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Total positive Coronavirus Cases in our Community, as reported by the Health Department:

Locality Emporia Greensville* Brunswick* Southampton* Sussex*
Positive Reported Today 261 805 269 789 590
Positive Reported This Monday 261 805 369 789 590
Positive Reported Last Monday 259 789 359 757 466
Weekly Increase 0.77% 2.03% 2.79% 4.23% 26.61%
Total Deaths Reported 26 11 5 29 12

Cases in our area are still on the rise. Please continue to wash your hands and avoid thouching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.

*There are State Correctional Facilites and/or County/Regional Jails in each of the localities marked.

Wear a mask in public

a properly worn mask ♦COVERS YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE♦

and does not hang below your chin or rest atop your head

(See CDC Guidance here)

continue to socially distance

and wash or sanitize your hands often.

The City of Emporia has reported the loss of TWENTY-SIX (26) souls, with ELEVEN (11) lost in Greensville County, to Covid 19 and new cases in the area continue to rise week-after-week at rates from less than 1% to more than 20%. Properly Worn Masks, Social Distancing and Proper Hand Washing/Sanitization may well have saved even one or two of the THIRTY-SEVEN (37) of our friends and neighbors who have died in Emporia/Greensville, or slowed the progression of this pandemic.

We're all in this together...

Masks are REQUIRED IN PUBLIC and everyone is still strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and regular handwashing.

Students Say Protests Motivating Them to the Polls

 

By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Voters are more divided now than they were in the 2016 election, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Many young Virginians believe the passion could translate to the polls on Election Day.

Rickia Sykes, a senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, said that her political views have grown stronger since protests erupted globally in late May. The death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, inspired months of protests.

Sykes said that her political views line up with her faith. She considers herself pro-life, believes in advocating for the working class, and supports law-enforcement.

“The protests have shown me we need to keep God first, but it has also shown me that good cops are important to help keep law and order,” Sykes said in a text message. “I do realize that there are bad cops, but in order to make a change, I believe we need to work together with the good cops.”

Sykes said that now she researches politicians more thoroughly before deciding which candidate gets her vote. She looks at voting records to see if they vote in a way that “will help us middle and lower-class families.”

Erik Haugen, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who considers himself a Libertarian, said his political views haven’t changed much since the protests started.

“I just see the stronger push for equality, and I think it’s a good step in our nation so long as it proceeds peacefully,” Haugen said.

Equality is at the center of issues that student voters are concerned about this election. From racial injustice to prison reform to healthcare concerns, many students say they want to enact positive change.

Students have varying opinions on whether or not the importance of voting has become more significant in recent years. Sykes said that she has always found voting significant, but she believes the importance of it has grown for others. Haugen said that while his political views haven’t changed, he believes voting has become more important in general and especially for the younger generations as tension in the U.S. grows and protests become more prominent.

Sarah Dowless, a junior at William & Mary in Williamsburg, said that voting has always been important, but the protests have made voting more prominent, “like people encouraging folks to vote and making information about voting accessible, especially among young people." Dowless said the recent protests have reinforced her progressive beliefs. 

“If anything, the protests have only amplified my concern for racial injustice in America and my concern about police brutality,” she said. “It’s a fundamental issue about freedom and it calls into question the very principles on which this country was founded and continues to claim.”

The protests also influenced a host of legislation in the recent special legislative session of the General Assembly that ended last week. Virginia legislators passed numerous bills focused on police and criminal justice reform.

According to the United States Census Bureau, voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds jumped 15.7% between 2014 and 2018. This was the largest percentage point increase for any age group. Turnout is expected to be high this year as well, but there are no final numbers for age groups. Voter registration in Virginia set a record this year with almost 5.9 million voters  registering. During the last presidential election a little more than 5.5 million people registered to vote.

Sykes is also concerned about the economy and health care.  She wants a political leader who will increase the odds that people have a stable source of income to afford medical treatment. 

“As a graduating senior, I want and need a good paying/stable job for when I graduate,” she said. “I need someone who will make sure we have a strong and reliable economy.”

Dowless wants U.S. prisons, which she describes as currently being “more punitive than rehabilitative,” to undergo major reform. Haugen would like police academy programs to be longer and implement de-escalation training. 

“I first and foremost care about the safety of the American people,” Haugen said. 

Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting are currently underway throughout the state. The deadline to request to vote absentee by mail is Oct. 23. Early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day, or Oct. 31.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND COVID RESPONSE BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW

~ This afternoon, two of Herring’s special session bills were signed into law by Gov. Northam – one gives the OAG the ability to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations and the other strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging statute ~

RICHMOND (October 21, 2020) – This afternoon, two of Attorney General Herring’s special session bills were signed into law by Governor Northam – one bill gives the Office of the Attorney General the ability to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations and the other strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging statute.
 
“Enabling the Office of the Attorney general to conduct ‘pattern and practice’ investigations will give my office the ability to help identify and put a stop to police misconduct and other unconstitutional policing practices,” said Attorney General Herring. “We used to be able to count on the federal government to be a reliable partner in these kinds of investigations, but under the Trump Administration they have all but ceased, which is why it’s so important that my office can do these kinds of investigations at the state level.
 
“It’s unfortunate that a business or an individual will take advantage of a public health crisis or a state of emergency and make more money by raising prices on necessary goods like cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, or even PPE. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many shortcomings in our laws and I’m glad that we were able to fix one of those by strengthening Virginia’s price gouging statute.
 
“I want to thank my partners in both the House and the Senate, as well as the many advocacy groups, including the Center for American Progress, for all their hard work and dedication to helping get my bills passed and onto the Governor’s desk during this productive special session.”
 
House Bill 5072 (Delegate Alfonso Lopez) and Senate Bill 5024 (Senator Louise Lucas) enable the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement agencies to identify and put a stop to unconstitutional practices, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, biased policing, or other unconstitutional practices. For decades the U.S. Department of Justice was a reliable partner in identifying and ending unconstitutional policing practices, often through negotiated agreements for reforms, called “consent decrees,” in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO. Under the Trump Administration the DOJ has explicitly walked away from this responsibility, making it more important for state attorneys general to have this important tool. 
 
Virginia is one of the first states in the country to give this investigative power to their Office of the Attorney General and the first state to include a provision that says any police department that fails to comply with the findings of a “pattern and practice” investigation could be deprived of funding.
 
 
This legislation was part of Attorney General Herring’s larger package of criminal justice and police reform legislative priorities that he announced ahead of the special session.
 
“The federal government has failed to provide this kind of oversight when a police department may be violating citizens’ rights and it’s important for the state to have a backstop that can conduct these kinds of investigations,” said Senator Louise Lucas. “Now that the bill enabling the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct ‘patterns and practice’ investigations of local police departments has passed, communities around Virginia will finally get the due process that they deserve.”
 
“After years of the Trump Administration refusing to be a reliable partner in identifying and ending policing practices where there was a history of misconduct, my legislation (HB 5702) will finally enable the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations of law enforcement agencies to investigate, identify, and put a stop to unconstitutional practices, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, or racially biased policing,” stated Delegate Alfonso Lopez. “I’m so happy that this important criminal justice reform that will help ensure compliance with constitutional policing standards has been signed into law by the Governor.”  
 
House Bill 5047 (Delegate Kathleen Murphy) expands protections against price gouging for PPE and other necessary items during an emergency. This bill will ensure that existing price gouging prohibitions also apply to manufacturers and distributors that charge unconscionable prices for necessary goods or services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or President.
 
Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has received more than 500 consumer complaints and inquiries regarding suspected price gouging by businesses during the COIVD-19 state of emergency and sent out more than 150 letters to businesses demanding that they cease any illegal price gouging.
 
