For many people, the practice of martial arts is a strange—possibly intimidating—concept. People often wonder what happens in a ‘dojo’ with unfortunate misconceptions often perpetuated by movies and television. But the martial arts, and specifically the art of Kempo, which we choose to practice, is not strange or mysterious. It is an ancient self-improvement practice with fitness training and self-defense fitted in to fill out the edges.
In life, we often find that our greatest adversary is ourselves, as we all too often stand in our own way—sometimes going so far as to sabotage ourselves actively. But in Kempo, we work to overcome these traits by developing and utilizing methods that work in the studio and as well as in other aspects of life. By doing so, we work to create well-rounded, successful, and healthy lives.
In this spirit, we wish to acknowledge the accomplishment of three of our most esteemed students. In December 2021, Kevin Simpson, Jon Jelsma, and Geof Gibbs earned their Fourth Degree Black Belts in the Art of Kempo. They are the first students to reach this level in Potomac Kempo’s seventeen-year history, representing less than one-tenth of one percent of our students.
These gentlemen have practiced the martial arts for an average of twenty years, teaching as well as training, and have studied multiple arts.
In addition to his Kempo practice, Kevin Simpson has studied Ninjutsu, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Army Combatives, in which he is a Level 2 Certified Instructor. He is a Sergeant First Class in the US Army Band, and he volunteers to teach both Kempo classes and grappling basics.
Before practicing Kempo, Jon Jelsma studied Tae Kwon Do, Shorin Ryu Karate, and Fencing. Amidst his Kempo practice, he has also studied Jeet Kun Do, Pekiti Tirsia Kali, Inosanto Academy Kali, and Kosho Ryu Kempo. He is a patent examiner for the US Patent and Trademark Office and volunteers to teach Kempo and Kali classes throughout the week.
Geof Gibbs began his martial arts practice with Kempo and has since come to supplement it with the study of Kali and Kosho Shorei Ryu. Having left a former life as a computer scientist, he is now a career instructor, acting as our Senior Staff Trainer and the Chief Instructor of our Huntington Metro studio location in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to teaching Kempo, he leads our Kosho Club. Consistent with our relatively new tradition of passing on belts, Geof was presented with my own Fourth Degree Black Belt that I wore when I was that rank.
We are honored by their accomplishments and are proud to have them as part of the Potomac Kempo team. It is rightly said that “You are only as good as the people you train with,” and these exemplary practitioners are an asset to all of Potomac Kempo. Their work is a testament to lifetimes of dedication, learning, and growth.
One final thought: as I sat on the floor of an empty studio presenting belts to three very sweaty persons, I searched for words to capture the moment, for praise that would not seem redundant or superfluous. My mind circled twice, and I settled back on humility. I have known these men for decades; we have spent more hours training together than I could begin to count. They are my most accomplished students, yet they may also be my most humble students. And I don’t think that is an accident or coincidence. In martial arts, we tell the story of a student whose cup is so full it will not hold any more tea. Through all of these years, Kevin, Jon, and Geof have all managed to keep an empty cup, space to learn, never believing that they have learned it all.
I wish them a lifetime of continued success and health.
Chris Santillo, Sensei
Potomac Kempo Founder, Headmaster
Public Advised to Avoid Contact with Algal Mats in sections of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River near Town of Strasburg, VA
An Algal Mat Alert has been issued for the North Fork Shenandoah River for the Town of Strasburg. The alert area begins above the town at approximately Route 644 (Deep Hollow Lane), to include the Deer Rapids Road Bridge, to below the town at approximately Route 611 (Long Meadow Road), for a total of approximately 11.5 miles. Potentially toxic algae mats could be widespread or patchy in areas within this vicinity. Recreational use may continue providing those using the waterway take caution to avoid contact with the algae mats. If mats appear unavoidable in an area, the public should discontinue recreational activities there.
Algal Mat Alert signs have been posted near the boat ramp at Deer Rapids and at public access points along the North Fork Shenandoah River in Strasburg. The area of the river where algal mats have been investigated can be seen on the interactive Harmful Algal Bloom Map.
