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Editorial-Tearing Down Our History and Our Community

In the early part of the last century, when institutional racism was rampant, education was a rare commodity for the Black Community in the United States.  Slavery was over, but another form of brutal economic enslavement was still hanging on.  Sharecropping became the new way to keep Blacks and poor Whites “in their place.”  The White community had good public schools, but Black students were not allowed to attend classes in those grand Victorian palaces of education.

In the Black Community there were private venues for education, many were Church supported.  Educating Black Americans was no longer illegal, as it was in the days of slavery, but it was rare to see a school for Black students in rural Virginia.  There was a school in Brunswick County that educated black students in the late 19th century, but it was funded, mainly, by subscriptions from Northern Backers.

One man became the driving force for education in the Black Community, after seeing the major disparities in the segregated system of the South.  Julius Rosenwald, a Jew and President of the Sears Roebuck Company spent a substantial part of his fortune to build schools specifically for the Black Community.  Rosenwald was a second generation American whose parents fled Germany in 1854 because of the anti-Jewish sentiment; Rosenwald understood the effects of discrimination.

Rosenwald was convinced of the need of quality education for Blacks in the South by a Virginian: Booker T. Washington.  Washington was born a Slave, but at the age of 25 became the first principal of the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers in Alabama.  He built his school into the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, by far the best known, largest and most successful Black College in the country.

Both Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington understood the value of education and the importance of community.

Rosenwald Schools depended on funding from the local government and donations from the local Black Communities where they were built, in addition to the funds from Rosenwald.  Many of these schools became centers of the communities that they served.

In Greensville County alone, there were 13 Rosenwald Schools.  The Orion, Claresville and Barley Schools were One-teacher Types; Independence, Diamond Grove, Mars Hill, Antioch, Powell, Rylands, Radium and Dahlia Schools were Two-teacher Types;  Jarratts School was a Three-teacher type.  Of the 13 schools in the county only the South Emporia Training School – later known as the Greensville County Training School – was a Six-teacher type, and the only one constructed of brick.  Only 16 of the Six-teacher Schools were built in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Schools built with Rosenwald Fund monies were designated by the number of teachers or classrooms, and the plans were developed over several years.  Rosenwald Schools have several defining characteristics: high windows for ventilation and light, quality blackboards, coat-rooms, patent desks for the students.  The plans were published in books titled Community School Plans, which specified every detail, including color schemes.  This uniformity is what makes Rosenwald Schools so recognizable today.

Many communities have preserved their Rosenwald Schools and made them, once again, centers of the community.  Just south of us, in Halifax, NC, there is a preserved Rosenwald School, the last remaining Rosenwald School in Brunswick County, the Saint Paul’s School has been preserved and just recently received a roadside historic marker.  In Farmville, Virginia, the R. R. Moton High School, also a Six-teacher Type has been preserved and is now a museum.

Here, in Emporia, though, we apparently have no need for historic preservation.  Just last month Citizens voiced their opinions to save the Auditorium on Main Street after City Council decided to demolish the building.  Now that the voice of the people has saved that structure, City Council has the Greensville County Training School in the crosshairs.

When the School Board consolidated schools, the old Training School was surplus and became a dumping ground for old furniture and equipment.  The new addition became the School Board office and was maintained while the historic building next door was allowed to deteriorate and crumble.

Alumni of the school stepped in and started a grass-roots effort to save the building that was, at one time, the center of a thriving African-American Community.  While some still see the building as a symbol of the dark days of segregation, many of the alumni have fond memories of the school.  The Auditorium was the site of school and community events.

The School Board deeded the building to the group in the early part of the 21st Century, and Citizens United to Preserve the Greensville County Training School  has been working hard to save the building since then.  Citizens United to Preserve the Greensville County Training School is a 501(c)3 Not For Profit organization.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a member of the Citizens United Board of Directors.

Saving this building has not been easy.  The building had been neglected for so long that it was collapsing from the inside, prompting the City to require that the preservation group “selectively demolish” huge sections of the structure and fence it off in the name of safety and the group complied, leaving the structure in the state it is in today.  Even with the “selective demolition,” though, the group has not been deterred.

Through donations and with limited funding from the City, plans were developed for the restoration of the building to its original state.  The plans included a museum and space for an education center long before the building of the Southside Virginia Education Center in the County.  In addition the building has been placed on the Virginia Landmarks Registry and the National Register of Historic Places because of its historic importance to our community.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared Rosenwald Schools “National Treasures.”

An Architectural Rendering of the Restored Greensville County Training School.

