~ Competition could lead to new Historical Highway Marker ~
On January 30, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced the inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest.
The competition invites students, teachers, and families to learn more about African Americans who have made important contributions to Virginia history. It invites ideas for new signs to teach history along Virginia’s roadways.
The contest encourages schools to feature a different African American historical marker each day of February, provides teachers with resources to guide history discussions, promotes Black History Month events around the Commonwealth, and initiates a competition for students to submit ideas for new historical markers to the Virginia Department of Historical Resources.
“Black history is American history,” said Governor Northam. “But for too long, we have told an inaccurate and simplified version of that history that did not include everyone. This competition is one new way to help tell a more true and inclusive story of our shared past. It means teaching history that accurately reflects the full spectrum of stories and experiences.”
Virginia’s Historical Highway Marker Program is an effort to recognize and chronicle events, accomplishments, sacrifices, and personalities of historic importance to Virginia’s story. The signs are known for their black lettering against a silver background and their distinctive shape. It is the first program of its type in the United States. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Historic Resources manage the program.
The Commonwealth has erected more than 2,600 markers along Virginia’s roadways, but only 350 markers honor African Americans. The program was created in 1927.
The contest web page includes a lesson plan and classroom activity guide to help teachers and administrators navigate these discussions thoughtfully and inclusively. This guide encourages teachers to foster mutual respect for varying opinions, and promote experiential learning by connecting classrooms to events at historical sites and state parks throughout Virginia. Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Janice Underwood developed the lesson plan.
“As an educator, I believe deeply in the power of civil dialogue in the classroom and the importance of learning about history through exploration,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, the Commonwealth’s Chief Diversity Officer. “Since even before the time of slavery, stories of incredible African Americans have frequently been ignored, even silenced. This contest is a great opportunity for students, teachers, and families to learn about Black history more deeply, and foster a sense of critical consciousness wherein our students contribute ideas in pursuit of remedying the disparities of African American historical markers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This also provides teachers a structured process that shows learners of all ages how to engage state government in meaningful ways.”
“These markers bring Virginia history to a large audience, including people who might not have another occasion to learn about Virginia history,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Virginia’s markers bear the state seal, so they should provide a clear indication of our values. This program will help Virginia’s historic markers more equitably represent Virginia’s diversity.”
The Black History Month Historical Marker Contest runs throughout February. Suggested historical markers must be submitted by March 6, 2020. The Department of Historical Resources will review all submissions and will submit the top 10. The Governor and his Cabinet will select the winners.
Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes $100,000 annually to create additional historical highway markers to promote stories that reflect the diverse nature of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The proposed budget also includes another $100,000 to digitize highway markers to aid in the creation of an African American history trail. The General Assembly is now considering this proposal.
44 new troopers graduate Virginia State Police Academy
The 44 men and women of the Virginia State Police 132nd Basic Session graduated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a virtual ceremony was the safest means of allowing the graduates and their families to celebrate the culmination of 27 weeks of the trooper-trainees’ hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Also in virtual attendance were state police executive staff, academy staff, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. A previously-recorded video of Governor Ralph Northam congratulating the new troopers was played during the ceremony.
“This Basic Session class has been like no other. Every one of these steadfast men and women heeded strict attention to detail as they navigated the ever-evolving COVID-19 safety protocols,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The attention to detail wasn’t just to ensure a safe environment for the entire class, their families, academy staff, and instructors, but also for the greater good, something all Virginia State Troopers understand as they put their lives to the test daily to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I could not be more proud of this graduating class and I know they will represent us well as they serve their communities.”
The new troopers received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including de-escalation techniques, strategies to assist people in a mental health crisis, ethics and leadership, fair and impartial policing, constitutional law, emergency medical trauma care, and public and community relations. The members of the 132nd Basic Session began their 27 weeks of academic, physical, and practical training at the Academy on June 29, 2020.
The graduates of the 132nd Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York. They include two second-generation troopers, four first-generation Americans, and numerous prior military service personnel.
For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.