While this alert applies to this particular area, everyone is reminded to avoid areas in any natural waterway that have algal mats or discolored, scummy water. People should also avoid allowing their pets to swim in areas where mat material is observed. Contact with these mats may cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If mats are producing toxins, consumption of mats could be fatal to dogs and other animals when ingested. Sadly, animal deaths may occur suddenly following exposure. Humans should never consume water or material from a natural waterbody because this water is not treated water and is not suitable for consumption.
Although cyanotoxins were either below or just above detection in water samples tested from these locations, it is important to remember that toxin concentrations within the mats may be much more highly concentrated than those that may be in the water column. Avoiding contact with mats should avoid the release of toxins to the water, if mats are producing them.
VDH has observed no evidence of impacts to drinking water at this time. The Office of Drinking Water is working with drinking water utilities to protect drinking water sources.
The North Fork of the Shenandoah River is a popular local recreation area for boating, swimming and fishing. Please look for Algal Mat Alert signs posted along the river shoreline at public access points and observe the advisory precautions. Recreational uses may continue provided proper caution to avoid mats is observed. It is best to ensure pets, livestock and horses do not have access to this section of the river when mats are present.
Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless, however, some species may produce irritating compounds or toxins. Avoid discolored water, scums or mat material that are green or bluish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.
To prevent illness, people should:
- Avoid contact with mats which may be present in North Fork Shenandoah River above and below the Town of Strasburg.
- If mats are unavoidable, do not attempt to recreate in the waterbody.
- WHEN IN DOUBT, KEEP PEOPLE AND PETS OUT! Use your best judgment before recreating in natural waterbodies.
- Do not allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water or consume material in the water or along the shoreline.
- Keep small children, pets, and livestock out of the areas experiencing an Algal Mat Alert. They do not understand the risks associated with mats and may drink river water or consume mats which could cause illness.
- If you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near the area under an Algal Mat Alert, seek medical/veterinarian care. You may also contact your local poison control center.
- Additional resources for pet owners and veterinarians are available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/habs
- To ensure fish filets are safe to eat, properly clean fish by removing skin, discarding all internal organs, and cooking fish to the proper temperature.
- To view the Algal Mat Alert area, view the HAB Map online or the Algal Mat Status Report for the North Fork Shenandoah River 8.5.22.
- To report an algae bloom or fish kill, use the online report form.
- If you suspect you or your animal experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom, contact the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154. Please do not call this number for updates on sampling or status reports.
The Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, which includes the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Old Dominion University Phytoplankton Analysis Lab, will continue to monitor mats in the river. In general, Algal Mat Alerts may be lifted following two consecutive observations where mats are not widespread and unavoidable and preferably, as resources allow, when water column cell counts and toxin concentrations are below safe swimming thresholds. An Algal Mat Alert may also be lifted or maintained at the discretion of the health department. For example, after one test an advisory may be lifted if results are within safe levels for swimming if other information indicates exposure or human health risk is low.
For more information about harmful algae blooms, Algal Mat Advisories and Recreational Water Advisories visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.
17-year-old charged with ‘Driving Under the Influence’ in fatal Rockingham County two-vehicle collision – speed also cited as factor in ongoing investigation
According to Virginia State Police (VSP) a 17-year-old driver has been charged with “Driving Under the Influence” in the death of a 71-year-old driver in a mid-evening two-vehicle collision Wednesday, August 3, in Rockingham County. According to the VSP press release on the accident the northbound 2008 BMW driven by the unidentified 17-year-old minor male was “traveling at a high rate of speed” when it and a 1997 Mercury Villager attempting to make a left turn onto Route 42 after stopping at a westbound stop sign on Route 765, collided. There was one passenger in each vehicle, another 17-year-old male in the BMW, and a 78-year-old female in the Mercury. The investigation into the accident continues.
Both occupants of the Mercury, driver Gerald L. Will (71) of Hinton, Va., and Jean E. Will (78) also of Hinton, were transported from the scene with life-threatening injuries. The State Police Press Release from the desk of VSP Public Information Officer Sgt. Brent Coffey reported that the two involved 17-year-olds suffered “minor injuries” and were also transported from the scene for treatment. Ms. Will was transported to the UVA Medical Center, the other three involved parties to the Sentara RMH Medical Center. VSP reported that all four involved people were wearing seatbelts when the accident occurred.
