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2017-2-9

Vera Lee Grizzard

Vera Lee Grizzard, 83, of Emporia passed away on February 7, 2017. She was preceded in death by her brother, Robert Pearson and sisters, Ella Cannon, Shirley Skinner and Lucille Waters. She is survived by her husband, Elmer L. Grizzard; son, Ronnie L. Grizzard and wife Penny; daughter, Sharon K. Morton and husband Mark; grandchildren, Jessica Vick Dunn and husband Cody, Ashley L. Grizzard and friend Justin Gibson, Brian “Kirk” Grizzard and friend Stephanie Perez; great-grandchildren, Mackenzie Dunn, Arylee G. Dunn, Adyson K. Dunn, Michael C. Dunn, Jr., and Vera Madison Burke; sisters, Erlene P. Grizzard and Clyde P. Lotts. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 4:30pm, in Emporia Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Calvary Baptist Church Youth Department. Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

New Job Opportunity Follows GED® Success

Earning his GED® at age 34 has given Jeffrey Melton a chance at a new career.  The South Hill resident was working as a mechanic but after receiving his GED®, he will soon begin training at the police academy to obtain a job in law enforcement as a correctional officer at Meherrin River Regional Jail.

After dropping out of high school as a teenager, a full time job and other responsibilities prevented him from pursuing his equivalency diploma until recently.  His dedication and persistence of two years lead to him receiving a GED® in November of 2016 and he plans to attend the graduation ceremony held at Southside Virginia Community College in June 2017.

Melton notes that he was very impressed with the program and he likes to promote the program when he has a chance.  He is appreciative of the support he received through the program and especially thankful for Mrs. Flora Lewis, his teacher.  Melton said he could always have questions answered and was able to gain social skills, time-management skills, and computer skills so he always looked forward to coming to class.

Melton’s advice to others wanting to pursue their GED® is, “never give up, don’t get frustrated, ask for help and listen more than you talk!!”  He notes that he was inspired to complete the task by his own motivation, his teacher and his father.  He always wanted to get his GED® and he wants others to know it is never too late. 

“By obtaining your GED, you can better yourself so don’t let others discourage you if this is your goal,” he said.

SVCC offers FREE GED classes and tests throughout the ten counties in Southside Virginia at many locations.  Contact Lois Hicks at 434 736 2048 for more information on classes and the GED® test.

House Bill 1900 – Hunter’s Fine For Stray Dogs Defeated

House Bill 1900 was a bill that would fine hunters a $100 fee for their dogs straying onto neighboring landowner properties. The legislation was opposed by Rural Legislators and the Hunting Dog Alliance.

Delegate Roslyn Tyler, 75th District House of Delegates Representative, spoke against HB1900 on the General Assembly House Floor wearing a blaze orange hat and vest attire in support of hunter’s rights. With the help of Delegate Tyler, the bill was defeated by 48-47, a party line vote.

Brunswick Academy Career Day

Brunswick Academy was pleased to participate in the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce’s annual career day.  Students were able to shadow local business leaders for the morning, learn about the day to day operations of each of their offices, and treated to a lovely luncheon at the Chamber meeting.  The attached are the Brunswick Academy 2017 participants.    

Front Row:  (L-R):  Joseph Carrick (Brunswick County Administrators Office), Katherine Daniel (Brunswick-Times Gazette), Howard Wright ( Lawrenceville Police Department), Mason Jones (Town of Lawrenceville Mayor’s Office), Hannah Waskey (VCU-CMH Cardiac Rehab in South Hill), Lovleen Kaur (Brunswick County Department of Social Services)

Back Row:  (L-R): Hunter Elliott (Exercise Therapy in South Hill), Adam Rutherford (VCU-CMH Hospital), Dawson Mitchell (Benchmark Community Bank), Sam Woyer (Cancer Research Center), Patrick Jennings (Brunswick County Sheriff’s Department), Evan Abernathy (Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative-Emporia Office)

Gov. McAuliffe vows to veto anti-LGBT legislation

By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe vowed to veto any bill that discriminates against LGBTQ people at a reception hosted Tuesday night by Equality Virginia. McAuliffe has vetoed 71 bills during his two years as governor, none of which have been overturned.

