Archive for: January 13th, 2018

State News
Governor Ralph Northam delivers Inaugural Address
January 13, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Lt. Governor Fairfax, Attorney General Herring, Members of the General Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Court, Judge Tyler, honored guests, Pam, Aubrey, and Wes, my fellow Virginians.

I am truly humbled that you have taken the time to be with us on such a special day for our Commonwealth.

Today we carry out the peaceful transition of power.

Americans invented this ritual. It dates to our earliest days as a country.

It makes us American. And at this hour, more than 1.3 million Americans protect this right.

They serve in our armed forces overseas and right here at home. They put their lives on the line to protect our way of life and we should always be grateful for their sacrifice. Please join me in thanking them for their service.

If you ask the men and women who serve why they stepped forward, the answer is often the same:

I volunteered. Because it was my duty. Virginians understand that. Because our Commonwealth was founded on public service. But the way ahead hasn’t always been smooth.

In a church on a hill 15 blocks from here, Virginia’s first elected Governor helped launch the American Revolution when he cried, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

But at the bottom of that same hill, one of the country’s largest slave-trading markets was coming to life. A place where Virginians would sell men, women, and children for profit. Our history is complex in Virginia. It includes good things, and bad. But no other place on earth can claim it.

This unique heritage endows us with a responsibility to shape the future—to leave this place better than we found it. That’s the Virginia way. It’s a model that Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy have followed these past four years. Virginia is better off today because of them, and Pam and I are proud to have been their partners.

Two hundred thousand new jobs. $20 billion in capital investment. Voting rights restored for 173,000 Virginians. 10 million more school breakfasts served to children who need them. First state in the nation to functionally end homelessness among veterans. That’s a record to be proud of, and I am ready to build upon it!

The McAuliffe administration has been about putting the needs of the people you serve first. Those values defined my upbringing from the earliest days I can remember. My mother taught children who were learning English as their second language how to read. She worked in health care, nursing sick people back to health on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She volunteered with the hospice, comforting people in their final hours. he taught me that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all equal in the beginning – and in the end.

My father, who grew up on a farm on the Eastern Shore, served in the Navy during World War II, a member of America’s greatest generation. He became a Commonwealth’s Attorney and a judge just as his father had before him.

Before my brother joined the Navy and I joined the Army, my father always encouraged us to play sports. I think he knew we would learn the importance of teamwork and the fundamental truth that success isn’t about one person’s individual contributions, it’s about the team.

Watching the things my parents did, for our family and for our community, taught me a lot growing up. But the greatest lesson I learned came from watching how they did those things. Their humble and steady service to the people around them taught me what strength looks like. It taught me that you don’t have to be loud to lead.

I was blessed to grow up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and to call it my home. As a kid I spent hours behind our house, crabbing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. To this day that is where I find peace. When I was just old enough to take to the water myself, my dad helped me build a rowboat and launch it, with strict instructions: stay close to home. As I grew and became more comfortable, I began to take longer trips away from the shore, until I was ready to head out into the open water. I remember standing with my father as I prepared to embark, and like all good Dads, he knew I was nervous even before I did.

He said, Ralph, remember—when you get out there, you can always trust your compass. If things get dark or foggy, if you can’t find your way—keep your eye on the compass. It’ll always bring you home safely. He was right about that compass.

As I got older and took various jobs on the water, working on a deep sea fishing boat and as the captain of a ferry to Tangier Island, I came to trust that compass to guide me when the way ahead was not clear. My dad’s advice stayed with me when I reached the Virginia Military Institute and was given a different kind of compass, in the simple words of the VMI honor code:

“A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Those words have stuck with me all these years because they’re so clear. They have become a kind of moral compass for me. They always call me back home safely.

Virginia and this country need that more than ever these days. It can be hard to find our way in a time when there’s so much shouting, when nasty, shallow tweets take the place of honest debate, and when scoring political points gets in the way of dealing with real problems.

If you’ve felt that way, I want you to listen to me right now:

We are bigger than this. We all have a moral compass deep in our hearts. And it’s time to summon it again, because we have a lot of work to do. We’re going in the wrong direction on healthcare in Virginia and America. More people need coverage, not less.