Below is the VSP release on the fatal collision in its entirety:
Virginia State Police Trooper J. Joseph is investigating a two-vehicle fatal crash in Rockingham County. The crash occurred Wednesday, (August 3) at 9:25 p.m. at the intersection of Route 42 (Harpine Hwy) and Route 765 (Buttermilk Creek Rd).
A 1997 Mercury Villager was traveling west on Route 765 when it stopped at a stop sign. As the Mercury attempted a left turn onto Route 42 it collided with a northbound 2008 BMW 328I. The BMW was traveling at a high rate of speed.
The driver of the Mercury, Gerald L. Will, 71, of Hinton, Va., suffered life-threatening injuries due to the crash and was transported to Sentara RMH Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. He was wearing a seatbelt.
A passenger in the Mercury, Jean E. Will, 78, of Hinton, Va., suffered life-threatening injuries due to the crash and was transported to UVA Medical Center for treatment. She was wearing a seatbelt.
The driver of the BMW, a 17-year-old male, of Harrisonburg, Va., suffered minor injuries due to the crash and was transported to Sentara RMH Medical Center for treatment. The male was wearing a seatbelt.
A passenger in the BMW, a 17 year-old male, of Rockingham, Va., suffered minor injuries and was transported to Sentara RMH Medical Center for treatment. He was wearing a seatbelt.
The driver of the BMW was charged with driving under the influence.
The crash remains under investigation.
Laurel Ridge breaks ground on skilled trades center on Fauquier Campus
Laurel Ridge Community College opened a new chapter Tuesday when it ceremonially broke ground on the Fauquier Campus Center for Skilled Trades.
The 8,000-square-foot facility will provide space specifically designed for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, heavy equipment operator, carpentry and welding programs. It will also open the door for trades academy partnerships with Fauquier County and Rappahannock County school systems, Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said during Tuesday’s ceremony.
The new facility is possible thanks to a donation of 62 acres of land adjacent to the campus from Fauquier County to the Laurel Ridge Educational Foundation.
“It’s humbling to see how many folks have gotten behind this program,” said Jeanian Clark, vice president of Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education at the college. “These programs will finally have a home that they deserve and the noble honor of being affiliated with higher education on a community college campus.”
While Laurel Ridge’s Middletown Campus has been able to offer trades programs for decades, trades education in Fauquier has only been possible at leased locations, and – briefly – modular buildings that had been brought on campus.
“From Middletown to Northern Virginia, there were no trade schools in between,” Clark said.
As a result, students were driving very far in the evenings after work to come to Middletown for trades programs, so college officials had been on the hunt for appropriate space for quite a while.
Several years ago, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and County Administrator Paul McCulla asked how they could support the growth of Laurel Ridge, said Chris Coutts, vice president of communications and planning and the provost of the Fauquier Campus.
“We said this is something that is really, really important for the community and the college to be able to provide the training, the technical and workforce programs that the community needs,” said Dr. Coutts. “They saw the vision and what we wanted to create and made this possible. This is an absolute dream for us.”
About a year ago, the Educational Foundation launched a “Building the Future” campaign to invest in equipment, scholarships and instruction at the new facility, and is already more than halfway to its $1.5 million goal thanks to the generosity of community members, industry partners and the PATH Foundation.
“I stand here today giving you the commitment of the county to say yes to these types of projects, to say yes to public-private partnerships,” said McCulla. “We’re doing this for our citizens. We’re doing it for our children. We’re doing it for our grandchildren.”
Tuesday’s groundbreaking marked a new milestone for the college, said Dr. Blosser, noting the Eleanor C. and William A. Hazel Hall opens for Mountain Vista Governor’s School students next week and Laurel Ridge students on Aug. 22.
“We’re going to have more and more opportunities that we’ll be able to offer students in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties,” she said.
Three quarters of Shenandoah Waterway locations sampled unsafe for swimming because of high bacteria levels
About three quarters of Virginia’s water monitoring stations in the Shenandoah Valley found levels of fecal bacteria so high in the first half of 2022 that they exceeded EPA recommendations for warning people about the health risks of swimming or splashing in the water.
