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West Virginia woman killed in single vehicle accident in Skippers

Greensville County- One person, Erin Christine Queen, 55 YOA, of Salem, West Virginia, was killed on the evening of December 2 in a single vehicle accident which occurred in Greensville County. The accident occurred at approximately 7:09 p.m., at the Pilot Truck Stop parking lot, east of Interstate 95.

Preliminary investigation reveals that Ms. Erin Queen exited the tractor trailer she was driving and began walking towards the store. At some point, Ms. Queen stopped in front of her vehicle, while another tractor trailer (2018 Freightliner) was backing up into the pumping station. Ms. Queen was struck by the reversing tractor trailer. The driver of the freightliner was alerted by another driver that he had struck something, and upon pulling forward, ran over Ms. Queen a second time. 

Ms. Queen was taken to Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Notification has been made to family members. Alcohol was not a contributing factor in the accident. No charges will be placed at this time.

SEVEN LIVES LOST ON VIRGINIA HIGHWAYS DURING 2019 THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

Virginians Reminded to Keep Virginia Safe During the Winter Holiday Season

RICHMOND – Of the seven people killed in Virginia traffic crashes during the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend, two were teenagers and three were not wearing seatbelts. Though this past holiday statistical counting period saw fewer fatal crashes than in previous years, even one fatality is one too many.

During the five-day period which began at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 27, 2019 and concluded at midnight Dec. 1, 2019, seven men and women lost their lives in seven traffic crashes on Virginia highways. The fatal crashes occurred in the City of Virginia Beach and the counties of Bedford, Henrico, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Rockbridge and Stafford. Six of those killed were drivers and alcohol was a factor in at least two of the fatal crashes. A 19-year-old female was killed in the Bedford County crash and an 18-year-old male lost his life in the Stafford County crash.

There were 12 traffic fatalities during the 2018 five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period and 14 traffic fatalities during the same period in 2017. *

In an effort to prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. Operation CARE is an annual, state-sponsored, national program during which state police increases its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period.

The 2019 Thanksgiving Holiday C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 5,221 speeders and 1,798 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia troopers charged 83 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and cited 490 drivers for failing to buckle up themselves and/or juvenile passengers.

State police responded to 1,312 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth, with 178 of those resulting in injuries and seven in fatalities. State police also assisted 2,294 disabled/stranded motorists during the Thanksgiving weekend.

“With only 27 days left in 2019, the Virginia State Police reminds all drivers to do their part to keep the winter holiday season as safe as possible on our highways,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Let’s end this decade by working together to save lives on our roadways, instead of putting them at risk by engaging in reckless driving behaviors. Make the right choice by always wearing a seatbelt, safely sharing the road with all vehicles and pedestrians, and by not driving intoxicated or ‘intexticated.’”

McEachin Announces 2019 Congressional App Challenge Winner

Washington, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) announced the winner of the 4th District’s 2019 Congressional App Challenge – Amayr Babar, Ali Houssain Sareini, and Pete Ngwa, all seniors at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, won with their application “KAMI.”

“I am so proud of Amayr, Ali, and Pete for their hard work to create an app that not only helps patients with Alzheimer’s, but also eases the workload of nurses and other healthcare professionals,” said Congressman McEachin. “I know that these students have a bright future ahead of them with such dedication to computer science.”

“As leaders, innovators, and visionaries, we strive to utilize our passion for app development to bring groundbreaking mobile solutions to the medical field. KAMI validates that the symbiosis between medicine and software is the future of healthcare, and we plan to be at the forefront of innovation to provide available and cost-effective healthcare within an ever-growing digital age,” said Babar, Sareini, and Ngwa.

The Congressional App Challenge is the most prestigious competition that acknowledges students for their command of computer science. The students will represent Virginia’s 4th Congressional District at the federal level, and will have the opportunity to demo their app at the United States Capitol in Spring 2020.

Nearly $20B spent by Americans this Small Business Saturday®

American consumers spent $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday®, according to data released yesterday by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Data show shoppers from coast to coast made a significant impact at small businesses during the 10th annual Small Business Saturday®, held November 30, 2019.  

Started by American Express in 2010 and co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration since 2015, Small Business Saturday® continues to provide small businesses and communities across the country with an economic boost to start the holiday shopping season. This year, consumer participation increased by six million (110 million in 2019 vs. 104 million in 2018) and brought an almost $2B increase in total amount spent ($19.6B estimated in 2019 compared to $17.8B in 2018).

