Virginia Tech, Indivior collaboration to study recovery in people with opioid use disorder

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Few families are left untouched by the devastating problems caused by opioid misuse and addiction, which take the lives of about 50,000 people each year in the United States.

Similar to cancer and cardiovascular disease, opioid use disorder is a chronic illness that includes periods of both remission and relapse. Although many people achieve long-term recovery, the most effective pathways to a healthy life are not well understood.

Now, Virginia Tech and Indivior, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing medications to treat substance use disorders, have agreed to extend the RECOVER (Remission from Chronic Opioid Use-Studying Environmental and Socio-Economic Factors on Recovery) Study.

RECOVER is a multisite, noninterventional cohort study examining long-term recovery in individuals with moderate to severe opioid use disorder who received at least one dose of study treatment during the Phase 3 clinical trials studying safety and tolerability for Sublocade, an extended-release treatment for moderate to severe opioid use.

The study will be carried out by a team of researchers led by Warren Bickel, a professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, the Virginia Tech Carilion Behavioral Health Research Professor, and a professor of psychology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

“This study represents a powerful example of how academia and industry can collaborate through rigorous science to study human behavior in order to address a major health problem that is causing unprecedented hardship throughout the United States, particularly here in Virginia,” said Michael Friedlander, vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech and the executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. “Together, we are determined to find scientifically sound solutions to the opioid crisis. As one of the world’s most innovative addiction researchers, Dr. Bickel is the ideal leader for this important program, bringing years of innovation, leadership, and rigorous study design to bear on this important national health issue.”

The misuse of and addiction to opioids — including prescription pain relieversheroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl — is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“We believe that this Virginia Tech-Indivior study, which will actively engage patients in their real-world environment, will contribute to a better understanding of how patients are pursuing the life changes they aspire to achieve, which is what true recovery is all about,” said Christian Heidbreder, chief scientific officer of Indivior Inc.

While a number of medications and treatments have been developed to address opioid use disorder, the current approach focuses on achieving short-term abstinence and not the  challenges of remaining abstinent for long periods of time.

“A week of being opioid-free may be an important milestone for many individuals, but remaining drug-free for years and having a happy, productive life with great family relationships is the outcome we strive to achieve,” Bickel said. “By assessing these various aspects of recovery comprehensively, repeatedly, and over long periods of time, this first-of-its-kind study will help solve critical issues for the nation.”

Researchers hope the study may also provide information to health care systems and policymakers on how successful treatment and long-term recovery can reduce the economic burden opioid use disorder by reducing health care costs, crime, and unemployment.

The scope and duration of these assessments may also lead to important new insights into theoretical models of recovery and allow researchers, clinicians, and patients to more accurately characterize the process of recovery, identify factors that promote or hinder success, and develop new and personalized treatment strategies.

New childhood pre-education major at Virginia Tech aims to set gold standard for child care

virginia techA new major at Virginia Tech will provide a valuable resource in support of Gov. Ralph Northam’s recently announced plans to increase early childhood education for all Virginians.

The childhood pre-education major, based in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, will provide students with a strong foundation to excel as early childhood educators as well as in occupations that provide emotional support to children, such as counselors, social workers, therapists, and pediatricians.

April Few-Demo, professor and head of the department, said the new major focuses on understanding not only physical child development, but also how family environments affect children. Family dynamics and units are diverse, she said, and how they interact within society has a profound effect on healthy brain development, learning potential, academic success, and future access to resources.

“We’re not just teaching students how to teach,” Few-Demo said. “We’re teaching them to understand the whole child and to know that children do not exist on an island; they exist within a family system. That child navigates both family processes and educational settings. And teachers have to know how to talk to parents in a way that demonstrates their developmental knowledge of the whole child. This approach is what distinguishes our child care center, and it’s at the heart of the philosophy of this major.”

The Child Development Center for Learning and Research is an award-winning program that has a Level 5 rating from Virginia Quality, the state’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system. The National Association for the Education of Young Children ranked the center at 100 percent in all 10 program areas reviewed by the Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation team.

Those in the major take courses on infancy, early and middle childhood, and adolescence. They also study human service principles, early childhood curricula, issues in the U.S. educational system, and strategies for nurturing exceptional leaders among children. In addition, the students complete a field study with a local education facility.

“I decided to major in childhood pre-education because I have a passion for children and teaching,” said Anna McElhinney, a sophomore who is also majoring in communication science and social inquiry. “This new major is the perfect program to prepare me for a master’s program and, ultimately, a career as an elementary school principal.”

The program is set up to help undergraduates move toward a graduate degree before becoming a licensed educator and fulfilling roles in teaching, school or behavioral counseling, preschool administration, social work, pediatric medicine, or occupational and physical therapy. Yet opportunities also abound for unlicensed early childhood education providers with bachelor’s degrees. Many preschools and childhood development centers do not require licensure, but look for staff who have a background in education.

“The Child Development Center for Learning and Research loves hiring our majors because we train our students for success in early childhood programs,” said Cynthia Smith, associate professor of human development and family science, director of graduate studies for the department, and director of the Children’s Emotions Lab at Virginia Tech.

Because so many human development students were becoming preschool and elementary school educators, Smith said, the department wanted to provide a specific major in childhood education with courses vital to these students’ career goals. She and her colleagues believe these undergraduates will become leaders in shaping the future of childhood education on state and national levels.

“As educators, we need to value those in childhood education occupations,” Smith said. “From those who provide infants and toddlers with stimulating environments to those aspiring toward graduate degrees in the field, this major is a valuable resource for students, the community, and even the state. Those who graduate with this degree will be of great benefit to society and its demands for quality child care and education.”

Donny Necessary Jr. named new VDOT Bristol District administrator

Donny NecessaryDonny Necessary, Jr. has been named as the new VDOT Bristol District administrator.

Necessary brings over 33 years of transportation expertise to the position, including service as Bristol’s acting district administrator for the past six months.

“Donny’s years of sound program leadership, vast planning experience and invaluable regional partnerships provide a strong foundation for continued success in the Bristol District,” said VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Chief Deputy Commissioner Robert H. Cary, P.E., L.S.

Necessary will be responsible for the construction, maintenance and operations of nearly 16,000 lane miles of roads in the Bristol District’s 12 counties: Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe.

He joined VDOT in 1986 as a highway engineering technician, and has also served as an assistant district traffic engineer, a transportation operations analysis and enhancement engineer, and, since 2010, served as the Bristol District planner.

As the lead planner for the district, Necessary managed Bristol’s project prioritization program, SMART SCALE, and built vital local and regional partnerships through collaboration with planning district commissions and metropolitan planning organizations. His steady leadership and expertise has been integral to providing smooth short- and long-range planning processes.

Necessary holds an associate’s degree in design drafting from Virginia Highlands Community College and a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from East Tennessee State University.

Sports betting is getting legal in the USA

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You would be forgiven if you had no idea that before 14th May 2018, sports betting was illegal in the USA. The Supreme Court of the USA was the setting as six judges of the court voted to lift the ban on sports betting with only three dissenting on the said date. Since the ruling, states can’t wait to hop on the wings of freedom with legislation to regulate rather than ban sports betting in their jurisdiction. Two federal legislation stood in the path to legal sports betting before the historic Supreme Court judgment. They are, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and the Wire Act of 1961 to prevent organized crime. States have always tried circumventing such laws with clever pieces of legislation, but generally, it hasn’t always worked.

The journey to striking down the legislation stifling sports betting in the USA started with a judicial challenge by the state of New Jersey. New Jersey tried to work around the federal legislation prohibiting sports betting with state laws. Major Sports Leagues challenged the legality of the process, so New Jersey went to the law. The legal process went as far as the Supreme where the PASPA was deemed unconstitutional as it infringes states’ rights. As for the Wire Act, the Obama administration in 2011 had reckoned that it doesn’t apply to online gaming. However, in 2018, the Trump administration interpreted it to prohibit all forms of online gaming, the state of New Hampshire challenged this in court where the interpretation declared invalid. Those important pieces of judicial intervention thus set the tone for the legalization of sports betting in the USA. Find some really good infographics about these different steps in our article The impact of sports betting legalization in the US.

States where sports betting is now legal

Eleven states have made laws legalizing sports betting in their constituency since the historic rulings. Sports betting is now legal and fully operational in the following eleven states

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

There are seven more states that now have laws making sports betting legal, just awaiting an official launch. The seven states are

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

24 states are waiting in the wings with work ongoing on legislation to make sports betting legal in their jurisdictions. However, there are eight states with no action at legalizing sports betting in their domain presently.

Legal online sports betting platforms in the USA

The budding online sports betting industry in America is gradually bursting into life in the states where they are now legal. Quite a few of them are already in operation and we would chronicle some of them here. Sports betting came on stream in New Jersey when DraftKings Sportsbook launched in August 2018. FanDuel Sportsbook boasts of a mobile app in the state too. Pennsylvania has SugarHouse Sportsbook PA, FanDuel Sportsbook PA, Parx, and BetRivers. Nevada has laws that make physical presence mandatory in its jurisdiction before a subscriber can play online sports bets with platforms on the state’s register. West Virginia has to sort out the legal wrangling that prevents its only mobile app provider, Betlucky, from operating. However, the state still boasts of FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings which came into the fray before the kickoff of the 2019 NFL season.

