Of the seven people killed in Virginia traffic crashes during the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend, two were teenagers and three were not wearing seat-belts. Though this past holiday statistical counting period saw fewer fatal crashes than in previous years, even one fatality is one too many.
During the five-day period which began at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 27, 2019, and concluded at midnight Dec. 1, 2019, seven men and women lost their lives in seven traffic crashes on Virginia highways. The fatal crashes occurred in the City of Virginia Beach and the counties of Bedford, Henrico, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Rockbridge and Stafford. Six of those killed were drivers and alcohol was a factor in at least two of the fatal crashes. A 19-year-old female was killed in the Bedford County crash and an 18-year-old male lost his life in the Stafford County crash.
There were 12 traffic fatalities during the 2018 five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period and 14 traffic fatalities during the same period in 2017. *
In an effort to prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. Operation CARE is an annual, state-sponsored, national program during which state police increases its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period.
The 2019 Thanksgiving Holiday C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 5,221 speeders and 1,798 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia troopers charged 83 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and cited 490 drivers for failing to buckle up themselves and/or juvenile passengers.
State police responded to 1,312 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth, with 178 of those resulting in injuries and seven in fatalities. State police also assisted 2,294 disabled/stranded motorists during the Thanksgiving weekend.
“With only 27 days left in 2019, the Virginia State Police reminds all drivers to do their part to keep the winter holiday season as safe as possible on our highways,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Let’s end this decade by working together to save lives on our roadways, instead of putting them at risk by engaging in reckless driving behaviors. Make the right choice by always wearing a seat-belt, safely sharing the road with all vehicles and pedestrians, and by not driving intoxicated or ‘intexticated.’”
*Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – December 2, 2020
Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.
- vaccine for the coronavirus “extremely hopeful”
- first vaccine shipment for health care workers; residents of long-term care facilities
- continue to wear masks; practice social distancing
- watching for post-Thanksgiving surge in cases
- hospitals have surge plans in place if needed
Virginia Redistricting Committee takes shape; public can apply
More than half a dozen legislators have been named to a bipartisan redistricting commission that seeks to fairly draw congressional and state legislative districts.
The commission will be made up of 16 people. Half of them will be legislators and the other half will be Virginia citizens.
Virginia legislative leaders chose four Republicans and four Democrats this week to sit on the committee. Democrats include Dels. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond and Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, plus Sens. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and George Barker, D-Fairfax. The Republicans on the committee are Dels. Les Adams, R-Chatham, and Margaret Ransone, R-Westmoreland, as well as Sens. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, and Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg.
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the speaker of the Virginia House and one of the officials responsible for naming the legislative members of the commission, announced her appointments on Nov. 30. Filler-Corn said in a statement that McQuinn and Simon are “committed to inclusion” and “dedicated to a fair redistricting process that protects the vote of every Virginian.”
House Republican Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said in a statement that his appointees “will help craft what the voters have demanded — fair maps for every Virginian.”
Almost 66% of Virginians voted last month in support of an amendment to establish the commission, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Days after the election, state lawmakers agreed to a $135 billion revised budget that included setting up the commission. The previous law stated that the General Assembly and the governor had total control over redistricting.
The majority of congressional and state legislative districts in Virginia were redrawn after the 2010 U.S. Census when Republicans controlled both chambers of the General Assembly and the executive branch. The maps are scheduled to be redrawn again next year with final census counts. However, the U.S. Census Bureau requested a delay to submit redistricting data to states no later than July 31, 2021, instead of April 1.
Erin Dodson, a 20-year-old from Sussex County, is one of more than 2.7 million Virginians who voted for the amendment. He said that getting Virginians more involved was a step in the right direction.
“I feel like it’s only fair that the people are heard,” Dodson said. “This is America; freedom of speech and government involvement is what we’re all about.”
New legislative district maps approved by the commission would go to the General Assembly for a vote. If any are rejected, the commission would be required to produce new maps. If rejected again, the Virginia Supreme Court would establish the new districts.
The state also started accepting applications this week for residents who want to serve on the commission. Retired circuit court judges will choose the citizen members.
In order to be considered, citizens must have lived in Virginia for the past three years. They also must have voted in at least two of the last three general elections. Citizens who hold, have held or sought to hold a political position or public office will not be considered, nor will lobbyists or people who have served as lobbyists in the last five years. Three letters of recommendation are also required to be considered for an appointment.
The applications are due by December 28. Click here for the application.
By Hunter Britt
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.
Valley Health, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announce new network agreement; ensures members continued in-network access to Valley Health caregivers and services
After working for several months on a new contract, Valley Health and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield today announced a new agreement that will keep Valley Health physicians and hospitals in Anthem’s provider networks. Details of the new agreement were not disclosed.
“We are pleased to announce a new long-term agreement with Anthem that ensures in-network access to the physicians and caregivers our patients know and trust,” said Valley Health President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Nantz. “We recognize negotiations have been stressful for our patients and are pleased to bring this matter to a close.”
