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Governor Northam signs Executive Order establishing Commission on African American History Education

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HAMPTON—Governor Ralph Northam  signed Executive Order Thirty-Nine, which establishes the Commission on African American History Education. The Commission is charged with reviewing Virginia’s history standards, and the instructional practices, content, and resources currently used to teach African American history in the Commonwealth. Governor Northam made the announcement speaking at the 2019 Commemoration of the First African Landing, a ceremony to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in 1619.

“The full history of Virginia is complex, contradictory, and often untold—and we must do a better job of making sure that every Virginia graduate enters adult life with an accurate and thorough understanding of our past, and the pivotal role that American Americans have played in building and perfecting our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “The important work of this Commission will help ensure that Virginia’s standards of learning are inclusive of African American history and allow students to engage deeply, drawing connections between historic racial inequities and their continuous influence on our communities today.”

The Executive Order tasks the Commission with issuing a report no later than July 1, 2020, with recommendations for improving the student experience, including but not limited to:

• Technical edits to and recommendations for enriched standards related to African American history;

• Broader considerations for the full history and social studies standards review process; and
• Necessary professional development and instructional supports for all teachers to ensure culturally competent instruction.

The Commonwealth first established its history and social science standards of learning in 1995. Since that time, the standards have been routinely updated based on feedback from practitioners, historians, and stakeholders. The work of the Commission will help inform the next history and social science standards review the state will undertake.

Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education will work with Virtual Virginia, WHRO Public Media, and committees of history and social science public school educators, university historians, and college professors to develop a new African American history course for high school students. Together, they will establish objectives and competencies to provide a foundation of knowledge and understanding of African American history.

This new elective will be available to all students in the Commonwealth virtually beginning in the fall of 2020. Its component digital parts will be accessible resources for students in numerous other history courses.

The Governor has appointed the following individuals to serve on the Commission:

• Derrick P. Alridge of Charlottesville, Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
• Dr. Rosa S. Atkins of Charlottesville, Superintendent, Charlottesville City Schools
• Edward Ayers of Richmond, Professor of the Humanities, University of Richmond
• Jarvis E. Bailey of Fredericksburg, High School Administrator, Westmoreland County Public Schools and School Board Member, Fredericksburg City
• Maria D. Burgos of Prince William County, Supervisor of Global Learning and Culturally Responsive Instruction, Prince William County Public Schools
• Christy S. Coleman of Chesterfield, CEO, American Civil War Museum
• Dr. Robert N. Corley, III of Chesterfield, Associate Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs and Project Director, The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, Virginia State University
• Pamela Croom of Hampton, President-Elect, Virginia PTA
• Dr. Andrew P. Daire of Moseley, Dean of the School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
• Crystal DeLong of Bedford, Teacher, Liberty High School, Bedford County Public Schools
• Beau Dickenson of Harrisonburg, President, Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium and Social Studies Supervisor, Rockingham County Public Schools
• Crystal M. Edwards of Lynchburg, Superintendent, Lynchburg City Schools
• Anne Marie Evans of Fluvanna County, Director of Education and Outreach–New American History, University of Richmond
• Dr. John K. Lee of Raleigh, Professor, North Carolina State University
• Makya Renée Little of Woodbridge, Parent Advocate and Florida A&M University Alumnus
• Dr. Monica Manns of Henrico, Director of Equity and Diversity, Henrico County Public Schools
• Basil Marin of Atlanta, Assistant Principal, DeKalb County Schools
• Tyrone Nelson of Henrico County, Chairman, Henrico County Board of Supervisors and Pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Richmond
• Dr. Cassandra L. Newby-Alexander of Chesapeake, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History, Norfolk State University
• The Honorable Atif Qarni of Prince William, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia
• Gloria Randolph-King of Roanoke, Retired Roanoke City Public Schools Administrator
• Rodney Robinson of Richmond, 2019 National Teacher of the Year
• Dr. Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward of Hampton, Director, Hampton University Museum
• Pastor Michelle C. Thomas of Loudoun County, Founder and CEO, Loudoun Freedom Center and President, NAACP Loudoun Branch
• Dr. Dietra Trent of Halifax, Former Secretary of Education
• Dr. James F. Lane of Chesterfield, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction
• Dr. Alice Reilly of Alexandria, Educator, George Mason University
• Renita S. Williams of Chesapeake, Secondary Social Studies Instructional Supervisor, Newport News Public Schools
• Rodney Jordan of Norfolk, Co-Chair, Virginia School Boards Association Task Force on Students and Schools in Challenging Environments and School Board Member, Norfolk City
• Cainan Townsend of Farmville, Director of Education, Robert Russa Moton Museum
• Chris Van Tassell of Richmond, Program Coordinator and Educator, Virginia Museum of History & Culture
• Robert C. Watson of Williamsburg, Assistant Professor of History, Hampton University
• Dr. William E. White of Williamsburg, Visiting Distinguished Scholar, Christopher Newport University
• Jonathan C. Zur of Richmond, President and CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

