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Virginia tackles skyrocketing drug overdoses

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RICHMOND, Va. – Klay Porter, 32, recalls overdosing alone at his aunt’s house five years ago from heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. He remembers slipping away and thinking, “this is it.”

Porter isn’t alone. Opioid overdoses led to more than 9,900 emergency room visits in Virginia in 2020, a roughly 30% increase from 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Fatal opioid overdoses increased roughly 260% in a decade from 2011 to 2021. Fatal drug overdoses have increased almost every year in that time frame and have been the leading method of unnatural death in Virginia since 2013, according to VDH.

Fentanyl is the driving force behind the increase in Virginia’s fatal overdoses, according to VDH. Three out of every four overdoses in 2020 included fentanyl. Fentanyl is mixed with other drugs such as heroin, illegitimate prescription opioids, and cocaine to increase potency, resulting in the likelihood of a fatal interaction, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s size, tolerance, and past usage. That amount could fit on the tip of a pencil, according to the DEA. Over 9.5 million counterfeit pills—imitations of prescription medication— were seized by the DEA in the fall of 2021, more than the last two years combined. There has been a “dramatic rise” in the number of counterfeit pills containing a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, according to the DEA.

To understand the scope of drug overdose deaths, the second leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia is gun-related fatalities. There were about twice as many fatal overdoses as gun-related deaths in 2020, and the health department forecasts the state is on track for that to happen again once the 2021 numbers are final.


As overdoses sharply increase, addiction treatment and recovery advocates, lawmakers, and government officials are working to save lives and combat the opioid epidemic.

Recovery centers

Porter survived his 2017 overdose and is now a volunteer and recovery coach at the Henrico County-based McShin Foundation, a recovery community organization. McShin is Porter’s second attempt at recovery. After his initial stay at another recovery program, he went straight to his dealer’s house and relapsed, he said.

Porter was attracted to McShin because he was able to define what works for him with the provided tools and resources without being forced to follow a specific way of recovery. McShin offers a 28-day residential program and partners with physicians for drug and alcohol detox.

Most staff members at McShin have experienced addiction or have close connections with someone who has, according to McShin CEO Honesty Liller. The peer-to-peer program is the most helpful in the recovery process, she said.

“There’s nothing like a hug,” Liller said. “There’s nothing like someone with lived experience with the disease of addiction but also recovery.”

Porter’s most recent drug charge caught up to him after a year and a half of staying at McShin, he said. He turned himself in to avoid ten years of incarceration, he said.

Porter’s sentence was reduced to two months, which he only completed 52 days. He was released early on bond because of his sobriety. He continued his sobriety throughout and after his sentence. When he returned to McShin, he was hired as a peer recovery specialist.

“I’ve had multiple rock bottoms,” Porter said. “I’ve struggled for a good, long while. I’ve lost everything multiple times.”

Porter has struggled with addiction since age 11, starting with alcohol and moving to hard drugs.

“I didn’t know how to cope with the world around me, and the best thing I could think of was to check out, disassociate, or blackout,” Porter said. “Detach myself from the world around me.”

Porter said he has been sober for about 21 months. The death of many loved ones as a direct result of substance use has motivated him to stay sober, he said.

The county still needs more resources to assist individuals seeking recovery.

A $12 million detox facility is set to open in 2024. Henrico County was granted $1 million in federal funding for the Henrico County Detox and Recovery Center. The center will provide same-day inpatient detox services with “no barriers based on income or other resources,” Tyrone Nelson, county supervisor, said during a press conference earlier this year.

“The center is meant to be a resource for the county to have a place to bring people who are in the middle of a substance abuse-related crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., who helped secure the funding.

Henrico County created a roundtable in 2019 to recommend ways to strengthen local addiction and recovery programs, which included the detox center. The roundtable’s 2020 report noted that when Henrico Police responded to a drug overdose, they were likely to charge people who overdosed with possession because they could detox in jail, where detox and treatment services were available.

