Fauquier Health recently announced that Taylor Bireley, Wellness Center Supervisor, COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator, has been recognized as the hospital’s 2021 Mercy Award winner. The Mercy Award recognizes one employee from each of LifePoint Health’s hospitals who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded.
The Mercy Award is an annual recognition program that was established in 2002 to honor the life and contributions of Scott Mercy, LifePoint’s founding chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The award is considered the highest honor a LifePoint employee can receive.
Taylor Bireley has been with Fauquier Health for three years. She is an Exercise Physiologist, so providing care is her passion. As Supervisor of the Wellness Center, Taylor oversees the Wellness Center, exercise based programs, and Massage Therapy.
Taylor is also responsible for being the health system’s COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator. She collaborates closely with local community partners – such as Fauquier County, the Town of Warrenton, Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management, and Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District/VDH – to ensure smooth operations of the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. The Warrenton clinic, which began operation in January of 2021, has provided more than 26,000 vaccinations to local community members.
Taylor’s hard work and collaborative efforts have been noticed by all in the Fauquier Health system. A true testament of Taylor’s commitment was provided by a colleague who said, “She has spearheaded the Vaccine Clinic and has put together a wonderful team of professionals who have vaccinated the public. Taylor goes above and beyond for these clinics and works tirelessly to make sure as many as possible receive the vaccine. She is a true example of making communities healthier.”
Chad Melton, CEO of Fauquier Health added, “At Fauquier Health, our commitment to making communities healthier would not be possible without dedicated team members, like Taylor. We are extremely proud to recognize her hard work on behalf of our staff, patients, and community members. She goes above and beyond each and every day and has truly excelled during a very challenging time.”
Each hospital winner across the country, including Taylor, will be considered for LifePoint’s 2021 company-wide Mercy Award. The companywide winner will be announced and honored in the fall.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540-316-5000.
Satellite spots Friday morning flash over Hardy, W. Va. – may verify meteor explanation of Shenandoah County BOOM
A NASA satellite designed to track electrical storm activity may provide the evidence to confirm that a meteorite strike was the cause of the loud BOOM and earthshaking reported in Shenandoah County and points west across the state border into West Virginia, Friday morning, September 17. In a social media post that day accompanying a video recording of the believed meteor flashes from viewer Sandra Dickerson of the Baker-Lost City area of West Virginia, Harrisonburg-based WHSV TV Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz wrote that NASA had confirmed by email that they were “investigating this as a meteor strike, fireball.”
The following day citing Urbanowicz’s work on the story and postings of viewers’ audio and video of the event, Today Headline’s Peter Forister added that NASA’s “GOES-16 Satellite Flash Density product displayed a flash area over Hardy County” West Virginia, consistent with the 10:23 a.m. Friday event timeframe. While there was cloud cover, there were no storms reported in the area at the time, reducing the likelihood of lightning as the explanation for the flash. It was also reported that Hardy County experienced a power outage at the time of the event.
In a social media post to WHSV, a person posting as “Spicy McHaggis” stating they were a pilot in the air at the time of the event wrote: “Yeah it was a meteor. I’m a pilot and we saw from 36,000-feet along the VA/WV border. High in the sky and left a white smoke trail.”
The boom and resultant ground shaking was initially reported as an explosion – logical, maybe somebody’s meth lab blew up – or earthquake. However, area officials could not confirm an explosion in the area and the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) reported no earth-generated seismic activity in the area during the timeframe of the event.
So, as of Monday afternoon an uninvited visitor from space continues to be the leading candidate as the cause for last Friday’s regional earth-shaking event. Information Forister cited from the NASA Meteor Watch website estimated the mass of the object at about 50 pounds impacting the earth at a speed of 45,000 miles per hour, with the energy of one to two tons of TNT. NASA estimated a brightness magnitude of 12, cited as equal to a full moon (due tonight). And so far it appears our theorized space visitor had the cosmic courtesy NOT to land on an occupied patch of our planet.
Thanks, little fellow – hope the animals heard you coming and got out of the way too.
Education reform panel resists Hogan’s diversity request
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The nominating committee for an education reform panel has not reopened applications, despite Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s urgent request on Sept. 10 for more diverse nominees.