Seventy-six percent of Virginia Department of Environmental Quality sampling locations (44 of 58) in Shenandoah waterways from January 1 through July 12 of this year (the most recent available data) had levels of E. coli that were unsafe for swimming or recreation, according to an analysis of state monitoring numbers by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project. In 2021, 60 percent (29 of 48) of the water monitoring stations in the Valley did not meet the standard. But those numbers are a slight improvement, if perhaps temporary, according to the independent environmental watchdog group EIP.
Both the first half of 2022, and all of 2021, had lower bacteria numbers than the average for 2015 to 2020, when almost 80 percent of samples had unhealthy levels of bacteria. Lower rainfall levels in 2021 may have temporarily reduced the runoff of manure and other pollutants that drive up bacteria levels in rivers and streams.
To examine an online map with details about Virginia’s bacteria monitoring results in locations up and down the Shenandoah Valley, and where it is safe to swim, click here.
“The bacteria levels in the Shenandoah River are still too high, and Virginia needs to do more to encourage – or require – streamside livestock fencing and prevent the chronic overapplication of manure to farm fields,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. “The Shenandoah Valley is a treasure that deserves better protections. We do recognize that Virginia is taking steps to increase funding for farm best management practices, including by adding streamside fencing, and that deserves praise.”
In March 2022, the Virginia General Assembly approved a record $265 million for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 for farm pollution-control “best management practices” – including streamside livestock fencing and other steps to reduce runoff into waterways.
But, despite the persistently high bacteria levels in the Shenandoah, Virginia has posted no signs warning rafters, kayakers, or swimmers about bacteria levels – as it does regularly with swimming advisories on ocean beaches with high bacteria levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends warning swimmers when concentrations of E. coli bacteria exceed 235 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water.
Almost 160 million chickens, 16 million turkeys and 528,000 cows are raised annually in the Shenandoah Valley’s Augusta, Page, Shenandoah and Rockingham counties. Most of their manure is spread on surrounding farmland as fertilizer, but it contains far more phosphorus than crops need for growth. The excess manure leaks pollutants into groundwater and is often washed by rain into surrounding streams.
Bacteria levels in waterways are known to increase after periods of heavy rainfall because rain flushes fertilizer and sediment into rivers and streams. Total rainfall in Harrisonburg, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, was significantly lower in 2021 (about 37 inches) than the annual average from 2015 to 2020 (46 inches). That lower rainfall in 2021 could have temporarily reduced bacteria levels that year. Complete numbers are not yet available for 2022.
FECAL BACTERIA LEVELS IN SHENANDOAH WATERWAYS, 2015-2022
In April 2019, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Shenandoah Riverkeeper released a study “Livestock Fencing in the Shenandoah Valley” that used aerial photographs of the livestock industry in to show that 81 percent of farms in the state’s two largest farming counties — Augusta and Rockingham — failed to fence their cattle out of streams, contributing to bacteria contamination.
This low fencing rate was despite a pledge by the state of Virginia to EPA that 95-percent of streams through pastures would have livestock fencing by 2025 to meet the goals of the state’s cleanup plan for the Chesapeake Bay.
The release of that April 2019 report spurred the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to perform its own aerial survey of livestock fencing. Virginia lawmakers then approved increased funding and reimbursement rates to encourage more farmers to install streamside livestock fencing. Legislators also passed a law that allows state officials to mandate streamside livestock fencing if the agricultural sector fails to achieve Bay pollution reduction goals by 2025.
As a result of the increased funding, an increased number of farmers in Virginia started enrolling in a state program to install livestock fencing. In Augusta and Rockingham Counties, the number of farmers signing up for the streamside fencing program grew from 26 in fiscal year 2019, to 38 in fiscal year 2020, to 55 in fiscal year 2021, and 40 in fiscal year 2022, according to data from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
For more details about bacteria monitoring in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
In October 2019, Virginia revoked its “beach action value” for E. coli in freshwater areas, which is a trigger value for potential health risks for people swimming or recreating in waters with more than 235 counts of E. coli/100 ml of water. The Commonwealth no longer has a beach warning value for freshwater areas like the Shenandoah River and issues no warnings when fecal bacteria levels are high in these areas.
However, despite Virginia’s change, EPA continues to recommend that states warn swimmers of potential health risks when E coli counts exceed 235 counts of E. coli/100 ml of water. So the Environmental Integrity Project in its annual reporting on the issue uses this level of bacteria as a yardstick of potential threat for water contact recreation.