It is past time for us to step forward together and expand Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginians who need access to care. We should also resolve together today to refrain from any effort to curtail a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her health. If we are going to build a healthier Virginia for everyone, we must address the public health crisis of gun violence.

Gunshots kill more people in Virginia every year than car accidents, but if you walk into the right gun show, it’s easier to get a firearm than it is to rent a car. I am ready to work with you to make Virginia safer by passing smart reforms that keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.

We have to acknowledge that the incredible economic progress we have made in Virginia has been uneven. As technology companies and sky scrapers rise in many regions, other parts of Virginia are watching blue collar jobs move out while the opioid crisis moves in. And those challenges are not limited to rural areas.

In far too many places in Virginia, your zip code determines not just how well you will do, but how long you will live. Here in our capital city, a child born two miles that way can expect to live to about age 63. But a child born five miles in that direction can expect to live 20 years longer.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that something’s wrong. The solutions to these problems are not easy. But we do know what they are. he way ahead starts with access to quality health care and public education for every Virginian, no matter whom they are or where they live.

It depends on smart interventions in the case of addiction or mental health challenges and a focused economic development strategy that connects the right people with the right skills and the right jobs.

As Governor, I will approach these challenges with the same skills I learned as a doctor.

Over the years I have taken care of thousands of children. Never once have they or their families asked me if I am a Democrat or a Republican, nor have I asked them. Each patient is a person in front of you, who’s sick. A child who needs your help, and who deserves every opportunity to thrive.

Doctors are taught that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make them better. A good doctor trusts science and brings no pre-conceived notions to the examining table.

A good doctor listens first, to what a patient is saying and not saying. A good doctor understands that a symptom may have a hidden cause. The pain in a child’s belly could be an ulcer, for example. Or it could be from hunger because the pantry at home is bare and the last time she ate was lunch at school yesterday.

We learn quickly that the problems patients are having are usually more complex than the symptoms we can see on the surface. And getting them back to health means devoting the time and resources it takes to alleviate those root causes.

As Governor, I will draw on these lessons. I will remember that Virginians didn’t send us here to be Democrats or Republicans – they sent us here to solve problems. I will remember that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.

The path to progress is marked by honest give and take among people who truly want to make life better for those around them. I will remember that treating symptoms of problems may be easy in the short-run, but getting to the root of the problem and solving it from the bottom up is always more effective in the long-run.

When we make decisions, we’ll apply this test.
• Does this action do the most good for the most Virginians?
• Have we been transparent with the public about what we are doing and why we are doing it?
• And finally, is there a better way forward that we haven’t yet considered?

The guiding principle of this administration will be simple: we will work together to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they’re from. We cannot rest until every family and every community has the same access to opportunity that others do.

Here are my personal commitments to you.
• I will always tell the truth.
• I will strive every day to maintain the trust you placed in me on Election Day.
• I will always put Virginia’s interests first.
• I will work with anyone whose policies help Virginia. And when they do not, I will oppose them.
• I will visit every city and county while I’m Governor, and every public college and university.
• I will continue to personally care for patients at RAM, Virginia’s Remote Area Medical clinic—and keep pushing to cover more and more Virginians.
• I will be there personally to welcome Virginia National Guardsmen and women when they return home from overseas.
• And my door will always be open to you.

Here’s the last commitment I make to you. And it’s the most important. It comes from an experience that has shaped the way I practice medicine and public service.

Shortly after I left the Army and began practicing as a child neurologist, I met a young couple whose son was living with severe autism. I examined the little boy, and his case was tough. So I explained to his mother that nothing I could do would alter her son’s condition or improve his quality of life.

More than a decade later, a woman approached me in the grocery store. She reminded me that I had seen her son years ago, and that she and her family chose not to return for a follow-up. She asked me if I knew why they had not returned, and I confessed to her that I did not, and that I hadn’t really thought much about it. She looked me in the eye and said, “Dr. Northam, when you said you couldn’t help us, you took away our hope.”

