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Ocean Carrier ‘Sea Lead’ inaugurates new service with Virginia as first US East Coast stop



The recent arrival of the container ship Hakuna Matata at Norfolk International Terminals is the latest example of an expanding number of direct links between The Port of Virginia and important Asian trading centers.

The arrival of the vessel marked the inaugural US East Coast visit for the Singapore-based ocean carrier Sea Lead. Sea Lead recently announced its AEC service that will make a direct call to the East Coast via the Panama Canal with The Port of Virginia being the first stop.

“It is a vote of confidence that Virginia is the first stop on this new service, which is operated by an experienced ocean carrier that hasn’t served the US East Coast,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We were able to show Sea Lead the advantages of doing business here. This was an opportunity to emphasize our efficiency, our capacity, our growth and strong customer service. The goal is to develop a long-term, collaborative relationship that reinforces this strategic decision.”

The monthly service will employ vessels with an average size of 6,500 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs); in July, the service will increase to twice-a-month. The port call rotation is: Nansha, Ningbo, Qindao, Pusan, (Panama Canal transit) The Port of Virginia, New York / New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida and back to Nansha via the Suez Canal.

“As one of the fastest-growing ocean carriers of recent times, we are delighted to add Virginia to the port rotation of our AEC service as we offer additional options to our customers,” said Henry Schmidl, managing director, Sea Lead. “We are confident that our customers and partners will respond well to the new options and look forward to working closely with The Port of Virginia in making this a success.”

Edwards said this is an important opportunity to introduce cargo owners and logistics companies using The Port of Virginia to Nansha, an important port in southern China. Nansha is among that country’s fastest growing ports and serves 14 city clusters including Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan and Jiangmen.

“Increasing the number of connections to new and growing ports and markets is an important selling point for us,” Edwards said. “Earlier this month we announced another brand new vessel service that links Virginia with some very important Asian markets.

“When you couple these announcements with the fact that we are investing $1.3 billion to create more rail capacity, modernize and renovate two of our berths and convert them to an RMG operation (rail-mounted gantry crane) and widen and deepen dredge our channels it’s hard to deny the long-term advantages The Port of Virginia presents.”

For a comprehensive look at the services calling The Port of Virginia click here.

(The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create more than 437,000 jobs and generated $1 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.)

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Virginia State Police won’t release job records of ex-trooper who killed 3 in California



Virginia State Police acknowledged “human error” caused them to miss a violent incident in the past of a former state trooper who killed three people in California last month, but the agency is refusing to release 247 pages of personnel records that could shed more light on his time as a state employee.

The Virginia Mercury filed a public records request for all documents related to State Police administrative investigations and background checks of former trooper Austin Lee Edwards, whom authorities say “catfished” a 15-year-old California girl online before traveling there and killing three members of her family.

Edwards’ 15-month stint as a State Police trooper ended Oct. 28, when he left his state job to join the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Southwest Virginia. According to California authorities, Edwards killed the girl’s mother and grandparents on Nov. 25 and tried to kidnap her before dying by suicide during a shootout with police.

State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the agency was choosing to “exercise its statutory discretion” to keep the employment records confidential. Asked if the agency could explain that choice given the significant public interest in the murders Edwards committed and his background as a police officer in Virginia, Geller said the state’s transparency laws don’t require the agency to comment further.

Edwards’ behavior as a State Police officer never triggered any internal investigations, according to the agency, and there was no potentially troubling information in his background that the agency would have been legally required to pass along to his new law enforcement employer in Washington County. Under Virginia law, the State Police would have had to tell the county sheriff’s office about any alleged criminal activity, excessive force, or other misconduct in Edwards’ law enforcement background.

However, State Police say their own hiring process was flawed because they were unaware that a court-ordered Edwards to be hospitalized for a mental health episode in 2016, years before he became a state trooper, in which he threatened to kill himself and his father, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a news release Wednesday night, State Police said, “human error resulted in an incomplete database query during Edwards’ hiring process.” The hiring process, the agency said, includes a background check “that requires passage of written, psychological and physical testing, as well as a pre-employment polygraph.”

“Although we believe this to be an isolated incident, steps are currently underway to ensure the error is not repeated going forward,” the agency said. “The department is also proactively auditing existing personnel records and practices.”