“Henrico Police reported to the Roundtable that if they had the option to take drug users to a treatment center instead of the jail, this would be preferable,” the report stated. “However, no such drop-off facility currently exists.”

The Chesterfield County Police Department launched the Helping Addicts Recover Progressively, or HARP, program in 2016 in response to rising overdoses in the county. The program is run out of the jail and provides addiction-recovery and mental health resources to participants. The first part of the program takes six months to complete, and the second phase involves a transition process and participation in work release or home incarceration. HARP has received federal grant money over the years.

Root causes

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department is working diligently to reduce overdoses, according to 2nd Lt. Kevin Tucker.

The department has worked with federal, state, and local partners to prosecute drug dealers, according to Tucker. Loudoun County also offers mental health and substance abuse help and provides the D.A.R.E program to fifth-grade students.

“This is somebody’s father, mother, son, brother and so my opinion on the opioid epidemic is it’s an absolute shame,” Tucker said. “It really is. It shows a deeper sort of systemic problem.”

Tucker believes finding the root of drug use is the beginning of solving the drug crisis in Virginia.

“If you want to solve the problem, you have to start asking the question ‘why?’” Tucker said.

Solely targeting the individual illegally selling drugs won’t get to the root of the problem, according to Tucker. The start to solving the crisis is understanding the long-term effects of why someone suffering from addiction got to where they are currently.

“We’ve routinely seen that people who overdose, and kind of find themselves in the same situation that they were before the overdose, are very likely to overdose again,” Tucker said.

Save a Life

Richmond and Henrico health districts offer free fentanyl test strips to reduce the risk of overdose. The strips are used to test for fentanyl in injectable drugs, powders, and pills. Test strips are available at in-person Narcan training and community dispensing events, according to VDH.

Recovery advocates, families, and friends also want to stop overdoses. Opioid overdose reversal medication is known as naloxone, often called Narcan by brand name, and can be accessed through pharmacies, local community organizations, licensed emergency medical service agencies, and health departments, according to VDH.

Loudoun County implemented a Heroin Operations Team initiative in 2015 to promote the pilot program of deputies carrying Narcan, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

“The county does a pretty good job of getting Narcan out to people who have sort of high recurrence,” Tucker said. “It’s on request. Family members can request and have requested.”

REVIVE! is a virtual opioid overdose and naloxone education training program offered weekly for Virginia residents. The program offers two types of training. One trains participants to better understand opioids, how opioid overdoses happen, risk factors for opioid overdoses, and how to respond to an opioid overdose emergency with naloxone, according to the program’s website.

The other training prepares a person to become a REVIVE! instructor and train others.

A person can receive a REVIVE! kit and Narcan nasal spray free of charge after attending the training, according to VDH.

Richmond recently introduced a spike alert program to indicate the presence of illegal or diverted prescription drugs in the community that may be potent or cause overdose. The program allows people in the greater Richmond community to be notified of overdose occurrences in the area, according to VDH. People can sign up for the alerts here.

Legislation

Lawmakers in 2015 began efforts to increase access to medicine that reverses overdoses. Over the past seven years, lawmakers have also expanded protections to people who report overdoses.

The Good Samaritan law went into effect last July and expands on legislation initially introduced in 2015. A person reporting an overdose will not be arrested or prosecuted for public intoxication, underage drinking, or purchasing or possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia. A person also has immunity if they administered CPR or naloxone while another person reported the overdose. The individual must remain on scene and identify themselves to law enforcement.

“We cannot charge for possession,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t matter how bad that one possession is. If it’s just a possession it is exempt under the current code.”

The General Assembly established drug courts, which exist within the judicial system, to assist individuals in drug or drug-related cases and provide an alternative to incarceration. Drug courts are reported to reduce recidivism by allowing individuals to go through intense treatment options while under heavy supervision, in effort to increase recovery rates.

