May 2020

  1. William Carl "Bill" Whitehead, Jr.

    November 15, 1936-May 30, 2020

    William Carl "Bill" Whitehead, Jr, 83 of Emporia, VA was called home on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

    He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary Jo Whitehead and daughter Mary Beth Kennedy as well as six brothers, Charles D. Whitehead, Frank Russell Whitehead, Arthur Jesse Whitehead, James Farmer Whitehead, John D. Whitehead, Richard W. Whitehead and three sisters, Carla Jo Knaup, Jenny Lee Wedeking, and Nancy Susan Riscko.

    Bill, better known as Pops by his family, is survived by his daughter, Tricia Taylor (Gerald) of Emporia, VA, son William Carl "Trey" Whitehead, III of Roanoke, VA; and very special friend Ann Louise Berna of Sarasota Florida; three brothers, George Irvin (Hazel) Whitehead, of Olean, Missouri, Benjamin A (Phyllis) Whitehead and Robert A (Mary Jane) Whitehead, both of Charleston, Missouri; Five grandchildren, Devon Connaroe (Richard) of Fort Belvoir, VA,Loren Allen (Kevin) of Jarratt,VA Travis Kennedy and girlfriend Jaye, of Boston Mass, Kellen Taylor of Emporia, VA and William "Kirk" Taylor (Nancy) of Lawrenceville, GA, as well as 11 great grand children and numerous nieces and nephews. 

    Pops was an Army National Guard veteran. He was also a member of Greensville Fire Department for over 50 years. He was a lifelong member of Main Street Baptist Church where he sang in the choir and men’s quartet. Pops enjoyed spending time with his family, teasing his grandchildren and watching John Wayne westerns. We will dearly miss his baby blue eyes and warm smile.

    The procession will leave Owen Funeral Home at 2pm on Tuesday, June 2 traveling to Greensville Cemetery for a private graveside service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Main Street Baptist Church or Greensville Fire Department.

  2. Vivian Tomlinson Sturgill

    May 11, 1933-May 29, 2020

    After 87 years of dedicating her life to her God, her family, her community and her government, Vivian Tomlinson Sturgill, passed away on Friday, May 29, 2020.

    She was born in Scott County, Virginia in May of 1933 to James and Bessie (Begley) Tomlinson, the oldest of their four daughters. As a child, her family moved to Bluefield, West Virginia, where she attended Beaver High School. She later moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where for many years she was in a supervisory position as a civilian employee with the U.S. Navy, specializing in accounting, bookkeeping and payroll. At age 60, she realized she was just a few credits shy of earning her college degree. She decided to return to school and received her degree in accounting shortly before she retired from her role with the federal government. After retirement, officials requested that she return to her office at Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest Navy base, and she agreed, considering it a privilege to work for the military. She very much enjoyed watching many Navy ship homecomings from her office window and celebrating with the families.

    After retiring a second time, she and her husband moved to Emporia, Virginia to be near her daughter and son-in-law. In Emporia, she became extremely active in the community, with her church and with civic activities. She served for several years as the chief poll worker in her district for many elections. At the time of her death, she was a member of Monumental United Methodist Church in Emporia. She was a devout born-again Christian and was often asked to preach in local churches. Known for her baking skills, especially her almond pound and triple chocolate chip cakes, sweet potato biscuits and fresh pies, she was recognized with a special award for her contributions by the Greensville Ruritan Club and appreciated by many charitable organizations.

    She was predeceased by her husband, Carl C. Sturgill, her son, Tom C. Clemons, her parents, a sister, Stella and most recently, her sister, Patty, who died just two days before Vivian.

    She is survived by her sister, Peggy Tomlinson Minnick, her son James Clemons, daughter-in-law Connie Clemons, daughter Carla Sturgill Harris, son-in-law F. Woodrow Harris, stepdaughter Vickie Sturgill Stewart and her husband, Dennis, stepson David Sturgill, three grandchildren, one great grandchild and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

    Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, a limited private service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 1, 2020 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. The community, friends and loved ones are encouraged to line the procession route along Main Street through downtown Emporia to the cemetery to pay respects at 10:45 a.m., as has become standard during this time. Arrangements are being handled by Owen Funeral Home of Jarratt, Virginia. Thank you to those who love her and to the medical professionals who cared for her in her final days

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

  3. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING URGES CONGRESS TO FUND EXPANDED ACCESS TO BROADBAND

    ~ Herring joins bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in urging Congress to ensure critical broadband access for those studying, working, and seeking healthcare from home during COVID-19 ~

    RICHMOND (May 22, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in urging Congress to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling, and telework as part of any additional legislation that provides relief and recovery resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet access has become critical for basic needs over the past few weeks while millions of Virginians and Americans have been working, learning, socializing and seeking healthcare from home.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Virginians to move school, work, healthcare and just about everything else online and has highlighted how desperately we need a national broadband plan during this crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “Many telecom companies have stepped up to provide internet access but that is not a sustainable answer. Congress should include a national broadband plan in any future relief packages to make sure that all communities, especially those in more rural or underserved areas, have access to the internet resources they need.”

    In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues laud independent efforts of various companies to increase access by waiving late fees or even providing free or discounted access to students and medical providers, while acknowledging that such efforts are not sustainable. Ultimately, the attorneys general argue that there must be a national solution to get internet access to homes across the country, especially in more rural areas.

    Unless Congress acts quickly, disparities in access to home internet connectivity will exacerbate existing gaps in educational and health outcomes along lines of geography, economic resources, and race.

    In a letter sent to Congressional leaders, the attorneys general urge Congress to:

    • Provide state, territorial, and local governments with adequate funding expressly dedicated to ensuring that all students and patients, especially senior citizens who are at risk, have adequate internet-enabled technology to participate equally in online learning and telemedicine.
    • Increase funding to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission Universal Service Fund, which provides vital funding to rural and low-income populations, healthcare providers, and educators with the goal of bridging the digital divide.

    With public health experts warning that a second wave of coronavirus infections may require teleschooling and telemedicine to continue for millions of Americans throughout 2020, it is critical that Congress act now to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity they need to access educational opportunities, healthcare, and to earn a livelihood.

    Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Alaska, American Samoa, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

  4. State Board Holds the Line on Community College Tuition and Fees for Fall 2020

    RICHMOND —The State Board for Community Colleges, by a unanimous vote, elected to maintain the current in-state tuition and mandatory fees for Fall 2020. The Board’s decision means tuition will remain at today’s rate of $154 per credit hour – keeping community college tuition and mandatory fees at approximately one-third of the comparable costs of attending Virginia’s public four-year universities. This marks the second year in a row that the Board has voted to hold tuition and fees steady for the coming fall.

    “We are doing everything we can to be an affordable, accessible resource for Virginians. Some people find themselves unexpectedly out of work. Others are looking for safer, convenient options to pursue their college aspirations. We want to be there for them,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We’re asking the Board to hold the line on tuition and fees for the fall. We’d like to maintain that rate beyond the fall, if the state funding exists to help us do that responsibly.”

    Further, the State Board maintained the existing tuition rate for out-of-state students, which is $354.10 per credit hour.

    Tuition differentials

    For the second year in a row, there were no increases to the tuition differential rates charged at eight of Virginia’s 23 community colleges (Germanna, John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Piedmont Virginia, Reynolds, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson, and Virginia Western). Tuition differential rates allow colleges to address unique and specific institutional priorities.

     

  5. SBA and Treasury Department Announce $10 Billion for CDFIs to Participate in the Paycheck Protection Program

    WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, announced $10 billion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Round 2 funding will be lent exclusively by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs expand economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing financial products and services for residents and local businesses. These dedicated funds ensure PPP funds reach all communities in need of relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The forgivable loan program, PPP, is dedicated to providing emergency capital to sustain our nation’s small businesses, the drivers of our economy, and retain their employees– a key priority for President Trump,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “CDFIs provide critically important capital and technical assistance to small businesses from rural, minority and other underserved communities, especially during this economically challenging time.”

    “The PPP has helped over 50 million American workers stay connected to their jobs and over 4 million small businesses get much-needed relief,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “We have received bipartisan support for dedicating these funds for CDFIs to ensure that traditionally underserved communities have every opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.”

    The additional $10 billion in Round 2, combined with CDFI approvals of $3.8 billion in Round 1, ensures entrepreneurs and small business owners in all communities have easy access to the financial system, and receive much-needed capital to maintain their workforces.

    “Providing American businesses with access to federally-guaranteed capital ensures underserved communities are not left out of our COVID-19 recovery, said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger. No longer will small business owners in underserved communities just hear about the money. With today’s action, more minority-owned small businesses will be able to access it to survive, thrive and support our economy.”

    The PPP was created by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and provides forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep their employees on the payroll. To date, more than 4.4 million loans have been approved for over $510 billion for small businesses across America. The SBA and the Treasury Department remain committed to ensuring eligible small businesses have the resources they need to get through this time.

  6. Governor and First Lady Northam to Host “Virginia Graduates Together” Honoring Class of 2020

    Broadcast and streaming event on Friday, May 29 at 5:00 PM will include special guests, recognize accomplishments of graduates

    RICHMOND—Virginians across the Commonwealth are invited to join Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam in honoring the remarkable achievements of the class of 2020 during a statewide virtual celebration at 5:00 PM on Friday, May 29. The broadcast and streaming event, “Virginia Graduates Together,” is produced by Virginia Public Media (VPM) in partnership with the Office of the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education, and will be distributed by public television stations throughout Virginia.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on students across the country and prompted the cancellation of traditional graduation ceremonies. “Virginia Graduates Together” will salute 2020 graduates with a special address from the Governor and First Lady, musical performances, a keynote speech from United States Women’s National Soccer champion Angela Hucles Mangano, and well-wishes from notable Virginians.

    “Virginia’s class of 2020 is graduating during an unprecedented and difficult time, and I know this is not the end of the school year that any of us imagined,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia students have demonstrated tremendous resilience throughout this health crisis, and we want to ensure their accomplishments are celebrated in a big way. We look forward to commemorating one of life’s greatest milestones together as a Commonwealth and giving our graduates a strong send-off to their bright futures.”

    Hucles Mangano, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is a native of Virginia Beach and a graduate of the University of Virginia. The 4-time All-ACC soccer player and member of two United States women’s World Cup soccer teams is also a businesswoman and is known as an advocate for gender diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

    “We are excited to honor our next generation of leaders with something revolutionary,” said First Lady Northam. “Never before have we had all Virginia graduates celebrate together in one place and at the same time. This will be special event, and we are honored to get to celebrate with you.”

    Prominent Virginians appearing in the program include former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, University of Virginia’s men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox, Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris, United States Senator Tim Kaine, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Micah Kiser, musician Dave Matthews, comedian Jay Pharoah, Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, New York Liberty forward Megan Walker, United States Senator Mark Warner, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, actress Constance Wu, and World Series Champion Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

    “After a school year that has been like no other, our graduating class of 2020 deserves a true celebration of their hard work,” said Jayme Swain, CEO of Virginia Foundation for Public Media and President of VPM. “We congratulate this year’s seniors and hope ‘Virginia Graduates Together’ allows friends and loved ones to share in the celebration of their wonderful accomplishments.”

    Many of the nearly 600 videos and photos submitted to VPM by graduates will be featured in the 30-minute program. Students, families, and teachers can join the celebration on social media by sharing cap and gown photos, well-wishes, videos, and more using the hashtag #GraduateTogetherVA.

    “Virginia Graduates Together” premieres at 5:00 PM on Friday, May 29 on Blue Ridge PBSVPM and WHRO, and will stream on Facebook Live and YouTube through WETA and East Tennessee PBS.

    More information about the program can be found at VPM.org/grad.

  7. Dianne Tindall Mitchell

    August 30, 1949-May 23, 2020

    Dianne T. Mitchell, 70, formerly of Emporia, Virginia, and then of Charlotte, North Carolina, departed from her life here on Saturday, May 23, 2020, to enter her Heavenly home for eternity. She had waged a valiant battle with congestive heart failure, diabetes, and other related complications.

    She is survived by her faithful husband of 52 years, Keith W. Mitchell; son Lance W. Mitchell and wife Cheryl, and granddaughter Emerson, of Houston, Texas; son Sean K. Mitchell and wife Shannon, and grandchildren Silas, Ezra, and Clara, of Charlotte; a sister, Janet T. Clarke and husband Edward of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina; a brother, James H. Tindall and wife Carole of Houston; and several nieces and nephews.

    Greeting her in her new eternal home are a grandson, Jude James Mitchell; her parents, Dorothy and Harold Tindall; a sister, Kathy T. Bailey; a special mother-in-law, Dorothy R. Mitchell; and so many other special friends and fellow believers whom she loved dearly.

