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Meherrin Regional Library System is seeking a Public Services Librarian for the W. E. Richardson, Jr. Memorial Library, Emporia, VA. For details visit the Employment page at www.meherrinlib.org.

Candidates interested in attending should email news@emporianews.com if they do not receive a message from me. Campaigning (within reason) will be allowed before and after the event. Given the number of candidates, however, tables and chairs will not be allowed in the lobby.

Citizens may email their questions for their candidates to news@emporianews.com. The candidates for this year's forum are (in State Board of Elections order NOT Ballot Order):

 

Clerk of the Circuit Court

  • George E. Morrison, III
  • Joann Conner
  • Linda Edwards

 

 
Greensville County Sheriff
  • Stephen King
  • W. T "Tim" Jarratt

 

Member, Board of Supervisors, Zion
  • Belinda D. Astrop
  • Raymond L. Bryant, Jr.
     
Member, Board of Supervisors, Hicksford
 
  • James R. Brown
  • Michael W. Ferguson
Member, Board of Supervisors, Belfield
  • William B. "Bill" Cain
  • Jacqueline Jordan (Running as a Write-in)  
Member, Greensville County School Board, Nottoway
  • Drexel W. Pierce, Jr.
  • Alexis E. Jones

All candidates running in uncontested races will be given time at the end of the forum to intriduce themselves.

Date in pending upon approval of the Greensville County School Board.

Panther Prep Advising Day is Coming to SVCC October 17

Everyone is invited to a huge event happening at six locations of Southside Virginia Community College on Thursday, October 17, 2019 .  Panther Prep Advising Day will be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for all current students, those interested in becoming a student or learning more about the college. The Event at Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.  The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The event is being held at the Christanna Campus, Alberta, John H. Daniel Campus, Keysville, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, South Boston, Estes Community Center and Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center, South Hill.  And of course, Emporia from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

SVCC will show its Panther Pride on this day with fun, food, DJs, door prizes and offering help with registering for Spring Classes, applying for financial aid and advisors getting students on the right path to success. 

For information, call Leslie Perkins at 434 736 2022.

‘No pedestals, no weapons, no horses,’ -- Women’s Monument Unveiled on Capitol Square

By Susan Shibut, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Hundreds watched as the first seven statues of “Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument” were unveiled on the Capitol grounds this morning, on Indigenous Peoples Day. 

The monument is the nation’s first created to showcase remarkable women of Virginia.

Mary Margaret Whipple, vice chair of the Women’s Monument Commission, said the monument embodies the goals of the commission to honor real women in a way that is not mythic or symbolic. The Virginia General Assembly established the commission to determine and recommend an appropriate women’s monument for Capitol Square in 2010. 

“These women rose to the occasion and made significant achievements,” Whipple said. “They were from all walks of life. From different times and places. They were famous and obscure. Real women. Even imperfect women. Who have shaped the history of this commonwealth.” 

Clerk of the Senate Susan Clarke Schaar spoke about the decade-long process for the design and realization of the monument. She worked with professors and historians to design the structure. 

“No pedestals, no weapons, no horses,” Schaar said. “They wanted it to be approachable. They wanted it to be warm and welcoming. And they wanted to convey a sense of consensus building. And they wanted young women and young men to know that they could do anything they wanted to do with their lives.”

Gov. Ralph Northam said the monument is long overdue. 

“For far too long we have overlooked the transformative contributions of women and other underrepresented groups,” said Northam. “Until recently that has been the case on Capitol Square as well.”

Capitol Square is also home to the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, opened in 2008, and “Mantle,” a monument dedicated to Virginia’s Indian tribes in 2018. 

Artist Kehinde Wiley last month in Times Square unveiled “Rumors of War,” a statue of a young African American man on a horse in a pose modeled after Confederate monuments. The statue will be permanently moved to the entrance of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Arthur Ashe Boulevard in December.

2019 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America. It also marks the 400th anniversary of the first slaves arriving in Virginia. 

Sen. Ryan McDougle, a Republican running for reelection in the 4th District, brought his daughter Reagan on stage with him. He said the monument was about inspiring the accomplishments of women yet to come. 

“It’s about Reagan, and all the girls here today, and all the girls that will come; whether they have those role models in their families or not, they will be able to see that women that have come before them have achieved tremendous things,” McDougle said.

When the monument is completed it will feature a dozen bronze statues on a granite plaza and an etched glass Wall of Honor inscribed with 230 names of notable Virginian women and room for more. For a future honoree to qualify for the wall, she must be a native Virginian or have lived mostly in Virginia and must be deceased for at least 10 years.

The granite wall features a quote excerpted from a 1912 address that Mary Johnston, a 20th century Virginian author, made to an all-male Richmond conference of state governors:

“It did not come up in a night, the Woman Movement, and it is in no danger of perishing from view. It is here to stay and grow … It is indestructible, it is moving on with an ever- increasing depth and velocity, and it is going to revolutionize the world.”

The seven completed statues are Anne Burras Laydon, a Jamestown colonist; Cockacoeske, Pamunkey chieftain; Mary Draper Ingles, a frontierswoman; Elizabeth Keckly, seamstress and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln; Laura Copenhaver, an entrepreneur in the textile industry; Virginia Randolph, an educator; and Adèle Clark, suffragist and artist. 

Five more statues will be added as they are funded and completed — Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, America’s inaugural first lady; Clementina Bird Rind, the first female printer in Virginia; Sally Louisa Tompkins, a hospital administrator; Maggie L. Walker, a civil rights leader and entrepreneur; and Sarah G. Boyd Jones, teacher and physician. 

The statues, which each required a $200,000 investment, were sculpted by New York-based Ivan Schwartz, who also crafted the Capitol’s Thomas Jefferson statue.

Schwartz spoke about the lack of statues to, for, or about women. According to the Washington Post, of the estimated 5,193 public statues depicting historic figures on display on street corners and parks throughout the United States, 394 are of women. 

“Women have been excised from the marble pedestal of history,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz has recently worked on other sculptures of notable women around the country. He mentioned projects highlighting Susan B. Anthony, Anne Frank and Harriet Tubman.

“I still make sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington,” Schwartz said. “I don’t turn my back on these good gentlemen. But their gentlemen’s club, which has occupied our national living room, our nation’s public spaces, has at last started to admit women, African Americans and Native Americans.”

