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November 2017

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Career Opportunity

Residential Counselors

(Youth Service Workers)

 

Job#: 2017-10

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Virginia’s youth, then we want you to become part of our Team!  Rural Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility located in Jarratt, Virginia seeks positive role models to work directly with adolescent boys and girls in a psychiatric residential treatment program.  The Youth Service Worker is responsible for role-modeling healthy behavior, teaching life skills, administering a trauma informed behavioral support program, and leading youth in and participating in social, cultural, and recreational activities.  This position supervises youth in the residential unit and on off-campus activities and appointments.

Must possess the availability to work weekends, evenings, holidays, and nights.  Supreme flexibility required. 

Seeking candidates with Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, Sociology or other Human Services field.   Experience will be considered in lieu of a degree.

Compensation package includes 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision & life insurance.  JBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screen and criminal background screening.  EOE.  Positions opened until filled.

E-mail cover letter and resume to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Attn: Chris Thompson
Job # 2017-10
E-mail:careers@jacksonfeild.org

2017 Christmas Concert

Pictured: Tammy Hand, Wendy Keener, Darryl Keener, Patty Richardson, Dr. Julie Hawley, Patti Watson, Kathy Baird

GASBURG ~ The Pleasant Hill Christian Church located at 175 Ankum Road in Gasburg, Virginia cordially invites you to celebrate God’s greatest Gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, with “A Festival of Christmas Music” on Sunday, December 3, at 7:00 pm.  The Christmas Celebration will feature songs for everyone!  From Silent Night to Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, this concert is sure to usher you into the Christmas season.

The festive evening of Christmas music will be presented by Patti Watson, Kathy Baird, Wendy Keener, Darryl Keener, Patty Richardson, Tammy Hand, Dr. Julie Baird Hawley, and the Pleasant Hill Christian Church Youth and Adult Choirs.  The concert will benefit children and families of domestic violence in Brunswick, Sussex and Greensville counties.

Patti Watson is a member of Philadelphia United Methodist Church while, Kathy Baird, Patty Richardson, Wendy Keener, Darryl Keener, Dr. Julie Hawley and Tammy Hand are members of Pleasant Hill Christian Church. Together they will present medleys of familiar Christmas carols as well as songs of the season. Following the concert, you are also invited to a reception that will be held in the PHCC Family Life Center.

There is no admission fee or ticket required for the concert, however, a special love offering will be collected during the program for the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program which is a non-profit organization that is specially designed to help victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.  The Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit has been serving the citizens of the City of Emporia, Greensville, Sussex and Brunswick Counties for 29 years. The unit is available to assist victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is manned by a small group of staff and volunteers.

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 the Unit served 689 victims: 334 from Emporia, 185 from Greensville County, 128 from Brunswick County and 32 from Sussex County. 190 of the victims were under the age of 17, 97 were aged 18-24, 286 were aged 25-39, 100 were aged 40-59 and 16 were 60 and older. Helping people who are hurting and in need this Christmas season is what this event is all about. For more information regarding the concert please call the church office at (434) 577-2463.

Make Shopping Small Your Holiday Tradition

Locally-Owned Businesses Support Communities More than Large Chains

BY Acting SBA Regional Administrator Carl Knoblock

Saturday, November 25, 2017 is Small Business Saturday® – a day to celebrate and support small businesses for all they contribute to our local communities. Did you know that since 1995, small businesses generated 64 percent of new jobs, and paid 44 percent of the total United States private payroll? When we shop small –spending our money at locally-owned small businesses within our neighborhoods and towns – we help create two out of three net new local jobs.

Across the nation we are already seeing advertisements and news stories about which major chain is opening their doors on Black Friday, or even pushing employees to work on Thanksgiving Day! What you might not hear about, but should, are the mom and pop shops, the corner bakeries, and other locally-owned businesses that are competing with these national and international conglomerates. This holiday season, let’s recommit to keeping more of our hard-earned money local by supporting our neighborhood champions, America’s small businesses.

When you shop local, you’re putting your money right back into your town and neighborhood. Compared to chain stores, locally-owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community, which means more money for local police and fire departments as well as schools and other community supported infrastructure and services. Do the math: Small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes. And, for every $100 you spend at a locally-owned business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy compared to only $43 from the big guys.

This Small Business Saturday®, visit your Main Street merchants to find unique, handmade gifts, and unsurpassed service that you won’t find at a big-box retailer. Afterward, dine at a locally-owned restaurant, an industry employing 14 million Americans and generating $709.2 billion in sales - equal to 4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Many small restaurants are also more eco-friendly by serving local products.

To continue the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration Richmond District Office will do a series of “Where Are We” articles. These articles will showcase small businesses throughout the state of Virginia. Please subscribe to the Richmond District Office Govdelivery to receive articles. Remember to shop and dine small on Saturday, November 25. And, while you’re out shopping, make sure to tell us about it on social media using #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall to amplify your support. 

For more information on local Small Business Saturday events in your area, check out: www.sba.gov/saturday

Virginia Home-Schoolers Top 40,000 for First Time

By Will Thomas, VCU Capital News Service

Alycia Wright, a Short Pump resident, used to have her own classroom where each day she taught dozens of middle-school students. That all changed after Wright had her fourth child and decided to begin home-schooling her children.

“We tried it for a year, loved the freedom and we have not stopped,” she said.

A licensed middle school teacher for 12 years with a master’s degree, Wright initially made the switch to home schooling as a financial decision: It meant saving on private-school tuition for her two daughters. After experiencing a year in the home-schooling community, Wright was more than happy to continue home-schooling her children.

Wright’s children are among more than 1,000 home-schoolers in Henrico County, where the number of students being taught at home has risen 130 percent since 2006.

Home schooling involves more than just parents teaching students. Wright praises professionals from the community who are willing to teach her children and other home-schoolers.

“Our science teacher is a veterinarian,” Wright said. “The history teacher is actually the curator of the Virginia Historical Society.”

Last year, the number of home-schoolers in Virginia eclipsed 40,000 students for the first time – an increase of 50 percent in the past decade, according to newly released statistics from the Virginia Department of Education. The agency has been collecting and reporting data on the home education population since 1994.

If home-schoolers constituted a school division, it would be the seventh-largest district in the state.

“It’s become more commonplace, it used to be regarded as somewhat fringe,” said Karen Skelton, president of the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. The nonprofit group, which began in 1993, provides advice and other assistance to home-schooling families.

Skelton lives in Annandale in Northern Virginia. Both of her children are home-schooled graduates.

Skelton said that every month, she hears from families frustrated with their local schools. She believes this is a major reason why more Virginians are turning to home education.

“Customizing one's education to fit the learning style – to me, that has been the biggest (reason for the) increase,” Skelton said.

She said home schooling has grown in popularity nationwide with parents becoming more involved in their children’s education. “You learn together as a family, and you do more hands on things. People come to it with an idea of, ‘This could be a real positive experience and a new lifestyle.”