Lawmakers last year unanimously passed a joint resolution that designated Aug. 31 as an International Overdose Awareness day in Virginia. The U.S. and Virginia flags are to be lowered to half-mast in memory of people who have lost their lives to addiction. In the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019, over 770,000 people died from drug overdoses, according to the resolution.

The resolution acknowledges addiction is a medical disease. The dedicated day is intended to raise awareness and encourage the discussion of the prevalence of addiction, implement new policies, remove barriers to treatment and overdose prevention and address the evolving need for support and resources relating to substance use disorder, according to the measure.
Although the recent resolution declared addiction a disease, Porter stresses that he’s an individual not defined by substance abuse. He said he loves art and creative expression. He’s always wanted to go to art school and plans on doing something to utilize his artistic talents after he stabilizes his life and gets off probation.
“We’re all some very talented people,” Porter said. “They have worth, but all that gets overlooked because of substance use or the alcohol addiction.”

By Faith Redd
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.

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Virginia is building a comprehensive strategy of inclusion in state government employment practices

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RICHMOND, VA – On May 17, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that the Virginia state government has implemented an alternative hiring process for individuals with disabilities, serving as a model for inclusive employment practices. The process embeds the employment of individuals with differing abilities as part of standard hiring policy and the state work culture.

A collaboration of state and community partners, the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM), and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) have spearheaded the continuing effort to employ, integrate and accommodate more individuals with disabilities in the state workforce.

“My administration fully supports expanded economic and job opportunities for individuals living with disabilities. This is a significant step in the Commonwealth’s commitment to the overall goal of increasing employment opportunities for all Virginians,” said Governor Youngkin.

The state hiring policy will be updated to incorporate the new alternative hiring process.


Applicants with documented disabilities, as certified by a DARS certified rehabilitation counselor, are eligible for consideration.

Interested applicants will apply at jobs.virginia.gov and upload a Certificate of Disability to their employment application.

Approved applicants may receive priority consideration during the recruitment process.

Agencies are strongly encouraged to provide a 6-month provisional period to these new hires to ensure accommodation needs are met, and employees are set up for success.

“This process is only the beginning of our strategy to demonstrate our commitment to individuals with differing abilities to improve the state workforce. It is one facet of a more comprehensive strategy, which includes accommodations, communication, education and awareness, compliance and retention of individuals with differing abilities,” said Margaret “Lyn” McDermid, Secretary of Administration.

The Commonwealth’s continuing commitment to equal employment opportunities for all, including individuals with differing abilities, is highlighted in Code of Virginia §2.2-203.2:3 and §2.2-1213.

“This policy opens doors for job applicants with disabilities to seek state employment, paving the way for new career paths. DARS’ collaboration with DHRM is essential to its success in assisting those who are underrepresented in the state workforce,” said DARS Commissioner Kathy Hayfield.

“To bolster this initiative, DARS received a $9.2 million federal grant called ‘Pathways to Careers using Partnerships, Apprenticeships and Equity,’ that will serve at least 750 Virginians with disabilities to acquire skills-based training and registered apprenticeships in high-wage, high-demand fields, including STEM and state government,” said John Littel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

The DHRM website has more information at jobs.virginia.gov, including Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants. A Certificate of Disability may be requested from DARS or by calling 800-552-5019. Sign language users may use the videophone at 804-325-1316.

 

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Virongy Biosciences Inc. to invest $471,000 to begin development of diagnostic technologies for viral pathogens

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On May 17, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Virongy Biosciences Inc., a developer of viral diagnostic technologies, anti-viral drugs, and therapeutic viral vectors, will invest $471,000 to expand in Prince William County. The company recently relocated to occupy over 2,000 square feet of the Northern Virginia Bioscience Center, where it will begin to develop new diagnostic technologies to monitor and quantify SARS-CoV-2 variants and other viral pathogens. The expansion project will create up to 70 new jobs.

“Prince William County has emerged as a hub for the life sciences industry, offering the infrastructure, R&D assets, and talent to attract and retain innovative biotech firms like Virongy,” said Governor Youngkin. “We applaud the company for its groundbreaking developments that will have a positive and far-reaching impact on bioscience advancements and disease prevention and treatment.”