Anthem is the largest health insurer in Virginia and it was essential that Valley Health reach an agreement to serve thousands of community members who rely on Anthem or other Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates for their health insurance.
“We appreciate Anthem’s trust in Valley Health as their partner and their willingness to make the investment in high-quality healthcare for their members,” Nantz said.
The new agreement provides Anthem customers uninterrupted, in-network access to Valley Health caregivers and services through 2023.
“Prioritizing the health of our communities is more important than ever, which is why we are pleased to have reached this agreement, which protects affordability for consumers and ensures our members have access to quality care at Valley Health,” said Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield President Jeff Ricketts. “We value this continued partnership with Valley as we work together to tackle the current pandemic and improve lives and communities here in Virginia.”
Valley Health encourages patients with any additional questions to call 1-866-414-4576. Anthem members can call Member Services using the phone number on the back of their member I.D. card.
American Cancer Society asks for support for #GivingTuesday and beyond
In the midst of a devastating pandemic, Americans are facing unprecedented challenges. This is especially true for the 1.8 million Americans diagnosed with cancer during 2020. In addition to being especially vulnerable to coronavirus, more than one of every four cancer patients and survivors had delays in care due to COVID-19, which has upended lives and uniquely challenged cancer patients, survivors and their families. Patients have had to go through treatment alone and the need to quarantine has created isolation. To fill this void, the American Cancer Society added face-to-face video chats to its free, 24-hour cancer hotline that provides cancer support and resources at 1-800-227-2345.
COVID-19 has placed the American Cancer Society (ACS) in crisis for the first time in the Society’s 107-year history, creating a $200 million shortfall in fundraising, reducing cancer research funding by 50% this year, and challenging the Society’s ability to provide cancer patients and their caregivers support during an unprecedented time.
Nancy Marx, an American Cancer Society volunteer, has been the primary caregiver to her best friend Pat Burger, who was treated for breast cancer during COVID-19. “No one could go in with my friend to support her during her treatment. Her sister, her husband and I had to quarantine so we could safely take care of her. Other family couldn’t come visit. When she finished radiation treatment and rang the bell at the cancer center, no family or friends were with her. All her conferences with doctors and the cancer team were virtual. I was so upset for her.”
Caregivers, not only cancer patients, need support during the stress of a cancer journey. Nancy, a long-time Relay For Life participant, called the American Cancer Society’s 800 number cancer hotline for support. “The 800 number is there for everything you want to know about cancer. I didn’t understand certain medical terms and new medicines. The Society’s trained cancer specialists are there to talk and help. I felt much better after my call,” said Nancy.
On #GivingTuesday and throughout the month of December, the Society is asking for the public’s support. ACS is the largest non-profit funder of cancer research outside the federal government and provides vital services addressing health disparities and round-the-clock patient support despite the times. Due to the pandemic’s crippling impact, cancer patients, caregivers and survivors are turning to the American Cancer Society for information and resources to navigate COVID-19.
To donate to the American Cancer Society on #GivingTuesday or throughout the month of December, go to: cancer.org or go to Warren County/Front Royal Relay For Life at www.relayforlife.org/warrenva and donate locally to the American Cancer Society.
Edward Jones financial advisor Bret Hrbek receives Spirit of Caring Award
Bret Hrbek of the financial services firm Edward Jones in Front Royal recently received the firm’s exclusive Spirit of Caring Award designed to recognize those financial advisors who exemplify the values, culture and spirit of giving back.
Hrbek is a leader in the firm and an example of what a dedicated Edward Jones financial advisor can achieve. He has demonstrated unyielding dedication to giving back to his clients, community, other financial advisors, branch teams and their regional network.
Hrbek said he is honored to receive the award.
“Edward Jones is a partnership. That structure is not just financial, it’s a philosophy,” Hrbek said. “We work together, help each other and all share in the rewards of working with long-term individual investors. That brings out the best in everyone.”
Hrbek was one of only 295 of the firm’s more than 19,000 financial advisors to receive the award.
Bret Hrbek’s office is located at 986 John Marshall Highway, Front Royal, Virginia.
Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm’s business, from the investments offered to the location of branch offices, caters to individual investors. The firm’s 19,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients with a total of $1.2 trillion in client assets under care. Visit edwardjones.com or the recruiting website at careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.
Shopping Small promotion announces first winners
Shopping Small does have its rewards in Front Royal.
Sue Laurence of Key Move Properties announced the winners of the first drawing this week. Weekly winners will receive gift bags of local business donated goods including gift cards. The value of gift bags may vary.
The BIG prize goes to Bridget Barker – A gift certificate/vouchers from the following merchants – C&C Frozen Treats, Try Thai, White Picket Fence, Ole Timers Antiques, and Key Move Properties.
Joe Nelson – A gift certificate from Royal Bowling Center
Jen Avery – A gift certificate from Royal Bowling Center
Nancy Nelson – A gift certificate from Jennerations Hair Studio
Tina Paulisch – A gift certificate from The Studio
Karen Moxie – A gift certificate from Sensational Hair Cutters