    Dianne was born and raised in Marion, South Carolina. She moved to Emporia during her senior year in high school, after the plant that her daddy managed in Marion was destroyed by fire, and he was transferred to Emporia to manage a plant there. During that same time period, Keith was sitting out a semester in college after the sudden death of his daddy. Even then, God was working out a plan in their lives for their paths to cross (Romans 8:28). They met, fell in love, and were married a few short months later.

    In 1976, Dianne was the first to surrender her life to Jesus, followed by Keith a few short months later. Their sons, too, did likewise when they were young, and the four of them traveled all over the United States to attend Christian gatherings of believers. They were baptized at the same time at Calvary Baptist Church in Emporia, Virginia.

    Many years later, after Lance and Sean had moved away and married, Dianne and Keith returned to Monumental Methodist Church in Emporia, where Keith had grown up and he and Dianne had attended when Lance and Sean were young. They taught a Sunday school class together until they moved to Charlotte four years ago. On several occasions, Dianne was asked to speak at various churches and Christian ladies’ groups, attesting to her love for the Lord. For 10 years, she conducted Christian services at a nearby ladies’ prison, and for several years, she and her family held weekly services at a local nursing home. Dianne was also a long-time member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and served excellently for several years as the treasurer in her regional chapter.

    Dianne operated Christian Love & Care Daycare center for many years, where she instilled so many Christian values into the children she kept, many of whom became believers in their later years in part due to her witness to them. Some years later, she went to work for Keith in his financial services business, and his business immediately increased.

    In January of 2016, she had a device attached next to her stomach to help in the digestion of food. She suffered from gastroparesis, a side effect of diabetes, and even with a limited diet, she was at least then able to get the nutrients necessary to live. But in December of that year, she had to undergo emergency surgery for a blockage, thought to have been caused by the wires from that device becoming entangled around her colon. Three days later, she suffered a heart attack, which left the left ventricle of her heart severely damaged. When it failed to repair itself, she had a device attached next to her heart and a PICC line inserted through her arm to feed medicine directly to the heart to assist that ventricle in pumping.

    She was also told that the survival rate for people who began that treatment was about 50 percent after the first year. She was offered the opportunity to receive an artificial pump or possible transplant, but she turned it down and said that she wanted to live out whatever time she had left enjoying being with her family, and especially her grandchildren, without undergoing more hospitalization and risky surgery should she elect that route. Though she suffered many ups and downs with her heart, diabetes, and other related illnesses, she did beat the odds and survived for 19 more months after having that procedure done. She never returned to a hospital until the day she breathed her last, with Keith at her side.

    Dianne’s sister, Janet, told Keith the night after she died that Dianne had told her a year ago that she was ready and anxious to go and be with the Lord, but that she did not think Keith was ready for her departure. The night before she died, Keith asked her that if she had a choice, would she want to go ahead then and be with the Lord. She nodded her head and said yes. He told her that he was willing to pray with her for that, and their prayer together was answered.

    That, alone, demonstrates the unselfishness of this strong and faithful servant of the Lord. And now, She has risen!   

    In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in her name at https://billygraham.org/checkout/give-honor-memorial.php, and a card can be sent to Keith Mitchell at 3305 Open Field Lane, Apt 528, Charlotte, NC 28226. You can also contact BGEA directly and mail a check to 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201, or over the phone at 1-877-247-2426.

    A memorial service for friends and family will be held later in Charlotte.

  8. The Crater Planning District Commission Announces the Establishment of a New Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

     

    The Crater Planning District Commission has established a Business Continuity Loan Program to assist existing for-profit small businesses to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  The goal is to provide working capital for small businesses to retain employees and support other working capital needs.

    The Business Continuity Loan can range in size from $10,000 to $50,000 and the term of the loan can be up to 1-year.  The interest rate is fixed at the prime interest rate which is currently 3.25%.

    The small business must be located within the Crater Region:  Cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg; and the Counties of Charles City, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

    The Crater Commission is looking forward to doing its part to assist the region’s many small businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

    This loan program is in total accord with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work initiative.

    For more detailed information, please visit the Crater Commission’s website- www.craterpdc.org.

     

  9. Farmers and Ranchers in Virginia Can Now Apply for Financial Assistance through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

    Online Tools and Toll-Free Number Available to Assist Producers

    RICHMOND, VA, May 26, 2020 – Agricultural producers can now apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The application and a payment calculator are now available online, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation.

    We know Virginia producers are facing a tough time now, and we are making every effort to provide much needed support as quickly as possible,” said Nivin A. Elgohary, State Executive Director for FSA in Virginia. “FSA is available over the phone and virtually to walk you through the application process, whether it’s the first time you’ve worked with FSA, or if you know us quite well.” 

    Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

    “We also want to remind producers that the program is structured to ensure the availability of funding for all eligible producers who apply,” Elgohary said.

    In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

    Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.

    Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a good first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

    Applying for Assistance

    Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print off a pre-filled CFAP application, sign, and submit to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred method. Find contact information for your local office at farmers.gov/cfap.

    Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested after the application is filed. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed.

    Additional Commodities

    USDA is also establishing a process for the public to identify additional commodities for potential inclusion in CFAP. Specifically, USDA is looking for data on agricultural commodities, that are not currently eligible for CFAP, that the public believes to have either:

    1. suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
    2. shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, or
    3. not left the farm or remained unharvested as mature crops.

    More information about this process is available on farmers.gov/cfap.

    More Information

    To find the latest information on CFAP, visit farmers.gov/cfap

    or call 877-508-8364.

    USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.  

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

     

  10. WARNER, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ENSURE NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ACTIVATED IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 RECEIVE FULL BENEFITS DURING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing legislation to ensure that all National Guard troops activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic receive full benefits. The National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act would extend Title 32 authority for all troops activated in response to the crisis through the end of the public health emergency – a move that would ensure that the federal government continues covering 100 percent of the costs of this activation. Currently, states have to continue requesting support to avoid a lapse in authorities or federal funding for the troops on the frontline of this crisis. While the Trump Administration gave an extension, it cynically chose a peculiar date that was later revealed to result in a hard deployment stop at 89 days for thousands of National Guard members – one day short of the 90-day threshold to receive additional federal benefits, like access to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

    “Our nation is lucky to be able to count on the men and women of the National Guard who are stepping up during this public health crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “While we may not be able to repay them for their selflessness and courage, the very least we can do is make sure they have access to full benefits as they work to fight this deadly pandemic.”

    “The Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to nickel and dime members of the National Guard would be wrong under any circumstance, but it is particularly offensive when these troops are responding to a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed more than 90,000 Americans,” said Sen. Duckworth. “This legislation would ensure that all National Guard troops activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are provided with the full benefits they’ve earned and will give states much-needed certainty during these uncertain times.”

    Specifically, this legislation would amend federal law to authorize state governors to order members of the National Guard to active duty in connection with COVID-19 response with full federal benefits. This enhanced authority would be in place through the end of the Trump Administration’s declared public health emergency, plus an additional 30 days to allow the Guard to shift away from Title 32 operations. Most recently, the public health emergency declaration was renewed on April 26, 2020 for a period of 90 days.

    In addition to Sens. Warner and Duckworth, the legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for National Guard troops during this crisis. In March, he wrote a letter urging the President to approve Governor Northam’s request to deploy the National Guard to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Virginia.

  11. Rep. McEachin Hosts COVID-19: Managing Our Grief, Mental Health, Stress & Trauma

    RICHMOND, VA. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) yesterday hosted COVID-19: Managing Our Grief, Mental Health, Stress & Trauma, a virtual event to discuss mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Congressman McEachin was joined by mental health experts who provided advice and tips for constituents who are struggling with the additional daily stress and worry caused by COVID-19. 

    “I am so grateful that these incredible panelists were able to join me this evening to provide much-needed advice for my constituents,” said Congressman McEachin. “This is an incredibly stressful and heartbreaking time for us all, and I wanted to host this event to make sure that my constituents have the tools they need to take care of themselves. Maintaining our mental health is so critical, but it is easy to forget to check in on yourself with so much else going on. I hope tonight was an opportunity for folks to get connected to resources they may need.”

    Moderated by Jessica Lark from WTKR, the panel included: Ms. Kathy Harkey, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Virginia; Dr. Faye Belgrave, Virginia Commonwealth University Professor of Healthy Psychology; Dr. Rebecca Vauter, Virginia Board of Psychology; Mr. Jesse Wysocki, Chief Operating Officer, The McShin Foundation; Ms. Ashley Everette Airington, Children’s Mental Health Policy Analyst, Voices for Virginia Kids; and Ms. Frederika Jones, Interim Executive Director, Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance (SAARA) of Virginia.

    "We are grateful to Rep. McEachin for shining a light on the impact this pandemic has had on the mental health of children and families,” said Ashley Airington. “Supporting and protecting the emotional well-being of our children is critical now, more than ever. The good news is that nurturing relationships between children and their caregivers are the most important factor in developing resilience and overcoming the negative impacts of this collective trauma."

    “As we move into a new lifestyle norm, we must have the courage to go forward,” said Frederika Jones,  SAARA Interim Executive Director. “For some, it will be right on the surface of their mindset, but for others it will require reaching deeper within themselves to muster the strength needed to deal with each new day.  Nevertheless, we must stay hopeful because the sun will still shine and as Stevie Wonders sings, ‘Tomorrow Robins Will Sing.’”

    “It was an honor and a privilege to be join this diverse panel of experts in their respective fields. We know that COVID 19 is real, causing harm throughout our community and nation [and] we must not forget about those who suffer from substance use disorders or mental health struggles,” said Jesse Wysocki, McShin Foundation Chief Operating Officer. “Having these open talks and panelists of experts to discuss and answer questions is part of the solution, but we must now turn our discussion into action, doing everything we can to continue to have access to services for those with SUD and MH.”

    “COVID 19 has impacted the mental health of everyone through disruption in major life events such as unemployment, financial problems, changes in living situations and routines, and changes in the health status of self or loved ones,” said Dr. Faye Belgrave, VCU Professor. “Poor mental health is directly linked to poor physical health so we must always be attentive to our mental health.  Although there are many things we cannot control about COVID 19, there are things we can control.  Let's center ourselves and be mindful of every day mental health care.

    FULL VIDEO LINK

  12. TRAFFIC CRASHES CLAIM EIGHT LIVES DURING 2020 MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

    11 Traffic Crashes During 2019 Memorial Day Weekend

    RICHMOND – The 2020 Memorial Day weekend not only netted a reduction in overall traffic volumes on Virginia’s highways, but also a decrease in traffic deaths. Preliminary reports indicate eight people lost their lives during the four-day, holiday statistical counting period. During the same statistical counting period in 2019 and 2018, traffic crashes on Virginia highways resulted in 11 deaths.

    Of the eight individuals killed this year on Virginia highways, two were riding on motorcycles and one was a pedestrian. The statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday (May 22) and ended at midnight Monday (May 25). Virginia State Police statewide responded to 480 total traffic crashes during this past holiday weekend.

    The fatal crashes occurred in the city of Virginia Beach and the counties of Caroline, Montgomery, Pittsylvania, Prince William, Rockingham, Southampton and Sussex. The two fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in Pittsylvania and Rockingham counties. The pedestrian, who was pushing his bicycle when he was struck and killed, was in Sussex County.

    "Even though we are thankful for the slight decrease in traffic fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend, eight deaths are still too many,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “It is also concerning to see reckless driving citations and DUI arrests practically on par with last year’s holiday weekend. Fewer drivers should have demonstrated a significant decline in the number of citations and traffic deaths. Sadly, that was not the case and too many motorists were putting too many lives at risk due to reckless choices and deadly driving behaviors.”

    During the weekend’s statistical counting period, Virginia troopers statewide cited 2,489 reckless drivers and arrested 70 impaired drivers. During the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, state police cited 2,548 reckless drivers and arrested 75 drivers for DUI.

    "Considering that traffic was much less than what we normally see on this particular holiday weekend, it is very concerning to have only reduced the death toll by three in comparison to the past two years,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “As Virginia continues to gradually re-open through the Governor’s ‘Forward Virginia’ plan and more motorists return to the highways, it is imperative that Virginians make traffic safety a priority.”

    The Virginia State Police holiday enforcement efforts are part of the Department’s annual participation in the Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seatbelt. During the 2020 Operation CARE Memorial Day statistical counting period, Virginia troopers also cited 2,469 speeders and 224 seatbelt violations. State police assisted 1,460 disabled motorists during the holiday weekend.

    Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

     

    For more information on traffic safety and how to keep Virginia “Moving Toward Zero Roadway Deaths,” go to www.tzdva.org.