Investigation of these complaints has revealed that many retail businesses claim that price increases occurred further up the supply chain with manufacturers or distributors, making it more difficult to address the problem at the retail level.
 
The legislation will amend the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act (“Anti-Price Gouging Act”), Va. Code §§ 59.1-525 through 59.1-529.1, to also apply to manufacturers and distributors that charge unconscionable prices for necessary goods or services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or President.
 
In April, Attorney General Herring led a national effort to address price gouging in the PPE supply chain, urging 3M as one of the largest manufacturers of PPE, particularly masks, to do more to address price gouging within its supply and distribution chains that was causing hospitals and healthcare providers to pay exorbitant prices for PPE.

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Good Dental Hygiene Makes A Big Difference

By Natasha Grover, DDS, VCU Health CMH Family Dental Clinic

Maintaining your teeth isn’t only about looking good.  Poor dental hygiene can lead to problems that are much bigger than an unpleasant smile. Tooth decay and gum disease can affect other parts of your body, including your heart.

Why is it important to practice good dental hygiene?

Good oral/dental health translates to good health overall. Dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can impair your ability to eat and speak properly, cause pain and bad breath. And what many people may not realize, is that poor dental health can have a profoundly, negative affect on areas outside of the mouth, including your heart, diabetes, pregnancy and chronic inflammation, such as arthritis — to name a few.

Some studies suggest that the bacteria in gum disease can travel to your heart and cause heart disease, clogged arteries or stroke. Gum infections, such as periodontitis, have been linked to premature births and low-birth weight in pregnant women. Diabetics should be especially careful about dental health because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, making the gums more susceptible to infection, which can adversely affect blood sugar.

Practicing good dental hygiene is so important because it can prevent these type of oral disease and dental problems. And prevention should be the primary focus. I advise the following:

1. BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY

Brushing at least twice a day for good oral health. If you get the chance, it can be good to brush after every meal. Make sure you floss daily, too. Floss can clean crevices even the most thorough brushing might miss.

2. USE PRODUCTS WITH FLUORIDE

Fluoride is super important to healthy teeth. Fluoride is a salt that is shown to prevent tooth decay. It is so important, fluoride is even added to our water. When choosing dental hygiene products, make sure to choose products that contain fluoride. This helps reduce your chance of getting cavities.

3. REPLACE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REGULARLY

An old toothbrush might feel like it’s doing the job, but your toothbrush should be replaced about every three months. The bristles soften over time, and bend out of shape. Both of these things mean they do their job less well. Also, toothbrushes get dirty. Bacteria can collect in your toothbrush over time. It is important to replace your toothbrush before those bacteria can damage your teeth or make you sick.

4. MAINTAIN A GOOD DIET

You might be surprised how much of an affect what you eat can have on your teeth. Of course we all know that sugary foods like candy and soda can cause cavities. Some foods can also do your teeth a world of good. Dairy products are high in bone-healthy calcium to strengthen your teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery can scrape food particles off of teeth and also stimulate saliva production to clean your mouth.

5. SCHEDULE REGULAR PROFESSIONAL CLEANINGS

Even the most diligent tooth-brusher can’t get the same clean that a dental professional can. Many people think it is unnecessary to visit the dentist, but a hygienist can reach places it can be hard to clean on your own. Specialized tools can also get teeth cleaner than a toothbrush can. Your regular dental visit also includes an exam, so we can keep an eye out for any signs of decay or developing problems. For most patients, we recommend visiting the dentist’s office every six months.

What are the signs of a serious dental problem?

You should see your dentist if you experience pain, bleeding gums, swelling, both inside and outside the mouth, tenderness, blisters and ulcers that don’t heal, or noticeable changes in color or texture of the soft tissues. These could all be indications of a serious, or potentially serious condition, such as mouth cancer or chronic gum disease.

The CMH Family Dental Clinic is able to see patients who do not have the ability to pay for dental care in part because of a grant the clinic received from the Virginia Health Care Foundation.

The CMH Family Dental Clinic is accepting new patients. If you need a dentist, please call 434-584-5590.

Rep. McEachin Hosting Virtual Education Listening Session with Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni

 

RICHMOND, VA – On Wednesday, October 21 at 6:30PM, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) will host a Virtual Education Listening Session on Zoom. Congressman McEachin and Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni will hear from parents and teachers from Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District about their experiences with virtual education this school year.

“I have heard from parents and teachers across my district about both the difficulties and unexpected advantages they are experiencing with virtual learning this school year,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am eager to hear more from educators and parents about their needs and to find additional opportunities for me to help at the federal level.”

     Who: Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04)
                 Secretary Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education
                 Parents and Teachers from VA04

      What: Virtual Education Listening Session

      When: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 6:30PM

      Where: Zoom, Register at: https://bit.ly/VA04VELS

Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session. 

Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.

“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance. 

Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.

“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.” 

The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration usually is a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president and artistic director. 

“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”

Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.

“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said. 

The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence. 

Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.

“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”

State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come in to work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill. 

The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

“Bird Feeder Time”

I have birds at all my feeders
But I’m funning short on my supply
It looks like a trip to the store
For some more seed to buy.
 
Since the weather has been so erratic
They don’t know what to do
All are about in search of food
I’ve seen them at fast food too.
 
Yes the wind, rain and snow at times
Pose a challenge they must meet
It’s a must that they must leave their shelter
In search of food to eat.
 
Whatever you and I can do for them
I’m sure they’ll appreciate
Yes, put up some feeders in your yard
Then just sit back and wait.
 
First comes one, then maybe two
In time many more will find
The food and goodies you’ve displayed
By being oh so kind.
 
Now it isn’t that much trouble
And a bag of seed lasts quite a while
The pleasure of watching at the feeders
Will even lake the old folks smile.
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Spotlight on Jobs by the Virginia Employment Commission

General Laborer:  Lifts, carries and holds building materials, tool and supplies. Cleans tools, materials and work areas. Mixes, pours and spreads concrete, asphalt, gravel, and other material using hand tools. Performs a wide variety of manual tasks including pipe assembly, pipe cutting and laying, removal or forms from set concrete, taking layout shots, directing equipment operators on cuts and fills, etc.  Job Order #2071250

Facility Administrator:  Build on your relationship with your patients, while also continuously improving their health through clinical goal setting and quality improvement initiatives. Make a difference in patients' lives and developing your team to reach their full potential. Develop, mentor and inspire a cross-functional clinical team (census dependent on state laws) to deliver the best for our patients, teammates and community. Manage complete operation and performance of the clinic: adhere to budget, forecast expenses, manage vendor relationships, order supplies, and monitor compliance.   Job Order #2070935

Travel Center Cashier:  Operates cash register by passing price coded items across electronic scanner to record price, compile printed list, and display cost of customer purchase, tax, and rebates on monitor screen. Makes change, cashes checks, and issues receipts or tickets to customers. Gives cash refunds or issues credit memorandums to customers for returned merchandise. Records amounts received and prepares reports of transactions, etc.  Job Order #2066353

Utility Production Worker:  Adhering to all plant safety and environmental guidelines, policies, and procedures. Learning to operate machinery to expected performance levels. Acting as a relief operator to cover other employees' breaks and vacations. Keeping the work area clean throughout the shift to ensure a safe and orderly work environment. Assisting team members throughout the mill during production times. Performing basic care duties such as preventative maintenance on machinery or repairing minor issues.  Job Order #2057222

Team Member:  Provide excellent guest service skills. Able to work in a fast paced environment. Able to communicate effectively with guests and team members. Maintains regular and consistent attendance and punctuality. Available to work days, evenings, weekends and holidays. Ability to resolve issues in compliance with company’s standards. Must have a friendly and courteous demeanor. Is a team player.  Job Order #2066375

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

www.vawc.virginia.gov

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

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

Virginia legislators advance police and criminal justice reform measures

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the agenda this month for the special session that began Aug. 18. Legislators introduced over 50 police and criminal justice reform bills during the session. 

Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and make amendments or veto bills. 

Among the police and criminal justice reform measures were proposals that would change policing methods, impose new disciplinary actions for law enforcement and reduce penalties of certain crimes. Both parties introduced legislation that seemed to be inspired by months of protests across Virginia.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the organization supports several criminal justice reform bills except the legislature’s approval of bills that make certain traffic violations secondary offences and the ban on no-knock search warrants.

“The way it was [the no-knock search warrant bill] delays the issuance of a search warrant that could lead to deaths, injuries and destruction of evidence,” Schrad wrote in an email. “We plan to seek [the] governor’s amendments to make final corrections to the bill to ensure the safety of officers and potential victims.”

Some Republican-backed bills aimed to increase penalties for certain crimes, including pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer and for an assault on an officer, and to criminalize the act of cursing at an officer while on duty.

Below is a sample of the police and criminal justice related legislation that were approved by both chambers.

PASSED LEGISLATION

Mental health response. House Bill 5043, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, and Senate Bill 5038, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Dale City, establishes an alert system when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Marijuana charge prepay. SB 5013, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, gives people charged with marijuana possession the option to prepay a fee.

Crisis intervention. SB 5014, introduced by Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish standards and update policies for law enforcement concerning sensitivity and awareness of racism.

Civilian oversight. SB 5035, introduced by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Midlothian, allows localities to establish a civilian oversight body for their police department. The civilian oversight body can investigate incidents involving law enforcement as well as complaints from citizens, and make binding disciplinary decisions, including termination, in the event that an officer breaches departmental and professional standards. 

Sentencing reform. Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, called his bill SB 5007 “the most transformative criminal justice reform legislation” to pass in two decades. The measure allows for defendants to be tried by a jury but sentenced by a judge.

“It has long been the practice in Virginia to be sentenced by a jury after selecting a jury trial, which has led to excessive sentences far beyond what sentencing guidelines state,” Morrissey posted online.

Conditional release. SB 5034, introduced by Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko, D-Fairfax, grants consideration for conditional release for certain qualifying terminally ill prisoners. 

Marijuana and certain traffic offenses. HB 5058, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, prohibits an officer from stopping a motor vehicle for operating without a license plate, with defective equipment such as a brake light, window tinting materials, a loud exhaust system or hanging objects inside the vehicle. It also prohibits officers from searching a vehicle solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana.

Earned sentence credits. HB 5148, introduced by Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, establishes a four-level classification system for earned sentence credits. The system allows a range of 3.5 days to 15 days to be deducted from an inmate’s sentence for every 30 days served, with exceptions based on severity of crime. The bill directs the Department of Corrections to convene a work group by next July to study the impact of the sentence credit amendments and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2022. Parts of the bill have a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022.

Criminal justice board. HB 5108, introduced by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, makes changes to the Criminal Justice Services Board and its Committee on Training. The board, currently made up exclusively of members with backgrounds in law enforcement and private security, will be required to add representatives from civil rights groups, mental health service providers and groups that advocate for the interests of minority communities. Guzmán said she got the idea for this bill while she was visiting the Criminal Justice Services Board with fellow legislators.

“We only have law enforcement voices at the table,” Guzmán said. “So, how can you learn about what is going on in the community if you don’t have their voice at the table?”

Guzmán said the bill will improve crisis intervention training and help police officers who may experience traumatic events while on the job. 

Misconduct and termination. HB 5051, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, requires a police department authority figure to notify the Criminal Justice Services Board if an officer is terminated for serious misconduct, as defined by the board, within 48 hours of the department becoming aware of it.

Disclosure of information. HB 5104, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, requires sheriff, police chief or police department directors to disclose to a potential law enforcement or jail employer information regarding the arrest, prosecution or civil suit filed against their former officers seeking employment. The applicant would have to sign a waiver to allow that information to be disclosed. The bill also may require an officer to undergo a psychological evaluation before taking a job in a jail or police department. 

Ban no-knock warrants. HB 5099, introduced by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, bans law enforcement officers from executing a search warrant without giving notice of their identity or purpose before entering a residence.

“The use of no-knock search warrants have long been a controversial practice, since the beginning of their use during the Nixon administration in the 70’s,” Aird said in an email. “The tragic loss of Breonna Taylor renewed the concern regarding the use of this search warrant, the risk to residents and officers and their disproportionate application in minority communities.” 

Unlawful use of excessive force. HB 5029, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, requires that a law enforcement officer intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force while on duty. 

Carnal knowledge of detainees. HB 5045, introduced by Del. Karrie K. Delaney, D-Centreville, closes a loophole within the state law and makes it a Class 6 felony for a law enforcement officer to have sexual relations with a detainee, pre-arrest.

Prohibition of the use of neck restraints. HB 5069, introduced by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, prohibits a law enforcement officer to use a neck restraint or chokehold while on the job. New York has had a ban on chokeholds since 1993, but the effectiveness of the law was called into question in 2014 when Eric Garner died after an apparent chokehold was used during his arrest by a New York City Police officer. The officer involved was not indicted, but was later fired.

Guzmán said that even though some of these bills may not be perfect, it’s better to improve civil rights in Virginia one piece of legislation at a time rather than to be dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I would say that inaction is enabling, and if we don’t act, in a way we are saying we are OK with what is going on in today’s society,” Guzmán said. “We recognize the struggles, we recognize that there are problems, and we need to start tackling those issues and try to improve the lives of communities of color.” 

Below are some pieces of legislation that didn’t make it through the House or Senate.

ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS

Record expungement. SB 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and HB 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, sought to expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. Legislators did not reach a compromise in the conference committee over proposed substitutes to the bills. 

“This is a very important issue,” Herring said at the close of Friday’s session. “It will change the lives of so many people who have served their time and have turned their lives around.”

Parole notification. SB 5050, Introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, would require the Department of Corrections to release a paroled prisoner no sooner than 21 days after the date of notification by the Virginia Parole Board.

Qualified immunity. HB 5013, introduced by Bourne, would have ended qualified immunity for police officers. Guzmán, who voted for the bill, was disappointed it didn’t pass, but said she feels good about the House Democrats’ bills and is looking forward to the next General Assembly session in January.

Virginia led the way during the special session where others haven’t, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn said in a press release.

“Together with our colleagues in the Senate, Virginia is now a national leader in the effort to pass necessary improvements to policing and criminal justice,” Filler-Corn said. 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Sam Ben Acree

September 05, 1943 - October 16, 2020

Visitation Graveside Services

6-8 pm Thursday, October 22

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

Friday, October 23, 2020, 2:00 PM

First Christian Church Cemetery
427 Ruritan Dr
Emporia, VA 23847

Sam Ben Acree, 77, “Honey”, of Emporia, passed away Friday, October 16, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife, Judith Acree and a daughter, Judith Walton.
Mr. Acree is survived by four daughters, Sherry Temple (David), Terry Gutshall (Phillip), Phyllis Macclellan, and Catherine Acree; 12 grandchildren, Kerri Musselman (Tim), Matthew Temple (Michele), Krystal Featherstun (Ryan), Rusti Moore, Amanda Gutshall (Jared), Bobby Walton (Rebecca), Danielle Walton, Samantha Walton, Christopher Epps, Patrick Epps (Kelly), Stephanie Epps and Ashley Lensey (Chan); 23 great-grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, a brother, Cecil Acree (Sheryl) and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends 6-8 Thursday, October 22 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia. The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Friday, October 23 at First Christian Church Cemetery.
Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

VCU announces spring semester changes as other colleges mull options

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Virginia Commonwealth University announced Thursday that the spring semester will start one week later and spring break will be canceled to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

The start date will move from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. After the conclusion of winter break the university will implement a phased re-opening similar to the fall semester. That means classes will be a combination of in-person, hybrid and online.