The City of Emporia seemed supportive of the project, just as they did with the Civic Center project.  Things have apparently changed now.  After a closed door meeting of City Council on August 18, Council voted to force the group to tear what remains of the building down, and has earmarked $80,000 to pay for it themselves if the group does not comply.

Unlike the Civic Center Foundation, Citizens United has not been given an opportunity to share their concerns with the City.  The decision to demolish was made in private, with notice provided to Citizens United afterwards.  The closed session notice on the agenda was the only notice given that there were any discussions about the fate of the Training School building.  Said closed session was entered under the vague guise of “legal advice.”

The vote to demolish was unanimous, with Council Member Dale Temple absent, on a motion made by F. Woodrow Harris and seconded by Jay Ewing.  It would seem that Council Member Harris (who also made the motion to demolish the Auditorium) does not see the need for historic preservation.  One may also assume that the three African-American members of City Council no longer remember the importance of Community.  One should also wonder why is it that Frances Woodrow “Woody” Harris, Council Member for District Four, seems so hell-bent on destroying every historic building in town?

Our Community is dying.  Children are no longer born here, unless the delivery occurs in the Emergency Room.  There is no major prospect for sustaining Economic Development.  There is no desire to preserve the history of our Community.

In order to help economic development we need to invest in our Community.  Saving structures like the Auditorium and the Training School is an investment that will help draw business and industry to Emporia.  Too little importance is placed on enhancing our Quality of Life.  Too little importance is placed on Quality Education for the students in our public school system, as evidenced by the budget impasse we nearly faced in June.  For businesses to relocate here we need a strong Public School System and choices for arts and culture. 

Saving the Auditorium was the first step; we need to keep fighting to save our history and our community.  We cannot allow City Council to demolish one of the few remaining historic structures.  If We the People allow this building to be torn down, which one will be next?  Will Council set its sights on Village View and tear it down because it is in need of a coat of paint?

Of the five sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the City, only one, the Greensville County Training School, is a site related to African-American History.  In light of the recent tax increases does the City really need to spend $80,000 to force this issue now?  What would be the harm in giving Citizens United the same opportunity that was afforded the Civic Center Foundation?

Should City Council cancel the Demolition Order for the Greensville County Training School?

TopHand Reds U14 weekend champions

Emporia VA based TopHand Reds U14 travel baseball team with several Roanoke Valley players earned a championship this past weekend at the "Battle of the Border" tournament in South Hill VA.

The TopHand team beat Clark County Crushers 11-7 in the championship game in their first fall season tournament.

Players & coaches pictured above are: Ethan Dixon, Colin Long, Cameron Medlin, Colby Turner, Ethan Vincent, Jeremy Harmon, Josh Smiley, Elliott Cross, Aaron Tudor, Josh Haydu, Jared Lynch, Chris Smiley, Scott Turner, Randy Jessee & Mark Haydu.

Coach Randy Jessee stated, "We are proud of how hard the kids are working & how much improvement they are making." "The team had good pitching performances from Cameron Medlin, Josh Haydu & Colby Turner.

Josh Haydu was starting pitcher for the championship & Cameron Medlin came in for relief in the 4th inning to close the game.

Elliott Cross pitched well, defensive standouts were Colin Long, Jeremy Harmon, big offense were by Josh Smiley, Aaron Tudor, Collin Long & Cameron Medlin.

(Thank You to RRSpin.com for allowing Emporia News to republish this story.)

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Lorentz-Velvin Engagement Announced

Mr. and Mrs. Richard David Lorentz, Jr. of Colonial Heights, Virginia are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Jessica Ann Lorentz to Justin Benjamin Velvin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Benjamin Velvin, Jr. of Emporia, Virginia.  The bride –to- be is a graduate of Colonial Heights High School and is a lead teacher at James Child Development Center.  Her fiance’ graduated from Greensville County High School and is a technician at Georgia-Pacific.  The couple is planning a December 12, 2015 wedding.

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Southside Regional Medical Center Offers Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers CPR Training

Petersburg, VA - Southside Regional Medical Center (SRMC) will offer Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers CPR Training on Tuesday, September 1st from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. The class will be held in SRMC’s A/B Classroom, located at 200 Medical Park Boulevard in Petersburg.  The cost to participate is $90. The class size is limited and the deadline to register is August 27.  To register for this class or for more information, call 804-765-5729.