Girl Scouts unveiled the structures, pulling back a blue cloth as the name of each statue was announced by Susan Allen, chair of the Virginia Capitol Foundation and former first lady of Virginia. The Girl Scouts represented councils from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Skyline and the Colonial Coast. 

Allen gave closing remarks, calling the occasion “a monumental day.”

“Let us recognize our diverse past, and those on whose shoulders we stand so proudly today and be inspired to work on for a better future for our daughters and the young leaders of tomorrow like these lovely young women here today,” Allen said.

Annual Ginger and Turmeric Field Day Focuses on New Varieties and Health Finding

Dr. Reza Rafie holds baby ginger grown at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm.

Virginia Cooperative Extension will conduct its Ginger and Turmeric Field Day Thursday, October 24, 2019, at Virginia State University (VSU), Petersburg, Va. The popular annual program will cover both the health benefits of ginger and turmeric, as well as techniques to successfully grow and market it. Participants will also visit VSU’s Randolph Farm, where they will see four new varieties of container and outdoor grown ginger, as well as learn about the harvesting, washing and packing of the crops for market. Additionally, participants will learn about the runaway success story of Richmond’s Hardywood Brewery Gingerbread Stout, which features locally-grown ginger.

Pre-registration is required and costs $20 per person. It includes a boxed lunch.

At the program new VSU research will be announced that confirms immature ginger, or “baby” ginger, contains about twice as many polyphenols and has two to three times more antioxidation activity than the mature ginger found in most grocery stores. “That means if you’re eating ginger for its health benefits,” said Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, associate professor of food sciences at VSU’s Agricultural Research Station, “you may be selling yourself short at the supermarket, which traditionally offers only mature ginger, recognizable by its light brown color.”

Unfortunately for consumers though, 100 percent of the ginger found at the supermarket is imported, largely from Southeast Asia on container ships. From the time it’s packed until it makes its way into our kitchens is usually months. “Baby ginger is more perishable than its older counterpart, which naturally features a papery skin to lock in moisture and freshness,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, horticulture Extension specialist at VSU. “The immature ginger just couldn’t make the voyage.”

So, what’s a health-conscious, ginger-lover to do? Rafie and others at the field day will present solutions that not only hold benefits for consumers, but also for U.S. small-scale farmers, as well.

Since it takes less time to grow and harvest baby ginger (seven to eight months, Rafie explained, compared to commercial ginger, which matures in the ground for about 10-11 months), the tropical plant can grow in regions with shorter growing seasons than Southeast Asia. Rafie explained he and many others have had great success growing baby ginger in pots and in raised beds up and down the East Coast.

“But it’s a crop that must be sold close to home and quickly,” he added. “It’s perfect for those small-scale farmers who sell direct to consumers at farmers markets or through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs or to chefs, who prefer it for its more delicate taste and the fact it doesn’t need to be peeled.”

Presenters at the field day will also discuss the potential profitability of growing baby ginger. Immature ginger is selling this fall for about $5 to $10 a pound, depending on the market, remarked Rafie. Compared with traditional small-scale farming crops like tomatoes or sweet potatoes, which were selling this summer at a Richmond, Va farmers market for $2 and $1.50* respectively, baby ginger can offer farmers the opportunity for greater profits per production area.

He explained that production results at VSU have shown that each ginger plant has the potential of producing three to eight pounds of marketable baby ginger, depending on production techniques, including fertilizer, irrigation, disease management and mounding.

“The market potential is considerable,” says Rafie.

The program will be held in the L. Douglas Wilder Building Auditorium, Carter G. Woodson Avenue on the VSU campus.

For more information, visit the VSU Cooperative Extension calendar of events at ext.vsu.edu and click on the event. If you desire further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Klingman at mjklingman@vsu.edu or

804-524-5493/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

Front Desk Clerk:  Ensures the highest standards for service, safety, privacy and comfort are maintained for all guests. Responds to all guests needs and requests in a timely and professional manner. Coordinates with other departments to ensure guests needs are taken care of.  Job Order #1800298

 

Accountant:  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to using accepted accounting principles to complete reconciliations, maintain financial reports, records, and preparing general ledgers accounting entries, reconciliation of financial records to various external units, tracking appropriations allocation of funds and expenditures. Conducting financial investigations and participation in the internal and external audits and reports preparation. Performs other accounting functions for agency operations.  Job Order #1797804

 

Warehouse Associate: Duties and responsibilities include picking, packing, decasing, scanning, loading/unloading trucks, labeling, stocking, retrieving and auditing with speed and accuracy. Lifting and stacking boxes onto conveyors and pallets. Using hand jack to move pallets. Flexibility to perform other duties as assigned, rotate to other departments/buildings and work extended hours, as needed. Maintains a clean and orderly work area.  Job Order #1797329

 

Production Worker:  Must be able to work inside and outside of the lumber yard in temperature controlled conditions. Must be able to physically handle wood, pallets, and any heavy lifting required. Will be running wood thru the machines and placing wood on the pallets for shipments.  Willing to work and be dependable each day.  Job Order #1769637

 

THESE AND ALL JOBS WITH THE VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION CAN BE FOUND ONLINE AT

www.vawc.virginia.gov

The Virginia Employment Commission is An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

La Comision de Empleo de Virginia es un empleador/programa con igualdad de portunidades.  Los auxiliaries y servicios estan disponibles a dedido para personas con discapacidades

Gene Seward

March 28, 1949 - October 12, 2019

Visitation Services

1 p.m., Tuesday, October 15

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m., Tuesday, October 15

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Road
Jarratt, Virginia
 

Gene Seward, 70, of Jarratt, passed away Saturday, October 12, 2019. He was preceded in death by his father, James W. Seward, Sr. and a sister, Arlene Leasburg. He was a retired employee of Greensville Correctional Center and a USMC veteran of the Vietnam War where he earned the Purple Heart.

Gene is survived by his wife, Betty V. Seward; son David Seward (Paula); his mother, Frances Seward; three brothers, James Wilson Seward, Jr. (Diane), Leon Seward (Rita) and Billy Seward (Gail); a number of nieces and nephews and his beloved “grandpuppy” Roscoe.

The funeral service will be held 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 15 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at St. John Lutheran Church Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Jarratt Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 562, Jarratt, Virginia 23867.