Gov. Hogan’s letter requested the committee to “immediately reopen the application process and provide a slate of nominees that accurately reflect our student population.” (https://www.marylandmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/AIB-Letter-Sept.-10-1.pdf)
The education reform panel, also known as the Accountability and Implementation Board for Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, will monitor the implementation of new multi-billion dollar investments in Maryland schools beginning in 2022.
The panel’s current nominees do not represent Latino communities, the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, or any other rural jurisdictions, the governor said.
In response to Hogan’s request to reopen applications, the committee is waiting for the Maryland attorney general to provide clarity, according to Dr. Shanaysha Sauls, chair of the nominating committee.
“We need to get advice from the attorney general’s office. We’re getting legal advice about the options,” Sauls told Capital News Service.
The law requires Hogan to select seven nominees by Oct. 1 from the nominating committee’s list, which must include a minimum of nine people.
The committee, which reviewed 43 total applications, submitted nine candidates — four who identify as white, four as Black, and one as Asian — on Sept. 1.
Regarding the selection, “We thought it was diverse across a number of different dimensions: race, age, and perspective,” Sauls said, and the governor’s letter “came as a surprise.”
Crucial to the passage of the education reform bill was the creation of a “strong accountability system” to oversee the implementation of the legislation.
The seven-member panel will be tasked with that responsibility, as well as with holding school systems accountable for student outcomes.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which became law in February after the state Legislature overrode Hogan’s 2020 veto, is a wide-ranging bill.
It represents a sweeping overhaul of Maryland’s education system, with measures such as higher teacher salaries, expanded access to pre-K, and greater support for English learners.
“Without adequate representation on the (panel), it will be difficult to sufficiently meet the needs of the Latino students whom this legislation is intended to support,” Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, the chair of the Latino Caucus, wrote to Hogan.
Fraser-Hidalgo also wrote that the Latino population has grown to nearly 12% in Maryland, according to the 2020 census, and that “Latino youth constitutes the largest proportion of English Language Learners.”
Sauls addressed the bipartisan blow back over the committee’s decision not to present any Latino nominees.
“(It was) as diverse as we could get, given the pool we had, which was limited in terms of Latinx representation,” Sauls said.
Of the 43 applicants, only one identified as Hispanic and one as Afro-Latino, according to a Sept. 1 press release from the nominating committee. (http://dls.maryland.gov/pubs/prod/NoPblTabMtg/AcctImplBrdNom/AIBNC-Announcement-Nominees.pdf)
Hogan also expressed concerns about the nominees’ geographic distribution.
“While many of the nominees selected are undoubtedly qualified individuals, there is a discernible lack of representation from the majority of jurisdictions in the State,” Hogan noted in his letter.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, D, also wrote a letter to Hogan, expressing her concern that none of the nominees live in Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous jurisdiction.
“While I appreciate that a representative from Prince George’s County Community College will be considered…(the nominee) is not a county resident, nor does she interact with our public schools on a daily basis,” Alsobrooks wrote.
Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, who serves as vice-chair of the nominating committee, responded to that concern.
“I actually solicited from people in Prince George’s County who are very respected, and they chose not to do it,” Pinsky told Capital News Service.
As of midday Sept. 17, the committee had not reopened applications.
“Right now there have been no changes to that slate of nine,” Sauls said. “That’s all I know until I hear further from the attorney general.”
“Since we provide counsel to the committee, any advice we may provide would be privileged,” Raquel Coombs, a spokesperson for the Maryland attorney general’s office, wrote in an email to Capital News Service.
By TRISHA AHMED and ALEX ARGIRIS
Capital News Service
Maryland redistricting groups drawing new congressional maps
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland’s two redistricting commissions are both working to draw new congressional and legislative maps, but their perceived goals and their potential for success are different.
The state’s Republican governor named a nine-member panel evenly shared among Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. And at the same time, the state’s Legislature has its own Democratic-controlled panel.
And because of the state’s politics, one of these panels is more likely to see its maps come to fruition: the Legislature’s.
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission and Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission (https://redistricting.maryland.gov/Pages/default.aspx) are both scheduled to hold public meetings Monday.
Members of both commissions face a recent history rife with gerrymandering and drawn-out legal action.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, announced the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission in July.
Karl Aro, former head of the Department of Legislative Services, chairs the Democrat-majority legislative commission.
Jones and Ferguson will also serve as members, along with Senate President Pro Tempore Melony Griffith, D-Prince George’s, House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, and House Minority Leader Jason Buckel, R-Allegany.
