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Virginia State Police welcomes 59 new troopers to its ranks

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130th Basic Session Motto: Trained by the Best, to Protect the Rest. Photo courtesy of VSP.

RICHMOND – On Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, the Commonwealth will graduate its 130th generation of Virginia State Troopers. The 59 new troopers will be presented their diplomas during commencement exercises at 10 a.m. at the State Police Training Academy located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County. Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Ryant Washington will be in attendance of the graduation ceremony.

The new troopers have received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, survival Spanish, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival, cultural diversity and crisis management. The members of the 130th Basic Session began their 29 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy March 20, 2019.

The soon-to-be graduates of the 130th Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Alabama, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Upon graduation, the new troopers will report to their individual duty assignments across Virginia the week of October 7. For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

130th BASIC GRADUATING CLASS

  Name Hometown Assignment
Kevin Alexander Allen Virginia Beach Hampton/Newport News
Maximo L. Arduini Hamilton, New Jersey Chesterfield
Domanic James Banish Ticonderoga, New York Fairfax
Brian Wayne Barrett Bristol Scott
Richard Shayne Brooks Suffolk York
Sung Hoon Cho Sterling Springfield
Jabreia Camay Clark South Hill Mecklenburg
Christopher Thomas Cortese Guilderland, New York Orange
Kelsea Lee Crotts Smithfield Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Anthony Carroll Daulton, Jr. Appomattox Prince Edward
Luis Brian Delgado Chester Chesterfield
 Aaron Matthew Dorr Suffolk Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Nicholas Charles Fleischer Bangor, Pennsylvania Portsmouth/Suffolk/Chesapeake
Jacob Peter Gooch Woodbridge Springfield
Keith Aaron Griese Manassas Prince William
Devin Nicholas Hacker Courtland Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Chance Alan Harrington Rural Retreat Frederick
Justin Roy Harris Seville, Ohio Campbell
Matthew Lane Hedgepeth Chester Hampton/Newport News
Andrew Ryan Jennings Charlottesville Arlington
Tanner Blake Jones Damascus Halifax
William Revely Keesee Amherst Franklin
Alexander Stephen King Indianapolis, Indiana Fairfax
Jason Patrick Kirk Wytheville Wythe
Joseph James Kulick Edwardsville, Pennsylvania Hampton/Newport News
Michael B. LeSage Port Haywood York
William McKinley Lester, II Wise Scott
William H. Littlejohn, Jr. Chester Dinwiddie
Joseph Hunter Lowe Rural Retreat Springfield
Larry Nathan Luna Hackensack, New Jersey Springfield
Jalante Rashard Manns Roanoke Isle of Wight
William Wyatt McCraw Danville Pittsylvania
Matthew David Meadows Verona Augusta
Conlan Jonathan Miller Herndon Fairfax
Bradley Austin Mills Ashland Hanover
Christopher Edward Miskin Midlothian Chesterfield
Adolfo Alberto Orellana North Chesterfield Stafford
Caleb James Parnell Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania Rockbridge
Jesse Dylan Peebles Fries Albemarle
Joshua Ryan Pelletier La Crosse Lunenburg
William Austin Peters Rural Retreat Dinwiddie
Alexander Carl Pike Schwenksville, Pennsylvania Warren
Devin Joseph Pluchino Virginia Beach Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Isaiah Chance Puckett Ararat Botetourt
Katie Jean Reeves Bealeton Madison
Benjamin Alan Rhodes Bracey Mecklenburg
James Matthew Riggs Tuscaloosa, Alabama James City
Alexandra Nicole Roberts Bumpass Stafford
David M. Saunders Henrico Hanover
Kevin Peter Schumann Centreville Fairfax
Timofey Smosyuk Vestal, New York Henrico
Lloyd Ryan Spencer Patrick Springs Botetourt
Justin Lee Sproston Gloucester Mathews
Ryan James Walker Midlothian Rockbridge
 Matthew Allan Wilkinson Clarksville Appomattox
John Dakota Winebrenner Danville Pittsylvania
John Carper Workman Wytheville Albemarle
John Tyler Wukich Christiansburg Albemarle
James Brandon Yates Lebanon Botetourt
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Governor Northam issues statewide drought watch advisory

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a statewide drought watch advisory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event. Localities, water suppliers, self-supplied water users, and all citizens are encouraged begin preparations for a potential drought.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a work group coordinated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) representing state and federal agencies, the primary factors contributing to the current drought advisory are low precipitation amounts across the state since July, low stream flows (affecting aquifers, lakes, and soils), and low groundwater levels in observation wells compared to previous October levels.