(From a release by the Environmental Integrity Project. EIP is a 20-year-old nonprofit organization, based in Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas, dedicated to the enforcement of environmental laws and the strengthening of policy to protect public health and the environment.)
Fauquier Health expands new Primary & Specialty Care office in Gainesville and welcomes Family Medicine provider Jenna Wong, DO
Fauquier Health announced today the welcoming of their newest Family Medicine provider, Jenna Wong, DO. Dr. Wong will join the Primary and Specialty Care office located at 7915 Lake Manassas Dr., Suite 101, Gainesville, Virginia 20155. The new Gainesville office recently opened in the beginning of March 2022 alongside the already established OB/GYN and Midwifery office.
Dr. Wong, board-certified in Family Medicine, will be joining Dr. Hasina Hamid who specializes in Internal Medicine. The office also has future plans to welcome a second Family Medicine provider in the coming weeks. Dr. Wong will see patients of any age on Mondays and Wednesdays-Fridays from 7:00am-5:00pm. Those days and hours may be subject to change.
According to Fauquier Health’s interim-CEO, Anthony Young, “As part of Fauquier Health’s multidisciplinary approach, the Primary and Specialty Care Office in Gainesville will offer patients close access to a variety of services closer to home.”
Dr. Wong graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from Occidental College, in Los Angeles, California in 2014, where she majored in Biochemistry with a minor in Kinesiology. She then graduated with a Medical Degree from A.T. Still University of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona in 2019. Dr. Wong completed her Family Medicine Residency at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah.
Dr. Wong is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Utah Academy of Family Physicians, and the Hawaii Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons. She has participated in over 100 childbirth deliveries and has extensive knowledge of chronic illness and disease management. Her other areas of specialty are preventative care, acute illness care, blood pressure management, diabetes management, physical exams, treatment of minor injuries, and mental health evaluation and management.
Dr. Wong is accepting appointments now. To schedule an appointment at the new Lake Manassas office, please call 703.743.7370. Online scheduling will also be available at FHDoctors.org or FauquierHealth.org.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540-316-5000.
Valley Health System launches $50M project to elevate its electronic medical record platform
Valley Health System (VHS) leadership from throughout the system gathered today in the WMC Conference Center to celebrate the official launch of “Project Elevate,” a 16-month undertaking to implement a customized and more robust version of Epic, the electronic medical record (EMR) it adopted in 2014.
Valley Health hospitals, outpatient clinics and providers have relied on Epic to document care, order tests and procedures, and communicate with patients, the health care team, and referring providers. VHS partnered with Inova Health System on its first Epic adoption in order to streamline the initial implementation process and curb expense. With Project Elevate, the system will transition to its own instance of Epic, which will be managed exclusively by Valley Health.
Earlier this year, the Valley Health Board of Trustees approved the implementation of Valley Health’s own instance of Epic at a cost of approximately $50 million. This upgrade will allow Valley Health to more flexibility and independence, improve responsiveness and create a more robust platform including three new modules for areas not currently on Epic: laboratory, cardiology and Home Health.
“We are excited about this pivotal organizational change, an opportunity to move to a new, higher standard of patient-centered care,” says Mark Nantz, Valley Health President and CEO. “We have enjoyed a productive collaboration with Inova, but we have grown and our needs and circumstances have changed. Our physicians, staff and patients expect and deserve greater functionality and opportunities to engage with each other. I am confident that Project Elevate will do just that: it will elevate our patient care and experience, as well as the collaboration between our caregivers. And it will help Valley Health become a more nimble organization moving forward.”
Other speakers shared brief comments at the Project Elevate kick-off. Anesthesiologist Katherine Johnson, MD, a member of the Valley Health Board of Trustees, said she was pleased to approve this significant investment. “The benefits this upgrade offers our patients and caregivers are immense. I’m so proud that Valley Health is able to make this continued commitment to provide the best care and the best patient experience,” Johnson said.
Project Elevate will require about 18 months to implement, with go live anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Valley Health is a nonprofit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, and western Maryland. As a healthcare provider, employer, and community partner, Valley Health is committed to improving the health of the region. The system includes six hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care, and home health. www.valleyhealthlink.com