  13. Richard “Rick” William Young,

    December 19, 1953-May 25, 2020


    Richard “Rick” William Young, 66, passed away on Monday, May 25, 2020. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Marcia Jean Rankin and John R. Young. He is survived by his daughter, Heather Anne Greene of Hampton, VA, son, Richard William Young, Jr. (Shawnda) of Chesapeake, VA, brother, John Robert Young (Nina) of Colorado, sisters, Carol Richardson (Thomas) of Tennessee, Janet Shadrick (Timothy) of Georgia, Teresa Goins of Florida, granddaughters, Nicole, Shenene, Natalie, along with daughter-in-law, Josie Toro of Portsmouth, VA.

    Rick served in both the Army and the Air Force as well as being a member and Commander of the American Legion, Post 46. He worked at O’Reilly Auto Parts of Emporia, VA, as well as Echols Funeral Home for many years, where he helped those in the community in a way that not many people could bare.

    A memorial service will be held at a later date and time due to the coronavirus limitations. The family would like to express a special thanks to Barbara Street and Kathy Tuck for looking after Rick the past few weeks.

    Online condolences may be made to www.echolsfuneralhome.com

     

  14. Peggy M. Pearson

    July 17, 1932- May 25, 2020

    Peggy M. Pearson, 87, of Gasburg, passed away Monday, May 25, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert T. Pearson and her son, Dennis R. Phillips.

    Peggy is survived by three daughters, Patricia Hollowell (David), Brenda Justice (Kenny) and Lisa Wright (Danny); nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; her beloved canine companion, “Prissy”; sister, Marion Blankenship; brother, Thomas “Sonny” Seward and a number of nieces and nephews.

    A private graveside service will be held Wednesday, May 27 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

    In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to James Square Baptist Church Love Gift Fund, c/o Lisa Wright, 1037 Ankum Rd, Gasburg, Virginia 23857.

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

  15. Virginia Receives USDA Approval to Join SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot Program

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that for the first time, more than 740,000 Virginians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be able to pay for their groceries online and have them delivered, after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Virginia to participate in an innovative online purchasing pilot program. 

    “This continued public health emergency has made access to healthy, affordable food challenging, particularly for Virginians who live in food deserts, have disabilities, or face transportation barriers,” said Governor Northam. “Allowing Virginia families who receive SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online and have them safely delivered to their homes will give vulnerable populations additional flexibility to put food on the table without putting themselves at unnecessary risk.”

    The program will launch statewide in Virginia on Friday, May 29 with online shopping access available through the Amazon and Walmart online platforms. Retailers interested in participating the program can find more information and apply by contacting USDA. Transactions will take place using SNAP customers’ secure Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for fees of any type, such as delivery, service, or convenience fees. 

    “With so many Americans already opting to stay safe at home by ordering their groceries online, it’s only right that we make every effort to ensure our most vulnerable families are also able to take advantage of these services,” said United States Senator Mark R. Warner. “After having pushed USDA to approve Virginia’s participation in the SNAP online purchasing pilot program, I’m glad to know that many more families in the Commonwealth will soon be able to access nutritious food without requiring them to leave their homes.”

    “I’m grateful that following our request, the USDA has approved Virginia’s inclusion in the SNAP online purchasing pilot program,” said United States Senator Tim Kaine. “Especially at this time of great food insecurity, it’s critical that Virginians have the resources they need to safely access food.”

    The pilot, which was mandated through the 2014 Farm Bill, was designed to test the feasibility of allowing USDA-approved retailers to accept online transactions. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) administers SNAP in the Commonwealth.

    “Agencies and leaders across the Commonwealth are constantly collaborating on innovative ways to meet the needs of individuals, families and communities during this pandemic,” said VDSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “Addressing the adaptive needs of Virginians right now, particularly expanding access to food, remains at the forefront of everything we are doing.”

    Additional information about SNAP benefits in Virginia is available on the VDSS website.

  16. Commonwealth Deploys Artificial Intelligence-Powered Online Tool to Help Virginians Self-Screen for COVID-19

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginians can now use COVIDCheck, a new online risk-assessment tool to check their symptoms and connect with the appropriate health care resource, including COVID-19 testing.

    “If you are feeling sick or think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is important that you take action right away,” said Governor Northam. “This online symptom-checking tool can help Virginians understand their personal risk for COVID-19 and get recommendations about what to do next from the safety of their homes. As we work to flatten the curve in our Commonwealth, telehealth services like this will be vital to relieving some of the strains on providers and health systems and making health care more convenient and accessible.”

    COVIDCheck is a free, web-based, artificial intelligence-powered telehealth tool that can help individuals displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19 self-assess their risk and determine the best next steps, such as self-isolation, seeing a doctor, or seeking emergency care. This resource assists in identifying users who are at higher risk of COVID-19 and can help individuals find a nearby testing site. It is not to be used in place of emergency medical care. Virginians can visit vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck to learn more and use COVIDCheck.

    COVIDCheck users who say they are experiencing symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 are screened for occupational and medical risk factors and are given one of five care levels in accordance with the Virginia Department of Health’s categories.

    “Because COVID-19 can affect people differently and cause illness ranging from mild to severe, this personalized assessment tool can help people sort through symptoms and decide if they need to seek medical care,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “While COVIDCheck is not a substitute for medical advice, it can help people decide what steps to take next to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community.”

    By answering a series of questions, an individual can receive a personalized, real-time self-assessment with information and recommendations on what to do next. The recommendations, based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include advice on when to contact a medical professional or seek emergency care, next steps for care based on zip code, and permission to follow up with the individual in three days to see how the person is doing.

    “We’re proud to partner with the Commonwealth of Virginia to mobilize our AI-powered health assistant to provide the most accurate and helpful information to all Virginians during this vital time,” said Andrew Le, MD, CEO and cofounder of Buoy Health, which developed COVIDCheck. “And as the Commonwealth cautiously continues its phased approach to reopen, our primary goal at Buoy is to empower its residents to make the best decisions about their health so that they may re-enter society in a responsible way—for themselves, their loved ones, and the Virginia community-at-large.”

    Buoy is a digital health company developed out of the Harvard Innovation Labs by a team of doctors and data-scientists, aimed at providing personalized clinical support through technology to individuals the moment they have a healthcare concern. Buoy helps remove the fear and complexity that often confronts people as they enter the system by navigating and engaging patients intelligently. The all-on-one technology is able to deliver triage at scale with transparency, connecting individuals with the right care endpoints at the right time.

  17. Virginia State Police investigate pedestrian fatality.

    On Saturday May 23, the Virginia State Police was called to Route 301, north of South Halifax Road, Sussex County, to investigate a vehicle/pedestrian accident. 

    The accident occurred at approximately 1030PM in the southbound lanes of Route 301(Blue Star Highway). Jeffery J. Hinchey, a pedestrian, was pushing his bicycle southbound, in the northbound lanes of Route 301, when a 2007 Honda, traveling in the northbound lanes, struck Hinchey. The female driver pulled over and called 911. Hinchey died from his injuries at the scene. The female driver was not injured.

    Alcohol was NOT a contributing factor in the incident. Family members of the deceased have been notified,

    DECEASED: Jeffery Joseph Hinchey, 55 YOA, of the 12000 block of Quay Street, Chester, Virginia.

  18. John Stuart Prince, M.D.

    November 30, 1922-May 19, 2020

    John Stuart Prince, M.D. of Emporia died May 19, 2020 at the Eugene H. Bloom Retirement Center in Emporia. He was born in Stony Creek, VA on November 30, 1922, the third son of William Daniel Prince, M.D. and Grace Houser Prince. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Jane Holland Prince; their four children, John Stuart Prince, Jr., M.D. of Richmond; Martha Jane Prince of Emporia; Nancy Prince Riddick (William H. Riddick III) of Smithfield, VA; and David Holland Prince of Emporia.

    He was especially proud of his five grandchildren, Anne Stuart Riddick, William Henry Riddick IV, Thomas Whitfield Riddick, John Stuart Prince III, and Jordan Elaine Prince. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

    He was predeceased by his parents, his sister Virginia Anne Prince, and four brothers, William Daniel Prince, Jr., David Milton Prince, Joseph Dugger Prince, and Benjamin Thomas Prince, M.D.

    John grew up in Stony Creek, enjoying a life of hunting, fishing and baseball. He graduated from Stony Creek High School in 1940 and attended Virginia Tech until 1943 when he left to join the U.S. Navy. After the war, studying under the G.I. Bill, he completed an agronomy degree at Virginia Tech and post graduate studies in preparation for the entrance to the Medical College of Virginia, now Commonwealth University. He received his M.D. degree in 1952.

    He and an MCV classmate established a medical practice in Emporia, the Prince Squire Medical Center, where he worked for sixty years and retired at age 90. He helped to organize and establish Greensville Memorial Hospital in Emporia and was a charter member of its medical staff. He served three terms as chief of the medical staff and later was on the board of the Southern Virginia Medical Center.

    His medical affiliations included the Southside Medical Society, Virginia Medical Society, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

    John was a longtime member of Main Street United Methodist Church in Emporia. He served as a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Southside Virginia from 1976 until 1998 when he was elected its first director emeritus.

    He was an avid reader. He never lost his interest in agriculture and he was always interested in history, preservation, genealogy. Playing golf was a favorite pastime.

    The family would like to thank his caregivers and the staff of Eugene H. Bloom Retirement Center for his excellent care.

    In lieu of flowers, please contribute in his memory to a charity of your choice. Due to the coronavirus, a graveside service for the immediate family was held at Emporia Cemetery.

    Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com.

     

  19. "Memorial Day"

    It's a day set aside for remembering
    those who before and after have went
    fighting for the need of our country
    wherever they might be sent.
     
    Men and women, young and old
    It mattered not you see
    a highly trained military
    trying to keep us free.
     
    They have fought in strange surroundings
    and many lives have been lost
    now some were only wounded
    but for us, still paid the cost.
     
    One can't feel pain or anguish
    these men and women all went through
    yet we can honor them for what they did
    for the freedom of me and you.
     
    We can hold in our hearts the memories
    of thousands that have died
    yes and pray for the many wounded
    who lost comarades by their side.
     
    Now war is never over
    and battle never won
    the loss of the lives ere will remain
    long after the fighting's done.
     
                                  Roy E. Schepp

  20. Support for Frontline Workers

    Sharon Daniels sent this photograph of the sign in her Southampton County yard showing support for local Front Line Workers.

    Tags: 

  21. First Virginia Case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Associated with COVID-19 Reported

    Richmond, Va. —The Fairfax Health District has confirmed a case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. This is the first case of MIS-C reported in Virginia. The child was hospitalized on May 5 and has since been discharged and is recovering at home. To protect privacy, no other patient information will be disclosed.

    MIS-C, previously called Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, is a new health condition associated with COVID-19. The first reports of this syndrome came from the United Kingdom in late April. U.S. cases were first reported in New York City in early May.

    MIS-C may cause problems with a child’s heart and other organs. Most children with MIS-C have fever lasting several days and may show symptoms of irritability or decreased activity, abdominal pain without another explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, lack of appetite, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, or swollen hands and feet.

    Virginia Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A., provided information and guidance on the syndrome to health care providers in Virginia in a May 15 Clinician Letter.

    “I urge all health care providers in Virginia to immediately report any patient who meets these criteria to the local health department by the most rapid means,” said Dr. Oliver. “All Virginians should take steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings if appropriate.” Cloth face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 years old.

    Parents should watch for persistent fever in their children and contact their pediatrician if a child appears especially ill.

    The CDC issued a Health Advisory on May 14 about the syndrome, which may include symptoms of persistent fever, hypotension, multisystem organ involvement and elevated markers of inflammation. It is not currently known how common it may be for children to experience these symptoms.

  22. Cancellation of Enfield's Fishing Creek Paddle on June 6

    The 10th Annual Enfield Fishing Creek Paddle that was scheduled to be held on June 6, 2020, has been cancelled due to COVID-19.  We recognize that DERP (Downtown Enfield Restoration & Preservation) wasn’t the only organization forced to postpone a major fund-raising event, even though we had already mapped our route, secured our caterers and reserved our music. The current Coronavirus uncertainty has impacted everyone – and as much as we are sad to reschedule the 10th Annual Enfield Fishing Creek Paddle, we are also lamenting the cancellation of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and March Madness. It’s been a challenging season for all.

    Although participants can safe distance with their kayaks and canoes as they paddle down Fishing Creek, there is still a lot of close-quarter contact while loading and unloading. We also gather for lunch and music afterwards. We do not want to put anyone at risk. But the good news is that we have come up with a date for next year’s Enfield Fishing Creek Paddle. In addition, DERP members plan to meet June 6 – and paddle at a safe distance while cleaning up Fishing Creek of debris.