Rhode Island is partnering with William Hill to provide the state’s mobile betting app technology. Mississippi laws make it compulsory for sports betting to be through land or water-based casinos. Oregon sports betting is available statewide via the Scoreboard app. Tennessee’s laws allow only online sports betting in the state. Delaware has three American casinos permitted by law to accept wagers, though, the possibility of adding online sports betting in the future is quite high.

The top plastic surgery predictions for 2020

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Recent trends in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery point to steady growth. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 17.7 million cosmetic procedures were performed across America in 2018. The figure was up 2% from the previous year. Cosmetic procedures are more popular with people age 40 to 54. The top procedures for 2018 were listed as follows:

  • Breast augmentation – 313,000
  • Liposuction (lipoplasty, lipo) – 258,000
  • Nose reshaping (Rhinoplasty) – 213,000
  • Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) – 206,000
  • Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) – 130,000

Breast augmentation continues to be the most preferred cosmetic procedure for over a decade. The most preferred routine is the placement of silicone and saline implants. Rhinoplasty is normally performed to shape the nose and can help enhance breathing and improve facial appearance. Results are normally achieved by amending the skin, cartilage or nasal bones.

Liposuction often referred to as lipo is a popular cosmetic procedure that involves the removal of unrequired body fat. The procedure can be carried on different parts of the body, including the neck, abdomen, arm, chin, and buttock. A high-pressure instrument called cannula is normally used to strip off fat from the targeted area of the body. The procedure is fairly inexpensive.

Tummy Tuck or abdominoplasty is normally conducted to extricate extra fat and skin. The procedure may be right for people with excess skin around the abdomen. The two main Tummy Tuck procedures are complete abdominoplasty and mini-abdominoplasty. Plastic surgeons often discourage the use of tummy tuck as a quick alternative to weight loss for various reasons.

Blepharoplasty may be requested to mend droopy eyelids or eliminate portions of skin, fat, and muscles on the eyelids. Having a sagging skin around the eyelids may blur the marginal vision and make you look much older. Cosmetic surgery patients looking to have a general facelift may also undergo eyelid surgery to tighten the skin and create a more youthful appearance.

Plastic Surgery Predictions: What to look for in 2020?

As 2020 approaches, an eager public will be waiting to see what’s in store as far as cosmetics procedures are concerned. According to a popular cosmetic journal, Cosmetic Town, 2020 will see the emergence of subtle looks; an array of radiofrequency and ultrasound procedures and the use of facial fillers to increase volume. The growing use of facial fillers is set to continue through 2020.

As part of treatment, the facial filler is pumped into the skin to increase volume on select patches. The procedure is popular with older people, especially those with old or sunken appearance. The results of the facial fillers may last anywhere from 6 months to two years. Aging alongside weight gain and weight loss are normally blamed for skin sagging and stretching.

In the past, most people with sagging or over-stretchy skin preferred to undergo facelift or body fit. With the advances in cosmetic surgery, newer and more effective solutions to speed skin shrinkage and reduce sagging have been developed. The end results usually depend on the desired outcome and the patient’s age. Here are some of the procedures to watch:

  • Ultherapy – this popular ultrasound technology works by rejuvenating and tightening the skin while stimulating the production of collagen, a type of protein shown to improve skin health and relieve joint pain. The non-invasive procedure is seen as a great alternative to a facelift.
  • Fraxel laser – the procedure uses a specially designed ablative CO2 laser to heat and vaporize specific areas of the skin. The heat also helps stimulates the production of collagen.
  • Thermage – this non-invasive laser tightening procedure uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to firm the skin and promote the production of collagen. The radiofrequency penetrates deeper into multiple skin layers to create a younger look and other desired outcomes.
  • Sculptra – Sculptra is among the most popular types of fillers on the market today. For the most part, the FDA approved dermal filler is introduced onto the soft skin tissue through an injection and works by lifting the cheek and skin around the jawline and mouth.

People often associate plastic surgery with a complete facelift, but this is about to change with the rise of subtle looks when it comes to facial and body enhancements. The new push is informed by the need to look more natural and acceptable. The other subtle treatments to look forward to in 2020 include body fillers, Botox and other facial rejuvenation treatments.

Meet the most trusted facial plastic surgeon in Tampa!

Farrior Facial Plastic Surgery led by a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Edward Farrior is one of the most trusted and sought surgeons in Florida. He has over 30 years’ experience working as a lead surgeon. During this time, Dr. Farrior refined his techniques to help patients achieve the ultimate facial rejuvenation. The Tampa, Florida based practice is solely focused on performing facial and related uplifts and ensures all its surgical procedures rank among the best in class.

The procedures carried out by the practice include facelifts, Rhinoplasty, fillers, injectable, and skincare treatments. The practice also offers specialized, esthetician service to men and women with skin issues. The treatment covers wrinkles, dull skin, acne, and dark spots or hyperpigmentation. To get it in touch with Farrior Facial Plastic Surgery, visit the plastic surgeon website and fill an online contact form. You can also call (813)296 2305 to schedule your first consultation.

SCC launches new system for business entities, UCC filings

SCCA new online electronic filing system for nearly 690,000 business entities is now available on the website of the Clerk’s Office of the State Corporation Commission at www.scc.virginia.gov/clk.

The enhanced Clerk’s Information System (CIS) will allow most filings, submissions and payments to be completed online in a secure and safe manner; and will offer improved search capabilities for the public.
There are three levels of access:

  • Public access to search business entity and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) records requires no user account.
  • User account access to form new entities, pay annual fees, and obtain certificates of good standing or fact of existence, and file UCC statements.
  • User account and personal identification number (PIN) access. PINs were distributed last week. PINs are needed for a business entity to file documents that change or update information on record at the Clerk’s Office. This includes filing a corporate annual report with officer or director changes.
  • More than 750,000 individuals held accounts in the old system known as SCC eFile. Those accounts are no longer active. To use the new CIS, users will need to create a new account. Account information will be verified by a third-party identity management service. Upon verification, a user account will be established.

    Clerk of the Commission Joel H. Peck, says, “The launch of the new CIS is the culmination of a monumental project. The new system is one of the first in the country to implement this level of security.” He adds, “It will help ensure that users throughout the Commonwealth and the country can manage business and UCC filings securely and efficiently in Virginia.”

    The Clerk’s Office is prepared to answer questions regarding the account creation process and PIN assignments. Information is available online at www.scc.virginia.gov/clk. Or, call 804-371-9733 or toll-free in Virginia 866-722-2551 during normal working hours.

    Call volume is expected to be heavy. If your matter is not time sensitive, consider calling again in a few days.

    AeroFarms to build $42 million state-of-the art facility in Danville

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    AeroFarms® will invest $42 million to build its largest, most sophisticated indoor vertical farm to date in Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park for the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County.

    AeroFarms uses proprietary aeroponic growing technology to produce highly flavorful leafy greens at a rate 390-times more productive than field-grown plants.

    Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the 150,000-square-foot facility, which will create 92 new jobs.

    “AeroFarms is a leader in agricultural innovation with farming technologies that make high-quality, local produce available to more communities,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release. “We are bringing capital investment and economic opportunity to rural Virginia by recruiting innovative companies like AeroFarms. I thank the company for choosing Virginia for this important venture and commend Danville-Pittsylvania County for helping to secure this project.”

    Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Newark, N.J., AeroFarms is a mission-driven company committed to growing the best plants possible with processes that use significantly less water and no pesticides, while offering extremely high levels of food safety.

    By hiring locally and creating year-round employment, AeroFarms is able to grow all year to nourish its communities with high-quality produce that delivers optimal nutrition and flavor.

    “Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry, and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of agricultural advancements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I look forward to working with AeroFarms as they expand the use of agriculture technology to strengthen Virginia’s food system and provide increased access to healthy foods.”

    “AeroFarms has an important objective to ensure our growing population has year-round access to healthy food, and we are proud to support its first Virginia operation in Danville-Pittsylvania County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company’s decision to establish a vertically integrated facility in the Commonwealth is a strong testament to the advantages of our location and transportation and logistics infrastructure, which attract industry-leading companies from around the world seeking expansion into new markets. We welcome AeroFarms to Virginia and look forward to our future corporate partnership.”

    “We are excited to expand to Virginia, an incredible state with a strong farming tradition, and we have been honored by the amazing reception at all levels,” said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms. “We want to thank everyone for helping bring our tenth and largest, most advanced indoor vertical farm to life to create new jobs and increase access to healthier foods with better flavor. We are also excited about the future collaboration opportunities with The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to build on our work with Fortune 100 companies to solve broader ag-related supply chain issues.”

    The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Pittsylvania County, the City of Danville, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, to assist Danville-Pittsylvania County with the project.

    The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has approved a grant for $190,000 from the Tobacco Regional Opportunity Fund for the project. AeroFarms qualifies for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP).