Gov. Larry Hogan, R, established the Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission by executive order in January.
Hogan appointed three co-chairs to the commission: one Republican, one Democrat, and one unaffiliated voter.
The other six members went through a public application process and include two Republicans, two Democrats, and two unaffiliated voters.
The citizen commission is holding the second of three rounds of meetings where members of the public can present maps or give testimony on draft maps.
Alex Williams, a former federal judge for the District of Maryland, is the commission’s Democratic co-chair.
Williams told Capital News Service he likes the balanced political makeup of the commission and said their goal is to be fair and independent.
“We have to abide and adhere to the governor’s order,” Williams said. “We are not to take into consideration a lot of the politics of the state.”
Williams was also co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, which in 2015 recommended an independent redistricting commission as a response to previous partisan gerrymandering.
The 2011 map was championed by Maryland’s governor at the time, Martin O’Malley.
O’Malley admitted (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/29/supreme-court-should-end-partisan-gerrymandering-martin-omalley-column/467349002/) to drawing a map meant to benefit Democrats in what he called an effort “to push back” against Republican gerrymandering in other states.
In the 2012 congressional election, long-time incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R, lost his 6th District seat to Rep. John Delaney, D.
The 2011 map removed a conservative portion of the 6th district and handed Democrats a 7-1 majority in Maryland’s congressional delegation. About 55% of registered voters in the state are Democrats and 24.7% are Republicans.
Maryland’s current congressional district map (http://mdpgis.mdp.state.md.us/Con_Legis_District/index.html) was taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices ruled in 2019 (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-422_9ol1.pdf) partisan gerrymandering was not a question for the courts; the practice remains legal.
The current map was approved in 2011 (https://cnsmaryland.org/2011/10/19/house-passes-controversial-redistricting-bill/) after a process criticized for a lack of transparency.
Williams thinks this year’s process from the citizen commission improves on that issue.
“Transparency is very important to our commission. All of our work sessions, all of our public sessions are online and they’re public,” Williams said.
Later this year, the citizen commission will submit proposed maps to the governor, who will submit his version of the plan to the Legislature.
The state Legislature, where Democrats hold a super majority, has final authority over what map becomes law.
The legislative redistricting commission will also recommend their maps for consideration.
That commission held an organizational meeting in August to discuss its constitutional duties.
As in the Legislature, Democrats hold more seats than Republicans on the commission, which will require only a simple majority to approve maps.
Simonaire said that won’t promote consensus building.
He hopes to listen to the public’s needs during the redistricting process.
“My goal is, I’m not looking to advance a political party, whether Democrat or Republican,” Simonaire said. “But rather advancing the people’s interest.”
Simonaire also hopes to keep communities together when drawing maps.
He said the 2011 map split up Anne Arundel County, where he lives, too much.
“We feel like the stepchild of Maryland because we don’t have any majority congressional representative in our district.”
Parts of Anne Arundel County are included in four separate congressional districts.
Simonaire intends to fulfill his duties as part of the legislative commission but said he hopes the citizen commission maps will serve as a baseline for the eventual congressional boundaries.
Todd Eberly is a professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
He’s in favor of two commissions, in part because it will show what a map was drawn, in part, by people outside the dominant party could look like.
Hogan’s citizen commission’s map, according to Eberly, would create more politically competitive districts.
Eberly said that would likely make it a “non-starter” in the Legislature.
He added that the goal of a congressional map should be representation, but it wasn’t in the last round of redistricting.
“There’s a goal here,” Eberly said. “And that goal was to maximize seats for the Democrats.”
That goal led to a map that doesn’t fit the redistricting principles of compactness and contiguity.
Some districts snake across the state, even being split in half by water.
Ebery said if the Legislature would like to preserve Democratic power in Maryland’s congressional delegation, there are possible maps that would do so while being more compact and respecting community boundaries.
The challenge would come from trying to protect incumbents based on where they live and how competitive their districts are.
“Incumbents are not going to be happy if you put their percent down,” Eberly said, adding that candidates grow used to winning by a comfortable margin.
Redistricting will also include redrawing the state’s legislative maps, which Eberly said look like they were drawn by an “over-caffeinated 4-year-old with a crayon.”
The commissions will draw state Senate and House maps as well, but a vote in the Legislature is not expected until after Congressional maps are approved.
Maryland’s legislative and congressional maps are redrawn every 10 years based on new census data.