The agency said it is conducting a “forensic review” of Edwards’ state-issued laptop and cell phone.

Geller made clear the agency would not be releasing any personnel information related to Edwards, including his monthly job performance evaluations.

“The materials you are seeking constitute personnel information of this agency concerning identifiable individuals,” Geller said, pointing to a longstanding exemption in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act that allows state and local governments to shield a wide array of records dealing with the hiring, firing, and performance of public employees.

However, the Supreme Court of Virginia recently narrowed the exemption in an October opinion that concluded government agencies don’t have a blanket right to shield all personnel records. Instead, the court found, the exemption only applies to truly private information, defined as anything that, if disclosed, would appear to be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” to a reasonable person.

Federal FOIA guidance says that “after death, a person no longer possesses privacy rights.” But that interpretation doesn’t bind state agencies or state courts.


by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Loudoun superintendent fired after grand jury report and more Va. headlines



The State Capitol. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)


• The NCAA is granting another year of eligibility to all University of Virginia football players who were playing in their final year this season. The move comes in response to the mass shooting last month that left three players dead and led the team to cancel several games.—Daily Progress

• The Loudoun County School Board voted to fire Superintendent Scott Ziegler following the release of a grand jury report that concluded he lied about a sexual assault that took place in a high-school bathroom.—WTOP

• The average gas price in Virginia has fallen back to $3.21 per gallon, the same price as a year ago, after hitting a high of $4.86 in mid-June.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Virginia will get $16 million as part of a $434 million national settlement with Juul Labs, the e-cigarette maker accused of marketing its products to minors.—WRIC

• “Dozens of members of Congress and other Virginia dignitaries paid their respects to Rep. A. Donald McEachin at his funeral in Richmond on Wednesday morning, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”—Washington Post


by Staff Report, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia begins official withdrawal from regional carbon market



Audience members at the Air Pollution Control Board meeting show their backs with a sign taped to them that reads “RGGI IS LAW,” a phrase used by advocates of participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (Charlie Paullin/Virginia Mercury)


Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board officially began the process of withdrawing Virginia from a regional carbon market by regulation following guidance from the attorney general’s office, but critics maintain the move isn’t legal.

On Wednesday, the board voted 4-1 with two abstentions to repeal state regulations governing its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Four air board members appointed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin — Chairman James Patrick Guy II, Russell B. Mait, Jay Holloway, and David Hudgins — voted in favor of the move. Two appointees of former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Hope Cupit, and Lornel Tompkins, abstained, while a third, Staci Rijal, was the lone opponent.

Virginia began participating in RGGI following the passage of the Democrat-backed Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act of 2020. As a participant, Virginia power producers must buy allowances for each metric ton of carbon they emit, with the number of allowances available for purchase at auction declining yearly.

The four board members who voted in favor of repealing the regulations governing Virginia’s participation said the administration has the authority to implement regulations, the fees electricity customers pay are a hidden tax, and carbon emissions will continue to reduce statewide even without RGGI.

But Cupit and Tompkins said they were unsure of the legality.

At the meeting Wednesday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Ross Phillips said the air board has the authority to accept the regulation repealing Virginia’s participation.

Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles also stated that the language of the 2020 law does not require Virginia to participate in RGGI. Instead, the bill says the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality is “authorized to establish, implement, and manage an auction program to sell allowances into a market-based trading program.”

Cupit said she did “not agree with the AG’s assessment.”

In April, Cupit said during an air board meeting that she had received an opinion from the attorney general’s office indicating that removing the state from RGGI is not a responsibility of the board but instead falls under the authority of the General Assembly.  A judge last week upheld the attorney general’s right to withhold the opinion from the public despite a Freedom of Information Act request.

Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Nate Benforado noted the attorney general’s office under former Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring previously argued that the law requires the state to participate in RGGI during a legal challenge by the Virginia Manufacturers Association.

In response to the legal challenge, the attorney general’s office said state law mandates that the director of the Department of Environmental Quality “shall” seek to sell allowances through the allowance auction.