“It’s not about doing the most vetoes of any governor in Virginia history,” McAuliffe said. “We’re stopping people from doing things that discriminate against people’s basic rights.”

The governor said he had slated another 35 bills for veto this session.

“They’ve slipped a few bills through, but they’re not going to slip through the governor’s office. I’m going to veto them,” said McAuliffe, a Democrat in the final year of his term.

Democrats criticized Republicans for approving SB 1324, which passed the Senate on a 21-19 party-line vote Tuesday.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Grayson. Supporters describe it as a religious freedom bill, saying it would protect people and organizations that oppose same-sex marriages. However, Democrats say the measure would give people and organizations the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.

“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity has absolutely no place in the commonwealth, and I am disappointed that a Republican-majority in the Senate approved SB 1324 today,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor this year.

“I recently took a seven-city tour across the commonwealth that ended in Salem, where I was proud to welcome the NCAA soccer tournament. That championship was relocated from North Carolina, as was the NBA All-Star game and major businesses. To be economically competitive, we have to be open and welcoming to all. I will continue to advocate for equality for all.”

Clay Xix attended the Equality Virginia reception as a representative of Access AIDS Care and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads. Earlier during Equality Virginia’s annual Day of Action, Xix tried to persuade legislators to oppose SB 1324 and a companion bill, HB 2025, sponsored by Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper.

“It’s our people who have been constantly discriminated against time and again – barred access to jobs, one wrong hand motion in an interview and you’re out, one ‘hey, girl, hey’ in the office and you’re fired. I mean, this is what we live with,” Xix said.

Twenty-seven members of the Virginia General Assembly attended the reception, including Del. Mark Levine, D-Fairfax, whose bill prohibiting LGBT discrimination in public employment, public accommodations and housing (HB 2129) was recently defeated in the House. This was the second year in a row Levine has proposed the legislation, and he says it won’t be the last.

“I think it’s really important for the people I represent to know I’m out there fighting even when it’s not going to succeed, because if you give up before you try, you never succeed,” Levine said.

As one of two openly gay men in the Virginia House of Delegates, Levine said such bills are important even when they fail because they can change the way LGBT people are thought of and treated.

“It’s not just about the rare lawsuit,” Levine said. “It’s about having people be confident enough that if they do choose to come out, they’re not going to be kicked out in the street, they’re not going to lose their employment, they’re not going to lose their job.”

Del. Mark Sickles, D-Alexandria, the other openly gay Virginia delegate, also proposed pro-LGBT legislation this session that was defeated in committee. HB 1395would have repealed the statutory prohibitions on same-sex marriages and civil unions in the Code of Virginia, and given the public the opportunity to vote on same-sex marriage in 2018.

Even though the laws Sickles is trying to repeal are no longer valid after the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, his bill was defeated by the House Courts of Justice Committee.

“The only way we’re going to get fair treatment, gay and lesbian people, is to let the people speak out. And it’s not going to be through this gerrymandering system that we have here. The system is rigged – it truly is,” Sickles said.

Gov. McAuliffe addresses Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Members of Jewish communities from across the state gathered in Richmond on Wednesday to talk to their elected representatives about issues such as religious freedom, anti-Semitism and support for Israel.

It was the 15th year that the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond has hosted Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day. As part of the event, Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave an afternoon speech to the group at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“Our legislators thank us each year for voting and for caring about our system of governance in Virginia,” said Frances Goldman, co-chair of the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee.

“We are proud to continue this tradition with the current administration in Virginia, which has been very supportive of the matters of concern to the metropolitan Richmond Jewish community.”

McAuliffe used the opportunity to boast of his successes as a governor, such as reducing the state’s unemployment rate from 5.4 percent to 3.7 percent. He said the commonwealth would remain welcome and opening.

“I will not tolerate any discrimination against any individual based on religion, sexual orientation – nothing will be tolerated,” McAuliffe said. The governor said his position was not just about acceptance but also about the economy.

