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U.S. Small Business Administration and Business Forward Announce Launch of the “Small Business Digital Alliance”

New Venture Will Convene Major Tech Companies, Players to Provide Small Businesses Free Access to Tools to Expand E-Commerce Footprint

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Business Forward, Inc., a non-profit organization working with small business leaders in support of policies promoting America’s economic competitiveness, announced the launch of the Small Business Digital Alliance (SBDA). A joint public-private co-sponsorship, the SBDA will connect small businesses with critical tech resources to start and expand their e-commerce business to scale for success. The new initiative will also feature a series of free briefings and training to help small businesses access and utilize these digital tools to reach new markets, find diverse talent, improve operations, and raise capital.

Beyond access to technical skills development and tools, the SBDA will play a significant role in helping entrepreneurs expand their networks -- a key component for small businesses as they seek new customers and stronger relationships with vendors, lenders, and other stakeholders needed for success. Specifically, through the SBDA, the SBA and Business Forward will convene some of America’s most respected leaders in business, government, economic development, and other aligned spaces to facilitate cooperation and help small business owners fully harness the power of technology to fuel growth.

“The world’s economy has grown increasingly digital, particularly over the course of the pandemic, and small businesses have pivoted and adapted by adopting technology at incredibly high rates. Through our new Small Business Digital Alliance and agreement with Business Forward, the SBA will help more small businesses accelerate their online and social media strategies to power their businesses in e-commerce and better engage with their customers where they are,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman. “And as access to highspeed internet increases, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $65 billion in broadband infrastructure investments, the SBA will be working to ensure that entrepreneurs in every community in America are ready to take advantage of new opportunities to innovate and leverage technology to start, operate, grow, and be resilient.”

Small businesses depend on a comprehensive suite of tools to expand their customer base, manage their growth, find and retain talent, and enter new markets, including globally, but often encounter obstacles. Aligned with the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on equity and leveling the playing field, the collaboration with Business Forward through the SBDA will prioritize creating access to competitive opportunities and lowering barriers to entry for small businesses, especially those from historically underserved and disadvantaged communities across the country.

“In today’s economy, small businesses are moving online to attract customers, open new markets, develop new products, and obtain capital – and there is a range of new digital tools and services that can help, particularly when small businesses partner with their community,” said Jim Doyle, President of Business Forward.  “By leveraging their community’s local tech incubator, VC firm, university lab, training program, and free digital tools from global businesses – small businesses are more likely to succeed. Collaboration is critical, and the SBDA will help small businesses and their communities work together to achieve and maintain critical mass for success.”

The SBA and Business Forward, along with Members of the SBDA, will also host a series of joint virtual and in-person events across the nation to include policy briefings on small business trends and showcase the digital tools small businesses can take advantage of -- free of charge. A list of Members of the Small Business Digital Alliance will be released in the coming weeks. We encourage any and all companies interested in supporting small businesses with trainings, insights, and free digital tools to contact us to become part of SBDA at info@smallbusinessdigitalalliance.com.

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AS 2021 TAX FILING SEASON BEGINS, WARNER RAISES CONCERNS WITH IRS DELAYS

WASHINGTON – On the first day of the 2021 tax filing season, Sen. Warner raised concerns with the IRS after hearing from Virginians who are still waiting on their refunds from the 2020 filing season. These delays come as millions of Americans continue to face economic hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Sen. Warner stressed the importance of getting Virginians their individual tax refunds as soon as possible in order to avoid further processing delays. As of December 31, 2021, there were approximately 6 million unprocessed tax returns from 2020.

“I appreciate the IRS’ efforts to address the significant backlog of unprocessed returns, and recognize the significant challenges the agency has faced in operating during the pandemic while implementing major programs such as the stimulus payments and the Advance Child Tax Credit payments,” wrote Sen. Warner. “However, persistent delays harm taxpayers who are waiting for their returns to process – often those who need their refunds most –  and the agency has an obligation to implement a clear plan that alleviates this backlog while avoiding major delays for the processing of filed returns during the 2021 tax filing season.” 

This letter follows up on a February 2021 letter addressing the same issue of persistent processing delays at the IRS.

“Since my last letter, I have continued to hear from constituents that have still not had their 2020 tax returns processed, which has also caused delays in receiving the Advance Child Tax Credit payments, stimulus payments, tax refunds, and other much needed financial aid from the IRS,” Warner noted. “Additionally, businesses that have pending tax returns face delayed processing of their SBA EIDL loan applications. Taxpayers have increasingly expressed to my staff that they are unable to garner any information related to the processing of their tax returns via IRS phone lines or the website.”

In order to further understand the ongoing situation, Sen. Warner asked for answers to the following questions:

1.      What formal plans have the IRS and Treasury developed to resolve the significant backlog of individual and business tax returns that remain unprocessed from the 2020 tax filing season?
2.      How specifically will that plan allow the IRS to continue to process the backlog in parallel with the processing of returns for the tax year 2021 filing season?
3.      Will taxpayers whose 2020 returns remain unprocessed or delayed face any difficulties in filing returns – electronically or in paper form – for the 2021 tax year?  If so, what might these delays or difficulties be, what are your specific plans for addressing them, and how will taxpayers be informed in a timely fashion?
4.      When do you anticipate that the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will resume accepting inquiries related to the processing of amended tax returns?  If TAS is unable to accept this casework, will the IRS dedicate other resources to assist with inquiries that TAS is unable to accept?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for Virginians, working to ensure that they get the funds to which they are entitled. In April 2020, he pressed the Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes do not need to wait until the following year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised. He also successfully pushed the Treasury Department to allow Social Security recipients to automatically receive CARES Act direct cash assistance without needing to file a tax return.

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig,

I write today to express my concern with the alarming number of my constituents who have not received their long-awaited tax refund from their 2020 taxes.  As you are well aware, millions of Americans are still facing economic hardships and are desperately in need of these funds to help make ends meet.

In my letter to you on February 8, 2021, I noted that as of November 6, 2020 there were approximately 6.8 million unprocessed tax returns.  As of December 31, 2021, there are still 6 million unprocessed tax returns; additionally, as of January 8, 2022, there are still 2.3 million unprocessed 1040-X, and 1.1 million unprocessed business tax returns as of January 12, 2022.

Since my last letter, I have continued to hear from constituents that have still not had their 2020 tax returns processed, which has also caused delays in receiving the Advance Child Tax Credit payments, stimulus payments, tax refunds, and other much needed financial aid from the IRS. Additionally, businesses that have pending tax returns face delayed processing of their SBA EIDL loan applications. Taxpayers have increasingly expressed to my staff that they are unable to garner any information related to the processing of their tax returns via IRS phone lines or the website. 

On November 10, 2021, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins announced that the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) would no longer accept congressional inquiries solely related to the processing of amended tax returns, due to the agency not being able to meaningfully expedite or improve case resolution for taxpayers.  Ms. Collins also issued a Taxpayer Advocate Directive directing the IRS to “complete processing of all backlogged amended tax returns by December 29, 2021 or provide a detailed plan for completing processing the backlog”.  The absence of assistance from TAS further aggravates the problems my constituents and other Americans face.  

I appreciate the IRS’ efforts to address the significant backlog of unprocessed returns, and recognize the significant challenges the agency has faced in operating during the pandemic while implementing major programs such as the stimulus payments and the Advance Child Tax Credit payments. However, persistent delays harm taxpayers who are waiting for their returns to process – often those who need their refunds most –  and the agency has an obligation to implement a clear plan that alleviates this backlog while avoiding major delays for the processing of filed returns during the 2021 tax filing season. 

Please reply to me as soon as possible, and no later than February 4, 2022, with specific answers to the following questions:

1.      What formal plans have the IRS and Treasury developed to resolve the significant backlog of individual and business tax returns that remain unprocessed from the TY 2020 tax filing season?
2.      How specifically will that plan allow the IRS to continue to process the backlog in parallel with the processing of returns for the tax year 2021 filing season?
3.      Will taxpayers whose 2020 returns remain unprocessed or delayed face any difficulties in filing returns – electronically or in paper form – for the 2021 tax year? If so, what might these delays or difficulties be, what are your specific plans for addressing them, and how will taxpayers be informed in a timely fashion?
4.      When do you anticipate that TAS will resume accepting inquiries related to the processing of amended tax returns?  If TAS is unable to accept this casework, will the IRS dedicate other resources to assist with inquiries that TAS is unable to accept?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Bill would train hotel employees to recognize human trafficking

By Joe Dodson 

Capital News Service 

RICHMOND, Va. -- Legislators raised a few questions with a measure that would deploy hotel staff to help combat human trafficking. 

The bill introduced by Del. Shelly A. Simonds, D-Newport News, was heard Thursday in a House subcommittee. 

House Bill 258 would authorize the Department of Criminal Justice Services to create an online mandatory course to help hotel employees better recognize and report human trafficking. 

The bill would require employees to complete the training within six months of employment and become recertified once every two years. Simonds worked with representatives of the hospitality industry to clarify that staff employed when the bill goes into effect will need to complete training by the end of the year.

“Our friends in law enforcement need folks in hospitality and everyone in the community to help combat this horrible problem,” Simonds said to the panel.

Committee chair Del. William Wampler, R-Washington, asked to revisit the bill after questions were raised. 

Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, requested that an attorney look over the bill to determine whether the word hotel also encompasses motels, lodges and campgrounds, or if the bill should identify each individual lodging term. 

Del. Carrie Coyner, R-Hopewell, echoed Brewer’s sentiment and asked if the bill could be amended to allow employees up to a year upon start of employment to complete the training rather than the proposed six months. Coyner said giving employees a year will help from having too many people cycling through the training at once due to staff turnover.

Coyner said that her local police department does in person training with hotels on human trafficking and she is concerned the online option would prevent employees from getting “in depth” training. 

Coyner asked Simonds to determine how different localities currently conduct training through law enforcement. Simonds said she has been in close contact with the DCJS who she believes are in contact with law enforcement but that she would further communicate with DCJS on the bill. 