    So mark your calendars for June 5, 2021 – it will still be our 10th anniversary. Buy your tickets early. And also please consider sponsoring next June’s Fishing Creek Paddle. If you need additional information, visit our website at www.derpserves.org or feel free to contact Suzann Anderson at KHGallery@aol.com or Julia Andrus at Hamill.andrus@gmail.com.

    Tags: 

  23. Tim Kaine to Host Virtual Latino Small Business Roundtable in Virginia

    On Friday, May 22, Senator Tim Kaine will hold a virtual roundtable with Latino small business owners in Virginia to hear about the challenges and difficulties they are facing through the coronavirus pandemic.

    Senator Kaine and the small business owners will also discuss Vice President Biden’s plans to help both the Latino and the small business communities in Virginia.

    The roundtable will be open to the press but, as with in-person roundtables, Q&A will be reserved for voters.

    LOGISTICAL INFORMATION

    Virtual Latino Small Business Roundtable with Tim Kaine in Virginia

    Details are subject to change

    FRIDAY, MAY 22 

    Event Start Time: 5:30 PM ET

    Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to participate should RSVP HERE.

  24. Quarantine Recipe: Homemade Pizza with Your Kids

    Cooking with your kids can be a great way to connect with them and help reduce their screen time during this quarantine. This is not so  much a recipe as an activity outiline. It will probably be best to work at the kitchen table.

    Mom and Dad will need to do some of the work ahead, like cuting up the vegetables and cooking the sausage, unless there are some older kids in your house that you can trust with a knife or using the stove. Remember to preheat the oven to 450 degrees f for the Pita or Naan and follow the directions for the premade crusts and dough.

    This plan is also very forgiving of changes. just plan on one mini crust per person, or one-quarter to one-third of the ready-made dough per person. If you have a lot of smaller people, you can also find Mini Naan or use English Muffins that should satisfy their appitites.

    Ingredients:

    4 each Pita Bread, Naan Bread, Mini Ready Made Pizza Crusts (check Dollar Tree for Thin and Crispy Crusts) or Ready Made Pizza Dough

    1 or 2 Jars Ready Made Pizza Sauce

    1 bag Shredded Mozzarella Cheeze (size depends on how much cheeze your family likes on their pizzas)

    Grated Parmesan Cheese

    Assorted Pizza Toppings (get whatever your family likes: Pepperoni, Sausage, Onions, Green Peppers, Broccoli, Mushrooms, etc.)

    Difficulty: Easy. Shopping Needed for Average Household: Pizza Sauce, Crusts and Assorted Toppings.

    Pre-planning needed: None.

    Prep Time: 20 Minutes, Cook Time: 15-25 Minutes

    Yield: 4 Servings

    1.  Let each one of your kids and adults have a crust to work on, If you are using the ready made dough, let each person, young or young-at-heart, have a portion to roll out themselves, and top each rolled out portion with a bit of the pizza sauce. Don't use too much sauce or the pizza might get soggy.

    2.  Let everyone top the sauce with some Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

    3.  Everyone gets to top their own pizza, with a bit of adult supervision. Too many toppings will prevent the ready-made pizza dough from baking right and there will be raw spots of dough in the finished pizza and unmelted cheese on the Pita, Naan, or pre-baked crusts. Too many toppings will also be hard for smaller children to finish eating.

    4.  Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper and transfer everyone's creations to it. Use a Sharpie to write the name of the Pizza Artist next to their creation (about an inch away with an arrow pointing to it) so that everyone gets the right pizza). Bake for 15-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is cooked to the desired crispiness. Have everyone help in the cleanup and setting of the table while the pizzas bake.

    5.  Let the pizzas sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. A side salad from a bagged mix with a few cucumbers and tomatoes is all you need to complete the meal.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own reccomendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can eplain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  25. Senior Alert: MICHAEL LEONARD DELANEY

     

     

    SENIOR ALERT

     

    MICHAEL LEONARD DELANEY

     

    Age: 75 YEARS

    Sex: MALE

    Race: WHITE

    Hair: GREY/WHITE

    Eyes: BLUE

    Height: 6’ 3”

    Weight: 175-180 POUNDS

    Missing From: FAIRFAX COUNTY, Virginia

    Missing Since: MAY 10TH, 2020

    THE VIRGINIA STATE POLICE HAS ISSUED A SENIOR ALERT ON BEHALF OF FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT ON MAY 18th, 2020 AT 1900 HOURS.

    THE FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT IS LOOKING FOR MICHAEL LEONARD DELANEY, RACE: WHITE, SEX: MALE, AGE 75 YEARS OLD, HEIGHT 6’ 3”, WEIGHT 175-180 lbs., WITH BLUE EYES AND GREY/WHITE HAIR.  HE WAS LAST SEEN ON MAY 10th, 2020, AT 2102 HOURS WHEN HE WAS RECORDED ON SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS DEPARTING RESTON HOSPITAL-DOOR G.  HE WAS ADMITTED FOR A FALL AND A POSSIBLE STROKE.  HE WAS LAST SEEN WEARING A BLACK JACKET OVER A YELLOW HOSPITAL GOWN, DARK SHOES WITH WHITE SOLES, AND DARK FRAME EYEGLASSES WITH A STRAP.  HE IS POSSIBLY WEARING HIS WEDDING BAND, HIS HIGH SCHOOL GEM RING, AND A BLACK WRISTWATCH.

    THE MISSING SENIOR SUFFERS FROM A COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND THE DISAPPEARANCE POSES A CREDIBLE THREAT TO HIS HEALTH AND SAFETY AS DETERMINED BY THE INVESTIGATING AGENCY.

  26. Governor Northam Announces Education Work Group to Help Guide Process for Safe, Equitable Reopening of Schools

    Education stakeholders will develop recommendations to ensure continuity of learning and address the needs of all Virginia students

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a diverse set of education stakeholders participating in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Work Group to help chart a path forward for determining how schools can safely reopen later this year.

    The group is comprised of representatives from Virginia’s public and private early childhood, K-12, and higher education systems, and includes teachers, superintendents, parents, college presidents, state agency personnel, special education advocates, museum directors, and student perspectives. This wide variety of education stakeholders represent the whole of Virginia’s education system and come from every region of the Commonwealth.

    Secretary of Education Atif Qarni formed the work group and chaired its first meeting on April 23. Since then, the work group has been focused on developing recommendations to align policies throughout the Commonwealth’s preK-20 education system and ensure continuity of learning.

    “I am deeply grateful for Virginia’s educators, administrators, school nutrition workers, support staff, parents, and students for the ways they have adapted to new learning environments over the past two months,” said Governor Northam. “As we make decisions about the path forward, this panel will help ensure that we are best supporting rural students, English language learners, students of color, and students with special needs. School closures have been necessary to protect health and safety, but lost class time has a disproportionate impact on Virginia’s most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged students. That’s why equity will remain at the forefront as we determine when and how we can safely and responsibly return to in-person learning.”

    The work group is chaired by Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and is staffed by Deputy Secretary Education Fran Bradford, State Council of Higher Education Director Peter Blake, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. These four individuals comprise the steering committee for the COVID-19 Education Work Group.

    “As we begin to think about how Virginia’s education system can operate in the summer and fall, it is crucial that we have the advice of a diverse, thoughtful group of education leaders,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This group will use their expertise to guide our approach and help ensure that all voices are heard and all recommendations are made through the lens of equity.”

    Members of Virginia’s COVID-19 Education Work Group include:

    Steering Committee

    • Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education, Chair of COVID-19 Education Work Group  
    • Fran Bradford, Deputy Secretary of Education for Higher Education and Museums
    • Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
    • Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education
       

    Work Group Members

    • Jenna Conway, Chief School Readiness Officer, Office of the Governor
    • Holly Coy, Assistant Superintendent for Policy, Communications, and Equity, Virginia Department of Education
    • Dr. Laurie Forlano, Deputy Commissioner for Population Health, Virginia Department of Health
    • Jennifer O. Macdonald, Director, Division of Child and Family Health, Virginia Department of Health
    • Dr. Lynn Clayton Prince, Director of Special Education, Powhatan County Public Schools and President-Elect, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education
    • Pam Simms, Program Director, Gladys H. Oberle School
    • Dr. Donna Henry, Chancellor, University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Chair, Council of Presidents in Virginia
    • Dr. Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University
    • Taylor Reveley, President, Longwood University
    • Dr. Makola Abdullah, President, Virginia State University
    • Dr. Sharon Morrissey, Senior Vice Chancellor, Virginia Community College System
    • Dr. John Downey, President, Blue Ridge Community College
    • Dr. Eric Williams, Superintendent, Loudoun County Public Schools
    • Dr. Jared Cotton, Superintendent, Chesapeake Public Schools
    • Dr. Dennis Carter, Superintendent, Smyth County Schools
    • Kathy Burcher, Representative, Virginia Education Association   
    • Melinda Bright, Representative, Virginia Education Association
    • Dr. Travis Burns, Principal, Northumberland High School and President, Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals
    • Dr. Andrew Buchheit, Principal, T. Clay Wood Elementary School and President, Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals
    • Ann-Marie Ward, Council Treasurer, Virginia Parent Teacher Association
    • Pamela Croom, President-Elect, Virginia Parent Teacher Association
    • Teddy Martin II, Member, Henry County School Board and Regional Chair, Virginia School Boards Association
    • Karen Corbett-Sanders, Chair, Fairfax County School Board
    • Grace Creasey, Executive Director, Virginia Council for Private Education
    • Robert Lambeth, President, Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia
    • Dr. Larry Stimpert, President, Hampden-Sydney College
    • Dr. Tiffany Franks, President, Averett University
    • Dan Gecker, President, Virginia Board of Education
    • Marianne Radcliff, Representative, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
    • Jared Calfee, Executive Director, Virginia21          
    • Rich Conti, Director, Science Museum of Virginia
    • Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
    • Ingrid Grant, Member, Governor’s African American Advisory Board
    • Hyun Lee, Member, Governor’s Asian Advisory Board
    • Diana Brown, Member, Governor’s Latino Advisory Board
    • Ashley Marshall, Chair, Virginia Council on Women
    • Shan Lateef, Rising Senior, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Governor’s STEM Phenom Award Winner
       

    On March 13, Governor Northam directed all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. On March 23, Governor Northam was one of the first governors in the country to issue a statewide order closing schools for the remainder of the academic year. The Virginia Department of Education established the Continuity for Learning (C4L) Task Force consisting of more than 120 teachers, leaders, and collaborating educational partners across Virginia to help school divisions to develop and implement continuous learning plans in partnership with local county health departments, families, staff, and local boards of education.

    Virginia’s COVID-19 Education Work Group will develop recommendations on key issues schools must address before reopening and help determine how to ensure continuity of learning for Virginia students from cradle to classroom to career. After this guidance is developed, the work group will transition to focus on long-term recovery plans to include addressing learning gaps and social emotional needs of students resulting from school closures.

    In the coming weeks, Governor Northam will outline a roadmap for Virginia schools, colleges, and universities to return to in-person learning in a safe, equitable, and responsible manner. The data-driven and science-based approach will include recommendations from the COVID-19 Education Work Group, and will be coordinated with the Forward Virginia plan to gradually ease public health restrictions. The Forward Virginia plan is grounded in federal CDC guidelines, and includes specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, contact tracing, and ensuring adequate medical capacity.

  27. May 2020 Update from Congressman McEachin

    As I write this, we have entered the second month of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second month of Governor Northam’s stay-at-home order. Most of us are tired of being at home, tired of being separated from family and friends and frightened of both the virus and the cratering economy.

     In compliance with both state orders and orders in the District of Columbia, my offices are closed, but we are all working remotely.  We are here for you and eager to help.  If you have an issue or a problem with a federal agency, such as a missing tax return, needing a visa or passport, unreceived benefits or issues with mail delivery, my office is happy to help. Just go to my website, mceachin.house.gov, to get started. We are also happy to record your opinion on any news topic.

    This past month, while I could not physically be out and around the district, I have hosted several virtual events to inform and assist constituents. We had a roundtable with small business owners to hear directly from them about their concerns and needs. I also had a tele-town hall with experts such a Small Business Association representative, the governor’s workforce development head and Dr. Carey, the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services, to help with any and all coronavirus concerns. If you have further questions, feel free to post them on twitter and I will get you answers.

    This past week I held a town hall about at home schooling. I know many parents are struggling with this new responsibility and children are struggling with distance learning over the internet. We were fortunate to be joined by Atif Qarni, the Virginia Secretary of Education, Jason Kamras, Richmond Superintendent of Schools and several prominent teachers including Rodney Robinson, former Richmond teacher and national Teacher of the Year.

    As this pandemic continues, we are all becoming increasingly aware and appreciative of our frontline and essential workers and the critical jobs they do. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees, farmers, food processing workers, senior center staff, trash collectors, mail delivery persons and many more keep us going in these difficult times.  We thank them and honor their service.

