workforce to staff has been in the skilled trades: welders, electricians and mechanics.

GST, collaborated with SVCC’s Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Technical Training, and Kelly Arnold, Apprenticeship Coordinator, to formulate a strategy to train current employees. Apprenticeship is a tried and true method for training, remarks, Arnold.

“By combining educational classes with on-the-job training, apprentices learn exponentially,” she said.

Each class the employees are taking was selected with the intention of transforming the twelve into maintenance technicians for GST.

 The group began in January taking classes at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill.  The instructor applies hands-on training to the AC/DC Electrical class. 

Dr. Patton said, “All of our teachers in the program have real world experience.  We have former department lead instructor for Mechatronics and a host of teachers who are currently working in the Industrial Maintenance field to ensure the instruction is relevant.”

The college has also run apprenticeship training for Beach Mold, Georgia Pacific and Toll Brothers located in Emporia/Greensville.  

Each week the employees build on the previous class. While some are coming after work and others before work; both groups arrive ready to learn. Long days or nights at work, coupled with educational classes, homework, and tests all prove the group is willing and able to invest in themselves but also into preparing GST to beat the skills gap challenge.

While maintenance technician may not be the new career buzz, it is certainly a profession where both men and women can find employment in Southside Virginia. In fact, recent statistics indicate that job seekers are realizing that skilled trades are in hot demand. For the twelve at GST, the future is bright. The industrial maintenance program involves taking one class per week, for about 18 months, but provides an easily attainable goal. For more information about industrial maintenance or apprenticeship training, visit LCAKC or www. southside.edu   SVCC also offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance Technician.

Virginia Schools Participate in National School Walk-out - a CNS Social Media Story

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE DEDICATE HELIPAD TO HONOR TROOPER-PILOT KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN 2017

RICHMOND – Two Virginia governors joined more than 200 family and friends Wednesday (April 18, 2018) to formally dedicate and name the helipad at the Virginia State Police administrative headquarters in Chesterfield County. Governor Ralph Northam and former Governor Terry McAuliffe, along with Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and the family of Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates unveiled the new sign that designates the helipad in Bates’ memory.

(Pictured L-R) Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security Ryant Washington, Governor Ralph Northam, Fmr. Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security Brian Moran and Colonel Gary Settle with Trooper-Pilot Bates’ wife, Amanda, and their children.

“The Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates Helipad will serve as a lasting tribute to Berke’s incredible spirit and legacy as a public safety professional, aviator, father, son, brother, and friend,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “This memorial will be seen by those visiting our administrative headquarters and Academy. It is also rightly located just across the way from the very Academy doors Berke proudly walked through in January 2004 to begin his career as a Virginia State Police trooper. We hope this simple, but meaningful, tribute brings added and lasting comfort to his family, friends, and colleagues.”

Bates, 40, and the State Police Aviation Unit Commander, Lt. H. Jay Cullen III, became the Department’s 64th and 65th Virginia State Police line of duty deaths when their helicopter crashed Aug. 12, 2017, in Albemarle County. The Department dedicated its Chesterfield Aviation Base and Headquarters in Lt. Cullen’s memory in February 2018.

Trooper-Pilot Bates was born in Manassas, Va. and graduated from Brentsville District Middle-Senior High School in Nokesville, Va. in 1994. He served as a Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol from 1998 until he joined the Virginia State Police in 2004. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy on August 27, 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. His first assignment was in Virginia State Police Richmond Division’s Area 8 Office, which encompasses the City of Richmond and Henrico County. Less than a year later he became a member of the office’s Motors Unit, serving as a motorcycle trooper until 2013. He joined the Governor’s protection detail, known as the State Police Executive Protective Unit, in October 2013 and served with the unit for three years before accepting promotion to Special Agent with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office General Investigations Section. In July 2017, he became a Trooper-Pilot with the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit. Bates is survived by his wife, twin 12-year-old son and daughter, parents, and siblings.

The Virginia State Police initiated an aviation program in 1946 with four trooper-pilots who voluntarily worked on as an-needed basis and the acquisition of three Aeronca Chief 11AC airplanes. Helicopters were added to the fleet in 1970. The Department established an official Aviation Unit in 1984, which was the same year the Virginia General Assembly authorized funding for the creation of the Med-Flight program. Today the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit has 16 trooper-pilots, 13 flight nurses, 12 flight paramedics and four full and part-time mechanics assigned to its bases in Chesterfield, Lynchburg and Abingdon. The unit is equipped with three Bell 407 helicopters, two Airbus EC-145 helicopters, two Cessna 182 Skylanes and one Cessna 206 Stationair.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the fatal helicopter crash remains ongoing at this time.