Coyner also wanted clearer language regarding how the DCJS would keep records of employees so that they would not have to complete the course again if they moved hotels and would know when the recertification process was due.

Simonds said she remains optimistic about the bill and will work on the suggested items.

“The issues that people were bringing up, I think we can work with,” Simonds said in an interview after the meeting. 

Patrick McKenna, co-founder of the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking, voiced support for the bill. It is important for hotel employees to understand “what they’re seeing and what to do when they see it” in order to help discourage trafficking, McKenna said.

Legislators approved a bill last year requiring casino employees who deal with the public to complete a training course in how to recognize and report human trafficking. Simonds sponsored the legislation, which went into effect July 1. 

Human trafficking is an ongoing issue in the state that is nearly impossible to quantify, according to a 2019 DCJS report. The General Assembly has passed several bills in past years to combat the human rights issue. Legislators created a statewide Sex Trafficking Response Coordinator position in 2019. The coordinator is tasked with creating an annual report for addressing sex trafficking in Virginia.

The DCJS noted in its recent annual report that more funding and resources are needed for training. 

Simonds is also working on a bill to add a common definition of human trafficking to the state code. 

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.

William S. Chaplin Jr. (Billy)

Visitation Services

Sunday, January 23, 2022, 2-4 pm

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

Monday, January 24, 2022, 7:30 am

Greensville Memorial Cemetery
1250 Skippers Road
Emporia, Virginia

 

William S. Chaplin Jr. (Billy) passed away peacefully on Friday, January 21, 2022. Born to the late William S. Chaplin Sr & Vera Rogers Chaplin, he was also preceded in death by his wife, Linda Jones Chaplin and sister, Peggy Gammon.

Survivors include his daughters, Stacy Chaplin Arthur (Michael) and Clarke Chaplin Hobbs (Len); grandson Dalton Arthur (Kelsey); granddaughters Caela Dent Brooks (Cody), Bailee Dent, and Brinkley Hobbs; his beloved dog Lucy and his special friend Thelma.

Billy served in Vietnam and was a member of the VFW post 12200. He was an active and honorary lifetime member of the Greensville Volunteer Fire Dept for 50 years. He loved Doodlum Hunt Club, every member of the Fire Department, even though retired, his Department of Corrections family, and most of all his family.

The family will receive friends 2-4 p.m. Sunday, January 23 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held Monday January 24 graveside 7:30 a.m. at Emporia Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Greensville Volunteer Fire Department, 209 Halifax St., Emporia, Virginia 23847 or to VFW Post 12200, c/o P.O. Box 336, Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

WARNER & KAINE APPLAUD MORE THAN $2 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR VIRGINIA TRIBES TO ADDRESS COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded $2,008,250 in federal funding awarded to the Chickahominy Eastern Division and Nansemond Indian Nation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program, which was extended under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, legislation Senators Warner and Kaine voted for in March 2021. The American Rescue Plan allocated more than $31 billion to Native American communities across the country, including funding which will benefit Virginia’s federally recognized tribes.

“As the Omicron variant continues to create challenges for people across the Commonwealth, we’re glad to see that these federal dollars will provide critical relief for communities hit hard by the pandemic,” said the Senators. “This funding will help provide these tribes with services necessary to protect their health and safety.”

The funding will be awarded as follows:

  • Chickahominy Eastern Division will receive $1,010,000 to rehabilitate homes to improve indoor air quality.
  • Nansemond Indian Nation will receive $998,250 to expand and enhance their community center, which is used to distribute COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and food. This funding will help increase capacity for social distancing, upgrade kitchen facilities to prepare more meals for those in need, and install solar panels and battery storage to improve energy efficiency and resiliency during emergencies.

In 2017, Senators Kaine and Warner led legislation to grant federal recognition to six Virginia tribes, including the Chickahominy and Nansemond tribes. After centuries of being denied federal recognition, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act was signed into law on January 30, 2018, making it possible for these tribes to receive federal funding.

In April 2021, Senator Kaine visited Nansemond Indian Nation to hold a roundtable with tribal members to discuss the challenges that the community has faced throughout the pandemic and encourage vaccinations.

Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces COVID Action Plan

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced his COVID Action Plan concurrent with Executive Order Number Eleven to provide hospitals, health systems, nursing facilities, and other healthcare providers the tools necessary to combat COVID-19. The plan also includes issuing clear testing guidelines to prioritize the use of COVID rapid tests and marshalling further resources to encourage Virginians to get the vaccine.

“While many families have experienced tragedy over the last two years, Virginians have truly embodied the spirit of Virginia as they came together to fight a common enemy—COVID-19,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Today’s announcements are designed to give Virginians the tools and resources needed to make the best decisions for their families, strengthen our hospital systems, and ensure a strong recovery as we encounter new challenges associated with the pandemic that has become part of our everyday life.”

Click here to read a full copy of the COVID-19 Action Plan.

Click here to read a full copy of Executive Order #11.

COVID-19 Vaccine Marshall Plan for Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin will devote additional resources and efforts to encouraging the nearly 1.6 million Virginians who are still unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that people vaccinated from COVID-19 are 4 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

Directing the Secretary of Health to re-prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, including expanded efforts in disproportionately unvaccinated communities.

Plan to host and attend COVID-19 vaccine events across the Commonwealth.

Working with Governors across the country to learn best practices on vaccine education.

Empowering Virginia with choices, not mandates.

Expanded Healthcare Flexibility & Support

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #11 to give healthcare providers flexibility and support to battle staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unconstitutional federal mandates on healthcare workers. Virginia's hospitals and healthcare facilities are in crisis. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

 

Allowing hospitals and nursing homes to rapidly expand bed capacity by waiving regulations.

Providing flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia

Creating appropriate exemptions to scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to care for patients in this difficult time.

Expanding the number of providers available to offer the Covid-19 vaccine.

Expanding flexibility, overtime hours and availably for personal care workers.

Prioritized Testing Guidelines

Governor Glenn Youngkin will prioritize testing guidelines to mitigate supply-chain shortages for COVID-19 tests. The Governor will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening, discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing, and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion on testing. Governor Youngkin's actions include:

 

Expedite pending orders of rapid tests.

Redeploy unused tests at state agencies and other non-essential facilities to schools, hospitals, and nursing facilities.

Directing the State Health Commissioner to issue new guidelines that prioritize the use of rapid tests for key categories including

 

Students potentially exposed to COVID-19 who need to test to remain in school.

Essential healthcare professional and other essential worker who need to be tested to return to work.

Vulnerable citizens including those in nursing facilities and over the age of 65.

Those with serious medical conditions and their caregivers.

 

 

 

Those who need to be tested after consultation with a healthcare provider.

 

"Changing Weather"

If you like constant change in the weather
then Virginia is the place to be
I'm from a state with four seasons
so it is quite odd for me.
 
The weather men mostly don't agree
and many times they don't come near
they keep throwing darts at a wall chart
hoping their prediction will appear.
 
I feel sorry for all the farmers
who try hard for a crop to make
they never know if it will burn up
or their fields turn into a lake.
 
Now weather is quite unpredictable
and we don't have the power to change
yet prayers to the Lord in the Heavens above
will at times rearrange.
 
Still for now enjoy the rain and snow
let the children go outside and play
yes the weather is made for everyone
you just have to find your day.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Nurse wins award for helping patient through difficult circumstance

Vice President Patient Care Services Mary Hardin earns STAR service award for November.

Vice President Patient Care Services Mary Hardin earned the STAR service award for November and is pictured with President Scott Burnette.

Mary Hardin, of Bracey, Virginia, has worked at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) for 34 years. She worked her way up to vice president of patient care services and is responsible for the nursing care at VCU Health CMH. Hardin recently went above and beyond to support a patient during a time of loss, earning the November STAR Award for service. STAR stands for Safety, Teamwork, Accountability and Relationships.

The spouse of one of our patients passed. Due to isolation restrictions, family was not allowed in the hospital to support their remaining family member.

“Mary came in one evening and showed compassion, understanding and the true meaning of nursing leadership,” explained Erin Davis, who submitted the nomination.  “She is an inspiration with her kind and caring spirit.”

Hardin knew this was a delicate situation and volunteered to be on call when the time came. One evening she got the news and donned protective equipment to enter the patient’s room. The patient’s family wanted to share the news on an iPad, with Hardin’s help.

Hardin called the family and stayed by the patient’s side to support her during the emotional exchange. She then said a prayer and sang Amazing Grace.

Hardin relied upon her 20 years of experience as an oncology nurse dealing with end-of-life care and her background as a choir member at her church to meet the needs of this patient. Shortly afterward, the patient recovered and went home, where she could mourn with family.

“As a nurse, you have to understand every aspect of the end of life. You have to be as supportive as you can and then the emotions will hit later,” Hardin explained, through tear-stained eyes. “This is just one story of many that have happened here. I encourage nurses to reach out for assistance and rely on each other to get through the tough times. As strong as we are, we have to allow ourselves effective ways to deal with our stressful situations to maintain our mental health.”

VCU Health CMH recently opened a special room for staff to take a 15-minute break after an emotional situation like this. It has a massage chair, soothing music and soft lighting.  

Hardin received the STAR service award, STAR pin, a parking tag that allowed her to park wherever she wanted for the month of December and a $40 gift card.

The other nominee for the month of November was Sheri Sims in Respiratory Therapy.

McEachin Delivers $536.8M for Virginia Bridges Through Infrastructure Law

Infrastructure Law McEachin Helped Pass Will Support Local Jobs By Making the Largest Investment in Fixing American Bridges in History

Richmond, VA – Today, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) announced the first round of investments in repairing Virginia’s bridges under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law he helped pass. Rep. McEachin helped deliver $107.4 million for Virginia to fix bridges this year in FY 2022, part of a total $536.8 million investment over the next five years.

According to the US Department of Transportation, there are currently 577 bridges that are considered to be in poor condition and in need of repair.

