~ Theme: Grow, Empower, Mentor, and Succeed ~
RICHMOND—On February 8th, Governor Ralph Northam announced that biochemist and STEM advocate Camille Schrier will keynote the Commonwealth’s second annual Women in Innovation (WIN) conference. She also serves as Miss America 2020. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s (VITA) Innovation Program will host the conference in Richmond on Tuesday March 17, 2020, during Women’s History Month.
The conference celebrates the achievements of Virginia women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and aims to inspire the next generation of women innovators.
“The Women in Innovation conference will once again bring together a diverse community of successful women leaders and entrepreneurs to share their stories and empower one another,” said Governor Northam. “Events like this help encourage more young women to pursue their passions and join the ranks of Virginia pioneers in fast-growing, high-demand STEM fields.”
The conference will focus on the exchange of knowledge and ideas, offering a range of networking opportunities where participants can connect with their peers, collaborate on new ideas, and generate new energy to continue their work. This year, through a unique collaboration with CodeVA, the event will also include a new session designed to engage K-12 women.
Featured guests also include National Correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America Adrienne Bankert, plus a special performance from American Idol finalist Shayy Winn.
“This conference is a forum which offers attendees engagement, growth, and mentorship opportunities,” said Secretary of Administration Dr. Keyanna Conner. “Women in Innovation is geared to provide advice and guidance to individuals of all ages and genres to move forward in today’s society and be productive while in route.”
Dr. Gladys West, a mathematician known for her integral role in the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS), will be recognized with the 2020 Honorary “Powerhouse” Female Innovator Award. Secretary Conner and Nelson Moe, Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth, will present The Maggies, a Women in Innovation awards program named in honor of Maggie Lena Walker.
The event will be held at the Dewey Gottwald Center at the Science Museum of Virginia and the registration fee is $75. To register, or for additional event information, including the program schedule, please visit the Women in Innovation website.
Governor Northam signs 16 bills into law
~ Newly-approved measures include pro-transit planning, parole reform ~
Governor Ralph Northam today announced he signed 16 pieces of legislation into law, including bills to encourage local energy-efficient transit strategies and reform parole eligibility for certain juvenile offenders.
The measures include House Bill 585, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, which requires certain Virginia cities and counties to consider incorporating into their comprehensive plans strategies to focus development around transit, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through coordination of transportation, housing, and land use planning. Local governments use comprehensive plans to guide future development and infrastructure.
“Transit-oriented development helps create walkable, accessible communities with smaller carbon footprints,” said Governor Northam. “I am happy to sign this bill to ensure that our localities consider transit in their land-use planning.”
“Localities and cities are asked to do their part to fight climate change by considering options related to affordable housing, public transportation, and land use planning when preparing their comprehensive plans,” said Delegate Guzman. “By working together, we can drastically reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”
Governor Northam also signed House Bill 35, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Lindsey, which reforms parole by making people eligible for parole after serving 20 years of a sentence for crimes committed as juveniles and for which they received lengthy sentences.
“Criminal justice reform includes reforming parole,” said Governor Northam. “This is about simple justice and fairness.”
The measure complements Governor’s Northam criminal justice reform package, which continues to move through the legislative process. The package funds public defenders, supports returning citizens, and further reforms parole.
“House Bill 35 is a landmark piece of legislation that gives an opportunity for youths who have committed serious crimes and repented, a future opportunity for social redemption,” said Delegate Lindsey.
Governor Northam also signed the following bills:
• House Bill 94: Adoption; proper notice of proceeding to the legal custodian.
• House Bill 106: Numbering on buildings; civil penalty.
• House Bill 150: Derelict residential buildings; civil penalty.
• House Bill 278: Home/electronic incarceration program; payment to defray costs.
• House Bill 369: Furloughs from local work-release programs; furlough approved by a local sheriff.
• House Bill 370: Board of zoning appeals; dual office holding.
• House Bill 406: Local government revenues and expenditures; comparative report, filing date.
• House Bill 515: Urban county executive form of government; board of social services.
• House Bill 549: Overgrown vegetation; local authority.
• House Bill 598: Alcoholic beverage control; creates an annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license.
• House Bill 778: Family assessments; increases timeline for completion.
• House Bill 949: Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of local special events licensees.
