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Why is the Virginia Maritime Association meeting in Warren County?

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On Wednesday morning (April 26) the Warren County Government Center was the site of the 2017 annual report of the Virginia Maritime Association on the “State of the Ports”.  Why was Warren County hosting a report on Virginia’s ports, you may ask.

Right here in River City – straight from Hampton Roads and the Atlantic Ocean, the Virginia Maritime Association’s annual report. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Because as a power point presentation made VERY clear, Warren County’s role as an inland transportation hub between the Hampton Roads area and ALL points inland to the northeast and central United States is crucial to the growth and economic strength of Virginia’s port system.

It was no accident that Virginia’s Inland Port was located on Warren County’s northside near both an Interstate Highway intersection (I-66 and I-81) and railway hub.

Big ships, deep channels – But it’s not just ships, rail and trucking move cargo inland – Photos/Va. Maritime Assn.

“How important is the Inland Port? – It gets cargo off the waterside quickly.  Front Royal (oops, well the Inland Port does use town water and sewer) is a crucial part of our growth and growing future,” Devin Andrews said as he moderated the power point presentation on the State of Virginia’s Ports.  “A port isn’t just on the water … we are growing a supply chain across the commonwealth … and we are building for the long term.”

That building has been a billion-dollar investment, including $670 million in capital infrastructure construction, which Andrews said “shows America and across the globe that Virginia is serious” about its role in the import and export business.

A chart illustrated that seriousness in that the commonwealth is on track to surpass past years of economic growth in its shipping-based import and export role on America’s east coast.  After one year of slightly decreased revenue ($454.8 million in 2016 from $458 million in 2015) the commonwealth is currently on track ($363 million year-to-date) to end the year at the $485 million in revenue mark for 2017.

Stewardship of involved communities is one agenda of the Virginia Maritime Association – wonder if they heard about the report on the Shenandoah River released almost simultaneously with the State of the Ports report? Photo/Roger Bianchini

In fact, Andrews pointed out that shortly one of the largest cargo ships to ever port on the east coast will arrive at Hampton.

“We are building to be sustainable for years to come … we want to be a global gateway … that will be our new normal,” he told a packed WCGC meeting room.

The power point illustrated a plan to deepen the main channel at Hampton Roads from 50 to 55 feet, making it accessible to some of the largest cargo vessels now sailing the seven seas, drawing vessels away from more established east coast ports like New York and Baltimore.

Photo/Va. Maritime Assn.

The Maritime Association report states that, “With the deepest water on the U.S. East Coast, Hampton Roads encompasses 25 square miles of easily accessible waterways and is located just 18 miles from the open sea, offering ships carrying the heaviest cargoes, 50 foot-deep, obstruction-free channels, which are poised to begin dredging to 55 feet.”

It was a packed house at the fully-opened WCGC meeting room – hmm, and food.

A summary of the economic impact of Virginia’s maritime industry included:

  • 79-million tons of cargo moved;
  • 530,800 jobs;
  • $27.4 billion in wages;
  • $88.4 billion in spending;
  • $2.7 billion in state/local taxes;
  • 1% of Virginia’s gross state products.

And sports fans, a lot of that international commerce originating at Hampton Roads that is generating that economic impact will travel through Front Royal’s, err I mean northside Warren County’s Inland Port on the way to destinations throughout the eastern half of the United States.

Not a pirate ship, but the America Transportation Services shuttle bus back to Hampton Roads for some.

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44 new troopers graduate Virginia State Police Academy

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The 44 men and women of the Virginia State Police 132nd Basic Session graduated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a virtual ceremony was the safest means of allowing the graduates and their families to celebrate the culmination of 27 weeks of the trooper-trainees’ hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Also in virtual attendance were state police executive staff, academy staff, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. A previously-recorded video of Governor Ralph Northam congratulating the new troopers was played during the ceremony.

“This Basic Session class has been like no other. Every one of these steadfast men and women heeded strict attention to detail as they navigated the ever-evolving COVID-19 safety protocols,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The attention to detail wasn’t just to ensure a safe environment for the entire class, their families, academy staff, and instructors, but also for the greater good, something all Virginia State Troopers understand as they put their lives to the test daily to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I could not be more proud of this graduating class and I know they will represent us well as they serve their communities.”

The new troopers received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including de-escalation techniques, strategies to assist people in a mental health crisis, ethics and leadership, fair and impartial policing, constitutional law, emergency medical trauma care, and public and community relations. The members of the 132nd Basic Session began their 27 weeks of academic, physical, and practical training at the Academy on June 29, 2020.

The graduates of the 132nd Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York. They include two second-generation troopers, four first-generation Americans, and numerous prior military service personnel.