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

Elton Alexander Lucy

September 18, 1929 – October 9, 2019

Memorial Service

2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pleasant Hill Christian Church
175 Ankum Road
Gasburg, Virginia

Elton Alexander Lucy, age 96, of Lake Gaston-Henrico, N.C. and Emporia, Va., passed away October 9, 2019. The son of Charlie Lear Lucy and Daisy Browder Lucy, Elton was born September 18, 1923 and raised in Lawrenceville, Virginia.  February 11, 1943 he married his high school sweetheart, Lucille Baird Lucy.  They had 65 happy years together until her death in 2008. He was also preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Joseph Gilbert Lucy and Emory Lear Lucy, and a sister, Phyllis Lucy Daniel.  He is survived by his son, Gerald W. Lucy of Lawrenceville, and his daughter, Glenda Lucy Pope and her husband, Linwood, of Emporia, Va.  He is also survived by his grandchildren, Lin Pope, Charles Pope and his wife, Tina, all of Emporia, Jeremy Lucy and his wife, Angie, of Dolphin, Va., and Daisy Lucy Cary and her husband, Tommy, of Liberty, Texas. Great grandchildren are Emily Pope, Carter Pope, Allie Pope, Charlie Pope, Meredith Lucy, Abbie Grace Lucy, River Lucy, Sadie Cary, and Rock Cary.  He is also survived by a niece, June Lucy Spurlock, of Reno, Nevada and a nephew, Danny Hale Daniel, of Courtland, Va.

Elton worked for the U.S. Postal service from 1961-1985 serving as Assistant Postmaster in Emporia, Va. and as Postmaster in Lawrenceville, Va.  He was a member of Pleasant Hill Christian Church, Gasburg, Va. where he was an Honorary Lifetime Elder, Chairman of the Finance Committee and Treasurer of his Sunday School Class.  During World War II, he served in the Army Transportation Corp aboard the hospital ships USAHA Louis A. Milne and USS Chateau Therry.  

A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 13, 2019 at Pleasant Hill Christian Church, 175 Ankum Road, Gasburg, Va.  There will be a reception following the service in the Family Life Building.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Memorial Fund of Pleasant Hill Christian Church.  Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville will be handling the arrangements.    

Virginia Ranks Among States With Lowest Crime Rates

 

By Jaclyn Barton, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia had the fourth lowest violent crime rate and 13th lowest property crime rate in the United States last year, according to new data from the FBI.

The commonwealth had 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2018, the data showed. Only Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire had a lower violent crime rate. Nationally, there were 369 violent offenses per 100,000 population.

Virginia had about 1,666 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. A dozen states — topped by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont — had lower property crime rates. Nationwide, the rate was 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 population.

From 2017 to 2018, the violent crime rate decreased 3% and the property crime rate fell 7% nationwide and in Virginia.

All of Virginia’s metropolitan areas had violent crime rates below the nationwide level, and most were below the national rate for property crimes.

The Winchester and Harrisonburg metro areas had the least violent crime — fewer than 140 offenses per 100,000 population.

The metro areas with the most violent crime were Roanoke (235 offenses per 100,000 residents), Richmond (239), Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (265) and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (307).The Virginia metro areas with the least property crime were Harrisonburg (1,137 offenses per 100,000 population) and Lynchburg (1,350). The metro areas with the most property crime were Richmond (2,156 offenses per 100,000 residents), Roanoke (2,378) and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (2,405).

Under the FBI’s definition, violent crimes include murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.

Although Virginia’s overall statewide and metro-area crimes rates generally were low, the data revealed some trouble spots — especially regarding homicides.

Nationwide, there were 5 murders for every 100,000 people last year. Virginia’s murder rate was 4.6 per 100,000 population.

Most Virginia metro areas had murder rates below the national average. For example, the Winchester area didn’t report any homicides last year; the Blacksburg-Christiansburg area had just one; and the Charlottesville area had three (for a rate of 1.4 per 100,000 population).

But the murder rates in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria and Lynchburg metro areas were at the national average of 5 killings per 100,000 residents. The murder rates exceeded the national level in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News and the Roanoke metro areas (about 7 murders per 100,000 residents) and the Richmond area (almost 8 murders per 100,000 population).

Murder rates were well above the national average in several Virginia cities, the FBI data showed. The murder rate last year was 44 killings per 100,000 population in Petersburg, 27 in Danville, 23 in Richmond, 21 in Portsmouth and 15 in Norfolk.

Of the 490 U.S. cities with a population between 25,000 and 35,000, only three had a higher murder rate than Petersburg. (One of the three was Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in 2018.)

Of the 31 U.S. cities with a population between 200,000 and 250,000, only two (Birmingham, Alabama, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana) had a murder rate higher than Richmond last year.

Among cities in Virginia, Portsmouth, Newport News, Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke all had violent crime rates and property crime rates above the national average.

The Roanoke Police Department is active in community outreach programs created to reduce crime. They include neighborhood watch groups, a summer youth basketball league and programs to help students read and do their homework. Police officials attend as many as 30 community events each month.

“There is no way to determine causation factors for a potential decrease in crime. It could be a number of different reasons, and we cannot determine that any of our community outreach or crime prevention has impacted the crime rates,” said Caitlyn Cline, who does community outreach, public information and crime prevention for the Roanoke Police Department.

In 2018, Richmond reported 52 murders — more than any other city or county in Virginia. Still, that was a far cry from two decades ago.

“I don’t think Richmond or Virginia has a particularly high murder rate relative to places like Maryland and Baltimore,” said Patrick Lowery, assistant professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University.

He said that in 1994, the number of murders in Richmond “peaked at 160. In 2014, we were down to 43, so that’s about four times less homicides relative to 10 or 15 years ago.”

Overall, violent crime in every major American city has decreased since the early 1990s. Lowery attributes that to many factors, such as community outreach programs and changing sentencing laws.

The FBI data release, from an annual report called Crime in the United States, represents statistics reported by about 16,700 law-enforcement agencies last year.

In June, the Virginia State Police issued a state-level report called Crime in Virginia. The State Police report covered additional crimes such as kidnapping and abduction.

A total of 1,696 kidnapping and abduction offenses were reported in 2018. That number was up 6% from 2017. Prince William County had the most kidnappings last year — 111.