Districts are expected to be similar in population number and cannot legally be gerrymandered based on race.
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission is scheduled to meet Monday at 6 p.m. in room 227 of the Largo Student Center at the Largo campus of Prince George’s Community College.
The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission plans to hold a virtual public meeting Monday at 6 p.m.
By ALLISON MOLLENKAMP
Capital News Service
Wayne Carlo Bombara, Jr. pleaded guilty to 15 counts of possession of child pornography in Prince William County Circuit Court
RICHMOND (September 16, 2021) – Former Manassas City Police Department Sergeant Wayne Carlo Bombara, Jr., 47, of Manassas Park, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of possession of child pornography in Prince William County Circuit Court. Attorney General Mark R. Herring made the announcement after the guilty plea was accepted by Circuit Court Judge Tracy C. Hudson. Bombara will be sentenced on February 11, 2022.
“Any individual who robs children of their innocence through child pornography, regardless of what they do for a living, must be held accountable for committing these heinous crimes, but especially when that individual is a law enforcement officer who has sworn to protect his community,” said Attorney General Herring. “I want to thank my team for their commitment and dedication to keeping dangerous individuals off our streets and out of our communities, and I appreciate the hard work of our local and state partners on this and other cases.”
Evidence presented in court showed that Bombara had uploaded child pornographic images onto his online account in Adobe Lightroom, which is a photography program designed for saving and editing photos. The investigation revealed that he had uploaded and saved approximately 150 images depicting the sexual exploitation of minor females. Officers subsequently executed a search warrant on Bombara’s residence, where they seized several of the defendant’s electronic devices. A subsequent forensic examination of the devices revealed saved child pornographic images and child pornography activity dating as far back as 2011. Bombara was employed as a sergeant with the Manassas City Police Department when he committed the crimes. As part of the plea, Bombara will have to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction where he works or resides following imprisonment.
The child pornography recovered in this case involved children who have been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as abuse victims in prior law enforcement investigations.
This case was investigated by Virginia State Police, as part of the Northern Virginia – D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant Attorney General Melissa Chong of Attorney General Herring’s Computer Crime Section is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Commonwealth, with cooperation from the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Ahead of rally for Jan. 6 riot defendants, fences return around U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON – Installation of fencing surrounding the United States Capitol Building is set to begin Wednesday evening ahead of a Saturday rally supporting those jailed in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.
U.S. Capitol Police told Capital News Service it could not confirm the timing of the fence installation. But owners of neighboring properties were notified that fencing surrounding the Capitol will start to be raised Wednesday evening. CNS’s Washington bureau is located in one of those buildings.
The Capitol Police Board on Monday approved a plan to temporarily erect a fence around the Capitol.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
Neighboring properties were notified that the fencing will not hinder pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Law enforcement officials appear to be planning a show of force amidst widespread criticism of the rally as a thinly-disguised extension of the first rally, fueled by lies spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies that he won last year’s presidential election.
“… These people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress, successfully causing the deaths – ‘successfully’ is not the word, but that’s the word because it’s what they set out to do – of our law enforcement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told reporters last week.
Far-right extremists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, aiming to obstruct the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Five police officers died following the attack, including four by suicide. Two of the rioters also died.
More than 570 people have been arrested in connection with the event, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
There was no fencing around the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, but it was put up after the insurrection and remained in place for six months. The Capitol itself has been closed to the public since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020, the longest closure in the iconic building’s history.
Look Ahead America, an organization headed by a former Trump campaign operative, is planning the “Justice for J6” rally on the Capitol’s East end of the National Mall in front of the Capitol.
“We’re going to be safe. We’re going to raise our voices in defense of our fellow Americans who’ve had their rights and due process violated,” said Matt Braynard, the nonprofit’s executive director, in a YouTube video on the organization’s website. “We’re going to raise our voices demanding justice for Ashli Babbitt, and for the government to come clean on whatever involvement the FBI might have had in the events of Jan. 6.”
A Capitol Police officer fatally shot Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot as she attempted to breach barricaded doors leading to the lobby off the House of Representatives chamber.
“The January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol is a stain on our democracy,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, told CNS in an email. “I believe it is the right decision to strengthen the security around the Capitol in anticipation of the upcoming ‘Justice for J6’ rally this Saturday, based on the intel ahead of the event.”