Later, in a separate formal opinion, Herring said, “the governor may not repeal or eliminate, through an executive order or other action, the enacted statutes and regulations pertaining to the Commonwealth’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”

“I want to hear an explanation for what has changed,” said Benforado, who insisted Virginia’s participation in RGGI “is not for the air board to decide.”

Victoria LaCivita, a spokesperson for the office of Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares, declined to comment on the shift in stance.

Funding for climate change

RGGI works by limiting the number of carbon emissions that energy producers can emit and then auctioning off allowances for each ton of carbon emitted. The funds are then returned to participating states.

In Virginia, state law requires 50% of the proceeds to go toward low-income energy efficiency projects and 45% to the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which gives grants to communities and local governments for flood resiliency work. To date, $452 million has flowed into those programs.


Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles speaks to the Air Pollution Control Board as he explains why the state should leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (Charlie Paullin / Virginia Mercury)


But Voyles reiterated Wednesday that he believes the market is a “bad deal” for Virginia because the proceeds the state receives from the auctions are not returned to electric ratepayers.

Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, has suspended its charge on customer bills to recoup the costs of participation in anticipation of Virginia’s withdrawal from RGGI. The utility has stated participation in RGGI will cost ratepayers between $1 billion and $1.2 billion over the next four years.

“There’s a need to change the status quo,” Voyles said.

Cupit, Tompkins, and Rijal questioned Voyles on where the funds to replace RGGI proceeds will come from, particularly given the difficulty of obtaining regular funds from the General Assembly.

“Those dollars are very precious,” Cupit said. “We all fight for them.”

Voyles declined several times to say exactly where the replacement revenues may come from, saying details will be unveiled in the governor’s budget proposal.

He added that funding for the Flood Food and energy efficiency programs goes to needs across the state, and there is support in the General Assembly for long-term investments into them.

But Democratic Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William, told the Mercury any discussion on replacement revenues is a nonstarter for Senate Democrats since there’s no need to withdraw from RGGI, and doing so would require legislative action.

“Climate change is too important,” McPike said.

Regulatory process

With Wednesday’s adoption, the proposed regulation moves to an executive review that involves the Department of Planning and Budget, Voyles, the Office of Regulatory Management and the governor.

It will then be published in the Virginia Register, which begins a 60-day comment period that is followed by the board’s final adoption of the regulation in 2023. It will then become effective 30 days after publication in the Virginia Register again.


Skip Stiles, executive director of Wetlands Watch, speaks to the Air Pollution Control board on the importance of combating climate change. (Charlie Paullin/Virginia Mercury)


The goal is to have the withdrawal finalized by the end of 2023, when Virginia’s three-year contract to participate ends, said Voyles.

Roughly 730 comments against RGGI withdrawal have been sent to the state, with 51 in favor, Voyles said.


by Charlie Paullin, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia cryptocurrency investors want lawmakers to create regulation



RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia cryptocurrency investors hope lawmakers will consider regulatory policies for the digital asset industry in the 2023 General Assembly, saying a framework is needed with the increasing number of investors and recent market volatility.

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11. It was one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, valued at $32 billion in January. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried released a statement on Twitter, saying he was “shocked to see things unravel the way they did.”

The company did not have enough emergency reserves to float the “bank run” of customer withdrawals, which led to bankruptcy, according to a statement released by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Massachusetts. Lynch is the chairman of the Task Force on Financial Technology.

At least $1 billion of FTX customer assets “are currently missing,” although multiple reports include the total could be much higher.

FTX was headquartered offshore, and Lynch pointed to the need for “thoughtful regulation” to protect U.S. investors and maintain stability in the digital assets industry.

Only a few Virginia bills related to cryptocurrency have been previously introduced. Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, introduced House Joint Resolution 153 in 2018. The measure would have created a one-year subcommittee of 13 members — legislative and nonlegislative members — to study the potential implementation of blockchain technology in things such as government record keeping, delivery services, and information storage and also to study how blockchain technology could stimulate growth in Virginia’s information technology industry.

Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, introduced a bill this year to create a two-year, 20-member subcommittee to identify opportunities and establish a potential regulatory framework for cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.

The Virginia Blockchain Council is a tax-exempt trade organization based in Central Virginia. According to its website, its mission is to build community through education and blockchain-based web technologies. The organization was founded in 2017 by executive director Greg Leffel and has approximately 1,600 members, he said.