“It’s not as if random people are getting snatched off the street,” said Sgt. Jonathan Perock, supervisor for the Prince William County Police Department. “The majority of the time, it’s a domestic incident in which both parties are known to one another.”

 

 

Schools With the Best and Worst Graduation Rates

By Sravan Gannavarapu, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Three small rural school districts had 100% graduation rates this year, and the Brunswick County, Manassas and Richmond school systems had the state’s lowest graduation rates, according to data released by the Virginia Department of Education.

Colonial Beach and Charles City, which each had fewer than 50 students in their 2019 graduation classes, and Highland County, which had just 14, graduated all of their seniors. Twenty-seven district had rates of at least 95%, including such larger school districts as York, Montgomery and Hanover counties.

The proportion of Virginia high school students graduating on time dipped from 91.6% in 2018 to 91.5% in 2019, the data showed.

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said Virginia’s on-time graduation rate has risen by more than 10 percentage points in the decade since the department began reporting graduation rates that account for every student who enters the ninth grade.

“I believe this long-term, upward trend will continue as school divisions and the commonwealth adopt equitable policies and practices that provide instructional and support services tailored to the unique needs of every learner,” Lane said.

During the past school year, 74 of the state’s 131 districts had graduation rates above the statewide average. That was true of 197 of Virginia’s 327 high schools.

Eleven high schools — most of them with 50 or fewer students — had 100% graduation rates in 2019. Six of those schools achieved perfect rates the previous year as well: Chincoteague High in Accomack County; Highland High in Highland County; Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News; Open High and Franklin Military Academy in Richmond; and Chilhowie High in Smyth County.

Greensville County Public Schools, which covers both Greensville County and the City of Emporia had a dropout rate of 9.1% and a graduation rate of 86.6%.  The graduation rate for the previous year was 88.8% while the dropout rate was 8.6%.

Among high schools with at least 400 seniors, three had graduation rates of 99% or higher: Thomas Jefferson High for School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County; Cosby High in Chesterfield County; and Rock Ridge High in Loudoun County.

Analysis of the data also showed that:

  • The Lunenburg County, Colonial Beach and Charles City County school divisions registered the most improvement in their graduation rates in 2019. Each district’s rate jumped by more than 10 percentage points from 2018.
  • The Brunswick, Amherst and Sussex County school divisions saw the biggest drops in graduation rates — at least 7 percentage points.

Many of the students who did not graduate on time are still pursuing their high school diploma or a GED. Other students, however, have quit school and are considered dropouts.

Statewide, the dropout rate rose from 5.5 in 2018 to 5.6 this past year. The dropout rates varied among demographic and socioeconomic groups. The rate was:

  • 4% for female students and 7% for male students
  • 2% for Asian students, 3% for white students, 6% for African American students and 17% for Hispanic students
  • 8% for economically disadvantaged students, 9% for students with disabilities, 22% for homeless students and 26% for English language learners
  • The Richmond Public Schools had the highest dropout rate in 2019 — more than 24%.

“We are of course deeply disappointed by the latest graduation numbers, but as we shared last spring, we knew a decline was possible — if not likely — as we stopped a number of inappropriate adult practices that were artificially inflating our rate,” Jason Kamras, superintendent of the Richmond school district, said in a statement.

“We clearly have more work to do, but I’m confident we are now heading in the right direction.”

Chesterfield County, which had a dropout rate of 7%, planned to do a “complete audit” of every student who had quit school, said Superintendent Merv Daugherty.

“This involves making personal contacts with each family with a goal of having the student re-enroll,” Daugherty said. “Additional student support services are also being incorporated to work with students who may be vulnerable to dropping out.”

DRS Imaging Partners with Southside Virginia Community College to Invest in Virginia Families

DRS employees outside the facility in Clarksville,Virginia are (Left to Right) Jamie Caknipe, Kelly Gordon, Judieth Cain, Allene Thompson, Shelby Russell , Shantell Cheatwood, Alexis Gregory, Bruce Terry (New Production Manager) Clifford Newman (CEO), Jeanette Rawlings (New Floor Manager) , Tiffany Slagle, SVCC Instructor,  Michelle Jiggetts, Shavonda Hurt, Shavonne Hargrove, Monica Vaughan, Nick Jean-Baptiste, DRS Board Member and Investor, Jessica Caknipe,  and Calvin Long.

A new partnership between DRS Imaging Services, LLC (“DRS”) and Southside Virginia Community College (“SVCC”) has the potential to increase the skillset of Clarksville, Virginia residents, while also creating jobs in the local community.

DRS, a document scanning, storage and retrieval services company located in Clarksville, and SVCC have created an innovative partnership which offers college classes to DRS employees during work hours. The aim of the partnership is to empower DRS’ workforce to meet a growing demand for its services, while also investing in the families of Clarksville.

The partnership is a part of DRS’ on-going commitment to the communities in which it works, particularly rural communities. This new partnership is a good fit for the rural Virginia community, as Governor Ralph Northam has made rural workforce development a priority. He recently stated at the Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity that investing in jobs and workforce development are critical to help the commonwealth’s rural communities thrive.

The first class offering, Introduction to Business, has helped DRS employees grow their skills and enhance their productivity, both on the job and off.

Bruce Terry of Clarksville, a 37-year-old DRS employee, enrolled in the class and was recently promoted to production manager.  He considered college at one time but, instead, joined the workforce out of high school.  The Introduction to Business course is allowing Bruce to now revisit his desires to attend college, he said. 

“It also allows something that my stepdaughter, a freshman at Old Dominion University, and I  can bond over”, he continued. 

Shavonne Hargrove, a mother of three and DRS employee, admits, “I was nervous about taking a college class, especially the testing part”.  However, she has endeavored to learn business and believes that this class will improve her job performance and increase her personal satisfaction.   

Jeanette Rawlings, a floor supervisor, shares that being a college student makes her a role model for her two daughters.  “Anything I can do to help my kids, I am going to do,” said Rawlings.

DRS has eleven nationwide offices, and the company has employed Southside Virginians at the local site for over 16 years. DRS CEO Cliff Newman, inspired by his own father’s success as an entrepreneur, has always sought solutions for a more productive and empowered workforce. The partnership with SVCC was, to him, a no-brainer.