    But I know there are many more folks here in our district who are working hard to make a difference, to pay it forward, to help all of us get through this. And while they are most frequently anonymous and not looking for praise, I have started a thank-a-neighbor program. If you know someone in your community who is making a difference during these trying times, we want to be able to shout them out and give them a public thank you. Please submit their name and what they are doing to VA04projects@mail.house.gov.

    The Congressional Art Competition for local high schoolers is open until 4:30 PM on May 27th. Please just email a high quality photo of artwork to VA04.Projects@mail.house.gov.

    Pre-registration for the Congressional App Challenge, where high schoolers develop apps for phones and computers, is also open now. Once students have signed up they can start coding immediately. Information on all the above programs can be found on my website at mceachin.house.gov.

     

  28. Dean Squires Joins Jackson-Feild’s Board

     

     

     

    Dean Squires, Director of Asset Management for Highwoods Properties, Inc., has joined the Board of Trustees of Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services.

    Mr. Squires oversees the property management and maintenance functions for 28 Class A commercial properties amounting to more than 2.3 million square feet, seven owners associations and two third party accounts. He began his property management career in 1985 with Harrison & Bates and joined Highwoods in 1997.

    Mr. Squires is a Cum Laude graduate from Old Dominion University.

    He is a member and past president of the Innsbrook Rotary Club. He was named the club’s Rotarian of the Year in 2000.  Dean has enjoyed serving the community and especially children through Rotary. He currently chairs the club’s grants committee which receives competitive grants from nonprofits and makes monetary awards based on the merits of their grant request.

    He is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of children suffering from mental illness.

     

  29. SVCC Wins! Minecraft #stayandplay Competition

     

    Southside Virginia Community College’s students are finding creative ways to stay busy and engaged during COVID-19 social distancing. On April 15, 2020, Shenandoah University Esports program started the “Minecraft #stayandplay” competition. They welcomed all Virginia colleges to compete in “building” a replica or freebuild of their choice in various categories.

    SVCC’s very own Network Server Technician, Anthony Taylor, led three students in the pursuit of a win.  Anthony shares, “The students really took this and ran with it. They were very engaged and productive.”

    Students, Caleb Walker, Joshua Smith and Bradley Jones represented SVCC.  Joshua built a replica of SVCC’s Workforce Development Center on the John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville. Caleb provided the detail to the virtual space. Caleb also impressed Anthony and the judges with his replica of a giant SVCC Panther logo using over 65,000 blocks.  “Caleb really represented our SVCC ‘Panther Pride’ through his technical prowess.  The logo was very impressive,” Anthony related.

    Southside Virginia Community College was joined in the competition by three other schools - Shenandoah University, Randolph College, and George Mason University.  The schools had the option to submit in one of three categories: Favorite Place to Hangout on the Weekend with Friends, Best Campus Build, and Best Freebuild. Judges critiqued the four individual builds submitted, and Southside won Best Campus Build! Favorite Place to Hangout and Best Freebuild went to Shenandoah University.

    To view all of the entries and the judging visit this link: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/617332307

     

  30. Quarantine Recipe: Julia Child's Spinach Souffle

    I am a cookbook nerd. I have way too many and use them way too infrequently. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a great read, but one I rarely cook out of. I have a hard copy and a PDF. I have carried this book around for about 25 years and have only cooked three or four recipes out of it, this is one of them. I found both volumes at a little Italian deli in Pueblo, Colorado; I used to stop at this deli for Lasagna or Stuffed Shells to take home for dinner.

    Souffles are wonderful things. They move surprisingly quickly and take no special tools to serve; Just plunge a spoon down into the dish and scoop out what you want to serve! Put a simply dressed salad and a piece of bread beside it and you have a surprising meal. If you have a Meat and Potatoes kind of family, it may take some convincing for a recipe like this, but given the possibility of a meat shortage, it might be a handy one to keep around.

    For this recipe you may use a Souffle Dish or a Pyrex dish.

    Ingredients:

    Butter for preparing the pan

    About 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese for preparing pan

    1 tbsp minced shallots (substitute sweet onions if unavailable)

    1 tbsp butter

    3/4 c chopped frozen spinach (I use a full box and squeeze dry with my potato ricer)

    1/4 tsp salt

    2 1/2 tbsp butter

    3 tbsp flour

    1 c milk

    4 egg yolks

    1/2 c grated gruyere cheese (may substitute Swiss, Cheddar, or your favorite melting cheese)

    5 egg whites

    Difficulty: Moderate. Shopping Needed for Average Household: None.

    Pre-planning needed: None.

    Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes, Cook Time: 23-30 Minutes

    Yeild: 4 Servings

    1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees f. Butter a 6 cup souffle dish and dust it with  the grated cheese as if you were dusting a cake pan with flour; dump any excess cheese out of souffle dish into the swiss cheese. Set dish to the side. Measure out your remaining ingredients.

    2.  Squeeze most of the water out of the thawed spinach with a couple paper towels or by squeezing by hand. Cook the shallots and 1 tbsp butter in a saute or frying pan on medium for 1 minute. Add the spinach and salt, stirring and breaking up the spinach until is very dry. Remove the pan from the heat.

    3. n a saucepan, melt 2 1/2 tbsp butter. Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in milk. Beat with whisk until blended. Return to heat and stir with the whisk until the mixture is bubbling.  When it thickens, whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Remove the pan from the heat.

    4.  Add the spinach to the egg/ flour base until completely mixed.

    5. Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until stiff. Stir one-quarter of the egg whites and all but one tablespoon of the cheese into the souffle base. Gently fold he remaining whites into the base, using as few turns as possible to incorporate the two mixtures as completely as possible. Fold by working a rubber spatula all the way to the bottom and "fold" the mixture on top, turn the bowl one-quarter turn and repeat. Fold quickly and gently to deflate the whites as little as possible.

    6.  Turn the souffle out into the prepared mold, run your thumb along the edge of the souflle dish to give the souffle a clean edge, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place into the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes. DO NOT open the oven during the first 20 minutes of cooking time. The Souffle is done when there is still a slight wobble in the center and the top is golden brown. For a less creamy souffle that will collapse less quickly, bake 3-4 minutes past the "wobbly center" stage.

    Serve immediately.

    This recipe is adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One, by Julia Child, Louisette Berthoulle and Simone Beck; Published by Alfred A. Knoph, 1961

    Suggested sides: Make a quick salad of fresh spring greens with a classic French vinaigrette like this one.

    To submit your own recipe, send it to news@emporianews.com. Recipes may be for any meal or any course. While you may include your own recommendations for side dishes and wine, please remember to include a brief introduction to the recipe (which I have left off of this first one). This paragraph or two can explain to readers where you first had the dish, or if it is a family tradition and a favorite of a certain family member. You may also relate any happy memories related to your recipe-is it your annual birthday meal? Reader submitted recipes will be credited to the reader, and you may include a photograph if you like. If your recipe is from a cookbook or website, please send the publication information for attribution.

  31. Information Regarding Economic Impact Payments for Social Security and SSI Beneficiaries with Representative Payees, and People Living in U.S. Territories

     

    The Social Security Administration issued an update today about COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to certain groups of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries who have their regular monthly payments managed for them by another person, called a representative payee, will begin receiving their EIPs from the IRS in late May.

    Special rules apply to beneficiaries living in the U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In general, the tax authority in each territory, not the IRS, will pay the EIP to eligible residents based on information the IRS will provide to the territories.  It is anticipated that beneficiaries in the territories could begin receiving their EIP in early June.

    “The Social Security Administration has been working with the IRS to provide the necessary information about Social Security and SSI beneficiaries in order to automate and expedite their Economic Impact Payments,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security.  “While millions of our beneficiaries have already received their EIPs from the IRS, we continue to work hard for those beneficiaries who are awaiting their payment from the IRS.”

    For additional information about payments to beneficiaries with representative payees, please refer to www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/#reppayee.

    For the territories, people should contact their local tax authority with questions about these payments.  Please note their website may use the term “Economic Impact Payment” or “stimulus payment.”

    The eligibility requirements and other information about the Economic Impact Payments can be found here: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.  In addition, please continue to visit the IRS at www.irs.gov/coronavirus for the latest information.

    Social Security will continue to update the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ with additional information.

    To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @SSAPress.

     

  32. Warner Weekly Wrap Up for May 15th 2020

    Happy Friday from the Warner press office. The Senate was once again in session this week, at an appropriate distance, and considered a series of nominations as well as intelligence-related legislation.

     

    Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:

     

     

    PAYCHECK SECURITY

     

    As the New York Times reported this week, a bipartisan consensus is emerging around a proposal Sen. Warner is supporting to provide relief to Americans who’ve lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. From conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to self-described Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and mainstream members like Sen. Warner somewhere in between, support is growing for the idea of putting paychecks in the hands of Americans who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus.

     

    Together with Sanders and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Warner has released a draft policy white paper proposing a “Paycheck Security Program,” which would effectively guarantee the paycheck of every American furloughed or laid-off worker making under $90,000/year at a business that has suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. This proposal differs in the details from Sen. Hawley’s proposal and another put forward by a group of House Democrats, but the core idea keeping workers on the payroll, with the federal government paying their salary, rather than unemployment benefits, is largely the same.

     

    Sen. Warner took to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday to push for inclusion of a Paycheck Security Program in the next coronavirus relief bill and warned that the U.S. could soon face another economic depression if Congress fails to act.

     

     

    Sen. Warner, a longtime advocate for reducing the deficit, acknowledged the potential cost of such a program, but he warned that failure to assist the more than 36 million out-of-work Americans could be even costlier, saying:

     

    It will be expensive—and I say this as someone who has spent a long time working on trying to reduce the deficit. But when we compare it to the over $600 billion we’ve spent on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has only helped one section of our economy—businesses under 500 employees—that’s done nothing for mid-sized businesses with 500-10,000 workers, I think the alternative will be much cheaper. And it will be pennies compared to the damage that will be done if we fail to adequately assist our fellow Americans in this moment of economic crisis.

     

    Earlier this week, the House of Representatives released and voted on its initial proposal for the next coronavirus relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he does not plan to bring the bill up for a vote, and so the negotiation process continues. Expect Sen. Warner to continue pushing for inclusion of the paycheck security program in an eventual deal.

     

     

    HEALTH PRIVACY

     

    As the United States looks for a “new normal” in the age of coronavirus, one of the tools experts say will be critical to combatting the spread of COVID-19 is “contact tracing.” It refers to the technique used by public health officials to track who a person infected with a disease has come into contact with, so that they can be quarantined and treated if necessary. For a pandemic on the scale of coronavirus, that will likely involve the use of technologies such as cell phone location data to determine who an infected person may have come into contact with. In April. Sen. Warner raised concerns about reports that the President’s son-in-law and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner had assembled technology and health care firms to establish a far-reaching national coronavirus surveillance system.

     

    This week, as tech companies and public health agencies continue to deploy contact tracing apps and digital monitoring tools to fight the spread of COVID-19, Sen. Warner and a group of his colleagues from the House and Senate introduced the Public Health Emergency Privacy Act to set strong and enforceable privacy and data security rights for health information.

     

    After decades of data misuse, breaches, and privacy intrusions, Americans are reluctant to trust tech firms to protect their sensitive health information – according to a recent poll, more than half of Americans would not use a contact tracing app and similar tools from Google and Apple over privacy concerns. The bicameral Public Health Emergency Privacy Act would protect Americans who use this kind of technology during the pandemic and safeguard civil liberties. Strengthened public trust will empower health authorities and medical experts to leverage new health data and apps to fight COVID-19.

     

    The Public Health Emergency Privacy Act would:

     

    • Ensure that data collected for public health is strictly limited for use in public health;
    • Explicitly prohibit the use of health data for discriminatory, unrelated, or intrusive purposes, including commercial advertising, e-commerce, or efforts to gate access to employment, finance, insurance, housing, or education opportunities;
    • Prevent the potential misuse of health data by government agencies with no role in public health;
    • Require meaningful data security and data integrity protections – including data minimization and accuracy – and mandate deletion by tech firms after the public health emergency;
    • Protect voting rights by prohibiting conditioning the right to vote based on a medical condition or use of contact tracing apps;
    • Require regular reports on the impact of digital collection tools on civil rights;
    • Give the public control over their participation in these efforts by mandating meaningful transparency and requiring opt-in consent; and
    • Provide for robust private and public enforcement, with rulemaking from an expert agency while recognizing the continuing role of states in legislation and enforcement.

