Online meeting June 4 to address future of 5th Street Corridor in Charlottesville, Albemarle County

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VDOT will host an online public meeting on Thursday, June 4 to provide information about the 5th Street Corridor Study.

The purpose of the ongoing study is to identify multi-modal transportation needs and improvements within the Route 631 (5th Street / Old Lynchburg Road) corridor in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

The online meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m. on June 4. A presentation on the study will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a question and answer session from 6:30-7 p.m. The meeting requires preregistration at bit.ly/5thstreetwebinar

A computer or smartphone is needed to participate in the meeting. If you plan to use a smartphone, download the GoToWebinar app for Android or iPhone before the meeting. The meeting presentation materials will be provided to registered attendees and will also be posted on the study’s webpage one week before the meeting.

An online survey to collect public comments about transportation options for the 5th Street corridor will be available beginning May 28; responses will be taken through June 26.

The corridor study will evaluate conditions for automobiles, bicyclists and pedestrians along 5th Street between Harris Road in Charlottesville and Ambrose Commons Drive in Albemarle County. The study envisions 5th Street becoming a Complete Street by improving safety and efficient travel by all users, managing congestion, supporting development and supporting environmental sustainability and community health.

More information about the 5th Street Corridor Study is available on the study webpage.

SCC sets additional public hearing on Virginia Natural Gas Header pipeline project

Virginia SCCThe State Corporation Commission will hear additional public witness testimony on Monday, June 8 regarding the Virginia Natural Gas Header pipeline project.

It will be a virtual hearing, webcast by the Commission. The deadline for filing written comments is also extended to June 8.

The process for public witness testimony will be different than the public hearing held on May 12. At that hearing, 30 public witnesses called the Commission to testify. For the June 8 hearing, the Commission will call public witnesses who pre-register with the Commission prior to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 4. The deadline to register is two business days in advance of the Monday, June 8 telephonic hearing that begins at 10 a.m. Each witness will have five minutes to provide testimony.

Public witnesses wishing to provide testimony may pre-register in one of three ways:

  • Completing a public witness form on the Commission’s website at: https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
  • E-mailing the same form (PDF version on the same website as above) to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov
  • Calling the SCC at 804-371-9141 during normal business hours (8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and providing their name and the phone number you wish the Commission to call to reach you during the hearing.

The day of the hearing, public witnesses should listen to the webcast. They will hear they are about to be called. The call identifying number will be 804-299-5840. Upon receiving a call from that number, turn down the volume of the webcast and listen to the instructions received by phone.

Reminder: Albemarle County tax bills due Tuesday, June 30

albemarle countyDue to COVID-19, Albemarle County extended the June 2020 personal property and real estate tax deadlines to June 30.

New Payment Instructions due to COVID-19

In order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, we are modifying how we accept payments in order to encourage contactless payments. To support this, Albemarle County has waived the fee associated with payments by eCheck for the June 2020 billing – please note fees associated with credit cards remain.

  • Pay online. Visit albemarlecountytaxes.org to pay using a credit card, electronic check, or PayPal.
  • Pay by mail. Instructions for payments by check and credit card are attached to your bill.
  • Pay by phone. Call 1-866-820-5450 to pay using a credit card.
  • Pay at the County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road using the 24/7 automated payment kiosk using check, cash, or card.
  • Drop off. Use the drop boxes located in the parking lot at either County Office Building (401 McIntire Road or 1600 Fifth Street Extended). No cash accepted in drop boxes.
  • Due to the current building closure, in-person payments will not be accepted at the payment windows.

There is a 2.5% convenience fee for credit/debit cards. In addition, online debit/credit card payments carry an additional $0.30 convenience fee.

Contact the county finance department to request assistance or ask questions: 434-296-5851, option 4

Earth Talk: Best ways to go green with decking materials

Dear EarthTalk: I am adding a deck onto my house this summer and wonder which decking materials (wood or otherwise) are the greenest?
– Bill A., San Francisco

earth weather

(© Sean K – stock.adobe.com)

As the weather warms up, we gravitate toward the outdoors, and what better way to enjoy the sunshine than on your very own deck. If you are building a new deck or sprucing up an existing one, you have the opportunity to make green choices so you can relax outside guilt-free. Luckily there are plenty of attractive and low-maintenance options out there these days that won’t break the bank or ruin the planet.