    “We’re pleased that AeroFarms has selected the Cane Creek Centre for their new mid-Atlantic facility”, said Robert “Bob” Warren, Vice-Chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and member of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “It is only appropriate that the largest county in the Commonwealth by land area will soon be home to the world’s largest and most advanced vertical farm. The region has placed a heavy emphasis on attracting technology-based agribusiness firms through strategic investments in our workforce, and we thank AeroFarms for their commitment to Southern Virginia and its people.”

    “AeroFarms is a perfect example of how blending technology with agriculture can provide an environmentally responsible solution to growing nutritious food,” said Fred Shanks, Chair of the Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority. “Given the history and importance of agriculture to this region, I cannot think of a better place for AeroFarms to locate. We are delighted to welcome them to this great community.”

    “The Tobacco Commission has always supported Virginia’s agriculture industry, the backbone of our state’s economy, and attracting AeroFarms to Danville-Pittsylvania County is a big win,” said State Sen. Frank Ruff, Tobacco Commission Vice-Chairman. “AeroFarms’ technologically advanced approach to farming is an example of how the industry is adapting to meet the demands of modern consumers and I am pleased that they chose to grow their business here in Southside Virginia.”

    “It is exciting to see an innovative company like AeroFarms open their first Virginia location here in Southside,” said Del. Danny Marshall, a Tobacco Commission member. “Attracting a company like this to our region shows that the effort we have put into developing a top-notch business climate is paying off. I welcome AeroFarms and their team to Danville-Pittsylvania County and wish them the best as they get hiring underway.”

    Wegmans to locate distribution campus in Hanover County

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    Wegmans Food Markets will invest $175 million to establish a full-service, regional distribution operation in Hanover County.

    Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the project, which will create 700 new jobs.

    Located along Sliding Hill and Ashcake Roads in Ashland, the new campus will allow the company to expand its distribution network on the East Coast and accommodate its growing retail footprint.

    The announcement follows a recent domestic marketing mission where Gov. Ralph Northam met with Wegmans real estate and development officials at the company’s headquarters in Rochester, N.Y.

    “It’s a significant win when a business decides to create 700 full-time, well-paid jobs, and we are proud that a company of Wegmans’ stature has chosen to establish its major new operation in Hanover County,” said Northam. “Virginia is a world-class transportation and logistics hub, and the location of this campus will greatly enhance Wegmans’ fast-growing East Coast distribution network. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Wegmans officials to discuss ways we can strengthen our partnership, and I look forward to the company’s continued success in the Commonwealth.

    Founded and headquartered in Rochester, Wegmans Food Markets is a 101-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. The family company is recognized as an industry leader and innovator and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 22 consecutive years, ranking third in 2019.

    “Wegmans’ decision to establish a new distribution campus in Hanover County is a strong testament to the Commonwealth’s prime East Coast location and advanced infrastructure,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Leading retailers and distributors from around the world continue to choose the greater Richmond region as their home base for supply chain operations, and we are proud to have Wegmans on Virginia’s corporate roster.”

    “This site has the right combination of everything we were looking for in terms of proximity to our stores and workforce and is located in a Commonwealth that we have partnered with for many years,” said Wegmans president and CEO Colleen Wegman. “Once it’s up and running, this facility will allow us to deliver products to our southern-most stores with increased speed and freshness and will help support our growth well into the future.”

    The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Hanover County and the Greater Richmond Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. Northam approved a $2.35 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Hanover County with the project. Wegmans is also eligible to receive a Major Business Facilities Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.

    “As Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, I would like to personally welcome Wegmans as a new corporate citizen of Hanover County,” said Chairman of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors Canova Peterson. “We are grateful for the significant investments that the company is making, both financially and in the expansion of quality job opportunities for our citizens. We look forward to our partnership for many years to come.”

    “It is exciting to add Wegmans to the growing list of major corporations that see Hanover County as a destination of choice, due in large part to our cost of doing business, strategic location along the eastern seaboard, and expedited planning processes,” said Hanover County Director of Economic Development Linwood Thomas. “Wegmans will create hundreds of good-paying jobs well above our average prevailing wage, and at full buildout, will be one of our largest taxpayers.”

    “Economic development is a true team sport and I applaud all of the partners involved in this monumental project to bring more than 700 jobs to the region,” said Chair of the Greater Richmond Partnership Leslie Haley. “Our region is ideally situated for distribution projects like this one targeting the East Coast, and we are thrilled to add Wegmans to the list of major employers in the region.”

    “Hanover County’s pro-business environment continues to shine with Wegmans’ investment and expansion of its operations into our community,” said Sen. Ryan McDougle. “I am excited to welcome a new community partner and look forward to the economic opportunities their investment will bring Hanover.”

    “I am thrilled to welcome Wegmans to Hanover County, and I am proud of the fact that Wegmans recognizes that Virginia and Hanover County is a great place to do business,” said Del. Hyland “Buddy” Fowler. “The economic impact, including the hundreds of good-paying jobs, will provide a substantial boost for Hanover and its citizens.”

    Carter signs on to two GOP bills

    lee carterDel. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, has joined as a co-patron on two bills with Republican chief patrons, making him the only House Democrat currently signed on to legislation with a Republican legislator.

    HB 43, put forward by Republican Del. Mark Cole and co-patroned by Republican Dels. Dave LaRock and Joseph McNamara, ensures that voters who live in split precincts will have their votes counted. SB 57, put forward by Republican Sen. David Suetterlein, requires candidates for constitutional and local offices to file campaign finance reports electronically.

    Carter is now a co-patron of both bills.

    “This isn’t about bipartisanship for its own sake,” said Carter. “We’re not going to water down outcomes just to bring the other side on board. But if it’s good legislation, it’s good legislation, and I’ll work with anyone to get it done.”

    The bills await referral to committee.

     

    Nine regional projects approved for GO Virginia grants

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    Nine regional economic development projects are in line for more than $5.8 million in GO Virginia grants.

    The grants – styled Growth and Opportunity for Virginia – favor projects that emphasize regional collaboration, and “encourage communities to think creatively about how to build talent pipelines in key industries, create good-paying jobs, and drive positive, long-term growth,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release.

    The GO Virginia Board, which includes members of the governor’s cabinet, the General Assembly, and the business community, also approved a new policy that encourages GO Virginia regions to apply for future funding for site development and infrastructure projects of regional significance.

    The policy was developed in partnership with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and focuses GO Virginia investments on projects that will grow each regions’ targeted industry sectors, as well as support the state’s economic development objectives.

    “The range of economic development opportunities funded by these grants will have a tremendous impact on Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As a result of these projects, the Commonwealth will have a more qualified workforce and resource-rich environment for both start-up and existing businesses, and the physical site and infrastructure investments to support new jobs.”

    The GO Virginia grants will be used to implement projects that align with each region’s Growth and Diversification Plan. These locally-developed plans identify priority industry sectors and strategies based on each region’s assets.

    Initiatives that advance strategies developed through the planning process are key in strengthening each region’s economy and creating better career opportunities for Virginians. The grant awards will leverage an additional $6.4 million in non-state resources to assist with economic diversification throughout Virginia.

    “We are excited for this GO Virginia investment in Northern Virginia, especially towards the support of growing the computer science workforce pipeline and increasing technology business growth,” said Senator Janet Howell, a GO Virginia board member. “The work the GO Virginia regions are doing throughout Virginia is increasing our workforce talent development, building stronger businesses, and encouraging new economic growth in all areas of the Commonwealth.”

    Since program inception in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 74 projects and awarded approximately $38 million to support regional economic development efforts.

    Individuals interested in learning more about GO Virginia and activities in their region should visit the DHCD website.

    2019 GO Virginia Round 4 Grant Awards

    GO Virginia Region and Partnering LocalitiesProject Name
    Project Description
     

    Award

     

    Region 4: Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico counties, and the city of RichmondCampusRVA –  Phase 2ChamberRVA will develop a program to help area employers fill high-paying jobs with talent developed locally by promoting the Richmond region as a good place for young professionals, providing resources to move and assimilate to the region and implementing a job-matching platform.$500,000
    Region 5: Cities of Hampton and Newport NewsCoastal Virginia Maritime Advancement Programs (COVA MAP)Old Dominion University’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) will develop a Coastal Virginia Maritime Advancement Map (COVA MAP) that will engage industry partners and prospective students, identify workforce gaps, and develop an innovative and new framework (smart mobile devices) for delivering cutting-edge curriculum to support the maritime industry.$1,532,500

     

    Region 9: Albemarle County and the city of CharlottesvilleBiotech Innovation Cluster GrowthCvilleBioHub will lead the growth and expansion of the biotechnology innovation cluster within the region. This initiative will serve the needs of existing companies through programming, the planning and design of a wet lab space, workforce training, and candidate matching opportunities.$548,000

     

    Region 1: Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe counties, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, and NortonRegion 1 REI Coordinating EntityOpportunity SWVA, along with the University of Virginia College at Wise, will collaborate to develop the Launch SWVA Region 1 Strategy for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investment.$80,000
    Region 2: Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Covington, Lynchburg, Radford, Roanoke, and SalemRegion 2 Entrepreneurship Initiative

     

    Valley Innovation Council (VIC) will coordinate and collaborate with stakeholders throughout Region 2 to develop the Region 2 Innovation and Entrepreneurial Investment Plan. VIC will map the regional ecosystem assets and develop strategies to attract entrepreneurship resources.$299,995
    Region 5: Accomack, Franklin, Isle of Wright, James City, Northampton, Southampton, and York counties, and the cities of Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and WilliamsburgREI: 757

