Get your hands dirty as we work to mitigate invasive species and improve the natural environment along our valley trails. Join park rangers as they work to identify and capture these species that have made a home in our woods. All ages are welcome and no experience is required. Round trip hike to the work site is .5 miles. Tools will be provided. Dress for the weather and bring work gloves, water, a snack (optional), bug spray and sunscreen. Take pride in knowing you have contributed to the ecosystems of Sky Meadows, improving them for future enjoyment.
You may also observe National Public Lands Day by participating in “Bike Your Park Day.” Bring (or ride) your bicycle to Sky Meadows State Park to explore our 9 miles of bike trails. This year Adventure Cycling Association encourages participants to organize and take part in a virtual event or an in-person ride that follows safety guidelines.
February Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Big Boi, 48, rapper (Outkast), born Antwan Patton, Savannah, GA, 1975.
2 – Christie Brinkley, 70, model, Monroe, MI, 1953.
3 – Isla Fisher, 47, actress (Wedding Crashers), Muscat, Oman, 1976.
4 – Oscar De La Hoya, 50, former boxer, Los Angeles, CA, 1973.
5 – Roger Thomas Staubach, 81, Hall of Fame football player, Cincinnati, OH, 1942.
6 – Kathy Najimy, 66, actress (Hocus Pocus), San Diego, CA, 1957.
7 – Gay Talese, 91, author, Ocean City, NJ, 1932.
8 – Dawn Olivieri, 42, actress (Yellowstone), Seminole, FL, 1981.
9 – Joe Pesci, 80, actor (My Cousin Vinny), Newark, NJ, 1943.
10 – Jim Cramer, 68, financial analyst, television personality (Mad Money), Wyndmoor, PA, 1955.
11 – Brandy, 44, singer, born Brandy Norwood, McComb, MS, 1979.
12 – Robert Griffin III, 33, football player, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, 1990.
13 – Kim Novak, 90, actress (Vertigo), born Marilyn Novak, Chicago, IL, 1933.
14 – Meg Tilly, 63, actress (The Big Chill), Long Beach, CA, 1960.
15 – Matt Groening, 69, cartoonist (The Simpsons), Portland, OR, 1954.
16 – The Weeknd, 33, singer, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, Toronto, ON, Canada, 1990.
17 – James Nathaniel (Jim) Brown, 87, Hall of Fame football player, St. Simons Island, GA, 1936.
18 – J-Hope, 29, rapper, born Jung Ho-seok, Gwangju, South Korea, 1994.
19 – Benicio del Toro, 56, actor (The Usual Suspects), Santurce, Puerto Rico, 1967.
20 – Trevor Noah, 39, talk show host (The Daily Show), comedian, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1984.
21 – Jack Coleman, 65, actor (Heroes), Easton, PA, 1958.
22 – Vijay Singh, 60, golfer, Lautoka, Fiji, 1963.
23 – Naruhito, 63, Emperor of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, 1960.
24 – Wilson Bethel, 39, actor (Hart of Dixie), Hillsborough, NH, 1984.
25 – Ric Flair, 74, former professional wrestler, born Richard Fliehr, Memphis, TN, 1949.
26 – Teresa Palmer, 37, actress (A Discovery of Witches), Adelaide, Australia, 1986.
27 – James Ager Worthy, 62, Hall of Fame basketball player, Gastonia, NC, 1961.
28 – Ali Larter, 47, actress (Final Destination), Cherry Hill, NJ, 1976.
The Cracked Acorn: Life
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”
I mention the situation of Terri Schiavo. This medical case appeared to be headed to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court. After 15 years in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), is it time to answer the plea of her husband to take her off life support and end her life? Many were for it, and many were against it. Is it possible that she could have gained consciousness and her health? It is a question that my 2 1/3 lb. brain ponders.
Karen Ann Quinlan – she collapsed into a PVS in April 1975. When life support was removed, she lived in a coma for ten more years – 1985. Nancy Cruzan – a 1983 car accident left her as a PVS. In Cruzan vs. Missouri, life support was removed, and she died in January 1991. Hollywood tries to touch on these situations – see CHARLEY, SOLENT GREEN, and the Eastwood movie – MILLION DOLLAR BABY. How does one leave this life with dignity? Do you have the answer?
