Men’s Lacrosse: No. 4 Virginia wins at No. 3 UNC, 18-16

uva logo blueFourth-ranked Virginia notched a key ACC road victory over No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, 18-16, at Dorrance Field.

Matt Moore led all players with eight points on two goals and six assists.

The first quarter was an offensive show with 12 combined goals on 30 combined shots, three ties and three lead changes.

With the score tied, 4-4, UVA (9-2, 2-2 ACC) finished the frame on a 3-1 run to take a 7-5 lead. UNC (8-2, 1-2 ACC) held UVA scoreless for the next 19:36, but only managed a 3-0 spurt to take an 8-7 lead by the 11:00 mark of the third frame.

Trailing 10-9 with 4:23 left to play in the third, UVA went on a 5-0 run and never looked back. Dox Aitken started the run by tying the game on an Ian Laviano helper. Moore assisted the next three goals for UVA and Petey LaSalla scored off the opening draw of the fourth quarter to cap the pivotal streak.

LaSalla was clutch in the fourth quarter, winning the first nine draws of the period and 11-of-12 overall to pace UVA’s attack. He scored and assisted Laviano at 7:27 in the fourth to give UVA a 16-12 lead. Laviano found Moore on an empty-net goal with 1:00 remaining to secure the victory and a four-goal lead, 18-14. UNC was able to muster two more goals in the losing effort.

Women’s Soccer: No. 12 Virginia battles No. 5 West Virginia to 1-1 draw

uva athleticsNo. 12 Virginia and No. 5 West Virginia battled for 110 minutes to a 1-1 draw on Saturday at Klöckner Stadium.

It was the second meeting between the team in eight days as the squads faced off at West Virginia (10-2-1) on April 3.

Virginia (10-4-2) took the early lead on Saturday, notching a goal from Diana Ordoñez in the 34th minute, but West Virginia found the late answer with a goal in the 82nd minute from Isabella Sibley to equalize and set up overtime. Neither team could find the golden goal down the stretch.

The first-half goal from Ordoñez came when Lizzy Sieracki served a ball into the box to Ashlynn Serepca, who tapped it over to Ordoñez. The sophomore forward turned and took her shot across the face of the goal, slipping it in past the near past to give the home team the 1-0 lead.

Virginia held the lead at the half and a 5-to-2 advantage in shots.

Each team had chances in the second, but instead of Virginia finding the net a second time it was West Virginia who found the equalizer. The Mountaineers played a ball out wide to Lauren Segalla who brought it down the right sideline before cutting it at the end line. Segalla served it in to Sibley for the one-touch shot from six yards out to tie the match.

Virginia got a pair of chances in the second overtime period when Lia Godfrey (Fleming Island, Fla.) narrowly missed on a free kick following a foul at the top of the box. The shot in the 107th minute slipped over the crossbar and play continued.

Godfrey got another chance a minute later on another shot from a similar position that bent toward the back post, but West Virginia’s Kayza Massey made a leaping save to get her mitt on the ball and deflect it just wide.

Men’s Lacrosse: Bellarmine takes control late, defeats VMI, 11-9

VMI AthleticsAfter a strong third period attack, the VMI lacrosse team was unable to hold on in an 11-9 loss to Bellarmine in a Southern Conference matchup Saturday at Drill Field No. 2.

With the game tied at 9-9 with under five minutes to play, the Knights scored two late goals in the final moments to earn the road victory over the Keydets.

The Keydets (1-7, 0-4) had seven different goal scorers in the game, with Jon Fant earning a career-high four assists in the game.

“I feel for our guys,” said VMI head coach James Purpura. “There are no moral victories. Our guys competed, we improved our effort from the first time we played Bellarmine. We got down early but battled back to take the lead late in the game. We had the opportunity to close out the game but didn’t. Our young team continues to learn valuable lessons and we need to learn how to win and finish the mission. Credit to Bellarmine. They played staunch defense with their athletic group of poles. On offense, we had too many turnovers and didn’t finish some high percentage opportunities. Our defense played their best game of the year and provided us an opportunity to win. I look forward to getting back to work tomorrow to make corrections, work on the fundamentals and to start preparing for a strong Air Force team next week.”

Bellarmine (3-9, 1-3 SoCon) scored two goals early in the match, before VMI’s Scout Ripley earned his 17th goal of the season off an assist by Fant. A man-up goal by the Knights left the game 3-1 after the first period.

The second period had strong defense on both sides, before a goal by Josh Drake narrowed the deficit. Both teams traded goals with Michael Santos picking up the VMI goal off a pass by Fant. Bellarmine had one last score in the first half to go into halftime with a narrow 5-3 lead.

After some halftime offensive adjustments, the Keydets came out with three unanswered goals by Thomas Williamson, Tim Lindenbaum and Jack Burke to take the lead. The Knights evened the score with under a minute left in the third, but Trejan Cannon scored with one second left to take the lead again 7-6 going into the last period.

The fourth period started with trading possessions until a full length shot by Bellarmine goalie JC Higginbotham found the net to even the score at the 11:27 mark. Both teams traded scores with Lindenbaum and Michael Santos earning a goal. The Knights then tied the game with five minutes left with Higginbotham tallying three crucial saves in the end. Two unanswered goals by Bellarmine finished the game with the 11-9 finish.

Santos and Lindenbaum finished with two goals each to lead the Keydets. The Knights were led by Benny O’Rourk and Patrick Keegan, each with two goals with seven other players each with one goal.

Bellarmine finished ahead in shots 36 to 32 for VMI. Higginbotham finished the game with 14 saves, while VMI keeper Bill Osteen registered nine saves in the loss.

The Keydets will be on the road next week to face Air Force in a Southern Conference matchup set for a 1 p.m. EST start in Colorado Springs.

Women’s Lacrosse: No. 7 Virginia comes up short at No. 3 Syracuse, 15-12

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Seventh-ranked Virginia had the lead at half and was up halfway through the second until a late 6-0 run for No. 3 Syracuse as UVA fell short, 15-12, in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.

Redshirt senior Charlie Campbell had a career-high 18 saves in the game as the Cavalier defense held Syracuse to just nine goals for the first 52 minutes of the game.

The Orange had a 6-0 run over four minutes and had its first lead of the game with 5:46 remaining.

Redshirt junior Ashlyn McGovern and junior Annie Dyson each finished with hat tricks and freshman Mackenzie Hoeg had two goals. UVA had six different players score in the game.

Syracuse had 41 shots to 20 for Virginia. The Orange also led in ground balls (22-16) and draw controls (19-10). UVA was 4-for-6 on free position shots. Meaghan Tyrrell led Syracuse with five goals.

Virginia (8-4, 3-4 ACC) scored first with Dyson converting a free position goal. Syracuse (8-1, 5-1 ACC) tied it up, but the Cavaliers had back-to-back goals from junior Lillie Kloak and McGovern to lead 3-1 at the 24:30 mark.

After a goal for Syracuse, freshman Morgan Schwab picked off the Orange goalie in transition to score a goal. Syracuse added another as UVA had a 4-3 lead.

The Cavaliers extended their lead with a 3-0 run over the next 10 minutes. McGovern scored with the assist from sophomore Kiki Shaw. Dyson fed Hoeg for a man-up goal and Dyson rounded out the run with a goal on the assist from senior Taylor Regan.

Virginia held Syracuse scoreless for 16 minutes in the first half. The Cavaliers took a 7-4 lead into the half.

Virginia scored two consecutive goals after Syracuse scored to start the second half. Dyson completed her hat trick with the assist from senior Chloe Jones and Hoeg hit her second on a free position to give UVA a 9-5 lead with 18:26 to play.

