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McShin Foundation, AG Mark Herring help launch RSW Jail rehab program

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RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison greets McShin Foundation President John Shinholser, left, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to the rehab program kickoff. Photos/Roger Bianchini

State Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring visited the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail on Friday, December 14, along with several local and state Republicans including Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-15th and county Supervisor and RSW Authority Board member Dan Murray. The occasion was the launching of a McShin Foundation substance-abuse rehab program at the jail.

The event was cited as a bipartisan effort to help fight a drug-abuse problem that knows no partisan boundaries as it sweeps across the nation blind to economic or social class, racial or ethnic heritage.

Jails aren’t often thought of as ‘houses of hope’ – but a new peer-to-peer McShin Foundation-sponsored rehab program’s goal is just that – bring hope to inmates whose battle with addiction has led to criminality.

Event organizers were John Shinholser (McShin President), Christopher Ronquest (Virginia Recovery and Re-Entry Project Director), Kate Obenshain Keeler (McShin Advisory Council) and RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison, in collaboration with SAMHSA, Recovery Connection, and Grace Downtown.

The afternoon gathering of social and political luminaries from around Virginia celebrated the opening of an innovative, peer-to-peer based program designed to help facilitate the recovery journey for incarcerated individuals with Substance Use Disorders. RSW Superintendent Gilkison was lauded for bringing the program to the facility.

“This is a coming together – thank you so much for opening up this jail for this program,” Obenshain Keeler told Gilkison. In her opening remarks, Obenshain Keeler noted that she had once been part of the “lock them up and throw away the key” contingent regarding drug abuse until it struck close to home – in fact, in her home in the person of her oldest child. She called her experience an eye-opening “walk through the Gates of Hell” and dismissed political differences in approaching the drug problem as “ridiculous”.

McShin Foundation Advisory Council member Kate Obenshain Keeler told the crowd it’s easy to stereotype drug abusers until you are confronted with the reality of substance abuse close to home.

Gilbert agreed. The Shenandoah County-based Republican House delegate referenced his legal experience on both sides of the prosecution and defense fence. He said particularly from his work as a defense attorney he felt that “99.8% of the people in the criminal justice system are simply struggling with issues” ranging from how they were brought up to how they learned to cope with problems on the streets.

Virginia Attorney General Herring called the mission to help Virginia citizens rehabilitate their lives “a very personal one” from his role at the top of the state legal apparatus – “This is something that can happen to any of us.”

Noting the large percentage of people present who had raised their hands when asked to acknowledge they were in long-term recovery from substance abuse, Herring said, “What gives me hope – YOU. I don’t see a room full of bad people.”

The attorney general noted his department’s intention of filing suit against one pharmaceutical company – Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of myriad opioid-based products including OxyContin – for misleading advertising about those products.

Attorney General Mark Herring drew an appreciative reaction when he told the crowd of his office’s intention of filing suit against one pharmaceutical company a justice department investigation was ready to prosecute for intentionally minimizing the addictive qualities of its product.

Online research indicates a 2006 government report concluded that while Purdue Pharma knew about “significant” abuse and addictive patterns of behavior by OxyContin users in the first years after the drug’s introduction in 1996, it concealed that information and continued to promote the drug as “less addictive”.

“Based on their findings after a four-year investigation, the prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States that could have sent the men to prison if convicted. But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move, said four lawyers who took part in those discussions or were briefed about them. Instead the government settled the case in 2007,” a report summary stated.

I guess some are slow to learn the non-partisan lessons of drug abuse – and responsibility, even corporate, for pushing addictive drugs for profit.

The media spoke with Attorney General Herring prior to the official start of Friday’s program.

AG Herring stressed a multi-faceted statewide response to substance abuse, mixing education and prevention with recovery and hope for the future.

“Addiction has its roots in the medicine cabinet – so addiction can happen to any of us,” Herring said, echoing a theme that would be repeated often during the coming introductory program. “And so it is critical that we have a multi-faceted response, which we have, and a key piece of it is treatment and recovery. And I have come to know the recovery community well over the years and seen how peer-to-peer services like what McShin does is very often the key to successful recovery. And we’re going to work really hard to get information out through our education and prevention efforts about the dangers of opioids, how addictive these drugs are; but also a key part of the message is that it is possible to live a successful life through recovery.

“And a lot of people have had the courage to reach out for help, and you know it’s hard work but there are a lot of people who are willing to help. And that kind of support is really essential in order to help people recover. So, the message is twofold – not only do we want to let people know about the danger of these drugs, but also that there is hope for recovery.”

McShin Foundation President John Shinholser moderated the RSW Jail rehab program launch event before and appreciative audience.