“Thanks to our work on the Infrastructure Law, the Commonwealth will receive over $500 million dollars to repair our bridges. These investments will make our communities safer, grow our local economies by creating jobs and allowing commerce to move more efficiently, and help us stay more connected,” said Rep. McEachin (VA-04). “I was proud to help support the Infrastructure Law to deliver for Virginians, and I am excited to continue seeing its impacts for our state.”

The investment announced today is designed to help Virginia repair local bridges that are critical for getting to school and work, moving commerce, and connecting communities. The Infrastructure Law also includes a separate program designed to support larger bridges through a competitive grant program. Details on that program will be announced at a later date.

For more information on the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Formula Program funding to states click here.

Youngkin promotes unity, agenda at inauguration

By Tarazha Jenkins and Josephine Walker

Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Republican Glenn Youngkin was sworn in Saturday as Virginia’s 74th governor on the steps of the state Capitol.

The political newcomer and former private equity executive is the commonwealth’s first Republican governor since Bob McDonnell’s 2009 victory.

The commonwealth also made history in electing Republicans Winsome Sears as lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares as attorney general. They are the first Black woman and Latino man to hold statewide office, respectively.

“The people of Virginia just elected the most diverse leadership in commonwealth history,” Youngkin said in his inauguration speech. “Sending a message that Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people.”

Sears emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica at 6 years old. She made history in 2001 as the first Black Republican woman to win a House seat, and she did so beating out a Democratic incumbent in a majority Black district.

“It actually encouraged me to do what I wanted to do,” said Jeanette Harris-Robinson, who is originally from Jamaica. She traveled from Florida to support Sears, who is her cousin.

“I was a little bit afraid of actually moving forward because I want to run for [office in] the city of Florida, for my city,” Harris-Robinson said. “Coming out here and seeing my cousin and looking at her -- it just opened up a whole new world.”

The 30 degree weather didn’t impact turnout. Roughly 6,000 people were expected to attend, many who dressed in their Sunday best to watch the inaugural ceremonies.

Dan and Debbie Robinson are small business owners who traveled to Richmond from Prince George’s County to show their support.

“It’s been an interesting couple of years for running a small business,” Dan Robinson said.

“It's nice to be a part of history as well,” Debbie Robinson added.

The Robinsons own ByreBarn, an animal auction website. The couple said they look forward to seeing how the new administration changes agricultural regulations.

“The governor seems very positive in all he says,” Dan Robinson said. “Hopefully he can work with a lot of people.”

Youngkin will lead a divided government, with a slim majority of Republicans in the House of Delegates and Democrats narrowly in control of the Senate.

“My fellow Virginians, the spirit of Virginia is alive and well,” Youngkin said. “And together we will strengthen it.”

A parade with organizations ranging from law enforcement to STEM education was held after the inauguration ceremony. The Virginia Union University choir performed a song they wrote for Youngkin, which touched on the theme of Virginia united to “rebuild and reimagine” the state’s future.

“Together we’ll renew the promise of Virginia, so it will be the best place to live, work and raise a family,” he said.

Youngkin signed nine Executive Orders and two Executive Directives shortly after taking oath, ranging from public health to withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The first order prevents the use of “divisive concepts” in education, including critical race theory. Youngkin's campaign centered on ending critical race theory in public education. The theory is not currently taught in K-12 public schools but became a contentious talking point during the gubernatorial race. There will be a review of all policies to identify and end “inherently divisive concepts.”

The second order eliminates a mask mandate in schools. Youngkin also signed a directive eliminating the vaccine mandate for state employees. The moves were made a day after Virginia reported over 17,000 new cases of COVID-19. Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras stated shortly afterward on social media that the district would maintain its mask mandate.

The new governor has more planned in alignment with his campaign promises. 

“It’s a new day in Virginia, but the work is only beginning,” Youngkin stated.

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.

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission


 

Job Title: General Laborer Job Description: Promote Safety. Take an active role in prioritizing safety throughout the operation for yourself and others at all times in accordance with MSHA and Vulcan standards. Perform General Physical Activities. Perform a variety of tasks assisting with the operation of the plant, including using hand tools, cleaning, washing, sweeping, and shoveling materials. Repair and Maintain Equipment. Assist co-workers in the servicing, repairing, and adjusting of various pieces of equipment throughout the plant. Inspect Equipment and Structures. Perform daily inspections and maintenance of the plant equipment in order to ensure safe, reliable, and compliant operations that maximize production and minimize interruptions. Operate Vehicles and Equipment. Operate heavy construction equipment or similar types of cleanup loaders in order to assist with the operation of the plant. Additional Responsibilities. Other duties as assigned. Job Order # 2637134

Job Title: Skid Steer Operator Job Description:  Demonstrate safe control of heavy equipment. Operate equipment to assist in manufacturing process. Loading, unloading and/or moving materials on site. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor. No minimum education required. Must have 1 year of experience in operating heavy machinery. Job Order # 2640393

Job Title: Hotel Desk ClerkJ ob Description Must be able to work rotating shifts, have a High School Diploma or Equivalent and be able to work days, nights, weekends and holidays. Must have excellent oral and written communication skills and customer service skills. Prior hotel desk reception employment required. Must have basic computer skills to perform key functions of this job. Will check in/out guests, answer questions and handle quest complaints, take reservations, answer phone, handle guest charges on file and manage guest billing. Must be able to work in sometimes fast paced environment and be able to multi-task and make decisions. Will dress and present to customers in a professional manner. Will perform other duties as assigned. Must be punctual in arriving for work on time and must be reliable in attendance according to schedule.Job Order # 2553710

Job Title:Mobile Associate - Retail Sales Job Description: Mobile Associates (MA) work as a member of a Retail Team of Experts to bring the T-Mobile brand to life. They're brand ambassadors who build energy and excitement around our products and services. They are passionate about the connected world and thrive in a fast-paced environment, where technology innovations, customer needs, and the Retail experience are continuously evolving. They immerse themselves in significant connections with our customers, and their ability to build new and deepen existing relationships is unmatched across the wireless industry. They continuously work to build expertise in uncovering our customers' needs and have a passion to educate, demonstrate and recommend device and service solutions. This role is a learning role, where new associates are working with their team and proactively building skills and proficiencies, in preparation for the next level up as a Mobile Expert. As a Mobile Associate, you will be required to successfully complete new employee training.Job order #  2633528

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THESE POSITIONS CONTACT THE

VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION

FREE WORKSHOPS!

  Virginia Employment Commission hours in Emporia are:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:30 – 4:30

Wednesday 9:30 – 4:30

      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 oportunidades.  Los auxiliaries y servicios estan disponibles a dedidopara

 personas con discapacidades.

John Richard Harrell, Sr.

Photo Caption

Dates

Visitation Services

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, January 18 2022

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

2 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Independence United Methodist Church Cemetery
4438 Independence Church Road
Emporia, Virginia

John Richard Harrell, Sr., 90, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, January 15, 2022. He was preceded in death by his wife, Beatrice Allen Harrell and a son, William Daniel Harrell.

Mr. Harrell is survived by three daughters, Joan Harrell Spence, Sherry Harrell Avery (Billy) and Karla Jo Robbins (David); three sons, John Richard Harrell, Jr. (Vivian), Kelly Eugene Harrell (Pamela) and Henry Scott Harrell (Dawn); nine grandchildren, Amy Avery Barnes (Rusty), William Rideout Avery, Jr. (Heather), Sarah Avery Logue (Justin), Bruce Robbins (Megan), Brandy Hobbs (Earl), Matthew Benjamin Harrell, Dana Harrell Maule (Andrew), Anna Marie Harrell and William John Harrell; six Great-Grandchildren, William Rideout Avery, III, Julia Avery, Jackson Barnes, Teagan Robbins, Joseph Robbins and David Hobbs,

The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, January 18 2022 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax RD, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at Independence United Methodist Church Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Independence United Methodist Church cemetery fund.

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

Steven Robinson

 11/24/1952 - 1/11/2022

Steve passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on January 11, 2022. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ruth and Miles Robinson, and a brother Brian Robinson. He is survived by his wife Cindy, his son Daniel (Christina) Robinson, daughter McCall (Dennis) Bridge, sister Lisa (Russ) Moore, and two grandchildren Sawyer and Parker Robinson. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews, and his two cats Billie and Eddie. Steve was a hard worker, loving husband and father, Jimmy Buffett fanatic, and lover of all animals big and small. In lieu of flowers please donate to TJ's Hideaway Pet Rescue; https://www.tjsrescuehideaway.com/

Governor Northam Delivers Final State of the Commonwealth Address

RICHMOND—Last night, Governor Ralph Northam deliveredr his final State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the General Assembly. In the last speech of his term, Governor Northam will thank Virginians for their support, friendship, and trust throughout his tenure as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth.

He will also highlight the historic achievements of the last four years, including his administration's work to expand Medicaid, secure record economic growth, reform our criminal justice system, close the digital divide, teach the true history of Virginia, expand access to the ballot box, and keep Virginians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Northam’s remarks as prepared for delivery available below. Watch the live address on TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY:

Good evening.

Mr. Speaker, Madam President Lucas, Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, ladies and gentlemen –thank you for inviting me to speak with you tonight.

To my wife Pam, to Justices of the Supreme Court, members of the State Corporation Commission, and my Cabinet and staff, thank you for your service to our Commonwealth. To Justices Lemons and Mims, congratulations on your retirements, and thank you for your service.

And to everyone in this chamber and watching at home, thank you. And happy New Year.

This is my fourth, and final, address to you, and to the people of Virginia. This speech – an update on the state of our Commonwealth – is a longstanding tradition. And it has value beyond what I say here tonight. This is a time when elected leaders from different branches of government, different political parties, and different parts of the state come together, to talk about the Commonwealth that we all share. No matter our differences, or what we share in common, every year we come together.