Syracuse went on a 3-0 run in less than a minute to cut it to 9-8. Jones scored on a free position to put UVA up 10-8 with 11:18 to go. Syracuse cut it back to one, but McGovern scored to make it 11-9. Syracuse went on a 6-0 run to take a 15-11 lead.

Bostain halted the run with a goal with 2:28 to play.

George Mason adds Colorado guard Schwartz, Morehead State guard Cooper

George MasonGeorge Mason coach Kim English has added Colorado guard D’Shawn Schwartz and Morehead State guard DeVon Cooper to the Patriots’ roster for 2020-2021.

Schwartz, a grad transfer, has one season of eligibility remaining. Cooper just completed his redshirt-junior campaign at Morehead State, where he earned All-OVC accolades while leading the Eagles to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

A three-year starter for the Buffaloes, Schwartz tallied 1,026 career points and made 156 three-pointers over his four seasons in Boulder.

A consensus four-star prospect, Schwartz was an ESPN100 recruit out of high school, rated as the 69th best player in the nation and the top player in the state of Colorado. Rivals listed Schwartz at the No. 67 spot nationally while Scout had him at 89th and the 19th best wing in the country.

This past season, the Colorado Springs product put together his most efficient campaign to date. Schwartz averaged 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and shot a sizzling 40 percent from three-point range, playing an integral part in Colorado’s run to the NCAA Round of 32. The Buffaloes finished the season eighth overall in KenPom.

Schwartz averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 assists and shot 64.7 percent from the floor in two 2021 NCAA Tournament games while making 66.7 percent of his three-point attempts. He tallied 18 points and made 5-of-7 three-pointers in the NCAA first round win over Georgetown.

“D’Shawn got a taste of winning in the NCAA Tournament this past season,” English said. “His hunger to get back to the Big Dance appealed to what we are trying to re-create here at Mason. I coached D’Shawn for two seasons with the Buffs and Coach Tomlinson coached him for three. That trust and familiarity played a big role in us choosing each other.”

Cooper was the second leading scorer at Morehead State this past season, averaging 12.5 points per game, shooting 36.6 percent from three-point range, and added 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest.

Cooper played his best basketball during the most critical part of the season. En route to OVC All-Tournament Team honors, he averaged 17.0 points, 4.7 assists and shot 55.6 percent from three-point range during the Eagles’ run to the OVC title.

Then in the NCAA Tournament vs. third-seeded West Virginia, Cooper poured in a team-best 21 points, dished out six assists and made five three-pointers on eight attempts during a near upset of the Mountaineers.

“DeVon can play any backcourt spot and is extremely motivated as a defender,” English added. “I know Mason Nation is going to fall in love with DeVon Cooper and his game.”

Over his three-plus seasons with the Eagles, Cooper tallied 860 points, dished out 171 assists and made 133 three-pointers at a career 35.5 percent clip. He started 75 of 98 games, including all 31 this past season.

What a mobile casino should offer for an enjoyable gambling experience

laptop online poker casino gambling

In recent years, online casinos have become one of the most popular forms of gambling in the world and the industry has grown massively to accommodate this fact. This growth is most likely all down to the fact that we are now living in a digital age where practically everything happens online or at least partially online.

Online gambling is currently worth around $59.6 billion and is estimated to grow a lot more within the coming years. With technology also seeing a massive rise in it growth it has made gambling online that much easier but also made gambling in general just really convenient because of the constant evolution that we are getting from technology.

It is now even possible to gamble using your mobile device playing at mobile casinos. There are new online casinos launching practically every day to keep up with the demand of all the player and this means that there are so many different ones to choose from making the choice difficult, so here are the features that a mobile casino should have to make the experience enjoyable.

What games does it have?

The whole idea of gambling online is to play the various different games you would normally play in a casino but with much more convenience, or to play games that traditional casinos may not yet offer. This means that majority of your time spent at the online casino will be spent playing games.

When choosing a mobile casino to play at, always have a look at the different games they have to offer and the different varieties they come in, you don’t want to be stuck on a site that doesn’t offer the game you are looking to play. The good news is that there are online casinos, such as Casino X, where this won’t happen, as they have the best games available, and you can start your journey here. The very best mobile and online casinos will always offer an incredible variety of not just the games themselves, but also themes that go along with the games, making sure that there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

They will also offer table games, slots, live table games, and even some more gamified games that are more like playing video games. If you are looking for a mobile casino, the best casinos will always have some form of option, whether it is an app or a webpage that is suited to phones, so that you can play on your mobile device.

Is it licensed?

When it comes down to playing with your real hard earned money and the risk of losing it, you always want to know that your money is safe and secure and that the casino is not just a scam. The best way to do this is by seeing if it is licensed.

All valid online casinos need to have some kind of license that is suitable to their area in order for them to be a legal casino. In order for the casinos to obtain these licenses their site needs to pass a series of checks which will mean that casinos with licenses will always be good and safe for you to play at. You will normally be able to find this license at the bottom of their webpage.

What bonuses does it offer?

One of the best things to come from online casinos is the welcome bonuses. A welcome bonus is essential free money for new players to use to play various games at that online casino. It can come in a whole lot of different forms such as free spins on the slots, free rounds at table games, and even free money to spend on a game of your choosing.

There is a catch that comes along with these, this being that you have to complete a wagering requirement within a certain amount of time in order to get your winnings from the bonus. The best online casinos won’t have such crazy wagering requirements, and they will give you a reasonable amount of time to complete them in.

Deposit and withdrawals

The very best online casinos will always offer you variety of payment methods in both bank transfers and cryptocurrency, in order to cater to anyone that chooses to play. All of their methods of payment are typically very well-known and used, making them a trusted way to deposit and withdraw money.

How to get divorce papers online: Basic tips

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The divorce process is a serious test that can be emotionally challenging for all parties involved. The events in the spouses’ personal life, which always precede the decision to dissolve the marriage, are often associated with family scandals and psychological tension causing great stress between partners.

More often than not, the only thing that a married couple who decided to divorce wants is to finalize all the necessary legal procedures quickly. Fortunately, today many tools can significantly simplify filing for divorce at some stages of the preparation. One of these options is the preparation of divorce documents online.

This article has collected key recommendations for customer interaction with online divorce preparation services. We also drew attention to the main advantages of processing divorce papers online and the most important reasons to turn your divorce case into an uncontested form.

Online document preparation services are on the client’s side

Online document preparation services are convenient and affordable tools that significantly alleviate the workload and responsibilities as the petitioner or applicant initiates the divorce. But this is only possible if you don’t have any mutual claims with your spouse.

It is a truly progressive solution for overcoming bureaucracy. However, the main reason for the popularity of online services is the consumers’ desire to make the process of filing for divorce more comfortable and inexpensive. At the same time, filing for divorce without an attorney is the key advantage of “do it yourself” divorces.

It is also crucial to understand that the online paperwork service can only guarantee you the high-quality preparation of the documents. All the papers necessary for filing a divorce petition will be guaranteed to be accepted by your court. But the service cannot help you if you and your spouse have disagreements at the initial stage of preparing for a divorce.

Make your case meet the requirements

If you intend to take advantage of an online divorce website package, your to-do list for preparing should start by making sure your case meets the requirements of an uncontested divorce. What does it mean, and what should a divorce case entail to comply with this format? Let’s try to figure it out.

An uncontested divorce is a form of a dissolution of a marriage in which an agreement is concluded between the spouses at the initial stage. Simultaneously, the spouses’ desire to end their family life together is voluntary and mutual on both sides. None of the points of the agreement should cause discrepancies, disagreements, or mutual claims between the parties.