     

    757 Accelerate, in partnership with 757 Angels and E&M Consulting, will convene key stakeholders to conduct a gap analysis, develop best practices, and incorporate existing analyses to develop a comprehensive plan for the Region 5 entrepreneurial ecosystem.$266,667
    Region 2: Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell counties, and the city of LynchburgCentral Virginia Training Center (CVTC) Redevelopment PlanThe Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance will create a redevelopment master plan for the former 350-acre Central Virginia Training Center (CVTC) site, located in Amherst County.$100,000
    Region 4: Dinwiddie and Prince George counties, and the city of PetersburgRichard Bland College Aeronautics Program

     

    Richard Bland College of William & Mary will create a business plan to develop key partnerships and establish an applied associate’s degree in Aeronautics with a stackable credential in small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).$50,000
    Region 5: City of Chesapeake

    Region 7: Loudoun County

    Virginia K-12 Computer Science Pipeline

     

    The Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) will develop an immersive and integrated computer science curriculum in grades 6-12 in Loudoun County and Chesapeake City Public Schools. The two participating school systems will offer students an opportunity to learn computer science and computational thinking as part of the grades 6-12 core curriculum, culminating in capstone courses and experiential learning opportunities including internships at the high school level.$2,424,537
    Total:$5,801,699

    Warner, Kaine applaud congressional passage of Virginia Beach Strong Act

    congress

    Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill/Adobe Stock

    U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded the Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act, a bill that would make contributions to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund tax-deductible.

    The legislation cleared the Senate unanimously following Monday’s passage in the House of Representatives and will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

    “Following the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach, folks from across the Commonwealth came together to provide financial relief for victims and families by donating to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund,” said the Senators. “Unfortunately, those donations aren’t considered tax-deductible because the IRS generally disallows a deduction unless the donations go towards a charitable class of sufficient size, as opposed to a small group of individuals. But with Congress passing the Virginia Beach Strong Act, we can now fix this error with a stroke of the President’s pen.”

    U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

    “I am glad to see swift Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act and I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for their continued support of our Virginia Beach community following the May 31 mass shooting,” said Rep. Luria. “Six months later, many families of the victims are still facing financial hardships related to the shooting, in addition to the devastating loss of a loved one. I remain hopeful that President Trump will join this bicameral, bipartisan effort to support these families by signing into law the Virginia Beach Strong Act.”

    On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that requires a charitable organization to serve a charitable class of persons that is indefinite or of sufficient size.

    Accordingly, charitable funds can’t be earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions. Once signed into law, the Virginia Beach Strong Act would rectify this flaw by classifying any contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.

    Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria, have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving.

    In August, the President signed into law legislation the Senators introduced to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting.

    Additionally, the senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

     

    Waze can now tell you about unplowed roads in snowy weather

    mobile app

    Photo Credit: ra2 studio/Adobe Stock

    Waze, the app you use to see where cops are hiding on the interstate, has another use coming this winter.

    A new feature will allow Waze users to report, real-time, when a road has not been plowed in winter weather, and will be kept informed when they are approaching a road that has already been identified by other drivers as unplowed.

    The launch of this feature is a direct result of Waze’s work with VDOT, a Waze for Cities Data partner.

    With the winter season approaching, VDOT suggested that Waze create the option to better highlight snow on the road within the app. The feature will offer the Waze community of over 130 million monthly users the opportunity to be better prepared for hazardous winter weather conditions.

    “One of the primary reasons we created the Waze for Cities Data program was to provide public agencies with data and insights to reduce traffic and improve the safety of their roadways,” said Dani Simons, head of Public Sector Partnerships at Waze. “Our work with the Virginia Department of Transportation on the development of the ‘Unplowed Road’ feature perfectly exemplifies what can be accomplished when we collaborate with public sector partners to meet community needs.”

    As a Waze for Cities Data partner, VDOT plans to monitor reports coming in from Wazers, and those who are simply shoveling their driveways and sidewalks, this winter and determine how they can incorporate this data into their operations for the following winter.

    “At VDOT, our people are constantly exploring innovations and new technologies with the ultimate goal of providing the best service to the residents of the Commonwealth and all those who travel our roads,” said VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary. “Many use crowdsourcing in their daily lives. We wanted to explore this method of information gathering to help improve safety and better assess the conditions of our roads during winter weather. We value our partnership with Waze, and look forward to monitoring the real-time reports on road conditions and determining how best to incorporate the data into our future operations.”

    The new feature is now available in over 185 countries where Waze is accessible, and can be found under “Hazards -> Weather -> Unplowed Road”.

    The feature highlights Waze’s commitment to helping its community across the globe navigate traffic through all driving conditions more efficiently and safely.

    Waze for Cities Data is part of the Waze for Cities program, where partners can also access Waze Beacons, Waze Carpool, and solutions for managing communications with drivers and traffic during crisis situations and other major events like marathons, football championships and large concerts.

    To find out more about Waze for Cities, visit http://waze.com/wazeforcities.

    To download the free Waze app for iOS or Android, visit http://www.waze.com/get.

    Waynesboro Police ID suspect in inappropriate contact cases

    Waynesboro

    Update: Dec. 11, 4:36 p.m. The Waynesboro Police Department, with the help of the public, has identified the suspect depicted in the images released yesterday and are continuing our investigation. Additional Information will be released at the conclusion of this investigation.

     

    Original Report: Dec. 10, 2:54 p.m. The Waynesboro Police Department is seeking to identify an individual who is the subject of an active criminal investigation.

    On Sunday at approximately 10 pm. officers were notified that this subject followed and then made inappropriate contact with two juveniles in the area of Rosser Avenue and Windigrove Drive.

    At the time of the incident the suspect was operating a newer white Volkswagen Jetta with a dark pinstripe.

    Anyone with information relating to the identity of this suspect is asked to contact the Waynesboro Police Department at 540-942-6675.

    Virginia Tech announces search committee for vice president for research, innovation

    virginia techA national search has been launched for the next vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech.

    The vice president provides critical leadership and oversight to Virginia Tech’s academic research enterprise and further enhances the university’s entrepreneurial and innovative culture, grows commercialization opportunities, and builds relationships with corporate and foundation partners.

    The new vice president for research and innovation will replace Theresa Mayer, who left Virginia Tech in June to accept a position with Purdue University.

    Michael Friedlander, executive director of Fralin Biomedical Research Institute; vice president for Health Sciences and Technology; and senior dean for Research for VTC School of Medicine, will chair the search committee. Search committee members are as follows:

    • France Belanger – professor, Accounting Information Systems.
    • Daniel Crawford – professor, Chemistry.
    • Megan Dolbin-MacNab – associate professor, Human Development and Family Sciences.
    • Michael Fox – associate professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Fox Lab.
    • Julia Gohlke – associate professor, Population Health Sciences.
    • Jim Hawdon – professor and interim chair, Sociology; director, Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
    • Matt Holt – department head, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    • Bill Hopkins – director, Global Change Center; director, Interfaces of Global Change; professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
    • Sylvester Johnson – assistant provost for the humanities.
    • Steve McKnight – vice president for strategic alliances.
    • Sally Morton – dean, College of Science; interim director, Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
    • Dwayne Pinkney – senior vice president for operations and administration; chief business officer.
    • Karen Roberto – director, Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; University Distinguished Professor.
    • Akshay Sharma – department chair, Industrial Design.
    • Pamela Stiff – senior administrative assistant and event coordinator, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
    • Eileen Van Aken – department head, Industrial and Systems Engineering
    • Holly Williams – assistant director of administrative operations, Institute for Creativity, Art, and Technology.

    The search committee will be supported by a staff that includes Jack Finney, vice provost for faculty affairs; Leah Taylor, director of human resources for the office of the executive vice president and provost; Anna LoMascolo, co-director of the Women’s Center; and Leslie Sullivan, faculty affairs coordinator for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

    Virginia Tech has engaged Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to assist with this search and welcomes nominations for the position. For confidential inquiries or to nominate an individual for this position, email Liz Moseley, senior associate at Storbeck/Pimentel.

    The position description, application process, and search updates will be available on the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost (www.provost.vt.edu) website.

    UVA study: Bystanders can help cardiac arrest victims survive

    uva healthRoughly one in 12 people experiencing cardiac arrest outside a hospital live to tell the tale. A UVA Health physician says the numbers can improve dramatically if bystanders knew to recognize cardiac arrest and perform simple lifesaving tasks.

    “Early emergency care by the bystander, long before emergency medical providers arrive, can save a life. This care is referred to as ‘pre-arrival care.’ This pre-arrival care is as important as more advanced care by EMTs, nurses, and doctors once trained providers are available,” said UVA emergency medicine physician William J. Brady, MD, who co-authored an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that highlights a few steps anyone without extensive medical training can do to help.

    The first step, according to Brady, is simply noting that someone may be in cardiac arrest. The article notes that the American Heart Association and other medical groups “recommend that bystanders should suspect cardiac arrest and begin CPR whenever a person is unresponsive and not breathing normally.”