“I say this because as a key job creator for the commonwealth, you can’t bring jobs in if you discriminate,” McAuliffe said. “I just got back from the West Coast. I met with Apple, I met with Google, I met with Facebook. I’m going to be clear, folks: They are not bringing a facility to a state that discriminates.”

McAuliffe probably wanted to mention his work against discrimination because it falls within the four primary issues of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. Those issues are:

  • Promoting religious freedom and the separation of church and state
  • Supporting a democratic, strong and peaceful Israel as the homeland and nation-state of the Jewish people
  • Eradicating all forms of racism and anti-Semitism
  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of Jewish agencies, organizations and individuals in the Richmond community and environs

McAuliffe is a supporter of the American Jewish Committee’s Governors United Against BDS campaign. (BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions – economic pressures that some critics of the Israeli government advocating applying on Israel.) In 2016, the governor made a trip to Israel to promote business relations between the commonwealth and the nation-state.

In his speech, McAuliffe criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“It’s not good for Virginia, and it’s clearly not good for Israel,” McAuliffe said. “Discrimination breeds hatred. You can color it any way you want, but when you do that, ISIS is now using this as a recruiting tool.”

However, the day wasn’t all speeches and one-sided listening. Jewish Advocacy Day is about members of the Jewish community meeting one on one with their governmental representatives.

“Overwhelmingly, the day is focused around discussion and cooperation – making sure we have a voice and a relationship that’s a two-way street,” said Doni Fogel, director of Jewish Community Relations and Israel and Overseas Programming for the JCFR.

Jewish Advocacy Day was organized by four groups: the JCFR, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Virginia Office of the Jewish Relations Council of Greater Washington and the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula. The event was co-hosted by JCFR and the local Richmond chapter of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

“I’d like to stress the cooperation that exists between the different communities across Virginia,” Fogel said. “There’s a certain impact that 50 people make when they attend meetings, but there’s a different impact when 200 people come together to support advocacy in a united way.”

Live or recorded in Richmond, it’s ‘On the Lege’

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – There is nothing more entertaining than politicians being snarky to one another, save for maybe a YouTube video of a sneezing panda. Now you too can watch the drama and eye rolls as they happen at Capitol Square.

All committee meetings and floor sessions at the General Assembly are open to the public. However, you don’t have to be in Richmond to watch what is going on. Thanks to the internet, you can view legislative deliberations and debates online.

The Senate of Virginia and Virginia House of Delegates each offer a daily live-stream of their floor sessions, which usually begin at noon. They have been doing that for about a decade. What’s new is that both chambers now are archiving the videos so you can watch the recordings if you miss the live shows.

You can find the links to the House and Senate floor-session videos by going to the General Assembly’s website – http://virginiageneralassembly.gov– and clicking on “Members and Session.”

Since January, for the first time in Virginia, committee meetings also can be viewed online, thanks to the nonprofit group Progress Virginia. It has launched a video service called Eyes on Richmond (eyesonrichmond.org).

On that webpage is a calendar listing the House and Senate committee meetings scheduled on any given day. Eyes on Richmond can broadcast four different live-streams simultaneously. The calendar shows which committee meetings will be on each stream.

The project’s home page displays the live or most recent broadcast on each of the four stream. Archives of all the committee meetings that the project has recorded are available on the service Ustream(ustream.tv).

Alan Gibbs, an intern with Progress Virginia, has been recording legislative committee meetings since Jan. 9 – the week the General Assembly convened.

“When it first started, it was dicey. People were uncomfortable, because they hadn’t been filmed before,” said Gibbs, a political science major at Virginia Commonwealth University. “After the first week, it was normal.”

Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, said transparency has always been a priority for the group. She believes legislators are likely to act differently when they know they are being recorded.

Scholl said tens of thousands people have watched the Eyes on Richmond streams, but to her organization, it’s not about numbers. “I think we are always hoping to increase it, but for us to even have five people watching is worth it,” Scholl said.

Republican leaders in the House said transparency is what motivated them to create an online archive of their daily floor sessions this year. The Senate followed suit at the urging of Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who had been advocating for such a system for nine years.