I can still hear her words to this day.

When I told her that I was unable to help her son, I diagnosed the problem correctly. But I missed the opportunity to provide the one thing her family still needed the most:

And that was hope.

From that moment on, I have recognized the incredible power of hope and my responsibility to preserve it in the people I serve. Hope is not just a source of comfort for the afflicted – it is a wellspring of energy to fight for a better tomorrow, no matter the odds.

I am committed as your Governor to fight every day for the hope that tomorrow will be better – for all of us, not just some of us. Because it can be. If we work together, tomorrow can be better for the nearly 400,000 Virginians who are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy because they have no insurance.

Tomorrow can be better for the families in rural communities who are praying for new jobs so their children don’t have to move away to build happy lives. Tomorrow can be better for the children who are sitting in crowded and crumbling schools across this state, tired and distracted from too little food and too much violence in their communities. Tomorrow can be better for the men and women who depend on clean air and water for their livelihood and for the children who will inherit the environment we pass on to them. Tomorrow can be better for people who too often face discrimination, harassment or violence because of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

If we work together today, tomorrow will be better for all of the Virginians who have placed their trust in us to fight for them every day.

This country is once again looking to Virginia to lead the way. Let us lead with humility and optimism, telling the truth, learning from history and removing every obstacle to progress for all Virginians. I ask you to join me.

Let’s get to work.

Thank you.

Local News
Local Realtor/Philanthropist Beth Medved Waller Offers $5,000 Prize for Hero X Challenge
January 13, 2018
Beth Meved Waller has started the new year with a twist–she’s offering a prize instead of seeking donations for a cause!  Inspired by the What Matters outreach trip to Africa, Waller and her children would love someone local to participate in their challenge so please spread the word about their endeavor outlined below (taken from

Saving without Sacrifice!  This mobile application will make it REWARDING to save for WHAT MATTERS:  a special cause, vacation or purchase!  My children and I have started a family fund we call, “The Africa Jar,” in an attempt to save money for Light up Life Foundations, a team that helps youth in the slums of Uganda (I just returned from Africa before Christmas).  When we are out and about and making purchases throughout the day, we think twice about our spending and often put the item back or refrain from ordering extra at a restaurant.  Rather than feel like we are “pinching pennies” or missing out, this jar now turns our “sacrifices” into happy moments when we smile and blurt out, “AFRICA JAR!”  Instead of missing that soda, candy or coffee we pass up, we feel excited that the money we would have “swallowed away” will now go to help starving children on the other side of the world!

Everyone has something that matters to them that they’d love to save money to fund.  Perhaps it’s not a cause.  It could be a dream vacation or a longed-for purchase, or someone could set up multiple funds.  My kids and I want everyone to be able to feel like we feel when our jar effortlessly fills EVERY SINGLE DAY with savings from needless purchases we would normally not think twice about.  We’ve issued a $5,000 HERO X Challenge for a brilliant mind to create a mobile application that will make it easy and even more exciting to save for “What Matters.”

We would like the application to be a simple way for individuals and families to log onto a virtual savings account (that could be linked to a checking account for real-time transfers if savers desire OR if that’s too complicated it could be just an online tally). To add to the account, users will click on a button and enter the amount saved and why. For example, at the McDonald’s drive-through we didn’t purchase the soda and opted for a water, saving $1.  There are many options/ideas we have to create a fun application that is simple to use.  The concept is very social-media friendly as well and it would be easy for nonprofits and those who support them to spread information about funds over social media to encourage others to participate.  Sponsors could even be solicited to have special “What Matters Match” campaigns to match every dollar saved up to $x for a certain cause that participants have pledged to support with their fund.

This application has great potential to teach children about savings in an interactive and fun way.  It also has the ability to help people of all ages save small amounts of money that add up to support amazing causes around the globe.  We look forward to working with whomever takes our challenge to help us challenge the world to start “Saving without Sacrifice.”  My philanthropic company, What Matters, will help spread the word about this tool because “What Matters is your heart……Let It!”

