STEPHENS CITY – All lanes and ramps have reopened at Interstate 81 at Exit 307 southbound in Frederick County, according to VDOT spokesman, Ken Slack. He said an early-morning multi-vehicle crash closed the 1-81 southbound deceleration ramp and all southbound lanes at Exit 307 around 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
The crash involved three tractor trailers; it occurred around 7:20 a.m. Saturday morning and prompted officials to close Interstate 81 southbound in the Stephens City area of Frederick County.
The accident was located at the I-81 ramp at Exit 307. Southbound traffic was detoured at Exit 310, to Route 11 south, and back to I-81 southbound at Exit 307.
I-81 exit 310 is located at Route 37 and I-81 exit 307 is located at Route 277 in Frederick County.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at http://www.VirginiaDOT.org.
Traditional full service hobby shop opens in Stephens City
Daniel and Maryann Levy invite you to visit their unique and charming hobby shop that is enhancing the character and individuality of the Stephens City community.
The Levy’s were eager to announce the opening of their full-service hobby shop on Friday, October 9, 2020, at 12:00pm. All Nation Hobby and Model Supply, Inc. are undergoing renovation, building, and relocating shelves to better promote eclectic merchandise. All Nation and Model have a small-town family ambiance and friendly expert service located right on Main Street in the historic section of Stephens City. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.
All Nation and Model Supply’s current inventory is as follows:
- Airplane kits, new, old, rare, vintage, and out of production kits in all scales. About 5,000.
- Boats and ships, new, old, vintage, and rare. About 200.
- Tanks, armored vehicles, military vehicles and figures, new, old rare and vintage and figures, new, old, rare, and vintage. About 400 in all scales.
- Cars 1/32nd – 1/24th – 1/25th scales about 500 from 1903 to 2017, new, old, rare, and vintage kits, photo etch parts, plug wire sets, decals and diorama figures, and tools, 1/18th and 1/12 scale classic car kits.
- Large selection of 1/24th – 1/25th scale tractor-trailer semi kits, new, old, and vintage.
- A substantial selection of Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Star Trek, and space kits, various scales, also monster kits, and fantasy.
- 11 paint racks with Hum Brol, Tamiya, Testors, Polly-5, tools, and model finish supplies including Molotow Chrome.
- HO, N, G scale trains, and train sets, engines, cars, structures, and detail parts, from Walthers, Rix City Classics, Blair Line, Laser kit, Bachman, Atlas, Polar lights, Con-Cor, and Woodland Scenics.
All Nation Hobby and Model Supply, Inc.
5279 Main Street | Stephens City, VA 22655
Beer Museum patrons tie the knot, celebrate with friends and a toast or two
Who says weddings and beer, particularly Virginia craft-brewed beer, don’t mix? – No one who attended the October 10th wedding and reception of Bruce Townshend and Robin Goldthwaite at Front Royal’s Virginia Beer Museum.
And while museums and marriage/receptions might seem more of a stretch, not when that museum is dedicated to, not only Virginia’s expanding array of fine, craft-brewed hops, but beer’s place in the history of this nation, as recounted in the first-floor George Washington and Thomas Jefferson rooms and the second floor Prohibition Room. One can only imagine those latter times, circa the third decade of the 20th Century when John Barleycorn was indeed dead on these shores, must have been dark, if roaring, bootlegging days in the nation’s history.
But with that overly temperate chapter of our history behind us, it was a bright and celebratory Saturday afternoon as Bruce awaited Robin’s procession down the impromptu bridal path to the Museum Biergarten stage area to a somewhat non-traditional musical accompaniment of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells”.
Once together in front of family and friends, Lay Anglican Vicar Michael Williams helped the couple tie the knot, literally, in the Celtic tradition, along with the exchange of rings. From there it was to the tent – NOT that one, the Biergarten food tents and main protection against any untoward elements tent where many a celebratory toast was raised to a match, if musically accompanied by “Hell’s Bells”, certainly made in heaven.