Next Monday, Governor-elect Youngkin will speak to you in just the same way. By then, he will be Governor. I wish him the best and I’m confident he will lead this Commonwealth well. When he succeeds, Virginia succeeds.

This is a night when I talk about the state of the Commonwealth. And this time, my last time, I’m going to talk about what we have done over the past four years to improve the state, and what kind of Commonwealth I am leaving in your hands.

We are only here for a short time—especially governors. But every day is an opportunity to help someone, to make their life better.

And that is how we have governed.

If you asked me who we are in Virginia, I would tell you we are people who care about each other. We try to treat each other right. We want our neighbors to succeed, just as much as we want that for ourselves. We know that it’s not enough for me to be doing ok—you need to be doing ok, too. And our policy choices are rooted in who we are—people who want the best for others.

My adult life has been about helping people, especially children. Serving in the Army, working as medical director of a pediatric hospice, and caring for thousands of children—all of those roles have allowed me to help people.

I saw the Senate, the lieutenant governor’s office, and now the governor’s office as a means to help people at a different level—especially those who need it the most. It has been a chance to help people with fewer resources. And I also saw a chance, as the first governor in generations to come from a rural area, to put a greater focus on helping rural Virginia.

Shortly before I ran for Senate, I evaluated an infant in the emergency room. I diagnosed him with cerebral palsy, seizures, and cystic fibrosis. All of those are serious medical conditions, and they require a lot of care. As I walked back to my office, I saw the father on the phone. He was crying, and saying he could never afford the medical care that his child would need. That experience convinced me that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. No father should have to worry that he can’t afford to take care of his child. I ran for office to help that man and others like him.

I also remember as a doctor sitting with a family whose child had picked up a loaded gun in the home and shot himself. Dead at age 3. I’ve been to too many funerals for children who died because of a firearm. Like a loaded gun in the home, or a stray bullet on the playground. I ran for office to help ensure that more families won’t have to endure that kind of pain. 

Virginians choose leaders who will make our commonwealth work better for them and their families, no matter who they are or where they live.

I can confidently say that we have done that.

We are leaving this Commonwealth better than it was when we came into office.

We have built a state that does a better job of treating people right. It’s more welcoming, more open, more fair and equitable.

We have built a state that helps people who need it—whether they need health care, or cleaner water, or to keep a roof over their head during a global pandemic.

We have built a state that recognizes the wrongs of the past, and works to reckon with and rectify them.

We have built a state where everyone has greater access to opportunity—the opportunity to get what you need, to build the life you want to live, where you want to live it.

Everything we have built and accomplished over these four years, has been about helping people.

We are leaving in your hands a strong and healthy Commonwealth, one that treats everyone right, takes care of people when they need it, and provides opportunity for everyone to thrive.

We could not have a safe and stable Virginia without the work of my Cabinet, their teams, state agency heads, and the thousands of state employees. They truly provide the service in public service – from law enforcement, to road crews, to social workers. I hope you’ll join me in a round of applause for our state workforce.

**

I am leaving you with the strongest state budget Virginia has ever seen. Thanks to our strong economy, we are at a unique moment, when we have the funding to catch up on long-delayed investments, while also putting money back into the pockets of the hardest working Virginians. Just today, we announced that general fund revenues were up 20 percent in December—making it five straight months of double-digit revenue growth.

We need to be clear, this is because we have consistently taken a prudent, cautious approach to budgeting.

We have strengthened our balance sheet to keep our finances stable. We’ve made targeted long-term investments to help Virginia grow, helped people get through the pandemic, and put money aside as a buffer for the future.

In fact, I’ve sent you a budget that brings our reserves to more than $3.8 billion. That’s 16.8 percent, more than double the 8 percent I set as a goal four years ago, and more than any previous governor of either party.

I want to thank Secretary of Finance, Joe Flores, and his team, along with the Department of Planning and Budget. Building Virginia’s budget and keeping our finances steady and stable requires people who know state finances in and out, and we’ve been lucky to have that during this administration. Thanks also to Senator Howell and Delegate Torian, chairs of the money committees, for their leadership over the course of some very complicated state budget cycles.

**

We’ve also had record economic success. I’ve traveled around the world, meeting with companies, and telling them why Virginia is the best place to be. During our four years, we’ve brought in more than $81 billion in economic investment, more than four times any previous administration, and creating more than 103,000 jobs.

For most people, the most important thing they need is a job where they can support themselves and their family. From Day One, I wanted Virginia to be the best state for business, because I knew it would mean we were doing the right things to attract jobs and help Virginians.

That’s why I am so proud that we’ve been CNBC’s best state for business in back to back years—something no other state has done.

We are also ranked number one for business climate by Business Facilities magazine. We have proven that when you treat people right, it’s good for everyone and it’s good for business. Businesses are excited to be in Virginia, and to come to Virginia.

Being named best state for business is a testament to our workforce, our education system, our commitment to diversity, and our strong business climate.

From Amazon making Virginia home to its second headquarters in 2018, to Micron’s $3 billion investment to build semiconductors, to Blue Star’s incredible commitment to make billions of medical gloves in Wytheville, Virginia is the state where companies want to invest, put down roots, and grow.

We’ve also taken steps to be a better state for workers. I’ve listened to Virginians who told me they just couldn’t support themselves on $7.25 an hour. They were always one paycheck away from losing the roof over their head. That’s why we’re raising the minimum wage—an increase to $11 an hour just kicked in, and we’ll get to $15 by 2026. We’ve helped working families in a variety of other ways—we’ve made it easier to adopt through surrogates through Jacob’s law, and for our own state workforce we’ve put in one of the most progressive family leave programs in the country. When you treat workers and their families right, it helps everyone.

We’ve also made historic investments in affordable housing, and Virginia leads the nation for rent relief during COVID—helping people keep a roof over their heads.

I want to thank Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball, and everyone on our economic development team. A state that’s both good for business and good for workers doesn’t happen by accident. It is built with a lot of hard work, and these folks deserve the credit. With everything Virginia has going for us, there’s no reason we can’t be best state for business for a fourth year. I’ll be cheering you on.

**

Our best in the country success has come in part because we have been deliberate about building a workforce and an education system that are second to none.

These days, if you want to get a good job and get ahead, you need additional skills training or education beyond a high school diploma.

I have sent you a budget that continues the priorities we’ve pursued all along. We have put half a billion dollars into HBCUs during my term, an increase of 87 percent. And we are making higher education and skills training more affordable, and more accessible to all.

That includes a program I’ve wanted to implement since I ran for governor. As I campaigned, people told me about dropping out of community college because they couldn’t afford it. We came up with the G3 program, making community college tuition free for low and moderate income students, if they are getting training in high-need areas. I appreciate Senator Saslaw and Delegate Filler-Corn for their work to pass this important initiative.

Our higher education system is dependent on our K-12 system. Every child deserves the same opportunity to get the skills and knowledge they’ll need to thrive in life.

That’s why for the past four years, we have increased our investments in K-12 education. We’ve put historic amounts of support into at-risk students. We’ve raised teacher salaries more than 10 percent, the largest increase in 15 years. The budget I’ve sent to you dedicates new funding to help localities build or modernize their schools.

And we have invested in early childhood education. As a pediatrician, I know that brain development starts early—those first years are vital, and a robust early childhood education system means that children with fewer advantages can get the same good start in life. I am grateful to my wife Pam, who made early childhood education her mission, and everyone who has worked on the early childhood team in our administration.

Our teachers, our school staffs, our administrators, are dedicated to one thing: educating children. They are highly trained and skilled, and they do a phenomenal job. They all deserve our thanks and gratitude, especially after the stresses and challenges of the past 22 months.

I want to thank Secretary of Education Fran Bradford, and our incredible education team. I also want to thank Virginia’s first Secretary of Labor Megan Healy. Education and workforce go hand in hand, and these teams have done tremendous work over the past four years.

**

Education does not just happen in a classroom. And it is not only the young who can learn new things. If we are not learning, we are stagnating. And if we cling only to what we think we know—without keeping our minds open to new information—then we cannot move forward.

My administration has made it a priority to ensure that in Virginia, we understand our past—so we can learn from our mistakes. For too long, we’ve been comfortable telling a story about Virginia’s history that left out a lot of people—and a lot of uncomfortable facts.

But we cannot pick and choose history based on how it makes us feel. We need to understand the full and true story—and put a Black child’s right to have her history included in our textbooks before our own desire to feel comfortable.

That is the only way we can understand how yesterday affects today—and make changes for tomorrow.

We are a commonwealth of contradictions—the place where the first enslaved African people landed, and the place where representative government was born. 

We have worked, hand in hand with many of you, to make Virginia a place that reckons with its past.

We have given greater support to institutions dedicated to telling that full and painful story. We’ve focused our historical resources on telling stories that have been marginalized. For example, when Senator Richard Stuart found that stones on his property, used on the river bank to control erosion, were actually headstones, he called for help—and we discovered they had been taken from the historically Black Harmony Cemetery in Washington, tossed aside during development with no respect for the people they represented. We were able to get many of those stones back to the graves they belonged to.

We have taken steps in every agency of this Commonwealth to better support and celebrate the diversity of our state. And we have developed government-to-government relationships with the sovereign tribal nations that called Virginia home for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

With much help I put together the most diverse, talented, and hardworking Cabinet in the history of Virginia. We created the state level Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, led by the country’s first cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer, and I thank Dr. Janice Underwood and her team for all their work.

I know that talking about history—our real, true history—can make some people uncomfortable. Mostly those people look like me. And I have not always understood the ways that the uglier parts of our past affect things and people today.

But I kept my mind open. I listened, and I learned. I used to tell students, the eyes can’t see what the brain doesn’t know. I know that Virginians want to understand each other. As someone who works with children, I know that hatred, bigotry, and discrimination are not things we are born with. They are things we learn. And that means inclusion is also something we can learn.

We all work in good faith to try to understand the world we live in together. It’s hard, when we don’t all hear the same stories, and we don’t all understand the same facts. It can feel like we’re further apart than ever. But the Virginia I see is full of people who have more in common than their differences. The better we understand our past, the more we broaden that common ground.