The full text of Executive Order Thirty-Nine can be found here.

Additional information about the Commission and its meetings will be available online here.

Governor Northam’s full remarks at the 2019 Commemoration of the First African Landing, as prepared for delivery, are below.

Good morning.

What a beautiful setting this is. I thank you for the privilege of speaking to you at Fort Monroe today. As a former member and vice-chairman of the Fort Monroe Authority, it’s always a pleasure to be here at this site.

Thank you all for being here today to commemorate 400 years of American history.

For those of you from out of state, welcome to Virginia.

It’s great to be here today with former governors, now Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and former governors McDonnell and Baliles. I also want to recognize Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, Congressman Bobby Scott, Congresswoman Elaine Luria, House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, members of our legislative black caucus, and other elected officials.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked hard to make this commemoration a reality—Fort Monroe Authority director Glenn Oder, Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Moran, members of the Fort Monroe Authority board, Fort Monroe National Monument Superintendent Terry Brown, the National Park Service, Kathy Spangler, Nancy Rodrigues, and the team from American Evolution. I’d also like to thank the Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission for all the hard work they have done around these events in their home city.

We are here today for a commemoration, and a reckoning.

Today is a time to reckon with the fact that four hundred years ago, enslaved Africans arrived for the first time on Virginia shores. Like you and me, they had lives and families—lives and families they would never see again.

Just up the river in Jamestown, a few weeks earlier, white landowning men had come together to establish a system of representative government.

But that system did not represent all of the people who arrived here at Old Point Comfort, people whose skin looked different than mine.

That government did not represent them during 246 years of slavery. It did not represent them through nearly 100 years of Reconstruction and Jim Crow terror and discrimination. And in many ways, it struggles to represent them today.

That is the truth, and that is what we must reckon with as we move forward. How do we tell the full and true story of our past 400 years?

How do we do so with honor and dignity for people whose honor and dignity were taken away from them? Who should tell that story? And how do we learn from those lessons as we move forward?

Ida B. Wells wrote that “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

If we are going to begin to truly right the wrongs of our four centuries of history, if we are going to turn the light of truth upon them, we have to start with ourselves.

Over the past several months, as I have met with people around the state and listened to their views on the disparities and inequities that still exist today, I have had to confront some painful truths.

Among those truths was my own incomplete understanding regarding race and equity.

I have learned a great deal from those discussions, and I have more to learn. But I also learned that the more I know, the more I can do.

For too long, the burden has been on individuals and communities of color to lead these discussions. But if more of us have these hard conversations, and truly listen and learn from them, we’ll be better able to shine that light of truth. Because the eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know.

We can start those conversations at places like this, Fort Monroe, the ground where the first enslaved Africans landed.

This is also the same ground where the end of slavery began. It was here where enslaved people sought refuge, and were granted it, a decision that eventually led to emancipation.

General Butler’s contraband decision has been hailed by Ed Ayers—a nationally known historian of the American South, and a member of the Fort Monroe Authority—as “the greatest moment in American history.”