According to Leffel, cryptocurrency trade groups were organized in response to the rise of investors. He said he would like to see the General Assembly tackle sandbox regulation.

Sandbox regulation ultimately provides more consumer protections. According to the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, it improves business models in an isolated software environment such as cryptocurrency. The FCA regulates financial services firms and financial markets in the U.K.

Policy such as sandbox regulation helps companies innovate but with oversight. According to FCA, it can build cooperation between the regulator and the companies.

At least 20 other states, including Maryland, have passed blockchain technology legislation. Some states, including Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, have established sandbox regulations. Leffel said it is the newest policy being discussed at the state level.

Two bills were introduced in the past General Assembly session to create a Department of Regulatory Innovation to oversee a “Virginia Regulatory Sandbox Program.” The bills did not advance to the legislative floor, although a healthcare sandbox regulatory agency proposed by Davis made it through the House. Davis did not respond to multiple interview requests by phone or email.

The main purpose of sandbox regulation, Leffel said, is to let other companies and markets know Virginia is “open for business.”

“It’s a signal that we’re willing to support its [cryptocurrency] place in the marketplace,” Leffel said.

Cryptocurrency security is important, according to Leffel. The protection of the average investor is what matters most — knowing what the product is, and what they’re actually investing in, Leffel said.

“People need to understand that there are scammers, like the chance of rug pull,” Leffel said.

According to Leffel, rug pull is a cryptocurrency scam where people or companies hype up the product’s value to attract investors and obtain their digital coins before shuttering. “We want to ensure that there’s a framework there that protects [investors],” Leffel said. “I’m also a huge advocate for seeing how this technology will impact everyday life.”

According to Leffel, the Virginia Blockchain Council partnered with the Virginia Commonwealth University Blockchain club last year. The VCU Blockchain club is not student-exclusive, according to club president Francesca Bercasio. Bercasio is a senior seeking a finance technology degree.

“I chose to join because I believe this technology will disrupt so much due to its features,” Bercasio said. “Also, I think the culture the club promotes is inclusive; I’ve always felt seen and heard.”

Cryptocurrency will impact technologies such as engineering, marketplaces, and even art curation that rely specifically on third parties, Bercasio said

“For example, financial transactions are now settled in minutes rather than days,” Bercasio said.

VCU Blockchain plans to expand, and connect with more people off campus, according to Bercasio. She hopes the university will consider teaching blockchain to increase literacy.

“We want to encourage VCU to add a cryptocurrency curriculum,” Bercasio said. “And instituting a program either in lectures or through the da Vinci Center at VCU.”

The da Vinci Center for Innovation at VCU is an academic workshop space that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

He said that Richmond local and VCU Blockchain member Dave Benz joined VCU Blockchain in 2021. Benz joined because he had been interested in cryptocurrency for “quite a while.”

Benz has learned many things from his VCU Blockchain members, and he is grateful that they are accommodating to his lack of knowledge of the new technology.

“They’re very knowledgeable and up-to-date folks,” Benz said. “I always learn something new when I go [to meetings].”

Benz said he is the oldest member of VCU Blockchain by decades but is grateful for how accepting everyone is.

“Everybody has been very friendly and helpful with my lack of understanding on certain things,” Benz said. “They’re also willing to listen to my thoughts and ideas, which is great.”

Virginia resident and college student Johnnie Walker III invests in cryptocurrency as a “safety net,” although he said he does not have other investments.

“Slowly investing throughout the years and into the future will set me up at a certain point when I don’t want to work anymore,” Walker said. “If something were to come up, I have that money.”

He said Walker began investing in cryptocurrency during his junior year of high school in 2017.

“I kind of just ride the waves of highs and lows in the market,” Walker said. “I have made a comfortable amount; it’s been good.”

Walker wants to see more preventative and security policies around cryptocurrency investing. He anticipates cryptocurrency “taking off” in the future, Walker said.

“I feel comfortable as an investor as long as they continue to develop it,” Walker said. “It would make me lean more towards putting my assets into crypto rather than banks.”


By Chloe Hawkins
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 various media outlets in Virginia.