    Faster recognition of cardiac arrest will also lead to a quicker 911 call, speeding the arrival of trained emergency medical providers.

    Research has shown that bystanders can help cardiac arrest victims by beginning CPR themselves (major groups like the American Heart Association now endorse compression-only CPR, which is performed using chest compressions only and not breathing into the victim’s mouth).

    A 2010 review of more than 10,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases found that 22.1% of patients receiving pre-arrival care, including bystander CPR, survived, compared with 7.8% of patients that did not.

    How AEDs can help

    Bystanders can further help a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival by also using an AED. Brady helped spearhead an effort to install more than 300 AEDs across Grounds, helping UVA earn a HEARTSafe Campus award from the National Collegiate EMS Foundation twice in recent years.

    Multiple research papers have shown the benefits of having AEDs accessible for use by members of the public. For example, a 2018 study of more than 50,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests found that 66.5% of patients who were treated with an AED by a bystander survived, compared with 43% of patients who were shocked only after fire rescue crews arrived.

    This highlights the benefits of quick action from bystanders. As Brady’s article notes, “for every minute that a person with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest goes without CPR and defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10%.”

    The need for education

    One major barrier to bystanders providing lifesaving care for cardiac arrest victims is a lack of training, especially in how to perform CPR. Brady’s article points to a study that estimates only 2.4% of Americans receive CPR training each year.

    One potential way to boost the number of people getting trained, Brady and his co-authors write, is to offer shorter training sessions. Potential options include 4-minute training sessions at CPR kiosks in public locations, as well as video training sessions ranging from 60 seconds to 8 minutes.

    Another option to boost bystander care is one Brady hopes will soon be available in Central Virginia: a smartphone app that notifies volunteer users of a cardiac arrest occurring near them in a public location. This would enable people close to the scene to start CPR and use an AED, if available, before emergency medical providers arrive. Albemarle County Fire Rescue, Charlottesville Fire Department, the Charlottesville-Albemarle-UVA Emergency Communications Center and UVA Health are working together to launch this tool.

    “The next major advance in cardiac arrest management is not a new hospital-based treatment nor fire-rescue intervention. It is this pre-arrival care performed by a bystander, before fire-rescue personnel arrive and long before a patient is transported to the hospital. This care can allow victims of cardiac arrest to return to their lives and families,” Brady said.

    UVA Health includes a 612-bed hospital, the UVA School of Medicine, a level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers and primary and specialty clinics throughout Central Virginia. UVA is recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report, Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors.

    Northam addresses environment, climate change in upcoming budget

    virginia general assembly

    Photo Credit: traveler1116/Adobe Stock

    A $733 million budget proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam would create an Office of Offshore Wind, support ongoing efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay and significantly boost the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant program.

    “In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand—and having both is what makes our Commonwealth such a great place to live, work, and play,” Northam said today. “These significant investments in environmental protection, environmental justice, clean energy, and clean water will combat climate change and ensure we maintain our high quality of life here in Virginia.”

    The budget proposal calls for investments up to $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, to secure new investments in the offshore wind supply chain. These investments will help Virginia achieve 2,500 megawatts of energy generated from offshore wind by 2026.

    The budget also supports the Chesapeake Bay clean water blueprint that Northam released earlier this year, with investments to support local governments tackling stormwater pollution, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, and assist farmers implementing conservation practices to reduce farm runoff.

    Added to another $10 million for oyster reef restoration, these investments in clean water total more than $400 million and will put Virginia on track to meet the 2025 Bay cleanup deadline.

    Northam also proposed an additional $15.5 million investment for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant program, bringing it up to $20 million each year, to support targeted land protection through the governor’s ConserveVirginia initiative.

    “This is great news for everyone who cares about clean water,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. “The governor’s proposed budget would substantially boost investment in key state programs that are already working to restore our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. We are grateful to Gov. Northam and his staff for their dedication and commitment to the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring clean water for all Virginians, now and in the future.”

    “Gov. Northam’s announcement today leaps Virginia forward in the fight against climate change,” said Will Cleveland, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “There is no clearer indication that a state is committed to clean energy than using state dollars to fund solutions that will get us closer to a carbon free environment. Likewise, backing legislation that will allow Virginia to become a full member of RGGI is a clear signal of the Commonwealth’s commitment to fighting carbon emissions.  Equally important and inherent to the work of establishing a clean energy economy is addressing issues of inequity and environmental injustice. We are heartened to see the Governor’s financial commitment in this proposed budget to the important work of environmental justice.”

    “We applaud the governor for his commitment to restoring our waterways, preserving natural lands, and putting Virginia on a path to a cleaner, healthier future for its natural resources,” said Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association. “As Virginia’s final Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan makes clear, we need bold investments to achieve the pollution reductions necessary to meet our 2025 deadline for restoring the James River and the Bay. With this budget proposal, Governor Northam has shown, once again, that he is dedicated to achieving a healthy Bay and a grade-A James.”

    “Chesapeake Conservancy applauds Gov. Northam on his strong commitment to conservation and to the protection of Chesapeake Bay lands and waters in his proposed FY 2020 – FY 2022 budget,” Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn said. “By increasing funding for critical conservation programs like the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, this budget will better enable Virginians to protect iconic natural landscapes across the Commonwealth and protect the places most important for our environment and wildlife, and for outdoor recreation and public health.”

    “We are extremely pleased with the significant funding that will go to the Department of Environmental Quality, which works hard to keep our air and water clean,” said Hope Cupit, president and CEO of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project. “This funding will allow DEQ to engage in more environmental justice and community outreach throughout the Commonwealth and we applaud the Governor.”

    To ensure Virginia reduces carbon pollution, the proposed budget removes language — added by the General Assembly — prohibiting Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

    The governor will also propose legislation making Virginia the newest member of RGGI.

    “These significant investments in environmental protection, natural capital, and resilience to climate change will position Virginia as a leader among states in creating sustainable, equitable communities,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “I am proud of the progress we are making.”

    Northam also announced that his budget includes priorities to reduce the Commonwealth’s climate impact and build a clean energy future for Virginia. The budget provides $10 million for a revolving loan fund that will enable both private citizens and local government institutions to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

    The proposal also includes funding to hire an administrator of a complementary clean energy-financing program called commercial property assessed clean energy financing (C-PACE). These two financing programs will help capitalize clean energy projects in all corners of the Commonwealth, which will save customers money, create new clean energy jobs, and expand renewable energy and energy efficiency commitments.

    “The proposed investments in clean energy financing and the first office of offshore wind will create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Likewise, the investments at Portsmouth Marine Terminal will enable the Commonwealth to attract new economic investment from the offshore wind industry, which is pivotal as we work to diversify the economy in Hampton Roads.”

    Fatal car accident on Simmons Gap Road in Albemarle County

    police fire ems

    Photo Credit: annette shaff/Adobe Stock

    Albemarle County Police responded to a call of a two-vehicle crash on Simmons Gap Road, near Plunkett Road, at approximately 8:15 a.m. Wednesday.

    The crash involved two single-occupant vehicles, an SUV and a sedan. The driver of the sedan died on-scene. No other injuries were reported.

    The road is reopened but the crash remains under investigation. No further information is available at this time.

    This is the 11th fatal crash investigated by the Albemarle County Crash Reconstruction Team during 2019.

    Woman dead in single-vehicle accident in Warren County

    police

    Photo Credit: senorjackson/iStock Photo

    Virginia State Trooper A. Eckman in investigating a single-vehicle fatal crash in Warren County that occurred on Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. on Route 522 at 4 tenths of a mile south of Route 604.

    A 2001 Ford Expedition was traveling north on Route 522, when it ran off of the right side of the roadway, overcorrected ran off of the left side of the roadway, collided with a tree, and caught fire.

    The driver of the Ford, a female subject died at the scene. Her remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for autopsy, examination and positive identification.

    The crash remains under investigation.

    Reality check: Clemson 2019 ain’t Florida State 2014

    dabo swinneyDabo Swinney whines more than Terry Holland’s dog. (Look it up. That was funny, right there.)

    For weeks, Dabo was all crocodile tears about how the CFP didn’t want Clemson, was ready to drop the Tigers to 20 if they lost.

    Then, they got in, natch, so now it’s all, we’re the first defending national champ to start #1 in the preseason, not lose and fall to three.

    Which, wrong.

    I first saw that point made by my AFP colleague, Seth Megginson, and we had a nice debate on the details on Twitter.

    Which isn’t to say that Seth wasn’t right, because he was. Back in 2014, FSU was the defending champ, started that season #1, went undefeated, then was at three entering the playoff.

    Point from me isn’t that Dabo doesn’t protest too much, because he does.

    It’s that, FSU in 2014 isn’t Clemson in 2019.

    Clemson in 2019 beat up a bunch of overmatched teams. We’re talking one close game, that 21-20 win at UNC on Sept. 28 that makes less sense by the day.

    Aside from that one, we’re talking about a two-touchdown win over Texas A&M being the only game within 30 points.

    That FSU team in 2014: one close win after another, against teams that should have been overmatched.

    Oklahoma State went 7-6 that year. FSU won, 37-31.