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Obituary-Margaret Taylor Mason

Margaret Taylor Mason, 78, of Yale, VA, passed away Friday, August 21, 2015. She was preceded in death by both her husbands Edwin Allan Gayle and J.R. Mason; and one sister, Ida Louise Goodman.  She is survived by six children, Katherine Anderson and husband, Bernard, Margaret Goodwin and husband, Lee, Elizabeth “Betsy” Vick and husband, Dennis, Richard Gayle, Matthew Gayle and wife, Barbie; and Mary Futrell and husband, Tim.  The funeral services will be held graveside, 11 a.m. Tuesday, August 25, 2015, at Readville Baptist Church Cemetery, Sussex, VA.  Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

Obituary-Carolyn Ann Starke

Carolyn Ann Starke, 68, of Emporia, died Friday, August 15, 2015.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald Thomas Starke and one daughter Valerie Newsome.  She is survived by her children, Sean Arritt and wife Amberlynne, Barbara Wyatt and husband Danny, Nelson Starke, and Penny Holland and husband Al; one brother Michael Reichert; 16 grandchilddren; 4 great-grandchildren.  A memorial service will be held 2 p.m., Sunday, August 30, 2015 at First Baptist Church, Emporia, VA.  Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com.

SVCC Truck Driving Training School Graduates

Southside Virginia Community College recognized graduates from the Truck Driver Training School located at the Southside Virginia Education center on August 7th.  Graduates were:

Left to Right:  Duncan Quicke, TDTS Coordinator, Bobby Wrenn, guest speaker, David Gwaltney (4.0 GPA, Jarratt), Kevin Phillips (4.0 GPA, Emporia), Jerrell Turner (Emporia), Shaheed Ahman (Emporia), Cleo Malone (Emporia), Trey Martin (Emporia), Harry Woodly (Emporia), Willie Crawley, Instructor, Jason Drinkwater, Instructor.

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SVCC Workforce Offers Groundsman Program

Southside Virginia Community College’s Workforce Development is pleased to announce its first cohort has completed the Electrical Utility Groundsman Training non-credit program.  

The class consists of 16 days of instruction (128 hours).  Within the course curriculum, the student receives several certifications necessary for this field of work including, OSHA 10, Work Zone, Flagging, CPR/ First Aid.

The hands-on, high-demand training program affords students the opportunity to utilize various pieces of equipment and tools of the trade. The course prepares the student for an entry level position as an electrical groundsman.

The next class will begin Monday, November 2nd, 2015 and runs through Wednesday, November 25th, 2015. The class will meet Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4PM at the SVCC Occupational Tech Center/Picket Park in Blackstone, VA.

For more information about the upcoming Electrical Utility Groundsman training class, contact Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026 or angela.mcclintock@southside.edu. Pre-registration is required.

On June 29th, Mecklenburg Electric representatives Leilani Todd and Ron Campbell spoke with the SVCC Electrical Utility Groundsman students on safety, job opportunities, and job readiness skills. Pictured (from left to right): Leilani Todd, Joshua Gilbert, William Weston, Stuart Armes, Dakota Rhodes, Robert Uribe, Ken Ashworth, instructor from TCR Management and Ron Campbell.

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KAINE DISCUSSES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION ALONG ROUTE 58

Kaine visited Emporia, South Hill, Boydton & South Boston

WASHINGTON, D.C.  - Continuing his five-day swing through Virginia today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine made stops in Emporia and South Hill to meet with local leaders and discuss opportunities for economic development and job creation. In the morning, Kaine met with Emporia Mayor Mary Person and went on a retail walk through the town. Photos are available here.

"I sat down with Mayor Person and other local leaders today to hear their advice for ways I can be helpful, from pushing for long-term infrastructure investments to improving K-12 education and workforce training,” Kaine said. “Emporia's strategic location at the intersection of Route 58 and I-95 and the work I saw today to renovate its historic downtown will be critical as they work to attract new business to the city."

Kaine also stopped in South Hill to tour the historic Colonial Theatre with Mayor Earl Horne, Town Manager Kim Callis and other local leaders. Photos are available here.

“I’ve been looking forward to revisiting the renovated historic Colonial Theatre,” Kaine said. “The performing arts play an integral role in community building and local economic development. It’s great that South Hill has such a historic attraction in its town.”

Later in the day, Kaine visited the Microsoft Data Center in Boydton and ABB Halifax in South Boston to take tours of the facilities, met with employees and discussed the importance of investments in career and technical education (CTE) to grow a workforce. Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, recently introduced the JOBS Act to expand federal Pell Grants to students who enroll in short-term job training programs, which would help workers afford high-quality training in advanced manufacturing and other industries.