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‘It’s everywhere’: Fatal overdose numbers still higher than pre-pandemic



RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia localities can now get a look at the estimated money they will receive from multibillion-dollar national opioid settlements, to help with prevention and treatment in the ongoing opioid crisis. The recently established Opioid Abatement Authority released on Dec. 7 a lookup tool for localities to search the projected settlement funds estimated through the fiscal year 2039.

Anthony McDowell is the executive director of the Opioid Abatement Authority. His team reviews funding requests and distributes money from the abatement fund to provide treatment for communities most affected by opioid misuse and overdoses, McDowell said.

McDowell said that the authority is in its early stages and is only beginning to distribute money and notify localities of funding. Funding is based on factors including if the settlement originated from that locality and other conditions identified in the settlements. The organization also will review requests from localities.

According to the authority, settlements are with the manufacturer Janssen; distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and Walmart; and the marketing company McKinsey & Co.

Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, introduced Senate Bill 1469 in the 2021 General Assembly session to establish the Opioid Abatement Authority. The measure will be effective in creating long-term change to help counteract the opioid crisis, Barker said.

“I think we were very responsible and responsive to the people who have been dealing with these issues for years in helping to get funding to come in as part of some of these settlements and to be able to address it from both the public safety and the health care standpoints,” Barker said.

The funds can be used for “anything” targeting prevention and treatment and supporting people in recovery from opioid misuse, according to McDowell.

“Every dollar has to be spent on efforts to abate the opioid epidemic, and the definition of the law under the settlement is pretty broad,” McDowell said.

There will be multiple public listening sessions to help determine funding priorities in the coming months. State leaders are dedicated to helping those affected by opioid misuse, McDowell said.

“I know what motivates them is the passion to save lives and to help communities and families heal from the harm that has come about from the prescription opioid crisis,” McDowell said.

The five localities that will receive the highest percentage of opioid settlement money are Fairfax County, Virginia Beach, Henrico County, Richmond City, and Chesterfield County, respectively, according to data from the state attorney general’s office.

The Virginia areas with the most opioid overdose deaths in 2021 are Petersburg, Richmond, Hopewell, and Portsmouth cities and Henry County, respectively, according to a VDH forensic epidemiologist.

Fatal overdoses are still projected to be higher than pre-pandemic

Fatal drug overdoses have continued to be the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia since 2013, followed by gun and motor vehicle-related deaths, according to recent VDH data.

Opioids, especially fentanyl, continue to drive a nearly decade-long spike in fatal overdoses. Fentanyl, prescription and illicit, contributed to over 76% of all fatal overdoses in 2021, according to VDH.

There have been 966 fentanyl-related overdoses this year from January through June, compared to 1,034 during the same period last year, according to VDH data. That is a 6.6% decline.


Almost 1,300 total overdoses occurred from January through the end of June, and all but 238 were opioid-related, according to the most recent VDH data analysis. However, for the first time in roughly a 10-year period, the projected overdose deaths for the year showed a decrease.

Despite a slight decrease in projected fatal overdoses for 2022, the total deaths are over 57% higher than pre-pandemic totals.

Fatal cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses increased in recent years, according to VDH. Last year, fatal overdoses involving methamphetamine and cocaine escalated by 42% and 24%, respectively.

Fentanyl, often unknown to the buyer, is mixed with other drugs as a way to increase potency. Fentanyl was found in over 84% of the 801 fatal cocaine overdoses in 2021, according to VDH. Fentanyl was found in almost 66% of fatal methamphetamine overdoses in 2021.


Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most fentanyl connected to overdoses is illegally made. For perspective, the amount of fentanyl that can prove fatal could fit on the tip of a pencil, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

More funding and services needed

Christopher Ronquest is the assistant director of operations at McShin Recovery Resource Foundation, a Henrico County-based organization that provides recovery services. Opioid misuse numbers continue to rise in the state, Ronquest said, and more services and more funding are needed.

There are 1,029 beds available for people seeking recovery in Virginia, Ronquest said. McShin provides 145 beds, he said. There were roughly 10,000 emergency room visits across the state for opioid misuse in 2021, Ronquest said, but McShin only served 498 participants. Almost 400 were new participants, according to data from McShin.