“Small Business Saturday’s® success is proof of the economic benefits of shopping small. Seven in ten adults are conscious of the positive impact local small businesses have in their communities,” said the SBA’s acting Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger who oversees the federal agency’s operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, D.C., Maryland and Delaware.  Bulger also points to findings that 96% of survey respondents who shopped on Small Business Saturday® agree that shopping at small, independently-owned businesses supports their commitment to making purchases that have a positive social, economic and environmental impact.

In the Virginia-Richmond District Office, there are 745,886 small businesses employing 1.5 million people. The Virginia-Richmond District Office team members visited and shared valuable small business resource information with small business owners in the Richmond, Chesapeake and Fredericksburg areas.

“Small businesses are an integral part of Virginia’s economy and positive impact aggregately,” said Carl Knoblock, SBA Virginia-Richmond District Director.

Meanwhile, many shoppers using smartphones, spent $3.6 billion buying online from small businesses on Small Business Saturday®.  Adobe Analytics, which tracks online sales, says that’s up 18% from a year earlier.  Adobe reported holiday season sales are on track to grow 14.9% from 2018.  Small businesses have already garnered $68.2 billion in online sales from November 1 to November 30.

According to the survey, 97% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday® agree that small businesses are essential to their community and 95% reported the day makes them want to shop or eat at small, independently-owned businesses all year long, not just during the holiday season. The SBA continues to inspire neighbors to make a conscious decision to Shop Small® year-round by recognizing their spending at local merchants and community businesses.

How Virginians are going solar, powered by national program

By Owen FitzGerald, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. — Joy Loving bought a Prius in 2012. The purchase was the first of two investments she said she made in a personal effort to save money and reduce her carbon footprint. The second: go solar.

After converting her home to solar energy, Loving began leading solar cooperatives with members of her Harrisonburg community who also were interested in going solar. As rooftop solar systems began popping up across the city, people began to notice.

“I think that's because it's a small city,” Loving said. “Solar panels that are put on roofs are visible in a way, whereas my own solar panels, living out in the county as I do, are viewed only by the cattle and sheep who live in the fields nearby.”

Co-ops such as Solarize Harrisonburg, which Loving founded, were helped off the ground largely by Solar United Neighbors, a national organization dedicated to representing the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. SUN carries out its mission in two channels: helping homeowners and businesses convert to rooftop solar, and encouraging individuals to fight for their energy rights.

“Our work is dedicated to directing the control of benefits of our energy system back to local communities with distributed 'rooftop' solar as the cornerstone,” Aaron Sutch, SUN’s program director in Virginia, wrote in an email. “We're creating jobs and building clean, resilient energy into our communities while giving consumers energy choice and freedom.

The organization brings individuals and businesses together to create solar co-ops in communities across the nation. Once the co-ops are large enough, SUN pairs the groups with local solar installers. Members of the co-op review different bids and pick an installer they think would work best for their specific needs. The chosen installer then helps individuals within the group create a personalized plan to go solar.

As of November, SUN said it has helped more than 840 Virginia families convert to rooftop solar.

Another key facet of SUN’s mission is encouraging solar homeowners to advocate for their energy rights. An example of this would be the push to lift Virginia’s cap on net metering. Net metering is a policy that compensates solar homeowners who might produce more electricity monthly than they consume from the public utility grid. 

Excess solar energy is fed to the public grid under net metering, and owners can use that surplus to offset their monthly energy bills. 

 The General Assembly passed a bill in March raising Virginia’s net metering cap for not-for-profit solar owners from 1% to 2%. The bill also saw the collective cap for all members of a co-op raised to 7%. This legislation was praised by organizations like SUN.

This bill also enables investor-owned utilities to develop solar projects by allowing Virginians to participate in a voluntary subscription program. While this could allow more solar to be built in Virginia, it falls short of utility-scale solar that would benefit communities.

Sutch said residents should be allowed to participate in community solar projects.

“Community solar enables individuals and businesses to get bill credit from a nearby shared solar project,” he said. “This will allow renters as well as low and moderate-income Virginians to benefit from solar energy even if they are unable to install a system on their own rooftop.”

However, the issue in Virginia, as Sutch pointed out, is that Virginia’s energy system defers to the monopoly created by Dominion Energy. There are currently contracts in place that prevent churches, schools and other municipal buildings from generating their own power outside of energy provided by Dominion, except on rare occasions such as weather emergencies.

“What we see is our energy progress running up against a very powerful special interest that works against the interests of many of the Virginia customers,” Sutch said.