Such an agreement includes the following obligatory clauses: property division, preliminary assessment of joint movable and immovable property acquired in marriage, possible financial spousal support and other forms of mandatory regular payments from one of the partners, child custody, family assets, debts, and consumer loans, mortgages, and other items.

An uncontested case does not require specifying special grounds for divorce to initiate a lawsuit. An uncontested case is considered a no-fault divorce and provides spouses with the opportunity to partner with divorce companies and take advantage of their services. One party of the divorcing couple acts as a petitioner, and the other as a respondent in this process.

How does the divorce papers preparation service work?

Most online divorce documents preparation websites and apps provide a package of services to prepare the documents needed for a divorce petition and subsequent submission to the court. Selecting and filling out the forms is based on the information you provide in a survey. The user is only required to pass the questionnaire and fill in some contact and identifying info.

The service assumes the responsibility for preparing all the divorce papers for acceptance by the local court, meeting all the current requirements. Otherwise, the client will be reimbursed for the paperwork costs. The bill for such services may vary in different states because of filing fees, but the price is always significantly lower than managing a contested divorce case.

The online document preparation service uses the client’s information to select and complete a whole set of court-approved divorce papers. After completing this, the online divorce company will send the user all the correct documentation within two business days. Thus, preparing documents online is much faster than cooperating with lawyers in person.

What else to pay attention to when choosing a service

Online divorce documents preparation services are not available for all cases, only uncontested ones. This means that it is necessary to do some preliminary work to take advantage of web divorce. It is also important to choose a reputable and reliable online divorce service because any error in the paperwork can lead to the necessity to start the whole process again from scratch. It will increase expenses and cost time.

Besides its many other advantages, online divorce services offer to save all ready paperwork and send a copy to the other spouse to sign. After adding the other party’s answer, you’ll have all the divorce documents needed for the court.

The difference in price for an almost identical package of services may vary significantly. It is possible to independently plan the budget for the procedures related to the divorce proceedings, using the cost of the package of services and the amount for filing fees. It also makes sense to take a little time to read the reviews from real customers and users.

It is important to understand that online divorce documents preparation services can significantly help in the very first stages of divorce proceedings, draw up the necessary documents, and explain the actions for further cooperation with the court. But not all web divorce resources will provide clients with legal advice or a ready-made solution for every divorce case.

Story by Awais Ahmed

Ira Armstead back and ready for Year 2 as Virginia’s second Slash

Ira Armstead
Iraken Armstead gets to the corner on a 4-yard TD run at Wake Forest. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Ira Armstead found himself getting serious action as a true freshman in Virginia offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s innovative wildcat schemes.

Armstead, a 6’3”, 210-pound January enrollee who had played quarterback and safety at Adams High School (South Bend, Ind.), and had thrown for 1.078 yards and ran for another 610 yards as a senior, got snaps at QB and at wideout in Virginia’s first four games, an experience that he said was “really, really fun.”

“It’s kind of like backyard football, just like being at schoolyard playing around all you want,” Armstead said this week. “You want to play QB this drive, you want to play receiver, whatever. So yeah, it was really, really fun. And just me and Keytaon (Thompson) just talking on the sideline, you know, motivating each other, getting each other going. I leaned on him pretty heavily during the season.”

Armstead caught a pass in the 38-20 season-opening win over Duke, then got two snaps, one at wideout, one in the backfield, in the 41-23 loss at Clemson in Week 2.

Then in the Week 4 loss at Wake Forest on Oct. 17, Armstead got 13 snaps, completing one pass for nine yards, and gaining 46 yards on six carries on the ground.

That was the week that Virginia had to make a go of it without starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong, and Anae cobbled together a QB rotation of Armstead, Thompson and Lindell Stone, and, well, it wasn’t the offense’s fault that the ‘Hoos came up short.

UVA put up 420 yards of total offense in the Wake game, and with Armstrong returning for the Cavaliers’ next game, at Miami, Anae continued with the three-QB rotation, with Armstrong, Armstead and Thompson this time.

The offense put up good numbers in the 19-14 loss – 366 yards, including 181 on the ground, with the quarterbacks responsible for 137 toward that total.

Armstead had 22 yards on four carries before leaving the game with a lower-body injury that would ultimately end his freshman season prematurely.

After an offseason rehabbing, Armstead is back to full speed physically, with the challenge this spring being not anything physical, but rather getting up to speed with the offense after missing out on spring practice last spring, then missing the second half of the season with the injury, surgery and rehab.

Armstead acknowledges that he has a steeper learning curve than he’d anticipated when he enrolled in school a semester early.

“Kind of being back now is kind of like being a first-year again, if that makes sense. So yeah, just missing that spring was pretty tough,” Armstead said.

First year should have been spring practice, conditioning and drills in the summer, then a full fall camp. Instead, it was a lot of Zoom with quarterbacks coach Jason Beck, and then a crash course in camp.

“He has a lot of development as a quarterback with both losing spring last year and then with injury during the season. He feels somewhere more like a first year with just training and developing at the quarterback spot. And right now, that’s our major, major emphasis,” said Beck, who sees Armstead being able to contribute again in 2021 in the slash role alongside Thompson – getting snaps again at QB in the wildcat, and lining up in the backfield and at the three wideout positions.

“Right now everything’s just in developing him with understanding the offense, anticipating and reading the defense and making great decisions from the quarterback spot. I’m so excited about his development and his future in both ways as a quarterback and as that slash guy,” Beck said.

It’s hard enough learning the QB position at the college level, but Armstead doesn’t see having to learn quarterback, running back and wideout as a challenge.

“I just told myself to just keep calm, stay confident, and at the end of the day, it’s just football. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. So just keeping that mentality, everything played out pretty smooth. Did a good job, could have done better, but you know, it was all good,” Armstead said.

It helps having a good relationship with Armstrong and Thompson, who Armstead said are “like big brothers to me.”

“Keytaon, you know, is the funny guy, Brennan being like the serious one,” Armstead said. “But yeah, like with Brennan, just watching his game and picking up on certain keys from him, like leadership, the way he communicates with guys, things like that. And Keytaon, just being so versatile as well, which I kind of was in the same position last year, so me and him talking and going over things just like that. But yeah, those two guys were really just very helpful for me, and helped my game as well.”

Story by Chris Graham

How the right trees can make all the difference in your backyard

greenhouse gases
(© Blue Planet Studio –

Your backyard should be the most special place in your home. It should be a place where you can relax and even enjoy spending time with the family. But before it can become your favorite chill spot, you need to pamper it a bit.

Planting trees can be an excellent recommendation for you at this point. While trees might take a few years to blossom and produce the correct result, they are ideal for backyards.

Using a strategic approach to plant the trees can be beneficial, as some species tend to grow fast. Plus, it will be an excellent way to save up on precious space in your backyard, reach out to a professional consulting arborist to learn more about it.

How trees can complement your backyard

Trees are a crucial aspect of any residential setting, and they also boost design aesthetics. Whether you prefer evergreen hardy trees or anything with unique seasonal foliage – there are many benefits of such a venture for your backyard.

These benefits can include:

Adds a unique appeal and barrier

Choosing the correct tree species can help your backyard privacy and help buffer the neighboring homes’ activities. It can serve as an excellent visual screen and provide noise control benefits.

There are various tree types for this purpose, and the types with dense seasonal foliage are best. A good example would be the Japanese Loquat.

Plus, many people tend to overlook the immense appeal that trees can bring to a backyard space. However, there are various excellent trees for aesthetics, with the annual types being the most appealing. Some even have a fragrant scent, which can take things to the next level.