“Virongy’s expansion in Prince William County reinforces the region’s robust industry talent, world-class education institutions, and advanced culture of innovation that supports the company’s mission,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “We thank Virongy for creating valuable jobs while improving the health of our communities and look forward to its continued growth in Virginia.”

“Virongy Biosciences Inc. chose Virginia as its company location mainly because it is inside the rapid-growing biotech park of Prince William County and right beside the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University,” said Virongy’s Chief Scientific Officer Brian Hetrick.



“I toured the Virongy Biosciences lab at the Northern Virginia Bioscience Center’s grand opening in March, and I was impressed not only by the important discoveries from the Virongy team, but moreover the business’ dedication to hiring from and growing the local talent pool of life sciences employees,” said Chair Ann B. Wheeler, Prince William County Board of Supervisors. “Over the last two years, Prince William County saw significant growth and advancement in the biotechnology industry, and this is validation that we are one of the fastest-growing bio-clusters in the state.”

“I’m excited to see the expansion of a critical arm of the healthcare sector as we continue to build on our successful local economy in Prince William,” said Senator Jeremy S. McPike. “I look forward to working with Virongy.”

“The field of bioscience has made great strides in the last several years,” said Delegate Michelle Maldonado. “With Northern Virginia’s Bioscience Center here in District 50, we are joining this conversation with critical research, contributions, and impact for the Commonwealth through jobs, health solutions, and more. I am excited for Virongy’s expansion in our community and look forward to partnering together for the benefit of all Virginians.”

Established in 2014, Virongy focuses on creating cutting-edge technologies in virology, viral vector-based gene therapy, virus-host cell biology, and viral immunology. The company develops new technologies that can be used for scientific discoveries, clinical diagnostics, and disease treatment. Virongy has discovered and developed key technologies and products, including rapid quantitative COVID-19, neutralizing antibody test, Infectin, Cellment, HIV Rev-dependent Lentiviral Vector, and HIV drug and neutralizing antibody discovery technologies. The company’s mission is to provide scientists and clinicians with innovative technologies for studying viruses and viral vectors and to provide virological services that meet the highest academic and industry standards, facilitating scientific discoveries, clinical diagnostics, and disease treatment.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Prince William County to secure the project for Virginia and will support Virongy’s job creation through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), which provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs in order to support employee recruitment and training activities. As a business incentive supporting economic development, VJIP reduces the human resource costs of new and expanding companies. VJIP is state-funded, demonstrating Virginia’s commitment to enhancing job opportunities for citizens.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin announces violent crime task force

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RICHMOND, VA – On May 16, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin today formally announced the creation of a task force of executive branch and office of the Attorney General officials to better align strategies to reduce violent crime in cities and communities across the Commonwealth. Leaders from the Task Force will continue conducting community leadership meetings across the Commonwealth. Governor Youngkin attended a community leadership meeting in Petersburg on Monday, May 9th.

Governor Glenn Youngkin meets with local officials and community leaders to discuss the recent violent crimes in Petersburg at the Petersburg Library on Monday, May 9, 2022. Official Photo by Christian Martinez, Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin.

“There is a clear recognition of a violent crime crisis in Virginia, and my administration is committed to joining with community leaders, law enforcement, and Virginians around solutions with the Violent Crime task force. We will take a comprehensive look at how we can address the rise in violent crime by providing more law enforcement resources, creating alternative and after-school activities for children, and addressing the fear that results in witnesses failing to show up for a criminal hearing,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

“There’s not a one size fits all approach to combating crime in the Commonwealth. It requires collaboration and communication with law enforcement, local officials, and community leaders. My team is excited to be a part of this new task force, and we’re eager to work with our partners in the executive branch to carry out new, innovative solutions that will help to reduce crime and keep our communities safe,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares.