     

     

    BROADBAND

     

    It’s estimated that more than 20 million Americans continue to lack access to meaningful broadband service, with at least 770,000 Virginians currently unserved. As schools have moved online, this has particularly impacted students

    The “homework gap” is experienced by 12 million students in this country who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework. Research has shown that this gap affects students in both rural and urban areas and disproportionately affects lower-income students and students of color.  Students without internet access at home consistently score lower in reading, math, and science.  This existing inequity has been exacerbated during this current public health emergency as schools suspend in-person classes and transition to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff.

     

    This week, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation aimed at ensuring K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during the coronavirus pandemic.

     

    Specifically, the Emergency Educational Connections Act would:

    1. Provide $4 billion in federal support for elementary and secondary schools and libraries, including tribal schools and libraries, to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices (as well as internet service through such equipment) to students, staff, and patrons;
    2. Allow schools and libraries to continue to use the equipment after the emergency period; and
    3. Ensure schools and libraries prioritize support for those most in need, following the guidelines of the E-Rate program.

     

    As the coronavirus pandemic develops, the E-Rate program offers an immediate solution that may help mitigate the impact of this crisis on our most vulnerable families. Additional funding for E-Rate would greatly narrow the homework gap and help ensure that all students can continue to learn.

     

    Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Sen. Warner has made broadband access has been a top priority for the coronavirus response. Last month, he urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate action to ensure that individuals all across the country have access to broadband, as more Americans are forced to rely on the internet for telework, telehealth, and online learning amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In March, Sen. Warner led 17 of his colleagues in sending a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet service providers (ISPs) calling on the companies to take steps to reduce barriers that could prevent customers from using telepresence services for telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services. Within days, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, and Cox Communications, as well as a number of smaller ISPs not included on the letter, announced plans to accommodate the unprecedented demand for telepresence services.

     

     

    VOTE SAFE

     

    Already multiple primary elections have been besieged by public health concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, in Wisconsin, voters experienced long lines and hours-long wait times, after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a court order that would have extended the period for voters to return absentee ballots—forcing many voters to vote in-person at a limited number of polling places. Multiple voters tested positive for COVID-19 after this election.

     

    Sen. Warner has long been a leader in the Senate on protecting the right to vote, and now he’s joined Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Reps. James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in introducing the VoteSafe Act, legislation to expand voting options and improve the safety and accessibility of polling places across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic

     

    The VoteSafe Act would:

     

    • Require states to provide no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for the 2020 elections and guarantee minimum due process protections for these voters;
    • Require states to maintain an early in-person voting period of at least 20 days for the 2020 elections;
    • Authorize $2.5 billion for states to meet their obligations to offer no-excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting; and
    • Provide $2.5 billion in additional discretionary grant funding for states to further improve the safety and accessibility of voting options during the pandemic, including:
      • Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
      • Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters.
      • Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska Native, and rural voters.
      • Implementing and promoting curbside voting.
      • Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters.
      • Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers.
      • Improving access to voter registration.

     

     

    GRAB BAG

     

    • HEALTHCARE: With the Trump Administration actively pursuing a lawsuit to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions, Sen. Warner joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus in filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the case, California v. Texas. The lawsuit, which was brought by several Republican Attorneys General and the Trump Administration, is currently pending before the Supreme Court and represents a direct threat to the Affordable Care Act and health care coverage for millions of Americans.

     

    • SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES & FRONTLINE WORKERS: This week, Sen. Warner spoke on the Senate floor about the budgetary challenges facing state and local governments due to the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. In his remarks, Warner urged Congress to provide additional financial assistance to states and localities and flexibility in how they use coronavirus relief funds. Warner cautioned that failure to address these budget shortfalls could threaten the jobs of first responders and other public servants on the front lines of the pandemic.

     

    • PROTECTING MINERS: This week Sens. Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of coal state Senators in introducing the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act which would require the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) within 7 days of enactment to protect our miners from COVID-19 exposure at the mines. Additionally, the bill would forbid mine operators from retaliating against miners for reporting infection control problems to their employer or any public authority.

     

    • SAVE THE BAY: This week, Sen. Warner joined Chesapeake Bay delegation members in sending a bicameral letter to Bay Watershed Governors urging them to maintain rigorous environmental standards crucial to the health of the Bay, despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to relax enforcement of these standards.

     

    • AVIATION JOBS:  Along with his fellow co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Warner introduced legislation that would create a Private-Public Partnership between the federal government and aviation manufacturers designed to protect the workforce and industry impacted by COVID-19.
    • VACCINES: Today, Sen. Warner joined Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 38 of their colleagues in introducing a resolution that encourages U.S. engagement with the international community on the COVID-19 response given the Trump Administration’s failure to participate in global summits on vaccines and therapeutics.  The resolution focuses on the indisputable facts that only with concerted global collaboration and coordination can the COVID-19 pandemic be addressed, and that the U.S. has failed so far to participate in a number of key global collaborative efforts on this issue. 

     

    • RUSSIA REPORT: Also today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which Sen. Warner is the Vice Chairman, submitted the fifth and final volume of its bipartisan investigative report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election to the Office of Director of National Intelligence for classification review. In addition to submitting the full, classified report, and in order to help facilitate the Intelligence Community’s review, we have also submitted what we assess to be a properly redacted, unclassified version of the report, totaling nearly 1,000 pages.

     

    • HARRISONBURG TRANSIT: On Wednesday, Sens. Warner and Kaine applauded $5,445,336 in federal funding for public transportation in Harrisonburg. The funding was authorized by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by the Senators.

     

     

    WEEK AHEAD

     

    On Saturday, Sen. Warner will speak via Zoom at a graduation celebration for the UVA Center for Politics. The event is open to press and the public, and you can tune in here at 11:30 AM. On Tuesday, he will participate in a Senate Banking Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell. On Wednesday afternoon, he will hold an outreach call with local leaders from Tazewell County. The Senate will adjourn on Thursday for the Memorial Day recess.

  33. Rep. McEachin Applauds House Passage of the Heroes Act, Benefits for Virginia and Local Communities & Counties

    WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today applauded the passage of the Heroes Act, the latest legislation to address the continued public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The legislation provides urgently-needed support for struggling families and essential workers; funds for testing and tracing measures; key support for frontline workers; and strengthened assistance for the American people.

     

    The Heroes Act provides the Commonwealth of Virginia and local communities on the frontlines of this crisis with robust, desperately-needed funding to cover coronavirus-related outlays and revenue loss and pay our healthcare workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers, and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.

     

    “Congress must lead the nation through this crisis with common-sense and compassion,” said Rep. McEachin. “Our lives and the well-being of our communities are threatened if our healthcare, police, fire, EMS, teachers, and other vital workers do not have the support that they need. Passage of the Heroes Act will protect the livelihoods of frontline heroes risking their lives to care for our communities and provide workers and families with relief urgently-needed to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.”

     

    Congressman McEachin worked diligently to ensure that the priorities of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District were included in this legislation, specifically:

    • Coverage for COVID-19 treatment for Medicare beneficiaries;
      • H.R. 6727 introduced by Congressman McEachin holds Medicare beneficiaries harmless for specific COVID-19 treatment services furnished under part A or part B of the Medicare program – (Section 30201)
    • Incentivizing state and local governments to end water shutoffs;
      • The Home Energy and Water Service Continuity follows Congressman McEachin’s May letter to House leadership urging a prohibition of water shutoffs for municipalities and county governments receiving federal COVID-19 relief aid – (Section 190701)
    • Ensuring EPA environmental justice efforts continue during the pandemic; and
      • H.R. 6692 introduced by Congressman McEachin requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to carry out certain programs relating to environmental justice, and for other purposes – (Section 190702)
    • Bolstering emergency funding for colleges and universities
      • Following Congressman McEachin’s April letter to leadership requesting increased funding for universities, the Heroes Act includes more than $10 billion to help alleviate burdens associated with the coronavirus for both colleges and students, including $1.7 billion for HBCUs and MSIs, and $8.4 billion for other institutions of higher education – (Division O – Education Provisions and Other Programs)

    The Heroes Act also includes a $90 billion fund to support state and local public education, including $2,020,418 for communities across Virginia.  This funding will help maintain or restore state and local fiscal support for elementary, secondary, and public higher education and can be used to meet a wide range of urgent needs, including summer learning, afterschool programs, distance learning, and emergency financial aid for college students, as well as coordination with public health departments to mitigate the spread of disease.

     

    In addition to resources for our state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the Heroes Act provides transformative, far-reaching support to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people and the life of our democracy.

    • Provides strong support for our heroes by establishing a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to ensure that essential workers across the country receive hazard pay.  
    • Commits another $75 billion for the testing, tracing, and treatment we need in order to have a science-based path to safely reopen our country and helping ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.
    • Puts money in the pockets of workers with a second round of direct payments to families up to $6,000 per household, new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their paychecks and benefits, and extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
    • Supports small businesses by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types, and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
    • Ensures further support for Virginians and all Americans, including for:
      • Health security – with COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for those without insurance.
      • Workplace security – requiring OSHA to ensure that all workplaces develop science-based infection control plans and preventing employers from retaliating against workers who report problems.
      • Housing security – with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments, and other housing-related costs.
      • Food security – with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.  
    • Protects the life of our democracy with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service. 

     

    “We cannot pause while so many families in our communities are struggling,” continued Rep. McEachin. “We have a responsibility to do what is necessary now to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities. With the Heroes Act, House Democrats honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and meet the needs of the American people today and through the coronavirus crisis.”

  34. Governor’s Flag Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia

    Pursuant to President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation to lower the United States flag, I do hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia are to be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all local, state, and federal building and grounds in the Commonwealth of Virginia in observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
     
    I hereby order that the flags shall be lowered at sunrise on Friday, May 15, 2020, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
     
    Ordered on this, the 14th day of May, 2020.
  35. Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

     

    SVCC’s Ongoing Mission

    By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

    A year ago when I accepted the offer to serve as Southside Virginia Community College’s sixth president, the world was a different place. People have commented about what a topsy-turvy year it has been, but I am pleased to have been tasked with a leadership role in such challenging times. There’s no place I’d rather be.

    During its 50-year history, SVCC’s mission has focused on serving the regional community through education, outreach, and collaboration. The mission remains unchanged. I am thankful and proud of how the college community has come together to meet COVID-19’s enormous challenges. During the virus-related emergency, SVCC’s staff have been active in seeking opportunities to serve the public in new ways.

    Be assured, SVCC is open for business. We are working collaboratively to meet challenges head on. We are collectively doing whatever it takes to serve our students and neighbors. For example, as a service to the community, one of our instructors, Lisa Jordan, has assisted small businesses with their applications for grants. Several faculty members are serving as volunteers to shop for people who are place-bound, and our Campus Within Walls Coordinator, Lisa Hudson, has worked diligently to ensure continued instruction for incarcerated students.

    In its mission to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to acquire an educational foundation that develops and extends their skills and knowledge, SVCC has embraced innovative opportunities to serve diverse student groups. Our Career Coaches have been in touch with 2020 graduates from area high schools and have worked diligently to assist high schools in pursuing alternate placement testing options. Students who have elected to stay home rather than return to other institutions across the commonwealth have been welcomed. Financial aid staff continue to work hard to ensure that each student receives the maximum amount of support available, including funds earmarked for students under the CARES Act.

    Dr. Dixie Watts Dalton, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Business, reports that faculty members have adopted an array of technology-enhanced communications, such as live Zoom sessions, utilization of Canvas and Navigate, phone calls, texts, email, and Facebook Messenger. In addition, faculty have put together packets of course materials to be mailed to students without internet access. Also, Dr. Dalton commends instructors who have developed creative solutions in special circumstances. As an example, she explains, “For what is usually a hands-on class, adjunct instructor Katy Clarke created recordings of painting techniques for her art class so that students could watch and listen on their own schedules as they work on their own paintings.”

    Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Technology, is working closely with his team to develop innovative workarounds to ensure education continues in the online environment. In addition to technical solutions, such as the use of automotive repair and advanced manufacturing simulators, faculty members are working one-on-one with students to ensure success. An example is allowing welding students to complete class projects where they are currently employed and send their work to the instructor for evaluation. Although hands-on labs are not currently permitted, an SVCC taskforce is working very hard to develop best practices to ensure student safety once students can return to our labs.

    Dr. Michelle Edmonds, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health, and Natural Sciences who is also serving as Special Assistant to the Vice-President of Workforce and Academics, explains her current strategy, “I pretty much run office hours 24/7. Whenever students write to me by email or text message, I respond right away. If they can send me a picture of their question, I can walk them through it or I can show them another example.”

    No one knows for sure what the future holds. If you have questions about any of our classes, academic programs, or short-term FastForward workforce programs which lead to jobs, please give us a call. At SVCC, we are communicating differently and adjusting to working in ways we’ve not worked before, but our strong commitments to the community and to education excellence remain steadfast. We are making every effort to put all hands to the task. Our ongoing mission of community service is too important for us to do anything less.