“We have hundreds of employees nationwide and we work hard to take care of them,” said Newman. “Our employees are our core asset, and by investing in them, we are investing in our business. Giving employees an opportunity to gain college credits towards a diploma helps them and, candidly, is also beneficial to the growth of our business.”

Nick Jean-Baptiste, Board Member and an investor in DRS said, “DRS is growing the local community, our employees and our bottom line.  Partnering with SVCC enables us to reach these goals.”

The classes, which are held in a conference room that was quickly converted into an educational classroom to hold 16 eager students, have exceeded everyone’s high expectations. The students love their teacher, Tiffany Slagle, an SVCC Accounting instructor.

 “It has been such an amazing experience working with students outside of the traditional college setting and stepping out of my comfort zone,” said Slagle. “This in-house training program is such a wonderful opportunity for the employees and I am very excited to be a part of it.”

Dr. Chad Patton, SVCC Dean of Career and Occupational Technology, sees this partnership as something that can be replicated by other companies and other community colleges. The partnership, he said, has been a success due to DRS’s commitment.

Dr. Patton said, “It has been a pleasure to work with DRS on creating this opportunity.  It is obvious the company is dedicated to improving their employee's lives and is willing to make this happen.”

Martha Ann Powell Jasso

September 1, 1953 - October 2, 2019

Graveside Services Visitation

2pm October 19th

Zion Baptist Church Cemetery
974 Zion Church Road
Skippers, Virginia

October 19th following service until 4:30 pm

Zion Baptist Church
974 Zion Church Road
Skippers, Virginia

Martha Powell Jasso (66) our beloved mother and sister departed her earthly home into God's hands on Wednesday, October 2nd.  For over a year, Mom was in hospice.  She always showed strength and love as she battled the ups and downs associated with her illness, ultimately succumbing to complications from a stroke.

There will be a graveside service 2pm October 19th at Zion Baptist Church Cemetery (974 Zion Church Road Skippers Virginia).  The family will provide refreshments and receive friends to celebrate Martha's life in the Fellowship Hall until 4:30 p.m.  We welcome any pictures and stories of our mother you'd like to share.

Mom enjoyed collecting Angels, watching QVC and Hallmark, observing Birds and other wildlife on her many feeders.  Her favorite thing was visiting with her children, grandchildren and staying connected with family and friends.

Martha was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, however, enjoyed Texas for many years before returning to Virginia.  She loved her time in Emporia, Virginia working as a Radiologist Assistant in the local hospital while caring for her aging parents.  Mom ultimately settled in the Greensboro, NC area to be closer to her three grandchildren.

In addition to her parents Posey Odell Powell (2011) and Betty Ray Powell (2001) she is preceded in death by her brother Mitchell Ray Powell (2015).

Surviving are her Daughters Wendy Conner (Tony) of Julian, NC and Debra Barnes (Chris) of McLeansville, NC; Father of her children Joseph Boyette of Greensboro,  NC; Grandchildren Shelby, Krandle, Emily and Christopher; Sister Patricia Earnhardt (Jerry) of Emporia, VA; Brother Terry Powell (Wanda) of Emporia,  VA; Sister-in-law Melanie Powell of Skippers, VA;  Nephews Tommy, Carl and Robert; Nieces Crystal, Michelle, Caitlin and Lindsey;  and several greatnephews and greatnieces she adored.

We cannot thank the nurses and staff of the Hospice Home of Alamance-Caswell enough as we witnessed their love and compassion to our mother during her final days.

Mom will forever be in our hearts but we know that she is pain-free surrounded by her family that has gone before and is in the presence of our Lord and Saviour.

Flowers can be sent to Echols Funeral Home, 806 Brunswick Ave, Emporia, VA or In Memory Of Mom donations can be made to Hospice Home of Alamance-Caswell (www.hospiceac.org)

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE WELCOMES 59 NEW TROOPERS TO ITS RANKS

RICHMOND – On Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, the Commonwealth graduated its 130th generation of Virginia State Troopers. The 59 new troopers were presented their diplomas during commencement exercises at 10 a.m. at the State Police Training Academy located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County. Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Ryant Washington was in attendance of the graduation ceremony.

The new troopers have received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, survival Spanish, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival, cultural diversity and crisis management. The members of the 130th Basic Session began their 29 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy March 20, 2019.

The graduates of the 130th Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Alabama, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Upon graduation, the new troopers reported to their individual duty assignments across Virginia the week of October 7. For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

130th BASIC GRADUATING CLASS

  Name

Hometown

Assignment

Kevin Alexander Allen

Virginia Beach

Hampton/Newport News

Maximo L. Arduini

Hamilton, New Jersey

Chesterfield

Domanic James Banish

Ticonderoga, New York

Fairfax

Brian Wayne Barrett

Bristol

Scott

Richard Shayne Brooks

Suffolk

York

Sung Hoon Cho

Sterling

Springfield

Jabreia Camay Clark

South Hill

Mecklenburg

Christopher Thomas Cortese

Guilderland, New York

Orange

Kelsea Lee Crotts

Smithfield

Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake

Anthony Carroll Daulton, Jr.

Appomattox

Prince Edward

Luis Brian Delgado

Chester

Chesterfield

 Aaron Matthew Dorr

Suffolk

Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake

Nicholas Charles Fleischer

Bangor, Pennsylvania

Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake

Jacob Peter Gooch

Woodbridge

Springfield

Keith Aaron Griese

Manassas

Prince William

Devin Nicholas Hacker

Courtland

Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Chance Alan Harrington

Rural Retreat

Frederick

Justin Roy Harris

Seville, Ohio

Campbell

Matthew Lane Hedgepeth

Chester

Hampton/Newport News

Andrew Ryan Jennings

Charlottesville

Arlington

Tanner Blake Jones

Damascus

Halifax

William Revely Keesee

Amherst

Franklin

Alexander Stephen King

Indianapolis, Indiana

Fairfax

Jason Patrick Kirk

Wytheville

Wythe

Joseph James Kulick

Edwardsville, Pennsylvania

Hampton/Newport News

Michael B. LeSage

Port Haywood

York

William McKinley Lester, II

Wise

Scott

William H. Littlejohn, Jr.

