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EGACY Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

WEDNESDAYS • Jan. 29, 2020

Richmond & Hampton Roads


Improving black male mental health access

CNS - Black men are significantly underserved by the mental health industry in Richmond, but three different providers are working to change that. Brie Jordan-Cooley, Mickeal Pugh Jr., and James Harris are strangers with the same goal: to help black men in Richmond seek access to mental health treatment. “I think that because our systems have notoriously been unsupportive and even disregarded African Americans … there is a lack of trust there,” said Jordan-Cooley, a mental health clinician who mostly works with African American males. With different backgrounds in mental health, Jordan-Cooley, Pugh, and Harris said they realized at a young age that there is a lack of mental health care access for African American males. African American men die from suicide at a rate more than four times higher than African American women, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Health and Services’ Office of Minority Health. Jordan-Cooley grew up in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood and attended Richmond Public Schools, which has a predominantly black population. “I’ve learned at a very early age that there was a pretty significant difference in how I was perceived and how people interacted with me versus many of my friends,” said Jordan-Cooley, who is white. After graduating from high school, she attended Boston University and later left for The Evergreen State College in Washington with hopes of better aligning her values of environmental and social justice. She received a master’s degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University and now works

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Army veteran and professional mental health clinician James Harris is the founder of Men to Heal and the Healing Hub. He decided to start the ventures due to not having an outlet for therapy in his community. PHOTO: Max Williams


2 • Jan. 29, 2020


Sex ed is key to reducing teen pregnancy CNS - States requiring schools to teach sex education have lower teen pregnancy rates; some say high teen pregnancy rates in some Virginia localities are a direct result of the lack of a sex ed requirement in the Commonwealth’s schools. In the early 2000s, Martinsville, a city of about 13,000 near the North Carolina line, had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Virginia. In a typical year, nearly 75 of every 1,000 teenage girls got pregnant. More than a decade ago, the school opened a teen health clinic, which provides birth control and treats sexually transmitted infections. Since then, the city’s teen pregnancy rate has plummeted. “It’s just been amazing because I’ve seen success,” said Beth Holyfield, the clinic’s health coordinator. “I think everybody was a little nervous about it because it was Bible Belt area, you know, offering birth control for children.” Under the federal Title IX program, the Martinsville High School Teen Health Clinic can treat STIs and provide birth control without notifying the student’s parents. Holyfield and two nurse practitioners don’t discuss abortion, but they do routine checks on student weight and blood pressure and administer prescriptions. According to new data from the Virginia Department of Health, among the state’s 133 localities, Martinsville ranked 16th in teen pregnancy rates in 2018. For every 1,000 teen girls, there were about 21 pregnancies. Martinsville’s increased access to sex education and contraception coincided with the drop in the city’s teen pregnancy rate. Experts say preaching abstinence over other methods — Virginia’s official policy — has been ineffective. States with more schools teaching contraceptive

methods tend to have lower teen pregnancy rates. Localities vary widely in teen pregnancy rates Virginia’s teen pregnancy rate in 2017 was 15 pregnancies for every 1,000 teenage girls, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirteen states had a lower teen pregnancy rate than Virginia’s. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut all had fewer than nine pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls. Within Virginia, the rates vary widely, according to data obtained by Capital News Service from the Virginia Department of Health through a Freedom of Information Act request. The data showed the number of pregnancies for every 1,000 adolescent girls in each city and county of Virginia. That way, it’s possible to compare localities regardless of population. Petersburg, 30 miles south of Richmond, had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state in 2018: about 44 pregnancies for every 1,000 teenage girls. Norton, a city at the southwest tip of Virginia, was second with 35 pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls. Lancaster County, along the Chesapeake Bay, followed at about 30 pregnancies per 1,000 adolescent girls. The cities of Roanoke, Richmond, and Hopewell all had rates around 25 pregnancies for every 1,000 teen girls. Sex education is optional in Va. Under the Virginia Standards of Learning, the state’s public school curriculum, schools in the commonwealth may teach sex education but are not required to do so. State law requires an emphasis on abstinence, but the

SOL curriculum also includes recommendations for teaching about contraception and condom usage. More than 90 percent of Virginia schools teach abstinence. Fewer than 40 percent of the state’s high schools teach contraceptive methods recommended by the CDC, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, or SIECUS. Virginia Department of Education spokesperson Charles Pyle says the curriculum is designed to promote parental involvement and help students cope with peer pressure during developing stages. Pyle said classes “include ageappropriate instruction in family living and community relationships, abstinence education, the value of postponing sexual activity, the benefits of adoption as a positive choice in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, human sexuality, and human reproduction.” Dr. Samuel Campbell, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Virginia Physicians for Women health-care service, says pregnant teens need more than that. Pregnant teenagers encounter a specific set of problems because of limited resources and support, Campbell said. “They have difficulty with transportation. They frequently will seek care later because they are afraid to tell their parents (or) family. They have to continue with their schooling,” Campbell said. “And they have to deal with the social stigma of being a teen mom.” Most states require sex ed Thirty-two states require schools to teach sex education, according to the most recent statistics from SIECUS. Eighteen states — including Virginia — do not.

There are seven types of recommended contraception: the birth control pill, patch, ring and shot; implants; intrauterine devices; and emergency contraception. In 2017, no states reported that all of their schools were teaching about all seven methods as well as how to properly use a condom. According to SIECUS, 19 states reported more than half of school districts teaching students about a variety of contraceptive methods. Fifteen of those states had teen pregnancy rates below the national average of 18 pregnancies per every 1,000 adolescent girls. Of the 10 states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates, eight required sex ed in all school districts. They include New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, which had pregnancy rates under 15 per 1,000 teenage girls. The six states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — reported that three quarters of their schools taught students how to use a condom. On the other hand, of the 10 states with the highest teen pregnancy rate, seven do not require sex ed in schools. Those states include Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama. Nationwide, 89 percent of school districts teach abstinence, which recommends that teens put off having sex until marriage. Many schools teach both abstinence and contraceptive methods. That is the case in New Jersey and New Hampshire, where teen pregnancy is below the national average. Dr. Elizabeth Broderick, a pediatrician in Newport News, calls abstinence education “insufficient information.” “Abstinence is an excellent way

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(from page 1) as a mental health clinician for ChildSavers, a nonprofit that provides mental health services for children and their families. Jordan-Cooley said her patient list is increasing. However, Virginia has a higher prevalence of adults with mental illness and a lower rate of access to care, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit that addresses the needs of those living with mental illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, only 7 percent of African American males in the U.S. used a mental health service from 2008 to 2012, compared to 10 percent of black females and 11 percent of white males. There are many barriers that stop black men from receiving mental health treatment. One of the biggest reasons Jordan-Cooley, Pugh, and Harris have found is that it’s difficult to find psychologists and counselors that look like them. “I’ve met with some black male clients, like in my clinical work, and I’ve really noticed the value of sitting across from a black male therapist,” said Pugh, an assistant counselor at VCU University Counseling Center and psychology doctoral program student at VCU. Dr. Shawn C.T. Jones, assistant professor in the counseling psychology program at VCU, said there also is a lack of trust in the healthcare field due to African Americans being the “guinea pig” for experiments in history, for instance the Tuskegee Study of untreated syphilis. The 40-year study included hundreds of black males with and without syphilis. Participants weren’t told of the study’s purpose and those with syphilis weren’t adequately treated for syphilis so the disease would remain untreated, even after penicillin was discovered as a treatment. Poverty is an additional barrier. African Americans who live below