SUN got its start in D.C. in 2009, stemming from the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative originally started by Anya Schoolman. She said her son Walter and his friend Diego watched “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary about climate change, and wanted to help fight the problem by going solar. After realizing that an isolated transition to solar power was complicated and expensive, Schoolman wondered if the answer might be to convert her neighborhood in bulk.

After two weeks, more than 50 neighbors had joined Schoolman in wanting to install solar power on their roofs. The group became D.C.’s first solar co-op and two years later, 45 families in the area were reliant on solar energy.

Schoolman created DC SUN to replicate the success of its neighborhood co-op. Over the next decade, the DC SUN model spread to nearby states. In 2017, Solar United Neighbors became a nationwide program offering memberships. There were seven state programs already in place when it was officially established; now there are 13. In addition to D.C. and Virginia, SUN has memberships in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order in September laying out goals for a future driven by renewable energy. The order called for 30% of the state’s electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030, and 100% of electricity supplied by renewable energy by 2050. 

“Solar energy is a rapidly growing segment of our economy,” Northam stated in a press release. “I am proud that the commonwealth is playing a role in driving this demand and taking advantage of the benefits that this resource provides.”

SUN offers a multitude of other programs aimed at giving Virginians the information they need to go solar. That information can be found on SUN’s website, along with a calendar of events the organization is hosting in the near future.

Loving continues to help establish other solar co-ops in the Shenandoah Valley.

“What we’re doing is educating the citizenry and the customers and other stakeholders of the big utilities, and I think that's a really important mission,” Loving said.

More Work from Home in U.S., Virginia and D.C. Area

 

By Kelly Booth, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — More Americans are working from home, and that’s especially true in Virginia and in the Washington, D.C., metro area, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, the proportion of workers who work from home rose from 4.3% in 2010 to 5.3% last year, the data show. Virginia is slightly above the national average, with 5.6% of the state’s workforce working from home in 2018.

The figure was 6.1% in the D.C. metro area, which includes parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. That was the highest proportion of people working from home among the five U.S. metro areas with the most workers.

In contrast, the proportion of workers who worked from home last year was 5.9% in the Los Angeles metro area, 5.8% in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 5.4% in the Chicago area and 4.7% in the New York area.

Why are more people working from home?

“People are better able to focus and not as distracted as they are in the office,” said Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, a website that focuses on finding telecommuting jobs for workers in cities and remote areas.

Reynolds believes telecommuting will continue to grow. She said more people are turning to her company’s website to find work and more employers are offering remote work each year.

“I think more people’s jobs can just be done that way,” Reynolds said. “More people are able to do their jobs from anywhere where they’ve got a computer and an internet connection and maybe a phone.”

FlexJobs helps connect workers with a range of employment, including freelance opportunities and part-time jobs. The most popular categories this year for remote jobs are computer and information technology, medical and health, and sales, Reynolds said.

She said even doctors can now work from home, interacting with patients and insurance companies by phone and computer.

Education and training is another field on the rise, according to Reynolds. “There’s a lot more virtual education out there, online courses, and universities that are creating totally virtual or remote degree programs,” Reynolds said.

Women are more likely than men to work from home, according to the Census Bureau. The percentage of U.S. women who work from home rose from 4.4% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2018. For American men, the proportion went from 4.3% in 2010 to 5% last year.

According to Derrick Neufeld, associate professor of information systems and entrepreneurship at the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, employers can save money in real estate and rental expenses by having people work remotely or work from home.

“That can be a very significant factor. If they can start shutting down office space, it can save a lot of costs,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld said working from home can be a desirable alternative work arrangement, allowing workers to live farther from the city.

But there are downsides to working from home.

Neufeld said his recent studies have found that people who don’t meet face to face have a problem assessing the trustworthiness of their coworkers.

“It’s like a switch that doesn’t get turned on,” Neufeld said. “We can’t simply replace face-to-face communication with, let’s say, a video cast.”

“The Thanksgiving Way”

Did it only happen yesterday
Or perhaps a whole lot more
Whereby you received so many gifts
What you never had before.
 
Now did you just feel deserving
Or look to as a blessing from above
In essence did it help in any way
For you to show your love?
 
Thanksgiving is a day of Grace
That exemplifies to share
A day for you to show the world
How for others you do care.
 
Your cup don’t need to run over
No ample sure will do
Just include someone in the harvest
That may have less than you.
 
Yes open up your eyes and see
There are many with the need
Some for more clothing on their backs
And those who have the lack of feed.
 
It won’t take you a long time
For those in need to find
Yet don’t wait for their gratitude
Just because you were kind.
 