Another reason for the increase in home schooling is that parents want to provide hands-on help to their children who may have learning disabilities, said Yvonne Bunn, director of legislative affairs for the Home Educators Association of Virginia. That group was formed in 1983 – the first home education organization in Virginia.

Bunn said parents often approach her with questions about home schooling. “They ask me, ‘All right – give me the facts. Tell me what the outcomes are, and I want to make a choice that’s the best thing for my family.’”

Parents are especially concerned about their children’s academic success. Bunn tells them that home schooling produces excellent results.

“We have some of the highest levels of standardized achievement tests scores. Our kids are going to college; they are getting into universities with scholarships,” Bunn said.

Editor's Note: Homeschooling in Emporia-Greensville is down 38% from 2011.

Scams on the Rise, Dominion Energy Helping Customers Fight Back

  • Scams reports from customers rose 49 percent over last year
  • Customer education and awareness are best tactics to beat scammers
  • Dominion Energy offers tips to recognize scams and stay safe

RICHMOND, Va. – Utility scams are on the rise again in Virginia and across the country. Reports of scammers calling Dominion Energy customers threatening disconnection in exchange for immediate payment has increased by 49 percent since last year.

“Customers report that the caller ID on their phone says ‘Dominion’ when they are actually being contacted by a scammer,” said Marc Gaudette, director-Corporate Security, Safety & Healthat Dominion Energy. “They are told the power to their home or business will be cut within minutes if payment (usually via a pre-paid debit card or credit card) is not provided immediately. Customers are given a fake number to call for payment, and the recording is a copy of Dominion Energy’s own phone greeting.”

Dominion Energy reminds customers that it doesn’t do business this way.

“We never threaten customers with immediate disconnection when they are behind on their bills,” said Charlene Whitfield, vice-president-Customer Service at Dominion Energy. “We contact customers by phone or in writing multiple times to work out a payment plan before disconnection occurs. The payment plan never requires payment within an hour or less.”

Dominion Energy is working with local and federal law enforcement as well as other energy companies and utilities to monitor these scams. The best defense against scams is education and awareness. This year alone, nationwide scams awareness and education has resulted in the shutdown of more than 500 bogus phone numbers.

Dominion Energy does not:

  • Use aggressive threats to disconnect service (usually within an hour or less)
  • Insist on immediate payment, over the phone
  • Request a pre-paid card to be used for payment over the phone

But customers can protect themselves and their community by remembering:

  • Never purchase a pre-paid card to avoid shut off— we will not insist on just one type of payment. You can pay in-person at a designated payment center (locations listed here) or through your online account. All payment options available are listed here.
  • Verify what you’re being told about your account.Hang up and call us at 866-DOM-HELP to confirm whether or not a payment is due, not any other number.
  • Collect information from the scammer, such as phone numbers or names, to help us and law enforcement track and spread the word to customers. 

For more information about protecting yourself against scams, visit https://www.dominionenergy.com/scams.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces September & October 2017 Employees of the Month

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is pleased to announce the September and October 2017 Employees of the Month: Robin Duncan and Jakai Barnes. These employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior. As Employees of the Month, they each received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with co-workers and a cash prize.

 

September

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Sense of Ownership, September’s Employee of the Month, Robin Duncan, RN works in SVRMC’s Emergency Department. Ms. Duncan’s nomination included the following statement:  “Robin takes responsibility for all tasks assigned to her and ensures they are completed accurately and thoroughly.   She often takes charge of difficult situations without any hesitation, making sure that she does so in the best interest of the patient and the facility.   She is actively involved in the community and promotes SVRMC in a positive manner.  We are lucky to have Robin on our team.”

 

October

Nominated for the All-Star Award, highlighting several Standards of Behavior: Responsiveness, Attitude, and Commitment to Co-Workers, October’s Employee of the Month, Jakai Barnes, works in SVRMC’s Patient Access Department. Ms. Barnes’ nomination included the following statement:  “In addition to Jakai’s daily role as Insurance Verification Clerk, she steps in as PBX Operator, ED registrar, Outpatient Registrar, and Centralized Scheduler, as necessary.  She has the ability to wear many hats and takes pride in her work. She has a strong commitment to her co-workers as she is always willing to adjust her schedule for the needs of the department while maintaining a smile and a positive attitude.  She is an asset not only to the department, but also to SVRMC. “

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is an 80-bed, acute-care facility located at 727 N. Main Street in Emporia, VA. With a medical staff of more than 70 physicians representing over 25 specialties, SVRMC serves nearly 50,000 residents in Emporia and the surrounding communities. The medical center is conveniently located near Interstate 95, Hwy 58 and Hwy 301. For more information about SVRMC and the services it provides, please visit SVRMC.com.

Virginia’s Growth Alliance to Award up to $90,000.00 in Business Startup and Expansion Grants

Entrepreneurs, new business startups and existing business owners are invited to participate in Virginia Growth Alliance’s 2018 Regional Business Competition, “Growing Entrepreneurs Together” (G.E.T.).

The G.E.T. business competition is designed to cultivate local economic development by inspiring and supporting local entrepreneurs and existing businesses with a desire to expand in the VGA towns of Clarksville, South Hill, and the city of Emporia.

The competition will give rise to many budding entrepreneurs and expanding businesses that have been prepared through a free 6 week bootcamp-style workshop series provided by the experts at the Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC). These workshops will be instrumental in guiding participants through studying the feasibility of their proposed business, exploring business models, and developing successful business plans.

Multiple winners will be awarded prizes that range from $5k to $30k. Additionally, winners could receive other benefits that include access to a low-interest revolving loan funds, building lease rebates, local and regional business mentoring, and other local incentives to be announced.

“Although up to $30k is available for each award, we anticipate the majority of the awards to be around the $5-10k range”, explained competition organizer, Tina Morgan. “We are really excited to see what big ideas come in for the competition, and based on hat our residents and visitors are saying, we’re particularly hoping to see entries for Food Trucks, Restaurants, Brewery’s, Bakery’s, Retail, and maybe even Tasting Rooms.”

Applicants aren't limited to these communities; the VGA is hoping to see entries come in from across the country by entrepreneurs who desire to take advantage of local incentives to build in one of these named locations. “Small businesses are the lifeline of our communities around the Commonwealth. They provide jobs, they provide talent, and a sense of place.” said Jeff Reed, Executive Director of Virginia’s Growth Alliance.

“Entrepreneurship is a key component of our economic strategy, and we want to foster the development of these individuals and their ideas, particularly here in rural Virginia” Planning is underway for this exciting project and those interested are invited to join one of three upcoming (free) Lunch and Learn information sessions to be held in each of the named locations, beginning with Emporia on November 17th. Register for this session and find details about other upcoming information sessions, competition guidelines, and application by visiting www.thinkbiggervga.com and following the Get Cash links. The VGA is interested in knowing what types of businesses you’d like to see open in these areas, so you are invited to weigh in with your opinion at www.thinkbiggervga.com (click on Survey). By completing the survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a $100.00 Visa Gift Card.
For additional information or questions, contact Tina Morgan, Competition Organizer at the following email: tina@vagrowth.com or phone 434-200-8066. This initiative is made possible through seed funding from the DHCD, educational resources by the LSBDC, support and mentorship from state and local officials, additional funding resources by the SPDC, and planning and administration by the VGA. VGA includes the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward, and the city of Emporia.