the poverty line are twice as likely to have psychiatric distress, reports the Office of Minority Health. Data published in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 19 percent of African American adults between the ages of 18-49 could not see a medical doctor due to cost, compared to 15 percent of white adults in that age group. According to Mental Health America, Virginia ranks No. 37 in the country for access to care. This is measured by access to insurance, access to treatment, quality and cost of insurance, access to special education and workforce availability. “The system is not structured in a way to make therapy accessible for everybody,” Pugh said. “I think it’s really important for black men specifically to seek therapy. It’s not just a matter of taking care of ourselves, but it’s also a matter of taking care of the communities that we care about.” After graduating from the doctoral program, Pugh plans to continue his research of racial discrimination in mental health services and possibly launch his own practice. He said he wants to look past the standard form of therapy and move toward a more informal treatment method involving community integration

for men, women and children. As a short-term goal, he plans to coordinate with a few colleagues and male therapists to develop a database of solely male providers in the Richmond area. “Unfortunately, therapy isn’t modeled to be a service for your entire life … the whole purpose of therapy is to give people the skills they need to operate, not just how they operate in therapy, but to learn those skills outside of therapy and apply it to their lives for themselves,” Pugh said. Men to Heal and The Healing Hub Pugh isn’t the only one looking to bridge the gap to mental health services for black males. That’s where James Harris comes in. A U.S. Army veteran who also has a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, Harris said he is on a mission to help black men seek help for mental health issues. His Men to Heal initiative helps make therapy accessible while educating the community that mental health must be a priority for black men. Harris was inspired to start Men to Heal after seeing a lack of black male mental health care providers. He also started offering mental health services at his other venture,

Jan. 29, 2020 • 3

The Healing Hub. Located on North Arthur Ashe Boulevard, The Healing Hub provides mindfulness, yoga, massage therapy and clinical therapy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2013 only 6 percent of psychologists and advanced practice psychiatric nurses, 13 percent of social workers, and 21 percent of psychiatrists were members of minority groups. “I’ve been a part of the lack of treatment from providers who look like me,” Harris said. Harris said he wants to end the Hollywood therapy approach, where clients sit on a couch to talk about their mental health issues. Instead, he wants to focus on helping clients resolve mental health issues. “If you look at TV, you think therapy is like going to this office, you sit on the couch, and tell us about your issue,” Harris said. “So with me, it’s not that, it’s more us working together as a cohesive unit to try to identify the areas that you need assistance with.” Harris uses two techniques with clients, cognitive behavioral therapy and reality therapy. When using CBT, Harris gives clients assignments and research to help with their mental health issues. Harris said reality therapy is based on the here and now, where he helps clients resolve issues surrounding mental health in real time, rather than over a long period. Since opening in August, Harris said the Healing Hub has brought more awareness to mental health by holding quarterly panels in Richmond with celebrities discussing their mental health issues. Panelists have included NBA player Andre Ingram and actor Mark Curry from the TV show Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. “Primarily I wanted this to be a spot for somebody to come in to start a conversation,” Harris said. By Aliviah Jones and Imani Thaniel


4 • Jan. 29, 2020 birth control methods. Broderick says these are more difficult to obtain than condoms or spermicide because they require a trip to the doctor and a prescription. Dr. Natalie Dogal, an OB-GYN with Virginia Physicians for Women, said talking about contraception is important for preventing teen pregnancy. She said she discusses contraceptive options with all her teen patients. “They tend to have heard good or bad stories from friends, parents, or from reading online, and I like to educate them on the facts to help them make good contraceptive decisions,” Dogal said. According to SIECUS, about 40 percent of male and female high school students nationwide report having had sexual intercourse. Nationally, the teen pregnancy rate has decreased in recent decades. According to data from the CDC, the rates dropped by 50 percent from 2005 to 2017. Nearly a third of teen moms

(from page 2) to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” Broderick said. “But eventually, many people choose to become sexually active, and they should have accurate and complete information so they can make the best decision that fits their beliefs and values.” Broderick says long-acting and reversible contraceptives are generally best for adolescents, but they can be hard to get. “Access to contraception is difficult for most teenagers,” Broderick said. “Education about anatomy, physiology, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and consent is appropriate at school and at home.” ‘Educate them on the facts’ to make good decisions The CDC’s teen pregnancy prevention guidelines say implants and intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are the most effective and reversible

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Resources for Teen Mothers in Va. The Virginia Department of Health has resources for first-time teen mothers. In the “Resource Mothers” program, a community health worker develops a supportive mentoring relationship with the teen and her family. The free resources include information about prenatal care and health care, assistance finishing school, and tools to avoid drugs and alcohol. Mothers can also sign up for free text messages on prenatal and infant care. The Healthy Teen Network has a variety of resources for teen parents

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across the country, including #NoTeenShame, “Mom, Dad — I’m Pregnant,” and Healthy Families America. To find a health assistance program near you, call 1-800-311-BABY. This will connect you to the nearest health department. For information in Spanish, call 1-800-504-7081. The U.S. Bureau of Maternal and Child Health has resources for women nationwide. The programs and initiatives include home visiting, which provides at-risk pregnant women tools for mother and child health, raising children, and preventing neglect. The bureau seeks to promote child development and encourage positive parenting. Planned Parenthood has a webpage for teens to get information about sex, puberty, pregnancy, and birth control, as well as a private chat function for additional questions.

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reported not using contraceptives because they didn’t think they could get pregnant. Another quarter of teen moms reported that their partners did not want to use contraception. “Many teenagers think they are invincible,” Dogal said. “That includes thinking they will never be the one who gets pregnant or gets an STI.”

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Jan. 29, 2020• 5

How fast must you go to draw a speeding ticket? CNS - You probably think you’ll only get a speeding ticket if you’re going at least 10 mph over the speed limit. According to the data on tickets issued in Virginia, it seems that you’re right to think so. “Nine you’re fine, 10 you’re mine.” A Reddit user recently quoted that saying in an online discussion

about speeding in Virginia. The conventional wisdom is that you probably won’t get ticketed unless you’re going at least 10 mph over the speed limit. Is that true? Pretty much, according to an analysis of speeding tickets processed in General District Courts across Virginia last year.