• House Bill 1006: Human trafficking; assessments by local departments.
• House Bill 1137: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; hardship exception.
These measures become law on July 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.
Until the session’s final week, the Constitution of Virginia requires the Governor to act on legislation within seven days.
The General Assembly session is scheduled to adjourn on March 8, 2020.
Governor Northam announces Statewide 2020 Census Week of Action
~ Activities promote participation in the upcoming census, encourage Virginians to take action in their communities ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginians across the Commonwealth to participate in a 2020 Census week of action tomorrow through next Friday. Events throughout the week encourage Virginia residents to learn more about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census and to take action in their communities to help ensure Virginia has a complete and accurate count.
“An accurate count in the 2020 Census will support our efforts to build a Commonwealth for all Virginians and paint a more complete picture of the diverse voices that make up our state,” said Governor Northam. “I urge all Virginians to take part in the 2020 Census week of action and learn about how you can raise awareness about the upcoming census in your community.”
Virginians throughout the Commonwealth can help promote the census by taking part in the following activities.
Friday, February 21 – Sunday, February 23 | Interfaith Engagement
This weekend, faith-based organizations and communities are encouraged to share information about the 2020 Census with their parishioners by incorporating messaging into their sermons, lectures, or other teachings, and by including information in programs, bulletins, and newsletters. Faith-based organizations and communities can access the Virginia Complete Count Commission’s Interfaith Engagement Toolkit here.
Monday, February 24 | Engaging Virginia’s Seniors
Facilities and organizations that support Virginia’s seniors are encouraged to share information about the 2020 Census. Additionally, families are encouraged to create a plan of action for completing the 2020 Census with the seniors in their lives.
Older Virginians and their loved ones are also asked to mark their calendars for Wednesday, March 4 and join the 2020 Census Tele-Townhall hosted by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and AARP Virginia. From protecting themselves against census scams to letting family caregivers know how to help their loved ones, the Tele-Townhall will offer important information to help people make sure they are counted. Details about how to participate in the 2020 Census Tele-Townhall will be made available here.
Tuesday, February 25 | College Students’ “Talk About It Tuesday”
Colleges and universities are encouraged to educate students and faculty about the importance of the 2020 Census. Students are encouraged to participate in “Talk About It Tuesday” by talking to their parents and guardians to create a plan of action for completing the 2020 Census. College Students can find information on student enumeration here.
Wednesday, February 26 | Let’s “Get Social” (on Media)
Virginians can “Get Social” (on Media) by following Virginia’s Census engagement efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Virginians are also invited to participate in a Twitter chat about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census. Questions can be tweeted to @CountOnVirginia. Promote the Census using the hashtags #Census2020 #VACompleteCount #CountOnVirginia.
Pledge to be Counted
The Northam administration recently announced a partnership with CommunityConnect Labs to use mobile messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations. On Wednesday, February 26, Virginians are encouraged to “Pledge to be Counted” by texting the word “PLEDGE” or “CENSO” (Español) to the number for their respective locality. Participants will receive a digital pledge card that can be shared on social media. Standard text messaging data rates may apply.
Valley: (540) 235-5155
Northern: (703) 684-0007 or (571) 200-0828
Coastal: (757) 210-3232
Southside: (434) 201-4884
Southwest: (276) 218-8138
Central: (804) 203-0393
“We are excited to use our new text messaging platform to reach Virginians all over the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “We know that text and other mobile messaging is one of the best ways to reach underserved populations, especially those populations that are historically hard-to-count in the census.”
Thursday, February 27 | Counting Our Youngest Virginians
It is estimated that upwards of 5 percent of children under the age of four went uncounted in the 2010 Census. On Thursday, early childhood care and education centers are encouraged to share information with parents and guardians about the 2020 Census and the importance of young children born on or before April 1, 2020 (Census Day), being counted. Information on the enumeration of children ages 0-4 can be found here.
Friday, February 28 | K-12 “Census in Schools”
Educators and school administrators are encouraged to learn about how they can incorporate the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program into their lessons and classroom activities. The SIS program uses census statistics to create classroom materials for grades pre-K through 12. Learn more about the SIS program here.
Additionally, Parent-Teacher Associations are encouraged to share information on the importance of the 2020 Census through newsletters and on social media—highlighting the value of programs such as Head Start, school breakfasts and lunches, and how 2020 Census data will support these efforts.