The Virginia Recovery and Re-Entry Project, facilitated by The McShin Fountain, is part of the Building Communities of Recovery (BCOR) funding opportunity from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Through this project, two new Substance Use Disorder Recovery Programs are being implemented in RSW Regional Jail and Riverside Regional Jail.

In addition, a re-entry component to the project will take place through The McShin Foundation in Richmond, VA, providing housing and recovery support services to individuals as they re-enter society. Through this project, the participating organizations hope to reduce the rate of recidivism and the negative consequences created by Substance Use Disorders by providing authentic peer-to-peer services and a multi-disciplinary approach to recovery.

The McShin Foundation was founded in 2004 and is Virginia’s leading non-profit, full-service Recovery Community Organization (RCO), committed to serving individuals and families in their fight against Substance Use Disorders.

Special acknowledgement was given to the team that would bring the program to RSW inmates and program co-sponsors from the Recovery Connection and Grace Downtown. One of those team members, known as “Cricket”, spoke of how “something clicked in me” when the type of message of hope he is now bringing to others, was first delivered to him in a time of need for rehabilitative guidance.

Surrounded by fellow program team members, ‘Cricket’ explains how he received the message of hope for long-term recovery he now helps pass on to others.

Cricket pointed to 23 volunteers bringing the program to RSW – “every one in long-term recovery” as both McShin President Shinholser and the event invocation Pastor Brad Hill of Grace of Downtown in Winchester both acknowledged they were.  As one of the principals of the Winchester-based Recovery Connection Program told the crowd, “I celebrate another day clean so I can show up to give a message of hope to others.”

Warren County North River Supervisor and RSW Authority Board Member Dan Murray, left, greets Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring at the rehab program launch event.

RSW Superintendent Russ Gilkison, left, and Del. Todd Gilbert, right, flank the food table security line. Gilbert and Kate Obenshain Keeler appear to have spotted a potential table raider in the media ranks.

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LFCC and Shepherd University sign nursing transfer agreement

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LFCC and Shepherd University have signed a new 2+2 (two years at LFCC and two years at Shepherd) R.N.-B.S.N. agreement that will provide a seamless pathway for nursing students from LFCC to earn their bachelor’s degree at Shepherd.

Under the agreement, LFCC students who earn an associate of applied science degree in nursing, have a minimum grade point average of 2.7, and who have not matriculated at any other institution of higher education will be guaranteed transfer admission to Shepherd to earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing.

“We now more than ever need healthcare professionals,” said Dr. Scott Beard, Shepherd provost, during a July 30 virtual signing ceremony. “We’re in an area with vulnerable populations where there is a lack of access to healthcare, and there’s a critical shortage of nurses and advance practice nurses nationwide, so this initial pathway from the R.N. to the B.S.N. is just one step in those students’ journeys.”

Dr. Anne Davis, LFCC vice president of academic and student affairs, called the agreement a win-win for students.

“This feels like it’s a great fit for our students because they’re accustomed to an environment with that personal touch and small class size,” Davis said. “I think Shepherd is a place where LFCC students will find a home, somewhere where they’ll be valued for who they are as a person. It’s an exciting opportunity. It’s pivotal for healthcare in the environment that we’re in now, so we thank Shepherd for opening its doors to our students and giving them this pathway.”

“We’re just thrilled to receive Lord Fairfax students,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean, College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences, and director, School of Nursing at Shepherd. “They’re motivated, they’re excellent academically, we just really enjoy having them here, and we want to make this their home. We also want them to keep the connectivity with Lord Fairfax. They don’t lose their identity; they just take on a new mantle of being a B.S.N. from Shepherd University.”

Learn more about LFCC’s nursing program at lfcc.edu/nursing.

Pictured (top row, l. to r.) are Dr. Virginia Hicks, assistant provost, Shepherd Academic Community Outreach; Kathryn Tagnesi, interim director, Lord Fairfax Health Professions; Dr. Scott Beard, Shepherd provost; second row, Dr. James Gillispie, dean, Lord Fairfax Humanities, Social Sciences, and Student Development; Dr. Craig Santicola, dean, Lord Fairfax Professional Programs; Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean, Shepherd College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences, and director, School of Nursing; third row, Dr. Michael Groves, coordinator, Shepherd R.N. to B.S.N. Program; Dr. Richard Stevens, dean, Shepherd School of Graduate and Professional Studies; and Dr. Anne Davis, vice president, Lord Fairfax Academic and Student Affairs.