Marijuana reform advocates split on decriminalization & legalization Advocates may not agree about whether decriminalization or outright legalization is the correct path for Virginia marijuana legislation. But they’re united in the belief that the state’s current laws must change. Advocates dressed in black stood Wednesday at the base of the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial to voice their support of marijuana legalization, repeating a variation of “the time is now” in each of their statements. Participants dressed in black “in order to stand in solidarity with the black and brown bodies that have been criminalized for decades here in the commonwealth,” said Chelsea Higgs Wise, co-founder of Marijuana Justice, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that aims to educate people on the history of cannabis

criminalization in the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, along with Marijuana Justice and RISE for Youth, a campaign committed to promoting alternatives to youth incarceration, held a press conference promoting House Bill 1507, patroned by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William. “Lean on your legislators and make sure that they understand the effort to legalize marijuana is here and we’re bringing it to your front door, because now is the time to fully have criminal justice reform in a meaningful way,” Carroll Foy said. The bill wants to exclude marijuana from a list of controlled substances that are illegal to possess. Under current law, less

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Almost 98 percent of the tickets involved going 10 or more miles an hour over the limit. Even where the posted limit was 35 mph or less, 97 percent of the speeding tickets were issued to people accused of exceeding the limit by at least 10 mph. The average speeder was going 17 mph over the limit. Now, we’re not suggesting you should have a lead foot while driving. As the Reddit user noted, “Technically anything over the limit is illegal.” But statistically, if you’re speeding only by single digits, the data indicate that you’re unlikely to draw a ticket. Of the approximately 590,000 speeding cases handled by General District Courts in 2018: About 13,750 involved going less than 10 mph over the limit. Forty of those cases involved going less than 5 mph over the limit. About 174,000 involved going 1014 mph over the limit. About 283,000 involved going 1519 mph over the limit. More than 118,000 involved going 20 or more miles per hour over the limit — which is one definition of reckless driving in Virginia. The cases include 98,000 drivers who were going more than 80 mph, another definition of reckless driving that is grounds for being charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Going 80 mph would be slow by the standards of some Virginia drivers. Seventeen defendants in General District Court were accused of going at least 130 mph — and 2,135 were charged with going 100-129 mph. Driving like that can be expensive: More than 1,050 defendants were fined at least $1,000 — including about 150 who had to pay $2,500 or more. The average fine, including court costs, was about $190. For safety and financial reasons, motorists should slow down, said Karen Rice, who has operated a driving school in Richmond for 19

years. Her business, called The Driving School Inc., offers eight-hour driver improvement classes for court, DMV and voluntary purposes. Rice said registration typically spikes in December. “After the holidays, business will be booming because of all the tickets written in this season, as well as people procrastinating because of the holidays,” Rice said. Rice explained why she thinks many drivers go too fast: “I feel the majority of people speed because they are running late and just are not paying attention.” Besides driving school, people accused of reckless driving may need a lawyer to help them in court. A conviction can have a significant impact on a person’s driving record and car insurance, said Will Smith, an attorney at the Bowen Ten Cardani law firm. He noted that reckless driving, as a Class 1 misdemeanor, is a criminal offense. When drivers understand that, “they realize that that is something that they don’t want on their record,” Smith said. For this report, reporters downloaded data on all criminal cases filed in 2018 in General District Courts throughout Virginia. The data had been scraped from the state’s court system by Ben Schoenfeld, a software engineer in Hampton Roads, and posted on an open website. The entire data set included more than 2 million records. From this file, we extracted and analyzed the approximately 590,000 cases involving speeding. Reporters examined how fast the driver was going, the speed limit, the fine imposed and other aspects of the cases. Reporters did the analysis — which involved sorting, filtering and summarizing the speeding data — with Microsoft Access and Excel.

6 • Jan. 29, 2020

Op/Ed & Letters


Learning to like Kobe Bryant JONATHAN ZIMMERMAN When my first daughter was born, I would wheel her down to our neighborhood basketball courts on hot summer evenings. She would fall asleep in her stroller, and I would watch some ball. That’s where I first saw Kobe Bryant. Like any Philadelphia sports fan, I had already heard about him. His dad, Joe Bryant, was a local hoops legend in his own right. But Kobe was better, I was told. Kobe was going to be the best. I couldn’t see it. All I saw ont hose courts was a gangly teenager with a big vertical leap and a smile to match. He was cocky, that’s for sure. But a future Hall of Famer? Maybe the best player ever? You could have fooled me. And that’s what Kobe Bryant did, across a too-short life that came to a tragic end in a helicopter crash yesterday. When he first came into the NBA, right out of high school, many of us suspected he was a showboat instead of a budding superstar. It’s easy to forget that Bryant rode the bench for his first two years in the league. He won the slam dunk contest at the All-Star Game — more showboating! — and little else. But Bryant willed himself into The LEGACY NEWSPAPER Vol. 6 No. 5 Mailing Address P.O. Box 12474 Richmond, VA 23241 Office Address 105 1/2 E. Clay St. Richmond, VA 23219 Call: 804-644-1550 Online

being the best player in the world. Although he was blessed with tons of natural talent, his work ethic and determination made him stand out. He suffered several serious injuries, but he always fought his way back. He kept working — and working, and working — until he was the greatest. Becoming a great person took longer. In 2003, Bryant was arrested for allegedly raping a female employee at a Colorado resort. At the time, I wrote a column asking why teams suspended players who were charged with drug possession but let accused rapists like Bryant suit up. Today, he wouldn’t be able to. We’ve come a long way on the question of violence against women, which is punished with suspensions and other penalties by our professional sports leagues. And Bryant came quite a long way, too, issuing a remarkable apology after his accuser refused to testify and the charges against him were dropped. “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not,” he said. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels she did not consent.” In 2011, the league fined him $100,000 for uttering an anti-gay slur The LEGACY welcomes all signed letters and all respectful opinions. Letter writers and columnists opinions are their own and endorsements of their views by The LEGACY should be inferred. The LEGACY assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Annual Subscription Rates Virginia - $50 U.S. states - $75 Outside U.S.- $100 The Virginia Legacy © 2016

toward a referee. But here, too, Bryant manned up and owned what he did. “It was just stupid and ignorant,” he told a television interviewer, apologizing for the slur. “Seeing how many people were affected, it helps you understand the weight that comes from that word.” Bryant’s political awareness continued to expand in the ensuing years, which were marked by new controversies over race and criminal justice. In 2014, he spearheaded a group of NBA players who wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to memorialize Eric Garner, an African American who died after a police officer put him in a banned chokehold. Two years after that, during the 2016 elections, he repeatedly called on young people to inform themselves and to vote. And just a few weeks ago he decried racist taunts against black soccer players in Italy, where Bryant lived as a boy before moving back to the U.S. When he was younger, I thought Bryant was a jerk: arrogant, petulant and self-centered. But he proved me wrong again, maturing into a thoughtful and socially conscious human being. The last time I saw Kobe Bryant in person was at his alma mater,

Lower Merion High School, which dedicated its gym to him in 2010. Seventeen years after I had strolled her down to the courts to watch Bryant, my daughter was a junior at the same school. Bryant was charming and selfeffacing, admitting that he was nervous about giving a speech. He thanked his teachers, coaches and teammates. Then he offered a small bit of reflection and advice. “You’re going to have setbacks, you’re going to have times where you’re going to struggle, but you go through that and you demand greatness from yourself,” said Bryant, who donated over $400,000 for the construction of the gym. “If I ask you guys for anything, I ask you to always remember that.” Rest in peace, Black Mamba. And thanks, for struggling and growing and changing. You kept working to make yourself better, as a player and as a man. We will always remember that. Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the forthcoming “The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America."

Jan. 29, 2020• 7

P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.

They earned it

More than 400,000 Virginians failed to receive their $110 “Windfall Income Tax Rebate” in 2019 because, for perfectly valid and acceptable reasons, they received an authorized extension to file returns after July 1. That allowed the Commonwealth of Virginia to hold onto $46 million more of the un-legislated state tax increase created by conforming to new federal tax rules. Some undetermined number of those were military families with a Virginia “tax home” who routinely get extra time to file. It could include servicemen and women deployed in combat zones. Other people ask to file late because of a complicated business transaction, or personal illness or tragedy. Why would that disqualify them from the $220 per couple rebates the rest of us received? Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, had his House Bill 607 all teed up to fix that Wednesday in the House Finance Committee. It would have allowed those late filers to get the rebate this year, instead.

