Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer
In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will teach ninjas how to plan, design, and build their own 3D world to create much more than just a game!
Jul 05, 2021 to Jul 09, 2021
Aug 02, 2021 to Aug 06, 2021
Youngkin Announces Plan for Millions in Early Childhood and Child Care Spending
With the last pandemic-era expansions of federal child care aid to states set to end next year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is proposing to put $448 million into the commonwealth’s early learning and child care system in each of the next two years.
“The reality is that in March 2024, without significant reforms to improve this long-term viability of our child care programs, we would otherwise see children simply being kicked out of these most important collaborations that enable families to realize their dreams, and so we can’t leave families, parents and their children without options,” said Youngkin at a press conference for his “Building Blocks for Virginia Families” initiative Thursday.
The funding will be part of Youngkin’s proposal for the state budget over the next two years, which he is scheduled to present to lawmakers on Dec. 20. The General Assembly, which Democrats will narrowly control when the session begins this January, will use that proposal as the jumping-off point for their own spending plan.
While the administration has not yet provided a detailed breakdown of how the $448 million would be spent, a document provided to reporters includes a list of priorities. They include the desire to “ensure every low-income working family that currently receives public support continues to have access to early childhood and afterschool programs,” “accelerate parent choice, from home-care providers and public school preschools to community co-ops and private day centers,” and require all early childhood programs to “annually measure and report unmet parental demand and preference.”
A few priorities have dollar figures attached: The proposed investment includes $25 million to develop public-private partnerships in areas with childcare shortages, $10 million in educator incentives, and $1 million to launch early learning and childcare accounts on a digital wallet platform for families with children under five. Families can use the wallets to accept funds from such groups as employers, local governments, and family members.
Additionally, the plan calls for streamlining teacher licensure requirements and “rightsizing” student-teacher ratios.
“This is about an opportunity for success,” Youngkin said, “and it starts with success for families.”
Kathy Glazer, president of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, called the proposal “a remarkable commitment to Virginia’s children and families.”
“By sustaining access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education services, these investments will help unlock the potential of all children and keep Virginia on the path to economic success,” she said.
An October report by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found approximately 1.1 million children in Virginia aged 12 and younger need child care, and the majority of Virginia families find care to be unaffordable.
The situation is set to worsen. Over the past three years, Virginia has used federal relief funds to help meet child care demand. However, the commonwealth is in jeopardy of being unable to support services when American Rescue Plan Act child care funds expire at the end of the federal fiscal year 2024. JLARC has estimated that 25,000 Virginia children could lose their childcare slots as a result of the end of pandemic childcare subsidies.
As other pandemic relief programs wind down, legislative staffers have told lawmakers that signs are increasingly pointing to the U.S. entering a slowdown or mild recession next year as high revenues over the past few years begin running dry.
The governor has asked state agencies to begin looking at cuts for the July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2026 budget, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported.
Child care advocacy groups on Thursday said they hope lawmakers will see the need to keep parents and providers afloat with stable funding and investments. Allison Gilbreath, senior director of policy and programs for Voices for Virginia’s Children, said the proposed investments are “desperately needed.”
“As a mom, my career begins and ends with access to early childhood that is affordable and accessible for my family,” she said. “So it’s going to be so meaningful for families across the commonwealth.”
Child care is unaffordable for most Virginians, especially for low-income families, JLARC found in its recent study.
The October report showed child care is unaffordable for 85% of Virginia’s families with infants, 82% with toddlers, and 74% with preschoolers.
According to the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, the average annual cost of child care currently is more than $10,000 for one child, and in some states, it’s as much as $15,000 to $20,000.
JLARC’s estimates put the cost of full-time formal child care in Virginia at between $100 and $440 per week per child, or $5,200 to $22,880 annually. Many childcare providers charge fees on top of base tuition rates, which further increase the cost.
Low-income families have relied heavily on Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy Program, which uses federal and state funds to reimburse providers for care services. Last year, the commonwealth received a boost of federal funds for the subsidy program, which JLARC said led to an increase in the number of families receiving subsidized child care and a reduction in copayments for families. Still, demand for subsidy slots remained.
Forty-two percent of the state’s licensed child care providers are subsidy vendors or providers that service children in the program, JLARC reported.
by Nathaniel Cline, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Harnessing the Power of Positive Thinking: A Roadmap to Emotional Wellness
Embracing Optimism as a Tool for Personal Growth.
In a world often shadowed by negativity and stress, the power of positive thinking emerges as a beacon of hope. It’s not just a feel-good mantra; it’s a practical approach to life’s challenges. This article explores the transformative impact of optimism on our mental health and overall well-being.
We’ve all been stuck in traffic, dealing with a flat tire, and feeling overwhelmed by life’s demands. These moments test our resilience, tempting us to succumb to negativity. However, embracing a positive mindset can significantly alter our emotional landscape.
Positive thinking isn’t about ignoring life’s problems but approaching them from a place of empowerment and hope. When faced with adversity, our natural inclination might be to spiral into worry and despair. Yet, the simple act of shifting our thoughts can profoundly affect our mood.