Yes many are quite humble
So will look at as a debt
Still way down deep they’re thankful
And appreciate to get.
 
You give of want and from the heart
And try to be sincere
One never knows in passing time
What you may need next year.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Organization Aims To Feed More People In Need

By Emma Gauthier, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Every Thursday at 10:30 a.m., John White packs the trunk of his black Mercedes-Benz with meals that he distributes to people in need in Central Virginia. 

For two years, White has been a volunteer with Feed More, a local organization involved with Meals on Wheels and Feeding America that serves Central Virginia through its 10 nutrition-assistance programs.

“It’s been an education for me,” White said. “There’s quite a bit of poverty out there and it’s so good to see the outreach that we have with Meals on Wheels.” 

This Thursday, Kroger is funding over 800 Thanksgiving dinners with a donation of $7,500. This marks the fifth consecutive year that Kroger has donated to Feed More for the holidays. 

“We’re immensely grateful to Kroger for their continued dedication to giving back to the community and their enthusiasm and passion for fighting hunger in Richmond,” Feed More CEO Doug Pick said in a news release. 

The partnership makes it possible for families in need to spend their Thanksgiving enjoying turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and more. 

At least 11% of U.S. households lived in a state of food insecurity at some point in 2018, according to the USDA

Food insecurity is classified as households that are either uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of their family. 

Feed More has existed in Virginia for more than five decades, beginning with the formation of its Meals on Wheels program, which in 1967, served just eight clients.

Since then, the organization has grown to serve almost 200,000 people throughout 29 counties and five cities across Central Virginia. 

“With the support of our community, we are able to provide our neighbors who face hunger with one of the most basic necessities: nourishment,” said Audrey Gilani, marketing coordinator at Feed More. 

More than 1,600 people volunteered with Feed More in 2018, donating a total of nearly 70,000 hours. About 460 groups also volunteered for almost 83,000 hours. 

“I am so impressed with the organization, the efficiency and the good-will spirit of the volunteers at Feed More,” White stated in a social media message. 

Feed More received nearly $45 million worth of donated food in 2018, primarily from retailers, manufacturers and produce growers. Half of the donated food consisted of fresh produce and meat. 

The organization receives millions of pounds of donated food each year. During 2018 the largest donor was Food Lion with more than 5 million pounds, followed by Walmart with about 4.5 million pounds. 

Multiple Feed More programs are dedicated to children living in food insecurity. The Weekend Backpack program distributed over 55,000 meals to 54 schools for children to take home on weekends.

In Central Virginia, one in seven children do not know when their next meal will be, according to Feed More. Gilani says she is pleased with how programs such as Mobile Pantry, School Market and Weekend Backpacks reach vulnerable communities struggling with food access.

“Feed More is there for our neighbors when they need us most,” Gilani said.

Collectively, Feed More has distributed nearly 21 million meals to those in need.

“If the rest of us will just provide them with the resources,” volunteer Bill McCoy said, “the chances of anybody in the region having to go to bed hungry go way down.”

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

 

CNA/PCA:  Must provide basic patient care under direction of nursing staff. Performs duties such as feeding, bathing, dressing and grooming, moving patients and changing linens. Must have CNA/NA/PCA certificate. Hours are 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.   Job Order #1822089

 

Registered Med Tech:  Will pass out medications at scheduled times as ordered by physician. Will ensure facility and state/federal requirements are met in dispensing prescription and non-prescription medications to facility patients. Will count narcotics for inventory control and auditing. Will attend patient in patient rooms while dispensing medication. Will ensure medication cart is locked at all times. Will assist with other nursing and attendant patient care duties as assigned to include but not limited to: bathing, grooming and other activities of daily living, straightening nurse stations and providing assistance to visitors. Must have good oral and written communication skills to work with patients, guests and families, other staff and physicians.  Job Order #1826862

Mobile Equipment Mechanic: Maintenance and repair of a diverse fleet of mobile equipment to include but not limited to the inspection, diagnoses and repair of mobile equipment. Operate equipment for maintenance purposes. Perform PMs, routine repairs and maintenance involving disassembly, assembly and adjustments of equipment components. Work with vendors to get parts pricing and repair quotes and placing orders for parts. Responsible for keeping mobile equipment shop clean and organized and monitoring oil inventories. Perform simple cutting, fitting and welding tasks as directed. Must provide own hand tools. Will perform preventative and corrective maintenance on mobile equipment leading to increased uptime and reliability, thus helping the facility to meet their production and quality goals.   Job Order #1824813

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

www.vawc.virginia.gov

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

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

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