But the bill was not up for quick action Wednesday in order to pass, but in order to die. The Northam Administration was prepared to oppose the bill and seek its defeat, given it creates a $46 million hole in the revenue estimates for the new budget. The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy was present and prepared to speak for this modest piece of unfinished tax reform business, but it was not to be. Committee Chair Vivian Watts, D-Annandale, announced it would be heard instead in a subcommittee, probably next week. Subcommittees meet in smaller rooms, with no recorded video. Subcommittees are where only a handful of legislators can kill a bill. What happens to this bill will be a good test of whether the House of Delegates runs differently under Democrats. When the General Assembly decided last year to respond to the income tax windfall with small, onesize-fits-all and one-time-only tax rebates, it was highly questionable policy. But good or bad, it ought to be uniformly applied. It made sense that people who missed the deadline to file for valid reasons might not qualify for a check immediately, in the first round, but all understood the opportunity was there for a second round of reform or rebates. They earned this money. On June 29 they had a right to get it back, and on July 2 they didn’t? That’s wrong. In fact, the legislation that passed

in 2019 set up a segregated fund to hold the additional income tax “windfall” for future action, and during the fall it was projected it would soon come to contain hundreds of millions of dollars. Then something happened. Governor Ralph Northam simply swept the dollars into his budget, proposed to spend them, and put in language to kill the Taxpayer Relief Fund. It barely lived past Election Day, unless this General Assembly rebuffs him and revives it. So, the fiscal impact statement on Miyares’ bill warns that its passage would require cuts to the general fund budget, rather than just tapping into a special fund. That statement is usually more than sufficient to kill any proposed tax cut or tax credit. The other result of that statement might be that the Finance Committee simply sends the bill over to the spending committee, House Appropriations, to let it do the dirty work and kill the bill. More permanent tax reform would be a better use for that Taxpayer Relief Fund, should it somehow be revived. People are starting to wake up to what a Roanoke Times columnist recently called a stealth tax increase. The best solution, which the Thomas Jefferson Institute continues to advocate, is allowing families larger standard deductions to lower their taxes. But if the $220 per couple rebates is what we get, with no prospect for additional reform, then all should get them one way or another. My

parents once upon a time were one of those Virginia taxpaying families sending in tax returns from a military APO address. There is no fair reason why a taxpayer with a legitimate reason to file after July 1 should lose out. The windfall tax hikes certainly hit them, too. A failure to include them will simply add to the cynical view that the rebates last year, with the promise of additional help from the Taxpayer Relief Fund this year, was simply election year legerdemain. Stephen D. Haner

Gun support

Despite the fear mongering of attending the 2A rally in Richmond Jan 21, I determined to go. It has never once occurred to me to fear 2A supporters. I know them. You know them. We are them. My concern and that of thousands of others, including families that were deterred for fear of harm to their children, was the threat of ANTIFA showing up - not gun owners. Contrary to subsequent news reports as pundits were alarmed at the seeming lack of a police presence, I can affirm that hundreds of police were present but kept back when they determined we’re not like ANTIFA and we could be trusted to be honorable. For all the race baiters - EVERY RACE WAS REPRESENTED ARMED TO THE TEETH! Congenial, polite, well mannered, kind, men and women were everywhere.

8 •Jan. 29, 2020


Faith & Religion Oldest Episcopal parish’s past holds uncomfortable truths in Hampton, where black history began ENN – No Episcopal parish has been a witness to a longer span of American history than St. John’s Episcopal Church in the heart of this coastal city’s downtown. The city and parish share an origin story, which dates to the earliest Colonial beginnings of both the United States and The Episcopal Church. In 1610, some of the British settlers who had been suffering from illness and hunger in Jamestown, about 35 miles away up the James River, attacked and expelled the indigenous Kecoughtan Indians from their village here. The settlers took over this land near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, coveted for its abundant natural resources and proximity to the ocean. They established an Anglican parish, and when the community was renamed Elizabeth City in 1619, the parish became known as Elizabeth City Parish. Also in 1619, the settlers here were witness to the first arrival of enslaved Africans in British North America. The story told by Jamestown colonist John Rolfe describes “20 and odd Negroes” who were taken ashore at nearby Point Comfort and sold for supplies. That transaction only hinted at how slavery soon would dominate the economy and the social life of Virginia and slaveholding communities like Hampton. Black chattel slavery was codified in Virginia law in the second half of the 17th century and began to surge, replacing white indentured servants as the preferred labor source for tobacco cultivation. In Hampton, black residents, most of them slaves, made up nearly half or more than half of the population throughout the antebellum period. Today’s Hampton is a city of about 135,000 residents, more than half of them African American. Last year, commemorations marking

Stephanie Kendall talks about the history of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, where she is senior warden. PHOTO: David Paulsen/ENN 400 years of African American history generated renewed public interest in the city. The Episcopal Church joined in some of those commemorations, including a kickoff worship service hosted by St. John’s, and the Diocese of Southern Virginia is planning a pilgrimage in the Hampton area on March 6 and 7. “It’s a small town, but there are these rich stories,” said the Rev. Charles Wynder, a Hampton native and The Episcopal Church’s staff officer for social justice and engagement. Wynder sees something representative in his hometown and its churches’ struggles to honestly assess the past. “These churches’ narratives reflect stories of other parishes and the witness of Episcopalians throughout the church.” The St. John’s congregation has been Bob Harper’s “church family” for more than 20 years. “The longer you’re in a church, the more you appreciate the different personalities

that make it up,” said Harper, who serves as senior warden. After retiring from the Army, Harper, who is white, said he chose to move to Hampton because of its racial diversity. But that diversity is not reflected in Hampton’s Episcopal congregations. St. John’s, with an estimated average Sunday attendance of 125 to 150, remains mostly white, while most black Episcopalians worship at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, just west of downtown. St. Cyprian’s, which Wynder grew up attending, was founded in 1905 because St. John’s at that time didn’t welcome African Americans. More than a century later, St. John’s now opens its doors to worshipers of all races and backgrounds, and the two congregations have come together for various special events. But “on Sunday morning, we don’t have a lot of blending of the congregations,” Harper said. Only in the last 15 years has The

Episcopal Church, a denomination with a membership reported to be 90 percent white, taken deliberate steps to acknowledge uncomfortable truths about its past complicity with slavery and segregation and to encourage racial healing. In 2006 and again in 2009, General Convention called on dioceses and congregations to research their history of supporting and benefiting from racial oppression. They were asked to confront long-ignored truths and, as appropriate, to repent of past sins. Some have done the work but certainly not all, said Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies. “The history of The Episcopal Church is parallel to the history of the United States,” Rushing said in an interview with Episcopal News Service. “That’s a lot of time, and that’s a lot of stories.” Seeking the truth of the church’s racial past The Episcopal Church took the additional step in 2015 of identifying racial reconciliation as one of its core priorities, along with evangelism and care of creation, and that year the church also elected Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to lead the church. In 2017, church officers endorsed Becoming Beloved Community, now The Episcopal Church’s cornerstone racial reconciliation initiative. “Telling the Truth” about the church’s past is a critical component of the initiative. “We wanted people to just go back and do their own history of their relationship as organized Episcopalians to people of color,” Rushing said. “Because if you’re in the United States, you are a very, very peculiar Episcopal church if you have a history that does not coincide