    Notre Dame finished 7-5. The ‘Noles won, 31-27.

    A bad Virginia team that limped home 5-7 lost 34-20 in a game that was a contest into the fourth quarter.

    A 6-7 Miami team lost 30-26. A 7-6 Boston College lost 20-17.

    Florida, on its way to a 7-5 record that got Will Muschamp fired, lost 24-19.

    That FSU fell to third heading into the playoffs was foreshadowing. The ‘Noles got blitzed, 58-20, by #2 Oregon.

    People continue to have fun with that Clemson-UNC game. The 2014 FSU team had six Clemson-UNC games.

    Which isn’t to say Dabo doesn’t whine more than Terry Holland’s dog.

    Because he does.

    Dabo ain’t going to go out and lose 58-20, is what I’m getting at here.

    Column by Chris Graham

    Shenandoah University to host inaugural VHSL esports championship

    eSports

    Photo Credit: romankosolapov/Adobe Stock

    The first esports championship for the Virginia High School League is being held Saturday, Jan. 18, at Shenandoah University.

    The VHSL PlayVS Esports Championship hosted by Shenandoah University runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the Winchester campus. More than 40 students are set to compete in Rocket League and League of Legends.

    “Hosting the first high school esports championship in Virginia at Shenandoah University is a tremendous opportunity for both the school and the city of Winchester as we continue to grow esports in the area,” said Director of Esports Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D. “Students are getting a wonderful opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a live audience while experiencing an esports competition in person. We are excited to be hosting this great event and seeing some of the best high school esports students in the state compete.”

    This fall, the Virginia High School League offered a one-year esports pilot program to its more than 300 high school members across the commonwealth. Thirty-seven of these schools opted to participate in the program.

    Thirty-two high school teams are competing in online esports playoffs in early January. Four teams will advance to the championship to face off in League of Legends, and eight teams will advance in Rocket League.

    “We have received a great deal of positive feedback from schools regarding the esports pilot,” said Darrell Wilson, assistant director for activities at VHSL. “Having Shenandoah University step up to support the VHSL and the esports community by hosting a culminating event like this will further help us get a glimpse into what this program could potentially become and whether the league decides to continue offering esports as a sanctioned academic activity for member schools.”

    Semifinal play for League of Legends starts at 10 a.m., and the finals begin at 2 p.m.

    Rocket League quarterfinals start at noon, followed by semifinals at 1 p.m. Finals for Rocket League are at 4 p.m.

    Attendees can watch the matches on four 70-inch monitors and a large video screen.

    Shenandoah’s Twitch channel twitch.tv/shenandoahesports will broadcast the quarterfinals and semifinals. The twitch.tv/playvs will broadcast finals.

    The event is free and open to the public. Concessions and side-games will be available.

    This fall, Shenandoah University launched degrees in esports management and esports media and communications. Sixteen students are enrolled in the new majors, with several students minoring in esports management and esports performance studies. The university also has a new 1,571-square-foot esports arena in the unused armory on Shenandoah’s main campus.

    Virginia Cannabis Summit looks to reform, decriminalization

    virginia

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    A day-long conference styled the Virginia Cannabis Summit is aimed at creating a plan to reform state-level cannabis laws.

    The forum, hosted by Attorney General Mark Herring and the Virginia Legislative Cannabis Caucus, which actually exists, includes five panels or presentations from cannabis policy experts and legislators, attorney general staff, and law enforcement officials in states that have decriminalized or legalized regulated adult use.

    Herring, the cool attorney general, has called for immediate decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana, action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use.

    “I don’t believe that Virginia’s current approach of criminalizing cannabis is working,” Herring said in opening remarks kicking off the summit. “It is needlessly creating criminals and burdening Virginians with convictions. The human and social costs are enormous, in addition to the millions of dollars it costs Virginia taxpayers. And the negative consequences of the current approach fall disproportionately on African Americans and people of color. It’s clear to me that the time for cannabis reform has come. Justice demands it. Virginians are demanding it. And I’m going to help make sure we get this right.”

    “Following several years of forming consensus around medical cannabis products, we have to be ready to take action in the upcoming legislative session to further reform our laws in this arena,” said State Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax. “This effort will include a more robust medical cannabis program and Attorney General Herring’s summit is a big step in ensuring we are knowledgeable on the issue and prepared to do this right. There are better, smarter ways to handle cannabis policy. Virginia is ready for evidence-based reform and that is what we will provide.”

    “This summit is a great opportunity for me and my fellow legislators to learn from the experiences of other states as we consider how to create more fair, just, equitable, and effective cannabis laws here in Virginia,” said State Del. Stephen Heretick, D-Portsmouth. “I really appreciate Attorney General Herring’s foresight in bringing us all together, and his commitment to cannabis reform.”

    “It’s time for public policy to catch up with public opinion, and NORML applauds Attorney General Herring for his efforts to foster and advance evidence-based cannabis laws,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML. “We look forward to supporting the attorney general and the Virginia Cannabis Caucus in their work reforming marijuana laws for a safer Commonwealth.”

    Arrests for marijuana possession in Virginia have more than tripled from around 9,000 in 1999 to nearly 29,000 in 2018. In the last decade the number of first time marijuana convictions in Virginia has risen 53%, from 6,533 in 2008 to 10,000 in 2017.

    The Virginia Crime Commission found that African Americans comprised about half of all first offense possession arrests from 2007 to 2016, despite comprising just 20% of Virginia’s population and despite studies consistently showing that marijuana usage rates are comparable between African Americans and white Americans.

    The cost of marijuana criminal enforcement in Virginia is estimated to exceed $81 million each year.

    MBU taps Roanoke College assistant Griggs to head men’s hoops program

    mary baldwin universityRoanoke College assistant Matt Griggs has been named the first head men’s basketball coach at Mary Baldwin University.

    The school made the announcement Wednesday morning.

    “I am happy to announce Matt Griggs as MBU’s first-ever head men’s basketball coach,” said MBU Director of Athletics Tom Byrnes. “His knowledge of the region added with his experience in coaching and playing at this level made him an outstanding selection. I look forward to working with him as he launches the program.”

    Griggs was most recently the associate head coach at Roanoke College, where he served as the recruiting coordinator. His duties also involved assisting with scouting, game and practice planning, game scheduling, and coordinating team travel.

    “I am honored and extremely excited to be named the first head men’s basketball coach at Mary Baldwin University,” Griggs said. “I would like to thank Tom Byrnes, the search committee, and the leadership at MBU for entrusting me with this opportunity. I am looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students in building a program that MBU and the Staunton community will be proud of.”

    Roanoke finished last season with a 19-8 record and advanced to the semifinals of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament. The year prior, Roanoke ended the season with a 20-8 record and reached the ODAC tournament final for the first time since 2001.

    The 20-win total was the first for the program in nearly two decades.

    Under Griggs’ leadership, five Maroons earned all-ODAC selections, including a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-American and ODAC Player of the Year in 2018.

    Griggs spent two seasons as the men’s basketball video coordinator at Winthrop in D1. While in the position, he managed all video and technology-related duties and analyzed opponent tendencies to prepare scouting reports. Griggs also assisted the coaching staff with other miscellaneous coaching responsibilities while overseeing team managerial staff and basketball camps.

    While with the Eagles, the program claimed the 2016 Big South Conference regular season championship and advanced to the finals of the league tournament.

    Prior to his two seasons as the video coordinator, Griggs was a graduate assistant coach for the 2013-2014 season with Winthrop. He assisted in the day-to-day operations for the team including practice preparation and implementation, video breakdown, and individual player development.

    Griggs played four seasons at Division III Centre College in Kentucky, seeing action in 108 consecutive games. He served as a team captain and helped his squad to claim three conference championships. Griggs played in three national tournaments and was named to the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) all-sportsmanship team after his senior season.

    Academically, he twice earned Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) academic honor roll laurels.

    The MBU men’s basketball team takes the court as a club team in 2020-2021 before rising to the varsity level in 2021-2022, becoming the 14th men’s basketball program in the USA South Athletic Conference, and the 15th athletic program at Mary Baldwin.

    Considering adding an HR structure to your small business?

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    There comes a time in any start-up business where a founder may start to consider adding Human Resources to their structure.

    As management starts to groan under the weight of increasingly time-consuming employee concerns, thoughts turn to HR in the anticipation of streamlining the process and thus generating more time for senior management. But when time and funds are tight, how do you measure if incorporating HR will lead to a positive ROI? Can human resources really help to make your business more profitable?

    The role of HR is to get the most out of the staff, turning prospective and existing employees into dedicated members of the company. For any company, your people are your greatest resource.

    Evolution

    HR has evolved from being purely about hiring and firing and annual pay reviews, to developing a positive business culture. Just as a business has clients that need to be nurtured, in HR, the employees are the ‘client’ and it’s the job of HR to improve employee engagement and productivity in order to ensure the success of the business.

    Small businesses rarely hit the ground with a solid HR structure in place which in turn leads to issues as soon as the business starts to flourish. The result of this can be a failure to attract and retain the best people, neglect of staff training and support needs, micromanagement and resistance of delegation.  Rarely does the expansion of a company run smoothly and profitably without the right people, fully trained and looked after.