    

    

    

Note of Thanks

On behalf of Josephine Fannin, myself (Tracy Sison), and the entire Fannin family I would like to say a deeply heartfelt THANK YOU for all of the cards, visits, meals, thoughts, prayers and various acts of kindness in between shown to us during the final days of our loved one, Ricky Fannin.  Each of you played a part in making his final days as happy as possible. The overwhelming generosity from all of you allowed the family to focus completely on Ricky and not have to be concerned with anything else.  Thank you does not seem sufficient enough to express how sincerely grateful we are.  Love was, without a doubt, manifest through all of you in our time of need.  We will never forget the love and kindness shown to us, we are overwhelmed by it. God bless each and every one of you!

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Amanda Sopko Named R-MC Assistant Softball Coach

ASHLAND, Va. – Former R-MC softball standout Amanda Sopko has been named the program’s first full-time assistant coach.

“’Sop’ was a fantastic addition to our softball program four years ago,’ head coach Kevin Proffitt said. “After an outstanding career here at R-MC, I feel very fortunate to be able to add her to our staff as an assistant coach.

“As a player, she was a committed student-athlete. She played with a great deal of passion and earned the respect of our coaches as well as her teammates. I expect her to hit the ground running and continue to model that same level of passion and commitment as a member of our coaching staff.”

A native of Skippers, Va., and a graduate of Greensville High School, Sopko played both second base and outfield for the Yellow Jackets this past season. She batted .353 and earned All-ODAC Second Team honors. Sopko was tied for second in the conference with 27 stolen bases, third with 38 runs, fifth with 17 walks and seventh with an on-base percentage of .467.

R-MC posted a record of 26-12 in 2015 and won its first ODAC Tournament title. The Yellow Jackets went 4-0 in Salem and Sopko was named to the ODAC All-Tournament Team. R-MC made its first trip to the NCAA Tournament and was runner-up in the Newport News Regional. Sopko earned a spot on the All-Regional Team and was also voted Second Team All-Region.

“I’m excited to be returning from our championship team,” Sopko said. “I hope to work hard so our program can continue to have seasons such as this previous one.”

Sopko played four years for the Yellow Jackets. During her career, R-MC went 115-47 (.710) overall and 51-27 (.654) in ODAC contests. Sopko was All-ODAC Third Team as a freshman and Second Team as a junior and senior. Sopko scored 122 career runs and was successful on 85 of 92 stolen base attempts for a success rate of 92.4%. Sopko is seventh all-time in the ODAC with 85 career steals while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Randolph-Macon in 2015 with a minor in communication studies.

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Back-To-School-Splash Party

Lawrenceville, VA August 31, 2015: WHLQ Radio Mix 105.5 FM and Brunswick-Mayfield Recreation Center is hosting a Back to School Splash Party, Saturday, August 29th from 12noon to 6 pm. There will be food, games, swimming, give-a-ways, gift cards, and backpacks filled with school supplies for children.

We are asking individuals, businesses, and churches to partner with us and be a sponsor. We need volunteers, monetary gifts, gift cards, and school supplies. Call Tiffany Vincent at 434-378-3249 or Cathy Fielding 804-596-WHLQ to donate, be a sponsor, or to get more information. To email us write to whlq1055fm@gmail.com and or visit WHLQ website at www.whlqmix1055fm.com.
 

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Be a Part of the Virginia Peanut Festival

The Virginia Peanut Festival is just around the corner.  The festival will begin with the Kick-off Cook Off on Thursday, September 24th.  The Parade will be on Saturday, 26th September.

If you would like to be a part of the Festival, here are the applications you need to fill out.

Parade Application

Food Vendor Application

Information Booth Application

Arts and Craft Application

Car Show Application

 

 

 

Click on image to print Golf Tournament Application

Local Artist Works to Raise Funds for Wounded Warriors

An effort to raise money for Wounded Warriors is ongoing by artist/composer/musician Tom Spivey. Currently he is offering four prints of his work: a) Emporia/Greensville County, $35.00.  b) Resurrection Morn, $15.00.  c) Christ at the Well, $10.00 d)  and Far From Home, $15.00. Contact tpspivey@yahoo.com or Picture Perfect on Halifax Street.

a    b

    

c    d 

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Virginia Housing Development Authority Homeownership Workshop Offered in Emporia

VHDA’s Home Ownership Education Workshop will be offered Tuesday, September 8 and Thursday, September 10 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office located at 105 Oak Street, Emporia. Participants must attend both sessions in order to receive a certificate of completion.

The workshop is free and being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Greensville/Emporia Office and the Emporia- Greensville Financial Literacy Coalition. It is aimed at first-time home buyers who are financially ready to become homeowners. The workshop covers the educational requirement for a VHDA mortgage and it may also count as first-time home buyer education for other loan programs.