(continued on page 11)

(from page 5) than half an ounce of marijuana is considered a class one misdemeanor. A “first offender’s rule” is offered on first convictions in lieu of class one misdemeanor penalties. The rule includes probation, drug testing and community service. Subsequent convictions are punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. Possession of more than half an ounce of marijuana is by law considered an intent to distribute and is charged as a felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Capital News Service reported that in 2018, the only offenses more common than marijuana possession were traffic-related, such as speeding or reckless driving. Marijuana arrests that year were at their highest level in at least 20

Jan. 29, 2020• 9 years, with nearly 29,000 arrests. “Arrests for marijuana possession are significantly higher for blacks and people of color, even though data has shown that there is no higher rate usage with people of color than there are with white people,” said Del. Joshua Cole, D-Stafford, chief co-patron of HB 1507. “But yet we are constantly the ones that are taking the brunt of this.” Virginia State Police arrested more white people (25,306) for drug violations in 2018 than African Americans (20,712). While African Americans make up 19 percent of Virginia’s population, they consisted of nearly half of all marijuana convictions in 2018, according to an analysis of court records. Carroll Foy said that African Americans are three times more likely than any other race to be stopped, arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana. Nine other bills have been

introduced this session relating to the possession of marijuana. Some propose legalization, while others propose decriminalization. Although the terms are used interchangeably at times, the two carry dramatically different meanings. Bills similar to HB 1507, like HB 87 and HB 269, propose the legalization of marijuana, which would lift existing laws that prohibit possession of the substance. Senate Bill 2, patroned by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, HB 972, patroned by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and several other bills propose the decriminalization of marijuana. These bills would impose a $50 fee for consuming or possessing marijuna. Ebbin’s bill would raise the threshold amount of marijuana subject to distribution or possession with intent to distribute from one-half ounce to one ounce. Herring’s bill would impose a $250

fee if the offender was consuming marijuana in public. However, the drug would remain illegal. The ACLU said last week that decriminalization and civil offenses still hold and create a number of issues — someone who wants to contest the citation would have to do so without a lawyer, and those who cannot afford to pay upfront would have to go to court, which usually includes more costs and fees. The group instead wants to see a full repeal of the prohibition on marijuana. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring took part in a cannabis conference Sunday and voiced his support for marijuana reform. “It’s clear time for cannabis reform has come,” Herring said. “Justice demands it, Virginians are demanding it, and I’m going to make sure we get it done.”

If I could do one thing, I’d tell the world she counts. Communities are as rich and diverse as their needs. That’s why completing the 2020 Census matters. It’s a safe and confidential step toward having an impact on how public funds flow through our communities. That could mean more resources in your area for special needs. It’s within your control.

Learn more at:

2020CENSUS.GOV Paid for by U.S. Census Bureau.

10 • Jan. 29, 2020


New ‘Bad Boys’ film taps expertise of local scholar “Bad Boys for Life,” the new Will Smith and Martin Lawrence action comedy that opened this month, tapped the expertise of Virginia Commonwealth University professor Andrew Chesnut, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert of Latin American religious history and leading scholar on the Mexican folk saint Santa Muerte. Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair of Catholic Studies in the School of World Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, was asked to provide the film production with his insight into Santa Muerte to ensure that the folk saint personifying death would be portrayed accurately. What was the experience of consulting on the movie like? What were they most interested in about Santa Muerte, and what did you convey to them? I was thrilled that the production company run by Will Smith's brother-in-law contacted me for consulting on the portrayal of Santa Muerte. He told me that Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who plays a narco-witch devoted to the Mexican skeleton saint, had insisted that the script be changed from featuring the Cuban religion of Palo Mayombe to Santa Muerte. Since part of the film takes place in Mexico City, it would make more sense to feature Mexico's most popular folk saint instead of a Cuban spiritual practice. Since del Castillo has starred in several narco-dramas, such as “La Reina del Sur,” and is quite familiar with Santa Muerte, she insisted that the portrayal of the saint of death be accurate. So my main role was to advise on altar design in the context of a narco-devotee, as not only is del Castillo a witch but also the head of a Mexican drug cartel. I must say I couldn't be more pleased with how

the altars turned out! In addition to this movie, Santa Muerte has been portrayed in several TV shows and video games in recent years, including “Breaking Bad,” “True Detective” and “Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands.” What do you think it is about Santa Muerte that makes her a compelling subject to explore in pop culture? Indeed! I discuss her mushrooming presence in pop culture in my book, “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint,” (Oxford University Press, 2012). Much of her pop culture appeal is connected to surging interest in narco-culture, and one of Santa Muerte's many diverse roles as folk saint is that of narco-saint in which, as seen in “Bad Boys for Life,” she serves as

protectress and avenger of drug dealers. The downside, of course, is that the fastest growing new religious movement in the West is demonized as nothing more than a narco-cult when the reality is that most of her approximately 12 million followers are working-class folk who are not involved in the drug trade. Thus, her other important roles of curandera (healer), love doctor, and agent of justice become totally eclipsed by narco-saint depictions. What did you think of the movie? Did it end up including much related to Santa Muerte? And, if so, what did you think about the portrayal? On one hand, the movie accurately depicted Santa Muerte in her role as narco-saint, but on the other, such portrayals only reinforce the image of her as nothing but an evil death

saint aiding and abetting Mexican cartel members. In stark contrast, American law enforcement members, played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, among others, are portrayed as trying to adhere to good Christian and Buddhist moral standards. While the Santa Muerte altars don't get a lot of screen time, narco-witch Kate del Castillo is seen constantly invoking the female skeleton saint to neutralize American law enforcement. I was a bit disappointed that the Santa Muerte prayers my consulting partner, Kate Kingsbury, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta, had put together for the production company were muttered incomprehensibly by del Castillo. Kingsbury's "Daughters of Death" will be the next academic book on Santa Muerte, with my same publisher — Oxford University Press.- VCU News

(from page 8) in any way with people of color.” Hampton has four Episcopal congregations, including Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which formed in 1897 as a mission of St. John’s, and the smaller parish of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, a 57-year-old congregation that last year moved out of its own church building and began worshiping at St. John’s partly due to financial strains. In 2013, following the recommendations of General Convention, the Diocese of Southern Virginia held a Service of Repentance, Reconciliation & Healing in Norfolk, just south of Hampton. The diocese also assembled a brief written summary of its history with racism and encouraged its congregations to do the same, and then-Bishop Herman Hollerith issued a formal apology on behalf of his diocese’s churches for their roles in sustaining slavery and segregation. “Spiritual common sense would suggest that a community of faith cannot move forward in its common life in Christ until it has first confessed its wrongdoing,” Hollerith said. The four Episcopal congregations in Hampton organized their own Service of Repentance in 2015. It was modeled after the diocese’s service and held at St. John’s, but five years later, the host congregation has only recently begun engaging in deeper discussions about its historic ties to slavery and the Confederacy. “I don’t know that churches are always good at talking about uncomfortable things,” the Rev. Samantha Vincent-Alexander told ENS. She has served as rector at St. John’s for the past six years, and last fall, she began leading a group of about 20 parishioners through Sacred Ground, The Episcopal Church’s 10-session discussion series on racism and racial healing. “I think everyone is getting something out it,” Vincent-Alexander said, including the experience of “talking about things we’re not accustomed to talking about.” In her first years at St. John’s, she recalled it “never occurred to us” that re-examining the congregation’s past ties to slavery might be a necessary step toward racial reconciliation. “I think that’s something you need to lay groundwork for, and I don’t think