“A whole lot of people out there need recovery and might not know about it,” Ronquest said.

McShin was the first certified recovery community organization in Virginia when it was founded in 2004 and one of the first in the nation, Ronquest said. A distinction from a traditional rehabilitation center is the McShin peer-based recovery program format. There are 15 resident houses, with the majority located in Henrico County.

McShin has two 28-day intensive residential program houses, one located in Henrico County for males and females and a women’s recovery house in Chesterfield County, Ronquest said. He said that the foundation does not require insurance, and funding assistance is available for individuals who cannot pay for their recovery.

“The whole idea is to teach people how to get off drugs and alcohol and then show them a life that is attractive enough to stay off drugs and alcohol,” Ronquest said.

“It’s everywhere”

Elizabeth Powell has been sober for 22 years and is a certified peer recovery specialist with Richmond City Health District. Powell formerly used crack cocaine, she said. Powell works directly with individuals and communities to provide information about available recovery options. She gets alerts when overdoses occur and responds to the scene to provide support and distributes Narcan.

“They can contact someone like me that has a lived experience,” Powell said.

The number of individuals affected by opioid misuse is startling, Powell said, and many have limited access to recovery facilities to treat opioid addiction. A good way for individuals to learn about recovery is first “just knowing it exists,” she said

“I honestly believe in starting with first responders and working with the hospitals, so they can give that information to these individuals when they have overdosed and go out into the community,” Powell said. “I guess just getting out there with outreach is the best way.”

The drug doesn't discriminate, and addiction is “everywhere,” she said.

“It’s out in the country,” Powell said. “It’s in the city. It’s in neighborhoods.


By Natalie Barr
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 various media outlets in Virginia.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin announces Virginia awarded over $67 million in CDC grant to support public health infrastructure



On December 7, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia received more than $67.5 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support public health infrastructure. The five-year grant will help increase the public health workforce, improve organizational systems and modernize data infrastructure.

“As Virginians continue to return to the office, social settings, and classrooms, this grant will help us rebuild, reinforce and retain our public health workforce and system strained during the pandemic,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “From the first days of my administration, we have sought out ways to improve health outcomes for all Virginians, and this grant will assist us to get the necessary help needed to all Virginians across the Commonwealth.”

“This grant offers a most timely opportunity to support critical public health infrastructure in the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner Colin Green, M.D., MPH. “The funding will allow us to invest in our outstanding public health professionals and provide Virginians with enhanced systems to protect the health and promote the well-being of all.”

The grant is part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding will help awardees address a range of infrastructure needs, based on the needs of their communities. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) is one of the recipients of the multi-million dollar funding.

“As we work to enhance Virginia’s behavioral health and developmental disability systems of care, one of our key focuses is modernizing systems and processes that leverage best practices and technology to drive and sustain high-quality service outcomes,” said DBHDS Commissioner Nelson Smith. “The funding from this grant will help us continue our system modernization and ensure that we are providing the best care possible for the Virginians we serve.”

“This funding will help recruit, train and develop scientists who are on the front lines of Virginia’s response to emerging diseases, environmental disasters, and other public health threats,” said Joe Damico, DGS Director. “This workforce is critical to ensuring Virginia’s public health partners have access to high-quality, timely, cutting-edge laboratory data for disease surveillance and emergency surge response.”

VDH is one of 107 jurisdictions nationally to receive grant funding. The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health was awarded approximately $6 million from the same grant and was the sole eligible locality in Virginia. CDC awarded a total of $3.2 billion to states, localities, and jurisdictions across the nation. Recipients are expected to use the funding to achieve key short-term and long-term outcomes that involve workforce recruiting and support; improved processes and policies, and develop efficient and sustainable technologies. The grant is the first of its kind that specifically targets overarching public health infrastructure and systems.

The VDH is coordinating this statewide public health grant.

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10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 10 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 14 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Dec 17 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday December 17th 2022. Tickets: $35 and $25 Under 16:[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 21 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
5:30 am First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jan 1 @ 5:30 am – 3:00 pm
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. While the American tradition of celebrating the New Year occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, other cultures celebrate by enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day. As part of the continuing American[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 4 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]