**

As Governor, and as legislators, our job is to be good stewards of this Commonwealth, and to prepare for what will come in the next ten, twenty, fifty years.

When it comes to the environment, we know that the next 50 years – the next five years – will be a time of great change.

We are already seeing that. Christmas Day in Richmond was 70 degrees, and last week we got half a foot of snow. In Colorado recently, wildfires burned a thousand homes, and then the ashes were covered by a blizzard. Western Kentucky towns were devastated by rare December tornadoes.

Our climate is changing, and our weather is changing – faster than ever, and with devastating consequences.

We must do our part to stem the tide, and make sure that the world we leave for our children and grandchildren is safe. I ran for office in part because I was seeing the demise of the Chesapeake Bay—the disappearance of sub-aquatic grasses, crabs, and other living creatures. I ran for office to help save and protect our waters and air for our grandchildren to enjoy.

In the past four years, we have invested strongly in clean energy. I was proud to sign the Virginia Clean Economy Act, and I thank Senator McClellan and Delegate Sullivan for spearheading the work to get that legislation passed.

Clean energy is a job generator. Businesses that are looking to locate in Virginia like our renewable energy initiatives. And Virginia is also at the vanguard of the new offshore wind energy industry in the United States.

We must embrace clean energy, because the cost of not doing so will be devastating. If you want more floods, more fires, more storms, more disaster—and more destroyed property, lost jobs, and devastated communities– then do nothing. But a stable future requires us to act.

That’s why I’m leaving a plan for a cleaner energy future.

And it’s also why we’ve spent four years making our waters and our air cleaner and safer for our children, and our children’s children—including investing $1 billion in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

I am confident we are leaving our environment cleaner and better than when we found it—and that we’ve put in place the right policies to make Virginia a leader in clean energy, and the jobs and economic progress that come with it.

I want to thank Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings, and her team for their work these past four years to make Virginia’s environment a better place.

**

Leaving a better future for our children also means leaving a system that protects public safety, and ensures that our justice system is as fair as possible.

Our law enforcement do an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous job. That’s why this year, I sent you a budget that provides pay raises and bonuses meant to not just reward our officers, deputies, and jail officers for the tough jobs they do, but also to make pay scales more fair.

We also worked closely with you to make sure our criminal justice system reflects the Virginia that we are today.

Too often, our modern-day punishments and practices have their roots in a more discriminatory and unfair past.

That’s why we’ve made marijuana use legal. I want to thank Senator Lucas, Senator Ebbin, and Delegate Herring for their work on this policy, which is complicated, but important.

That’s also why we have ended use of the death penalty in Virginia—the first southern state to do so—because it was applied unfairly, and we couldn’t rely on the system to get it right. Thanks go to Senator Surovell, Delegate Mullin, and many others who have worked on this for years

Just look at the Martinsville 7 – Black men who were convicted of rape and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. In Virginia, it was almost entirely Black men who were sentenced to death for rape convictions, and it was clear these seven men were executed because they were Black. I was glad to acknowledge that wrong, in some measure, by granting them a posthumous pardon earlier this year.

In fact, our administration has restored the civil rights and voting rights for nearly 126,000 people, and issued more than 1,100 pardons—more than all past governors combined.

That’s because second chances are important. We cannot expect people to fully reenter our society as long as we hold that conviction over their heads, and refuse to treat them like full members of society. If you commit a crime, you should expect punishment—but punishment should fit the crime.

This year Virginians could have a chance to vote to make the restoration of rights automatic, if the work of Senator Mamie Locke and others is successful. There must be a date at which we say, enough. You’ve paid your debt, and it’s time to move forward.

That’s who we are in Virginia. We are a state that believes in justice, not just punishment. And we are a state that believes in grace, and in mercy.

The facts demonstrate that what we’re doing is working. In the last five years, Virginia has had one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country.

I want to thank Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and his team for all their work to make Virginia a state that is safer, and more just, for everyone. And I want to thank Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson, who has now helped two governors restore the rights of thousands of Virginians, and everyone on her team. They have done an incredible job.

**

I mentioned that we restored voting rights for thousands of Virginians.

Voting is fundamental to our democracy. Many Americans have fought—and some paid the ultimate price—to protect the freedoms we have under our democratic system, including the right to vote.

That’s why voting should be as easy as possible, for as many voters as possible.

Yet for too many people, barriers still exist. I remember talking to a trucker who told me his schedule was so unpredictable that he often didn’t get to vote—because he was on the road on Election Day.

That’s why we’ve worked together to make Virginia a leader in voting access.

Now, you can vote early for 45 days before the election—without having to explain your schedule to an election official.

Election Day is a state holiday—because we want people to have the free time to vote, or to volunteer at the polls.

And voter registration is automatic through the DMV.

Virginia has gone from being one of the toughest, most restrictive voting environments, to one of the best and most secure in the country. I want to thank Senator Deeds, Senator Locke, Senator Lucas, Delegate Herring, Delegate Simon, Delegate VanValkenburg and many others.

Because of these changes, we have seen record voter turnout in the past two elections. In fact, the 2021 election—in which all of you in the House were elected—saw a 20 percent increase in voter participation over four years ago. Contrast that with other states that have chosen to make voting harder and more restrictive—with the result that fewer people vote.

This shows us that our current rules work. Our elections are fair and transparent.

And it’s really important for voters to hear that message—especially from those of you elected to office under these rules. It does tremendous damage when elected officials use false claims to undermine faith in our elections. Voters deserve better, and our elected officials need to do better, and not perpetuate anyone’s big lie.

Virginia’s elections are always well-run, they’re free and fair, and they’re transparent. This is a hallmark of our democracy, and I am proud of all Virginians whose efforts help ensure that our elections go smoothly. I want to thank everyone in the Department of Elections, along with Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson and her teams.

**

Voting is a right—not something to be held back as a privilege, reserved for a few.

Access to health care is also a right—not a privilege to be reserved for those who can afford it.

Like the father I mentioned earlier, faced with not being able to afford care for his sick child. That shouldn’t happen.

That’s why I was proud that in the first year of my term, together we agreed to expand Medicaid access to thousands of Virginians.

We couldn’t foresee the pandemic, but I am glad that when a global health crisis arrived, more than 600,000 Virginians had access to care that they did not have in 2018. Thanks to the work and cooperative spirit of the Southwest Virginia delegation—and I won’t mention you by name—we made that happen. We were able to come together, across party lines, because it was the right thing to do. That is who we are. We don’t just want health care for ourselves—we want it for our neighbors.

And never before has our health been so dependent on others, as in the past 22 months of this pandemic.

In the midst of a contagious respiratory virus, where my actions affect you and your actions affect me, we needed Virginia to be a state where people take care of their neighbors.

As the nation’s only governor who is also a doctor, I am proud of how Virginia has handled this pandemic. We have followed the science to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible. We have seen fewer cases and fewer deaths than many of our neighbors. Nearly 90 percent of our adult population has had at least one shot. We’re the 9th state in the nation for having our residents fully vaccinated, and for vaccination rates for teenagers. We’re doing better at vaccinations than many other large states and all of our southern neighbors.

That said, none of that matters to the people who have lost a loved one to this terrible virus. Nearly 16,000 Virginians have died of COVID in the past 22 months. And all of them were dear to someone. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and loved ones for their loss. I’d like to take a moment of silence in their memory.

As I leave office, I hope that our Commonwealth will continue doing what we know works: follow the science. Get vaccinated. Wear masks. Take care of other people, not just ourselves. That is who I know Virginians to be.

I want to thank Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris and her team. I also want to take a moment to thank the thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers, Guard men and women, and public safety officers who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe.

In the balcony this evening I want to introduce a few folks.

We have Major General Timothy Williams, who leads our Virginia National Guard.

Dr. Linsey Marr, the Charles Lunsford professor in civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, whose groundbreaking research has helped guide not only the nation, but the world during this pandemic.

Dr. Norm Oliver who has led our Department of Health with distinction and compassion,

And Dr. Danny Avula, who dropped everything when this pandemic broke out to lead our Covid task force.

These individuals worked day in and day out, facing an unknown virus, trying to give the best health guidance they could to a worried public.

If you look at our COVID data, you can see that we have lost fewer Virginians than many other states. This team has saved thousands of lives, and I am incredibly grateful.

We owe our thanks to our public health workers. They are truly public servants, dedicated to helping their neighbors stay safe and healthy. They deserve our gratitude. It hasn’t been easy, and their work is not done.

If you want to thank them—our public health workers, our local health departments, our doctors and nurses in hospitals, our long-term care facilities staff—then you know what to do. Get vaccinated or boosted. Wear a mask. Protect the people around you. That’s how to thank a health care worker.

**

Over the past four years we have done a lot to make Virginia a better place to live and work. We’ve also made it an easier place to live and work—by investing in the infrastructure that connects us all.

If you commute, or if you travel, you want better roads and rail systems. If you work from home, or you’re in school, you need reliable Internet access.

We have laid the groundwork to transform that infrastructure.

In just four years, we’ve moved broadband investments from $4 million a year, to $2 billion. We’re on track to have universal broadband on its way to every community by 2024—far faster than expected, and faster than most other states.

This is one of the most important investments we could have made, especially in rural communities. Broadband is to today’s economy what electricity was generations ago. It is quite simply a necessary service for students to connect to education, businesses to connect to the wider world, and citizens to connect to work. I want to thank Senator Boysko for her role leading the Broadband Advisory Council, which has played an important part in this progress.

We’ve also made generational investments in roads and rail--$3.8 billion to expand the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, $2.2 billion to fix I-81, and $3.7 billion to transform rail across the Commonwealth.

These projects, and many others, will help Virginians in every part of the state get where they want to go faster, and safer.

I want to thank Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and her team for all their work to transform the way we move around Virginia.

**

Investments like broadband are especially important for rural Virginia.