A good example would be the Hong Kong orchid tree, which is both fragrant and has attractive foliage.

Shade for outdoor gatherings

The natural canopy that your tree can provide in your backyard can be an excellent complement to your living space. The trees make it a relaxing environment, especially during the summer months.

Besides, the shade can also reduce irrigation costs. It does this by controlling the rate of sunlight that gets to your plants. Chosen correctly, a suitable tree can provide sufficient shade for a small outdoor space.

However, remember to plant them right to ensure the best quality shade. Avoid trees with aggressive roots, and go for patio trees for this purpose.

Edible choices are available

There is nothing better than a fruit straight from the tree. It’s incredibly convenient if you are a lover of healthy heating or a proponent of organic food. Convert your backyard into a small garden by adding a few crop-producing trees.

The good thing is that you have many options in this category. These include trees such as apples, mangoes, avocados, and more. The only challenge with edible trees is that they require a lot of “Tender, Love, and Care (TLC).”

Also, the edible trees help add a sense of functionality to your otherwise unused backyard.

Attracts wildlife habitat

The suitable trees can convert your backyard into a miniature ecosystem with lots of wildlife. Planting suitable trees will likely provide a home for insects, squirrels, birds, and more.

Plus, the trees with dense foliage will attract bees and various other nectar-sucking insects. Inviting biodiversity to your backyard will bring a sense of serenity that one can experience during hikes.

The only catch here is that you have to be careful, as some wildlife might get their way into your house.

Brings eco-friendly benefits

Aside from improving biodiversity, trees have several benefits in various ecological procedures such as carbon control. Remember the concept of photosynthesis you learned in preschool. Trees are a significant part of this process, and this helps control CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

High CO2 levels can increase temperatures globally and also lead to various ecological globally. By planting a few trees in your backyard, you instantly make a positive contribution to making the world an eco-friendly place.

Furthermore, trees can also be beneficial in reducing issues such as the urban heat island effect. Metropolitan areas with a significant number of uncovered spaces tend to experience extreme temperatures. The problem increases when there is a lack of adequate tree canopy.

A few trees in your garden can contribute to evapotranspiration rates in the area, helping make the environment warm.

Can improve the value of your property

Planting trees in your garden using a unique strategy and using the proper techniques can boost property value. You can add the trees’ value towards the final amount you want to get for your property.

The trees can be particularly beneficial in this context if your backyard is large. Trees, when large in number, can have significant benefits to the functionality of your backyard. So, the value of the given property increases significantly.

Furthermore, a property with a lush backyard appeals to guests, friends, family, and more. You can be the host for many different gatherings with the people you love the most.

Benefits of a consulting arborist

Even if you have spent many years planting trees, there are still a few pointers you could get from a professional.

Consulting an arborist might be an excellent recommendation, even if the services come at a cost. A few benefits of such a venture include:

  • They provide professional insight – an arborist is a trained professional with immense experience. Use this insight to boost the health of your trees.
  • You get quality results – an arborist will give you excellent information on planting trees strategically. So, you use space the right way and are free from contaminants associated with unhealthy plants.
  • It helps you stay in line with local laws – some states have strict regulations about specific tree species.

If you are struggling with making your backyard unique, look no further than the suitable trees. You can never go wrong by getting such plant life in your garden, primarily through a strategic plan. The good thing is that hiring an excellent arborist is a simple process.

Story by Brad Bernanke

The top benefits of installing solar panels on your home

solar panels
(© mmphoto –

In the year 2021, people are constantly searching for new ways to use less energy. There is no doubt that one of the most popular and successful ways to do just that is to install solar panels on your home. If you are seriously considering installing solar panels on your home, you probably know all about the top benefits.

Still, there is never anything wrong with learning about why so many Americans are going through with solar panel installation.

Let’s break down the top benefits of solar panels on your home.

Reduce or completely eliminate energy bills

One of the top benefits of solar panels on your home is that you are going to see a major reduction in your energy bills. The reason why is because your home will be – in a sense – creating its own energy. You will no longer have to draw upon the grid to run your appliance, turn on lights, run the heat or air conditioning and more.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that you do not necessarily have to live in a really sunny place to benefit from solar panels. Even in cloudy areas, most homes receive between 2-5.5 hours of full sun per day. That’s a ton of energy that you will not have to pay for.

Earn federal tax credits and rebates

In a lot of parts of the country, there are major tax credits and rebates that you can benefit from when it comes to installing solar panels. In fact, a federal income tax credit means that you are going to get 30 percent back from what you spend on solar panels. That means that a job that cost you $30,000 is going to get your $9,000 back in the form of tax credits.

In fact, thanks to this tax credit and other available rebates, on top of the reduction in energy costs per year, the overall investment has an average payback period of only three-and-a-half years. This means that after that amount of time, the solar panels will have completely paid for themselves.

It increases the value of your home on the market

Home buyers are always looking for reasons to go with one home over the other, and solar panels already being installed on a home are a major thing that younger potential homeowners consider. Not only will this make your home more attractive on the market, it will also help you fetch a higher price when/if you do finally sell.

Give back to the planet

Finally, a final great reason to consider installing solar panels onto your home is because it lessens your home’s carbon footprint and allows you to be part of the crucial movement to depend less on gas and traditional energies and depend more and more on renewable energies that damage the planet less, are renewable and will lead to a cleaner, safer and more modern future in the days ahead.

Story by Brad Bernanke

JMU history professor receives prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

jmuMichael Gubser, a professor of history at James Madison University, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2021 for his book project, “Leaving the Past Behind: History and Ahistoricism in International Development.”

The project draws on Gubser’s academic expertise in intellectual history and his professional experience as a proposal writer, needs assessor and project evaluator for several international development organizations.

Gubser’s project begins with the observation that foreign aid planners rarely consider the history of the societies in which they work. Practitioners tend to design projects based on universal assumptions about poverty that overlook local history and cultural conditions. The book traces the intellectual history of development, examining key theoretical and policy statements to demonstrate the marginalization of history in favor of technical solutions. Drawing upon his professional experience and previous research, Gubser integrates case studies of aid programs in Guatemala, Bangladesh, Zambia and Uganda.

Gubser will devote the nine months of the Guggenheim Fellowship period to completing the book manuscript. “The time, money and recognition are, of course, wonderful and thrilling,” Gubser said. “What is even more important is that the fellowship affirms a project that is near and dear to my heart. I was trained in European history. This project is a big departure, and I sometimes wondered, am I taking on too much? The fellowship provides affirmation for stepping outside my comfort zone, taking risks and pursuing interdisciplinary work.”

U.S. Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife created the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1925 as a memorial to their son. The Foundation seeks to “add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding.” Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for scholarship or creative ability in the arts. The Foundation receives approximately 3,000 applications each year and awards about 175 fellowships.

Guggenheim “is among the most highly prized recognitions in all the arts and sciences, a truly career-defining achievement,” Dean Robert D. Aguirre said. “The fellowship award acknowledges the brilliance and ground-breaking quality of Gubser’s work and deservedly places him among the highest rank of intellectual historians working today.”

Law enforcement partnerships make significant impact on MS-13 gang murder investigation

court law
(© Tiko –

On March 6, 2016, officers from the Richmond Police Department responded to a call for service within the 1400 block of Armfield Road in the Town and Country Townhomes and Apartment complex in Richmond.

On scene, officers learned that three male victims were approached by multiple subjects demanding their belongings. The victims fled on foot in different directions while being pursued by the subjects.