Capitol Police said it “is aware of concerning online chatter.” And the Capitol Police Board last week issued an emergency declaration allowing the department to deputize outside law enforcement as Capitol Police special officers.
According to NBC News, Melissa Smislova, deputy undersecretary for intelligence enterprise readiness at the Homeland Security Department, said the agency estimates that about 700 people will attend the rally.
In an interview with WTOP on Braynard’s YouTube channel, he said he had no safety concerns and that “there’s not going to be any violence.”
He declined to be interviewed by CNS.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, told CNS that it’s important the rally is taken seriously.
“We witnessed a violent mob attack the Capitol of the United States, attack our democracy,” he said. “And now you have people organizing in support of those who violently attacked the Capitol. It has to be taken with the utmost seriousness, and everything I’ve seen indicates that the Capitol Police are taking this seriously.”
Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Timonium, in an email to CNS, said: “I trust that our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including their intelligence units, are working collaboratively to prevent a reoccurrence of January 6 this weekend, including additional fencing.”
Washington’s Metropolitan Police will be “fully prepared” ahead of the rally and will have an increased presence around the city at the locations of the demonstrations, Alaina Gertz, a public affairs specialist for the department, told CNS in an email.
“We are continuously working with local and federal partners to ensure that safety protocols are in place for all events and other first amendment activities,” U.S. Park Police said in an email.
“We want to reassure everyone these are temporary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Manger said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community and our congressional stakeholders as we carry out our critical mission.”
By BRITTANY N. GADDY
Capital News Service
Broad coalition launches effort to help resettle Afghan refugees; Hogan urges aid
WASHINGTON – A widespread coalition of political, religious, and business leaders, joined by numerous large companies and advocacy organizations, on Tuesday launched an effort to help Afghan evacuees resettle in the United States.
The new group, called Welcome.US, seeks to engage the American public in welcoming Afghan refugees in a multifaceted effort, Cecelia Muñoz, the initiative’s co-founder, said at a virtual press conference. The former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama, she is a senior adviser to New America, a public policy group.
The initiative will try to make it easier for Americans to donate to frontline organizations and sponsor Afghan families arriving in the United States.
“Welcome.US is being launched in response to this outpouring from the American people to channel and fan its flames, building on the extraordinary work so many tireless frontline organizations have been leading,” co-founder John Bridgeland said. He was director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush. He is president and CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm.
Afghan-American organizations, faith-based groups, resettlement agencies, businesses, veterans, nonprofits, universities, and political leaders have joined the initiative.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also expressed his support for Welcome.US, urging Marylanders to help Afghan evacuees resettling in this country through donating money to frontline organizations, hosting families, or providing essential services.
“When America began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I made it clear that Maryland was ready and willing to welcome these Afghan allies,” Hogan said at the press conference.
Hogan also spoke of America’s history of compassion and commitment to helping others.
“Today, we’re calling on that spirit of compassion yet again,” Hogan said. “The thousands of Afghan allies, who desperately need our help now, have been our strong allies for the past two decades.”
Welcome.US’s co-chairs include Obama, Bush, and former President Bill Clinton, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton.
“Many of the refugees fleeing Afghanistan stood by America and risked everything for a chance at a better life,” Obama tweeted. “With the launch of Welcome.US, we can support our new Afghan neighbors and reaffirm our common humanity. I hope you’ll join us.”
Welcome.US’s launch comes during a pivotal moment in Afghan-American relations. The withdrawal of American troops and the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan left hundreds of thousands of Afghan allies struggling to escape and find new places to call home.
The initiative also begins shortly after the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“But this call to action transcends the toxic politics of the moment, and I ask all Marylanders – and all Americans – to help us prove once again why this nation truly is ‘the last best hope of earth,’” Hogan said.
Potential congressional legislation aimed at helping Afghan evacuees could affect the impact of Welcome.US.
“Congress has some serious work to do to make this success possible,” said Nazanin Ash, the International Rescue Committee’s vice president of global policy and advocacy.
Ash pointed to the Biden administration’s request for funding and authority on extending refugee benefits to Afghan evacuees and providing them a path to permanent legal residency in the United States.
“Without this assistance, Afghan evacuees will not be able to access healthcare, language services, or secure other public and private benefits that will help them find their footing and get a leg up in their new country,” Ash said.
By SHAUNEEN MIRANDA
Capital News Service