Marvin Dallas Caish

Marvin Dallas Caish, 91, died Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

A native of Greensville County, he was the son of the late William Henry Caish and Mary Pearson Allen Caish. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wives; Adrinne Lynch Caish and Annie Kidd Caish, his brother; Lewis Caish, and sisters; Rebecca Weaver Caish and Lillian Carpenter.  A World War II Navy veteran, Mr. Caish retired from Georgia Pacific in Jarratt, and was a longtime member of Calvary Baptist Church. An avid gardener, he also enjoyed fishing and swimming with his family.

Mr. Caish is survived by his son; Marvin D. Caish Jr. of Ruckersville, Virginia, grandsons; Christopher D. Caish of Barboursville, Virginia, and Timothy J. Caish of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Great-grand-daughter; Charlianna Caish of Barboursville, Virginia.

Graveside Services , with military honors, will be held Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. at Greensville Memorial Cemetery with Rev. Andy Cain officiating.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

BETTY CLARKE HARRIS

Betty Clarke Harris, 60, of Bath, NC, died Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC.

Betty was born Richmond, VA., the daughter of the late W. Lawrence Clarke and Evelyn Weaver Clarke.

She graduated from Furrman College in Rocky Mount, Va., then graduated from the Nursing Program at Wilson Community College.

She obtained her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing, and her Master of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University.

Her Nursing career included serving as a Flight Nurse for East Care; working in different departments at Vidant and was currently a Nurse Education Specialist in the East Carolina Heart Institute.

Betty loved the ocean, sand, and fishing. Most of her spare time was spent at the coast casting her fishing rod and taking in God’s beautiful creation.

Surviving are: a brother, Edward Lawrence Clarke and his wife, Janet Tindall Clarke, of Roanoke Rapids, NC; a niece, Nicole Clarke Luck and her husband, John Michael Luck of Houston, TX. Also, two great nephews; Colin Clarke Luck and Noah Graeme Luck of Houston, TX. and all of her nursing family at Vidant.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 28at 4:00 pm in the Inter-Faith Chapel at Vidant Medical Center, Greenville, NC. with Rev. Jane Rose officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:  College of Nursing Scholarships at East Carolina University. Make checks to: ECU MHSG and make notion on check in memory of Betty C. Harris. Mail to:  Elizabeth Maxwell, 525 Moye Blvd., Mail stop 659, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, 27834-4354 or you can go online to make a donation at: http://www.ecu.edu/csdhs/nursing/support_us.cfm

Online condolences may be left at wrennclarkehagan.com

VCU Health CMH to Offer Babysitting Training Course

SOUTH HILL --The Health & Wellness Department of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill will offer the Smartkids 101 Babysitting Training Course this summer.

The Smartkids 101 Babysitting Training Course is especially designed for student’s age 11 to 14.  It teaches essential child care skills needed for responsible babysitters caring for infants, toddlers and older children.

The class will include child and infant safety, poison control, CPR, first aid and basic child care skills.  At the end of the class students will receive a babysitting certificate, and be certified in American Heart-Heart Savers CPR and First aid.  Students will also be taught to react in an emergency situation and know who to call.  Students will learn about the babysitting business, build self-esteem and learn skills that will last a lifetime.

This one day, 8-hour course will be taught in the VCU Health CMH Education Center (inside the C.A.R.E. Building) at 1755 N. Mecklenburg Avenue in South Hill from 8:00AM to 4:15PM on the following dates- June 15th, June 29th, July13th and July27th.  The class is free but limited to 10 participants. To register for one of these courses, please contact the Health & Wellness department at 434-774-2541. These classes fill up quickly, so call today!

Monument Reflects ‘Abiding Admiration’ for Native People

After Rally, House OKs Budget Expanding Medicaid

Waverly United Methodists Spruce Up Jackson-Feild

On a bright and beautiful – but windy – recent Saturday, nine volunteers from Waverly United Methodist Church performed a task of epic proportions.  They repainted 1,100 feet of fencing at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services.

When one turns onto Walnut Grove Drive in Jarratt, two columns and a white fence can be seen at the end of the long, straight country road.  Up close, it was evident that the fence was no longer as white and pristine as it once had been.

Waverly Church provided not only the volunteers, but 25 gallons of fence paint and spray equipment as well!  Mother Nature, though, provided the stiff breeze that resulted in a number of painters sporting a light coating of paint by the end of the day’s work.

The children and staff at Jackson-Feild wishes to thank these wonderful volunteers from Waverly United Methodist Church for all they’ve done to benefit the organization.

If you would like to offer a helping hand on a future project, please call Vice-President of Advancement Tod Balsbaugh at 804-354-6929 to see what the current needs may be.