Virginia is the place where enslaved Africans first landed and where American representative democracy was born.

Virginia is the place where emancipation began and the Confederate capitol was located.

Virginia is the place where schools were closed under Massive Resistance, rather than desegregate and allow black children to attend, and it is the state that elected the nation’s first African American governor.

Virginia is a place of contradictions and complexity. We take a step forward and, often, a step back.

And we have to acknowledge that. We have to teach that complexity to our children, and often to our adults. We are a state that for too long has told a false story of ourselves.

The story we tell is insufficient and inadequate, especially when it comes to black history.

We must remember that black history IS American history.

That’s why earlier today, I signed an executive directive to establish a Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth.

This Commission will review our educational standards, instructional practices, content, and resources currently used to teach African American history in the Commonwealth. We want to make sure all students develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the African-American voices that contribute to our story.

But that is not the only thing we can do.

When we look back at events of 1619, or 1861, or 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was signed, we often look at them as history—frozen in time or locked in a book, relics of the past.

We memorize dates, but not connections. We don’t teach the themes that appear in our history over and over again.

We often fail to draw the connecting lines from those past events to our present day.

But to move forward, that is what we must do.

We know that racism and discrimination aren’t locked in the past. They weren’t solved with the Civil Rights Act. They didn’t disappear—they evolved.

They’re still with us, in the disparities we see in educational attainment and school suspension rates, in maternal and neonatal mortality for black and white mothers, in our courts and prisons, and in our business practices.

Through 400 years of American history, starting with the enslavement of Africans, through Jim Crow, Massive Resistance, and now mass incarceration, black oppression has always existed in this country, just in different forms.

The legacy of racism continues not just in isolated incidents, but as part of a system that touches every person and every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not. And if we’re serious about righting the wrong that began here at this place, we need to do more than talk. We need to take action.

The Commission I mentioned earlier is just one action. My administration is taking bold steps to right historical inequities in education, in our health system, and in access to business opportunities.

We established a commission to examine racial inequities in Virginia law.

We have set a goal to eliminate racial disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality by 2025.

I signed an executive order to advance equity for our small women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, including a statewide disparity study, and we are working to reduce evictions.

A few weeks ago, I was here at Fort Monroe to announce the removal of letters from the arch that once celebrated the president of the Confederacy.

Jefferson Davis was charged with treason and was imprisoned here at Fort Monroe, a traitor to his country. And I believe it is no coincidence that in the same year that Virginia enacted Massive Resistance as official state policy, that arch went up in his honor.

To have a monument glorifying a person who worked to maintain slavery, on the same site on which enslaved Africans both first arrived here and were later freed, is not just inappropriate, it is offensive, and it is wrong. Removing that monument is one way we can act to better tell the true story here in Virginia.

And I am pleased and proud to announce today another important step in how we represent the full and true story of our Commonwealth.

Last year, I requested and the General Assembly agreed to allocate $500,000 toward the first African Landing Memorial Art Project here at Fort Monroe.

Since that time, the Fort Monroe Authority and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, in partnership with the National Park Service, the Fort Monroe Foundation, and Project 1619, led a national search for an artist who could create this memorial art project at Old Point Comfort.

The art project will be dedicated to the first landing of African people here on these shores. Importantly, the artist will engage with the public to ensure that the community has the chance to express their opinion on what this memorial project means to them, and what experiences should be included in the design.

I’m delighted that the artist for the Fort Monroe African Landing Memorial Art Project is here with us today. Mr. Brian Owens, would you please stand?

I look forward to seeing Mr. Owens’ project and how it will contribute to this site and the telling of this important American story.

On this very day last year, I was at the Tucker family cemetery, a cemetery named after the first documented child of African descent born in English-speaking North America.

William Tucker’s parents, Anthony and Isabell, were among those who were brought here to Old Point Comfort in 1619.

Like too many African-American cemeteries, the Tucker family cemetery had fallen victim to neglect.