    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.

  36. Parker Channing Burke is April 2020 BA Student of the Month

    Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that senior Parker Channing Burke has been chosen as our Student of the Month for April 2020. Parker is the son of Neil and Sidney Burke of South Hill. He has a brother, Brady, who is in the 8th grade. Parker joined Brunswick Academy his 8th grade school year. He selected the Honors Academic Program, BA’s most challenging program, and consistently earned All A Honor Roll and attended the All A’s Head of School Breakfast. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and had the distinction of serving as a Junior Marshall for the 2019 graduation ceremony. He enrolled in dual enrollment courses through SVCC his junior and senior school years. Parker is a 5th year member of the Latin Club and served as Editor his senior year. He is also a 2nd year member of the Scholastic Bowl Team. Parker is ranked 4th in his graduating class and 3rd in the Honors Program.

    Additionally, Parker has been actively involved in sports at BA where he was able to pursue his love of basketball and running. He was a 4 year member of the Cross Country team, serving as captain and earning All-Academic Honors this past year. He was a 3 year member of the JV Basketball team and played Varsity Basketball for 2 years. He was awarded Most Improved and received the Coaches Award under both programs. Parker also received the All-Academic Honors award as a senior. He has been an active member of the South Hill United Methodist Church and is a 6 year youth group member active in church missions and retreats. He has volunteered his time with the South Hill Bread Box and has helped supply food to Holly Haven House on Sundays.

    Parker has been accepted to Roanoke College, East Carolina University, and University of Virginia at Wise. He is on the waiting list for UVA Charlottesville. Parker has been awarded the Dean’s Award Scholarship from Roanoke College. Although he is currently undecided about where he will attend college in the Fall, Parker plans to complete an undergraduate program in Biology Pre-medicine track with the goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. Congratulations, Parker!

  37. McEachin Announces Support for Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced his sponsorship of the Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act, a bill to expand support for donations of agricultural products to food banks through USDA’s Farm to Food Bank program and cover up to 100 percent of administrative costs for any harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation costs needed to get produce to food banks.

    “Around the country and right here in my district, lines for food banks are inordinately long," said Congressman McEachin. "With unemployment in double digits and rising, many Americans are struggling to find and pay for healthy, fresh food to feed their families. State budgets are cratering, and this legislation will help ensure that food banks have sufficient agricultural foodstuffs for the increasing number of Americans who go to a food bank for help at no costs to localities or states."

     

  38. VCU Health CMH CEO 2020 National Hospital Week Message

    To The Editor:

    It is with great pride that I want to wish all the team members at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital a happy National Hospital Week. The staff at CMH have been on the front lines of this war on COVID-19. They have tirelessly provided care to members of the communities we serve. Our employees have repeatedly demonstrated their strong commitment to their profession and their care and compassion for our patients has been evident throughout this crisis.

    I want to recognize them for all they have been doing and are prepared to do in the future as we work to provide the excellent health care our communities need and deserve. This has been a uniquely challenging time for all of us, but as we celebrate National Hospital Week 2020, I want to publicly thank them for their countless hours of vital and fantastic health care during this crisis.

    I am proud to be part of the family that is CMH strong!

    Sincerely,

    W. Scott Burnette

    CEO

    VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, South Hill, Virginia

     

    (Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to news@emporianews.com and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)

  39. AMID COVID-19, WARNER, ALEXANDER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO HELP RURAL HOSPITALS STAY OPEN

    ~ Bill would help direct more Medicare reimbursement payments to at least 14 Virginia hospitals ~

    ~ Legislation comes as Virginia hospitals face “massive” revenue shortfalls amid COVID-19 crisis ~

     

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure rural hospitals in Virginia can keep up with the cost of providing care amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Fair Medicare Hospital Payments Act would help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural areas by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government. This legislation comes at a crucial time as hospitals in Virginia continue to lose needed revenue despite playing an essential role in serving their communities and providing lifesaving care during the biggest public health crisis in a century.

     

    “The current payment policy has long placed some of Virginia’s most rural hospitals at a disadvantage and made it more difficult to provide quality care in communities that need it most,” said Sen. Warner. “The COVID-19 public health emergency has made it more important than ever to do everything we can to support our rural hospitals and this legislation is absolutely critical in doing that.”

     

    “Last year, the Trump Administration updated the formula that determines how much Medicare will reimburse hospitals for patient care, taking into account, among other things, the cost of labor in that geographic area – called the Medicare Area Wage Index. And because of this change, Alan Levine, who leads Ballad, announced a $10 million investment in pay increases to nurses. However, these changes are temporary and will expire in three years, and many hospitals are concerned that hospital reimbursements could revert to the lower rates,” said Sen. Alexander. “Given COVID-19 impacts on rural hospitals, any changes that lower reimbursement would have significant impact. Tennessee has the second highest rate of hospitals closures in the country, with 13 hospitals having closed since 2010, and this is, in large part, due to lower reimbursements. This legislation will help keep up with the cost of providing care and help curb the trend of Tennessee rural hospital closures by setting an appropriate national minimum for the Medicare Area Wage Index.”

     

    The Medicare Area Wage Index, a formula used by Medicare to reimburse hospitals, is much lower for states like Virginia and Tennessee, due to the fact that the formula is based on labor costs, which vary across the country. This flawed formula often results in disproportionately low Medicare reimbursement payments to hospitals in rural and low-wage areas.

     

    Specifically, the legislation would establish an appropriate national minimum (0.85) for the Medicare Area Wage Index and ensure that rural hospitals are paid for the care they provide, while preserving the existing reimbursements for urban hospitals. This legislation would also help ensure fairness in reimbursements for hospitals across the country – including the many hospitals that are facing closures in rural areas – and fix severe and disproportionate disadvantages that unfairly penalize hundreds of communities and hospitals across the United States.

     

    At a minimum, 14 Virginia hospitals would benefit from this legislation, with the number of beneficiaries growing in future years. The 14 hospitals that would immediately benefit include:

     

    Locality:

    Hospital:

    Buchanan County

    Buchanan General Hospital

    Franklin

    Southampton Memorial Hospital

    Galax

    Twin County Regional Hospital

    Halifax County

    Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

    Mecklenburg County

    Community Memorial Hospital

    Norton

    Norton Community Hospital

    Pulaski County

    Lewisgale Hospital Pulaski

    Russell County

    Russell County Hospital

    Smyth County

    Smyth County Community Hospital

    Tazewell County

    Clinch Valley Medical Center

    Tazewell County

    Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital

    Washington County

    Johnston Memorial Hospital

    Wise County

    Lonesome Pine Hospital

    Wythe County

    Wythe County Community Hospital

     

    According to the American Hospital Association, Medicare accounts for about 43 percent of reimbursements for hospitals nationally, underscoring the role that Medicare payments play in keeping hospitals open and functioning – particularly in Virginia’s underserved and economically-struggling regions.

     

    In addition to Sens. Warner and Alexander, the legislation was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Doug Jones (D-AL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL).

    Tags: 

  40. Governor Northam Announces Phase One Guidelines to Slowly Ease Public Health Restrictions

    Phase One will begin no sooner than Friday, May 15

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-One and presented a detailed framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Phase One guidelines will be implemented when the data meets the public health criteria outlined by the Commonwealth. The new executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Fifty-Three and Executive Order Fifty-Five and establishes guidelines for Phase One.

    The Governor’s phased approach is grounded in science and data and includes mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through enhanced safety practices. The plan allows localities to consider delaying implementation of Phase One guidelines based on local conditions.

    “I am proud of the millions of Virginians who have stayed home and helped to flatten the curve, but our work is not done,” said Governor Northam. “These guidelines represent one step forward in a gradual process, establishing the necessary modifications to business operations to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure for employees and customers. When we move into this first phase, it will be important for Virginians to act cautiously—especially our most vulnerable populations, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.”

    Under Phase One, the Commonwealth will move to a Safer at Home strategy, which continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings. All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitization of high contact surfaces, and provide enhanced workplace safety measures. 

    Retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy, restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, personal grooming services may begin operating with one patron per service provider, and fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services. Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.

    Places of worship have had a 10-person limit and have been allowed to hold drive-in services allowed. In Phase One, drive-in services may continue, and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity. Specific guidelines for religious services can be found here.

    Many of the restrictions put in place by Executive Order Fifty-Three will remain in place in Phase One. Entertainment and public amusement venues will remain closed and beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing. Childcare centers remain open for children of working families. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase One.

    See more about the changes in Phase One below:

    Phase One guidelines for specific sectors are available here or at virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

    View the graphs and slides from the Governor’s presentation here

    The full text of Executive Order Sixty-One and Order of Public Health Emergency Three is available here.

  41. "This One's for You Mom"

    I know that you're up in heaven
    Yes so very far above
    Still each day I do think of you
    And send you all my love.
     
    For years you meant the world to me
    And invariably you still do
    Yet so many things I think of now
    I should have said to you.
     
    I know that you can hear me
    And I think just yesterday
    The image of your face I saw
    As the clouds did roll away.
     
    Now I 've done the best I'm able
    Though I owe much to you
    Yes you nurtured me for so many years
    Then blessed my going too.
     
    Mothers like you are very special
    And showing appreciation can't wait
    Now mother I fell far behind
    So it came about to late.
     
    Well each year they honor mothers
    Or those that claim to be
    Yet you're the best of all the rest
    And always were to me.
     
                             - Roy E. Schepp
  42. VSU OFFERS NEW AGRICULTURE STUDIES SCHOLARSHIPS

    Congressman David Scott Secures Federal Funding for 1890 Land-Grant Agriculture Scholarships

    Virginia State University, VA - Virginia State University has announced a new scholarship program specifically for students who major in food and agricultural sciences. The aim of the scholarship program is to help build a highly skilled workforce that aligns with the USDA’s strategic goals of promoting rural prosperity and economic development. The program will provide full and partial scholarships to food and agricultural sciences undergraduate student majors in VSU’s College of Agriculture.

    Rep. David Scott (Georgia’s 13th congressional district) introduced the bill with support from other members of Congress. Funding for VSU’s 1890 Scholarship Program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which recently awarded more than $14 million to provide scholarships at the nation’s 19 historically black 1890 land-grant colleges and universities, including VSU. In fiscal year 2020, each institution received $752,632.

    “Virginia State University is grateful for this award that will help us build on our land-grant mission of producing highly educated and skilled professionals to work in the food and agriculture industry,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, Dean/1890 Administrator at the VSU College of Agriculture. He added that nationally there are more career opportunities in food and agriculture than there are graduates to take advantage of the opportunities. “Rep. Scott and USDA have demonstrated our nation’s commitment to cultivating diverse leaders who are equipped to address and solve emerging challenges in these evolving fields of food and agricultural sciences.”

    The VSU College of Agriculture offers Bachelor of Science degree programs in three departments: Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and Hospitality Management. Only students in those programs or who have been accepted to VSU College of Agriculture will be considered for the scholarship program. Among other criteria, students applying for the scholarship must be U.S. citizens, have and maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average and intend to pursue a career in the food and agricultural sciences.Additional information and application for the VSU 1890 Scholarship Program can be found at http://www.agriculture.vsu.edu/1890-scholarship-program.php.

    Virginia State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, disability, age, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other bias prohibited by Virginia or federal law. Virginia State University is fully accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees.

  43. Rep. McEachin Thanks Emporia Constituent Mia Moore for Providing Childcare During Pandemic

    RICHMOND, V.A. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today continued his Thank-A-Neighbor program by highlighting the work of Mia Moore, Owner of CareKids Childcare Center in Emporia. Ms. Moore has continuted to provide childcare to parents who are still working,and has been flexible with families experiencing financial burden. She has also been assisting in providing meals for students in the Emporia-Greensville area while schools have been closed.

    “I am very grateful that people like Ms. Moore are so willing to share their resources with people in their communities,” said Congressman McEachin. “Many families are facing tough decisions during this time, and I am thankful that Ms. Moore has been able to keep the doors of CareKids Childcare Center open, so that our essential workers know that while they are at work, their children will be taken care of. ” 

    “I’ve been in situations where I needed help. I’m blessed now in many ways. So, anytime I’m ini a position to bless somebody else, I choose to do that simply because I know there are people who are in situations and they just need help,” said Mia Moore, Owner of CareKids Childcare Center. “Being able to help others is a blessing to me.” 

    Congressman McEachin launched the Thank-A-Neighbor program in early April to celebrate residents of Virginia’s fourth congressional district who are going above and beyond to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Constituents of Congressman McEachin can nominate someone for Thank-A-Neighbor by emailing VA04.Projects@mail.house.gov

  44. Downtime and Updates for Emporia News

    On Tuesday, May 5th I had a notice on the site that there were two security updates for modules on Emporia News. One was for the text editor that I use and the other was for a module called "Spamicide."