William W. “Billy” Dickens

William W. “Billy” Dickens, 74, passed away Friday, November 10, 2017. He was born April 26, 1943, a son of the late Warren and Marie Dickens and was also preceded in death by a daughter, Billie Jo Dickens.

He is survived by his son, William S. “Shelley” Dickens and fiance’ Jeanna; three grandchildren, William J. “Joey” Dickens (Alexis), Taylor R. Dickens (Joshua) and Christian B. Dickens; two great-grandchildren, Joshua A. Moore, Jr. “L.J.” and Bruce S. Moore; two sisters, Gayle D. Gilliland (Deb) and Myrtice D. Pinelli (Tony) and a brother, Joseph Alston “Joe” Dickens (Tina); and a devoted former daughter-in-law, Tammy H. Dickens (Johnnie).

Billy was and is still our hero and remains the strongest man we ever knew. The family would like to express their appreciation to the doctors and nurses of the ICU and CLC at McGuire VA Medical Center for their compassionate care and concern for Billy and his family.

The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, November 15 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, November 16.

Interment with military honors will follow 3 p.m. at Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia, 10300 Pridesville Rd, Amelia, Virginia.

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

SVCC Student On a Supreme Path

During his sophomore year at Buckingham County High School, Ty’Leik Chambers made a decision that focused the course of his life and set him on an education and career path that he hopes will culminate with a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Although Ty’Leik was a strong student, he did not feel challenged. “I wanted to do something hard,” he says. So, Ty’Leik decided to apply for admission into the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia(GSSV).

The Virginia Governor’s School Program began in 1973 to help address the needs of academically motivated young people like Ty’Leik who thrive in a demanding, interdisciplinary environment.

 GSSV, one of 19 academic-year schools within the Governor’s School program, is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education in partnership with ten participating school divisions. Southside Virginia Community College hosts the school at its two main campuses. Students from Brunswick, Greensville, Mecklenburg (Park View High School), and Nottoway counties attend classes at SVCC’s Christanna Campus in Alberta. Ty’Leik and his classmates from Buckingham County High School along with their peers from Amelia, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg (Bluestone), and Prince Edward counties attend classes at SVCC’s John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville.

Laurie Michaelson, GSSV Director says, “We have wonderful students at GSSV, and Ty’Leik is a great example of our student body. He is intelligent, grounded, service minded, and motivated to learn.”

Ty’Leik credits his family for encouraging him. “My mom always promoted education. She encouraged me to apply to Governor’s School. She was my inspiration and was very supportive.”

His older sister was also instrumental. “Instead of reading just stories, she would read to me out of her text books. I still remember some of the facts she read.”

Now in his senior year, Ty’Leik reflects on his education journey so far, “It’s been way better than I expected. I have friends from other counties who are people like me, people who really value the education and opportunities they have and do not waste it.”

One of his teachers, Leslie Poling, says, “Ty'Leik is a wonderful student. He is equally adept at being a leader and a worker bee. He also knows when to take each role. I had him in chemistry last year and research this year. He is hard working, a high achiever, and able to work well with anyone.”

Research is a key component of the GSSV curriculum. All students are a required participate in the development and execution of an original, two-year research project. Ty’Leik’s project focuses on a safety issue. “If someone is cooking on a grill, it can start a fire if it is too close to the house.” With two other students, he is investigating a way to determine if the type of paint used on a building’s exterior impacts its risk of catching on fire. Ty’Leik and his group will present their findings at a research symposium to be held on SVCC’s Daniel Campus.

The opportunity to conduct and present original research makes an impressive entry on students’ college applications, and Ty’Leik has ambitious plans for his future. “After graduation, I would like to attend the University of Virginia with a double major in pre-law and American studies, or at least a minor in American Studies. After graduation from UVA, I’d like to go to Harvard Law School.” He also has his ideal career path plotted. “I’d like to become a district attorney, then a judge, and then a justice on the Supreme Court.”

He explains, “I grew up hearing stories of great African Americans who influenced and shaped the direction of our country.” Ty’Leik hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of these great Americans.

Ty’Leik is eager to take up that mantle of leadership and help steer the nation toward a brighter future. To students who may be considering applying to GSSV, he offers this advice: “Yes. It can be a challenge. But it can be overcome. Classes are hard but the relationships with the teachers and the knowledge they provide makes it possible. GSSV is a wise and smart decision.”

For information about GGSV, visit gssv.southside.edu

SVCC Student On a Supreme Path

During his sophomore year at Buckingham County High School, Ty’Leik Chambers made a decision that focused the course of his life and set him on an education and career path that he hopes will culminate with a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Although Ty’Leik was a strong student, he did not feel challenged. “I wanted to do something hard,” he says. So, Ty’Leik decided to apply for admission into the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia(GSSV).

The Virginia Governor’s School Program began in 1973 to help address the needs of academically motivated young people like Ty’Leik who thrive in a demanding, interdisciplinary environment.

 GSSV, one of 19 academic-year schools within the Governor’s School program, is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education in partnership with ten participating school divisions. Southside Virginia Community College hosts the school at its two main campuses. Students from Brunswick, Greensville, Mecklenburg (Park View High School), and Nottoway counties attend classes at SVCC’s Christanna Campus in Alberta. Ty’Leik and his classmates from Buckingham County High School along with their peers from Amelia, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg (Bluestone), and Prince Edward counties attend classes at SVCC’s John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville.

Laurie Michaelson, GSSV Director says, “We have wonderful students at GSSV, and Ty’Leik is a great example of our student body. He is intelligent, grounded, service minded, and motivated to learn.”

Ty’Leik credits his family for encouraging him. “My mom always promoted education. She encouraged me to apply to Governor’s School. She was my inspiration and was very supportive.”

His older sister was also instrumental. “Instead of reading just stories, she would read to me out of her text books. I still remember some of the facts she read.”

Now in his senior year, Ty’Leik reflects on his education journey so far, “It’s been way better than I expected. I have friends from other counties who are people like me, people who really value the education and opportunities they have and do not waste it.”

One of his teachers, Leslie Poling, says, “Ty'Leik is a wonderful student. He is equally adept at being a leader and a worker bee. He also knows when to take each role. I had him in chemistry last year and research this year. He is hard working, a high achiever, and able to work well with anyone.”

Research is a key component of the GSSV curriculum. All students are a required participate in the development and execution of an original, two-year research project. Ty’Leik’s project focuses on a safety issue. “If someone is cooking on a grill, it can start a fire if it is too close to the house.” With two other students, he is investigating a way to determine if the type of paint used on a building’s exterior impacts its risk of catching on fire. Ty’Leik and his group will present their findings at a research symposium to be held on SVCC’s Daniel Campus.