What Matters Warren
Heather Davis and Tammy Ruggiero present The Bridge Project
January 13, 2018

Local poet and writer, Heather Davis has launched a project called The Bridge Project into our community with the intention of connecting people across all types of differences.  The call is out for us all to participate by creating art or writing that expresses what is inside our heart.  How do we want to connect?  What does connection mean to us individually?  In a world that feels so divided sometimes, let’s join together and build a bridge!  The final product will be a bridge for display all around town to admire and explore. How fun!

Theme: How we connect to other people across differences of age, gender, race, class, religion, culture, sexuality, nationality, ability, etc.
Requirements: Create artwork and/or write on 5 x 7 watercolor paper.
Submit: Send to Stover Insurance at 214 East Jackson Street, Front Royal, VA 22630 or place into marked boxes at Blue Wing Frog, Happy Creek Coffee, or the Samuels Public Library. DEADLINE: February 15, 2018

Note: Finished artwork will become part of a community art installation and will not be returned. Please send your name & contact info with the artwork.

Workshops: Free art/writing workshops will be held on January 20 and 27 at the Samuels Library from 10 am-12 pm to create the cards. Ages 12 and up.
Event: Finished cards will be affixed to a wooden slat rope bridge for display at a public event celebrating our connections across difference.
100 years of insulin treatments save countless lives
January 13, 2018

The disease diabetes has been identified for thousands of years, but only in the last 100 has there been a truly life-saving treatment: Insulin.

Insulin was discovered in 1921 at the University of Toronto.

Its discovery was one of the most sensational developments in medicine, effectively treating a disease that relentlessly reduced millions to blindness, coma and death. In his book, The Discovery of Insulin, author Michael Bliss writes that the first attempts to use insulin on comatose diabetics created what seemed to be a miracle: Comatose patients awoke and returned to life.

Until insulin was identified, there were many different types of treatment, all mainly useless. The most effective was an extreme diet. Patients managed to live a few years longer after starting the diet, but ultimately died of starvation. Doctors who used the diet in the 1920s were later reminded of their patients when they saw pictures of inmates at Nazi death camps. Some people managed to live on the diet long enough to raise a child, for example. But even one morsel off the diet could kill them. Bliss gives the example of a messenger boy who managed to exist on the diet until one day he couldn’t resist picking and eating a handful of cherries. He was dead in a week.

It is generally agreed that insulin was first identified by Dr. Fred Banting, but many years of research before and after by many other scientists and doctors contributed to making insulin a reality.

Making it readily available was another problem. Insulin could not have been provided in quantities for the thousands, if not millions, of people who desperately needed it without the participation of drug companies such as Eli Lilly and Connaught Laboratories, to name just two.

During the time insulin was known but could not be manufactured in sufficient quantities, patients died, knowing a treatment existed but that it just could not be made fast enough.

Interesting Things You Need to Know
How to spot an online hoax
January 13, 2018

The next time an acquaintance shares a shocking article on social media, prompting an almost instant flurry of scandalized comments and polarizing debates, step back for a moment to consider what you’re reading. Hoaxes, rumors and other fake news stories travel at the speed of light these days, so it’s important to think critically before you react.

The source
The first thing to do when you read an article with a sensationalized headline (i.e. “clickbait”) is to check if the information is corroborated by a credible source (a trusted news organization, for example). If no recognizable news outlet has covered the story, chances are it’s made up or, at the very least, somewhat embellished.

The format
Also pay attention to the way the information is presented. Written material that contains spelling and grammar mistakes, overuses capital letters or punctuation, or includes lots of superlatives should be taken with a grain of salt, as should shocking photos, incredible statistics or quotes from “experts” who may benefit personally from the propagation of the story.

Always remember that real journalists who work for credible media organizations are held to a high ethical standard. They must rigorously fact-check their sources and, most of all, remain objective in their coverage.

Why create hoaxes?
Hoaxes have been around forever, and are often created purely to mislead the public. They’re sometimes used to harm a particular person or organization, or to spread controversial ideologies. In the digital realm, some hoax creators do it to gain more clicks and views, driving up advertising revenue for their website.