But it is also a testament to revival and restoration. Family members and interested groups are working to restore that cemetery, and I want to recognize Delegate Delores McQuinn for her work on this issue.

In that restoration work, and in the events here this weekend, I see steps forward. I see us working to acknowledge the wrongs and the evils done in the past—and in the present.

Because, while we cannot change the past, we can use it and learn from it. When we know more, we can do more.

I know more, and as your governor, I will do more.

And as we reckon with the painful legacy of Virginia’s racist past, and acknowledge that it continues to shape our present, we can and must continue to act to improve the future. We must work to tell our full and true story.

It is our job—all of us that make up this diverse society—to ensure that when the next generation looks back—a generation that is hopefully more inclusive than we have been—they see a more accurate narrative, one that tells the truth, and includes everyone.

Thank you.

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Governor Northam hosts roundtable discussion with Amazon HQ2 officials

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On October 21, 2019, Governor Ralph Northam hosted a roundtable discussion in St. Paul with officials from Amazon’s second headquarters, located in Arlington. The Governor was joined by his Chief of Staff Clark Mercer, Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball, and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Cassidy Rasnick. Held at the Oxbow Center of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, the conversation included community and business leaders in Southwest Virginia who spoke about workforce development, economic development, and small business issues. Following the discussion, Governor Northam became the first sitting governor to ride on the Spearhead Trails. Photos from the Governor’s visit are available here.

“Workforce development is a key reason why companies are choosing to locate in Virginia, and we’re proud to work with diverse partners to grow our tech talent pipeline across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “One of my proudest days in office was last year when I announced Amazon’s decision to call Virginia their second home, and we believe the company’s location here can benefit every part of the state. Southwest Virginia has strong communities, a skilled workforce, and visionary leadership, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with local leaders how we can attract more jobs and investment to this important region.”

In November 2018, Governor Northam announced that Amazon would invest at least $2.5 billion and create more than 25,000 high-paying jobs to establish their second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The Commonwealth’s proposal was designed to help grow the tech talent pipeline in all parts of the state, enhance transportation infrastructure, and ensure that the economic benefits of the Amazon project are shared across Virginia.

“Attracting world-class talent that will help Amazon continue to innovate on behalf of its customers was the main driver of our decision to locate our second headquarters in Northern Virginia,” Ardine Williams, Vice President of Workforce Development at Amazon. We are excited by the Commonwealth’s response and look forward to continue building the future together.”

“After our statewide workforce tour in September, the number one issue in Southwest Virginia is bringing jobs to the area to keep communities together,” said Chief Workforce Advisor Megan Healy. “It is great to show international business leaders the strong workforce and innovation happening in all parts of the states.”

“Bringing Amazon’s HQ2 to Virginia was a huge win for the whole Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The Governor has been focused on diversifying the economy, and making sure all regions participate in our economic growth. This roundtable is a chance to highlight the human and natural assets of Southwest Virginia, and hear from community leaders about ways we can continue to enhance the economic prosperity of all regions.”

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Governor Northam issues statewide drought watch advisory

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a statewide drought watch advisory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event. Localities, water suppliers, self-supplied water users, and all citizens are encouraged begin preparations for a potential drought.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a work group coordinated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) representing state and federal agencies, the primary factors contributing to the current drought advisory are low precipitation amounts across the state since July, low stream flows (affecting aquifers, lakes, and soils), and low groundwater levels in observation wells compared to previous October levels.

“More than half of our Commonwealth is currently experiencing a water deficit, which can have lasting agricultural, economic, environmental impacts,” said Governor Northam. “While water conservation activities during a drought watch are generally voluntary, we encourage localities and individuals across Virginia to heed this warning and take necessary steps to monitor their water usage.”

The next stage after a drought watch is a drought warning, which indicates that a significant drought event is imminent. If a drought warning is issued, water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place—or prepared during a drought watch—would begin.

“Higher temperatures and less consistent precipitation patterns driven by climate change are making extreme weather like droughts more prevalent around the world, and Virginia is no exception,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Governor Northam and our administration are taking steps to monitor and mitigate drought impacts and address the causes and symptoms of climate change.”