    Just as I usually do, I ticked the checkboxes beside each of these and clicked the download and install button and waited for the message that the operation had completed. Once finished, I checked the site, added what few articles I had and went to bed.

    On Wednesday I logged in to add a few press released and was faced with a blank page. I assumed that Telpage must have been working on the server and checked again on Thursday morning. When the screen was still all white, I checked a few more browsers and discovered it was a HTTP 500 error and emailed Telpage. The resposne was quick. Everything else on that server worked fine, but he rebotted the server just in case. Must be a coding error.

    Here I am a few hours later, I have narrowed the error to the Spamicide update, and have installed an updated version of the content management system that I use. In addition, I have added and customized a new theme that I hope you all will like.

    Tags: 

  45. ROANOKE ROBOCALLERS TO PAY $300,000 BACK TO CONSUMERS

    ~ Attorney General Herring reaches settlement with Adventis Inc., Skyline Metrics LLC, which operated as OnceDriven among other names, and owner Bryant Cass for alleged illegal robocalling and deceptive sales tactics ~

    RICHMOND (April 29, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has reached a settlement with two Roanoke-based telemarketing companies, and Roanoke resident Bryant Cass, for illegal robocalling and deceptive sales practices. Attorney General Herring filed suit against the two companies and Cass last summer, alleging that they made hundreds of thousands of unsolicited robocalls nationwide pitching car selling services to people who listed cars for sale on Craigslist, Autotrader.com, or similar sites. As part of the settlement agreement, Cass will pay $300,000 in restitution that will go back to consumers who were affected by his telemarketing, sales or refund practices. Additionally, Cass has been banned from engaging or participating in telephone solicitations for five years and has been permanently banned from illegal telemarketing and robocalling. The companies have ceased operations and are no longer in business.
     
    “I’m really pleased my team and I were able to shut down this illegal robocall operation and help consumers get their money back from this scheme,” said Attorney General Herring. “Unfortunately, robocalls continue to be an everyday occurrence for most Virginians, and many times they can not only be annoying but dangerous, potentially scamming people out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. I will continue to do everything I can to protect Virginia consumers and find ways to stop illegal robocallers, especially those operating in Virginia.”
     
    Attorney General Herring filed suit against Adventis Inc., Skyline Metrics LLC, which operated as OnceDriven, Longwood Industries, The Big Lot!, Autohopper, and Auto Marketing Systems, and Cass in June 2019 alleging that the businesses used automated equipment to pull telephone numbers from websites, make hundreds of calls a day – even to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry – and leave prerecorded voicemails in which Cass used fake names like “Peyton” or “Brian” to pitch car selling services for a “small fee” with a “money back guarantee.” If people called back, they reached a telemarketing boiler room in downtown Roanoke, where trained salespeople worked off a scripted pitch to make sales.
     
    Attorney General Herring also alleged that, from 2014 to 2017 alone, Cass and his companies made 586,870 unsolicited telemarketing calls just to Virginia area codes.
     
    The Complaint also alleged that the companies enticed people to pay $289 for online car sales services through deceptive claims like these:
    • We have “buyers in your area” or buyers looking for “vehicles like yours,” regardless of whether the companies actually had such buyers
    • We also pre-screen buyers for financing to “make sure they are serious and they have a plan for paying you.” In fact, there was no such pre-screening
    • “We have a Money Back Guarantee!” If you sell your car on your own, “you’re eligible for a refund in the first 45 days.” In fact, refunds were hard to get, and Mr. Cass instructed employees to limit the number of refunds given, even to customers who took all the steps to qualify for a refund
     
    Under the terms of the settlement, Adventis Inc., Skyline Metrics LLC, and Bryant Cass agreed to the following:
    • Restitution totaling $300,000 to be paid to consumers affected by the telemarketing, sales, or refund practices alleged in the Complaint
    • Civil penalties and attorneys’ fees totaling $8,708.02
    • A permanent ban from illegal telemarketing and robocalling, including bans on using automatic dialing systems or pre-recorded voice messages, calling numbers on the do-not-call registry, failing to honor do-not-call requests, failing to include a three-day right to cancel, and from violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act or any of the federal or state telemarketing laws the Attorney General enforces.  These prohibitions apply to all calls, not just calls to Virginians
    • Cass is barred from engaging in or participating in telephone solicitations or assisting others in engaging in telephone solicitations for a five-year period
     
    Attorney General Herring’s lawsuit was part of “Operation Call it Quits”, a coordinated federal and state law enforcement crackdown on robocallers and illegal telemarketers. This major crackdown on illegal robocalls included 94 actions targeting operations around the country responsible for more than one billion calls pitching a variety of products and services, including credit card interest rate reduction services, money-making opportunities, and medical alert systems.
     
    In 2019 alone, Virginians received at least 1.56 billion robocalls. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Virginia was the 8th highest state in the nation for Do Not Call Registry complaints with 178,717 complaints in 2019. Additionally, Virginians made more than 125,000 complaints to the FTC about robocalls alone, up from more than 118,000 complaints in 2018. Americans received at least 58.5 billion robocalls in 2019, an increase of 22% from 47.8 billion robocalls in 2018.
     
    Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $323 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. The Section has transferred more than $55 million to the Commonwealth’s General Fund, and following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016 the Section has been even more effective in fighting for Virginia consumers.
     
    Attorney General Herring has the following tips for Virginians to help manage robocalls:
    • Don’t answer calls from numbers you do not recognize
    • If it’s an unwanted robocall, hang up
    • Don’t press any numbers. This could lead to even more calls, even if the robocall claims you can press 1 to speak to a live operator or press a number to get your number off the calling list
    • Register your home and mobile phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register
    • Report robocalls to the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. Federal and state law enforcement officials have access to the complaints filed through the National Do Not Call Registry
    • Contact your phone service provider and ask about available robocall-blocking technology
    • Consider using mobile apps or other features that may already be built into your phone to block robocalls
     
    Consumer victims seeking additional information about the settlement can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section:

     

     

     

  46. VCU Health CMH to Resume Elective Procedures and Clinic Visits

    During this unprecedented time we have been caring for emergent patients daily and now we are prepared to slowly phase in elective procedures again as well as in-person clinic visits,” said W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.

    We've taken these steps to keep you safe   

    • We are testing every patient for COVID-19 before undergoing surgery, so our teams can take the proper safety measures to care for them and keep others safe. In addition, we are testing all patients before admission to the hospital.  

    • We continue using telehealth for patient appointments and to communicate with patients both before and after their surgery.   

    • We screen everyone for coronavirus symptoms at our entrances and encourage everyone who enters our facilities to wear a mask. If you do not have one, we will provide one.  

    • We have extra hand-washing stations, robust cleaning and disinfecting protocols for our rooms and equipment, and protocols for treating patients with coronavirus symptoms in designated areas to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

    Some postponed surgeries already taking place 

    We are already performing select surgeries and procedures for cancer and infection that were delayed due to COVID-19 and are urgently needed.

    Our hospitals and emergency rooms are clean and safe -- don't postpone care 

    Emergency rooms across the United States are seeing a decrease in visits due to fears of the virus. Paralleling a national trend, from March 20 - April 20, VCU Medical Center saw a 37% decline in patients seeking emergency care for stroke compared to the same time last year. Delaying care can put you at risk of further damaging your health.

    “When we resume elective surgeries and postponed procedures, we want safety as our top priority. Therefore, we will be re-introducing those services gradually,” said Dr. Ike Ibe, Vice President of Medical Affairs at VCU Health CMH.

     

    “We want to assure our patients and their families that it is safe to come to the hospital, and we ask them not to ignore health symptoms that can become major health issues if left unchecked,” Ibe added.

  47. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING FIGHTS DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTHCARE DURING COVID-19

    ~ Coalition of 24 attorneys general are urging the Trump Administration to not finalize a rule change that would eliminate protections against discrimination for women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable populations ~

    RICHMOND (May 1, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of 24 states in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging it not to finalize its proposed rule during COVID-19 that would allow discrimination in providing healthcare. The “Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities” (Section 1557 Rule) is an antidiscrimination provision that prohibits discrimination in healthcare based on gender, race, ethnicity, sex, age or disability. If finalized, the proposed changes to this provision would seriously undermine the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critical anti-discrimination protections at a time when they are most needed to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    “No one should ever be afraid of being discriminated against by a healthcare provider, especially during a national health crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color in Virginia and around the country, exacerbating the racial and ethnic disparities in our healthcare system. We cannot allow the Trump Administration to make it easier for healthcare providers to discriminate against their patients.”

    The proposed rule would roll back anti-discrimination protections for communities of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, those with limited English proficiency, and people with disabilities by undermining critical legal protections that guarantee healthcare as a right. Data shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is already exacerbating racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare that the ACA attempted to address, particularly in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted, and recently more than 100 national and local organizations signed on to an open letter to the healthcare community about how COVID-19 may pose an increased risk to the LGBTQ population. HHS itself has long noted that discrimination within the healthcare system contributes to poor coverage and health outcomes, and exacerbates existing health disparities in underserved communities. Individuals who have experienced discrimination in healthcare often postpone or forgo needed healthcare, resulting in adverse health outcomes.  
     
    In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that moving forward with this rule change in the midst of this unprecedented healthcare crisis will create unnecessary confusion and administrative burdens for state agencies, healthcare providers, and patients at a time when the healthcare system is battling to save lives. Data suggests that increased access to healthcare could assist with prompt COVID-19 detection and increase early treatment, which helps diminish spread of the disease. For these reasons, the coalition warns the Trump Administration that making this major regulatory change in the midst of the current crisis is not only irresponsible, it is potentially deadly.

     

    Joining Attorney General Herring in sending this letter are the attorneys general of California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

  48. Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Payment Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

    Borrowers are encouraged to contact their loan servicer immediately

    RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia has secured relief options for more than 200,000 Virginians with privately held student loans. The payment relief is the result of a new initiative by Virginia and several other states to work with the major private student loan servicers to expand on protections for federal student loan borrowers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    “Virginians are facing unprecedented hardships as a result of this ongoing public health crisis, and student loan borrowers should not have to deal with the added pressure of how they are going to make their loan payments,” said Governor Northam. “This initiative will provide an important financial lifeline and repayment flexibility to Virginia residents who were not eligible for relief under the CARES Act.” 

    The federal CARES Act provided much-needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020. However, millions of student loan borrowers with loans made by private lenders and federal loans not owned by the U.S. Government were left out. 

    Under this initiative, Virginians with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) loans, Perkins loans, or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. Borrowers in need of assistance must immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include:

    • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance

    • Waiving late payment fees

    • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting

    • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days

    • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment

    These options will provide short-term relief for borrowers with significant changes in their income, which is advisable over the option of non-payment which can lead to default. Borrowers should note that these solutions will impact the terms and conditions of the loans. Before exercising these options, carefully consider the impact of the interest that accrues during the 90-day forbearance and how it will extend the repayment schedule for the loans.

    “Borrowers did not have a choice in whether their FFEL loans were held by the federal government or by the commercial lender, and yet 65 percent of all FFEL loans are not eligible for the CARES Act relief,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “The principle of equity demands that we provide relief for all federal borrowers, regardless of whether the federal government or a commercial lender backs the loan.”

    The Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is responsible for helping Virginia student borrowers understand their rights and responsibilities. The Student Loan Advocate serves as a liaison between student loan borrowers and loan servicers or other agencies, helping them explore repayment options and aiding in the resolution of complaints against loan providers.

    “As a result of this collaboration with servicers, lending institutions for privately held loans, and several other states, we are pleased to expand the relief options for Virginia’s student loan borrowers who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate Scott W. Kemp.

    Other states in the initiative include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington.

    Private student loan servicers providing relief include:

    • Aspire Resources, Inc.
    • College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC
    • Earnest Operations, LLC
    • Edfinancial Services, LLC
    • Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation
    • Lendkey Technologies, Inc.
    • Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA)
    • Navient
    • Nelnet, Inc.
    • Scratch
    • SoFi Lending Corp.
    • Tuition Options, LLC
    • United Guaranty Services, Inc.
    • Upstart Network, Inc.
    • Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA)
    • Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC)

    Borrowers can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid or call Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or 1-800-730-8913 (TDD) to determine the types of federal loans they have and who their servicers are. Borrowers with private student loans can check their monthly billing statements for contact information. Borrowers can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

    Borrowers experiencing trouble with their student loan servicer or looking to better understand the implications of these relief options are encouraged to contact Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate at studentloan@schev.edu or (804) 786-2832.

    For additional information about relief options for federal loan borrowers, visit schev.edu/studentloan.

  49. Gwendolyn Francis Vincent

    October 4, 1950-May 4, 2020