“More than half of our Commonwealth is currently experiencing a water deficit, which can have lasting agricultural, economic, environmental impacts,” said Governor Northam. “While water conservation activities during a drought watch are generally voluntary, we encourage localities and individuals across Virginia to heed this warning and take necessary steps to monitor their water usage.”

The next stage after a drought watch is a drought warning, which indicates that a significant drought event is imminent. If a drought warning is issued, water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place—or prepared during a drought watch—would begin.

“Higher temperatures and less consistent precipitation patterns driven by climate change are making extreme weather like droughts more prevalent around the world, and Virginia is no exception,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Governor Northam and our administration are taking steps to monitor and mitigate drought impacts and address the causes and symptoms of climate change.”

Additionally, 36 localities in Virginia have issued open air burn bans. Individuals are encouraged to check the Virginia Department of Forestry’s map for the latest information on active burn bans and contact their locality for further details on outdoor burning restrictions.

“Fortunately, Virginia’s vigilant task force, ongoing monitoring program and cohesive regional water resource plans are in place for this very situation, to help raise awareness across the Commonwealth and mitigate potential impacts to citizens, water suppliers, and their customers,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.

Throughout the drought watch advisory, localities, water suppliers and self-supplied water users in all areas are strongly encouraged to take voluntary steps to protect current water supplies.

• Minimize non-essential water use.
• Review or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take actions consistent with those plans.
• Share information as broadly as possible.
• Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied
water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
• Impose water restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
• Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

Statewide information on current drought conditions is available on the DEQ website.

The map displays the current status of drought indicators for each of the thirteen Drought Evaluation Regions in Virginia.  The squares within each region indicate the current stage of each of the drought indicators as described by the key below.  The color shown for each Drought Evaluation Region indicates the current stage for that region.  For example, regions colored green indicate normal conditions with no current drought advisory.  If a region is colored yellow, a Drought Watch Advisory is currently in effect for that region.

Drought Indicator Key

Res = Reservoir

Prcp = Precipitation

GW = Groundwater Levels

Flow = Streamflow

No Data = An indicator groundwater or streamflow gage or reservoir is not available for that region, or that data from existing stations are temporarily unavailable

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Governor Northam announces civil rights restored to more than 20,000 Virginians

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Photo courtesy of restore.virginia.gov where you can find out more about restoration of rights.

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced today that since he took office in January 2018, his administration has restored the civil rights of 22,205 Virginians previously convicted of a felony. The civil rights restored include the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and become a notary public.

“Virginia remains one of the few states in the nation that permanently strip individuals of their civil rights after a felony conviction,” said Governor Northam. “I’m proud to use my executive clemency power to restore those rights to Virginians who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities seeking a second chance. This is about doing what is fair and right, and is an important part of our ongoing work to build a stronger, more accessible, and more inclusive Commonwealth.”

Governor Northam announced in February that civil rights had been restored to over 10,000 individuals since the start of his administration, more than any other Virginia governor prior to Terry McAuliffe.

“Since the start of his administration, Governor Northam has been committed to fairness and making sure that Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “The restoration of civil rights is an important step to ensuring that all of our residents are treated equally.”

For more information on restoration of rights and the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, visit restore.virginia.gov.

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VDOT announces new Interstate 81 Program Delivery Director

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RICHMOND — Following the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan and new dedicated funding as a result of 2019 legislation, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Chief Engineer, Bart Thrasher, P.E., announced today that Dave Covington, P.E., will lead VDOT’s implementation of projects and initiatives identified in the plan. As the new Interstate 81 program delivery director, Covington will oversee corridor-long strategy and program-level consistency as projects and initiatives from the plan are developed, constructed and prioritized by the I-81 Advisory Committee.

“As we found in the study, I-81 is a critical driver of economic vitality in Virginia, serving 11.7 million trucks and transporting $312 billion in goods each year,” said Thrasher. “Having a strong leader at the helm of project implementation across district lines will ensure success of our goals to improve safety and reliability along Virginia’s 325 miles of the corridor.”

Covington has over 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, with diverse, yet vast expertise in design, maintenance and construction. Most recently, he has served as the Staunton District maintenance engineer.