The idea of changing one’s life by changing one’s thoughts isn’t new. It’s a principle rooted in various psychological theories and has been a cornerstone of self-help philosophies. But how does this work in practice? Can positive thinking make a difference when life feels spiraling out of control?
The answer lies in the science of the brain. Our thoughts have a direct impact on our emotions. By consciously choosing to focus on positive aspects, even in difficult situations, we can create a more hopeful narrative. This doesn’t mean ignoring the negative but not letting it dominate our mindset.
Consider a bad day at work or a conflict in a relationship. These situations can easily lead us down a path of negativity. However, we can shift our perspective by actively focusing on positive outcomes or lessons learned. This shift isn’t just about feeling better in the moment; it’s about building resilience for future challenges.
The power of positive thinking extends beyond personal benefits. It influences how we interact with others and perceive the world around us. A positive outlook can improve our relationships, enhance work performance, and contribute to a more compassionate society.
But let’s address a common misconception: positive thinking isn’t a magic cure-all. It requires effort and practice. It’s about making a conscious choice every day to look for the silver lining, even when it feels elusive.
In a world rife with uncertainty and stress, embracing optimism is more than just a feel-good strategy; it’s a necessary tool for emotional survival. By cultivating positive thoughts, we not only improve our own lives but also contribute to a more hopeful and resilient world. Remember, the power of positivity lies within each of us, ready to be harnessed for a brighter, more fulfilling future.
The Mystery Behind Car Rear Windows: A Design, Not Safety Choice
Uncovering the Real Reason Why Back Car Windows Don’t Fully Roll Down.
Have you ever wondered why the rear windows in most cars don’t roll down all the way? While many assume it’s a safety feature to prevent kids and pets from jumping out, the true reason lies in the vehicle’s design and architecture.
Not a Safety Feature
The common belief that rear windows are designed to stay partially rolled up for safety reasons is a misconception. While it might incidentally serve as a safety measure, the primary reason is far more structural than protective.
Car Architecture at Play
Gear Patrol explains that the key factor is the car’s architecture. The design of most cars includes a rear door with a lower edge curving upwards along the back axle wheel well. This curvature creates a design constraint – there simply isn’t enough vertical space within the door to accommodate the entire window.
Window and Door Design
When a car window rolls down, it needs space within the door to retract fully. Due to the upward curve near the back axle, the space inside the door is limited. This limitation restricts how far down the window can go. It’s a matter of spatial logistics rather than a deliberate choice to prevent passengers from opening the window fully.
The partial rolling down of rear car windows is a fascinating example of how design and functionality intersect in automotive engineering. While it might seem like a safety feature at first glance, it’s actually a result of the vehicle’s structural design. Understanding this aspect of car design sheds light on the numerous considerations automotive engineers take into account when creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing vehicle.
Poinsettia Perfection: Tips for Long-Lasting Beauty
How to Keep Your Poinsettias Thriving Beyond the Holiday Season.
Poinsettias, the vibrant red and green plants synonymous with holiday cheer, can remain a beautiful addition to your home long after the festive season. These seasonal favorites can retain their splendor for months with extra care and attention to detail. Here’s how you can ensure your poinsettias stay as fresh and bright as the day you brought them home.
The key to a healthy poinsettia begins with its location. Place your plant near a source of bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight can be too harsh, but insufficient light will cause the plant to lose its vibrant colors. The right balance of light will keep your poinsettia looking lively and colorful.
If your poinsettia comes in a pot wrapped in decorative foil, a common presentation during the holidays, it’s important to modify it for the plant’s health. Punch holes in the bottom of the foil to prevent water accumulation, which can lead to root rot. Place the plant on a saucer to catch any excess water that drains out.
Watering your poinsettia correctly is crucial. Always use room-temperature water to avoid shocking the plant’s roots. Slowly pour water into the pot until it begins to drain out of the bottom, then discard any water that collects in the saucer. Over-watering is a common mistake; it can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Conversely, under-watering will result in wilting and leaf loss. To gauge the plant’s watering needs, check the pot daily until you establish how much water it uses. The top quarter-inch of soil should be dry before you water again.
Fertilizing is also an essential part of poinsettia care. Once a month, apply a water-soluble fertilizer following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide the nutrients to keep the plant healthy and promote continued growth.
Following these simple guidelines, your poinsettia can thrive well beyond the holiday season, bringing a touch of color and joy to your home. Proper light, careful watering, and regular fertilization are all it takes to extend the life of this festive plant. With these tender care tips, your poinsettia can remain a beautiful reminder of the holiday spirit all year round.
Penny Lane Hair Co: A Fresh Cut on Front Royal’s Main Street
Front Royal Celebrates the Opening of Penny Lane Hair Co on Main Street.
In a vibrant ceremony, the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, led by Executive Director Nike Foster Cales, welcomed a business to its new location in the heart of the town. Penny Lane Hair Co, located at 413 E Main St, opened its doors amidst the cheers and support of the local community, including Mayor Lori Cockrell and Supervisor Walt Mabe.
The air was filled with excitement as Mallory Deinert, the owner of Penny Lane Hair Co, was greeted with warm applause and cheers from a crowd that included Chamber members, friends, and representatives from various local businesses. The event not only marked a new business opening but also symbolized the ongoing revitalization and diversification of Main Street’s business landscape.