132nd Basic Graduate Assignment
Arfan M. Arif – Fairfax County
Michael L. Albert – Shenandoah County
Zachary T. Barnes – York County
Moses I. R. Blakey – New Kent County
Vontasia T. Britton – York County
Andrew J. Brown – Prince William County
Taylor C. Brown – Prince William County
Jawaan D. Cook – Greensville County
William T. DiBerardine – Warren County
Hunter C. Dickenson – Gloucester County
Julian B. Edwards – Prince William County
Kayla B. Edwards – Surry County
Christian L. Elkins – Prince William County
Arthur P. Falin – Greensville County
Jacob A. Farmer – Prince George County
Adelaide E. Fischer – Hampton / Newport News
Robert L. Flynn – Accomack County
Tony Fuentes – James City County
Austin K. Gallaway – Hampton / Newport News
Zachary M. Homlish – Caroline County
Hunter C. Jensen – New Kent County
Stephanie H. Kapusta – Fairfax County
Sarah A. M. Kendrick – Prince William County
Aaryn J. Kerry – Cumberland County
Steven R. King – Accomack County
Timothy L. LaFountain – Buckingham County
Joshua O. McClure – Frederick County
Alexander W. Meyers – King George County
Thomas J. Mills – York County
Justin R. Mull – Caroline County
Connor R. O’Quinn – Hampton / Newport News
Earl J. Pritchett – Prince George County
Andrew R. S. Sanders – Sussex County
Gabriel A. Santillan – Fairfax County
Austin M. Sloan – King William County
Jeffrey A. Spencer – Fairfax County
Sean M. Stinnett – Clark County
Seth A. Sullivan – Accomack County
Andrew M. Toth – Fairfax County
Joseph J. Trombley – Shenandoah County
Richard C. Warner – Gloucester County
Jacob K. Weitzman – Fairfax County
Isaac D. Wilson – York County
Joseph T. Worley – Greensville County
State police are currently hiring for future Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – January 14, 2021
Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.
- vaccine distribution to 160 sites
- receiving 110,000 vaccine doses per week
- the goal is to distribute 25,000 does per day
- your turn will come, be patient
- important to reopen our schools
- possibility of year-round school
- addressed threats of violence leading up to next week’s inauguration
Briefing begins about 8 minutes into the broadcast.
IRS Criminal Investigation warns Virginia taxpayers about new wave of COVID-19 scams
The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is warning Virginia taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
In the last several months, IRS-CI has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers. Criminals are taking advantage of the second round of Economic Impact Payments – as well as the approaching filing season – to trick honest taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.
“IRS-CI wants to make sure all Virginians are aware of potential scams, in hopes of preventing them from being victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson. “Please stay vigilant of potential scammers looking to steal your identity and your money.”
Some common COVID-19 scams include:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
- Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
- The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.
Governor Northam delivers State of the Commonwealth Address
DMV closed for 2021 State Holidays and Observances
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) full-service customer service centers will be closed on the following days for state holidays and observances:
• January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• February 15: George Washington Day
• May 31: Memorial Day
• June 18: Juneteenth
• July 5: Independence Day
• September 6: Labor Day
• October 11: Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day
• November 2: Election Day
• November 11: Veterans Day
The holiday schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas will be announced at a later date.
DMV customers are encouraged to save time by taking advantage of more than 40 transactions available online at dmvNOW.com. Appointments are required for in-person transactions.
Also, some DMV Select locations, run mostly by local governments, may operate outside the state holiday closing schedule. DMV Select offices process mostly vehicle-related transactions including registration renewals, titles, and license plates; driver’s licenses and ID card services are not available. To find out if a DMV Select in your area is open on a state holiday and whether an appointment is required, visit dmvNOW.com/DMVSelect.
Joint statement from Bowser, Hogan, and Northam on planning for 59th Presidential Inauguration
On January 11, 2021, the chief executives of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia held a joint call to discuss planning for the 59th Presidential Inauguration. The call covered recent requests by D.C. to the federal government, and the leaders discussed the need for enhanced planning and preparation compared to previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. The Mayor and the Governors agreed to urge Americans not to come into Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration and to instead participate virtually.
They issued the following statement:
“January 6, 2021, is now a seminal moment in American history. We are grateful for the courageous efforts of every law enforcement officer, Guard member, and first responder who heroically worked to secure the Capitol and ensure our nation’s democracy prevailed.
“On January 20, there will be a transition of power, and we will work together, and with our partners in the federal government, to ensure the safety of the National Capital Region. Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually.
“In this very trying time, January 6 was a dark moment for our nation. But we know that we will get through this period because American ideals are stronger than one extreme ideology. Together, we will overcome extremism and get back to the work of our residents.”