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Adopters can help Winchester SPCA’s holiday wishes come true with $100K from the Petco Foundation

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Individuals who have adopted a pet from the Winchester SPCA are invited to share how their pet has changed their life to help give your local SPCA a chance to receive a $100,000 grand prize Holiday Wishes grant award from the Petco Foundation. In partnership with BOBS from Skechers, the Petco Foundation is granting more than $750,000 this holiday season to qualified animal welfare organizations across the country. Awards will range from $5,000 to $100,000, and adopters with winning submissions will receive up to a $1,000 Petco shopping spree and a prize pack with BOBS from Skechers shoes.

“We’re calling on all Winchester SPCA adopters to help us earn a lifesaving grant award this holiday season from the Petco Foundation by sharing their stories,” said Winchester SPCA Executive Director Lavenda Denney “Thank you for choosing adoption; now you can make our holiday wishes come true by helping us earn lifesaving funds to bring more pets in need together with loving families.”

Through September 23, adopters can submit their story at petcofoundation.org/holidaywishes. Stories should highlight how pets have changed their adopter’s life for the better, in big and small ways, and should celebrate the love of their adopted pet. Submissions must include four photos to illustrate the story and can include video as well. Adopters must contact the Winchester SPCA for the organization’s point of contact, email and phone number to include in their submission. Adopters are also encouraged to visit the Holiday Wishes homepage for more information and to read stories from previous winners.

The deadline to submit a Holiday Wishes story is September 23, 2020, noon CST. Winners will be announced during the holiday season. For a full list of prizes and submission FAQs, visit petcofoundation.org/holidaywishes.

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State Police release details of high-speed chase, arrest of Herndon woman

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On Wednesday, August 12, the Virginia State Police (VSP) issued a press release on the circumstance of the multi-jurisdiction pursuit and arrest of Herndon resident Jennifer L. Arnn. The release indicates the date of the incident as Thursday, August 6. Our initial report indicated the incident occurred on Friday, August 7, which is listed as her booking date on the RSW Jail website. VSP Public Information Officer Brent Coffey explained that Arnn spent Thursday night at the hospital for injuries incurred during the incident, which appear to be reflected in her jail booking mug shot.

Jennifer Arnn faces one animal cruelty charge resulting in the fatality of dog or cat; one reckless driving charge, one vandalism charge of intentional damaging of public property. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

That incident began with a reckless driving “Be on the Lookout” issued in Berkley County, West Virginia, after which VSP spotted the vehicle on I-81 in Frederick County, Virginia.
Below is the VSP release in its entirety:

WARREN CO., Va. – A Herndon, Va. woman is behind bars on multiple charges after she fled law enforcement Thursday (August 6, 2020). Virginia State Police have charged Jennifer L. Arnn, 39, in Warren County with three felony counts of assault on law enforcement, one felony count of intentional damage, one felony count of eluding law enforcement, one felony count of animal cruelty, one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.

On Thursday at approximately 11:17 a.m. the Berkley County Sheriff’s Office issued a “Be On the Lookout” for a reckless driver. A short time later state police observed the suspect vehicle, a 2016 Mazda CS-X on I-81 at the 307-mile marker in Frederick County. State police initiated a traffic stop on the Mazda which stopped but took off when approached by a trooper.

The Mazda continued on Rt. 277 in Frederick County. The Mazda was eventually contained and stopped on I-66 at the 4.6-mile marker in Warren County. The driver, Arnn, was taken into custody without further incident. Arnn was transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond.

During the course of the pursuit, Arnn pushed her dog out the window. State police were able to locate the dog, but it did not survive its injuries.

Arnn struck three state police cruisers during the pursuit. One of the state police troopers suffered minor injuries during the incident.

The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.

Woman held at RSW Jail after state police chase, animal abuse-fatality charge

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Lynchburg City Council appoints Doug Stanley as new City Manager

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On Tuesday, August 11, Lynchburg City Council ended its search for a new City Manager with a vote to appoint Douglas P. Stanley to succeed the current City Manager, Bonnie Svrcek who will retire effective September 1, 2020. Stanley is the former County Administrator for Warren County, Virginia. He will assume his duties as City Manager on September 1, 2020.

Before taking a public vote during City Council’s work session, Mayor MaryJane Dolan stated that City Council had conducted a nationwide search for the City Manager’s position, and they were pleased with having had a number of very qualified candidates to consider. “Even with having to deal with a nationwide pandemic, we had a very competitive pool of talented candidates from across the country,” said Dolan. “Council has been very deliberate in making its choice, and we have complete confidence in Doug being the right person to lead the organization. Bonnie leaves behind a strong leadership team that will provide great support for him as he becomes acclimated in his new position.”

Stanley served as Warren County’s administrator for 20 years. He began his career in public service at the age of 25 when he was hired by Warren County as a Zoning Administrator. He became Planning Director at the age of 27 and then County Administrator in 2000, only the fourth person to hold the position of administrator in the county.