The Task Force is led by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier, with additional leadership provided by the Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck Slemp. Additional participants include leaders from the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia State Police, and others. To date, state leaders have met with local leaders in Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, and Petersburg, with additional meetings planned in the coming weeks.

The Task Force will recommend executive, administrative, and legislative actions on an ongoing basis to the Governor.

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Gardeners transform food waste into fuel, aiding the climate

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RICHMOND, Va. — “It’s free cooking gas,” said Monica Alinea.

Monica Alinea and her husband, Tim, are proud owners of a HomeBiogas system.

Situated in the sunny backyard of their Pensacola, Florida home, the system looks like a 7-foot rectangular, black balloon. But it’s not inflated with air, it’s methane.

The Alineas use HomeBiogas, a product that transforms household food waste into cooking gas through a composting process called anaerobic digestion. The product became commercially available in 2016, according to the HomeBiogas website.


Shakira Hobbs is an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky and did her postdoctoral research at the University of Virginia. Hobbs researches sustainable environmental engineering and compares anaerobic digestion to the human digestive system.

“If I eat an apple, I chew it up, and I break it into smaller pieces, and then it goes down my esophagus and eventually into my stomach,” Hobbs said. “I have these natural enzymes that will further break down that food waste and process it through my digestive system (to) produce two things, a solid and a gas.”

The Alineas take food waste, like vegetable scraps or banana peels, and feed it into the anaerobic digester through a tube. The waste collects in a large chamber, and within a few hours, the microorganisms in the chamber begin decomposing the food waste, which releases methane. The gas rises and collects in a flexible tank and can be piped directly into their kitchen to fuel a stovetop burner, providing them free cooking gas.

The Alineas are part of a growing group of avid home chefs and gardeners in the nation who seek self-reliance and use food waste to tackle climate change.

“We hate to waste things,” Tim Alinea said, “and we knew our food scraps could be used for good.”

Environmental impact of methane

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that carbon dioxide and methane are the most abundant greenhouse gasses emitted from human-influenced actions. This can impact global temperatures, changes weather patterns, and contributes to human health problems.

But methane can be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, so decreasing methane emissions could have rapid and significant positive effects. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

“Composting produces methane,” said Bruno Welsh, founder of Compost RVA, “but it produces far less methane than a landfill.”

The EPA estimates that in 2018, the most recent year of available data, U.S. households generated 25 million tons of wasted food; 66% was landfilled while just 3% was composted. The remainder went to wastewater management or combustion services.

When food waste goes to a landfill, it decomposes with inorganic materials like plastic and metal. Consider a kitchen garbage bag. Airflow is diminished and the food rots, slowly leaking methane into the atmosphere.

But when captured, methane can become a form of renewable energy called biogas. It can be converted to electricity or used as fuel for cooking and heating.

“We can produce [BioGas] in about ten days, depending on the substrates and the conditions,” Hobbs said. This is in contrast to natural gas, a commonly used non-renewable form of energy, which could take millions of years to form.

Benefits of household biogas

Zak Dowell’s suburban home sits in the rolling hills of Blacksburg, Virginia. Dowell, who has a background in building science and environmental design, is a Virginia Tech BioBuild fellow researching anaerobic digestion systems for household use. He’s built several anaerobic digesters in his backyard over the past decade, but he also purchased a HomeBiogas system a few years ago.

“I’ve got a 6,000-watt solar system on my house,” Dowell said, “but I’m doing my part for the environment more by sorting my food waste and disposing of it responsibly.”

Dowell diligently composts for his family of four and hasn’t thrown away a scrap of food in almost 15 years.

Dowell views anaerobic digestion as an eco-innovation. Most anaerobic digestion users say they spend several hours a week feeding and maintaining backyard digesters.

For people interested in anaerobic digestion, it’s possible to build a system using commonly found hardware store supplies. HomeBiogas produces a system for residential and backyard use.

The basic HomeBiogas system costs less than $1,000 and can generate up to two hours of cooking fuel per day, according to its website. But that timeframe depends on other factors, like climate and how consistently the system is fed. Warm weather allows for faster decomposition and methane creation.