About the Virginia Complete Count Commission
On December 18, 2018, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Twenty-Seven establishing the Virginia Complete Count Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to improve participation and representation of all Virginians in the 2020 Census. The Commission facilitates the sharing of ideas and community resources regarding the 2020 Census and serves as a conduit between the Commonwealth and the United States Census Bureau.
The Virginia Complete Count Commission serves as a trusted voice and resource to educate, empower, and engage all communities for the purpose of ensuring that everyone who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia is counted in the 2020 Census.
For more information on the 2020 Census and Virginia Complete Count Commission, visit census.virginia.gov or follow @CountOnVirginia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
CANCELLED Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Fairfax man missing
Cancelled Senior Alert: Subject has been located
The Virginia State Police has issued a senior alert on behalf of Fairfax Police Department on February 19, 2020, at 9:00 p.m.
The Fairfax Police Department is looking for William Shaw, a white male, 85-years-old, height: 6’1”, weight: 225 lbs., with grey eyes and grey hair. He was last seen on February 19, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. on Clara Barton Road, driving a 2008 white Toyota Sienna, VA Registration 258-2BBE. He was last seen wearing a green jacket and jeans.
The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment, and the disappearance poses a credible threat to his health and safety as determined by the investigating agency.
Please contact the Fairfax Police Department with any information regarding his whereabouts at 1-703-691-2131, or you may find complete information at www.vasenioralert.com.
Governor Northam announces new funding to preserve farmland
~ $350,000 for permanent conservation easements in Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach ~
On February 19, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced $350,000 in grants from the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund to help six localities protect their farm and forest land. The grants will be used as matching funds to permanently preserve working lands through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs.
The grant recipients for the fiscal year 2020 are Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, and the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. PDR programs empower localities to limit development on priority farm and forest lands and provide an incentive to landowners who want to protect their working lands by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement.
“As Virginia’s largest private industry, agriculture plays a vital role in maintaining our strong economy and outstanding quality of life,” said Governor Northam. “Through this program, localities are helping us identify the working farm and forest lands that are most important to conserve for agricultural and forestry production, and working to ensure that future generations of Virginians can benefit from cleaner air and cleaner water.”
Since the program’s inception in 2008, Virginia has provided matching funds for certified local PDR programs to 23 localities, allocating $12.8 million to protect more than 14,100 acres on 105 farms. In August, Governor Northam celebrated the milestone of surpassing more than 100 conservation easements through the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund. Conservation easements supported by this program ensure that protected lands stay intact as working farms and forests in perpetuity.
“Conserving working farm and forest lands is crucial to maintaining Virginia’s economy, through the agricultural and forestry industries and agritourism,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Keeping farms in production conserves open spaces and provides economic, environmental, and social benefits to local communities and to the Commonwealth as a whole.”
Localities interested in doing more to protect their vital working farms and forestlands by creating a PDR program or implementing other best practices should contact Jen Perkins, Coordinator, Office of Farmland Preservation at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov or (804) 786-1906.
CANCELLED: Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Newport News woman missing
The Virginia State Police has issued a senior alert on behalf of Newport News Police Department on February 17, 2020 at 6:30 a.m.
The Newport News Police Department is looking for Marva Keyser, a black female, 77-years-old, 150 lbs., with hazel eyes and brown hair. She was last seen on February 16, 2020, at 9:30 p.m., on Wellesley Drive. She was last seen wearing a light jacket, long sleeve shirt – black and pink in color, red shorts just past the knees, and white/gray/red shoes.
The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment and the disappearance poses a credible threat to her health and safety as determined by the investigating agency.
Please contact the Newport News Police Department with any information regarding her whereabouts at 1-757-928-4100, option 4, or you may find complete information at www.vasenioralert.com.
The Virginia Senior Alert for Ms. Keyser of Newport News has been cancelled. The Newport News Police Department is reporting that she was safely located.
International Space Station resupply mission launches from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
~ Spacecraft named in honor of first African American astronaut ~
RICHMOND—The 13th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station successfully launched Saturday, February 15 at 3:21 p.m. from Wallops Island. The mission will deliver 8,009 pounds of cargo to the space station.