Officers discovered two of the victims were caught, assaulted, and robbed by their assailants; the third victim, Clemente Jimenez-Lopez, was located deceased from a gunshot wound to the head.

Almost five years after the murder of Lopez and following a two-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond in March, MS-13 member Osmar Hernandez Santamaria was found guilty of one count of first degree murder, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of murder, three counts of attempted robbery, and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of attempted robbery.

Santamaria’s formal sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

MS-13 member Francisco Ovidio Lemus-Castillo previously pled guilty on March 9 to one count of second degree murder and one count of attempted robbery. Castillo was sentenced on that date to 40 years in prison with 15 years suspended for the murder charge and 10 years in prison with all 10 years suspended for the attempted robbery charge, resulting in 25 years of actual incarceration.

These recent convictions are part of a multi-year investigative effort targeting the MS-13 gang in the Richmond area and comes off the heels of the October 2019 and January 2020 guilty pleas by MS-13 associates Arsenio Joshua Alers and Jose Rivas-Santiago.

Alers and Rivas-Santiago pleaded guilty to one count of 2nd degree murder and one count of attempted robbery, respectively.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Area Violent Enterprise Task Force, the City of Richmond Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Richmond office.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Brooke E. Pettit from the City of Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office prosecuted these cases.

The FBI RAVE Task Force is an established team of federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and prosecutors dedicated to addressing gang and drug related violent criminal activity.

The RAVE Task Force identifies and targets gangs as criminal enterprises, investigating the enterprise’s activities and focusing resources to obtain successful prosecutions.

Soles4Souls shoe drive nets more than 1,100 pairs of shoes

Members of the Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion load a van with shoes from the Soles4Souls shoe drive. Photo by Monika Gibson/courtesy Virginia Tech.

On a recent Friday morning, the curved pathway leading to the Graduate Life Center’s entrance across from Squires Student Center on the campus at Virginia Tech was lined with bags brimming with shoes.

More than 1,100 pairs of footwear of all sizes, the result of a month-long drive coordinated by the Graduate School’s Office for Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion were headed for a Soles4Souls intake center.

Assistant Dean and ORDI Director Shernita Lee and support programs specialist Shania Clinedinst spearheaded the drive as a service project exemplifying Martin Luther King Jr.’s message that people cannot walk alone. ORDI placed contactless bins to collect shoes in the lobby of the Graduate Life Center, at McComas Hall, and at the Fralin Life Sciences Institute. Blacksburg Baptist Church also collected shoes for the project. By the end of February, the drive had exceeded organizers’ goal of 500 pairs of shoes, Lee said. ORDI delivered 1,106 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls at the end of the drive.

“In countries we serve, like Haiti and Honduras, 1,106 pairs of shoes can provide a month of food, shelter, and education for 19 families,” said Stephanie Hathaway, the Soles4Souls’s director of operations for Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization, collects new and gently used clothing and shoes to provide such items to those in need in the United States and other countries. The organization also sends shoes to partners in developing countries, where people can sell them and support their families. Hathaway noted in a recent Soles4Souls blog post that finding schools and universities willing to conduct a shoe drive has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, but ORDI not only took on the challenge, it blew past its original goal and extended the drive at the request of members of the community who still wanted to donate shoes. Hathaway said the ORDI team and university’s outreach and stories “drove in more donations than they ever imagined. … Their belief in the Soles4Souls mission helped propel this successful drive.”

Hathaway said all donated shoes are sanitized and packaged before they are shared with organizations assisting individuals or with international partners who work with families in need.

“The VT community truly is stronger together,” said Lee of the event. “Without the generosity of each member of our community, this effort would have a reduced impact. I am grateful for the overwhelming support and am confident that we made a difference in the lives of countless others.”

Augusta County: Portions of Route 865 closed April 12–13 for pipe replacement

road work
(© Daniel Avram –

Part of Route 865 (Rockfish Road) in Augusta County will be closed to through traffic Monday and Tuesday for a pipe replacement.

The location is between Route 611 (Baynes Road) and Hopeman Parkway in the city of Waynesboro.

The Route 865 closure is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. April 12 and will be lifted when work is complete.

Digital messages boards will alert drivers to the closure. The follow detours will be in place:

  • Motorists approaching the work zone from the north will turn right on Route 611, left on Route 828 (Cattle Scales Road), left on Route 827 (Henkle Road), left on Route 254 (Hermitage Road), and then left on Hopeman Parkway to return to Route 865.
  • Motorists approaching from the south will go south on Hopeman Parkway and turn right on Route 254, right on Route 827, right on Route 828 and then right on Route 611 to return to Route 865.

All work is weather permitting.

Obtain traffic alerts and traveler information by dialing 511 or visiting For other assistance call the VDOT Customer Service Center, available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week. Citizens can dial 1-800-FOR- ROAD (1-800-367-7623) from anywhere in the state to report road hazards, ask transportation questions, or get information related to Virginia’s roads.

The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.

The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. Follow VDOT on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at

Culpeper District Traffic Alerts: Schedule for week of April 12-16

Culpeper District
(© Daniel Avram –

The following highway work is scheduled, weather permitting, in the Culpeper District during the upcoming week. Traffic movements may be restricted and speed limits reduced in work zones. (NEW) or (UPDATE) indicate revisions since last week’s report.

Culpeper District traffic information is also available on Twitter at @VaDOTCulp and on VDOT’s website at

Albemarle County

(UPDATE) Albemarle Design-Build Projects

  • Diverging Diamond Interchange: Expect workers near the travel lanes on Route 250 (Richmond Road) near Interstate 64 for initial construction tasks Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Speed limit reduced to 25 miles per hour.
  • Route 29 at Interstate 64: Southbound right lane closed near I-64 interchange from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday and Monday.
  • Interstate 64: Eastbound right lane closed at mile marker 118 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday and Monday.

(UPDATE) Interstate 64 – Vegetation control operations from mile marker 99 to mile marker 124. Be alert for slow-moving vehicles on the shoulder from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday.

(NEW) Interstate 64 – Bridge deck sweeping operations from mile marker 103 to mile marker 131. Be alert for slow moving vehicles and expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

(NEW) Route 6 (Main Street) – Utility work under VDOT permit between the Fluvanna County line and Route 20 (Valley Street). Expect lane closures Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

(NEW) Route 20 (Valley Street) – Utility work under VDOT permit from Route 6 (Main Street) to the Buckingham County line. Expect lane closures Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Pipe work just south of Lewis and Clark Drive. Southbound right turn lane closed and be alert for workers near the travel lanes Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(NEW) Route 29 (Monacan Trail Road) – Work in the median near Route 633 (Heards Mountain Road). Southbound left turn lane closed Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(UPDATE) Route 29/250 – Utility work under VDOT permit. Expect workers near the travel lanes between Route 654 (Barracks Road) and the Interstate 64 interchange Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

(NEW) Route 240 (Crozet Avenue) – Ditch cleaning operations between Route 1231 (Davis Drive) and Route 691 (Tabor Street). Expect alternating lane closures Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(UPDATE) Route 53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway) – Pipe work between Route 729 (Milton Road) and the Fluvanna County line. Expect alternating lane closures Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(NEW) Route 614 (Garth Road) – Special event between Route 675 (Lake Albemarle Road) and Route 671 (Millington Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by local police Saturday, April 10 from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. Be alert for increased pedestrians on Lake Albemarle Road, Garth Road, Clark Road, Millington Road, Ballards Mill Road, Wesley Chapel Road and Chapel Springs Road.

Route 629 (Browns Gap Turnpike) – Rehabilitating bridge over the Doyles River. Road closed at Route 624 (Headquarters Lane) until April 16.