The opportunity to conduct and present original research makes an impressive entry on students’ college applications, and Ty’Leik has ambitious plans for his future. “After graduation, I would like to attend the University of Virginia with a double major in pre-law and American studies, or at least a minor in American Studies. After graduation from UVA, I’d like to go to Harvard Law School.” He also has his ideal career path plotted. “I’d like to become a district attorney, then a judge, and then a justice on the Supreme Court.”

He explains, “I grew up hearing stories of great African Americans who influenced and shaped the direction of our country.” Ty’Leik hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of these great Americans.

Ty’Leik is eager to take up that mantle of leadership and help steer the nation toward a brighter future. To students who may be considering applying to GSSV, he offers this advice: “Yes. It can be a challenge. But it can be overcome. Classes are hard but the relationships with the teachers and the knowledge they provide makes it possible. GSSV is a wise and smart decision.”

For information about GGSV, visit gssv.southside.edu

ALICE SMITH BIVENS

Alice Smith Bivens, age 81, of Emporia, VA, died Monday, November 13, 2017, at Dunlop House Assisted Living and Memory Center, Colonial Heights, VA.

Mrs. Bivens, was born in Greensville County, VA the daughter of the late Pender Lee Smith, Sr. and Virginia Harrell Smith; she was pre-deceased by two sons, Mike Lee and Joe Bivens.   She was a devoted mother and homemaker.

Surviving are: Her husband Billy Joe Bivens; two daughters, Pat B. Clary and her husband Wilson of Emporia, VA and Amy Pollard Lifsey of Roanoke Rapids, NC; A brother Alfred Smith and his wife Christine of Emporia, VA; 4 grandchildren, Heather Lifsey Barnes of Lucama, NC, Katie Clary Richardson of Gasburg, VA, Kelly Clary of Emporia, VA, Kendall Clary of Sutherland, VA; three great grandchildren, Ryan Barnes and Ben Barnes both of Lucama, NC and Kenzie Clary of Emporia, VA.

Graveside services will be held in Greensville Memorial Cemetery, Emporia, VA, Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at 2:00PM, with Rev, Rick Ragan officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6350 Center St., Suite 102, Norfolk, Va. 23502.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at: www.echolsfuneralhome.com

Fund Children’s Health Program, Va. Officials Tell Congress

By Alan Rodriguez Espinoza, VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Medical coverage for more than 60,000 children and 1,000 pregnant women in Virginia lies in the hands of Congress, which has yet to reach a decision on how to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

CHIP is an extension of Medicaid that provides government-funded health insurance to children and pregnant women from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance.

Congress missed the Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize federal funding for CHIP.

The problem is “one of benign neglect,” Karen Remley, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a press release. “As efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act dominated the agenda in the Senate, needed attention to CHIP was lost.”

In a letter to the Virginia congressional delegation, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said “partisan infighting and dysfunction” in Congress have jeopardized the state’s CHIP-funded program, called Family Access to Medical Insurance Security. McAuliffe and other Democrats blame Republicans for the problem.

McAuliffe estimated that 66,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia depend on FAMIS to receive medical services such as immunizations, checkups and even surgeries and cancer treatments.

Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services estimates that nearly 1,200 of those children live in Richmond.

In response to McAuliffe, U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican from Virginia Beach, said that “scaring families via press release is not helpful.”

“It is completely disingenuous to insinuate that I or any other member of the Virginia congressional delegation are ignoring reauthorization of this important program,” Taylor stated in a press release of his own. “In fact, the present delay is a result of a request by the minority party to further negotiations on offsets.”

U.S. senators including Virginia Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have expressed bipartisan support for the Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act, or the KIDS Act of 2017. If ratified, it would extend federal funding for CHIP through the 2022 fiscal year.

“Sen. Warner recognizes it is essential that CHIP is reauthorized,” said Jonathan Uriarte, his deputy press secretary. “And the KIDS Act is an imperfect but needed compromise to continue funding these necessary health care services for children.”

But the KIDS Act does not specify where funding for CHIP would come from.

On Friday, the House voted 242-174 to reauthorize CHIP under the Championing Healthy Kids Act. Democrats opposed the bill because it would cut more than $10 billion from public health and prevention programs funded by the Affordable Care Act and because it would raise Medicare fees for higher-income recipients.

Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, said on the House floor that the Healthy Kids Act would extend CHIP “without adding to our country’s deficit.” On the other hand, Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Richmond, said the bill is “loaded with poison pills that would undermine the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.”

According to the Department of Medical Assistance Services, CHIP in Virginia cost more than $304 million in fiscal year 2017, with most of the money coming from the federal government. McAuliffe said Virginia is expected to exhaust the federal funds by the end of January.

“Unless something changes, DMAS will be forced to send letters on Dec. 1, 2017, notifying families of the impending loss of coverage,” McAuliffe stated. “Enrollment will be frozen Jan. 1, 2018, and by Jan. 31, Virginia will have insufficient federal funds to continue the program.”

The House and Senate must agree on a bill before it can be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

McEachin, Costello, Evans, Ryan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to End Food Deserts

The “Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act” would incentivize food providers to expand access to healthy foods in underserved communities 

WASHINGTON – Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Ryan Costello (PA-06), Dwight Evans (PA-02) and Tim Ryan (OH-13) co-introduced the bipartisan Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act (HFAAA) to increase access to fresh produce available in low-income and rural areas of America.

“Every person, regardless of where he or she lives, deserves access to nutritious, affordable food, yet thousands of families in my congressional district live in areas where food access is a problem. I am committed to addressing hunger and food insecurity, which is why I introduced the Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act with my colleagues,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “By creating incentives for food providers to establish themselves in communities without access to fresh foods, this commonsense bill will help my constituents secure healthier food options for themselves and their families. We must do everything we can to eliminate food deserts.”

The bicameral, bipartisan HFAAA would create a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits who serve low-income and low-access urban and rural areas. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 37 million Americans live in a food desert. (*See chart below for data on food deserts in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.)

"Access to nutritious food should be an important aspect of every life” said Congressman Costello. “Under this legislation, grocery stores, farmers markets, and food banks that provide fresh, healthy foods would be encouraged to open, offer a permanent presence, or make renovations to their stores in underserved areas. Nutritious foods are linked to positive health outcomes, and this legislation is a step forward in making sure families can access the nutrients and food they need to be successful.”

“I truly believe when we change the narrative as it relates to healthy food options and provide greater access to nutritious food choices we can move the needle in terms of getting rid of food deserts, something I’ve focused a great deal of my time on throughout my entire career.  This bill is an example of a way to use the tax code to incentivize food merchants to help close the grocery store gap and change behaviors. We know diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and others, have a direct correlation to the foods we eat and to critical nutrients missing from our diets. Today, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to introduce the Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act. HFAAA is one of the tools in our toolbox that we can use to build healthier neighborhoods, block by block,” said Congressman Evans.