Spring break was removed from the university's academic calendar and two reading days were added on Feb. 23 and March 24. The last day of classes will now be on May 5 for the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 for the MCV Campus.

“Our public health response team, which includes medical and infectious disease

experts, recommended eliminating spring break to mitigate the risk of COVID-19,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a press release.

Rao said the university’s priority is to be able to conduct classes while maintaining the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and other members of the community.

“Flexibility remains critical in addressing evolving situations presented by COVID-19, including changes in the prevalence of infection in our community, as well as changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices,” Rao said.

Other university officials across the state are also exploring options in regard to the spring opening and semester.

Michael Stowe, spokesman at Virginia Tech, said in an email that he expects the school will announce plans about the spring semester by Monday. The spring semester starts at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19.

McGregor McCance, spokesman for the University of Virginia, said in an email that the university will announce any plans about its spring semester later this month. The spring semester is currently scheduled to begin at Virginia on Jan. 20.

Other Virginia universities have various start dates for the 2021 academic year. James Madison University is scheduled to start classes on Jan. 11. The University of Richmond will begin classes on Jan. 19. George Mason University begins the spring semester on Jan. 25.

Final examinations for VCU’s Monroe Park Campus will be held May 6-13, while the MCV Campus final examinations will be held May 10-14.

“We will update you soon on COVID-19 testing and other measures we will be taking as we conclude the fall semester and prepare for our return to campus for spring semester,” Rao said.

Peter Jung is Brunswick Academey October 2020 Student of the Month

Peter Jung, a Senior at Brunswick Academy, is from South Korea and currently resides with Rev. James Kim’s family in Alberta.

Since the 9th grade, Peter has focused on earning an Academic diploma from Brunswick Academy. His dedication to his academic success has resulted in achieving the ultimate level of all A’s. While remaining steadfast to high academic standards, Peter is a proud member of Brunswick Academy’s chapter of the National Honor Society; he thoroughly enjoys reading to the Elementary and Lower School students as part of the chapter’s school-wide literacy program.

Peter is also a member of Red Oak Ruritan Club where he serves the local community through a variety of activities. He participates in cooking and selling Brunswick Stew and Boston Butts for fundraisers for the town. In addition to serving his local community,

Peter stays busy with his church; he has been a member of the church choir for the past three years and is an active participant in the Youth Group. Furthermore, Peter devotes time to his church by fulfilling its technological needs to include broadcasting Zoom meetings, setting up of microphones for services, and creating PowerPoint presentations.

After graduating from Brunswick Academy in May of 2021, Peter is planning to major in Aviation at North Dakota University.

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Governor Northam Announces Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance to Build Wind Energy Workforce in Virginia

New College Institute, Centura College, and Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy will join forces to position Virginia as leader in offshore wind industry training

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the formation of Virginia’s first offshore and onshore wind workforce training collaborative, the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance. The program will offer industry required certifications that are critical to the operations and long-term maintenance of wind projects. The Governor made the announcement addressing the 2020 Offshore WINDPOWER Virtual Summit hosted by the American Wind Energy Association.

The New College Institute, which will serve as the host institution, is joining forces with Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy to create the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance (the Alliance). This partnership will bring courses certified by the Global Wind Organization and National Center for Construction, Education, and Research wind technician training to onshore and offshore wind projects to Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

“Building a strong wind energy workforce will give the Commonwealth a significant competitive advantage in attracting onshore and offshore wind projects,” said Governor Northam. “There is currently massive potential for offshore wind up and down the East Coast, and we look forward to working with our partners across Virginia and in neighboring states to grow this industry and reap the tremendous economic benefits for our communities, especially those that have been historically disadvantaged.”

The Alliance represents an important first step in what will be a much larger workforce development effort to support the renewable energy industries in Virginia. Course offerings will span a wide variety of wind energy related disciplines and provide students with a customizable portfolio of training options. Programs will range from specific certifications to a year-long wind turbine technician program that bundles several industry-recognized certifications and prepares students to serve as certified installation technicians, inspectors, and maintenance technicians. The Alliance plans to start offering programs in early 2021. 

“Virginia is actively working to welcome new and expanding business in the offshore and onshore wind sector,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These companies require a skilled workforce to reach their highest potential, and fortunately, because of our deep maritime roots, that workforce is here.”

The wind industry in the United States continues to experience exponential growth, supporting 120,000 American jobs in 2019, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The AWEA also estimates that the wind industry has invested more than $208 billion in wind projects across the country with the capacity to produce at least 109 gigawatts of power to date. Dominion Energy and Avangrid Renewables have nearly 400 offshore wind turbines under development off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.

“Clean energy jobs in construction and operations will serve as a catalyst for delivering clean, renewable energy to the Commonwealth,” said Josh Bennett, Vice President of Offshore Wind for Dominion Energy. “The formation of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance is a critical step to developing a talented offshore wind workforce here in Virginia.”

“As Avangrid Renewables builds the future of clean energy offshore, establishing the workforce that will maintain and operate these projects for decades will be critical,” said Eric Thumma, Interim Vice President of Offshore Wind for Avangrid Renewables. “The Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance will facilitate the development of that workforce and the success of the offshore wind industry.”

“Virginia is taking important steps forward in harnessing the significant economic and job opportunities of American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, American Wind Energy Association CEO. “Wind turbine technicians are America’s fastest growing career and today’s foresighted move to train additional workers in this field shows that the Commonwealth continues to lead our nation toward a cleaner and more prosperous energy future.”

Located in Martinsville, the New College Institute is a Commonwealth Higher Education Center that partners with industry and academia to provide post-secondary education, industry relevant workforce development and training opportunities in cutting-edge industries.

Centura College has seven education centers across eastern Virginia, including Tidewater Tech, which is home to the largest welding training center in the Commonwealth, with 100 welding booths. Centura is also parent to Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which has 13 aviation technician training centers nationwide and focuses on the repair and maintenance of aircraft including engineering fiberglass and composites.

Located in Norfolk, the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy (MAMA) is the largest training center for United States Coast Guard (USCG) certifications on the East Coast. MAMA is certified by the USCG to teach 90 deck and engineering courses that are critical to the safe operation of the United States commercial fleet.

For more information on the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, please visit vaoffshorewind.org/workforce.

Social Security Announces 1.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2021

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700. 

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.    

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced.  Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Facebook Bans Anti-Vax Ads and Partners with Global Health Organizations

Facebook announced Tuesday they are prohibiting ads on the platform discouraging people from getting vaccinated. While a COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be available for some time, health authorities recommend taking preventative measures, including getting a flu vaccine, to stay healthy. Ads discouraging the flu vaccine will be rejected globally, starting today.

Only 50.6% of Virginia residents got a flu shot, according to the last CDC report in 2018-19. As COVID continues to plague our state, doctors and public health officials are sounding the alarm about the importance of getting a flu shot this year. With flu vaccination rates remaining low, Facebook also announced today new tools to connect users to important information about the flu vaccine and identify the nearest location to receive a flu vaccination.

Starting today, Facebook users will see reminders at the top of their newsfeeds leading them to the Preventative Health tool for information from the CDC on flu vaccine administration and nearby locations. With millions of Americans still working from home, it is important to provide updated information on vaccine locations that may be different from years past.