Chester

Dinwiddie

Joseph Hunter Lowe

Rural Retreat

Springfield

Larry Nathan Luna

Hackensack, New Jersey

Springfield

Jalante Rashard Manns

Roanoke

Isle of Wight

William Wyatt McCraw

Danville

Pittsylvania

Matthew David Meadows

Verona

Augusta

Conlan Jonathan Miller

Herndon

Fairfax

Bradley Austin Mills

Ashland

Hanover

Christopher Edward Miskin

Midlothian

Chesterfield

Adolfo Alberto Orellana

North Chesterfield

Stafford

Caleb James Parnell

Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

Rockbridge

Jesse Dylan Peebles

Fries

Albemarle

Joshua Ryan Pelletier

La Crosse

Lunenburg

William Austin Peters

Rural Retreat

Dinwiddie

Alexander Carl Pike

Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

Warren

Devin Joseph Pluchino

Virginia Beach

Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Isaiah Chance Puckett

Ararat

Botetourt

Katie Jean Reeves

Bealeton

Madison

Benjamin Alan Rhodes

Bracey

Mecklenburg

James Matthew Riggs

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

James City

Alexandra Nicole Roberts

Bumpass

Stafford

David M. Saunders

Henrico

Hanover

Kevin Peter Schumann

Centreville

Fairfax

Timofey Smosyuk

Vestal, New York

Henrico

Lloyd Ryan Spencer

Patrick Springs

Botetourt

Justin Lee Sproston

Gloucester

Mathews

Ryan James Walker

Midlothian

Rockbridge

 Matthew Allan Wilkinson

Clarksville

Appomattox

John Dakota Winebrenner

Danville

Pittsylvania

John Carper Workman

Wytheville

Albemarle

John Tyler Wukich

Christiansburg

Albemarle

James Brandon Yates

Lebanon

Botetourt

Virginia To Develop Four New Solar Energy Projects

By Jimmy O’Keefe, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Permits were issued Thursday for the construction and operation of four new solar projects that are expected to offset carbon dioxide emissions in the state by 459 million pounds — the equivalent of driving more than 44,000 cars for a year.

“Virginia is adopting solar technology at record rates, and we are building an economy that is cleaner and greener as a result,” Gov. Ralph Northam stated in a press release announcing the permits, issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The four new solar projects will produce an additional 192 megawatts of electricity. On average, 1 megawatt of solar energy can provide 190 homes with electrical power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The newly announced solar projects will consist of the following:

  • Danville Farm, which is being developed in Pittsylvania County by Strata Solar Development and will generate 12 megawatts of electricity.

  • Dragonfly Solar, which is being developed in Campbell County by Apex Clean Energy Holdings and will generate 80 megawatts of electricity. 

  • Grasshopper Solar Project, which is being developed in Mecklenburg County by Dominion Energy Services and will generate 80 megawatts of electricity. 

  • Turner Solar, which is being developed in Henrico County by Cypress Creek Renewables and will generate 20 megawatts of electricity.

“Over the last five years, Virginia has seen a dramatic increase in installed solar developments,” DEQ Director David Paylor stated in a press release. “As of August this year, there are nearly a dozen small projects in Virginia producing 357 megawatts, enough to power more than 86,000 homes.”

Last month, Northam issued Executive Order 43, which calls for 100% of Virginia’s electricity to come from carbon-free sources by 2050. The executive order also calls for 30% of the state’s electricity to be powered by renewable energy resources by 2030. In 2018, 7% of Virginia’s electricity was generated from renewable energy sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration

“This Executive Order will help ensure that Virginia remains at the forefront of clean energy innovation, meets the urgency of the challenges brought on by climate change, and captures the economic, environmental, and health benefits of this energy growth in an equitable way that benefits all Virginians,” Northam stated in a press release when the executive order was issued. 

Solar energy developments can save taxpayers money. Partnering with Sun Tribe Solar, a Charlottesville-based company, Libbie Mill Library in Henrico County began installation of a rooftop solar system in September. The 122-kilowatt system is projected to save Henrico taxpayers $150,000 over the next 25 years. 

According to the governor’s executive order, at least 3,000 megawatts of electricity will be generated from solar and onshore wind sources by 2022. And by 2026, up to 2,500 megawatts of electricity will be generated by offshore wind sources. Currently, the state does not generate any large-scale electricity through wind farms, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  

Dominion Energy announced last month that it is building a 220-turbine wind farm off Virginia’s coastline. The project, projected to cost $7.8 billion, will be the largest offshore wind development in the U.S. Once the wind farm is complete, Dominion claims it will power 650,000 homes at peak wind. 

“Governor Ralph Northam has made it clear Virginia is committed to leading the way in offshore wind,” Mark Mitchell, vice president of generation construction for Dominion Energy, said in a press release. “We are rising to this challenge with this 2,600-megawatt commercial offshore wind development.”

DEQ is responsible for administering state and federal environmental policy in Virginia. The agency issues permits to regulate levels of pollution throughout the state.

Unemployment Drops in All Virginia Metro Areas

By Andrew Riddler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The Staunton-Waynesboro area had the lowest unemployment rate in August of all metropolitan areas in Virginia — and one of the lowest in the country, according to data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County was 2.5% in August. Of the approximately 390 metro areas in the U.S., only 21 had a lower unemployment rate.

All Virginia metro areas were below August’s national unemployment rate of 3.7%. Unemployment was below 3% in the Charlottesville, Winchester, Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Richmond and Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro areas. The rate was 3.1% in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News areas and 3.2% in the Lynchburg and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria areas.

All metro areas of Virginia saw their rates drop from August 2018 to this past August. The Harrisonburg area had the biggest decline — from 3.2% to 2.7%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the metro-level data for August on Wednesday. That was a follow-up to an announcement on Sept. 20 that the national unemployment was 3.7% and Virginia’s statewide unemployment rate was 2.8% in August.

Also on Wednesday, the Virginia Employment Commission released the August unemployment rates for the state’s cities and counties. The data showed that compared with the previous year, unemployment rates went down in 124 of the 133 localities.

Even so, 27 cities and counties had unemployment rates at or above the national average in August. The localities were largely in the southwestern and southern parts of Virginia.

The highest levels of unemployment in August were in Buchanan County (5.7%), Petersburg (5.4%) and Danville and Dickenson and Wise counties (all at 4.9%). Emporia, Lexington and Lee County all had unemployment rates above 4.5%.

Arlington County continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 1.9%. The city of Fairfax was at 2%, and Alexandria and Falls Church were at 2.1%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that the national unemployment rate had dropped even lower — to 3.5% — in September. “The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since May 1969 — over 50 years ago,” the White House said.