“Our food system is broken and ineffective. In a country where obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing, and where 37 million people live in food deserts, we cannot allow the status quo to continue. We must find new ways for all Americans to have access to fresh, healthy food. This legislation takes a big step in the right direction towards accomplishing that goal, and I’m proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress to get this done. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes economic sense to tackle a food system that is at the root of so much of our sky-high healthcare costs,” said Congressman Ryan.

USDA defines a food desert as an area where a grocery store is not available within a mile in urban communities or 10 miles in rural areas; and defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This bill expands on that definition by adding U.S. census tracts with a poverty rate of 20% (or higher) or a median family income of less than 80% of the median for the state or metro area. The legislation also defines a grocery market as a retail sales store with at least 35% of its selection (or forecasted selection) dedicated to selling fresh produce, poultry, dairy, and deli items.

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced a similar version of the HFAAA in August; Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) signed as a co-sponsor since the bill was introduced.

Full bill text is available here and bill summary is available here. For a map of areas in the United States that would qualify to be served as food deserts under this bill, click here.  

NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS WHO LIVE IN FOOD DESERTS, AS DEFINED BY USDA

(The listed localities are included in the 4th Congressional District)

 

Virginia Locality

# of Residents

Chesapeake

12,198

Chesterfield

14,188

Colonial Heights

2,629

Dinwiddie

5,720

Henrico

37,342

Hopewell

12,120

Petersburg

15,759

Prince George

8,543

Richmond City

60,545

Southampton

7,958

Suffolk

4,795

Sussex

6,377

 

*The population of Virginians who live in food deserts as defined in this bill.

Past members from once-segregated agriculture and home economics clubs are recognized and honored by Gov. McAuliffe in a formal proclamation

Attendees at the VSU Agriculture Alumni Banquet Friday night where 62 NFA and NHA alumni were honored.

Sixty-two former members of the New Farmers of America (NFA) and New Homemakers of America (NHA) were honored by Virginia Gov. Terry R. McAuliffe Friday night, Nov. 3, at a Virginia State University (VSU) reception. The governor, via video, announced a formal proclamation that recognizes “the contributions and achievements of members of the New Farmers of America and New Homemakers of America in our Commonwealth of Virginia, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.”

Dr. Basil Gooden, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry, read aloud the proclamation, which also acknowledged that “Virginia State University recognizes how the NFA and NHA organizations since their inception are deeply-rooted in the rich history of Virginia, its land-grant institutions, and how their values and principles have been etched into the fabric of modern day vocational education programs across the Commonwealth.”

The proclamation also acknowledged, “The Agricultural Alumni Association of Virginia State University has maintained a steadfast commitment to preserving the history of these organizations and recognizing the accomplishments of its members.”

The NFA’s history is rooted at VSU and is a result of the vision of three men: George Washington Owens and J.R. Thomas, both teacher trainers at Virginia State College (now VSU); and Dr. H. O. Sargent, federal agent for agricultural education, U.S. Office of Education. In 1927 these three visionaries organized the New Farmers of Virginia, one of the first organizations in the country aimed at promoting the success of farm youth.

While Owens wrote the constitution for the New Farmers of Virginia and helped lay the foundation for what would later become a national organization (NFA), Sargent lobbied within the Department of Education to officially create an organization in segregated schools. As the idea grew in popularity, chapters formed sporadically throughout the southern states and region. State associations emerged next and then sectional associations based on proximity. These sections held conferences and contests unifying the state associations until a national organization, NFA, was officially created in Tuskegee, Ala. on August 4, 1935. Its objective was to promote agriculture education, leadership, character, thrift, scholarship, cooperation, and citizenship among African-American youth, primarily in the southern states, where schools were segregated by law.

Owens is today recognized as the “father of NFA” and has a building named after him on VSU’s campus, where the majority of the agricultural classes are taught.

As Virginia played a leadership role in the development of a national organization for African-American boys interested in agriculture, so did it for white boys with a similar interest. In 1925, Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech) organized the Future Farmers of Virginia for white boys in agriculture classes. This Virginia organization became the model for the national Future Farmers of America (FFA), founded in 1928 to bring together white students, teachers and agribusinesses to solidify support for agricultural education.

In 1965, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the desegregation of public schools, the African-American NFA and the white FFA merged into one national organization under the FFA name. Today, the FFA remains committed to students of all colors and races, providing a path to achievement in leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

While girls were not permitted to join the NFA or the FFA in its early years, similar home economics organizations were established for them as early as 1920, but these clubs were not nationally organized until 1945. At that time the New Homemakers of American (NHA) for African-American girls and the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) for white girls were established as national segregated organizations. Like their male counterparts, the two organizations merged in 1965 under the name FHA, and in 1999 changed its name to the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

Over several decades the NFA and NHA contributed extensively to organized instructional programs for African-American youth in public schools, who sought to develop their vocational skills, social lives, and pursue careers in agricultural education and home economics. Virginia-chapter members have held leadership positions at local, state and national levels, and have been recognized and received awards for their achievements. Both organizations are rooted in VSU’s rich history and have been instrumental in the development of modern day vocational education programs.

The reunion was hosted by the VSU Agriculture Alumni Association and was included as part of the group’s 36th Annual Recognition Banquet. VSU’s Agriculture Alumni Association is committed to preserving the history of the NFA and NHA and recognizing the accomplishments of its members. More than 165 total guests attended the banquet.

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick. 

Maggie Leonard Lewis

Maggie Leonard Lewis, 88, of Stony Creek, passed away Thursday, November 9, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was the widow of H. Garnett Lewis and was also preceded in death by her daughter, Martha Lewis Rideout. She is survived by her son, H. G. Lewis, III and wife, Kay; son-in-law, David Rideout and wife, Helen; five grandchildren, Jamie Lewis and wife, Brandy, Chuckie Lewis, Katie Poarch and husband, Doug, Kevin Rideout and wife, Shannon and Louise Brucato and husband, Joe; nine great-grandchildren, Taylor Gill, Carter Lewis, Austin Lewis, Grace Lewis, Kaitlyn Poarch, Makenna Poarch, Kelsey Rideout, Luca Brucato and Martha Brucato; a brother, John Leonard and wife, Ruby of Disputanta; a sister, Betsy Critz of Richmond; devoted brother-in-law, Roy Lewis, Sr. and a number of devoted nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Sunday, November 12 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, November 13. Interment will follow at Lewis Family Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Sappony Baptist Church, 9183 Huske Rd., Stony Creek, Virginia 23882. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

Stuart J. Barnes

Stuart J. Barnes, 60, of Emporia, passed away Tuesday, November 7, 2017. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.  

"All Are Heroes"

Do not judge the soldier's valor
By the medals they have won
many loose their lives or members
Long before the battle's won.
 
Instead treat them all as heroes
Dedicated one and all
Fighting for our country's freedom
Fearing not what might befall.
 
Comfort all that feel the trauma
Give hand to all those in need
Show respect for all the branches
For we need them all indeed.
 