According to the CDC, only 48% of U.S. adults received the flu vaccination last year. The CDC recommends people get their flu shot by the end of October, but the sooner people can receive the flu vaccine, the better prepared Americans and health providers will be to control a flu outbreak on top of COVID-19.

Facebook is also partnering with global health partners, including WHO and UNICEF, to increase messaging around vaccine education and to advance programs of research on vaccine communication. This announcement comes as part of Facebook’s work to help the public health industry build trust in vaccines for the long term.

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Governor Northam, VMFA Recognize Healthcare Workers and First Responders with Free Admission to “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities”

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and Alex Nyerges, Director and CEO of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), today announced that healthcare workers and first responders can receive free admission to the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities on view now through January 18, 2021.

First responders include 911 dispatchers, law-enforcement officers, professional and volunteer firefighters, professional and volunteer emergency medical services personnel, emergency management professionals, search and rescue teams, rescue pilots and divers, the Virginia National Guard, and members of other organizations in the public safety sector.

“Our healthcare workers and first responders have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working tirelessly to keep our communities safe and healthy over the past seven months,” said Governor Northam. “We are extending this well-deserved ‘thank you’ from the Commonwealth and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and hope those who continue to serve Virginia so ably can experience this special exhibition.”

“VMFA welcomes first responders and all who work in healthcare to take advantage of free admission and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the wonders of ancient Egypt,” said Nyerges.

Among the nearly 300 objects featured in the exhibition are 250 works recovered from the underwater excavations of the ancient Egyptian cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion. An additional 40 objects were loaned by museums in Egypt. Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities was curated by Franck Goddio, the director of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and organized for VMFA by Dr. Peter Schertz, the museum’s Jack and Mary Anne Frable Curator of Ancient Art.

Highlights of the exhibition include a nearly 18-foot-tall, 5.6-ton statue of the god Hapy, the largest stone statue of a god recovered from ancient Egypt, beautiful statues of other gods and rulers of that civilization, and fascinating objects used to celebrate the annual Mysteries of Osiris.

Healthcare workers and first responders should call (804) 340-1405 to make their reservations and show their employee IDs or badges at the Visitors Services Desk when picking up their tickets. One free ticket is available per badge. Reservations for first-available tickets to the exhibition can also be made in person at the Visitors Service Desk. Reservations may not be available on weekends due to heightened visitation on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are scheduled to help limit gallery capacity during the pandemic.

Visitors to VMFA will notice several measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the well-being of visitors, volunteers, and employees in mind. Masks are required in the museum and disposable masks will be provided to people who do not bring their own. For complete information about the museum’s safeguards please visit the museum’s website at VMFA.museum/covid-19.

Ticket Information
The exhibition is free for VMFA members, children ages six and under, state employees, teachers, healthcare workers, first responders, and active duty military personnel. Tickets to see the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors 65+, and $10 for youth aged 7–17 and college students with ID.

Sponsorship Information
Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is presented by Dominion Energy. In addition to previous exhibition sponsorships, the museum’s Dominion Energy Galleries house one of the strongest public collections of African art in the United States.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is organized by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology with the generous support of the Hilti Foundation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund. Additional sponsors include The Reverend Doctor Vienna Cobb Anderson, The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Cabaniss, Jr., Sharon Merwin, Capital One Bank, Mrs. Frances Dulaney, Mary Ann and Jack Frable, Virginia H. Spratley Charitable Fund II, Elizabeth and Tom Allen, Lilli and William Beyer, Dr. Donald S. and Ms. Beejay Brown Endowment, Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, The Christian Family Foundation, The VMFA Council Exhibition Fund, Birch Douglass, Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner, Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust, Peter and Nancy Huber, The Manuel and Carol Loupassi Foundation, Margaret and Thomas Mackell, Deanna M. Maneker, Alexandria Rogers McGrath, McGue Millhiser Family Trust, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr., Foundation, Joanne B. Robinson, Stauer, Anne Marie Whittemore, YHB | CPAs & Consultants, YouDecide, and two anonymous donors.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 40,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver, and French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its history.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, call (804) 340-1400 or visit VMFA.museum.

Delegate Plans To Reintroduce Quarantine Pay Bill Next Session

 

By Zachary Klosko, By Capital New Source

RICHMOND, Va. -- Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Woodbridge, said she is no stranger to the struggles of low-paying jobs. Guzmán said she immigrated to the United States from Peru as a single mother and worked multiple minimum wage jobs just to be able to pay rent and care for her daughter.

Guzmán has a mission to secure better financial benefits for minimum wage workers, but she said it’s not going as planned.

Guzmán’s House Bill 5116 was killed in a Senate committee during the Virginia General Assembly special session after being passed by the House. The General Assembly is currently meeting to tackle the state budget and other issues that have come up due to COVID-19.

The bill would have mandated quarantine pay for employees of businesses with more than 25 workers. It would require public and private employers to provide paid quarantine leave that could be immediately used by the employee, regardless of how long they had been employed. The paid quarantine leave could be used for the employee’s health care needs or for care of a family member with an illness or health condition related to COVID-19.

Guzmán said she’s frustrated, but she plans to introduce the bill again during the next legislative session. 

“Most of the arguments that I heard was because businesses are hurting and it was not the right time,” Guzmán said. “I think it's like we hear a lot about businesses but we don't hear about the working class and who's going to be, you know, fighting for them.”

Guzmán introduced a bill in the spring session before the coronavirus to require employers to provide paid sick leave for employees. After the Committee on Appropriations killed that bill, Guzmán introduced her current bill as an effort to keep advocating for worker's rights.

Kim Bobo, executive director for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said her organization is in favor of Guzmán’s bill. Bobo said paid sick days and getting paid a minimum wage are basic standards employers should be able to provide for their employees without government assistance.

“We really don't believe that public funds should be used to subsidize employers providing such a basic core standard as paid sick days,” Bobo said. “We will not include anything like that in a bill going forward.”

Being able to take paid time off can have a larger impact on the community because workers don’t have to choose between their families’ well-being and a paycheck, Bobo said.

“They will stay home when their children are sick and they won't send their kids to school sick, which is what happens right now,” she said.

Bobo isn’t the only supporter of Guzmán’s bill. Eighty-three percent of Virginians support paid time off mandates, according to a recent YouGov poll commissioned in part by the Interfaith Center. 

Del. Chris Head, R-Roanoke, voiced his concerns during the bill’s third reading on Sept. 10. Head said Guzmán’s bill largely mirrors federal legislation. 

“This bill is going to cause businesses who might hire people to think twice about it,” Head said. “It's going to raise their expenses for hiring people, and it's going to end up hurting many of the very people that you're trying to help with this legislation.”

The Department of Labor and Industry estimated the bill would cost the department over $46,000 in 2021 and an additional $92,000 in 2022, according to the bill’s impact statement. The Department of Medical Assisted Services estimated the costs at $28.8 million for fiscal year 2021 and $29.8 million for fiscal year 2022. The bill would last until July 1, 2021, or until Gov. Ralph Northam’s state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic expires.

Guzmán said she isn’t deterred. After Northam and first lady Pamela Northam announced they tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 25, Guzmán said she needed to quarantine at home. She had visited a school with the first lady just a few days prior.

“Listen, there are 1.2 million Virginians out there that, if they were in the same situation that we are today, they would continue to go to work, because they don't have a dime,” Guzmán said firmly. “Please pass the message to the governor and the first lady.”

VIRGINIA VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE EXTENDED BY FEDERAL COURT

RICHMOND, VA – Today, a federal district judge extended the deadline for citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia to register to vote through Thursday, October 15, 2020.