    In Business

    If you are even considering this topic, the chances are that you are already feeling the pressure fn time and resources, and considering the need for an HR structure in your business. But where to start? You may have concerns that your small business isn’t ready to invest in a dedicated HR department or role. Perhaps your current budget won’t stretch to the employment of an HR Manager and you regard your small workforce to be insufficient to warrant a full time HR employee. Equally, however, as a business owner, you should be looking to free up the time you spend on HR issues. HR is a time consuming but necessary part of your company’s success so you may want to consider using HR software to streamline workflows and increase efficiency.

    However, finding HR Software can be a challenge, especially for small businesses with limited budgets that won’t stretch to major technology purchases. Identifying your needs is a good starting point towards finding the right HR software to alleviate your pain points.  A truly integrative software platform should have no problems in simplifying all your HR requirements seamlessly from the beginning to end of your employee’s lifecycle.

    Reliable Software

    From recruitment, to offer letters, onboarding, managing work schedules and holidays, payroll, through to exiting packages, a reliable HR Software will make sure your company is compliant throughout the process.

    Using a software platform to address all your HR needs not only removes human error, but also helps your company to stay green as you move away from streams of time consuming paperwork to a fully accessible platform that can be accessed remotely by all your employees.

    Creating consistency in the call center workplace

    business call center

    Photo Credit: zorandim75/Adobe Stock

    Whether your call center business revolves around sales or customer service, consistency is the key to success. Without consistency, your customers won’t know what to expect. But, using consistency allows customers to expect professionalism during each and every encounter they have with your business. If you manage call center jobs, you can take advantage of some of these tips that can help to boost consistency in your workplace environment. This way, you can get the most out of your call center agents and give the best service to your customers.

    Offering Fewer Call Center Jobs

    When you use fewer agents, you have a better chance of obtaining great consistency in your call center. This is because it’s easier to fully train and manage a smaller team of agents. And, larger teams are harder to track, monitor, and thoroughly train. Not to mention, there are higher turnaround rates for larger call center teams. Thus, making it even harder to make sure every employee receives the right amount of training. Overall, it’s better to have a small team of agents you can trust to provide superb consistency with each and every call.

    Utilize Monitoring Software Systems

    The more information your agents have on their leads or customers, the better they can help them on a consistent basis. For example, if a customer service agent has information on hand about past issues a customer has dealt with, they may be better suited to find them a permanent solution. Or, for a sales agent, it may be helpful to understand how many times a potential lead has already been called. And, read any past notes other agents may have left from past interactions with this lead. In summary, providing your agents with CRM software systems can greatly help to keep efforts uniform. This way, your call center teams can more easily offer consistency to your customers.

    Creating Fluidity Between Business Departments

    Another sure way to ensure consistency for your call center agents is to make sure they have fluid communication with other departments. For instance, if your sales agents don’t communicate with the overwriters, mistakes can be made. And, some consumers may experience inconsistency with their purchasing experience. To conquer these issues, it’s best to allow departments to communicate with one another. This way, ineffective strategies can be identified, addressed, and overcome with the input from every department. Thus, you won’t only have consistency within the call center environment, but within the entire business as well.

    Using Local Virtual Phone Numbers to Promote Consistency

    Finally, another sure way to improve the consistency of your call center workplace is to invest in virtual local phone numbers. For example, these numbers use the same area codes as your targeted audience of customers. This means that you’re giving your agents a better shot of building rapport with customers in specific areas. And, a better chance to close more leads and help more customers. Secondly, using virtual phone numbers can provide a number of benefits to call center businesses. Mainly, pairing with CRM software to more effectively track call metrics to better adjust calling techniques. Finally, virtual phone numbers, like those from United World Telecom, offer top-of-the-line features. These features include call forwarding, unlimited extensions, simultaneous ringing, personalized greetings, call recording, and more. If you’re serious about your call center remaining consistent, virtual phone numbers are a great place to start.

    Investing in Your Call Center Agents

    Essentially, if you’re running a call center, you are providing call center jobs. It is these individuals who truly can make your call center consistent. So, give your agents the tools they need to be and remain successful. For instance, you should provide them with the training, software, and best access to communication they require. If you invest in your agents, you invest in your customers’ overall satisfaction. Therefore, look to providing your agents with what they need. And thus, you will do the same for your customer audience, as you maintain high-quality service and overall consistency.

    Article by Thierry Genoyer, an expert on virtual phone systems and telecommunications with over 30 years of hands on experience in the business.

    Choosing the right toll free number provider for your business

    business

    Photo Credit: Drobot Dean/Adobe Stock

    If you’ve ever heard of a toll free number, you may be wondering if they’re the right choice for your business. While there are many reasons to consider these types of numbers for all types of business, there are many providers out there. So, it’s important for each business who uses these phone numbers to choose the best company for their needs. In this article, we determine which types of businesses should consider a toll free phone number. And, how to go about choosing the provider that best suits your business needs.

    What is a Toll Free Number? 

    Before choosing a toll free number provider, you’ll need to understand what they are. Even if you don’t know what a toll number is, you’ve probably dialed one at one point. Basically, toll numbers are the typical 1-800 numbers you call to reach specific business departments. All toll numbers have the 8XX format. So, business owners can choose from a number of options including 800, 888, 877, 855, 844, and 833. Essentially, the benefit of providing toll numbers to customers is to provide a free way for them to call your business. So, if you want to increase incoming business phone calls or just give a free way for consumers to call your business, toll numbers may be a good option to consider.

    Who Should Consider a Toll Free Number for Business?

    There are many different types of businesses which may benefit from offering a toll free number for customers. Some of these types of businesses include:

    • Small Businesses: If you’re looking for a way to make your small or new business seem credible, a 1-800 number is a great idea. These numbers make businesses seem more reputable. So, people may be more willing to call these numbers than a traditional number.
    • Online Businesses: If you sell your products from an eCommerce website, an 800 number extends your customer reach. Toll numbers are free to call nationwide. So, whether your online customers are local or not, all of them have a free way to reach you.
    • Service-Based Local Businesses: Do you have a small, local-based service business? If so, a toll free number for business can help you become more recognizable. Toll numbers can be customized so the digits correlate to letters to spell out words. For example, if you have an air conditioning business, you can make your toll number 1-800-247-3838. This translates to 1-800-AIR-DUCT. And, it gives your customers a memorable phone number to call in case something happens to their air conditioning.

    Types of 1-800 Number Providers

    Now that you’re aware of the ways that toll-free numbers can benefit different types of business, you’ll need to find the provider that best suits you. But, before doing so, you need to understand the different types of providers out there. This way, you can better determine the pros and cons of each. And, choose the type that’s best for you, your business, and your budget. Some of the types of 1-800 number providers out there include:

    • Traditional Phone Companies: If you already have a traditional business phone line system set up, this provider would be included in this category. Since you may already have your business phone line set up from this type of company, getting a toll free number may be a breeze. However, these companies usually charge an arm and a leg for 1-800 numbers. So, they’re not the best choice for every business.
    • Vanity Number Brokers: These types of companies allow you to purchase the 800 number of your choosing. But, they don’t provide the telephone service. So, once you purchase the number you want, you have to transfer the service. You can choose either your traditional phone company or a separate vanity phone service provider. These numbers are often more expensive than if you were to just choose vanity and toll free providers. And, it can take a while to have the service transferred. So, you won’t be using your new toll free numbers right away.
    • Vanity and Toll Free Providers: Vanity and toll free number providers like Global Call Forwarding allow for the setting up of toll free numbers on any of your business phone lines. This includes multi-line systems, VoIP systems, and even business cell phone lines. Furthermore, these types of providers offer a number of toll number features like call forwarding, personalized greetings, and call recording. Finally, these types of providers are usually the most affordable, making having a toll free number a solid solution for any budget.

    Choosing the Company That Best Suits Your Business Needs

    Certainly, when it comes to choosing the provider of your toll free numbers for business, you need to choose the one that best suits your needs. So, before making the decision, determine which aspects are most important to you. Is it ease of adapting these numbers? Or, is it the affordability of adding these numbers for your customers? Whatever the case, make sure you understand the most important aspects of the service according to your business needs. When you consider your business needs first, you’re best able to make the right decision for your toll free number provider.

    Article by Thierry Genoyer, an expert on virtual phone systems and telecommunications with over 30 years of hands on experience in the business.

    Waynesboro leaders considering Second Amendment sanctuary

    augusta county

    Photo Credit: AliFuat/Adobe Stock

    Book it: Waynesboro City Council is going to allow itself to be persuaded to sign on to the dumb Second Amendment sanctuary movement.

    Eighty people showed up at this week’s council meeting, and from media reports, it wasn’t 50/50 between the Second Amendment absolutists and the people who recognize that there’s language before the comma, but it wasn’t Augusta County, either.

    Seven people spoke in the citizen comments portion of the meeting on the sanctuary subject; four in favor of a sanctuary resolution, three opposed.

    Displaying tremendous collective wisdom, the council is going to give the absolutists a month to get itself organized to pack a much-bigger room.

    The news is that the Jan. 13 meeting will be moved from the council chambers downtown to another venue, we have to presume the high school or middle school, which have auditoriums and gyms that can accommodate hundreds.