The “NG-13” mission is a partnership of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), NASA Wallops Flight Facility, and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. The spacecraft launched from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A.
Northrop Grumman named the NG-13 spacecraft after former astronaut Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. He became the first African American astronaut in 1967 when the Air Force selected him as a member of the third group of astronauts for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Major Lawrence served in the United States Air Force as an officer and pilot, accumulating more than 2,500 flight hours, including 2,000 in jets. He spent much of his career training other pilots in cutting-edge flight maneuvers and techniques. His Air Force honors included the Commendation Medal and the Outstanding Unit Citation.
“Today’s launch is delivering equipment to the International Space Station, where astronauts are advancing scientific understanding,” said Governor Northam. “This important mission honors the legacy of Major Robert Lawrence, who dedicated his career to advancing science through flight.”
NASA and its partners have successfully supported humans continuously living in space since the Expedition 1 crew arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on November 2, 2000. The unique microgravity laboratory has hosted 239 people from 19 countries, more than 2,600 experiments from 3,900 researchers in more than 107 countries, and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station also is facilitating the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit for research, technology development, and crew and cargo transportation.
“The world-class infrastructure and technology on Wallops Island are expanding opportunities for science, research, national security, and ISS cargo resupply missions,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Collaboration among the Commonwealth, Virginia Space, and NASA Wallops will continue to grow the potential of this strategic national asset and gateway to space.”
The Commonwealth built MARS Pad 0A to accommodate the Antares 230+ rocket configuration and Cygnus spacecraft. Modifications in 2019 made it possible to accommodate the loading of time-sensitive experiments into the Cygnus spacecraft up to 24 hours before liftoff, shortening the previous four-day pre-loading requirement. This is the second official mission to use this loading capability, which has made the MARS facility eligible for missions that include life science investigations in the payload.
This will be the second mission under Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract with NASA, for which the company will fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS through 2024.
The Antares rocket will boost an unmanned Cygnus spacecraft carrying more than 8,000 pounds of payload to the ISS that includes scientific investigations, supplies, and vehicle hardware for the orbital laboratory and its crew.
The scientific investigations launching on Cygnus are part of commercial and academic payloads across a variety of disciplines, including:
• Mobile SpaceLab, tissue and cell culturing facility for sophisticated microgravity biology experiments.
• Mochii, a miniature scanning electron microscope for analysis of small and microscopic particles in space. This onsite imaging and measurement of particles could be a game-changer for microgravity research in Low Earth Orbit.
• OsteoOmics, an experiment to investigate astronaut bone loss due to a lack of gravity while they are in orbit. The study of signaling pathways, as well as gene and protein expression, could also have implications for patients on Earth.
• Phage Evolution, an investigation that aims to improve understanding of the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on bacteriophages (viruses that specifically invade and destroy bacteria without harming human cells) and hosts. This could result in significant developments for phage technology, which would ultimately help protect the health of astronauts on future missions. Targeted phage therapy to eliminate harmful bacteria without causing large-scale damage to a human’s microbiome is currently being utilized on Earth as an alternative to antibiotics in an age of increasing antibiotic resistance.
• Saffire-IV, a fire suppression investigation that will aid understanding of how fires spread in space and will support the development of flame-resistant materials and fire prevention measures. The experiment uses the Cygnus resupply vehicle after it leaves the space station, thereby eliminating exposure of humans or spacecraft to fire danger.
The Cygnus spacecraft will spend about three months attached to the space station. It will then depart the station, the Saffire-IV experiment will be activated, and the spacecraft will deorbit.
“Virginia Space continues to provide reliable ground support systems and personnel through maintenance and operation of MARS Pad 0A, the homeport of the Antares rocket,” said Dale Nash, Executive Director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. “The strong and strategic public-public-private partnership of Virginia Space, NASA Goddard’s Wallops Flight Facility, and Northrop Grumman is a unique collaboration that contributes to ongoing mission success.”
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the MARS Spaceport, the MARS Payload Processing Facility, and the MARS Unmanned Systems Test Range. The facilities are all located on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where their mission is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space. Virginia continues to play a key role in national security and assured access to space, as one of only four states in the United States hosting a spaceport licensed by the FAA to launch spacecraft into orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. For more information, visit vaspace.org.