This extension will provide all eligible Virginians with the opportunity to participate in the 2020 November General and Special Elections by registering to vote on or before October 15, 2020. Eligible Virginians may submit a voter registration application or update an existing voter registration record in any of the following methods:

  • In-person to the office of their local general registrar by 5pm on Thursday, October 15th
  • By mail postmarked on or before Thursday, October 15th
  • Online at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo through 11:59pm on Thursday, October 15th
  • To an NVRA designated state agency, such as the DMV or a social services office, by October 15th

Currently registered Virginia voters and eligible Virginians that have already submitted a registration application do not need to take any additional action.

Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper stated, “The Department welcomes today’s court decision to extend the voter registration deadline through Thursday, October 15th. This gives eligible Virginians additional time to register or update their current voter registration record. We encourage Virginians to access the Citizen’s Portal at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo today or use one of the many other options available for registering to vote.”

In addition to registering to vote, Virginians may also check their current voter registration status, find their polling location and apply for an absentee ballot on the Department’s Citizen Portal at elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo.

Letter to the Editor - GO VOTE!

Dear Editor:

There is nothing more ominous or straight forward that can be said other than:

GO VOTE!

As a citizen of the United States of America, we have an obligation in our Constitution and duty to our nation, family and fellow citizens to exercise our right to VOTE!  

In history some of our ancestors were enslaved and were counted as three-fifths of a person and couldn’t VOTE, some were never allowed to vote because of their sex - they were women, yet others were charged poll taxes or asked to play the guessing game of gum drops in a jar before they were allowed to VOTE, if at all.  While others made the ultimate commitment – they died and were beaten so that ALL of us could participate in free and open elections.

If you will be 18 on or before Election Day – go register to VOTE!  If you have registered but have not exercised your right to VOTE in years – check your registration and register again, if need be, to VOTE!  If you have moved from your previous address go now and update your address so that you will be able to VOTE!  If you have never registered to VOTE and you finally realize that this election is THE most important election of your lifetime, which it is, go register and then VOTE!!!

Be a significant part of history – for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth we are allowed to VOTE early!  Early voting started on September 18th and will end on October 31st. If you want to be counted but don’t want to be in the crowds come Election Day take this opportunity to go by your respective Voter Registrar’s office either in the County at Government Building,1781 Greensville County Circle, Emporia or in the City at the Municipal Building, 201 South Main Street, Emporia during hours of operation and VOTE!

You may still request an Absentee Ballot with no excuse necessary by Friday, October 23rd. Your ballot may be mailed back to the Registrar’s Office or you may drop it off in person to avoid the rush!  If you should not feel comfortable having someone to witness your Absentee Ballot Envelope you are permitted to return it without a witness’ signature during this election due to COVID-19.

If you feel nostalgic and are compelled to VOTE in person on Election Day you may still do so!  The polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. however, remember to mask up and keep your social distance to protect the Election Officials, fellow citizens and yourself most of all!

As Chair of the Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee, I implore you to cast your VOTE for a well-qualified and most experienced team!  This year we have incumbents Mark Warner for the United States Senate and Donald McEachin for the United States House of Representatives!  At the top of our superior ticket we have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!  Our team of Leaders will protect Social Security and Medicare while rebuilding our economy and creating and attracting jobs here in Virginia while they will work with public health experts to defeat COVID-19.  In their efforts to continue to work hard for us they will seek to expand access to healthcare and lower prescription drug costs – much needed help for a healthy and industrious middle class!

Our candidates are hard working and will continue to fight to put our Nation, State, County and City in the forefront! They know that we work hard and they will work even harder to return our Country to be the envy of the world!

And on the Constitutional Amendments, VOTE NO on Number 1 and YES on Number 2!

For an Emporia-Greensville Dems Sample ballot please go to our Facebook page at “Emporia Greensville Democratic Committee”.  Feel free to refer to our committee’s sample ballots and use it as a guide when you VOTE!!!

If you should need a ride to the polls or have questions please, do not hesitate to contact us through our Facebook page or call 434.634.5499.

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! – It can’t be said enough!!!

Thank you,

George E. Morrison, 111

George E. Morrison, III, Chair

Emporia-Greensville Democrats

(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.)

VCU Health CMH Team Member of the Month for September 2020

Hannah Conway, Occupational Therapy Assistant

W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital presented Hannah Conway, Occupational Therapy Assistant, the VCU Health CMH STAR Service Team Member of the Month Award for September.  There to congratulate Hannah was Todd Howell, Vice President of Professional Services, Donna Jarrell, Director of Rehab Services and Mike Simmons, Respiratory Manager.

Hannah has been employed at VCU Health CMH for two years.  The nomination form submitted on her behalf stated, “Hannah is such a caring team member.  She willingly stayed late to help with patients without a hint of frustration, only smiles and warmth.  She went above and beyond to make sure I was safe when seeing patients.  She is a selfless team player and I can’t thank her enough.

When asked what words of wisdom she would give other employees, Hannah stated, “If you can spend a little extra time with a patient to meet their needs it can really make their day."  Hannah also added, “CMH is a great place to work, everyone works together so well as a team.” 

In addition to the “star” award, Hannah received a STAR Service lapel pin, letter of commendation from Administration, a $40 gift certificate, and a parking place of her choice for the month.

Hannah currently resides in Brodnax, VA.

SBA and Treasury Announce Simpler PPP Forgiveness for Loans of $50,000 or Less

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, today released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Today’s action streamlines the forgiveness process for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less and thousands of PPP lenders who worked around the clock to process loans quickly,” he continued.  “We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds.  We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”

“Nothing will stop the Trump Administration from supporting great American businesses and our great American workers. The Paycheck Protection Program has been an overwhelming success and served as a historic lifeline to America’s hurting small businesses and tens of millions of workers. The new form introduced today demonstrates our relentless commitment to using every tool in our toolbelt to help small businesses and the banks that have participated in this program,” said Administrator Jovita Carranza. “We are continuing to ensure that small businesses are supported as they recover.”

SBA and Treasury have also eased the burden on PPP lenders, allowing lenders to process forgiveness applications more swiftly.  

SBA began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for PPP borrowers on October 2, 2020.  SBA will continue to process all PPP forgiveness applications in an expeditious manner.

Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application.

Click here to view the instructions for completing the simpler loan forgiveness application.

Click here to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.

Transferrable Success

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Every October, the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students celebrates National Transfer Student Week. This year Southside Virginia Community College will participate with a Virtual Transfer Fair, which will run October 19–23, 2020.

Plans are underway for an informative, participatory event that can be experienced through socially distant conditions. Institutions to which SVCC students frequently transfer will provide informational videos and have personnel available for scheduled meetings using Zoom video conferencing technology. Students will be able to attend through in-person options at SVCC’s two main campuses or from their homes.

For many students, time spent at SVCC represents a first and foundational step in a longer postsecondary academic journey. At the end of the 2018-19 school year, more than 150 students transferred from SVCC to four-year institutions. Nearly 100 had earned an Associate’s degree, awarding them credit for two full years of academic achievement. Other students focused on earning specific credits that enabled them to skip prerequisites and be better prepared for success in advanced coursework.

About two-thirds of transferring SVCC graduates head to one of Virginia’s public four-year institutions. Popular destinations include Old Dominion University, Longwood University, Virginia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and James Madison University. Other students prefer private, nonprofit institutions, such as Liberty University and Mary Baldwin University. To ensure students’ future successes, SVCC maintains transfer and guaranteed admissions agreements with more than 30 of Virginia’s colleges and universities.

The Agribusiness program, established by Dr. Dixie Dalton, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, provides an example transfer pathway. Dr. Dalton recently talked with sisters Dottie and Cassie Long, who completed Associate of Arts and Sciences degrees with an emphasis in Agribusiness and then transferred to Virginia Tech, where they went on to earn bachelors’ degrees in Animal Science.