    Which, fine.

    Don’t assume it will be packed like the county high school that was the host for an Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this month with absolutists.

    Augusta County is 70 percent Republican. Even gave wingnut Corey Stewart 70 percent in the 2018 Senate race that Tim Kaine won with ease statewide.

    Kaine won Waynesboro in 2018, after losing the city in his 2012 run to George Allen.

    It’s a 50/50 city, is what I’m getting at here.

    These sanctuary resolutions have nothing to do with protesting an actual law, because there’s no actual gun-control law to protest.

    There are some bills that will be up for debate in Richmond next month, the one most in the crosshairs from the absolutists being SB 16, which would ban assault weapons.

    Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith is on record saying he won’t enforce laws that he considers to be in violation of the United States Constitution, and SB 16 was his focal point in a lengthy interview with me on the topic last month.

    He repeatedly insisted in the interview that the bill, if it were to become law, would require local law enforcement to “confiscate” assault weapons, which of course is nowhere near true, but makes for a great applause line standing in front of 1,800 absolutists.

    Not enforcing a law that would ban assault weapons, assuming one comes out of Richmond in the next General Assembly session, and it’s safe to assume that, does make life easier for those engaged in organized crime, who have to be looking at the list of sanctuary counties, currently at 40 and growing, and thinking, there’s where we need to be doing business.

    News flash: they’re already here. A local police chief told me a year ago that 75 percent of all crimes in the area have to do with meth.

    I asked him to clarify: 75 percent of all drug crimes?

    The clarification was: 75 percent of all crimes.

    A ban on assault weapons gives law enforcement another tool to use to break up organized crime.

    And law enforcement in this area can use all the help it can get.

    Our agencies don’t have the resources that agencies in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, Hampton Roads do, because our economy isn’t as strong, and our local governments are more focused on keeping tax rates low than they are providing adequate services.

    Our police officers and sheriff’s deputies here are notoriously badly underpaid. We give law enforcement the bare minimum, and now our city leaders are going to actually seriously consider making their jobs even harder?

    And for what?

    To appease roughly half of us, at the expense of the other half of us who understand that the Second Amendment contains not one, but two clauses?

    A key difference between the counties around us voting for these dumb sanctuary resolutions and the City of Waynesboro giving its own dumb sanctuary resolution consideration is that the counties just had elections, and Waynesboro has one coming up.

    Well, there’s that, the fact that there’s an upcoming election, and then that fact that Waynesboro isn’t a Republican stronghold.

    Appease the absolutists at your own peril, would be one message I’d pass on to the three council members whose seats are up in the May 2020 elections.

    At your own peril, with emphasis.

    Story by Chris Graham

    On the Road Again: 10 tips for enjoying your RV life

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    Photo Credit: MelissaMN/Adobe Stock

    Living the RV life is nothing short of amazing. Being able to get away from the nine to five grind and travel the countryside in your own RV is life-changing. If you are new to RVing fun, it may feel a little intimidating getting started. If RV life is beckoning you to oblige, allow these tips to help you become more comfortable so you can better enjoy the RV way of life.

    RV Life = Freedom

    On the open road, riding along in your RV, there seems to be much less stress. When you can truly disconnect from the stress of your busy world and get away from it all, then you will have experienced true freedom. The RV life is not always an easy one, but it is full of fun adventures and timeless memories. Once you have logged some miles behind the steering column of your RV, you will never want to turn back.

    10 Tips for Enjoying Your RV Life

    RV life is something you must experience for yourself to fully understand. You can read articles and watch videos all day long, but you will never gain a true feel for RVing until you set out on your maiden voyage and start to gain real-life experience. Allow the following tips to make RVing more enjoyable.

    1. Learning to use and maintain your RV is essential. From the tires to the dashboard, you need to inspect everything before heading out. Your RV has a lot of weight so the right tire pressure, size, and tread depth are critical. Check here for the right tires.
    2. When you first start off RVing, make sure to plan carefully. Wanderlust trips are fine but save those for when you have more experience under your belt. Make sure you have an RV-specific GPS for proper clearance paths with the headroom for your RV size.
    3. Make a checklist of everything you will need on your trip. Be careful to pack what you need, but not too much to weigh your RV down.
    4. If you are taking a pet with you, make sure their needs will be covered. Pack the right food and supplies, and have safety protocols in place. Check here for your pet’s needs.
    5. Driving an RV is stressful at first so you will want to plan to take as many breaks as possible. Do not try to drive straight through your route or you will regret it. Get out and stretch often to avoid fatigue.
    6. Although it can sometimes be unavoidable, try to avoid driving an RV in bad weather. It can be extremely dangerous to drive an RV during periods of high winds or heavy rains. If you get caught in a storm, try to find a safe place to park and evacuate the RV if necessary.
    7. Staying alert while driving your RV is critical. If you are finding yourself getting overly tired, it is time to stop for a break or get someone else to drive. You must always be alert and drive proactively to keep everyone in your RV safe.
    8. For your first few trips, it would be wise to make reservations at the many RV campgrounds located across the country. Here, you will have access to sewer and electric hookups, making your stay much more comfortable and fun.
    9. It is also important you carefully plan your meals for your RV trip. While you could always stop for fast food, it gets old after a while and it is unhealthy. A well-stocked RV pantry and fridge will allow you to cook fabulous meals over the campfire or on your own RV stove.
    10. Once you reach your campsite, knowing how to properly set up your RV is imperative. Just remember to give yourself plenty of time to get things done before dark. Once you grow accustomed to the steps, it will be much easier and faster. Beginners often find it difficult to set up in less than an hour.

    Conclusion

    There is no better way to live than in an RV, touring the countryside and becoming one with nature. The above tips are meant to help you find freedom on the open road so you can truly enjoy the RV life and all it has to offer. The feeling of RV travel cannot be compared to any other. It is in a class by itself and must be experienced first-hand to be thoroughly understood.

    If you would like to learn more RV tips, check CampingMoz for more about RV life and kitchen appliances. Living life on the open road, while being able to take your home with you, is something most people can only dream about. Do not neglect this opportunity to live life to the fullest.

    Landing page: What is it. and how it helps to increase the conversion rate to grow business

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    Photo Credit: sweetym/iStock Photo

    The landing page plays a vital role in the digital marketing era. But what page is this and what is so special in it?

    Basically, it is web-page specially curated to gather information from the person who visits the website. It allows interacting with the web page viewer either with some sort of promotional offers, a deal, free trails or coupon once the required information is filled in by the viewer. It acts as a lead generation tool.

    The companies see the biggest challenge in the landing page is its optimization and use it as bull’s eye arrow – directly on the target. Whether you have just put a step forward for launching landing pages or have years of experience in designing it, you can use landing page templates available at Landingi. They provide hundreds of customized options to suit your exclusive business. You can even try them for free on a trial basis, to begin with in case you are not accustomed to high-end optimization.

    Nothing happens overnight and neither does landing page optimization. Below are a few guidelines that will help to increase the conversion rate from leads to sales.

    Understanding the campaign goals

    Your campaign goals should reflect on the landing page too. If you keep multiple solutions, it will create misperception and would compel the viewer to leave the page. Your landing page should focus on the target audience and compel them to take necessary action.

    Clear offer

    The conversion rate can increase only if your page brings positive vibrations and has a clear offer. The offer should give a special feeling to the viewer, make them excited and give appreciation.

    Simplification

    Keeping things simple and clutter-free may be counterintuitive, but it provides focus on the benefits you offer. The headlines should be short and bold to grab visitor’s attention.

    Using the right images

    Simplication does not mean to go away with images. The selection of the images should reflect the offers you are proposing to the viewer. It should have a complementary effect rather than being a forsake image.

    Text flow

    Instead of having scrambled text here and there, the flow of the offer should be convincing and genuine – highlighting the main points of the offer.

    Highlights – above the fold

    The important information should be highlighted as in newspapers wherein the hot news is always kept above the fold so that it tempts people to buy the newspaper.

    Scarcity techniques

    The digital marketing mostly uses the scarcity techniques termed as limited offer and limited quantities available for dispersal. This compels the visitors to take speedy action without waiting or having a re-think. You can even add a countdown timer to create more excitement for the offer.

    Call-to-action

    The call-to-action button should be straightforward in simple phrases without adding complication or giving stress on the words such as Join Now, Try for Free.

    Contact information

    The contact information should be provided in the best way you can. If not in details, phone number and email should be included by default. For other information, you can include links to help centers.

    Consistency

    The visual consistency can make a huge difference in keeping the visitors glued to it. The pop-ups should have the same elements that of the landing page.

    A/B Testing

    A/B testing is quite important. It helps you to examine the layouts and content keeping in the view of the target audience. The testing should be done with a single variant or else the difference won’t be detected.

    Thus, besides giving importance to the creativity of the landing pages, the content, SEO optimization, uploading time should be considered to make the audience feel they have landed at the right place.

    Andrew Dominik is the founder of Quality Guest Post , the leading content marketing sites. He has a considerable experience in internet marketing and business development. His areas of expertise are the development of marketing goals and strengthen the online brand reputation. He loves to write about social media, entrepreneurship, business growth, and startups.