 

 

 

Frances Jeanette Phillips

October 8, 1941-October 2, 2019

Visitation Graveside Services

6-8 pm Sunday, October 6

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Monday, October 7

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

Frances Jeanette Phillips, 77, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, October 2, 2019. She was the widow of Marvin T. Phillips and was also preceded in death by three brothers, Chuck Anderton, Bobby Anderton and Earl Anderton.

Mrs. Phillips is survived by two sons, Roger Phillips (T. J.), and Jason Phillips (Rhonda); granddaughter, Tori; step-grandchildren, Justin Mitchell (Brianna), Casey Davis (Justin) and Aleahsia Wyatt; sister, Edna Turner and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends 6-8 Sunday, October 6 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Monday, October 7 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Virginia Attorney General Sparks Up Conversation on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

By Jeff Raines, Capital News Service

RICHMOND –Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted his support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Virginia Tuesday night. 

“Virginians know we can do better. It’s time to move toward legal, regulated adult use,” Herring said in his retweet ofa studythat revealed more than half of Virginians agree with him. 

The study, published by the University of Mary Washington last month, showed that 61% of Virginians support legalization of recreational marijuana, while 34% oppose legalization. The remaining respondents said they were uncertain.

 This is a noticeable uptick from a UMW study conducted in 2017 that showed 39% of Virginians supported legalizing marijuana for personal use. The 2017 question was worded differently, asking if marijuana should be legalized in general, for personal or medical use, or remain illegal. A plurality said medical marijuana should be legal and the rest (17%) were opposed to legalization. 

Recreational use of marijuana is becoming an increasingly popular issue for Virginia politicians as they go into the November State Senate elections and the upcoming 2021 gubernatorial elections. 

Stephen Farnsworth, a UMW political science professor, said he believes legalization is several years away, but the timeline could change if a Democratic majority is elected in November. Eighty percent of the Commonwealth’s youth (25 and under) are in favor of recreational marijuana, Farnsworth said. “Winning the support of younger voters can be key.” 

Herring, a candidate in the 2021 gubernatorial elections, has long voiced his support for decriminalization of marijuana. 

Micheal Kelly, director of communications for Herring, said in an email the attorney general believes “Virginia needs to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, take action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use in Virginia.”

Almost all marijuana-related arrests last year (90%) were for possession alone, and arrests for marijuana possession have increased 115% from 2003 to 2017, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office. First time marijuana convictions in Virginia have risen 53% from 2008 to 2017, with enforcement costs estimated to be nearly $81 million a year.

October, 2019 Update From Congressman McEachin

 

This month we are very excited to announce a special opportunity for the young people of my district, Eco Heroes. Participating students will complete a series of environmentally focused challenges to learn more about the importance of being eco-friendly in our daily lives. This is an opportunity for youngsters in our district to show their passion and be Eco Heroes.

I am very concerned about the environment and the future health of our planet. I have been so impressed by the work, commitment and passion shown by youth around the world to improve the environment, particularly after the Youth Climate Strike. Greta Thunberg and her dedicated climate army are an inspiration to all of us. This program emphasizes the small and easy ways you can make a difference and is open to elementary school students in Virginia’s fourth congressional district.

To register yourself, your child or another youth in your life send an email to va04.projects@mail.house.gov before October 14th. For those who successfully complete the program, I will be hosting a reception for them with their parents and they will each receive a certificate. I hope to meet many, many young EcoHeroes so join the program and become a Fourth District Eco Hero!

Just a reminder - If you have an issue or a problem with a federal agency, my office is happy to help. Just go to my website, mceachin.house.gov, to get started. We are also happy to record your opinion on any news topic. Additionally, my office will be participating in the Grand Opening of Freedmen’s Point on October 15th in Hopewell so please feel free to say hello to them or express any concerns.

-Congressman A. Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District

General Assembly Candidates’ Environmental Report Cards Reveal Partisan Divides

 

By Emma North, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- The Sierra Club recently endorsed a number of candidates running on environmentally friendly platforms after its legislative scorecards — which give incumbents grades on their past environmental performance — presented a stark contrast between the priorities of the Democrat and Republican parties. 

Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, said that while she can’t know what drives the legislative decision making of others, she thinks environmental issues end up being addressed as partisan issues. 

“I think when most people talk about themselves and their families, it’s very nonpartisan,” Adams said. “When it gets into policy making it becomes more partisan and sadly that may just be because people aren’t remembering that it’s affecting their people and their family.”

General Assembly members could be tasked with passing legislation in the 2020 session that tackles issues such as coal ash management, clean energy mandates, climate change, Chesapeake Bay management and public land protection. For example, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, campaigns on prioritizing the disposal of coal ash outside of her district, while Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Faquier, has focused her environmental support on the preservation of agricultural land. 

Nine legislators received an A-plus on the Sierra Club’s legislative scorecard for the 2019 General Assembly session, four from Prince William County. The lawmakers that received perfect scores were: 

Senators:

  • Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William

  • Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake

Delegates: 

  • Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond 

  • Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William

  • Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas

  • Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William

  • Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico 

  • Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William

  • Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax

With the exception of Rodman who is now running for a seat in Senate District 12, all of these incumbents are running for reelection in November. 

Of the 140 incumbent General Assembly members, 15 scored a C grade. All but 14 Democrats scored a B or above and all of the Republicans scored a D or F except for Vogel, who earned a C. 

Vogel was recognized as a legislative hero by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. She represents District 27, which has a prominent agriculture industry and includes the counties of Frederick, Fauquier, Clarke, Stafford, Culpeper, Loudoun and the city of Winchester.

“I feel like I have to fight harder and do the right thing so that we have the opportunity to preserve agriculture and that means open space and that means good votes that usually skew more on ballots toward conservation votes,” Vogel said. 

The Republican Party of Virginia has a majority in the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate. The environment and clean energy are not included in the party’s priorities. 

“I wish I could have seen more of the candidates from both sides who are running for office talking about the environment,” said Guzman. “I believe that it should be part of the three main issues of your campaign if you are considering running for office.”

The legislative scorecard rated candidates based on how they voted on key bills, including HB 1934, which expanded the number of state agencies that can operate electric vehicle charging stations, and SB1456 and HB2329, which together would have removed barriers to generating solar energy.