(NEW) Route 631 (Old Lynchburg Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit. Southbound right lane closed from Route 781 (Sunset Avenue Extended) to Route 1870 (Ambrose Commons Drive) starting Monday. Use caution traveling through the work zone.

(NEW) Route 643 (Polo Grounds Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit between Route 1033 (Bentivar Drive) and Route 29 (Seminole Trail). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(NEW) Route 673 (Slam Gate Road) – Pipe replacement about 0.2-mile from Route 810 (Browns Gap Turnpike). Road closed to through traffic Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(UPDATE) Route 690 (Greenwood Station Road) – Pipe replacement between Route 691 (Greenwood Road) and Greenwood Hollow. Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(NEW) Route 743 (Hydraulic Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit. One lane closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday. Use caution traveling through the work zone.

Culpeper County 

Route 15 (James Madison Highway) – Utility work between Route 29 (James Monroe Highway) and Route 299 (Madison Road). Expect workers near the travel lanes Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(NEW) Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Installation of pavement markers from Route 622 (Old Bridge Road) to the Rappahannock County line. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(NEW) Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Tree trimming operations from Route 229 (Rixeyville Road) to the Rappahannock County line. Right lane closed in each direction Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Fauquier County 

(UPDATE) Interstate 66 – Ditch cleaning operations. Be alert for workers near the travel lanes between mile marker 15 and mile marker 35 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Route 28 (Catlett Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit near Route 616 (Bristersburg Road). Expect alternating lane closures nightly from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Route 245 (Old Tavern Road) – Bridge work at Interstate 66. Northbound right lane closed under the I-66 bridges. Speed limit reduced to 45 miles per hour. Use caution traveling through the work zone.

Route 616 (Bristersburg Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit near Route 28 (Catlett Road). Expect alternating lane closures Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Route 642 (Old Calverton Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit near Route 790 (Boteler Road) and Route 616 (Bristersburg Road). Expect alternating lane closures Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(NEW) Route 798 (Dulins Ford Road) – Pipe installation between Route 688 (Leeds Manor Road) and Goldfinch Lane. Expect alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fluvanna County 

Route 656 (Bremo Road) – Rehabilitating two bridges about 0.3-mile east of Route 657 (Bremo Bluff Road). Use alternate routes. Anticipated completion July 5.

Greene County 

Route 643 (Entry Run Road) – Road closed for emergency replacement of low-water structure near the dead end. Anticipated completion April 16.

Louisa County 

(NEW) Interstate 64 – Bridge deck sweeping operations from mile marker 132 to mile marker 138. Be alert for slow moving vehicles and expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Route 22/208 (Davis Highway) – School Bus Road realignment project. Be alert for construction workers and vehicles near the travel lanes between Route 625 (Chalk Level Road) and Route 767 (School Bus Road).

Route 647 (Harts Mill Road) – Rehabilitating bridge over the South Anna River. Road closed to through traffic. Detour via Route 640 (East Old Mountain Road) and Route 522 (Cross County Road). Anticipated completion Sept. 22.

Route 767 (School Bus Road) – School Bus Road realignment project. Relocating Route 767 to align with Route 625 (Chalk Level Road). Be alert for construction workers and vehicles near the travel lanes. Anticipated completion Dec. 15.

Madison County 

(NEW) Route 641 (Weaver Hollow Road) – Pipe work near Route 642 (Duet Road). Road closed to through traffic Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists can access Route 641 via Route 609 (Hoover Road).

Orange County 

Route 522 (Zachary Taylor Highway) – Pipe work between Route 621 (Church Hill Road) and Route 636 (River Road). Be alert for workers near the travel lanes Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Route 635 (Greenwood Road) – Replacing bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Expect intermittent daytime flagging operations. Existing bridge will remain open to traffic during construction. Anticipated completion June 2021.

Rappahannock County 

(NEW) Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Installation of pavement markers from the Fauquier County line to the Page County line. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(NEW) Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Tree trimming operations from the Culpeper County line to Route 639 (Holly Springs Road). Right lane closed in each direction Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

(UPDATE) Route 231 (FT Valley Road) – Shoulder maintenance from the Madison County line to Route 522 (Sperryville Pike). Expect alternating lane closures Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(NEW) Route 231 (F T Valley Road) – Installation of pavement markers from the Madison County line to Route 522 (Sperryville Pike). Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(NEW) Route 522 (Sperryville Pike) – Shoulder maintenance from Route 231 (F T Valley Road) to Route 211 (Lee Highway). Expect alternating lane closures Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Road conditions and other real-time travel information can be found on the 511 Virginia website, the free VDOT 511 mobile app or by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia. VDOT updates are also on Facebook and the district’s Twitter account, @VaDOTCulp.

No recycling collection in Staunton next week

stauntonRecycling will not be collected by City of Staunton public works crews the week of April 12-16 due to the annual heavy trash collection.

Recycling collection will resume on its regular schedule starting April 19.

For more information, contact Public Works at (540) 332-3892.

Warner, Kaine applaud $19M for airports throughout the Commonwealth

parking at the airport
(© skyNext –

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced this week $19,155,185 in federal funding to provide economic relief to 11 airports across Virginia.

The funding, awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, was authorized by the December 2020 emergency COVID-19 relief bill supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.

“We are happy to announce that these funds will go towards supporting 11 airports in Virginia,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “While we work to get folks vaccinated and the economy back on track, these dollars will help ensure that our regional airports have what they need to continue combating COVID-19 and serving travelers.”

Specifically, this funding will go towards helping airports cover costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, debt service payments, and efforts to combat the spread of pathogens.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

Airport Location Amount
Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Albemarle County $2,928,978
Culpeper Regional Airport Culpeper County $23,000
Louisa County/Freeman Field Airport Louisa County $13,000
Lynchburg Regional Airport Campbell County $1,261,006
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport Newport News $1,951,578
Norfolk International Airport Norfolk $5,768,825
Richmond International Airport Henrico County $6,143,825
Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Augusta County $ 1,005,973
Stafford Regional Airport Stafford County $13,000
Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Fauquier County $23,000
Winchester Regional Airport Frederick County $23,000



McEachin announces $398K in school funding from American Rescue Plan

Donald McEachin
Donald McEachin

Congressman A. Donald McEachin announced this week $398,399 in funding from the American Rescue Plan to support public schools in the Fourth District as they reopen classrooms safely for students and staff.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away valuable, in-person learning from our students while leaving many schools struggling to support themselves,” McEachin said. “The American Rescue Plan is an opportunity to help get our students and teachers back in the classroom while also ensuring their safety. I am glad we passed this historic bill so that we may finally turn our attention to restoring our homes, businesses and schools.”

Below is a breakdown of grants received by each district:

Charles City County Public Schools $1,312
Chesapeake City Public Schools $49,327
Chesterfield County Public Schools $57,817
Colonial Heights City Public Schools $4,689
Dinwiddie County Public Schools $6,537
Emporia City Public Schools $3,624
Greensville County Public Schools $3,967
Henrico County Public Schools $75,560
Hopewell City Public Schools $12,121
Petersburg City Public Schools $23,994
Prince George County Public Schools $4,820
Richmond City Public Schools $118,556
Southampton County Public Schools $4,172
Suffolk City Public Schools $26,485
Surry County Public Schools $1,508
Sussex County Public Schools $3,910



Nominate a working canine for AFBF Farm Dog of the Year

As a rescue dog, Dasher didn’t have a conventional start to his life, but this Border Collie quickly found his place on his family’s cattle farm in Virginia. Photo courtesy American Farm Bureau Federation.