Congratulations, Bruce and Robin Townshend.
And thanks to the Virginia Beer Museum for hosting a family and extended family event. This is what memories are made of:
Virginia legislators advance police and criminal justice reform measures
The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the agenda this month for the special session that began Aug. 18. Legislators introduced over 50 police and criminal justice reform bills during the session.
Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and make amendments or veto bills.
Among the police and criminal justice reform measures were proposals that would change policing methods, impose new disciplinary actions for law enforcement, and reduce penalties for certain crimes. Both parties introduced legislation that seemed to be inspired by months of protests across Virginia.
Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the organization supports several criminal justice reform bills except for the legislature’s approval of bills that make certain traffic violations secondary offenses and the ban on no-knock search warrants.
“The way it was [the no-knock search warrant bill] delays the issuance of a search warrant that could lead to deaths, injuries, and destruction of evidence,” Schrad wrote in an email. “We plan to seek [the] governor’s amendments to make final corrections to the bill to ensure the safety of officers and potential victims.”
Some Republican-backed bills aimed to increase penalties for certain crimes, including pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer and for an assault on an officer, and to criminalize the act of cursing at an officer while on duty.
Below is a sample of the police and criminal-justice related legislation that was approved by both chambers.
Mental health response. House Bill 5043, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, and Senate Bill 5038, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Dale City, establishes an alert system when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Marijuana charge prepay. SB 5013, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, gives people charged with marijuana possession the option to prepay a fee.
Crisis intervention. SB 5014, introduced by Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish standards and update policies for law enforcement concerning sensitivity and awareness of racism.
Civilian oversight. SB 5035, introduced by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Midlothian, allows localities to establish a civilian oversight body for their police department. The civilian oversight body can investigate incidents involving law enforcement as well as complaints from citizens, and make binding disciplinary decisions, including termination, in the event that an officer breaches departmental and professional standards.
Sentencing reform. Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, called his bill SB 5007 “the most transformative criminal justice reform legislation” to pass in two decades. The measure allows for defendants to be tried by a jury but sentenced by a judge.
“It has long been the practice in Virginia to be sentenced by a jury after selecting a jury trial, which has led to excessive sentences far beyond what sentencing guidelines state,” Morrissey posted online.
Conditional release. SB 5034, introduced by Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko, D-Fairfax, grants consideration for conditional release for certain qualifying terminally ill prisoners.
Marijuana and certain traffic offenses. HB 5058, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, prohibits an officer from stopping a motor vehicle for operating without a license plate, with defective equipment such as a brake light, window tinting materials, a loud exhaust system, or hanging objects inside the vehicle. It also prohibits officers from searching a vehicle solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana.
Earned sentence credits. HB 5148, introduced by Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, establishes a four-level classification system for earned sentence credits. The system allows a range of 3.5 days to 15 days to be deducted from an inmate’s sentence for every 30 days served, with exceptions based on the severity of the crime. The bill directs the Department of Corrections to convene a workgroup by next July to study the impact of the sentence credit amendments and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2022. Parts of the bill have a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022.
Criminal justice board. HB 5108, introduced by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, makes changes to the Criminal Justice Services Board and its Committee on Training. The board, currently made up exclusively of members with backgrounds in law enforcement and private security, will be required to add representatives from civil rights groups, mental health service providers, and groups that advocate for the interests of minority communities. Guzmán said she got the idea for this bill while she was visiting the Criminal Justice Services Board with fellow legislators.
“We only have law enforcement voices at the table,” Guzmán said. “So, how can you learn about what is going on in the community if you don’t have their voice at the table?”
Guzmán said the bill will improve crisis intervention training and help police officers who may experience traumatic events while on the job.
Misconduct and termination. HB 5051, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, requires a police department authority figure to notify the Criminal Justice Services Board if an officer is terminated for serious misconduct, as defined by the board, within 48 hours of the department becoming aware of it.