As you all know, I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore.  And one of my goals as governor was to put more focus on the needs of rural Virginia. Too often, rural communities feel left behind.

You often hear people say they grew up in rural Virginia, but they live and work somewhere else.

Rural areas often don’t have the same work or educational opportunities as our urban and suburban areas. In other parts of the state, you often hear, “well, why don’t they just move?” But that’s not the answer. Instead of encouraging people to leave rural areas, we have worked to bring more opportunities to them.

I’ve made rural Virginia a priority—as my friend Senator Bill Stanley reminded me recently, I promised him I wouldn’t forget Southside, and he’ll tell you that I lived up to my word.

We’ve supported rural economic development—such as the biggest new jobs announcement in Southwest Virginia in a decade, 2,500 new jobs making nitrile gloves in Wythe County. My friend Congressman Morgan Griffith called it the largest economic development announcement made in Southwest during his time in Congress.

We created the Office of Outdoor Recreation to promote Virginia as both a great place for outdoor businesses, and for outdoor travelers. This section of the economy is huge and has great potential for growth. Thanks to Senator Hanger and Delegate Bulova for their dedication to these issues through the Virginia Outdoor Recreation Caucus.

We created the ReBuild Virginia program, investing nearly $400 million in grants to help our small businesses in communities across the Commonwealth stay afloat during the pandemic.

And we’ve supported agriculture, our largest industry. We’ve funded 55 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development projects, more than the past two administrations combined, and we’ve supported and conserved working lands and forests.

I want to thank Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, everyone on her team, and everyone who works to support and prioritize rural Virginia. Every community, from the Eastern Shore to Lee County and everywhere in between, deserves attention, and it’s been important to me that rural Virginia not be left behind.

**

I also want to thank our Secretary of Veterans Affairs Carlos Hopkins, who is actively serving with the National Guard in the Middle East right now, and Acting Secretary Kathleen Jabs. They and their teams have done amazing work to support veterans and make sure that we are well-connected with the military operations that call Virginia home.

 One in 12 Virginians is a military veteran. In fact, I’m one of them. In the past four years, we’ve promoted the V3 program to hire more veterans, and taken a number of steps to help ease the transition to civilian life. We are one of the best states for veterans, and I hope we continue to take care of veterans as they deserve.

I also want to thank our National Guard, who have done so much to serve this Commonwealth. We call on them to help in emergencies, from last January’s attempted insurrection in Washington, to natural disasters, to our COVID response.  They helped with testing in 2020 and vaccinations in 2021. And more National Guard members are deployed now than at any other time since World War II. We are truly grateful to them.

**

Four years ago, I stood here, in this room, on this dais, in front of many of you.

I told you where I wanted to take Virginia. And I asked you to work with me to get us there.

It has been a more tumultuous four years than I think any of us expected.

But the challenges have also been opportunities.

More people have health care access. More people have jobs. More people have access to an affordable education. More people have access to broadband—and soon, everyone will have it.

Our rail system is prepared for important upgrades. Our energy sources are becoming cleaner and safer. Our teachers, law enforcement officers, and public servants are paid better. The Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries are healthier.

We are telling a fuller story of our shared history, and inviting more voices to the table. We are protecting the rights of more people, and making Virginia a more open and welcoming place to live.

Tonight, I can say that together, we have accomplished more than we could have dreamed of that night in 2018.

At every turn, we’ve looked for ways to help people.

We are leaving you with a Virginia that treats people right, helps neighbors when they need it, rectifies past wrongs, and helps everyone have the opportunity to thrive.

That’s who we are as a people—and we are all God’s people, created equally. We take care of each other.

Tonight, let’s ask ourselves—are we going to keep up this progress? Or will we retreat, become people who are more worried about ourselves than each other?

I hope we will not. I hope the spirit of helping other people continues to prevail. I hope we’ll continue to be people who want to serve the world, rather than conquer it. People who sow kindness and hope, rather than anger and fear.

We all are here for a short period of time, and every day is a God-given opportunity to help someone, to make their life better.

I am grateful to all of you in the General Assembly for the work you’ve done with me and my team, and for your constituents. I have worked with some of you for a number of years, as a colleague in the Senate, then as lieutenant governor, and now as governor. I know that despite our differences, you all care deeply about this Commonwealth, and the people we serve.

And I again want to thank my Cabinet, and my staff. Members of my Cabinet, please stand.

They have devoted themselves to doing good for the people of Virginia, and while you don’t always see their work or hear their names, everything we have done well has been their work. They deserve our thanks.

Over these four years, I have been welcomed into communities in every corner of this Commonwealth. I have met thousands of my fellow Virginians, and what I have been most struck by is this—Virginians are good people.

You want to help others. You have a deep love of place, and of your community. You want to see your neighbors do well.

You put your trust in me to lead our great Commonwealth as the 73rd Governor. And I promised to make the best decisions I could for you.

Every single day of the past four years, my team and I have tried to live up to that trust. And every day, I have felt so proud, and grateful for you, Virginia. I’ve seen your strength and resilience, your kindness, your generosity. It is you, more than anything else, that makes Virginia the best state, in the best country in the world.

It has been the highlight of my life to serve you. As a past governor rightly said, there is truly no higher honor, than to serve as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Delegate Durrant and Senator Pillion Deliver Republican Response to Governor Northam's State of the Commonwealth Address

Newly Elected member of the House of Delegates from Stafford County, Tara Durrant (R-28) and first term State Senator from Washington County Todd Pillion (R-40) joined forces to deliver the Republican response to Governor Ralph Northam's final State of the Commonwealth Address.  Below is the test of their response.

Durant

“Good evening and thank you for joining us after the State of the Commonwealth address.
“I’m Delegate Tara Durant of Stafford County in the Fredericksburg region.”

Pillion

“And I’m Senator Todd Pillion from Washington County in the great Southwest. Tonight, we’d like to take a few minutes to give you the Republican perspective on the State of our Commonwealth.

“In delivering his final address to the General Assembly a few moments ago, Governor Northam detailed some of the events that have characterized the last four years.

“Just three days from now, at noon on Saturday, we will inaugurate a new governor.

“The decisive results of November’s elections, with Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares prevailing, signaled that Virginians wanted to move in a different direction. Returning Republicans to the majority in the House of Delegates only reinforced the people’s desire for positive change.

“During last year’s campaign and in the days since his election, Governor-Elect Youngkin has signaled a change not only in policy, but in perspective and tone, as well. His emphasis will be on unity, bringing Virginians together by advancing initiatives that will lower your cost of living, create jobs by improving our business climate, and make our streets and neighborhoods safer.

“Governor Youngkin’s “Day One” agenda is remarkable because it embraces something all too rare in government: common sense.

“Virginians know that if you weaken our sentencing laws, parole violent criminals, and denigrate the work of our police and sheriff’s deputies, Virginia will be less safe.
“They know that if our children aren’t in the classroom and parents are excluded from decisions about what our schools teach, the quality of education – and the prospects for our children’s future – will diminish.

“And, Virginians know that confidence in government requires competence in government. When assistance for the unemployed doesn’t get to the unemployed, when mental health services are limited by staffing shortages, when the DMV won’t open its doors regularly, and when drivers on an Interstate highway are stranded for 24 hours, Virginians have every right to question the competence of state government.

“Making government work for all Virginians shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Governor Youngkin has stressed the support he earned from Republicans, Independents, and Democrats.

“As the 2022 General Assembly session begins, we’re looking forward. And, we hope Democrat lawmakers will be looking forward, too.

“As Tara is about to detail, our House Republican colleagues have an ambitious agenda for this session.
“Tara…”

Durant

“Thank you, Todd.

“Earlier today, our House Republican Majority held a press conference where we introduced our common-sense, forward-looking agenda for the 2022 session.

“Our agenda for the coming session was set last year, as each of us went to thousands of our fellow Virginians and asked them what was on their minds. They told us, in no uncertain terms, that our Commonwealth was on the wrong track and we needed to change course.

“Parents told us they were worried about their children’s education. They told us virtual education was a failure, and that their children were falling behind, and that falling standards could hobble their children’s future.

“Republicans listened. This session we’re going to bring forward legislation that would ensure our standards only go higher, and that our schools get the resources they need to not only pay our teachers well, but rebuild schools that for far too long have been crumbling.

“Voters told us they want safer streets, and an end to the violence that takes so many young lives in our cities. They told us they wanted help dealing with inflation and skyrocketing energy prices.

“Republicans listened. We’re introducing legislation that will keep dangerous, violent killers behind bars and off the streets, and that will bring accountability and change to our badly broken Parole Board. And we’re devoting millions of dollars to proven anti-violence strategies like Project Ceasefire – which reduces gun violence without resorting to gun control.

“We plan to cut taxes by ending the grocery tax, and refunding part of Virginia’s surplus to those who paid it – the taxpayers. And we’re going to double the standard deduction, putting more money back in paychecks, while ending mandates that drive up energy prices.

“Virginians spoke, and Republicans listened. Together, Republicans in the House and Senate of Virginia will continue to work to make our Commonwealth a better place for all Virginians.

“Senator Pillion and I thank you for watching tonight. On behalf of the Senate and House Republican Caucuses, we wish you and your family a happy – and healthy – new year.”

HERRING ANNOUNCES THAT 100% PARTICIPATION BY LOCALITIES IN OPIOID SETTLEMENT POSITIONS VIRGINIA FOR HALF-BILLION DOLLAR RECOVERY

~ By securing approval from all required Virginia localities, the Commonwealth has positioned itself to receive approximately $530 million, an amount that would have been reduced if localities had opted out of the settlement framework ~

RICHMOND (January 10, 2022)—Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that 100% of required Virginia localities and stakeholders have now agreed to the $26 billion settlement framework that he and his colleagues negotiated against opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson. Because of this 100% commitment, the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive the maximum amount of money available to state and local governments as quickly as possible. The Commonwealth’s share is expected to be approximately $530 million for state and local governments, though the total would have been significantly reduced and the timeframe extended if even one locality had opted-out of the framework. Virginia is one of the first states to secure 100% voluntary participation from local stakeholders, and the majority of the funds will be deposited into the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority to fund opioid abuse prevention, education, treatment, and recovery efforts.
 