The support farmers receive from their canine companions is priceless, and American Farm Bureau Federation is once again recognizing the contributions of America’s finest farm dogs.

Farmers whose dogs demonstrate helpfulness on the farm, playfulness and obedience can submit nominations for the 2022 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest through July 2. This is the fourth year of the contest, which honors farm dogs and the ways they assist with U.S. food production.

“We’re excited to host this popular contest again and provide the general public with another glimpse into daily life on the farm,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farm dogs often play a dual role as both working dogs and companions to farm families, which is especially important because farming and ranching can be stressful, even on the best days.”

To enter, dog owners must be Farm Bureau members. Prospective applicants can learn more about becoming a Virginia Farm Bureau member at

Nominations for the contest include written responses to questions, still photos of the animal and optional video clips. Eligibility guidelines and submission requirements can be found at

The grand prizewinner of the contest, sponsored by Purina, will receive $5,000 in prize money, a year’s worth of Purina dry dog food and recognition as the 2022 Farm Dog of the Year during the AFBF convention in January 2022.

The People’s Choice Pup contest, which allows the public the vote for, comment on, share and like their favorite farm dogs on social media, also is back for a third year.

Profiles of the top 10 nominees from the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest will be shared starting in October, and the public is invited to vote for their favorite pups. The 2022 People’s Choice Pup will receive bragging rights and a $50 cash prize.

Crazy for kibble: Farmers benefit from a robust pet food industry

veterinarian dog
(© vectorfusionart –

While farmers are hard at work putting food on our tables, they’re also helping fill the bowls of our furry companions.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households own at least one pet, contributing to a lot of food bowls to fill. And with owners spending more than $30 billion each year feeding their four-legged friends, the pet food industry must keep up.

In a first-of-its kind study, the Institute for Feed Education and Research, the North American Renderers Association and the Pet Food Institute teamed up to examine the impact pet food manufacturing has on U.S. agriculture. Focusing on food produced for the two most popular companions—cats and dogs—the analysis revealed pet food manufacturers purchase $6.9 billion of ingredients each year from farmers and farm-product processors.

Virginia is one of several states identified as having more than $100 million in pet food ingredient purchases. The study found Virginia’s 12 pet food processors spent $129.6 million on ingredients from farms and farm product processors in 2018.

“Pet food processing is a significant component of Virginia’s agricultural portfolio and benefits Virginia farmers,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“Two of the larger pet food ingredient categories are animal protein and animal fat. Chicken is the top animal protein ingredient, which benefits Virginia’s chicken industry and growers,” Banks said. “Beef, turkey, lamb, dairy whey and fish protein and fats also are major ingredient sources that we produce here in Virginia.”

Those ingredient purchases also generated upstream economic activity, including $86.2 million by farmers and $68.3 million by farm product processors for items used to produce the ingredients like seeds, labor and machinery.

Additionally, pet food manufacturing has a significant impact on corn. Corn and corn gluten are the dominant plant-based ingredients used in pet food, with almost 1.3 million tons of corn and 476,649 tons of corn gluten meal used nationally, valued at more than $438 billion.

“In general, corn being used in pet food drums up higher demand and increases the over basis in the state,” explained Josey Moore, a VFBF commodity specialist. “Pet food sells at an inflated price compared to other corn end users who feed it to birds, process it or export it.”

Distracted Driving Awareness Month puts focus on road safety

distracted driving
(© Mongkol Chuewong –

Whether it’s answering a phone call, interacting with passengers or finishing breakfast in the car during your morning commute, distractions are a daily occurrence for most drivers.

As harmless as these actions may seem, the smallest distractions can cause dire consequences. Each April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month reminds motorists to avoid dangerous activities that could divert their attention from driving.

According to collision data from Virginia’s Traffic Records Electronic Data System, distracted driving contributed to 18,816 crashes and 121 fatal accidents in 2020. Those figures represent 17.8% of all crashes and 14.2% of all fatalities on Virginia roadways.

In response, Drive Smart Virginia is encouraging motorists to continue minimizing distractions behind the wheel through its “Buckle Up, Phone Down” campaign.

“When drivers engage in activities that cause them to lose their focus, they’re putting their lives in danger, as well as those of their passengers and fellow motorists,” said David Tenembaum, actuarial manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. and a board member of Drive Smart Virginia.

“Like any other accident, crashes caused by distracted driving can happen in an instant. It’s important for drivers to pay close attention to the road and their surroundings to avoid these unfortunate accidents.”

Drive Smart Virginia defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver’s attention from the road. This includes cellphone use, adjusting audio or climate controls, grooming or operating a navigation system.

Virginia law now prohibits drivers from handling cellphones while driving, but studies show using hands-free technology comes with its own dangers.

A study conducted by the University of Utah found that it can take drivers up to 27 seconds to gain full attention after issuing a voice command. Additionally, modern vehicles’ touchscreen displays that serve as a second screen for connected devices can create distractions similar to those caused by hand-held gadgets.

“While we’re grateful Virginia legislators have taken an important step in addressing this epidemic with a ban on hand-held cellphone use, there’s still much work to be done by our state’s drivers,” Tenembaum added. “With technology here to stay, it’s our collective responsibility to understand its inherent hazards, avoid dangerous behaviors behind the wheel and keep our focus on making our roads a safer place.”

To learn more about Drive Smart Virginia’s initiatives, visit

Agriculture groups urge action as trade relationship with Mexico declines

us politics
(© Andrea Izzotti –

A rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship is causing alarm within the U.S. agricultural sector, and industry groups are voicing concerns.

Dozens of leading food and agriculture associations, including American Farm Bureau Federation, recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, urging action to address issues undermining the trade relationship with Mexico.

Among the groups’ concerns are a ban on glyphosate and genetically modified corn; increased obstacles to dairy trade; an organic export certification requirement; a state-sponsored campaign disparaging U.S. corn sweeteners; barriers to new biotechnology applications; meat industry market access implications; a potato export ban; and a new labeling regulation. The letter said these issues, along with a high number of investigations on Mexico’s fresh produce exports to the U.S., hamper domestic competitiveness.

Mexico is within Virginia’s top five markets, as it is for most U.S. states, said Vilsack in remarks at the March 30 Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, an annual event sponsored in part by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Vilsack said Mexico may be hesitant to accept unfamiliar agricultural innovations introduced by the U.S., which may explain some of the trade barriers.

“It’s important for us to be front-and-center with both Canada and Mexico about compliance with the USMCA,” Vilsack said at the virtual conference. “We have already reached out to their agriculture officials to encourage them to live up to the spirit of the USMCA. And we talked with Ambassador Tai about the importance of maintaining those relationships, making sure Canada and Mexico comply with their responsibilities under those agreements.”

U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $677.3 billion in 2019, according to the USTR. Exports were $289.5 billion; imports were $387.8 billion.

“U.S. agriculture built strong, mutually beneficial trade ties with Mexico through NAFTA and improved upon them with USMCA,” said Ben Rowe, VFBF national affairs coordinator. “However, recent moves by Mexico to limit American imports and undercut prices puts America’s farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

“Renewal of a healthy bilateral trade relationship requires prudent actions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USTR and our trade partners in Mexico,” he said. “We encourage these partners to work together to implement the terms of USMCA and ensure the economic vitality of the food and agriculture sector.”

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said enforcement of trade agreements with Mexico will “ensure farmers have a level playing field and continue to lead the world in producing safe, affordable food.”

Israel’s plight: An absence of leadership

By Alon Ben-Meir

alon ben meir
Alon Ben-Meir

The result of the fourth election in two years clearly points to the dysfunction of Israel’s political system and the many fault lines of Israel’s democracy. Sadly, personal rivalries rather than political platforms that address foreign and domestic policies rule the day.