Adam was created from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7), and Eve from a rib. They ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden and were destined to live forever, but Satan intervened. Out of the garden, they were no longer eternally young. Cain kills Abel and death is on the scene for the first time. After that, we see that people of the Old Testament did live a long time, Methuselah the longest at 969 years. (Genesis 5:25) After every recorded name, their age is stated, and they die. The New Testament promises us threescore and ten, which could be longer.
We all hope that we will never have the “plug removed.” Cryogenics holds the hope that we can be frozen until a cure is found for what ails us. We are looking to the future. The military is researching a computer-driven robot that will map, then perform delicate and precise operations on wounded soldiers. The wounded can be completely healed and back on the battlefield within a few days. These discoveries will surely spill over into civilian life and add years to the population. Another possibility is that aging may eventually be slowed or stopped, all due to the unfolding mystery of cell research. Cells may soon be “triggered” to grow any part or organ of the body. Society lives with the false hope that our mortal bodies can achieve immortality here on earth. This will never happen. We will never return to the garden of Eden with the sin that holds us down. (Hebrews 12:1)
When Jesus said, “I have come, you may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). He was not talking about a home forever in this physical arena. Many today seek the Savior to return and reign here as King. While Jesus was here, He could have healed everyone that was sick and blind, and lame. He only did this for a few. He offered us something far better and more lasting than this body. God is a spirit, and we, His children, will have a new body. (Revelation 2:10)
THE END I KNOW IS NEARING, BY FAITH I LOOK AWAY, TO YONDER HOME SUPERPERNAL, THE LAND OF ENDLESS DAY; I’LL CLING TO HIM FOREVER AND LOOK BEYOND THE SKY, AND LIVE WITH HIM FOREVER IN GLORY BY AND BY. (Songs of FAITH and PRAISE)
Virginia House approves bill to boost transparency when judges get punished
A proposal to make more information public when Virginia judges violate ethics rules passed the House of Delegates Friday on a bipartisan vote.
Currently, almost all records of the state’s Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission (JIRC) are kept strictly confidential unless they involve a proven breach serious enough to rise to the Supreme Court of Virginia for a formal censure or removal from the bench.
Each year, the seven-member commission files a report detailing how many complaints about judges it received. But those reports aren’t required to identify which judges were disciplined, what rules they broke, or their punishment. The bill sponsored by Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick, would instruct the commission to include that information in future reports.
“Obviously, we appoint judges and keep tabs on how they’re doing,” Williams said as he presented his bill to a legislative committee.
The bill was approved by a 67-31 vote, with most Democrats in the no column but more than a dozen voting yes. The opposition appeared to be more about Williams’ conduct the day before the vote rather than the substance of his bill.
On Thursday, Williams refused to yield the floor to take a question about the JIRC bill from Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, bucking the tradition of engaging colleagues who may be seeking clarity, debate, or technical fixes to a piece of legislation.
“I just thought that we should include retired judges in the bill,” Mullin said in an interview Friday.
Retired Virginia judges are frequently called in to hear cases from which active judges have recused themselves. It’s a common practice in politically sensitive cases involving sitting legislators because the General Assembly has the power to hire, promote and fire active judges.
When told why Democrats had opposed a bill that received unanimous support in committee, Williams insisted his bill already covered retired judges.
“It actually includes anybody who has ever taken the judge’s oath and is going to sit on the bench,” Williams said.
Whichever interpretation is correct, the bill can be amended when it passes over to the state Senate. In the other chamber, Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, has filed a similar JIRC transparency bill that has not yet been heard.
Complaints against judges rarely lead to formal punishment. In 2022, the commission received a total of 415 complaints, and 402 were dismissed. The vast majority of complaints were dismissed for either failing to fall under the commission’s jurisdiction or failing to allege a specific violation of the Canons of Judicial Conduct, the state’s official rulebook for judges. The commission determined a breach occurred in five cases, but all five of those cases were also dismissed, according to the body’s annual report.
Raymond F. Morrogh, commission counsel for JIRC, explained in an email last month that “some matters may not be of sufficient gravity to constitute the basis for a judge’s retirement, removal, or censure.”
“Where breaches of the Canons may be minor, it is conceivable that a matter may be resolved without resort to a formal hearing or the filing of a complaint in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Virginia,” Morrogh said.
The Canons of Judicial Conduct deal with a wide array of issues, including judges’ fairness and impartiality, diligence about avoiding conflicts of interest, gifts and other favors, and the use of social media.
Most complaints against judges come from the general public, but some originate with lawyers, court employees, and other judges.