Of course, most of us think wood when we think about our ideal deck. It’s non-toxic, natural, renewable and recyclable, and it biodegrades without any polluting by-products. Cedar, which is naturally rot- and insect-resistant, may be the most common decking wood, but it takes regular maintenance if it’s going to look its best and last more than a few years. Redwood is another great naturally hearty choice for decks, but it’s hard to come by—and expensive—given limited supply. Another common wood for decks is pressure-treated Yellow Pine, but the chemical impregnation that makes it stand up to the elements doesn’t look great, and, even worse, can leach copper into aquatic ecosystems.

Then there are the tropical hardwoods, controversial given the decimation of tropical forests by mechanized logging since World War II. But certification of these woods as “sustainably harvested” by non-profits like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) can help consumers on the hunt for deck wood feel better about their use of ipe, garapa, cumaru or tigerwood—each of which evolved in the tropical rainforests of Latin America and are known for durability and natural resistance to rot and insects. Ipe, given how attractive it looks and that it can last up to 40 years in a decking application, has become especially popular in recent years.

That said, just because your tropical hardwood is FSC-certified doesn’t mean it’s as green as something that grows closer to your home. Factoring in the length of the journey from the source forest to your home—knowing that fossil fuels will be spewed along the way—is key to determining how green your decking choice is overall.

Besides straight-ahead wood, another option is modified wood. Kebony, for instance, is an FSC-certified pine product that’s modified to last three to five times as long as other deck woods. The modification process changes the cellular structure of the wood on a molecular level, increasing its density by permanently swelling and thickening the cells. Thermory is another modified wood product that’s excellent for decking, guaranteed to last 25 years without rot.

Beyond wood, composite decking (TimberTech, Trex, Dura-Life, etc.) is gaining traction, even among some environmentalists given that it doesn’t contribute to deforestation and the resins used in its production are typically recycled. Unlike wood, these come in a variety of colors, don’t need repainting and are splinter-free. If you want to split the difference between plastic and wood, Cali-Bamboo’s composite decking made from recycled bamboo is a solid choice.

CONTACTS: FSC, fsc.org; Kebony, kebony.com; Thermory, thermoryusa.com; TimberTech, timbertech.com; Trex, trex.com; Dura-Life, duralifedecking.com; Cali-Bamboo, calibamboo.com.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at https://emagazine.com. To donate, visit https://earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

McEachin calls for nationwide solidarity to protect black lives

donald mceachinCongressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today issued the following statement regarding nationwide unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“The past few weeks have only rubbed raw the visceral, exhausting pain of longstanding and overarching injustice.

“I know firsthand the dissonance of a lived experience that does not reflect the inalienable rights every American is entitled to — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“From our country’s inception, our history has been stained with blood and trauma endured by African Americans. Four hundred years later, the nationwide unrest this weekend demands that we refuse to sweep it under the rug any longer.

“African Americans live every day in a country that has never fully allowed us to join its lofty ideals and principles. That struggle is real and it is unacceptable.

“Our nation must rise to meet this moment together — first with an ear to listen to the pain of those who refuse to lower their expectations to an incomplete American ideal, followed by swift action to protect black lives from violence whether at the hands of renegade police officers or renegade vigilantes.”

Neon Funding shares how to maximize your Social Security checks

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Photo Credit: lilcrazyfuzzy/iStock Photo

Maximizing your social security benefit puts more money in your pocket where it belongs. Despite many individuals assuming their benefit amount is set in stone, putting a few simple strategies to work is all a person needs to maximize their monthly benefit amount. Neon Funding offers the following tips for maximizing social security benefits.

1. Earn More Money

Increasing income is the simplest strategy for increasing social security benefit amounts. The amount of earnings used to calculate retirement plans differs each year. In 2019, earnings of up to $132,900 are counted. Whether you raise money, earn it from a part-time gig, or increase salary at your current job, making more money is the key to larger social security benefits.