VSU Celebrates Fourth 'Tree Campus USA' Award for its Dedication to Campus Forestry

Dignitaries show Tree Campus USA plaque updated with year 2017 for Virginia State University campus.

Petersburg, Va. – A crowd gathered on the campus of Virginia State University (VSU) on Tuesday for the 2017 Tree Campus USA Award Celebration. It is the fourth consecutive year that VSU has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship.

“I’d like to recognize the great leadership that has made this possible. It really does take all of us working together, the commitment that you have to this campus, to your green spaces, and to trees,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry.

Secretary Ring attended the recertification event along with Senator Rosalyn Dance, a VSU alumna, and administrators from the university.

“I’m proud of all the great stuff that’s happening here,” Dance said. “Tree Campus USA, VSU, all the way!”

“On this day, being honored and recertified is very special to us,” said VSU Provost Dr. Donald E. Palm. “Not only does it bring the community together, it brings the campus together, especially for our students to learn, our faculty to do research. It’s an awesome day.”

Events were held during the morning, including the creation of a living wall of flowers and strawberries. There were also presentations on water quality, sustainable foodand goatscaping, an environmentally friendly alternative to property clearing and weed removal. 

VSU was first named a “Tree Campus USA University” in 2015 and has been recertified annually. The university is only one of four post-secondary institutions in Virginia—along with Old Dominion University, the University of Mary Washington and Virginia Tech—to be recognized. The initiative was led by Joel Koci, associate Extension specialist in urban forestry with the College of Agriculture, who works each year with a committee comprising faculty, students and campus staff. To receive the designation, a university must meet five core standards: establish an advisory committee, develop a campus tree-care plan, allocate annual dedicated expenses of $3 per full-time student; hold a service-learning project; and host an Arbor Day celebration.

“Keep up the great work and thank you for all that you continue to do to support students and learning in agriculture and forestry,” Ring said.

The recertification ceremony was held beside a sycamore tree planted in 2015. The sycamore was selected because it grows large and has a long lifespan. The ceremony ended with the dedication of a plaque to recognize the march in Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights movement.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to inspiring people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor who served as secretary of agriculture under President Grover Cleveland, initiated the Arbor Day holiday in Nebraska in 1872. He is considered the father of Arbor Day nationally. Virginia celebrates Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

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

Congressman McEachin Introduced Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act

WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), a co-chair of the Reinvesting in our Returning Heroes task force, introduced the Disabled Access Credit Expansion (DACE) Act to assist small business owners comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), aiming to expand access and job opportunities for disabled Americans.

Currently, small businesses can receive a tax credit worth 50 percent of costs incurred to meet accessibility requirements under the ADA, up to a limit of $10,250. The DACE Act incentivizes proactive ADA compliance for small business owners by doubling the maximum allowable credit, which will reduce their liability and increase their ability to employ individuals with disabilities, including veterans.

“I introduced the DACE Act to help veterans and others with disabilities, while also helping small business owners make necessary structural improvements under the ADA—changes that will enable them to employ, and serve, more individuals with disabilities,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Unfortunately, far too many of our dedicated servicemembers come home with permanent injuries. As our returning veterans transition to civilian life, we need to do more to help them find well-paying jobs and continue to support themselves and their families. Enabling businesses to more easily hire these veterans, and any American who wants to work, is one of the best steps we can take.”

“Our veterans bring unique skills and experiences to the workforce and it is our duty to ensure that they have every opportunity while transitioning back to civilian life and finding meaningful employment,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “Congressman McEachin’s Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act will give veterans with disabilities the opportunity to secure well-paying jobs while providing incentives to our nation’s small businesses. I am proud to join him and my colleagues in this effort to help our veteran communities transition to the civilian workforce.” 

“The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act led by Congressman Donald McEachin reinforces House Democrats’ commitment to improve access for Americans with disabilities,” said House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (CA-38). “I am proud to join with members of the Democratic Caucus Jobs for America Task Force to introduce legislation that helps America’s small businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and increases access for people with disabilities and veterans.”

The Disabled Access Credit Expansion (DACE) Act would:

  • Increase the maximum eligible expenses to $20,500;
  • Double the maximum possible credit for small business owners from $5,000 to $10,125;
  • Make the credit more widely available by expanding the definition of “small business” to include companies with income of $2.5 million or less; and
  • Index the updated maximum eligible expenses to keep pace with inflation.

“In light of legislative efforts like H.R. 620, it is more important than ever that we champion basic fairness and equal access,”said Congressman McEachin. “My bill takes a better path, helping not just people with disabilities, but our hardworking small business owners.”

This bill is endorsed by Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). Full bill text is available here.

More Greyhounds May Need Homes if Florida Bans Racing

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