Jan. 29, 2020• 11 we were there.” She also senses that some members believe that the church’s past already is well-known and that the congregation isn’t trying to hide anything negative, so it would be better to move on and look instead to the future. But St. John’s also proudly celebrates its long history, and going forward, Vincent-Alexander wants to encourage the congregation to confront less-comfortable stories as well. “If we want to take pride in who we have been,” she said, “then we also have to take ownership in the negative things that we have done.” In historic church’s cemetery, Confederate markers abound A chest-high brick wall encircles the cemetery and buildings at St. John’s Episcopal Church, identified by a sign out front as the “oldest continuous Protestant church in North America.” Inside the wall, monuments to the dead form constellations that envelope the church and stretch north to a back corner of the cemetery. An estimated 3,000 people are buried here – native Hamptonians, transplanted Northerners, church rectors, vestrymen, husbands and wives, young children and 145 Civil War veterans, whose Confederate service is dutifully marked along with their final resting places. A 20-foot monument looms just 15 paces off the path that leads to the church’s front doors, its inscription memorializing “Our Confederate Dead.” “It’s a cemetery, but it’s also a historical landmark, too,” says David Bishop, walking among the graves. The church and its cemetery are “one of the centerpieces of just about every map that’s drawn of Hampton.” Wearing a University of Virginia hat over his Ray Ban sunglasses, the 64-year-old cemetery administrator walks the paths with the unrushed gait of someone who retired in June after teaching history at Kecoughtan High School for 22 years. A St. John’s member since 1991, Bishop is an adept guide. Rectors are buried near the church, such as the Rev. Reverdy Estill, who served from 1905 to 1911. Over there is Alaska Bishop John Bentley, originally from Hampton. And here are the graves of James McMenamin and J.S. Darling, two Northerners who helped revitalize Hampton’s

economy after the Civil War through the city’s burgeoning crab and oyster industry. A large headstone behind the church marks the grave of Solomon Fosque, the parish’s “faithful sexton” who died in 1936. Another longtime sexton, William Parker, died in 2012 and is buried nearby. Fosque and Parker are the only African Americans buried in the cemetery, as far as Bishop knows. “It would be very unusual for there to be any more,” he says. Yet black history and parish history overlapped nearly from the beginning. Two of the enslaved Africans who landed here in 1619 were thought to have been taken into the household of prominent Elizabeth City parishioner Capt. William Tucker. The couple, Anthony and Isabella, had a son named William, who was baptized either in Jamestown or Elizabeth City – the baptizing church is up for debate, as is the family’s status, whether slaves or indentured servants. St. John’s, however, makes no reference to slavery in its online history, which instead focuses primarily on the various church sites and the structures that were built upon them. The congregation now worships in a church that was built in 1728 on the parish’s fourth site in the city. In 1830, it took its present name, St. John’s. Some of the earliest details of St. John’s complicity with slavery are presumed lost to history. Surviving vestry books go back to 1751, leaving a gap of more than 140 years from the founding of Elizabeth City Parish. Other documents begin to flesh out the lives of ministers, vestrymen and parishioners, but “the life of the slaves owned by these gentlemen and other residents of Elizabeth City County went unrecorded in the pages of history,” historian Rogers Whichard wrote in 1959. Though details of their lives may have gone unrecorded, those early African Americans left lasting marks on the community – including presumably in the bricks that have formed the walls of the church for nearly 300 years, though no one knows for sure: Slave labor likely was used to build the church. “I would be surprised if it didn’t,” Harper said. Billie Eiselen also assumes so. She is a member of the parish’s Heritage Working Group, which formed after

St. John’s celebrated 400 years in 2010. Its main tasks are to sort and manage the church archives and assist outside researchers, but the group is doubtful that the archives contain any details about the church’s construction. “I would think that slaves would have helped in this,” Eiselen said, but she can say for certain only that Henry Cary Jr. was the contractor hired to oversee the job. She thinks the group might be able to find documentation of Cary’s projects, possibly including use of slave labor, at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, though the group hasn’t undertaken that research. Congregations around The Episcopal Church have similar unanswered questions about their racial history, both in the North and the South, Rushing said, and as the highest-ranking, most prominent black lay leader in The Episcopal Church, he believes that researching such uncomfortable details is a crucial task in a Christian denomination that describes itself as anti-racist and reconciling. “We are doing this in order to get to a point where we can talk to each other about how we understand where we are right now. Because that is completely based on where we have been and what we have been,” he said. “We need to be on the same page, and the same page is truth.” More history to be told Other researchers have found ways of confirming and quantifying The Episcopal Church’s complicity in slavery. Julia Randle is one. The Diocese of Southern Virginia split from the Diocese of Virginia in 1892, but during the era of slavery there was just one Virginia diocese. Randle, who serves as registrar and historiographer of the Diocese of Virginia, confirmed with census records that at least 84 of the 112 Episcopal clergy in the diocese owned at least one slave in 1860. Her research was published in a diocesan article in 2006 and presented to General Convention that year. “In a slave society, in a slave economy, you cannot escape it. You are a part of it no matter what you think,” Randle said. “It is a rare congregation that has really looked hard at it.”

12 • Jan. 29, 2020


Dominion Energy awards RPS 4 electric buses

Honored - During a recent ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly honored the legacy of World War II hero Doris Miller by bestowing his name on a future aircraft carrier. It marks the first time a flattop has paid homage to an African American, a Navy Cross recipient and an enlisted service member.

What does it mean to become alien? The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis FEB 22 - MAY 10

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) is set to receive four electric school buses as part of Dominion Energy Virginia’s Electric school bus deployment. Earlier this school year, RPS applied for the first phase of Dominion Energy Virginia’s Electric school bus initiative. This initial phase aims to have 50 buses fully operational within their service territory by the end of 2020. “RPS is proud to be one of the first school divisions in Virginia to receive electric buses as a part of this initiative,” said Jason Kamras, RPS Superintendent. “We are committed to making RPS a ‘greener’ and environmentally-conscious division and we are taking bold and important steps toward this goal. This partnership will bring safer and healthier bus rides for our students, increased transportation savings for the division, and a reduction in carbon emissions for the residents of Richmond.” Every school day, RPS uses 224 buses to transport nearly 25,000 students to and from school. On average, these trips cost $3 million in diesel fuel purchases and maintenance each year. An electric school bus can reduce maintenance and fuel costs by over 60 percent a year and are proven to be safer and cleaner for students. “We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II. “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.” “RPS is thrilled to partner with Dominion Energy to bring electric buses to our division,” said Darin Simmons, RPS chief operating officer. “Introducing electric buses into the RPS fleet fits perfectly with our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint in the City of Richmond.” In alignment with Priority 5 of Dreams4RPS, the division has launched several initiatives to demonstrate their commitment to making RPS ‘greener’. These initiatives include: a 10-school solar panel project and the replacement of styrofoam trays with biodegradable trays in every RPS cafeteria. The electric buses are expected to be delivered to RPS by the end of 2020.