2. Include the Kids in the Claim

Dependent children under age 19 qualify social security recipients to payments worth up to half of their full benefit amount. Limitations do apply and eligibility must be verified for all dependents living in the home at the time of retirement.

3. Retirement Income

Although social security recipients can earn money during retirement, they cannot earn more than an amount specified by the Social Security Administration (SSA.) If they do, $1 is withheld for every $2 they earn above the limit. This amount changes each year. In 2019, social security recipients earning more than $17,640 were subject to the penalty. Keep up-to-date with current amounts to ensure you do not earn more than allowed by the SSA.

4. Wait to File for Social Security Benefits

Life is one big waiting game, isn’t it? Now is the best time to play that game. Retirement benefits increase every year that you do not file, up to age 70. Although the current retirement age is 66 years, two months, holding off to file for benefits can increase the amount of approximately 8%. There is no additional amount for retiring after age 70.

5. Work Longer

Social security benefits are calculated using the 35-years of work history during the periods when most money was earned. If you work an entire 35-years before filing a social security claim, you’ll earn more money in monthly benefits. It may seem like a long time, but it is worth all of the hard work at the end of the day!

6. Minimize Social Security Taxes

The amount of money that you earn is important in calculating your social security taxes. Individuals earning more than $25,000 and couples earning more than $32,000 could find up to 50% of their benefit taxable! Earn more than $34,000 ($44,000 for couples) and a steep 85% tax could be taken from your monthly benefit. Find all appropriate strategies necessary to minimize the taxes that you pay into the social security administration!

7. Be Informed

Check your social security statement at least once per year. Make sure that your earnings history and taxes have been recorded correctly by the SSA. Mistakes can and will happen and can impact you in many ways. You want to ensure that you get credit for the taxes that you pay. Keep an eye on this information. Setting up an account with My Social Security is the best way to monitor this information. There’s no cost to register for an account or to access your information. It is a quick and simple idea that keeps you up-to-date and within reach of an SSA agent who can answer questions or better serve your needs.

8. Understand Social Security Benefits

Far too many people fail to understand social security benefits and as a result, miss out on money they would qualify to receive. You can receive benefits not only for yourself but spouse and minor children too, as described here. However, the benefits that you may be entitled to receive is far greater than what is included on this list. Talk to an SSA representative and utilize family to help get the benefits you’re entitled to receive!

9. Educate Yourself

While educating yourself concerning the many different social security benefits available is important, you shouldn’t stop there. Educate yourself now concerning the best retirement strategies. Invest in a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Take retirement seriously even while you are still young and thrive later on in life. Far too many people feel that they have their entire life ahead of them and put off thinking about retirement. Life is far too short to make the same mistake when a bit of education helps you understand Social Security and how to maximize your benefit amount.

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits With This Information

Social security benefits are a part of any retirement plan. Learning the most effective ways to maximize your social security benefits now certainly pays off later, helping you get the most money after retirement. You’ve worked hard to enjoy your golden years and should be able to do that without worry or wonder or working a part-time job! Make sure that you can do just that with the information provided here courtesy of Neon Funding.

Staunton District Traffic Alerts: Week of June 1-5

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The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in the Staunton District during the coming weeks. The Staunton District consists of 11 counties from the Alleghany Highlands to the northern Shenandoah Valley: Alleghany, Bath, Rockbridge, Highland, Augusta, Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Warren.

Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

ALLEGHANY COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

*UPDATE* Mile marker 0 to 41, eastbound and westbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for vegetation management, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Wednesday morning.