Cassie told Dr. Dalton, “One of the best decisions I made in my college career was enrolling at SVCC with plans to transfer to Virginia Tech. I say this because my experience at SVCC helped me transition into college smoothly, complete general education classes in a smaller setting, and focus solely on Animal and Poultry Sciences courses while at VT.”

Dottie reported a similar experience, “Completing my first two years at SVCC helped me transition into the college life. I enjoyed the smaller class sizes at SVCC, then jumped right into my major at VT. Also, having a good advisor in my corner that helped me take the classes I needed to transfer helped a lot.”

Dottie and Cassie now work managing Long’s Farm Supply in Brookneal, a family-owned store that meets the needs of local farmers and homeowners. Cassie is also pursuing graduate studies and may eventually become a high school agriculture teacher.

Like these sisters, all students who start their academic journeys at SVCC before transferring to a four-year institution can benefit from SVCC’s outstanding student support, advising, and financial aid services. They can also save money because the annual tuition bill at SVCC comes to half or one-third of the tuition at public four-year institutions. Furthermore, by beginning an academic journey close to home, students and their families save on the added costs of room and board.

For more information about SVCC’s transfer programs and the Virtual Transfer Fair, contact Matt Dunn, Career and Transfer Counselor, by phone at 434-736-2020 or by email at matt.dunn@southside.edu.

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.

Governor Northam Directs More Than $220 Million in CARES Act Funding to Virginia’s K-12 Schools

All 132 school districts to receive at least $100,000 for COVID-19 preparedness and response

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new allocation of more than $220 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to help K-12 public schools in Virginia. The funding will support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures for the 2020–2021 school year, including testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitization, and technology for distance learning. Funding will be distributed to all 132 public school districts using an allocation formula of $175 per pupil based on fall enrollment, with a minimum of $100,000 for each school division. 

“Students, teachers, principals, and parents are going to great lengths to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic amid a new school year, and we must do everything we can to support them,” said Governor Northam. “This additional $220 million in federal funding will give our schools the resources they need to continue operating and provide Virginians with a world-class education, whether safely in person or remotely from home.” 

This funding will supplement $66.8 million provided to Virginia through the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and an additional $587.5 million allocated to the Commonwealth in May under the CARES Act. This included $238.6 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund for K-12 activities. Additionally, the CARES Act provided $343.9 million for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

“This funding is critical as we continue to provide safe, high-quality education for Virginia students,” said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “I am grateful to Governor Northam for his ongoing support of public education—and I can assure you that his funding will immediately be put to good use.”

Governor Northam was one of the first governors in the country to close schools for in-person instruction when COVID-19 began to spread quickly during the 2020 spring semester. Virginia school divisions have been working overtime to adapt during the fall semester, and many continue to face challenges associated with maintaining public health protocols and increased technology needs. In June, the Commonwealth provided guidance for the phased reopening of PreK-12 schools, including guidelines for safely resuming in-person instruction and school activities.

“We applaud Governor Northam’s commitment of more than $220 million in federal CARES Act funding to our public schools,” said Dr. James Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association. “COVID-19 has brought huge new challenges for our students and educators, and members of the Virginia Education Association have made clear throughout the pandemic that additional, necessary services require additional funding. This action will help keep our students safe, healthy, and learning.”

“Virginia’s teachers are heroes, and they are doing an incredible job in the midst of this pandemic,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This funding will help ensure the safety of students, families, and teaching staff, all while providing critical support for our most at-risk students.”

“School divisions, teachers, and families are working overtime for the safety and wellbeing of Virginia’s students,” said Senator L. Louise Lucas. “Whether this funding is used for personal protective equipment, testing, or technology for distance learning, it will help keep our children safe and ensure no student is left behind.”

“This pandemic has disproportionately impacted vulnerable Virginians, including our most at-risk students,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler. “I am grateful to Governor Northam for this additional support, which will increase access to education for all families—including those who need it most.”

More information on the amount of funding allocated to each school division can be found here.

Civil Rights trail adds 12 new sites with focus on education struggle

By Noah Fleischman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The half-mile road leading to a park in Prince Edward County was packed with cars parked on one side and a park ranger directing traffic on the other side. This was a normal 1950s summer day at what was then the only state park for African Americans in Virginia.

Prince Edward State Park for Negroes, as it was then called, could draw up to a thousand African American visitors per day that could rent bathing suits and cabins overnight.

“It was a place for people to recreate and be—they didn’t have that opportunity in other places,” recounted Veronica Flick, Twin Lakes State Park manager.

Prince Edward State Park was adjacent to Goodwin Lake Recreational Area where only whites patrons were allowed. The two areas merged and were renamed Twin Lakes State Park in 1986, according to the park’s website.

Twin Lakes is one of 12 new sites added this fall to the Virginia’s Crossroads Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail spanning Central and Southern Virginia. The trail was established in 2004 and focuses on the struggle African Americans, Native Americans and women faced to receive an education in the commonwealth.

The parks were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program established by Congress to help men find work during the Great Depression. Twin Lakes was added to the trail because of the education the CCC provided to African Americans who helped build the park in the 1930s. The builders were taught framing and roofing skills, Flick said.

“In ‘those days,’ education was the most important and it was denied,” said Magi Van Eps, tourism coordinator for Prince Edward County. “If you were not a white male, you didn’t have access to an education.”

The impact of being on the trail brings more attention to Twin Lakes and its history, Flick said.

“For us to be a part of this trail, it not only brings more awareness to what the history of this park is, and its importance to so many people,” Flick said.

The park has added roadside historical markers, explaining the origins of Prince Edward State Park. One sign on the grounds of the park tells the story of Maceo Martin, who sued the state when he was denied access to Staunton River State Park. The lawsuit led Virginia to add the Prince Edward State Park for African American visitors to follow the “separate but equal” law at the time.

The trail also has added stops at Greensville County Training School in Emporia and Buckingham Training School in Dillwyn, according to Van Eps. The sites were Rosenwald schools, established by former Sears President Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington to help Southern, African American children and teenagers receive an education.

The expansion of the trail 16 years after its establishment was a result of additional funding. The trail was originally envisioned to have more than 60 sites, Van Eps said. Instead, the trail was only able to add 41 sites using a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“There were all these other sites that were still very important, but they were overlooked at that time just because there wasn’t enough funding to fund them all,” Van Eps said.

After receiving $70,000 in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission in 2020 the trail was able to add a dozen more sites. Virginia’s Crossroads matched the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission funding.

The L.E. Coleman African-American Museum in Halifax and the Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden Sydney in Prince Edward County were also added to the trail during the expansion. Bobby Conner, who helped found James Solomon Russell-Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives, another site on the trail that displays the history of the historically Black college that closed in 2013, said the additions couldn’t have happened at a better time.

“The expansion of it has come at a perfect time with everything that’s gone on this past spring,” Conner said, referring to the protests that took place in Virginia and around the country after George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minnesota.

“Anybody that goes along this trail will learn incredible amounts of history on what the struggle was from right after the Civil War all the way up until recently,” Conner said.

WARNER URGES FACEBOOK, TWITTER & GOOGLE TO REINFORCE EFFORTS AGAINST POLITICAL CONTENT ABUSE AHEAD OF NOVEMBER ELECTION

~ Pushes social media giants to fully embrace the requirements of his bipartisan Honest Ads Act ~

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged Facebook, Twitter, and Google to implement robust accountability and transparency standards ahead of the November election, including requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act – bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Warner to help prevent foreign interference in elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.