Additionally, 36 localities in Virginia have issued open air burn bans. Individuals are encouraged to check the Virginia Department of Forestry’s map for the latest information on active burn bans and contact their locality for further details on outdoor burning restrictions.

“Fortunately, Virginia’s vigilant task force, ongoing monitoring program and cohesive regional water resource plans are in place for this very situation, to help raise awareness across the Commonwealth and mitigate potential impacts to citizens, water suppliers, and their customers,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.

Throughout the drought watch advisory, localities, water suppliers and self-supplied water users in all areas are strongly encouraged to take voluntary steps to protect current water supplies.

• Minimize non-essential water use.
• Review or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take actions consistent with those plans.
• Share information as broadly as possible.
• Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied
water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
• Impose water restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
• Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

Statewide information on current drought conditions is available on the DEQ website.

The map displays the current status of drought indicators for each of the thirteen Drought Evaluation Regions in Virginia.  The squares within each region indicate the current stage of each of the drought indicators as described by the key below.  The color shown for each Drought Evaluation Region indicates the current stage for that region.  For example, regions colored green indicate normal conditions with no current drought advisory.  If a region is colored yellow, a Drought Watch Advisory is currently in effect for that region.

Drought Indicator Key

Res = Reservoir

Prcp = Precipitation

GW = Groundwater Levels

Flow = Streamflow

No Data = An indicator groundwater or streamflow gage or reservoir is not available for that region, or that data from existing stations are temporarily unavailable

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Governor Northam announces civil rights restored to more than 20,000 Virginians

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Photo courtesy of restore.virginia.gov where you can find out more about restoration of rights.

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced today that since he took office in January 2018, his administration has restored the civil rights of 22,205 Virginians previously convicted of a felony. The civil rights restored include the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and become a notary public.

“Virginia remains one of the few states in the nation that permanently strip individuals of their civil rights after a felony conviction,” said Governor Northam. “I’m proud to use my executive clemency power to restore those rights to Virginians who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities seeking a second chance. This is about doing what is fair and right, and is an important part of our ongoing work to build a stronger, more accessible, and more inclusive Commonwealth.”

Governor Northam announced in February that civil rights had been restored to over 10,000 individuals since the start of his administration, more than any other Virginia governor prior to Terry McAuliffe.

“Since the start of his administration, Governor Northam has been committed to fairness and making sure that Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “The restoration of civil rights is an important step to ensuring that all of our residents are treated equally.”

For more information on restoration of rights and the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, visit restore.virginia.gov.

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Virginia State Police welcomes 59 new troopers to its ranks

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130th Basic Session Motto: Trained by the Best, to Protect the Rest. Photo courtesy of VSP.

RICHMOND – On Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, the Commonwealth will graduate its 130th generation of Virginia State Troopers. The 59 new troopers will be presented their diplomas during commencement exercises at 10 a.m. at the State Police Training Academy located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County. Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Ryant Washington will be in attendance of the graduation ceremony.

The new troopers have received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, survival Spanish, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival, cultural diversity and crisis management. The members of the 130th Basic Session began their 29 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy March 20, 2019.

The soon-to-be graduates of the 130th Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Alabama, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Upon graduation, the new troopers will report to their individual duty assignments across Virginia the week of October 7. For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