For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

132nd Basic Graduate Assignment
Arfan M. Arif  – Fairfax County
Michael L. Albert – Shenandoah County
Zachary T. Barnes – York County
Moses I. R. Blakey – New Kent County
Vontasia T. Britton – York County
Andrew J. Brown – Prince William County
Taylor C. Brown – Prince William County
Jawaan D. Cook – Greensville County
William T. DiBerardine  – Warren County
Hunter C. Dickenson  – Gloucester County
Julian B. Edwards – Prince William County
Kayla B. Edwards – Surry County
Christian L. Elkins – Prince William County
Arthur P. Falin – Greensville County
Jacob A. Farmer – Prince George County
Adelaide E. Fischer – Hampton / Newport News
Robert L. Flynn – Accomack County
Tony Fuentes – James City County
Austin K. Gallaway – Hampton / Newport News
Zachary M. Homlish – Caroline County
Hunter C. Jensen – New Kent County
Stephanie H. Kapusta – Fairfax County
Sarah A. M. Kendrick – Prince William County
Aaryn J. Kerry – Cumberland County
Steven R. King – Accomack County
Timothy L. LaFountain – Buckingham County
Joshua O. McClure – Frederick County
Alexander W. Meyers – King George County
Thomas J. Mills – York County
Justin R. Mull – Caroline County
Connor R. O’Quinn – Hampton / Newport News
Earl J. Pritchett – Prince George County
Andrew R. S. Sanders – Sussex County
Gabriel A. Santillan – Fairfax County
Austin M. Sloan – King William County
Jeffrey A. Spencer – Fairfax County
Sean M. Stinnett – Clark County
Seth A. Sullivan – Accomack County
Andrew M. Toth – Fairfax County
Joseph J. Trombley – Shenandoah County
Richard C. Warner – Gloucester County
Jacob K. Weitzman – Fairfax County
Isaac D. Wilson – York County
Joseph T. Worley – Greensville County

State police are currently hiring for future Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – January 14, 2021

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

Highlights include:

  • vaccine distribution to 160 sites
  • receiving 110,000 vaccine doses per week
  • the goal is to distribute 25,000 does per day
  • your turn will come, be patient
  • important to reopen our schools
  • possibility of year-round school
  • addressed threats of violence leading up to next week’s inauguration

Briefing begins about 8 minutes into the broadcast.

Governor Northam delivers State of the Commonwealth Address

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IRS Criminal Investigation warns Virginia taxpayers about new wave of COVID-19 scams

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The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is warning Virginia taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.

In the last several months, IRS-CI has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers. Criminals are taking advantage of the second round of Economic Impact Payments – as well as the approaching filing season – to trick honest taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.

“IRS-CI wants to make sure all Virginians are aware of potential scams, in hopes of preventing them from being victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson.  “Please stay vigilant of potential scammers looking to steal your identity and your money.”

Some common COVID-19 scams include:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.

IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams.

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.

Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.

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Governor Northam delivers State of the Commonwealth Address

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Governor Ralph Northam delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the governor spoke from the House Chamber of the Virginia State Capitol before a virtual joint session of the General Assembly.

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DMV closed for 2021 State Holidays and Observances

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All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) full-service customer service centers will be closed on the following days for state holidays and observances:

• January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• February 15: George Washington Day

• May 31: Memorial Day

• June 18: Juneteenth

• July 5: Independence Day

• September 6: Labor Day

• October 11: Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day

• November 2: Election Day

• November 11: Veterans Day

The holiday schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas will be announced at a later date.

DMV customers are encouraged to save time by taking advantage of more than 40 transactions available online at dmvNOW.com. Appointments are required for in-person transactions.

Also, some DMV Select locations, run mostly by local governments, may operate outside the state holiday closing schedule. DMV Select offices process mostly vehicle-related transactions including registration renewals, titles, and license plates; driver’s licenses and ID card services are not available. To find out if a DMV Select in your area is open on a state holiday and whether an appointment is required, visit dmvNOW.com/DMVSelect.

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Joint statement from Bowser, Hogan, and Northam on planning for 59th Presidential Inauguration

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On January 11, 2021, the chief executives of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia held a joint call to discuss planning for the 59th Presidential Inauguration. The call covered recent requests by D.C. to the federal government, and the leaders discussed the need for enhanced planning and preparation compared to previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. The Mayor and the Governors agreed to urge Americans not to come into Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration and to instead participate virtually.

They issued the following statement:

“January 6, 2021, is now a seminal moment in American history. We are grateful for the courageous efforts of every law enforcement officer, Guard member, and first responder who heroically worked to secure the Capitol and ensure our nation’s democracy prevailed.

“On January 20, there will be a transition of power, and we will work together, and with our partners in the federal government, to ensure the safety of the National Capital Region. Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually.

“In this very trying time, January 6 was a dark moment for our nation. But we know that we will get through this period because American ideals are stronger than one extreme ideology. Together, we will overcome extremism and get back to the work of our residents.”

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Save a Life: Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education January 29th The Northwestern Prevention Collaborative and Northwestern Community Services Board will offer a free virtual REVIVE! Training on January 29th from 12:30 pm to[...]