In design and construction, he has managed complex design-bid-build projects and large-scale design-build contracts, both with private engineering consultants to VDOT and as an employee of VDOT. Recently, he led VDOT’s $250 million Route 29 Solutions program in Charlottesville. Throughout the development and delivery of these major infrastructure projects, Covington utilized sound risk-management principles to ensure that projects were delivered safely, completed ahead of schedule and under budget, and that Virginia residents and taxpayers received good value for their investments. Covington will be charged with employing the same principles in managing implementation of the $2.2 billion package identified to improve the I-81 corridor.

Covington is a licensed professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. He will assume the new role on September 25, 2019.

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First Lady Pamela Northam concludes second annual Back to School Tour

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RICHMOND—Over the past month as nearly 1.2 million Virginia students returned to school, First Lady Pamela Northam visited early childhood education programs and elementary schools in each of the Commonwealth’s eight Superintendent Regions, highlighting the importance of school readiness. The First Lady traveled more than 2,327 miles, making 42 stops in 27 localities where she read with students and delivered books donated by bbgb books, an independent children’s bookshop in Richmond.

Virginia First Lady visits E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School

“Our conversations on this tour confirmed once again that local communities are leading the way in innovative approaches to early childhood care and education,” said First Lady Northam. “We are grateful to the dedicated educators, leaders, and local partners across the Commonwealth who are preparing children for success in school and beyond in a wide variety of settings. We look forward to working together to expand these types of opportunities to all children and in every region of Virginia.”

Throughout the tour, the First Lady and staff engaged with students, educators, parents, legislators, local departments of social services, and members of the non-profit and business communities. Conversations during last year’s tour informed the administration’s work over the past year and discussions from this year’s tour will continue to guide efforts to expand access to early childhood education in Virginia, from the implementation of the $9.9 million federal Preschool Development Grant to the recently released Draft Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Care and Education in Virginia. The Administration is in the process of applying for an extension of the federal grant through 2020.

“Expanding access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education is an investment in both the workforce of today and tomorrow,” said Chief School Readiness Officer Jenna Conway. “Quality programs allow for parents to go pursue further education or work while preparing children to succeed in school and in life.”

In August, Governor Northam signed Executive Director Four, establishing the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness that is responsible for developing a plan to ensure that all at-risk three and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a quality, subsidized early education option by 2025. The full text of Executive Directive Four can be found here.

This year all kindergarten teachers in Virginia public schools are using the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) to evaluate and build children’s literacy, math, and socio-emotional skills so they start off school fully prepared to succeed during the kindergarten year and into the future.

See below for highlights from the First Lady’s Back to School Tour, including photos from the from the final day of her tour on September 23 at North Star Early Childhood Education Center in Stafford (top) and Courtland Elementary School in Spotsylvania (center, bottom).

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Virginia State Police inspects 800+ commercial vehicles during NOVA Enforcement Op

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September 2019 NOVA Op in Loudoun County Tpr TL Wilson Jr & Sr Tpr JH Wolford1. Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.

The Virginia State Police Motor Carrier Safety Unit spread out across Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties last week for a special inspection and enforcement effort targeting unsafe commercial vehicles. The Northern Virginia initiative took place Sept. 17-19, 2019 on Route 234, Route 15 and Route 17.

September 2019 NOVA in Loudoun County Tpr JL Wilson Jr

During the course of those three days, 810 commercial vehicles were inspected with 60 of those vehicles being placed out of service and 46 drivers being placed out of service due to various violations. The Motor Carrier Safety Troopers cited a total of 1,036 administrative violations and issued 18 summonses as a result of the operation.

“This initiative was in response to numerous concerns and complaints received from Northern Virginia residents and motorists about commercial vehicle traffic,” said Capt. Ron Maxey, Commander of the Virginia State Police Safety Division. “This inspection operation demonstrates that the majority of commercial vehicles are safe and in compliance with state and federal regulations. However, these initiatives also serve as reminders to commercial vehicle operators that we take our commitment to improving the passenger and commercial motor vehicle safety across the Commonwealth very seriously.”

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Governor Northam announces expansion of cloud computing degree programs with Amazon Web Services

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Governor Ralph Northam announced a new collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and select K-12 school divisions, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), and leading four-year universities.

WOODBRIDGE—Governor Ralph Northam announced a new collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and select K-12 school divisions, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), and leading four-year universities. This collaboration will create opportunities and build pathways to high-skilled and high-wage cloud computing careers for students in all regions of the Commonwealth.

As part of the collaboration, participating academic institutions will use AWS Educate, an initiative to support cloud technology learning for students and faculty. AWS Educate will allow schools to incorporate cloud skills into high school STEM curriculum as well as associate and bachelor degree programs. This collaboration will also help employers throughout Virginia who have a growing need for workers with cloud computing skills.