In individual letters to FacebookGoogle, and Twitter, Sen. Warner detailed the various ways in which each company continues to contribute to the spread of disinformation, viral misinformation, and voter suppression efforts. He also warned about the imminent risk of bad actors once again weaponizing American-bred social media tools to undermine democracy ahead of the November election, and urged each company to take proactive measures to safeguard against these efforts.

In his letter to Facebook, Sen. Warner criticized the platform’s efforts to label manipulated or synthetic content, describing these as “wholly inadequate.” He also raised alarm with instances of Facebook’s amplification of harmful content.

“The pervasiveness of political misinformation on Facebook – and the ways in which your company chooses to amplify it – was on display just this week, when a baseless conspiracy about Vice President Biden was highlighted on Facebook’s own News Tab, a result of Facebook choosing to amplify The Daily Caller as a verified news publisher and fact-checker despite its long track record of promoting false information,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “More broadly, Facebook has repeatedly failed to ensure that its existing policies on political advertising are being enforced– an issue that my colleagues and I recently raised in a separate context relating to Facebook’s failure to enforce its policies against violent far-right organizations.  Facebook has long been accused of facilitating divisive advertisements from dark money groups.  A recent report by Avaaz revealed that despite Facebook’s claims to prohibit false and misleading information in ads by outside political groups, it allowed hundreds of such ads in key swing states earlier this month to be run by super PACs.  And despite your personal pledge to stamp out voter suppression efforts on Facebook, a recent report by ProPublica revealed that voting misinformation continues to flourish on Facebook.”

Similarly, in a letter to Google, Sen. Warner raised concern with the company’s efforts to combat harmful misinformation – particularly disinformation about voting, spread by right-leaning YouTube channels. He also criticized the comprehensiveness of Google’s ad archive, which presently excludes issue ads.

“Concerns with the comprehensiveness of Google’s archive extend beyond simply Google’s under-inclusive policies. Prominent researchers have identified multiple glaring examples where qualifying political advertisers have been omitted from the ad archive… Moreover, a marketer recently demonstrated how easy it is to circumvent Google’s verification systems for political ads – running a series of search ads, targeted to run alongside election-related search queries, that attacked Presidential candidates without being included in Google’s ads database or being accompanied by a disclaimer,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Further, researchers found a particularly egregious example of election disinformation – spread via Google search ads – that ostensibly targeted to users looking for information about voter fraud.  The ad would not appear in Google’s ad archive, given its exclusion of issue ads; moreover, the ad clearly violated ad policies relating to “claims that are demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” The same researchers have found similar ads promoting false information about the election  – ostensibly indicating a systemic failure by Google in enforcing its advertising policies.”

In his letter to Twitter, which has banned paid political content and placed restrictions on cause-based advertising, Sen. Warner noted that doctored political content continues to spread organically without adequate labeling that slows its spread or contextualizes it for users. 

“I ask that Twitter examine and strengthen its synthetic and manipulated media policy as it applies to political misinformation – particularly in the context of organic content,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “I appreciate the leadership Twitter has demonstrated to take steps against the promotion of false, deceptive, and manipulated political content; however, more must be done to secure our political discourse from disinformation on digital platforms like yours. Under your company’s existing policy, manipulated media has still reached millions of users with only limited response from your platform. 

In all three letters, Sen. Warner urged the companies to reinforce their efforts against abuse of paid and organic content policies, and to more aggressively identify, label, and remove manipulated or synthetic media to prevent efforts to amplify disinformation by Russia and other bad actors, both foreign and domestic. Sen. Warner also posed a series of different questions for each company on a number of issues, including the availability of political ad targeting information, the enforcement of companies' own policies, the adoption of a bounty to remunerate researchers who identify policy violations, and the measures being taken to slow the coordinated dissemination of deceptive, synthetic, or manipulated media.

The Honest Ads Act, as introduced by Sens. Warner, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would safeguard the integrity of American democracy by requiring large online platforms to maintain public records of advertisers who purchase political ads. It would:

  • Amend the definition of ‘electioneering communication’ in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
  • Require digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. This file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Require online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

Sen. Warner has written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Among these are the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act – bipartisan legislation to require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data; and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act – bipartisan legislation to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose.

Virginia Raises a Glass to 32nd Annual Wine Month in October

Virtual Harvest Party celebrations held on October 17

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginians to celebrate the richness of Virginia wine and raise a glass to the 32nd annual Virginia Wine Month this October. The oldest wine month in the country, the annual celebration occurs as winemakers traditionally harvest grapes off the vine and prepare their next vintages. This year, the month-long festivities will be held in accordance with social distancing guidelines and culminate with multi-faceted virtual Harvest Party celebrations on October 17. 

Home to 312 wineries, Virginia is now the sixth-largest wine region in the United States. The Virginia wine industry generates an estimated $1.37 billion in economic impact and 8,218 jobs for the Commonwealth and drew more than 2.2 million tourists to Virginia wineries in 2015, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

“Virginia Wine Month is a time to honor the resilience and pioneering spirit that cultivated our world-class wines,” said Governor Northam. “Winemakers are no strangers to uncertainty, and the wine industry has demonstrated its ability to adapt and thrive despite the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic this year. This October, I encourage people across the Commonwealth to join me in celebrating the diversity, distinction, and unique character of our wine and the Virginians who make them.”

Virginia’s diverse landscape means winemakers have learned to listen to the land and craft wines that speak to the grace and grit of the Commonwealth. In recognition of their efforts and the end of the harvest season, the Virginia Wine Board has designated the third Saturday of October as the annual Harvest Party, a home-grown tradition that encourages revelers to gather safely in vineyards, restaurants, open fields, or virtual settings for a feast of Virginia food and wine.

“Nearly 50 years ago, a small group of Virginia winemakers embarked on an endeavor of viticulture, despite skepticism from the global wine community,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “This has yielded not only a thriving economic sector of agriculture and tourism, but also expressive and one-of-a-kind wines. Opening Harvest Party to a number of celebrations, in-person and virtual, allows Virginia wine fans anywhere in the world to join in on the festivities, and I hope to see those in the Commonwealth and beyond join me in raising a glass on October 17.”

Planned Harvest Party activities include virtual and socially distant events at vineyards featuring local food trucks, live music, and more, as well as restaurant-curated cuisine paired with a variety of Virginia Wine. Select wineries will offer “Harvest Party Bundles,” complete with wines and local artisanal foods. In partnership with SevenFifty Daily, a resource on the history and character of Virginia Wine can be found here

Individuals, wineries, restaurants, and retailers celebrating October Wine Month have access to how to-guides, seasonal recipes and wine pairing information and events planned across Virginia. Virginians can participate in a social media sweepstakes to win a virtual guided tasting with a local expert with tasty food and wine pairings included. As wineries begin to reopen, retailers and restaurants are participating in the Virginia Wine Board’s “Toast Our Local Bounty” program, which offers incentives to those creating Virginia Wine displays and by-the-glass and bottle promotions. Those interested in celebrating the richness of the region’s food, wine, and culture can visit the Virginia Wine Month homepage for more information.

To find out more information about Virginia wine and wine travel in the Commonwealth, visit VirginiaWine.org or click here to download the Virginia Wine App.

Library Increases Hours

Beginning Monday, October 5th, Meherrin Regional Library System increases hours open to the public. New hours are Mondays 10:00 am - 6:00 pm and Tuesdays – Fridays 9:30 am - 5:00 pm. Contact free and after hour locker service will remain available and bookdrops are open. Patrons must wear face coverings when visiting. Other restrictions may apply. For questions, please contact the Brunswick County Library, Lawrenceville at 434-848-2418, ext. 301, Richardson Memorial Library, Emporia at 434-634-2539 or visit www.meherrinlib.org.

 

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