“This is really great news for the Commonwealth because it means we’re going to have the most money possible—hundreds of millions of dollars—available as quickly as possible to support substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. It will, without a doubt, be the biggest investment in treatment and recovery in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Herring. “We know there is a huge need for treatment and recovery services, which is why we worked so hard to secure buy-in from localities, and why we created the Opioid Abatement Authority to handle the Commonwealth’s share of any recovered funds. While no dollar amount will ever bring back the loved ones lost, we’re still going to get every dollar we can from the big pharmaceutical companies that helped create and prolong this crisis because we want them to be held accountable for their actions and we want them to help pay the cost of fixing the problem they created.
 
“I really appreciate the partnership, hard work, and commitment of our partners in this endeavor, including the local governments, their attorneys, and Senator Pillion and the members of the Opioid Abatement Authority. Because of our shared commitment, we’re going to make an historic investment in the health and well-being of our people.”
 
“Families in every community from Southwest Virginia to the Eastern Shore and everywhere in between have been impacted by the opioid crisis,” said Senator Todd Pillion, chair of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority Board. “Our Opioid Abatement Authority is an innovative way to ensure that as much money as possible goes to treatment, recovery, and prevention, and I’m proud of the commitments we’ve secured from our local government partners. It is a real testament to the all-hands-on-deck approach that the Commonwealth is bringing to this problem. I appreciate Attorney General Herring’s team for their work in pursuing these cases and for establishing the Authority, and for partnering with us to maximize the resource available to address this crisis.”
 
In July 2021, Attorney General Herring helped secure a $26 billion settlement from opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The amount available to the Commonwealth and its localities is expected to total approximately $530 million with the majority of the Commonwealth’s share going into the Opioid Abatement Authority created by Attorney General Herring to ensure the money is used to support treatment and prevention.
 
Under the terms of the settlement, states’ shares were based on the percentage of qualifying localities who agreed to participate in the settlement. Some provisions of the settlement meant that the amount of recoverable money could have been cut by nearly half if only 10% of the localities opted out. After months of hard work, 133 cities and counties, ten towns, eleven schools districts, three hospital authorities, and one sheriff’s office have all agreed to participate, meaning that the Commonwealth will get every dollar available to it, and a significant portion of J&J’s payment will be made in one upfront payment rather than spread over four years.
 
The opioid crisis has been one of Attorney General Herring’s top priorities, and as part of this work he has focused on accountability for pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who helped create, prolong, and profit from the opioid crisis in Virginia and around the country. Attorney General Herring has filed suit against Purdue Pharma; the Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma; and Teva/Cephalon for the roles that they played in creating the opioid epidemic. Additional multistate investigations and legal actions remain ongoing.

 

Dr. King’s Legacy and the True Goal of Education

 

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January. This year, the commemoration will fall on January 17. The National Park Service, as part of its work to share the history and heritage of the United States, described King as “the nation’s most prominent leader in the 20th century struggle for Civil Rights.”

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929. His life’s journey emphasized the value he placed on education and equality. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948. He received a divinity degree from Crozier Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1951, and he earned a doctoral degree from Boston University in 1955.

While still a student at Morehouse College in Georgia, King wrote, “Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” His essay, which was published in the campus newspaper, went on to state, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

As Dr. King pursued his own education, he developed a respect for the nonviolent ethics advocated by Mohandas Gandhi during India’s quest for independence. That respect, combined with his Christian faith, led him to launch the nonviolent protest movement in support of civil rights.

Dr. King entered the national spotlight after the arrest of Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, when Parks was returning home from work, she took a seat in a municipal bus’s designated “colored” section. Later, when the “white” section became full, the bus driver ordered her to move so that additional seats could be designated for white passengers. Parks refused to yield her seat. She was arrested for failing to comply with segregation laws. Dr. King organized and directed a boycott of the bus service that lasted 382 days.

During the years that followed, Dr. King served as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped focus the nation’s attention on racial injustice and he worked unwaveringly to end exploitation and abuse based on race and socioeconomic status. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, which drew a quarter of a million people to protest policies of segregation and discrimination. His work was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and in that year, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize.

During the last year of his life, Dr. King focused attention on inequalities stemming from “intolerable conditions that exist in our society.” These included poverty, housing shortages, unemployment, and injustice. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 when he visited that city in support of striking sanitation workers.

The holiday commemorating Dr. King was established by federal legislation in 1983. His legacy continues to inspire people today.

Our work at Southside Virginia Community College is aligned with the goals Dr. King set out to achieve. We are one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This diversity enriches students’ experiences and better prepares them to embrace Dr. King’s challenge to develop intelligence and character. Students from different walks of life face various challenges, and our task is to create opportunities for success irrespective of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Our motto, “Success Starts Here” applies equally to all.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

VCU Health CMH opens temporary urgent care clinic


Increased emergency visits from patients with non-emergent and non-life-threatening issues necessitates offsite clinic

Effective Thursday, January 6, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) will start seeing walk-in patients at a temporary urgent care clinic located at the current Occupational Health and Wellness clinic. This is located at 416 Durant Street, near the old hospital site on Buena Vista Drive in South Hill, Virginia. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. If you have COVID symptoms, we ask that you stay in your vehicle and call (434) 774-2541 for admittance.

We will treat a variety of symptoms and conditions, including mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Additional symptoms and conditions include:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma 
  • Colds and Flu
  • Diarrhea
  • Infections
  • Insect Bites
  • Conjunctivitis (i.e. Pink Eye)
  • Rashes
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Skin Inflammations
  • Sore Throats
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Bladder Infections
  • UTIs
  • Vomiting

We will keep the temporary clinic open on an as-needed basis, but estimate just a few weeks to get through the surge of the Omicron variant.  COVID testing will be performed at the providers discretion, as testing supplies are limited. Not everyone with symptoms will be tested for COVID. 

As more patients come to us for COVID-19 testing, remember our emergency departments are here to treat complex, life-threatening conditions. For COVID-19 testing you can locate a testing site by visiting the Virginia Department of Health website or contact your primary care provider.

SVCC Students complete Welding Certification Program

Four students recently completed Southside Virginia Community College's Gas Metal Arc Welding Certification Program that was held at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia.  For more information on the program, visit:  southside.edu/welding.

Pictured (Left to Right) are Christopher Scott; Kristian Rose; Jerry Brown, Instructor; Nasir Ervin; and Darnell Macklin

COVID vaccine doses for kids 5-11 at VCU Health CMH

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Family Care Center will be offering COVID vaccines for ages 5-11 Thursday, January 6 and Friday, January 7 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. by appointment only. The child must already be established with CMH Family Care, and you must make an appointment by calling (434) 584-2273.

Our pediatricians support the science and recommendations from the FDA, CDC and AAP. We understand all children and families are different. If you have questions about your child’s medical conditions and getting the vaccine, we recommend that you speak with your health care provider for medical guidance. Vaccination is a personal decision, but also one we believe will help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU posted helpful FAQs regarding children getting vaccinated.

Statement from State Vaccination Coordinator Christy Gray on CDC Endorsement of Strengthened Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Booster Dose Recommendations for 12–17 Year Olds, All Pfizer Boosters After Five Months and Third Doses for Immunocompromised 5–11 Year O

(RICHMOND, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is immediately adopting the following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • that individuals ages 12–17 years should get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months after finishing their two-dose primary series;
  • that all individuals ages 18 years and older should get any COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months, rather than six months, after finishing their two-dose primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; and
  • that 5–11-year-old vaccine recipients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised be eligible to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after the second dose.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorized for use in children and adolescents, ages 5 years and older, and the only vaccine with a booster interval of five months after completion of the initial two-dose series. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen are authorized only for persons 18 years of age and older; the booster dose interval for Moderna remains unchanged at six months after the completion of the initial two-dose series while J&J remains unchanged at two months after completion of the initial one-dose series.

The following is a statement from State Vaccination Coordinator Christy Gray, M.P.H., director of the Division of Immunization in the VDH Office of Epidemiology:

“Once again, the CDC and VDH are following the science. Research shows that boosters for the population ages 12 and older are safe and effective and provide additional protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death, especially as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly. Research also shows immunocompromised 5–11-year-old children benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness increases if a booster is received after five months. While COVID-19 illness in children and adolescents is usually milder than in adults, children can and do become seriously ill. Vaccination is our best way to halt the spread of the virus, and we urge parents to take advantage of these opportunities to vaccinate their children and to protect them and the greater community from COVID-19.”

VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMMUNITY VACCINATION CENTERS TO BE CLOSED TUESDAY DUE TO SNOW AND EXPECTED FREEZING TEMPERATURES

(RICHMOND, Va.)—  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will again close all of its Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, as some areas of the state deal with several inches of snow and expected freezing temperatures overnight.  Individuals with appointments will be notified of the cancellation and can visit vase.vdh.virginia.gov to reschedule.

On Monday, VDH made the decision to close all of the CVCs, including the Military Circle Mall location in Norfolk, out of an abundance of caution for patients and staff. VDH will decide Tuesday afternoon whether to open the CVC sites on Wednesday.  Please check VDH’s website and social media accounts for this information.

Individuals are advised to reschedule missed vaccine appointments as soon as possible. Second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be safely extended up to 42 days after the first dose is given. Thus those who had scheduled a return date of 21 or 28 days after their first dose still have some time to receive a timely vaccine. Those who miss the opportunity to get a second dose within 42 days should still proceed with a second dose and will be considered fully vaccinated, though per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there is limited information on the effectiveness of receiving a second dose beyond 42 days.

Community Vaccination Centers offer first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines along with booster doses. More than 250,000 vaccine doses have been administered at the CVCs since they opened in October 2021.