Pray for his and her encounters
Knowing none shall be the same
Faith and trust will sure be needed
Because keeping peace is not a game.
 
Make a bond with those around you
Show them all you really care
We're indebted for the freedom
They have given me and you.
 
Roy E. Schepp
Emporia, Virginia

DJJ INVESTS SAVINGS FROM FACILITY CLOSURES INTO NEW EVIDENCE-BASED FAMILY THERAPY PROGRAMS ACROSS VIRGINIA

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) Makes Family Members Key Part Of Rehabilitation

Richmond, VA, Nov. 3 – The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), using the savings realized from closing Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center earlier this year, is adding Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a highly-regarded evidence-based model, to its growing continuum of community-based services available to court-involved youth in traditionally underserved areas of the Commonwealth.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an empirically grounded, well-documented and highly successful family intervention program for at-risk youth. FFT has been applied to a wide range of youth and their families in various multi-ethnic, multicultural contexts. Target populations range from at-risk preadolescents to youth with very serious problems such as conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse.  While FFT targets youth aged 11-18, younger siblings of referred adolescents also often become part of the intervention process.

FFT is being used in 11 countries and has more than 300 sites serving more than 50,000 families each year. FFT has been conducted both in clinic settings as an outpatient therapy and as a home-based model.

“In almost all cases, a child’s family is a critical part of their life and rehabilitation,” said DJJ Director Andy Block. “And yet, Virginia has lacked evidence-based family interventions in much of the state. With these new programs, and those we will add in the coming months, we will provide highly effective evidence-based programs for high-risk youth and their families, programs which research shows cost less, and gain better outcomes, than incarceration. “

“FFT has proven itself effective time and again, because it targets the known causes of delinquency: family relations, peer relations, school performance, and community factors,” said Valerie Boykin, DJJ’s deputy director of community programs. “One of our key goals as we continue to transform our agency is to keep court-involved youth in their communities, near family support whenever possible, and out of an institutional setting. FFT will play a major part in making this happen.”

The first two FFT teams are located in Suffolk and Petersburg, and include probation and parole referrals from the following cities and counties, all within a 90-minute drive:

  • Eastern FFT Team (Provider: Western Tidewater Community Services Board):Suffolk, Franklin City, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Accomack, Northampton, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Poquoson, York, City of Williamsburg, James City.
  • Southern FFT Team (Provider: Family Focus): Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Nottoway, Amelia, Powhatan, Hopewell, Surry, Greensville, Emporia, Prince George, Brunswick, Sussex, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Henrico, Richmond, Charles City, New Kent.

Last month DJJ added a similar and equally effective model of family intervention, Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) to its continuum of services.  DJJ plans to implement FFT or MST in more than 100 jurisdictions by the end of 2017. 

DJJ began a major transformation just over three years ago using research and data to introduce new practices and programs that have proven to provide better outcomes for youth.  The transformation includes the development of a continuum of evidence-based services across the Commonwealth for youth before the court.  The population of committed youth has dropped significantly in recent years, thus reducing DJJ’s need for correctional center beds.  The continuum is being funded in part by reinvestment funds made available through the downsizing of DJJ’s large correctional facilities.

VSU's Randolph Farm Hosts Popular Ginger and Turmeric Field Day

Virginia State University (VSU) is bringing back its ever-popular Ginger and Turmeric Field Day on Nov. 16, from 8 a.m. to noon at the university’s Randolph Farm, 4415 River Road, Petersburg, VA.

This Cooperative Extension event will include indoor classroom presentations and a visit to the fields where participants will learn about harvest, washing and market preparation for the two crops.

“Both ginger and turmeric are considered healthy spices. Nationwide, the consumption of ginger and turmeric has increased significantly,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, VSU Extension horticulture specialist. “Participants will learn about the proper conditions for growing and marketing ginger and turmeric.”

The event will feature several guest speakers, including Dr. Shoba Ghosh, associate chair for research in the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, who conducts clinical research using turmeric; and Dr. Theresa Nartea, VSU Extension specialist in marketing & agribusiness, and Wanda Johnson, VSU Extension associate culinary demonstration specialist.

Local ginger growers Bill Cox from Casselmonte Farm, Michael Clark from Planet Earth Diversified, and Richard Harrison from the Farm at the Red Hill will share their experiences with participants and answer questions. Several buyers will also attend the field day and visit with potential new growers.

Ginger and turmeric are flavorful spices commonly used in cooking. Ginger is a flowering, herbaceous, perennial plant; turmeric is a plant in the ginger family. Each has medicinal properties that can be traced back thousands of years. Small farmers can produce these niche crops for health-conscious consumers.

Registration is $10 per person. To register visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information, or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Agriculture & Natural Resources Program office at (804) 524-5960 / (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Verghese Award Presented To Hafey

Lori Haley (Left) is a recipient of the K. George Verghese Memorial Academic Merit Award at Southside Virginia Community College.  The award is being presented by Patricia Archer(Right) , Association Professor of Practical Nursing Program.  Dr. Verghese was a dean at SVCC and instrumental in the establishment of the Registered Nursing and Practical Nursing Programs at the college.  

The K. George Verghese Memorial Academic Merit Award has been awarded to the outstanding Practical Nursing Program student of Southside Virginia Community College Christanna Campus.  Lori L. Hafey of Emporia, Virginia recently received the award.

The award was established by the Arts and Sciences faculty at the Christanna Campus of SVCC and supported by the Verghese family to commemorate the instrumental role played by Dr. Verghese in the establishment of both the Registered Nursing and Practical Nursing programs at the college.

Hafey is a Licensed Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate, a Nationally Registered Phlebotomist and Licensed Virginia Insurance agent.  She has served as a volunteer on the Greensville Rescue Squad for 17 years.  She is a 1998 graduate of Greensville County High School.  She is daughter of Dennis and Gwen Hafey of Bracey.  

Saunders joins Benchmark Community Bank

Kenbridge, VA, October 30, 2017 –Benchmark Community Bank is pleased to announce that Jim Saunders has joined the organization as Vice President/Senior Business Banker. Based out of Benchmark’s Lawrenceville branch location, the Emporia native will be primarily working with businesses in his hometown area to assist them with banking solutions designed to meet the unique needs of their operations.

“Jim has been part of the Southside Virginia business community for over 30 years,” said Senior Vice President/Business Banker Steve Creedle. “He brings a wealth of community knowledge and involvement that is a perfect fit for Benchmark’s unique model of business banking.”

A 2015 graduate of the Virginia Banking Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia, Saunders most recently worked in commercial lending and business development for an area community banking institution. He began his career in banking with Pace American Bank in Lawrenceville before taking the helm of his family’s Emporia business Saunders Gas & Oil, Inc., a position he held until 2001. He re-entered banking in 2005 as Market President for Gateway Bank & Trust in Emporia until 2014.