Mayor Lori Cockrell expressed her enthusiasm, reflecting on the uniqueness of each ribbon-cutting event she has attended since joining the council and becoming mayor. “Each opening brings something new to our community, and we’re thrilled to support them all,” she remarked. Her words echoed the sentiment of inclusivity and diversity that the town prides itself on.
Supervisor Walt Mabe also shared his satisfaction with the expansion of downtown, noting the importance of adding varied businesses to the area. “It’s a sign of our town’s growth and vitality,” he said.
For Mallory Deinert, the opening of Penny Lane Hair Co. is the culmination of a lifelong dream. Overcome with emotion, Deinert shared her journey, “I’ve always wanted to be on Main Street, and now here we are, just a few doors down from my mom’s business. It’s a dream come true.” She dedicated this milestone to her family, mentioning her late father, her brother, and her mother, whose birthday coincided with the opening.
The community’s support was palpable as Deinert thanked everyone for their encouragement and shared her excitement for the future of Penny Lane Hair Co on Main Street. Her story is a testament to the power of local support and the importance of small businesses in building vibrant communities.
The opening of Penny Lane Hair Co. is more than just a new business on Main Street; it’s a symbol of the community’s resilience, growth, and commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs. As Front Royal continues to welcome diverse businesses, it strengthens its reputation as a supportive and dynamic place for commerce and community.
McDonald Defense Counsel Renews Motions, Including for a New Trial, as Feb. 12 Sentencing Date Looms
Federal officials in Harrisonburg have verified that defense counsel for former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald has filed renewed motions seeking a new trial for their client, as well as the overturning of several of the 34 guilty verdicts a federal jury of six men and six women in Harrisonburg delivered on November 1. Verdicts being sought to be overturned include several counts of bank fraud and one of aggravated identity theft. The latter of those charges involves the use of ITFederal principal Truc “Curt” Tran’s name in promoting one of the real estate transactions McDonald was convicted of using to misdirect money to her personal benefit or that of others under the guise of conducting FR-WC EDA related business. Attempts to reach defense counsel about their filing were unsuccessful as of publication.
The defense has submitted its motions, similar to ones denied by Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon at trial, as the sentencing of McDonald, set for 10 a.m., Monday, February 12, 2024, looms over their client, who remains free on bond. The defense motions reiterate points made by federal Public Defenders Office attorneys Andrea Harris and Abigail Thibeault at trial and in closing arguments delivered October 31. The three defense witnesses called on that final day of the trial appeared to be presented in an attempt to discredit some of the 67 witnesses called by the prosecution in the trial that began on August 21 and ended on November 30, following several delays of a week to several weeks due to a need to suspend or reschedule the trial because of medically verified illnesses or issues of involved parties, on several occasions defendant McDonald.
The new motions, like those rejected at trial, focus on the defense’s central contention that McDonald and the FR-WC EDA had entered into a secret agreement behind closed doors to pay McDonald $5 million or more in exchange for her not filing a sexual harassment or assault lawsuit against local government officials over actions she alleges during her tenure as FR-EDA executive director. The lone signature on a defense exhibit submitted in support of this scenario belonged to former FR-WC EDA Board Chair Patty Wines, who was by then several years deceased. The prosecution asserted the signature was a forgery. Other EDA officials called by the prosecution, including board member Ron Llewellyn, also unhappily called as one of the defense witnesses on October 31, denied any knowledge of the existence of such a document. It was noted during trial testimony that such a document could not have been approved without a full vote of the EDA Board of Directors.
The defense motion for a new trial centers on the asserted exclusion of evidence related to the alleged sexual harassment secret agreement. Arguments about the exclusion of a transcript of grand jury testimony given by someone with alleged knowledge of the secret agreement or the absence of that person being called as a witness at trial appear to be at the center of the mistrial/new trial motion. There is also an objection to a related jury instruction given by Judge Dillon, noting that the prosecution didn’t have to produce every piece of evidence or potential witness related to the case at trial.
According to the federal 10th Western District of Virginia website, thus far a hearing date on the new defense motions has not been set for the Harrisonburg federal courtroom.
McDonald was accused of diverting as much as $ 6.5 million of EDA assets to her direct personal benefit out of an estimated $26 million alleged to have been moved under false pretenses during a four-year period (2014-2018) of her executive leadership of the FR-WC EDA. Part of that larger total, a $10-million loan with additional developmental expenses estimated at as much as $2 million, was approved in support of Tran’s ITFederal company’s development plan earmarked for 30 acres of the 148-acre Royal Phoenix Business Park property in Front Royal at the former Avtex federal Superfund site. EDA officials and civil cases attorneys assert that a $10-million loan and subsequent addition of developmental expenses were achieved under false pretenses as to Tran’s ability to achieve his submitted developmental plan. However, at the time some of these McDonald-involved real estate transactions were occurring, between 2016 and 2018, information was being circulated that Tran was planning to invest in other business opportunities at other locations in the county. Tran has said such investments were discussed but never finalized and never signed on to by him.