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Governor Northam encourages Virginians to honor Black History Month



~ Numerous events statewide to recognize tremendous African American contributions ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam made the following statement on Black History Month, which is celebrated nationwide during February.

“For too long, the stories we have told about Virginia’s history have diminished or ignored the contributions of African Americans. Black History Month is just one way we honor these tremendous accomplishments and ensure more people have a full and accurate understanding of our past.

As we work to better tell our true story, I encourage all Virginians to pause and recognize the depth of contributions Black Americans have made to the fabric of our Commonwealth and nation. Let’s not just do this today, tomorrow, or one month out of the year—but every day. Black history is American history.”

Governor Northam today issued a proclamation to commemorate February as Black History Month in the Commonwealth. The theme of 2020’s national Black History Month is “African Americans and the Vote.” This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, and the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Historic Justice and Equity
Throughout February, Virginia museums and historical sites will be hosting free public events to tell stories of accomplishments and contributions by African Americans. A list of such events can be found here.

Governor Northam’s proposed budget also includes a variety of measures to increase awareness of African American history, including $2.5 million to support K-12 attendance at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, over $7 million to support Historic African American sites, and over $2 million to provide students from across the Commonwealth the ability to visit the American Civil War Museum. Learn more about the Governor’s historic justice and equity agenda here.

Historic Marker Unveilings
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is working with local partners to unveil new historic markers honoring African American Virginians. The following events are free and open to the public.

The Irene Morgan Story (Gloucester County)
Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 10:00 AM
2425 Hayes Road, Hayes, Virginia 23072

Palmer Hayden (1890–1973) (Stafford County)
Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Widewater State Park (next to the Visitor Center), 101 Widewater State Park Road, Stafford Courthouse, Virginia 22554

Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson
Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 2:30 PM
1100 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

First Baptist Church
Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 11:00 AM
236 Harrison Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23803

Governor Northam’s Commission on African American History Education continues to review reviewing the Commonwealth’s K-12 history standards to ensure Virginia students are taught accurate and comprehensive version of Virginia’s history. The Commission will be hosting a listening tour in February and March—exact dates will be announced next week.

Governor Northam has also launched an inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest. 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. More information on this contest can be found here.

General Assembly Legislative Session
Governor Northam continues to encourage Virginians to make their voices heard during the General Assembly session.

The legislature is working to remove racist and discriminatory language that remains on Virginia’s books, as a result of Governor Northam’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. The Commission’s interim report can be found here.

The General Assembly is also considering Governor Northam’s proposed budget, which includes a wide variety of equity measures. A full list of equity measures in the Governor’s proposed budget is available here.

Virginians can also share their perspective through the Virginia African American Advisory Board. Board meetings are free and open to the public. The next Board meeting will be held Friday, February 7, 2020 at 9:30 AM in the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond. For a full list of upcoming Board meetings, please see here.

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The Virginia Department of Elections highlights security initiatives to ensure election integrity



Ensuring the integrity of our elections has always been and will continue to be a top priority for election officials across the Commonwealth. Election officials across the country have been faced with targeted attacks from bad actors, both foreign and domestic, who work to undermine the public trust in our elections process.

Virginians should feel confident that their votes will be counted accurately. The Department of Elections (ELECT) has worked to remove unsecure voting systems from service at the local level and promoted the transition to modern voting systems using voter verified paper-based balloting. Furthermore, the equipment voters use to cast their ballots in Virginia are not connected to the Internet.

“The Department of Elections is aware of security concerns related to elections and voting systems,” said Christopher Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. “As election officials, it is important for us to make sure that voters know their votes will be counted and their voices are heard.”

ELECT has worked with voting equipment vendors to ensure all voting systems meet new standards prior to the 2020 General Election. System vulnerability tests are constantly in process to ensure that the Department’s infrastructure is sound.

The work to protect Virginia’s elections from cybercrime is ongoing. In March 2019, Governor Northam signed Ch. 426, Acts of Assembly 2019, which requires the creation and implementation of cybersecurity standards for all jurisdictions who access the state election database. These efforts have helped Virginia to prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyber incidents targeting the integrity of its election system. Cybersecurity training courses have been made available to Virginia’s election administrators statewide. One of ELECT’s most successful training opportunities has generated participation from more than 400 of Virginia’s election officials. The program, created by the Chicago nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), is divided into three courses and covers practices like creating strong passwords, protecting accounts with two-factor authentication, identifying common types of cyber attacks faced by government offices, and effectively communicating with the public about security issues.

ELECT has developed collaborative relationships with federal, state and local election officials to share and learn from one another in support of more secure elections. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) work with ELECT to ensure adherence to state security policies and best practices set forth by CIS, including conducting an annual security audit.

ELECT has increased its staff to include hiring additional training professionals tasked with updating and maintaining compliance materials for elections, while staff also receives ongoing security training and resources from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

“Training is a top priority at the Virginia Department of Elections,” explains Commissioner Piper. “We are proud of the fact that our training opportunities are as diverse as the partnerships we have formed. Our training varies from conducting tabletop exercises for election officials to hosting continuity of operations workgroup meetings with elections stakeholders, where we identify best practices and areas for improvement in cyber incident planning, preparedness, identification and response.”

Virginia’s 2020 Primary Election will be held March 3, and the General Election scheduled for November 3. The Department of Elections encourages voters to take the following steps to help promote election security and voter confidence:

  • Check your voter registration status to ensure that it is current and/or find your polling place. Virginia provides a secure way for Virginia voters to access their registration information through our citizen portal.
  • Always review your ballot before casting it.
  • Find information about elections by using trusted sources such as state and county agencies.
  • Learn more about the security efforts of the Virginia Department of Elections and our state and federal partners.
  • Follow the Virginia Department of Elections on Twitter @VaELECT and like us on Facebook.
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Governor Northam signs 16 bills into law



Governor Ralph Northam signed 16 pieces of legislation into law. File photo.

~ 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.

Transit-Oriented Development

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.”

Parole Reform

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.

Additional Measures

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.

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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 or follow @CountOnVirginia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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CANCELLED Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Fairfax man missing



Senior Alert: William Shaw

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.

William Shaw last seen driving a 2008 white Toyota Sienna, VA Registration 258-2BBE.

Please contact the Fairfax Police Department with any information regarding his whereabouts at 1-703-691-2131, or you may find complete information at

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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 or (804) 786-1906.

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CANCELLED: Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Newport News woman missing



Marva Keyser. Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.

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

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.

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Upcoming Events

9:00 am Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Feb 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Feb 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
2:00 pm Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Do appearances, of people or books, influence you?  How much time does it take for you to decide that you are/are not interested? What criteria determines interest? Come spend time in a “speed dating” atmosphere,[...]
10:00 am Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Mar 2 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Monday, March 2nd, 2020, is National Read Across America Day. Students of all ages are invited to come to the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke’s pet adoption center, located at 111 Featherbed Lane, to[...]
9:00 am Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans is where big brands meet everyday low prices, with new fabulous finds every week. The apparel and home décor retailer invites area communities to its Grand Opening Brand Bash Celebration on March 3 at[...]
11:00 am Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 3 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
What do books, scarves, puppets, music and babies have in common? They are all part of Time for Baby. Join us as we use all of our senses to explore the world around us. This[...]