Williams’ bill would only require disclosure when a breach is substantiated and results in discipline, which would prevent frivolous or unproven accusations from being made public.
“It’s a very small universe of people,” said Robert Tracci, a senior attorney in the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares, referring to the number of judges likely to be identified under the proposed law. “And it does promote transparency in government.”
The attorney general’s office has called for more openness in the judicial discipline process, a proposal that seemed to take on new urgency because of its connection to Republican efforts to investigate the actions of a former chair of the Virginia Parole Board who’s now serving as a judge in Virginia Beach.
Bennett, whom Miyares has accused of abusing her Parole Board powers and breaking the law in a rush to release inmates in early 2020, was suspended from her role as a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in 2021. Media outlets’ efforts to figure out what she was disciplined for have been unsuccessful due to the secretive nature of the process.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch filed a legal petition seeking to have the disciplinary records unsealed. Still, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a split opinion last year that kept most of the documents confidential.
“From the start, Judge Bennett made clear that she did not want anyone but us to see the reason why JIRC had suspended her,” Supreme Court Justices D. Arthur Kelsey and Teresa M. Chafin wrote in a dissenting opinion. “The majority holds that Judge Bennett has a statutory right to keep that information secret and that the public has no constitutional right to break the seal of secrecy.”
In 2021, JIRC reported receiving 395 complaints. Only one was ruled a breach of judicial conduct and not dismissed.
by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury
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Humane Society of Warren County opens thrift store
On November fourth of last year, the Humane Society of Warren County opened a thrift store located at 450 S. Commerce Avenue, adjacent to On Cue and the CVS. As the proceeds go to support homeless animals, Pick of the Litter Thrift Store comes at a time when the HSWC greatly needs it.
“It took a lot of work to put the planning process together,” executive director Megan Bowers explained. Previously HSWC hosted a yard sale once a year in June that generated four to five thousand dollars, but it proved to be lacking due to the requests they were receiving from the community for a place to bring donations.
“We could not have asked for a better community,” store manager Jessie Moore exclaimed. “Every day feels like Christmas!” Her positive outlook characterizes the store she runs, where a patron can help himself to a complimentary coffee and browse the collection of books, DVDs, rows upon rows of clothing, and the occasional odd item like a set of glassware.
Jessie said each day is different, and she never knows what will come in. It is all about “the fur babies,” as she jovially put it. She expressed relief that HSWC has finally generated a more reliable source of funding than the yard sale. Watching Jessie move around the store with her assistant Laura Hickman and interact with customers, it is obvious that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Of course, it is all about the fur babies.
This is an establishment that welcomes animals. Anyone browsing the goods is welcome to have their pet alongside them.
“They’ve done really well over there,” Megan said in praise of the Pick of the Litter team. HSWC has three branches: the shelter, the clinic, and the thrift store.
As proud and fond as many are of their four-legged family members, it is a consolation in this cold season to know that such a capable organization is doing everything possible to keep Warren County’s domestic animals on the warm side of the front door.
Dare to DIY: Tackle small projects yourself
Does your home need a little sprucing up? Are you having trouble finding a professional to do the job with the ongoing labor shortage?
If you want to refresh your decor, repaint the walls or install a backsplash, do it yourself. With the right tools, high-quality materials, professional advice, and a little elbow grease, you’re sure to create something you’re proud of.
Visit local home improvement and hardware stores, tool rental centers, paint retailers, flooring stores, and more to find everything you need for your renovation project.
Why you should hire a professional wedding planner for your big day
Planning a wedding is a full-time job. Have you considered hiring a professional wedding planner? Here are a few ways a pro can make your wedding day perfect for you and enjoyable for your loved ones.
• Schedule and budget. Wedding planners have timetables and finances down to a science. They’ll relieve you of all uncertainty, from timing your invitations to ordering the cake.
• Insider knowledge. A pro knows which vendors best suit your preferences and needs. Moreover, since your planner brings them steady business, you may get better deals.
• Personality management. You need someone to advocate for you when interpersonal conflicts arise. Be it the guest list, the seating plan, or a problematic relative, and your wedding planner will handle uncomfortable conversations for you.
• Quality control. A pro ensures nothing gets overlooked. They may also have unique and fun ideas you may not have thought of.
Investing in a professional may save you money on your overall wedding costs. Talk to a wedding planner near you to relax and enjoy your special day.