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Total positive Coronavirus Cases in our Community, as reported by the Health Department:

Locality Emporia Greensville* Brunswick* Southampton* Sussex*
Positive Reported Today 261 805 269 789 590
Positive Reported This Monday 261 805 369 789 590
Positive Reported Last Monday 259 789 359 757 466
Weekly Increase 0.77% 2.03% 2.79% 4.23% 26.61%
Total Deaths Reported 26 11 5 29 12

Cases in our area are still on the rise. Please continue to wash your hands and avoid thouching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.

*There are State Correctional Facilites and/or County/Regional Jails in each of the localities marked.

Wear a mask in public

a properly worn mask ♦COVERS YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE♦

and does not hang below your chin or rest atop your head

(See CDC Guidance here)

continue to socially distance

and wash or sanitize your hands often.

The City of Emporia has reported the loss of TWENTY-SIX (26) souls, with ELEVEN (11) lost in Greensville County, to Covid 19 and new cases in the area continue to rise week-after-week at rates from less than 1% to more than 20%. Properly Worn Masks, Social Distancing and Proper Hand Washing/Sanitization may well have saved even one or two of the THIRTY-SEVEN (37) of our friends and neighbors who have died in Emporia/Greensville, or slowed the progression of this pandemic.

We're all in this together...

Masks are REQUIRED IN PUBLIC and everyone is still strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and regular handwashing.

VIRGINIA CELEBRATES FARM TO CACFP WEEK

Activities Encourage Increased Awareness of Virginia Agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon “Bran-Bran” Johnson,

September 13, 1992 - October 23, 2020

Memorial Service

2 p.m. Tuesday, November 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jane Mitchell Rodgester

October 1, 1935 - October 24, 2020

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

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

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

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

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

Electrician II:  Performing routine mechanical and electrical equipment repairs and preventive maintenance activities. Troubleshooting and repairing electrical and electronic equipment in a variety of different applications. Operating equipment such as hoists, man-lifts, rigging equipment, cranes and forklifts. Installing new and rebuilt equipment as required. Following work plans and schedules, read P&IDs and mechanical/electrical drawings, etc.  Job Order #2076367

Operations Manager:  The incumbent will lead a wood products production facility to work injury-free/incident free in a continuous manufacturing environment. Ensuring the facility operates effectively and efficiently. Fully utilizing work process to develop job plans, track work completion and promote preventive & predictive maintenance. Facilitating team development and growth, and reviewing/managing performance. Building employee commitment and ownership, and holding employees accountable. Identifying contributions and missed opportunities, etc.  Job Order #2073745

Direct Care Assistant:  Provide routine individualized healthcare such as changing bandages and dressing wounds, and applying topical medications to the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities at the patient's home or in a care facility. Monitor or report changes in health status. May also provide personal care such as bathing, dressing, and grooming of patient.  Job Order #2073931

Production Supervisor:  Supervise/coordinate production efforts that drive improvement in all associated work processes affected EHS, compliance, reliability, quality, production, and costs. Facilitate team development and growth, employee skill development, problem-solving and resolution. Build employee commitment and ownership and hold employees accountable. Monitor product quality and provide direction to crew members to maximize efficiency. Assist with troubleshooting and solving production issues, etc.  Job Order #2072973

Facility Maintenance:  Conducting routine inspections of premises and equipment. Performing preventative maintenance. Handling basic repairs and maintenance. Overseeing contractors when professional repairs are necessary. Diagnosing mechanical issues and correcting them. Repairing machines, equipment, or structures as necessary.  Job Order #2071066

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yvonne Weiss Tripp Slagle

June 10, 1931 - October 24, 2020

Graveside Services

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

Emporia Cemetery
Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Students Say Protests Motivating Them to the Polls

 

By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Good Dental Hygiene Makes A Big Difference

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

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

Why is it important to practice good dental hygiene?

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

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

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

1. BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY

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

2. USE PRODUCTS WITH FLUORIDE

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

3. REPLACE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REGULARLY

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

4. MAINTAIN A GOOD DIET

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

5. SCHEDULE REGULAR PROFESSIONAL CLEANINGS

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

What are the signs of a serious dental problem?

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

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

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

Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bird Feeder Time”

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

Virginia legislators advance police and criminal justice reform measures

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PASSED LEGISLATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VCU announces spring semester changes as other colleges mull options

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Jung is Brunswick Academey October 2020 Student of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library Increases Hours

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

 

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