An active member of his community, Saunders serves as an elected Emporia City Council member for which he previously served as President. He is a member of the Main Street United Methodist Church where he sings in the Adult Choir and is a member of United Methodist Men. He is the current Board Chair for the Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville and is a member of the Community Youth Center (CYC), Ltd. in Emporia, as well as the Emporia Rotary Club. Additionally, Saunders is the boys’ junior varsity basketball coach for Brunswick Academy.

“Jim is an outstanding addition to our team,” said Benchmark President/CEO Jay Stafford in making the announcement. “His longstanding relationships throughout the Emporia area truly underscore Benchmark’s commitment to being part of the communities we serve through personal and institutional involvement, as well as our pledge to invest in the places we call home.”

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge, VA. Along with its twelve banking offices located through­out central Southside Vir­ginia, Benchmark operates loan production offices in Wake Forest and Henderson, NC.  The Lawrenceville branch is located at 220 W. Fifth Avenue. Since 2007, Benchmark has been named one of the Top 200 Community Banks in the nation by American Banker magazine. To learn more about Benchmark, please visit www.bcbonline.comor call the Lawrenceville branch at 434-848-6552.

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE PRODUCE OPIOID/HEROIN AWARENESS VIDEOS TO HELP STEM ABUSE & OVERDOSES

Alleghany County Sheriff Provides Testimonial to Tragedy of Addiction

RICHMOND – From March through July of this year, medical emergency departments across the Commonwealth each month have fielded more than 700 visits by Virginia residents for treatment for unintentional opioid/heroin or unspecified substance overdoses. Of those 700 overdose visits, approximately 160 resulted from heroin usage in June and another 150 in July. In the first half of 2016, fatal drug overdoses across the state increased by 35 percent.*

Even grimmer than the statistics are the stories behind each life impacted by an overdose and/or death related to opioid and heroin addictions. As a member agency of Governor McAuliffe’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse, the Virginia State Police has taken an active role in coordinating with federal, state and local law enforcement, public health agencies and first responders across the Commonwealth to combat, prevent and investigate opioid and heroin abuse and illegal distribution. Such efforts led to the collaboration of Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Drug Enforcement Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) C. Scott Wade and Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin W. Hall to collaborate on a video that tells the story of Sheriff Hall’s son, Ryan, and his battle with addiction. “Broken Dreams,” an emotional video testimony of the purposeful struggle to overcome addiction and persevere, is told from the deeply-personal perspectives of both Sheriff Hall and Ryan.

“This isn’t a story, it’s the real life account of what a young man and his family have had to go through in order to get their son and their lives back,” said SAA Wade, coordinator of the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force. “The fact that this is the child of a sheriff may be unique, but his story of addiction, the consequences and his daily struggle with staying drug-free are not. There are thousands across the Commonwealth in the same situation.”

The second video, “No Second Chance,” debuted recently on the Eastern Shore and follows the tragic consequences of a 20-year-old Accomack County woman who died from a heroin overdose in July 2016. Her mother and grandmother share their firsthand struggles to overcome the grief of losing a loved one at such a young age to heroin.

SSA Wade is working to have the videos integrated into opioid/heroin prevention programs across the Commonwealth and shown before audiences of all ages in schools, drug-prevention programs, treatment facilities, and community and civic groups statewide. “We cannot begin soon enough to further spread the message about the severely-addictive nature of opioids and heroin. The impact of opioid and heroin abuse is being felt in every corner of the Commonwealth. This video is designed to initiate discussion among parents and their children, teachers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and communities about what it’s going to take to stop and prevent the overdoses and deaths afflicting and overwhelming so many Virginians.”

Both videos can be downloaded from the VSP YouTube page:

Broken Dreams, Ruined Lives(Alleghany County) - https://youtu.be/f4g4AwKv2Hk

No Second Chance(Eastern Shore) - https://youtu.be/pW-_1QjeGLo

Southside Virginia Community College's Truck Driving Training Program Graduates from October 19, 2017.

Front Row, Left to Right: Shawn Allen (Farmville), Jonathan Wilmouth (Drakes Branch) ( also graduated from Diesel Tech), Robert Judy (Phenix), Jessie James, Sr. (Crewe). Back Row L-R: Dennis Seay (Instructor), Doug Kemerer (Instructor), Wesley Drake (Lawrenceville), Jarrett Coleman (Amelia), Tim Redd (Meherrin), Latwaun Robinson (Prospect), Ron Burk-Bryan (Kenbridge), Duncan Quicke (TDTS Coordinator) and Kurtis Jones, Public Safety & Recruiting for Abilene Motor Carriers. (Guest Speaker).  Next class at Pickett Park begins November 6, 2017.

Herman R. Kitchen, Jr., “Willie”

Herman R. Kitchen, Jr., “Willie”, 55, of Emporia, passed away Wednesday, October 31, 2017. He was a son of the late Herman and Elizabeth Kitchen. He is survived by his spouse, Kenneth Eanes; two daughters, Sara Chappell Myrick and Melissa Kitchen; four grandchildren; two brothers, Owen Kitchen and wife, Brenda and Calvin “Peanut” Kitchen; a sister, Juanita Kitchen and a number of nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held 7 p.m. Monday, November 6 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt where the family will receive friends prior to the service 5-7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to assist the family with funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com

New Breast Cancer Prevention Options

Is Genetic Testing Right for You?

Petersburg, VA– Since 1985, the U.S. has dedicated the month of October to a national focus on the screening, prevention and survivors of breast cancer. The increased focus on education, screening and lifestyle changes has been a critical tool in driving down both the number of deaths and new diagnoses of breast cancer.

Genetic testing has quickly become a more mainstream practice, both for human interest about our ancestry, and for the purpose of understanding how that ancestry might increase our risk for certain diseases. Recent medical news has focused on the BRCA genes and their role in increased cancer risks, and now there are affordable, at-home testing options for those with specific risk factors.

The two BRCA genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – normally help protect women from cancer. However, some women experience a mutation of these genes that can actually lead to cancer. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women with a BRCA gene mutation are seven times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 30 times more likely to get ovarian cancer, when compared with women without the gene mutations.

So, should all women be tested for the BRCA gene mutation? The experts say, absolutely not.

“It’s important to keep in mind that gene mutations are only a small part of the breast cancer story,” said Sasa-Grae Espino, MD, fellowship-trained Breast Surgeon. “It’s true that having an immediate family member with breast cancer can double your risk of being diagnosed. But it’s also true that more than 80% of women who get breast cancer have NO family history of the disease. There are many other factors, some inside and some outside of your control.”

Both the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the medical community agree there are certain risk factors that indicate a woman should seek genetic counseling, and BRCA testing if recommended after counseling:

  • A family history of someone having a positive BRCA mutation
  • Ovarian, tubal or peritoneal cancer at any age in a family member
  • Breast cancer in a family member before the age of 50
  • Triple-negative breast cancer before the age of 60
  • Male breast cancer in any family member
  • People of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • Two or more family members with breast cancer, on either side of the family

Beyond BRCA genes, there are more than 30 gene mutations associated with various types of hereditary cancer. Tremendous information can be gained through genetic testing, but it’s important to work with your physician and/or a genetic counselor to ensure you pursue the right options for you.