“The HomeBiogas, it’s meant for Florida; you can drop that thing in the warm weather, and it will produce gas, it’s an awesome product,” Dowell said. But people in Northern U.S. climates may be limited to only using a digester during the warmer months or be forced to build a greenhouse to keep temperatures up during the winter.

Michael and Britney Maness live on a 6-acre farm in Puerto Rico and use renewable energies, including solar and biogas.

“I like to drink tea daily, and I no longer have to feel bad for boiling water,” said Brittney Maness with a chuckle.

She grows her own tea and uses biogas for cooking which provides a sustainable way to do something she enjoys, Maness said.

Byproducts and limitations of anaerobic digestion

The EPA explains how anaerobic digestion also produces digestate, which is a biofertilizer or effluent. When considering the human digestive system analogy, this would be the “solid we all produce,” Hobbs said.

“A big plus is the biofertilizer,” Mike Maness said. “That stuff is really good for plants.”

The Manesses have a passion for horticulture and noticed a significant improvement in their crop yields since using the digestate.

But for households without a robust vegetable garden or small farm, the biofertilizer may turn into buckets of sludge that must be dealt with.

Some municipal wastewater management facilities and large-scale farms in the U.S. have been producing biogas and digestate for decades.

When Roy Vanderhyde installed an anaerobic digester on his Southwest Virginia dairy farm in 2008, he wanted to use the digestate as a pathogen-free bedding for his animals. But he soon found the value in the biogas.

The digester’s only input was manure, and the biogas was converted on-site into electricity. Vanderhyde’s electric bill was $13,000 per month before the digester, he said.

“(It) was generating enough electric power that I did not have an electric bill,” Vanderhyde said. “Plus, I would sell enough kilowatts for the average 300 homes.”

The Central Marin Sanitation Agency in Northern California is a wastewater treatment plant that runs two 80-foot anaerobic digesters. The biogas is transformed on-site into electricity and powers the facilities for an average of 19.3 hours per day, according to the agency’s Green Business Report for the fiscal year 2021. The digestate is processed and used locally as fertilizer and daily landfill cover.

Food waste from local restaurants and grocery stores was added to the agency’s digesters in 2014. The agency now accepts nearly 6 tons of food waste each day. The digesters created about eight hours of electricity per day before food waste was used, which is less than half the energy it currently produces, according to General manager Jason Dow.

But anaerobic digestion has other drawbacks in addition to managing the digestate. Systems often have complicated pieces that could require sophisticated engineering to troubleshoot. Residential users, such as the Alineas, cite the time commitment to feed the system as a limitation. The Manesses find the system to be water-intensive.

Posters on the HomeBiogas System Owners’ Facebook group frequently visit the page to troubleshoot system problems. Owners have experienced leaks, insufficient methane production, trouble inoculating new systems, and pH imbalance, according to user posts. Since HomeBiogas is headquartered in Israel, receiving new parts can be time-consuming for Americans, some U.S. users say.

Engineering obstacles are not isolated to individuals doing backyard anaerobic digestion. One of the two digesters at the Marin County wastewater treatment facility experienced a failure in 2021, which halted electricity generation for over six months, Dow said.

The pre-formed concrete dome on Vanderhyde’s digester collapsed in November 2017 due to a buildup of sulfuric acid, according to Vanderhyde. This ended his nine-year production of renewable energy and sparked a four-year legal battle with his insurance company on whether the system was covered.

Despite the potential shortfalls, experts and users like Dowell still find the technology magical.

“Being able to see something that’s considered to be waste … be able to produce energy, was eye-opening to me,” said Hobbs, who first learned of anaerobic digestion in college.

Hobbs has since earned a doctorate in the field of sustainable environmental engineering and started a nonprofit called BioGals, which seeks to empower women of color and engage communities to co-create solutions for a more sustainable world. According to its site, a major project for the organization is building and implementing anaerobic digesters.