*NEW* Mile marker 26 to 29, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PRIMARY ROADS

*UPDATE* Various roads – Mobile traffic control for mowing. Flagger traffic control for tree and debris removal, drainage work, shoulder repairs and brush cutting. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 696 (Selma Low Moor Road) – Flagger traffic control near I-64 for maintenance of bridge over the interstate. Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*UPDATE* Route 696 (Selma Low Moor Road) – Flagger traffic control from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Tuesday (June 2) between I-64 and Route 616 (Rich Patch Road) for bridge replacement at Karnes Creek. Beginning Wednesday (June 3), temporary signals will control traffic 24/7. Estimated project completion in fall 2021.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Mobile traffic control for mowing. Flagger traffic control for pipe replacements, ditch work, tree removal, shoulder repairs and brush cutting. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

BATH COUNTY

PRIMARY ROADS

No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for pavement patching. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

*UPDATE* Mile marker 41 to 57, eastbound and westbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for vegetation management, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Monday morning.

INTERSTATE 64

UPDATE* Mile marker 191 to 205, northbound and southbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for vegetation management, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Monday morning.

*NEW* Mile marker 193 to 197, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PRIMARY ROADS

*UPDATE* Route 60 (Midland Trail) – Westbound shoulder closures for tree removals in the area of FR-879 (Bares Woods Lane), Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for pipe replacement, ditch work, tree removal, shoulder repairs, pavement patching and brush cutting. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SECONDARY ROADS

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for grading, pipe replacement, ditch work, tree removal, pavement patching, shoulder repairs and brush cutting. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

HIGHLAND COUNTY

PRIMARY ROADS

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for shoulder repairs. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 637 (Dug Bank Road) – Flagger traffic control for Rural Rustic Road improvements. Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for ditch work in various locations including Route 678 (Bullpasture River Road) and Route 615 (Davis Run Road). Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

AUGUSTA COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

*NEW* Mile marker 87 to 91, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for tree removal operations, Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*NEW* Mile marker 87 to 100, eastbound and westbound – Mobile shoulder closures for mowing operations, June 2-11 from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

*NEW* Mile marker 99 to 100, eastbound and westbound – Alternating lane closures for inspection of Skyline Drive overpass, 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

INTERSTATE 64

*NEW* Mile marker 208 to 209, northbound – Overnight left lane closure for soil work, 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

*NEW* Mile marker 208 to 209, northbound – Right shoulder closures for tree removal operations, Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 209 to 219, northbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for milling and paving, Monday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Estimated completion August 2020.

PRIMARY ROADS

*UPDATE* Route 11 (Lee-Jackson Highway) – Flagger traffic control for waterline installation between Route 1402 (First Street) and Route 647 (Christians Creek Road), Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On other weekdays, southbound right shoulder closure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*UPDATE* Route 250 (Churchville Avenue) – Flagger traffic control from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through June 4 between Route 732 (Franks Mill Road) and western intersection with Route 840 (Old Churchville Road) for Bell Creek bridge replacement. Beginning June 5, motorists will follow short detour using temporary bridge and part of Route 732. Estimated project completion summer 2021.

*UPDATE* Route 276 (Keezletown Road) – Flagger traffic control for maintenance of North River bridge at Rockingham County line. Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 26.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 637 (Ramsey Road) – Flagger traffic control for utility work between Route 608 (Tinkling Springs Road) and Route 637 (Jericho Road), Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 10.

*UPDATE* Route 732 (Franks Mill Road) – Traffic pattern change June 5 due to Bell Creek bridge replacement. Route 732 just west of Route 250 (Churchville Avenue) will be part of detour route through summer 2021.

*NEW* Route 759 (Oak Hill School Road) – Road closing June 3 between Route 728 (Stover Shop Road) and Route 756 (Buck Hill Road) for bridge replacement at Moffett Creek. Follow posted detour. Estimated completion July 24.

Route 794 (Sangers Lane) – Flagger traffic control for drainage and safety improvement project between Route 642 (Barrenridge Road) and 0.5 miles west of Route 642, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through June 2020.

Route 797 (Miller Road) – Road closed between Route 608 (Long Meadow Road) and Route 796 (Kiddsville Road) for bridge replacement at Meadow Run. Follow posted detour. Estimated completion June 4.

Various roads – Mobile work zones in the Swoope, Craigsville, Verona, Fishersville and Mint Springs areas for pothole patching, brush cutting and grading non-hard surface roads. Weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through June 2020.

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

*NEW* Mile marker 237 to 243, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*NEW* Mile marker 244 to 246, northbound and southbound – Alternating lane closures for inspection of Route 726 (Stone Spring Road) overpass bridge, 8 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.