Disclosure of information. HB 5104, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, requires sheriff, police chief, or police department directors to disclose to potential law enforcement or jail employer information regarding the arrest, prosecution or civil suit filed against their former officers seeking employment. The applicant would have to sign a waiver to allow that information to be disclosed. The bill also may require an officer to undergo a psychological evaluation before taking a job in a jail or police department.
Ban no-knock warrants. HB 5099, introduced by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, bans law enforcement officers from executing a search warrant without giving notice of their identity or purpose before entering a residence.
“The use of no-knock search warrants has long been a controversial practice, since the beginning of their use during the Nixon administration in the ’70s,” Aird said in an email. “The tragic loss of Breonna Taylor renewed the concern regarding the use of this search warrant, the risk to residents and officers, and their disproportionate application in minority communities.”
Unlawful use of excessive force. HB 5029, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, requires that a law enforcement officer intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force while on duty.
Carnal knowledge of detainees. HB 5045, introduced by Del. Karrie K. Delaney, D-Centreville, closes a loophole within the state law and makes it a Class 6 felony for a law enforcement officer to have sexual relations with a detainee, pre-arrest.
Prohibition of the use of neck restraints. HB 5069, introduced by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, prohibits a law enforcement officer to use a neck restraint or chokehold while on the job. New York has had a ban on chokeholds since 1993, but the effectiveness of the law was called into question in 2014 when Eric Garner died after an apparent chokehold was used during his arrest by a New York City Police officer. The officer involved was not indicted but was later fired.
Guzmán said that even though some of these bills may not be perfect, it’s better to improve civil rights in Virginia one piece of legislation at a time rather than to be dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I would say that inaction is enabling, and if we don’t act, in a way we are saying we are OK with what is going on in today’s society,” Guzmán said. “We recognize the struggles, we recognize that there are problems, and we need to start tackling those issues and try to improve the lives of communities of color.”
Below are some pieces of legislation that didn’t make it through the House or Senate.
ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS
Record expungement. SB 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and HB 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, sought to expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. Legislators did not reach a compromise in the conference committee over proposed substitutes to the bills.
“This is a very important issue,” Herring said at the close of Friday’s session. “It will change the lives of so many people who have served their time and have turned their lives around.”
Parole notification. SB 5050, Introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, would require the Department of Corrections to release a paroled prisoner no sooner than 21 days after the date of notification by the Virginia Parole Board.
Qualified immunity. HB 5013, introduced by Bourne, would have ended qualified immunity for police officers. Guzmán, who voted for the bill, was disappointed it didn’t pass, but said she feels good about the House Democrats’ bills and is looking forward to the next General Assembly session in January.
Virginia led the way during the special session where others haven’t, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn said in a press release.
“Together with our colleagues in the Senate, Virginia is now a national leader in the effort to pass necessary improvements to policing and criminal justice,” Filler-Corn said.
By Will Gonzalez
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
Warner bill to boost VA suicide prevention efforts becomes law
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded the signing of his legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming rate of veteran suicide. The bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act includes a number of provisions authored by Sen. Warner to empower the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide resources to and share information with veteran-serving non-profits, as well as to require it to develop a measurement tool to assess the effectiveness of mental health programs. The legislation passed through the Senate in August and was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives late last month.
“This bill – now a law – is for every veteran throughout our nation’s history who has struggled to cope with the invisible wounds of war. The signing of this legislation today reaffirms our nation’s commitment to veterans and sends the message that every person who serves our country is deserving of the basic tools and resources needed to heal those wounds,” said Sen. Warner. “I was proud to help write this legislation and see its passage through the Senate, and today I’m proud to know that, thanks to these efforts, we’ll be providing, for the first time, this kind of direct support to veteran-serving non-profits and community networks in order to reach more veterans.”
Provisions from Sen. Warner’s IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act will create a VA grant program that leverages and supports veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce and prevent veteran suicides. Additionally, the bipartisan bill will enhance coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services, and better measure the effectiveness of those programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides and best concentrate the program’s resources on successful organizations and services.