130th BASIC GRADUATING CLASS

  Name Hometown Assignment
Kevin Alexander Allen Virginia Beach Hampton/Newport News
Maximo L. Arduini Hamilton, New Jersey Chesterfield
Domanic James Banish Ticonderoga, New York Fairfax
Brian Wayne Barrett Bristol Scott
Richard Shayne Brooks Suffolk York
Sung Hoon Cho Sterling Springfield
Jabreia Camay Clark South Hill Mecklenburg
Christopher Thomas Cortese Guilderland, New York Orange
Kelsea Lee Crotts Smithfield Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Anthony Carroll Daulton, Jr. Appomattox Prince Edward
Luis Brian Delgado Chester Chesterfield
 Aaron Matthew Dorr Suffolk Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Nicholas Charles Fleischer Bangor, Pennsylvania Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Jacob Peter Gooch Woodbridge Springfield
Keith Aaron Griese Manassas Prince William
Devin Nicholas Hacker Courtland Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Chance Alan Harrington Rural Retreat Frederick
Justin Roy Harris Seville, Ohio Campbell
Matthew Lane Hedgepeth Chester Hampton/Newport News
Andrew Ryan Jennings Charlottesville Arlington
Tanner Blake Jones Damascus Halifax
William Revely Keesee Amherst Franklin
Alexander Stephen King Indianapolis, Indiana Fairfax
Jason Patrick Kirk Wytheville Wythe
Joseph James Kulick Edwardsville, Pennsylvania Hampton/Newport News
Michael B. LeSage Port Haywood York
William McKinley Lester, II Wise Scott
William H. Littlejohn, Jr. Chester Dinwiddie
Joseph Hunter Lowe Rural Retreat Springfield
Larry Nathan Luna Hackensack, New Jersey Springfield
Jalante Rashard Manns Roanoke Isle of Wight
William Wyatt McCraw Danville Pittsylvania
Matthew David Meadows Verona Augusta
Conlan Jonathan Miller Herndon Fairfax
Bradley Austin Mills Ashland Hanover
Christopher Edward Miskin Midlothian Chesterfield
Adolfo Alberto Orellana North Chesterfield Stafford
Caleb James Parnell Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania Rockbridge
Jesse Dylan Peebles Fries Albemarle
Joshua Ryan Pelletier La Crosse Lunenburg
William Austin Peters Rural Retreat Dinwiddie
Alexander Carl Pike Schwenksville, Pennsylvania Warren
Devin Joseph Pluchino Virginia Beach Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Isaiah Chance Puckett Ararat Botetourt
Katie Jean Reeves Bealeton Madison
Benjamin Alan Rhodes Bracey Mecklenburg
James Matthew Riggs Tuscaloosa, Alabama James City
Alexandra Nicole Roberts Bumpass Stafford
David M. Saunders Henrico Hanover
Kevin Peter Schumann Centreville Fairfax
Timofey Smosyuk Vestal, New York Henrico
Lloyd Ryan Spencer Patrick Springs Botetourt
Justin Lee Sproston Gloucester Mathews
Ryan James Walker Midlothian Rockbridge
 Matthew Allan Wilkinson Clarksville Appomattox
John Dakota Winebrenner Danville Pittsylvania
John Carper Workman Wytheville Albemarle
John Tyler Wukich Christiansburg Albemarle
James Brandon Yates Lebanon Botetourt
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VDOT announces new Interstate 81 Program Delivery Director

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RICHMOND — Following the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan and new dedicated funding as a result of 2019 legislation, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Chief Engineer, Bart Thrasher, P.E., announced today that Dave Covington, P.E., will lead VDOT’s implementation of projects and initiatives identified in the plan. As the new Interstate 81 program delivery director, Covington will oversee corridor-long strategy and program-level consistency as projects and initiatives from the plan are developed, constructed and prioritized by the I-81 Advisory Committee.

“As we found in the study, I-81 is a critical driver of economic vitality in Virginia, serving 11.7 million trucks and transporting $312 billion in goods each year,” said Thrasher. “Having a strong leader at the helm of project implementation across district lines will ensure success of our goals to improve safety and reliability along Virginia’s 325 miles of the corridor.”

Covington has over 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, with diverse, yet vast expertise in design, maintenance and construction. Most recently, he has served as the Staunton District maintenance engineer.

In design and construction, he has managed complex design-bid-build projects and large-scale design-build contracts, both with private engineering consultants to VDOT and as an employee of VDOT. Recently, he led VDOT’s $250 million Route 29 Solutions program in Charlottesville. Throughout the development and delivery of these major infrastructure projects, Covington utilized sound risk-management principles to ensure that projects were delivered safely, completed ahead of schedule and under budget, and that Virginia residents and taxpayers received good value for their investments. Covington will be charged with employing the same principles in managing implementation of the $2.2 billion package identified to improve the I-81 corridor.