By LARIN BRINK
Capital News Service, Virginia Commonwealth University

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.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin statement on baby formula shortage

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RICHMOND, VA – On May 13, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin made the following statement on the nationwide baby formula shortage:

“My administration remains engaged with industry leaders on their production capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Health is working to ensure that there are adequate supplies of baby formula state-wide.

Additionally, my administration has asked the FDA to utilize all resources to get the U.S. plant back into production as quickly as possible. Simply put, acquiring baby formula shouldn’t be a challenge in the United States,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

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Youngkin: April 2022 General Fund Revenues exceed forecasts

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RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that April revenue collections exceeded forecasts, growing 45.7 percent over April of 2021. General fund revenues were approximately $1.9 billion higher year-to-date than the mid-session revised forecast issued in February. Total revenue collections have risen 19.0 percent through April, well ahead of the revised annual forecast of 9.2 percent growth.

“Virginia’s economy continues to show encouraging signs of growth. We’re growing jobs, growing paychecks, and more people are joining the workforce,” said Governor Youngkin. “This report confirms the strong trajectory forecasted for state revenue, and we continue to see mounting evidence that the time is now to cut taxes. Inflation is stealing more money from the paychecks of hardworking Virginians, who are paying near-record prices at the pump, and we know there’s plenty of money in the system to reduce taxes and lower the cost of living in the Commonwealth.”

“Much of the extraordinary year-over-year growth in April in non-withholding collections was driven by the change in the federal tax filing date back to April in 2022 versus May in 2021,” said Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings. “We will need to look at the combined results of April and May compared to last year to know the overall trends in this category. However, general revenue categories unaffected by that timing difference, mainly payroll withholding and sales tax collections, continued their strong growth over the prior year, and this trend speaks to the uptick in jobs, consumer activity, and inflation.”

In percentage terms, payroll withholding and sales tax collections grew 4.8 percent and 8.4 percent in April, respectively. Fiscal year-to-date, withholding revenues are up 9.5 percent, ahead of the full-year forecast growth rate of 9.0 percent, and sales tax collections are up 14.4 percent, ahead of the annual 11.4 percent forecast.


Continued revenue growth is supported by a steady economy as well as recent improved job growth. From January to March, the number of employed Virginians increased by 42,000, ranking Virginia 14th among the states for employment growth during that time. The labor participation rate in Virginia has improved slightly, but Virginia’s drop in labor participation since the start of the pandemic remains among the worst in the nation. Despite the recent strong performance, more work is needed in this area since Virginia has yet to recover more than 170,000 jobs that were lost during the pandemic and ranks 47th in jobs recovered since the pandemic.

The full April 2022 revenue report is available here.

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10:00 am Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 21 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail Join Shenandoah Chapter Master Naturalist Margaret Wester and explore the habitat of birds and the woodland wonders utilized for their survival. Discover the diverse stories of the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Wood[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 21 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail or[...]
May
22
Sun
2:00 pm Common Scents: Historic Perfume ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Common Scents: Historic Perfume ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 2:00 pm – May 23 @ 4:00 pm
Common Scents: Historic Perfume Making Workshop @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Have you ever wondered how to harvest the fragrance of a flower or capture the irresistible aroma of sandalwood? Then this hands-on workshop is for you! Join us and learn how people in[...]
5:00 pm Let’s Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
Let’s Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
May 22 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Let's Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
A Night of Prayer and Worship, All are Welcome Prayers led by Pastor John Miller of Abundant Life Church and other Local Pastors DoubleTree by Hilton 111 Hospitality Dr. Front Royal, VA Sunday, May 22[...]
May
25
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
May 25 @ 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[...]
May
28
Sat
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 28 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion[...]
May
30
Mon
7:00 pm 2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
May 30 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2022 Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Concert by Front Royal Community Band Monday, May 30, 2022, 7pm, at the Gazebo on Main St. (sponsored by American Legion Post #53)
Jun
1
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 1 @ 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[...]