During his tenure with Warren County, he directed the construction of an over $200 million Capital Improvement Program including the construction of a new high school, renovation of a junior high school to a high school, the renovation of a former high school to a middle school and the construction of a new middle school, a library, a community center, and the renovation of a baseball stadium. He also spearheaded the concept and development of the creation of a three jurisdiction regional jail and served as its board chair.

Stanley is a graduate of Mary Washington College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. He received a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Shenandoah Institute, Marsh Institute. Stanley is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute-Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia.

His wife Jenny is an English teacher, and they have two children, Jenna and Whill.

“I want to thank the Lynchburg City Council for selecting me to be the next City Manager. My family and I look forward to this fantastic opportunity the next chapter in life brings. For me, it is not simply the job; it is about getting involved and becoming part of the community. I look forward to meeting citizens and stakeholders and becoming an active participant in our community.

Lynchburg is known throughout the Commonwealth for its stable and visionary leadership both at the Council and staff levels. I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Bonnie Svrcek and Kim Payne, two people who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and I look forward to working with the dedicated staff of the City of Lynchburg in moving this community forward. I have a proven track record of 20+ years of local government management experience having been successful in Warren County, Virginia in helping the community rebuild its tax base, improve its infrastructure, and build strategic relationships with community partners and stakeholders. I am proud to have left Warren County a stronger, more vibrant, and resilient community, and I look forward to bringing that experience to the Hill City.”

(Press release from the City of Lynchburg)

Town Talk: A conversation with Doug Stanley

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New Student Welcome Week coming up at LFCC

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With the start of this fall semester’s first classes less than two weeks away, LFCC is rolling out the welcome mat – virtually, in most cases – for its new students.

A series of online sessions is scheduled to provide information on everything from career pathways, to available resources, to what a typical college day is like. Additionally, LFCC swag and important information will be handed out during curbside pickups.

“This year, with physical and social distancing a must, we’ve been given the chance to reinvent our New Student Welcome program, using both the virtual platforms – like Zoom – that we are now so accustomed to using while still keeping up with the traditional in-person festivities, but with a twist,” campus life and student engagement specialist Chris Lambert said. “Instead of just one day to welcome our new students, we have extended it into an entire week, which will allow us to introduce new sessions and programming options.”

The first set of fall classes starts Monday, Aug. 24, with other classes beginning Sept. 8 and Oct. 19. Most classes will be delivered remotely, but some classes that require in-person delivery will be on campus.

A busy slate of information and introductory sessions is scheduled for Aug. 17-22. Highlights include:

  • A New Student Panel that will let students know how they can get involved at the college, and what student life looks like these days. The panel will feature current LFCC students and is at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 on Zoom.
  • Ask the Faculty is a general question and answer session that will be on Zoom at 2 p.m. Aug. 20.
  • President Kim Blosser, Fauquier Campus Provost Chris Coutts and other college officials will have a special session just for parents and supporters of students to ask questions about LFCC and college resources during a Zoom session at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19.
  • Curbside welcome pickups will be all week at all locations, with varying times.
  • Resource chats for everything from campus safety, to online learning, to academic accommodations are planned.
  • Zoom sessions on career pathways, including health professions, engineering, business, education, humanities and arts, transfer planning and undecided students are lined up.

For in-person classes, LFCC will follow the latest guidelines issued by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students attending these classes will be required to sign an agreement stating they won’t attend class when sick or if they’ve been exposed to someone with coronavirus, will wear a mask while in class and will practice social distancing and follow other safety measures.

To see the full schedule of events, and get Zoom codes, visit lfcc.edu/welcomeday.

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School Board to consider moving start date of school to September 8th

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Dr. Chris Ballenger, Warren County Schools Superintendent, issued a press release on August 11, 2020, to notify parents and the community that they will propose to the Warren County School Board, moving the start date of school from August 27, 2020, to September 8, 2020. This proposal will be presented at the School Board meeting on August 19, 2020.

School officials indicated that more time is needed for longer delivery times of supplies and delays in implementing the Learning Management Systems. This change will also provide more time for teachers and staff to learn the new Learning Management Systems which will be the main portal students will use to access the virtual learning materials and courses.

The proposed calendar includes the following dates:

September 8 – First day of school for students

November 3 – Professional Day
November 10 – End of 1st advisory
November 11 – Holiday
November 25-27 – Thanksgiving Break
December 23-January 1 – Winter Break
January 18 – Holiday
January 29 – End of 2nd advisory/1st semester
February 15 – Holiday
March 29-April 5 Spring Break
April 13 – End of 3rd advisory
April 30 – Professional Day
May 31 – Holiday
June 17 – Last day of school for students

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