Topics to be covered in this six-hour workshop include: Personal Finances, Credit and Credit Issues, Working with a Realtor, Role of the Lender, Loan Closing and the Home Inspection. Space is limited and registration is required. Please contact the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at 434-348-4233 by Friday, September 4 to register. You may also register online at www.vhda.com. A minimum of 5 participants must be registered for class to be conducted.

If you are a person with a disability and require assistance or accommodation to participate in this program, please call the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office at 434-348-4233 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at least five days prior to this event. TDD number is 800-828-1120.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. .

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Stream and Download Music and Movies at your Library

Freegal (“Free and legal”) Music and Movies is here for Meherrin Regional Library System patrons! Freegal Music is a downloadable music service that gives library patrons access to over 8 million songs in MP3 format, including Sony Music’s catalog of artists. In total, the collection is comprised of music from over 28,000 labels with music that originates in over 60 countries.

There is no software to install. Downloaded songs will play in Windows Media Player, iTunes, and other popular music players. They can also be transferred to an MP3 player or an iPod. The Freegal app is free and available through Apple’s App Store and Google Play for use with smartphones or tablets. Freegal Music limits song downloads to 3 per library patron per week, and 3 hours of streaming time per day per patron.

Also use Freegal Movies to view movies and TV shows! Freegal Movies and Television is a streaming video service that allows patrons to access thousands of movies and television episodes from major content providers. Like Freegal Music, no software download is needed, and files are in MP3 format and can be played on any device. Freegal Movies limits movie and TV episode downloads to 3 per library patron per week. Each download can be viewed multiple times during a 48 hour viewing period.

Start downloading your favorite tunes or movies today! Access Freegal Music by visiting www.freegalmusic.com or by downloading the Freegal Music app.  Freegal Movies are available at www.freegalmovies.com or by downloading the Freegal Movies app. Login to both by selecting Meherrin Regional Library and using your library card number and pin. For more information on accessing Freegal through your library, contact the Brunswick County Library at 434-848-2418 ext. 301 or the Richardson Memorial Library at 434-634-2539.

 

Read to the Rhythm At Your Local Library

The Meherrin Regional Library System urges families to shake, rattle, or roll to the library for Read to the Rhythm! The Meherrin Regional Library System launches its Read to the Rhythm! Summer Reading Program on June 1st. During the next two months, the Brunswick County Library in Lawrenceville and the Richardson Memorial Library in Emporia will host a range of free activities for children, tweens, and teens that encourage and support a love of reading. Participants can win prizes for reaching their reading goals.

Themed summer events include a line dancing class with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Zumba with the YMCA of Emporia-Greensville, and a concert from the Richmond Gourd Orchestra. Magician and juggler Jonathan Austin and a fun filled show by the Sundae Puppets are also part of the summer fun.

There is a serious side to summer reading for youth. Research has shown that reading over the summer prevents summer reading loss. “Studies indicate students who read recreationally outperformed those who don’t. Students read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests,” Krystal Cook-Elliott, Youth Services Librarian states. “Our libraries are committed to supporting lifelong learning and educational enrichment for all families.”

The Libraries' Summer Reading Program Registration begins June 1st. To learn more about summer adventure at the library, please call the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at (434) 848-2418 ext. 301 or the Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at (434) 634-2539 or check out the library’s website at www.meherrinlib.org.
 

ROUTE 301 SOUTH BRIDGE TO CLOSE FOR CONSTRUCTION MAY 18

Bridge near Emporia will be replaced; traffic to be detoured to I-95 during project

GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. –The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) wants to alert drivers in Greensville County to possible traffic impacts associated with replacement of the Route 301 South (Sussex Drive) bridge over the CSX railroad tracks, about 3 miles north of the town of Emporia. The bridge will close to traffic on May 18, 2015, and will remain closed during the two-year construction project. Crews will first demolish and remove the old bridge, then construct a new bridge in its place.

The contractor will work with CSX railroad personnel to make sure train movements are not interrupted during construction. This project only affects southbound traffic, which will be detoured during construction. Route 301 North will remain open, and access will remain for property owners who live nearby. Access to Country Club Road will also be available during construction.

Detour signs will be posted along the roadside for drivers to follow. Before reaching the bridge closure, drivers can get onto I-95 at Exit 17, and get off at Exit 13 to access Route 301 South. This project is scheduled to be completed by Summer of 2017.

For more information, visit: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/rte_301_bridge.asp

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