“Genetic testing is exciting, but in no way does it reduce the need for vigilance on the more prevalent risk factors for cancer,” said Dr. Espino. “A healthy, whole food diet, regular exercise, regular mammograms and a no-smoking policy, are still by far the most critical tools for reducing the risk of all forms of cancer. Genetic testing is another tool for early intervention and managing increased risk, and should be used judiciously.”

If you meet the criteria set by the USPSTF, talk with your doctor about the best prevention and genetic testing for you. To find a primary care physician, visit SRMConline.com.

About SRMC:

Southside Regional Medical Center (SRMC) is a 300-bed, acute-care facility located at 200 Medical Park Boulevard in Petersburg, VA. SRMC serves nearly 200,000 residents and boasts a medical staff of more than 380 physicians representing over 40 specialties. SRMC treats more than 60,000 patients annually in its Emergency Department and is a Level III Trauma Center. The medical center provides inpatient care for approximately 12,000 patients per year. SRMC is owned in part by physicians. For more information about SRMC and the services it provides, please visit SRMConline.com.

About Sasa-Grae Espino, Breast Surgeon

Fellowship trained in breast surgery, Dr. Sasa-Grae Espino practices at Southside Physicians Network in Petersburg.
Dr. Espino specializes in breast diseases, including the surgical treatment of breast cancer, benign diseases and managing high risk patients (genetic testing and counseling). Surgeries include biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies and
immediate breast reconstruction. She is an active member of the medical staff of Southside Regional Medical Center. For more information, visit SouthsidePhysicians.com or call 804-520-6730.

Advisory Commission on Student Success Scheduled to Meet

In May 2017, the Greensville County School Board established a 35-member advisory commission to engage members of the community in dialog about needed school improvements.

During the three meetings held last spring, members of the Advisory Commission on Student Success were committed to fulfilling the goals of understanding the needs, engaging in meaningful dialog, and making recommendations for improvement in key areas. Four primary recommendations came forth from the Commission’s work last spring.

The Commission recommended that the school division

  • Conduct a comprehensive strategic planning process;
  • Continue work in the areas of safety, security, supervision, and student discipline;
  • Implement systemic literacy instructional services that move student achievement forward; and
  • Strengthen the system for early academic intervention to address needs of students who do not master required grade level skills.

The Commission’s first meeting of the year is scheduled for 5:30 PM on Thursday, November 9th, in the Library/Media Center at Greensville County High School. The purpose of this meeting is to receive progress updates and discuss next steps.

Meetings of the Advisory Commission on Student Success are open for the public to attend.

POLICE INVESTIGATING HOMICIDE ON TEMPLE AVENUE

At approximately 08:40 am on October 28, 2017 the Emporia Police Department received a call for service in the 600 block of Temple Avenue.  Upon arrival Officers observed an open window and made entry into the residence to locate an unresponsive victim with apparent trauma to his head.  The victim was identified as James W. Webb of 606 Temple Avenue Emporia, Virginia.  The Greensville County Rescue Squad responded to the scene and Mr. Webb was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of the injuries he received from the unknown assailant(s).  In the course of the police investigation it was determined that the suspects took Mr. Webb’s 2015 Ford vehicle that was parked in the driveway at 606 Temple Avenue.  As a result of the missing vehicle the Emporia Police Department put out a nationwide broadcast for Mr. Webb’s vehicle being stolen.

The crime scene was processed by Lieutenant Jerry Wright, Sergeant Troy Hawkins of the Emporia Police Department and Special Agent Stuart Williams of the Virginia State Police.  Detectives identified, collected and packaged evidence from the crime scene and have been working on information and leads throughout Saturday. 

At approximately 8:30 pm Mr. Webb’s vehicle was located in Washington DC, with two male occupants.  The male occupants are in custody and detectives will be traveling to Washington, DC on October 29, 2017 to interview the two suspects in custody.  Police had received information throughout the day that the vehicle was in the Washington DC area and Metropolitan Police Officers eventually located it.

The Emporia Police Department offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of James Webb.  This tragic and senseless violence has no place in our society

If anyone has any information that can lead to the apprehension of the suspects involved in this crime are asked to call the Emporia Police Department at 434-634-2121 or the Crime Line at 434-634-1111.  

Pumpkin Patch Carves Out New Agribusiness Niche

In fairy tales, pumpkins turn into coaches; in Dundas, Virginia pumpkins turn into the latest successful agribusiness venture for one farm family. Producing and providing ‘genuine farm charm’ is the way the Parrish family has reinvented agribusiness on a four-generation piece of land in Lunenburg County called the Parrish Pumpkin Patch.

Currently, two students of the Southside Virginia Community College Agribusiness program have the cool job of working there as interns. Students gain hands-on experience to complement classroom training and determine if the responsibilities of the internship position match future full-time employment interests. The internship can also provide insights into many different facets of the business.

The Parrish’ family has been instrumental to the College’s Agribusiness program by providing internships and jobs to students. Casey Early of Keysville interns at the PPP. She has plans to continue her SVCC studies by transferring to Virginia Tech. Caitlin Lee of Kenbridge is also interning at the pumpkin farm and plans to continue studies online for her four-year degree. Other SVCC students who have been a part of the Patch team include Taylour Edmonds, Kelli Haizlip, Wade Bagley, Will Daniel and Taylor Robbins Edmonds said of her experience, “It was a job: I got paid, I worked, I hustled, I complained on occasion, I sweated, I organized, and so on. I did not, however, ever have a day at Parrish Pumpkin Patch that I did not look forward to.”

This innovative farm provides a great ‘lab’ for classes at the College. Recently, a class from the College spent a day at the farm observing the events as three school busloads of children descended.

PPP is a family affair and the idea was hatched by Liz and Jeff Parrish about nine years ago. With help from their three children and their parents, the venture has grown and morphed into a portion of the farm’s annual income. They grow pumpkins from seeds in flats, transfer to the ground and tend to them until harvest.

Besides getting a pumpkin at the patch, entertainment includes an Imax theater experience in a repurposed 75-foot silo, a hayride, trip through a corn maze, farm animals and corn bins to jump in. There are also places to take photos and picnic. The pumpkin patch operates seven days a week during the month of October.

Jeff Parrish noted that the farm combines the old with the new. He said they still farm soybeans, corn and pumpkins in a place where a dairy farm stood for forty years. The farm has been featured on the Virginia Is For Lovers website as a fall event.

The parrishpumpkinpatch.com website tells the whole story. As noted in the About Us section, “The family’s favorite part of the May-November process is the PEOPLE along the journey; their supporters and staff, returning faithfuls and all the newcomers, young and old. But especially, the gratification felt by being able to run the business at their farm, where at the end of each draining day, they can take a short walk to the back door of their humble abode, and crash.”

Eli Parrish, son and integral part of the operation, studied Agribusiness at SVCC and now attends Virginia Tech to complete a four-year degree. 

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