Last month, Israelis went to the polls for the fourth time in two years. Not surprisingly, like all three previous elections, the result of the fourth one provided no clear winners. Israel’s political system is effectively broken. Thirteen of the nearly forty political parties that ran managed to cross the threshold and earn seats in the new Knesset. Ironically, hardly any of the parties ran on specific foreign and domestic policies that would advance the greater interest of the nation. Instead, what looms larger than their socio-economic and national security policies and peace, is the personal ambition of the parties’ leaders who, almost with no exception, feel they are the most qualified to become prime minister.

Following intense horse-trading, whoever ends up forming the next new coalition government—whether it be the camp that wants to unseat Netanyahu or if Netanyahu himself manages to establish the next right-wing government—the prospect that the new government will last the whole four years is practically nonexistent.

Any future government will be composed of several parties who do not see eye-to-eye on many of the pressing issue facing the country. As a result, the government more often than not settles on the lowest denominators as each coalition partner must compromise on critical issues, which often leads to paralysis both on foreign and domestic policies. One example: the three preceding governments led by Netanyahu failed to pass even a national budget, as no member of the coalition could agree on the appropriation of funds deemed necessary to run his or her ministry.

The sadder part is that if you were to ask any of the aspirants for the position of Prime Minister, be that Naftali Bennett, the leader of Yamina, Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, or Netanyahu, or any other party leader what their vision of Israel is 10 or 15 years down the line, I do not believe that any of them can articulate such a vision.

Now that Netanyahu has been given the mandate to form the next government, as in the past, the discussion between the various parties will be limited almost exclusively to what ministry each of the coalition partners can control, how much money will be appropriated to the ministry in question, and the prerogatives that each minister can exercise. The past three Netanyahu-led governments made no progress on any single issue of critical importance to the future of the country.

To begin with, there is no discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as if by ignoring it, it would simply disappear. The fact remains that every day that passes without a solution, the conflict becomes ever more intractable. Now that there is a new US administration, the new Israeli government should be prepared to deal with President Biden, who differs dramatically from his predecessor in that he believes in a two-state solution and opposes any further annexation of Palestinian territory.

The second disastrous problem Israel faces is the horrifying socio-economic gap. It is hard to imagine that in a country with a thriving economy, the poor are becoming poorer and the rich richer. What is astounding is that even pre-pandemic, more than 21 percent of the Israeli population is under the poverty line (it has skyrocketed to 29.3 percent this year). The majority of those affected are the elderly (including 1 in 4 Holocaust survivors), ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, and single parents; many Middle Eastern Jews still bear the brunt of historic poverty and continuing economic and social inequality. Billions are spent on settlement construction and security while scores of neighborhoods of poor Israelis are left to rot.

The third problem Israelis refuse to acknowledge is that the Israeli Arab parties, which represent more than 20 percent of the population, have never been invited to join a coalition government, as they are assumed to be untrustworthy and should be politically marginalized. It is hard to fathom how the majority of Israeli Jews expects the Israeli Arabs to be loyal citizens when they are systematically discriminated against at every turn. It is time for Israel to think of the future—and the future does not bode well for Israel as long as such a huge minority is not integrated into Israel’s socio-economic and political streams.

There are several other major problems that none of the Israeli parties are discussing, let alone finding a long-term solution for: what to do with Iran and for how much longer the quiet war between the two countries will go on before it explodes into an all-out war. For how much longer the state of no war and no peace can be sustained with Hezbollah. What to do with Hamas, and if Israel can maintain the blockade for another decade before a new deadly explosion occurs. The fact that Israel normalized relations with several Gulf Arab states offers no solution to these and other challenges.

Four elections in two years, and possibly heading for a fifth one, offers no way out of the acute challenges the country is facing. The Israeli public and their leaders are basking in the illusion that the country is economically prosperous, militarily powerful, and technologically dominant, and that these should sustain it indefinitely.

This is all an illusion; what sustains Israel is social cohesiveness, which is wanting; peace with the Palestinians, which is becoming ever more farfetched; equality among the citizenry, which is lacking; and finally, enlightened and visionary leadership, which is tragically absent.

Indeed, Israel is in desperate need of another Ben-Gurion or Rabin—a morally imbued leader with a vision, who will fight for Israel’s future wellbeing and its very soul. It is the hour of need that produces such a visionary new leader to rise. The time is now.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

Earth Talk: What is climate feminism?

Dear EarthTalk: What exactly is “climate feminism?”
– Jim M., Lorton, VA

save our planet earth
(© Nicola –

Climate change impacts the everyday lives of all citizens around the globe, but certain communities are disproportionately affected. Women, in particular, shoulder a disproportionate burden as they are most reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods but lack the needed resources to properly respond to climate disasters. With women representing over 70 percent of the total global population living in poverty, the United Nations estimates that 80 percent of those displaced by climate change are women.

At the very core of female climate change vulnerability is the pervasiveness of patriarchy and gender hierarchies. Throughout history, women have been suppressed in politics, economics and labor, and many are forced to remain in the domestic sphere with the primary duties of raising children. Flooding, drought and other effects of climate change, such as increased heat and air pollution, can disproportionately impact women, particularly pregnant women, causing premature births, stillbirths and other problems.

“[The climate crisis] grows out of a patriarchal system that is also entangled with racism, white supremacy and extractive capitalism,”

says author and climate activist Katharine K. Wilkinson. And while women may be the most impacted by climate disasters, they have limited opportunities to participate in decision-making processes. Wilkinson, co-editor of a recent book of essays on climate feminism called All We Can Save, adds that the unequal impacts of climate change make it harder to achieve a “gender-equal world.”

Despite historical setbacks, climate feminists have made much progress in recent years, with increased female representation in government roles and leadership positions. Today, many of our climate justice leaders are women. Youth activist Greta Thunberg has captured the attention of global leaders, demanding they take immediate action against climate change. U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez developed and proposed the Green New Deal, pushing the U.S. government a step closer to recognizing the scale of our climate crisis and enacting drastic environmental policy changes.

Climate feminists believe women should be leaders in the environmental movement because their experiences with institutional sexism and other inequalities resulting from the way our society is structured engender a deeper commitment to fighting for justice and equality. Additionally, women tend to prioritize making change over being in charge—and recognize the importance of nurturing a sense of community in the broader climate movement.

That said, how can we help advance climate feminism? Men in positions of power can certainly change the face of climate leadership by listening to the ideas of women from diverse backgrounds—and stepping back for women to make the decisions and set the vision. Most important, women need more leadership positions in local sustainable management and development in addition to increased representation in the federal government. National climate policies that are gender-responsive can not only bring greater responsiveness to the public’s needs but also help dismantle ethnic or gender divides in the environmental field, pointing toward a more peaceful and sustainable future.

CONTACTS: “What is Climate Feminism?”; “The Climate Crisis is a Feminist Issue,”; All We Can Save,

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at To donate, visit Send questions to:

Liberty tops Lipscomb in series opener, 4-1

liberty basketballThe Liberty Flames toppled the Lipscomb Bisons, 4-1, in the opening game of a three-game ASUN series at Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium Friday evening.

Liberty pitchers Trevor Delaite, Landon Riley and Mason Meyer held the visiting Bisons in check throughout the contest. The three combined to allowed one run on seven hits, striking out seven. The trio did not walk a batter in the contest.

Liberty moves to 19-8 overall and 6-1 in the ASUN. Lipscomb drops to 11-14 overall and 4-6 in conference play.