To find a vaccine or an appointment at a CVC or another location near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. Walk-ins are welcome at the CVCs, but appointments are strongly encouraged to avoid extended wait times.

Aaron T. Parker

July 26, 1975 - December 26, 2021

Aaron T. Parker, 46, of Emporia, VA., passed away on December 26, 2021. He is survived by his mother, Betty Dickens and her husband Bert Dickens of Emporia, VA., his father, Joel T. Parker, along with many other distant relatives.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

 

"Eureka"

I found my resolution list
for the year of 2021
yes and after my reading
it shows not much was done.
 
Well it seems I have been doing this
each and every year
yet I always seem to misplace it
so finished projects don't appear.
 
Now I've been told that doing this
will give you peace of mind
still I would have to hold in my hand
or for sure I'd never find.
 
It is a good thing for to do
because it brings repairs up to date
yet if you do the way I've done
your effort could be late.
 
Well the time has come once again
to make your to do list
yes and when you check at the years end
you will see all that you missed.
 

                         - Roy E. Schepp

Meherrin Regional Library offer Continuing Education Courses Online

Through the library’s website, Meherrin Regional Library patrons have access to lifelong learning courses in over 30 subject areas, many of which offer continuing education units (CEUs). More than 500 courses are available, and all are designed and led by professional instructors to build deeper understanding and mastery of subject matter. Universal Class includes videos, assignments, quizzes, tests, and options for social media interaction with other learners. Patrons may take multiple classes and learn at their own pace.

From technical courses on computer software to digital photography to babysitting 101, a huge range of topics is available. Universal Class offers courses in Exercise and Fitness, Entrepreneurship, Arts and Music, Home and Garden Care, Cooking, Computers and Technology, Health and Medicine, Homeschooling, Job Assistance, Law and Legal, Parenting and Family, Pet and Animal Care, plus hundreds more.

For more information contact the Brunswick County Library at 434-848-2418, ext. 301, the Richardson Library at 434-634-2539, or visit www.meherrinlib.org.

Lena Beatrice “Bea” Hazelip O’Quinn

June 14, 1928 - December 24, 2021

Lena Beatrice “Bea” Hazelip O’Quinn died at her home in Emporia, Virginia on December 24, 2021. She was born in LaRue County, Kentucky on June 14, 1928 to the late Jewell Puckett Hazelip and Graham Hazelip. She was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, Dalton Ray O’Quinn, Sr.; two sons, Michael Randy O’Quinn and James David O’Quinn; a grandson, Chad O’Quinn; three brothers, Woodrow Hazelip, Herbert Hazelip and Leroy Hazelip; and a sister, Dorothy Louise Mentler.

She is survived by three children: Dalton Ray O’Quinn, Jr. of Brunswick, Georgia, Wanda O’Quinn Proctor of Emporia, Virginia, and William Howard O’Quinn and his wife Tibby of Brunswick, Georgia.
She will also be missed by her seven grandchildren: Denise Thompson (Bill Bailey), Tommy O’Quinn, Tonya Paul (John), Brad O’Quinn (Jamie), Brian O’Quinn (Beth), Holly Deignan (C.J.), and Joy O’Quinn (Jimmy Neesmith).

She leaves behind nine great-grandchildren: Garrett James, Cassidy James, Brandon Bullock, Jonathan Paul, Abigail Williams, Sydney Paul, Dalton Lilly O’Quinn, Cadence Moss and Baylie O’Quinn.
She is also survived by her daughter-in-law, Bobbie O’Quinn of Brunswick, Georgia, her sister-in-law, Anna Hazelip of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, her brother-in-law, J.B. O’Quinn of Brunswick, Georgia, along with many nieces and nephews.

She met her husband of fifty years while he was stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and moved to Brunswick, Georgia where she lived until his death. She then moved to Emporia, Virginia to live with her daughter.

Her children credit her with instilling in them the importance of kindness and showing them, by her example, the rich blessings of family. She carried out many responsibilities over her lifetime with gentleness and devotion.

Lena Bea’s legacy was a life well-lived. She was a talented gardener of beautiful flowers and a gifted cook of delicious meals. She loved to travel and had visited all 50 States and 4 Provinces along with many Caribbean Islands. For many years she was an active member of Northside Baptist Church in Brunswick, Georgia.

The service will be held in Brunswick, Georgia at Brunswick Memorial Park Cemetery and Funeral Home.

Memorial donations may be made to Lebanon United Methodist Church at 25123 Blue Star Highway Jarratt, VA 23867 or to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad at 513 South Main Street Emporia, VA 23847.

Virginia State Police Urge Travel Delays During Winter Storm

It appears much of Virginia will be jump starting 2022 with a serious winter weather situation. The Virginia State Police is encouraging Virginians to plan ahead and avoid having to travel during inclement conditions. The National Weather Service is calling for accumulations of snow, as well as combinations of rain and sleet in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 3. If you can delay your travel overnight and early Monday, please do until VDOT has an opportunity to treat/clear roadways for safe travel.

The Virginia State Police is already preparing for the winter weather and will have all available troopers on patrol in order to respond as quickly as possible to traffic crashes, emergencies and disabled motorists.

If you must travel during the storm:
- Know Before You Go! Before heading out, check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app.
- Clear ALL snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood and windows of your vehicle - car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, commercial vehicle - before you travel.
- Use your headlights - in rain AND snow. Virginia law requires headlights on when your wipers are active.
- Drive for conditions - slow your speed and increase your traveling distance between the vehicle ahead of you.
- Always buckle up.
- Avoid distractions - put down the phone.
- Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. Please leave these emergency lines open for emergencies only.

OPIOID ABATEMENT AUTHORITY RECEIVES FIRST FUNDS SECURED THROUGH ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING’S OPIOID LITIGATION

~ More than $11.3 million from the settlement reached with McKinsey & Company for its role in “turbocharging” the opioid crisis ~

RICHMOND  – The Opioid Abatement Authority has received the first funds secured through Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s ongoing work to hold accountable the drug manufacturers, distributors, and others that helped create and prolong the opioid crisis. The more than $11.3 million that Virginia has received through a multistate settlement with McKinsey & Company for its role in “turbocharging” the opioid crisis will be used by the Authority to support opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery programs around the Commonwealth. The Opioid Abatement Authority was created earlier this year by legislation from Attorney General Herring to ensure that funds secured through his ongoing opioid litigation are used to address the opioid crisis in the Commonwealth.

 

“It was so important for me to ensure that any funds I secured through my ongoing litigation with opioid manufacturers and distributors went back into the communities that were devastated by the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “No dollar amount will ever bring back the Virginians that we have lost to opioids or make their families whole again, but we can fund crucial prevention, treatment and recovery programs to truly help those who are suffering. One of my proudest achievements as attorney general has been my work on combating the opioid crisis, and the support my team and I have been able to provide to the recovery community.”

 The Opioid Abatement Authority is controlled by subject matter experts to ensure that funds are used wisely to support prevention, treatment, and recovery. The Board of the Opioid Abatement Authority includes:

  • The Secretary of Health & Human Resources or their designee
  • Two medical professionals with expertise in public and behavioral health administration or opioid use disorders and their treatment
  • A representative of the addiction and recovery community
  • An urban or suburban representative from a community services board
  • A rural representative from a community services board
  • A law enforcement official
  • A local government official
  • A local government attorney
  • Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations or their designee and the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Appropriations or their designee

 The abatement funds will be partitioned in the following way:

  • 70% for opioid abatement split evenly (35% each) between 1) regional projects and 2) other projects identified as effective by the board of experts.
  • 15% reserved for state-identified abatement initiatives
  • 15% reserved for locality-identified abatement initiatives

The opioid crisis has been one of Attorney General Herring’s top priorities, and as part of this work he has focused on accountability for pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who helped create, prolong, and profit from the opioid crisis in Virginia and around the country. Attorney General Herring has filed suit against Purdue Pharma; the Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma; and Teva/Cephalon for the roles that they played in creating the opioid epidemic. Additional multistate investigations and legal actions remain ongoing.

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Audrey Gordon Dancy

January 9, 1954 - December 29, 2021

Visitation Services

6-8 p.m. Sunday, January 2

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

11 a.m. Monday, January 3

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

Audrey Gordon Dancy, 67, of Stony Creek, passed away Wednesday, December 29, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband, Claude Dancy; son, Randy Dancy and a brother, Phillip Gordon.

Audrey is survived by her devoted companion, Chris Velvin; daughter, Lisa Dancy Hammer (Tyler); grandson, Michael Dancy (Ashley); three sisters, Bonnie Driver (Rodney), Annie Allen (Lorne) and Nita Grizzard (Wiley); three brothers, Wilbur Gordon (Sandi), Oscar Gordon (Ethel) and Wayne Gordon and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Jan 2 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, January 3. Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Paralyzed veterans of America (pva.org).

LOCAL POLICE HELP BRING CHRISTMAS CHEER

On Thursday WorldCare Relief Ministry working in conjunction with Social Services and Food Lion sponsored a dozen families with a Christmas Dinner . One of the recipients of the dinner was unable to pick up their dinner at Food Lion. So after a quick phone call, Emporia Police Sergeant Edwin Gregory said they would be happy to deliver it directly to the family in need. By the afternoon, an officer had picked up the dinner and delivered it to mother of three Sheryl just in time for the beginning of Christmas celebrations.

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Stories on Emporianews.com are be searchable, using the box above. All new stories will be tagged with the date (format YYYY-M-D or 2013-1-1) and the names of persons, places, institutions, etc. mentioned in the article. This database feature will make it easier for those people wishing to find and re-read an article.  For anyone wishing to view previous day's pages, you may click on the "Previous Day's Pages" link in the menu at the top of the page, or search by date (YYYY-M-D format) using the box above.

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Emporia News welcomes your submissions!  You may submit articles, announcements, school or sports information or community calendar events via e-mail on news@emporianews.com. 

Contact us at news@emporianews.com
 
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