Jan. 29, 2020• 13

Newport News names paratransit partner As of Feb. 1, VIA Transportation, Inc., will be the new service provider for Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Paratransit services. HRT is a partner of the Newport News public transportation, which provides paratransit services to eligible individuals. There was an informational

meeting last week to learn more about VIA Transportation and some new technology initiatives they will have as a part of the current services. Updated information will include the new VIA app that will be available to assist customers when making reservations, questions, etc. Current certified clients who

attend an information session will receive a ride ticket to use for a future trip on Paratransit. Paratransit services are federally mandated through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. HRT’s Paratransit service is an origin-to-destination, sharedride service for the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport

News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. HRT provides Paratransit services to and from locations within 3/4 of a mile of existing fixed-route services, using a variety of vehicles including liftequipped vans. Any questions regarding this or other information sessions, call HRT at 757-222-6087 Option #4.

among patients treated with lumpectomy and whole-breast radiation. Mastectomy has generally been the only option offered to these individuals. However, there has been renewed interest in identifying a salvage treatment for women with a desire to preserve the breast. The trial tested the efficacy and adverse effects of 3D conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) partial reirradiation, which targets the radiation directly on the area where the breast tumor is located and avoids exposing the surrounding tissue. Researchers studied 58 breast cancer patients experiencing recurrence one year or more after initial breast-conserving therapy. The patients received lumpectomies followed by 3D-CRT partial breast reirradiation treatments delivered twice per day during 15 consecutive

working days. Patients were evaluated for adverse events weekly during treatment and in regular intervals over the course of five years. They were also assessed for mastectomy incidence, distant metastasisfree survival, overall survival and circulating tumor cell incidence. Results showed that the five-year estimate of re-recurrence was five percent. Late treatment-related adverse events were reported in seven percent of patients and there was a breast conversation rate of 90 percent. These findings offer evidence that breast-conserving treatment is feasible and effective through a second lumpectomy and 3D-CRT partial breast reirradiation, providing a viable substitute for mastectomy.

National clinical trial led by local researcher provides mastectomy alternative for recurrent breast cancer Mastectomy has historically been the standard treatment for breast cancer patients experiencing recurrence after an initial lumpectomy and whole-breast radiation. Now, a phase 2 clinical trial led by Douglas W. Arthur, M.D., chair and professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center and VCU School of Medicine, has demonstrated an effective alternative. The national study, conducted by investigators from 15 institutions, showed that a second lumpectomy followed by partial breast reirradiation was associated with long-term cancer control, low toxic side effects and high rates of breast preservation. The results of the study were published in the November 2019 issue of JAMA Oncology. “This is exciting data for women experiencing an in-breast recurrence after an initial lumpectomy and whole breast irradiation who desire to continue to preserve their breast,” said Arthur, who also is the Florence

Douglas W. Arthur, M.D. and Hyman Meyers Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology, associate director for clinical affairs and member of the Developmental Therapeutics program at Massey. “These women are now able to have a breast-conserving treatment choice that is a viable alternative to mastectomy.” Rates of breast cancer recurrence are less than five to 10 percent

14 • Jan. 29, 2020


Experts gather to focus on solutions to opioids More than 170 law enforcement, addiction treatment, medical, education, and community services professionals gathered in James Branch Cabell Library on Tuesday to discuss and collaborate on ways to address the opioid crisis. “Our chief goal is to bring together all the stakeholders from all of these sectors to talk about: how do we work together, better, as one team to address substance use disorder and overdose death problems that are really crippling our communities?” said Michelle Peace, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Forensic Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences and an organizer of the event. The Silent No More Overdose Symposium brought together law enforcement experts from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, New Jersey State Police and Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services; and medical and education experts from VCU Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Virginia Poison Center, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also invited to the discussion and development of a working group were the sectors that provide support to individuals who struggle with substance use disorder. So, faith-based programs, treatment centers and community-based nonprofit programs joined the daylong conversation. It was co-hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the DEA, SAMHSA, Virginia State Police, Virginia’s Office of the Governor and VCU.

Two people listen intently during presentation. “The coming together of this highly respected and accomplished group of professionals is incredibly impressive, but there is still much more work to be done,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a news release. “We must remain vigilant in our enforcement efforts, continue to raise awareness in our communities, educate our children on the dangers of illicit narcotics, and work across the entire suite of law enforcement efforts to keep these dangerous drugs from hitting the streets.” More than 170 law enforcement, addiction treatment, medical, education, and community services professionals participated in the symposium. The symposium featured a number

of expert panels focused on topics such as the development of crossjurisdictional multi-disciplinary working groups, the impact on emergency rooms and morgues, fatal drug overdose trends and statewide epidemiology statistics, high-intensity drug trafficking area management coordination, opioid overdose surveillance, data sharing platforms, successful treatment programs and more. “Today is the time to engage our individual expertise and capabilities in order to benefit the greater good of Virginia,” Colonel Gary T. Settle, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said in a news release. “No single one of us has all the answers. We have to collectively find new solutions to the opioid crisis, and find new ways to help one another

so we can save more lives, and ultimately, save our communities.” Throughout the day, Peace and other organizers encouraged participants to “drive toward solutions and breaking down of silos” among law enforcement, medical, scientific and treatment professionals. “All of this is about data sharing and breaking down language barriers,” Peace said. “The hope is that we can reach the people who need the help faster and we can intercede with the drug traffickers more effectively.” Group stands in front of a sign that reads ‘silent no more’ Organizers and participants included (left to right) Olivia Norman, assistant U.S. Attorney

(continued on page 15)

Jan. 29, 2020• 15

Warner urges Ashanti Act DOJ compliance After repeated delays and unresponsiveness by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (DVA) recently sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr urging the agency to comply with the law and fully implement the Ashanti Alert system by the March 19 deadline. This date was imposed by Warner, who successfully included

language in the government funding bills directing the DOJ to take swift measures to get the critical life-saving alert system fully implemented. “I am profoundly disappointed that the department has failed to implement the Ashanti Alert system in a well-organized and competent way. I look forward to the department’s report and expeditious implementation,” wrote Warner.The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Ashanti Alert. In August 2019, Warner reiterated the need for the alert’s swift implementation, following a meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sullivan. He has also previously demanded in-person meetings with the DOJ, repeatedly pressed the DOJ for implementation updates, and urged congressional appropriators to provide full funding for the timely implementation of the

Ashanti Alert. According to the letter, Congress directs the department “to provide a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees no later than 30 days after enactment” of the FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116 –93) detailing progress on the implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act. Further, the language directs the report to set out a final deadline for implementation no later than 90 days after enactment. The Ashanti Alert system is meant to save lives by closing the existing gap in the missing person alert systems. It is named in honor of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk on Sept. 18, 2017. She was found murdered – 11 days after she was initially reported missing. Because of Ashanti’s age, she did not qualify for AMBER or Silver Alerts and critical resources were not used to locate her.