“The field of cloud computing is growing and dynamic, and we know that for our Commonwealth to reach new heights and remain a national leader in tech talent, we must build seamless pathways from classrooms to careers at all education levels,” said Governor Northam. “This initiative represents exactly the kind of cooperation we need to ensure that Virginians have access to the skills they need for 21st-century jobs, while also helping employers find Virginia workers with the right training to fill those jobs.”

“The growing demand for these skills is clear,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Since September 2016, job postings requiring these skills in Virginia have increased from approximately 5,000 per month to 20,000 per month.”

Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University are two of the first higher education institutions in the country to offer cloud computing degrees. As a result of this new collaboration, these successful programs will be replicated at other community colleges and four-year institutions, and high school students will have the opportunity to receive college credit in cloud computing courses through dual enrollment and early college models.

“This new degree program marks an exciting first step in a much broader plan to bring cloud computing education throughout the state, as the degree seeks to bridge into high schools and four-year institutions,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

“The need for these skills extend well beyond Amazon as a company, or even what we consider the technology industry. Practically every field is growing more reliant on this technology and need people who can make it work,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “This collaboration means our students will be at the forefront of a degree program that will help prepare them for high-demand 21st-century jobs.”

“By embedding the AWS Educate program to create a statewide cloud degree program, Virginia is providing students with an on-ramp to innovation and careers in the cloud,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We applaud Governor Northam and Virginia’s educational leaders for providing this workforce development opportunity for students in all corners of the Commonwealth, from K-12 to community colleges to four-year institutions and on into the workforce.”

The following institutions will participate in this initiative and have committed to implement the cloud computing degree program in Virginia.

K-12
• Fairfax County Public Schools
• Loudon County Public Schools
• Alexandria City Public Schools
• Arlington Public Schools

Community Colleges
• Northern Virginia Community College
• J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
• John Tyler Community College
• Thomas Nelson Community College
• Blue Ridge Community College
• Patrick Henry Community College
• Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
• Tidewater Community College
• New River Community College
• Lord Fairfax Community College

Universities
• George Mason University
• Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
• Virginia Commonwealth University
• Old Dominion University
• Hampton University
• Virginia State University

For more information, please visit the AWS Educate and the Virginia Community College System websites.

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Upcoming Events

Oct
15
Tue
10:00 am Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 15 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Acrylic Painting: An Individualized Approach @ Art in the Valley
With an emphasis on individuality and creativity, this acrylic painting class welcomes all skill levels. Some concepts we will explore include various paint application techniques, color theory, and composition. Within these basic parameters, we will[...]
Oct
16
Wed
10:30 am Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
Oct 16 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class "Fall is Here" @ Art in the Valley
We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
7:00 pm Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Oct 16 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Author Jeff Hunt will be presenting and signing copies of his books from the Meade and Lee Series at multiple events in the state of Virginia. The first event is at 7:00 pm on Wednesday,[...]
Oct
17
Thu
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 17 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
Oct
18
Fri
10:00 am R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Oct 18 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will welcome alumni and their families back to campus on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th, during the annual Homecoming weekend. Events that are open to the general public include the Homecoming[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 18 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful acrylic paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with acrylics necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
Oct
19
Sat
10:00 am R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Oct 19 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will welcome alumni and their families back to campus on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th, during the annual Homecoming weekend. Events that are open to the general public include the Homecoming[...]
10:30 am 2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Bre... @ Valley Roots Farm
2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Bre... @ Valley Roots Farm
Oct 19 @ 10:30 am – 7:00 pm
2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Brewers Festival @ Valley Roots Farm
Join us for the 2nd annual Peak Leaf Music & Brewers Festival! Come party on Saturday, October 19th, 2019, for a day of live music, local brews, local merchants, and local food trucks; all for a[...]
1:00 pm Workshop: An Introduction to Col... @ Art in the Valley
Workshop: An Introduction to Col... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 19 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Workshop: An Introduction to Color Theory @ Art in the Valley
This one day workshop will be an introduction to color theory as it applies to image-making. We will talk about primary, secondary and tertiary colors and how to mix them from a simple palette for[...]
5:30 pm 7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Oct 19 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Put on your best zombie costume and practice your best shambling limp, because it’s time for the annual FRONT ROYAL ZOMBIE WALK! The Walk will begin at Bing Crosby Stadium at 6pm sharp. We will[...]