“I think the environment is very important and as a legislator we have the responsibility to act today to secure the environment for future generations,” Guzman said. 

To help voters find candidates with environmentally conscious platforms the The Virginia LCV assembled a list of current endorsements to help voters find candidates with pro-environment platforms. Democrat Shelly Simonds is again challenging Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, for the House seat in District 94. Simonds said her campaign includes promoting clean energy, expanding urban farming and increasing public transportation for Newport News. 

All of the Virginia LCV endorsements for 2019 are Democratic candidates with the exception of Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan. 

Adams said she is disappointed in how some legislators don’t act in favor of a healthy Virginia and thinks that solutions such as adding more greenery to urban areas shouldn’t deal with party lines. 

“I really do hope that there is some kind of global awakening,” Adams said. “We can't make the environment partisan.”

WARNER, KAINE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL RELIEF TO VIRGINIA BEACH TRAGEDY FUND

~ Bill would permit the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to receive tax deductible donations ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced legislation to provide financial relief to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to help Virginia Beach shooting victims get the financial assistance they need. The Virginia Beach Strong Act would ensure that any donations made to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund on behalf of the families of the dead or wounded victims of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach are tax-deductible.

“There is nothing we can do to undo this tragedy or bring back the individuals we lost in this senseless act of violence, but we can try to make it as easy as possible for families and those injured to get the relief they need,” said the Senators. “This legislation will further incentivize donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund by making sure that contributions to victims and families are permitted to be treated as charitable contributions.”

U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives that is supported by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

“On May 31st, our Virginia Beach community experienced an unspeakable tragedy that led to the loss of 12 wonderful people,” Rep. Luria said. “In the wake of our community’s darkest day, we saw countless selfless people donate to provide relief for grieving families. I am introducing the Virginia Beach Strong Act to make it easier to help bring more urgently-needed support to grieving families.”

On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that prohibits charitable funds from being earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions.

The Virginia Beach Strong Act would clarify that any contribution made for the relief of the families of the dead or wounded victims is treated as a tax-deductible contribution. This legislation would also apply retroactively, classifying any such contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.

Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In August, they successfully passed bicameral legislation to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

The full text of the bill is available here.

McEachin Announces New Eco Heroes District Program Washington, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced a new environmental program, Eco Heroes, for elementary school students in Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District. Participa

Washington, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced a new environmental program, Eco Heroes, for elementary school students in Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District. Participating students will complete a series of environmentally focused challenges to learn more about the importance of being eco-friendly in our daily lives.

“We are very excited to announce this special opportunity for the young people of my district,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am very concerned about the environment and the future health of our planet. I have been so impressed by the work, commitment and passion shown by youth around the world to improve the environment particularly after last week’s Youth Climate Strike.  This is an opportunity for youngsters in our district to show their passion and be Eco Heroes and I look forward to seeing their great efforts."

Students can register by emailing VA04.Projects@mail.house.gov until October 14, 2019. Participants will be recognized at a ceremony with local environmental leaders in Spring 2020. Any students needing resources to participate should contact Congressman McEachin’s Richmond office at 804-486-1840.

Southside Virginia Community College named a “2019 Great College to Work For”

For the tenth time, Southside Virginia Community College has received the distinction of being a Great College to Work For having been named again for 2019.  This honor puts SVCC in elite company.

SVCC is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey by The Great Colleges to Work For program.

The results, released recently in a special insert of the Chronicle of Higher Education are based on a survey of 236 colleges and universities.  In all, 85 of the 236 institutions achieved “Great College to Work For” recognition for specific best practices and policies. Results are reported for small, medium, and large institutions, with Southside Virginia Community College included among the medium universities with 3,000 to 9,999 students.

The local College won honors in 3 categories this year:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Professional/Career Development Programs

  • Supervisor/Department Chair Relationship

“This is very satisfying affirmation of workplace community excellence here at SVCC.  We appreciate being a part of a team that transforms lives.  Everyone at SVCC helps to make this a great place to work,” said SVCC President Dr. Quentin R. Johnson.

The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional questionnaire that captured employment data and workplace policies from each institution, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was the employee feedback.

The Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit the Great College Program website at www.greatcollegesprogram.com.

ModernThink, a strategic human capital consulting firm, administered the survey and analyzed the results.

Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.8%

 

By Andrew Riddler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginia continues to have one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, state and federal officials said Friday.

The commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 2.9 percent in July to 2.8 percent in August.

Virginia was tied with Utah and Colorado for the sixth-lowest unemployment rate last month. In July, Virginia and Colorado were tied for the seventh-lowest rate.

Virginia’s jobless rate continues to be much lower than the national average of 3.7 percent. Virginia has the third-lowest rate among states east of the Mississippi River, behind Vermont (2.1%) and New Hampshire (2.5%).

“The drop in Virginia’s unemployment rate is yet another sign that our economy remains strong and our efforts to create opportunity in every corner of the commonwealth are paying real dividends,” Gov. Ralph Northam said.

Timothy Aylor, an economist with the Virginia Employment Commission, also sees the falling rate as a strength for the state.

“Overall, as more people are able to find jobs and as people become more encouraged about the job market and re-enter it, I think that’s a good thing,” Aylor said. “It helps the state, and it helps the economy.”

Among the 18 states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, Virginia has the largest labor force. Most of the 18 states have less than half of the labor force Virginia does. Aylor said this was a testament to the state’s economy.

“We have a highly skilled labor force. This is especially the case in some of the metro areas — Northern Virginia primarily,” Aylor said. “And this creates competition among employers as more employers take note of the quality of the workforce in the state.”

In Northern Virginia, unemployment is especially low — below the state average.

“For one reason or another, you can have a lower rate of people looking — you can have a lower rate of labor force participation — and that will kind of drive down the unemployment rate,” Aylor said.

“But that is not the case in an area like Alexandria or Arlington County in particular, where labor force participation rates are high and people are looking and finding work, and there is a lot of competition for it.”

Despite Virginia’s overall low rate, state officials affirmed their commitment to helping communities where unemployment is higher than average.

“We’re proud of this statewide unemployment rate,” said Brian Ball, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. “But as some localities continue to struggle with a higher rate, the governor remains focused on bringing new investment and jobs to all regions of the commonwealth.”

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