“Sometimes things take a long time to get updated around here, but I’m glad we finally got this through,” Petersen said. “Having the video online is all about transparency. Not everyone can come down to Richmond to watch the Senate floor. And not everyone can watch us live. With the online video archive, constituents can hold us accountable, and we can share what’s happening in Richmond with the people back in our districts.”

Before this year, if citizens, journalists or legislators wanted a recording of what had happened on the House or Senate floor, they had to buy a DVD from each chamber for $12 – and it contained the video for just one day. For a 60-day session, it cost more than $1,400 to have videos of every floor session.

For years, Waldo Jaquith, who established the website RichmondSunlight.com, purchased the General Assembly’s DVDs and uploaded them for the public to view. Jaquith tweeted about his relief after the House and Senate decided to archive the videos of their floor sessions.

“It took me nine years, but I am done buying Virginia legislative DVDs,” Jaquith wroteon Twitter. “I’m chalking this up as complete victory.”

Advocates applaud governor’s vow to veto anti-’sanctuary’ bills

 

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Advocates for undocumented immigrants are praising Gov. Terry McAuliffe after his promise to veto Republican-backed legislation prohibiting local governments from becoming “sanctuary cities.”

Progress Virginia and New Virginia Majority, which advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants, criticized bills passed by the House and Senate on party-line votes this week. The bills state that localities must not restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws and must cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The governor’s spokesman, Brian Coy, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that McAuliffe would veto any measure forcing localities to enforce federal immigration laws. Coy said the governor views the bills as “attempts to divide and demonize people.”

Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority, praised that statement.

“In the face of attempts from D.C. to divide our communities, it’s more important than ever that we celebrate diversity and remain open and welcoming to immigrants,” Nguyen said.

“People come to America from around the world to seek a better life and flee war, persecution, poverty and so much more. Thank you to Gov. McAuliffe for standing up for every Virginian and pledging to veto these outrageous attacks.”

McAuliffe vowed to veto two immigration-related bills:

  • HB 2000, sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin County, would prohibit any city in the state from declaring itself as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary cities like New York City, Chicago and San Francisco have promised not to cooperate with ICE in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants. The House passed the bill, 66-33, on Tuesday.
  • SB 1262, sponsored by Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, would make a sanctuary city liable for “tortious injury to persons or property caused by an illegal alien within such locality.” The Senate approved the measure, 21-19, on Monday.

In defense of his bill, Black said that he believes sanctuary policies serve as a “shield” for undocumented criminals.

“Under this bill, if you have a jurisdiction that’s deliberately gone out to harbor whatever murderers, robbers, drunk drivers – people who are subject to deportation by federal immigration law, and they set up a shield for them to avoid federal law – then the victims who suffer from that policy will have the opportunity to be reimbursed by that locality,” Black said.

Democratic Sen. Richard Saslaw of Fairfax County disputed Black’s statement.

“The reference that all these counties are harboring all these murderers and armed robbers and rapists and the variety – implying that basically that’s what undocumented people are – to put it mildly is sheer nonsense,” Saslaw said.

Black said the intent of his bill is to make sure federal laws are being enforced.

“What it does is, it prevents the situation that is becoming increasingly common throughout the country, where you have localities that say, ‘We don’t care what the federal law says, we don’t like federal immigration law, and we invite people to come here and we’re going to shield you from legal process,’” Black said.

The governor’s statement to veto such legislation comes days after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, former secretary of the commonwealth under McAuliffe, signed a directive affirming that the Richmond Police Department will not consent to participate with ICE and will not ask suspects and detainees about their immigration status.

“In our interactions as representatives of our city, all employees will focus on the needs and safety of our residents, not on their legal status, and will advocate and promote their wellbeing,” Stoney said in his mayoral directive.

Anna Scholl, executive director for Progress Virginia, said McAuliffe’s promise to veto the anti-sanctuary legislation shows that Virginia will not follow in the footsteps of anti-immigrant policies being put in place by the Trump administration.

“While politicians in D.C. try to slam the door shut on immigrants and refugees, Gov. McAuliffe is clearly standing up to say, ‘You are welcome here,’” Scholl said. “We applaud the governor for rejecting divisive proposals born out of fear that would close our doors to friends and neighbors.”

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