The VA estimates that around 20 veterans die by suicide each day. Unfortunately that number has remained unchanged despite Congress more than tripling the VA’s funding for suicide prevention efforts over the last ten years to nearly $222 million in FY20. Only six of the 20 veterans who die by suicide each day receive health care services from the VA before their death.
Sen. Warner’s IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Days later, at a committee hearing, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the bill “key” to unlocking the veteran suicide crisis. In January 2020, provisions of the Warner-Boozman legislation were included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and was then passed unanimously by both the full Senate and House.
Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate of improving care for Virginia’s veterans. In January, he sent a letter to the four VA medical facilities providing care for Virginia’s veterans requesting an update on their suicide prevention efforts. He’s also met with senior leadership at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton VA Medical Center (VAMC) to discuss wait time reduction at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts.
Valley Health Urgent Care centers and primary care practices around the region now offer rapid testing for individuals with respiratory symptoms
Individuals with respiratory symptoms can now receive a speedy, reliable point of care testing for COVID-19 and influenza at Valley Health Urgent Care centers and family medicine and internal medicine practices.
Valley Health’s new Quidel Sofia 2 test machines provide results in under 30 minutes. With a single nasal swab, the instrument can test for Coronavirus and influenza, as well as strep, if symptoms indicate. Valley Health Urgent Care tested 400 patients using the new equipment in its first eight days of use. Last week, select Valley Health family and internal medicine practices began offering the rapid test to their patients.
“COVID-19 is still very present in our community as we enter cold and flu season,” said Valley Health Chief Physician Executive Iyad Sabbagh, MD. “Because symptoms of seasonal illness and COVID-19 are similar, it’s a great benefit to offer patients with respiratory symptoms a rapid, accurate test at the point of patient care. The Sofia makes it easier to diagnosis quickly, begin appropriate treatment, and, if indicated, self-isolate to prevent further transmission,” Dr. Sabbagh said.
Valley Health emphasizes the new test is only available to those who have symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, and headache. It will not be used to rule out COVID-19 in an asymptomatic individual or for testing prior to a medical procedure.
This is the latest enhancement to COVID-19 care implemented by Valley Health at its Urgent Care and select primary care practice locations. “Our ambulatory team has worked diligently since early March to deploy telehealth and safe processes for COVID-19 testing and care,” said Dr. Sabbagh. Valley Health’s Urgent Care centers offer online check-in for greater convenience. All patients and staff must wear a mask, and patients with respiratory symptoms wait in a separate room from those with other ailments or may choose to wait in their vehicle. If needed, staff can also provide car-side testing.
The new rapid test is available at Valley Health Urgent Care’s six locations in Front Royal and Winchester (Jubal Early and Rutherford Crossing) in Virginia, and Martinsburg, Spring Mills, and Ranson in West Virginia. Urgent Care Express locations hope to offer rapid testing at a later date.
All Valley Health Urgent Care locations and primary care practices also offer flu shots. The regional health system is vigorously promoting flu vaccination this year to reduce the likelihood of a “twindemic”, or widespread concurrent flu and COVID-19 illness that could stress hospitals, providers, and available PPE resources.
Valley Health also reminds the community to remember the 3 W’s to help stop the spread of illness: wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Those who are feeling under the weather can check into a Valley Health Urgent Care location online by visiting www.vhurgentcare.com, call their doctor’s office, or call the Valley Health Respiratory Care Phone Line at 540-536-0380, Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm and Saturday, 9 am – 1 pm, to speak with a team member about their symptoms.
Watch the Quidel Sofia 2 sales demo video below:
Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday
Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.
Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.
“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”
Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance.
Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.
“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.”
The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history, and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration is usually a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president, and artistic director.
“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials, and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”
Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.
“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said.
The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence.
Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.
“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”
State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come into work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill.
The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.
By Sam Fowler
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.