Covington is a licensed professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. He will assume the new role on September 25, 2019.

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First Lady Pamela Northam concludes second annual Back to School Tour

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RICHMOND—Over the past month as nearly 1.2 million Virginia students returned to school, First Lady Pamela Northam visited early childhood education programs and elementary schools in each of the Commonwealth’s eight Superintendent Regions, highlighting the importance of school readiness. The First Lady traveled more than 2,327 miles, making 42 stops in 27 localities where she read with students and delivered books donated by bbgb books, an independent children’s bookshop in Richmond.

Virginia First Lady visits E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School

“Our conversations on this tour confirmed once again that local communities are leading the way in innovative approaches to early childhood care and education,” said First Lady Northam. “We are grateful to the dedicated educators, leaders, and local partners across the Commonwealth who are preparing children for success in school and beyond in a wide variety of settings. We look forward to working together to expand these types of opportunities to all children and in every region of Virginia.”

Throughout the tour, the First Lady and staff engaged with students, educators, parents, legislators, local departments of social services, and members of the non-profit and business communities. Conversations during last year’s tour informed the administration’s work over the past year and discussions from this year’s tour will continue to guide efforts to expand access to early childhood education in Virginia, from the implementation of the $9.9 million federal Preschool Development Grant to the recently released Draft Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Care and Education in Virginia. The Administration is in the process of applying for an extension of the federal grant through 2020.

“Expanding access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education is an investment in both the workforce of today and tomorrow,” said Chief School Readiness Officer Jenna Conway. “Quality programs allow for parents to go pursue further education or work while preparing children to succeed in school and in life.”

In August, Governor Northam signed Executive Director Four, establishing the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness that is responsible for developing a plan to ensure that all at-risk three and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a quality, subsidized early education option by 2025. The full text of Executive Directive Four can be found here.

This year all kindergarten teachers in Virginia public schools are using the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) to evaluate and build children’s literacy, math, and socio-emotional skills so they start off school fully prepared to succeed during the kindergarten year and into the future.

See below for highlights from the First Lady’s Back to School Tour, including photos from the from the final day of her tour on September 23 at North Star Early Childhood Education Center in Stafford (top) and Courtland Elementary School in Spotsylvania (center, bottom).

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1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I – Fal... @ Art in the Valley
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Botanicals in Watercolor I - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
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We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
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Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
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24
Thu
10:30 am Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
Oct 24 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
The forum will provide participants with an overview of U.S. Small Business Administration and USDA/Rural Business Cooperative-Services (RBS)’s financing programs and services.  Participants will have the opportunity to field questions to lenders and learn more[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 24 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
Oct
25
Fri
9:00 am Virginia Department of Veteran S... @ Able Forces Foundation
Virginia Department of Veteran S... @ Able Forces Foundation
Oct 25 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Virginia Department of Veteran Services @ Able Forces Foundation
Able Forces Foundation is hosting Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Virginia Department of Veteran Services, to assist veterans, their spouses, and dependents with questions regarding Veteran benefits and in filing claims[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 25 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful acrylic paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with acrylics necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
Oct
26
Sat
9:00 am Walk to End Alzheimer’s @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Walk to End Alzheimer’s @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Oct 26 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Walk to End Alzheimer's @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Join the Northern Shenandoah Valley Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s Together, we can provide care and support to improve the lives of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia (including family, friends, and caregivers), and[...]
11:00 am “The Great I Am” Refreshing, Hea... @ Warren County Fairgrounds
“The Great I Am” Refreshing, Hea... @ Warren County Fairgrounds
Oct 26 @ 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
“The Great I Am” Refreshing, Healing & Restoration @ Warren County Fairgrounds
Come to the Warren County Fairgrounds October 26th and 27th to enjoy live praise and worship! Miraculous testimonies will be shared both days, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at this free event. Bring your[...]