MidTown Auto Rental Olivia Norman, assistant U.S. Attorney and district opioid coordinator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, leads a session during the symposium. PHOTOS: Kevin Morley

(from page 14) and district opioid coordinator with the U.S. Attorney's Office; Camille Schrier, a VCU Pharmacy student and Miss America 2020; Kim Ulmet, victim/witness specialist and community outreach coordinator with the U.S. Attorney's Office; Michael Gill, assistant U.S. Attorney and district criminal chief; and Michelle Peace, Ph.D., associate professor of forensic science at VCU. Organizers are hoping to convene a working group that will continue the work started at the symposium to establish programs and coalitions that can more effectively and expeditiously deal with the drug

crisis at all levels. Also in attendance was Camille Schrier, a VCU pharmacy student who was crowned Miss America 2020 in December. As Miss Virginia and Miss America, Schrier’s platform has focused on the dangers of misusing medication, including opioids. “Advocacy for medication safety and abuse prevention is timely and relevant, impacting all socioeconomic classes,” she said. “As Miss America, and as a doctor of pharmacy student, my objective is to further bridge the gap in medication safety and increase abuse prevention to reduce addiction.” - VCU News

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16 • Jan. 29, 2020


Calendar 1.29, 7 p.m. “Our sweeping American story, wonderful and woeful as it is, leaves out too many people who have been denied and disregarded, folks who should be returned to our national narrative. This exhibition breathes life into those forgotten individuals, restoring to them their humanity and their place in history.” --Gayle Jessup White Gayle Jessup White, descendant of Thomas Jefferson and member of some of the families he enslaved, became Monticello's first Community Engagement Officer in 2016. She accepted the position after years of researching her family’s oral tradition connected to Jefferson. As an International Center for Jefferson Studies fellow, she combed through old letters, documents and records, and was ultimately able to confirm that she is not only a Jefferson descendant through one of his great- great -grandsons, but also is related to two well-documented families enslaved at Monticello, the Hemingses and the Hubbards. She will share the 50-year-long journey that led her back to Monticello, the home of her ancestors..


Newport News kicks off transformation of Denbigh Citizens invited to event and demolition ceremony at former Kmart site

The city of Newport News is holding a Transforming Denbigh event on Saturday, February 1, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the site of the former Kmart building at the corner of Warwick Boulevard and Oriana Road. Citizens are invited to leave their mark on the building by tagging or painting the exterior walls before the demolition ceremony takes place at noon. The ceremony will mark the beginning of the transformation of the Denbigh area of the city and will feature Mayor McKinley L. Price operating an excavator to take the first “bite” out of the building. Free activities during the event will include a “touch-a-truck” area with City vehicles, construction theme inflatable games, chalk art activities, free givea-ways and a DJ. Food trucks will be onsite selling food and beverage items. Admission and parking are free. The building has been vacant since 2014 and was purchased by the Newport News Economic Development Authority last year. There are no definitive plans at this point for the future of the property, but the recently adopted Denbigh-Warwick Area Plan suggests a potential redevelopment option for this 22 acre site is a walkable town center concept with a mix of uses surrounding a town green or public square that could host festivals, concerts, movies and farmers markets.

1.30, 6 p.m.

A complimentary seminar on planning for retirement will be offered by the MEMBERS Financial Services Representatives located at Virginia Credit Union. The seminar will be held at Virginia Credit Union in the Boulders Office Park, 7500 Boulder View Dr., Richmond. Participants will explore various options to help them make informed decisions when it’s time to retire or change jobs. To register, call 804-323-6800 or visit

Submit your calendar events by email to: editor @ Include the who, what, where, when & contact information that can be printed. Deadline is Friday.

2.6, all day

Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) has announced a Black History Month Essay Contest for middle and high school students (grades 6-12) residing in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. The prompt of the contest is “What Black History Month means to me.” “Black History Month honors the historic and present contributions that African American men and women have made in our country,” said McEachin. Middle school students should submit an essay 350-500 words in length and high school students should submit an essay 500-750 words in length to VA04.Projects@ . Winners will be notified individually and announced on McEachin’s social media in February.

2.24, all day Henrico County will offer a free program in March to help older residents access the array of services and resources available to them. The Henrico Ambassadors Program for Seniors (HAPS) will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon each Thursday in March at the Dorey Park Recreation Center, 2999 Darbytown Rd. The program is open to residents age 55 and older and designed to highlight information about services and resources offered by Henrico and community organizations. Participants will be encouraged to share what they learn with friends, family and others in the community. To register, contact Sara Morris, Henrico’s advocate for the aging, at 804-501-5065 or mor141@henrico.

Jan. 29, 2020• 17

Henrico names deputy county manager for CA Henrico County has appointed Monica SmithCallahan as its deputy county manager for community affairs, a newly restructured position focusing on community outreach. Smith-Callahan has served as assistant superintendent of policy, equity and communication for the Virginia Department of Education since April 2019. She brings more than 20 years of experience in community engagement, public and media relations and event management in the public, nonprofit and business sectors. As deputy county manager for community affairs, Smith-Callahan will promote relationships with nongovernmental entities and will serve as a liaison to Henrico County Public Schools and other governmental entities. She also will provide expertise on federal, state and local regulations, legislation and policies affecting the county and will oversee or serve as a primary contact for various departments, agencies and functions, including the Henrico County

Monica Smith-Callahan

Public Library, Health Department, Capital Region Workforce Partnership, Electoral Board, Extension Office and legislative affairs. She will be Henrico’s fifth deputy county manager, joining others focused on administration and community services, community development, community operations and public safety. Her appointment is effective Tuesday, Feb. 18. She also has served as director of workforce programs for ChamberRVA, director of outreach and development for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, community engagement director for Richmond 2015 Inc., chief of staff for U-Turn Sports Performance Academy and communications assistant to the vice president and public relations manager for Comcast Cable. Smith-Callahan holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from George Mason University and a master’s degree in business administration from Strayer University.


18 • Jan. 29, 2020


PUBLIC AUCTION of Unclaimed Vehicles

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Will hold a Public Hearing in the 5th Floor Conference Room, City Hall, 2 Issues (1/15 & 1/22) - $73. 900 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA on February 5, 2020,Rate: to consider $11 per c the following under Chapter 30 of the Zoning Code: Includes Interne BEGINNING AT 1:00 P.M. Please review the proof, make any needed BZA 06-2020: An application of John & MandyisTennyson and Amber If your response not received by deaE 409 Reitz for a building permit to construct an addition to a single-family detached dwelling at 521 SOUTH PINE OkSTREET. X____________________

BZA 07-2020: An application of David Shanklin for a building permit to construct a security wood fence accessory to anchanges existing single-family Ok with X _________ attached dwelling at 1602 WEST GRACE STREET.

Roy W. Benbow, SecretaryREMINDER: Deadline i Phone: (804) 240-2124 Fax: (804) 646-5789 E-mail:

Thank you for your interest in applying for opportunities with The City of Richmond. To see what opportunities are available, please refer to our website at EOE M/F/D/V

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To file a housing complaint, call the Virginia Housing Office (804) 367-8530 or (888) 551-3247. For the hearingimpaired, call (804) 367-9753, or e-mail fairhousing@

Drivers Mr. Bult’s is hiring Local Class A CDL Drivers. Home Every Night, $1100+/week, amazing benefits! Text WORK to 55000

Jan. 29, 2020• 19

CU00012453- Procurement 0128 HAMPTON SOLICITATION

AUCTIONS 110+ PROPERTIES IN RVA TAX SALE. Online and live auction for City of Richmond tax delinquent properties. Bidding begins Wednesday, February 19 at 2 p.m. Preview properties online today! Motleys, 3600 Deepwater Terminal Rd., Richmond, VA. | | 877-MOTLEYS | VAL16

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