*NEW* Mile marker 253 to 252, southbound – Left shoulder closures for sign work, Tuesday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 256 to 258, northbound and southbound – Left lane closures for sign installations and construction work, Monday through Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Northbound and southbound left and right shoulders closed 24/7. Traffic restrictions are for bridge replacement and interchange improvements with estimated completion in spring 2021.

*NEW* Mile marker 260 to 264, northbound – Right shoulder closures for cleaning/debris removal, Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PRIMARY ROADS

Route 11 (Valley Pike) – Overnight alternating lane closures in the area of the I-81 exit 257 interchange. Monday to Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Traffic restrictions are for bridge replacement and interchange improvements with estimated completion in spring 2021.

*NEW* Route 257 (Friedens Church Road) – Westbound right shoulder closures for sign installations between I-81 and Route 11 (Valley Pike), Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*UPDATE* Route 276 (Cross Keys Road) – Flagger traffic control for maintenance of North River bridge at Augusta County line. Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 26.

SECONDARY ROADS

*NEW* Route 704 (Osceola Springs Road) – Shoulder closures for tree trimming between Route 709 (Autumn Lane) and Route 253 (Port Republic Road), Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

*UPDATE* Route 921 (Lairs Run Road) – Westbound shoulder closures just west of Route 259 (Brocks Gap Road) for road work related to bridge replacement at Shenandoah River North Fork, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through June 19. New bridge is open to traffic.

PAGE COUNTY

PRIMARY ROADS

*NEW* Route 211 – Alternating lane closures for pavement marking operations between Route 644 (Big Oak Road) and interchange to Route 340 North, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Monday.

Route 211 – Single-lane traffic between Route 615 (Egypt Bend Road) and Route 646 (Oak Leaf Road). Westbound traffic uses median crossover to share eastbound bridge over Shenandoah River South Fork. Work zone speed limit 45 miles an hour. Traffic restrictions are for westbound bridge replacement with estimated completion in summer 2022.

*NEW* Route 340 – Alternating lane closures for pavement marking operations between Route 683 (Shenandoah River Road) and Route 613 (Strole Farm Road), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Monday.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 646 (Kauffman Mill Road) – Shoulder closures for utility work between Route 211 and Route 766 (Hamburg Road), 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through June 11.

SHENANDOAH COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

Mile marker 268 to 269, northbound – Right shoulder closed 24/7 for off-ramp improvements at exit 269. Work zone active 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. behind concrete barrier. Estimated project completion November 20.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 276 to 280, northbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for paving and line painting, Sunday through Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. through July 17.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 279 to 278 including Exit 279, southbound – Overnight right lane and shoulder closures for paving and concrete barrier removal, Sunday to Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Interchange ramps remain open. Traffic restrictions are for on-ramp improvements at exit 279. Estimated project completion November 20.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 280 to 281, northbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work, Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*NEW* Mile marker 281 to 286, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 283 to 282 including Exit 283, southbound – Overnight right lane and shoulder closures for paving and concrete barrier removal, Sunday to Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.  Interchange ramps remain open. Traffic restrictions are for on-ramp improvements at exit 283. Estimated project completion November 20.

*NEW* Mile marker 288 to 291, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for painting of Route 655 overpass bridge, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through June 13.

PRIMARY ROADS

Route 55 (John Marshall Highway)  Flagger traffic control near I-81 interchange (exit 296/Strasburg) for maintenance to the bridge over I-81. Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 12.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 620 (Smith Creek Road) – Road closed just south of intersection with Route 732 (Cardinal Road) for Smith Creek bridge replacement. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion December 2020.

Route 623 (Coal Mine Road) – Road closed just east of Route 606 (Moores Ford Road) for Cedar Creek bridge replacement at Frederick County line. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion June 2021.

Route 698 (Orchard Drive, Mount Jackson) – Road closed just west of Route 263 (Bryce Boulevard/Orkney Grade) for Mill Creek bridge replacement. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion June 2021.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.         

FREDERICK COUNTY

INTERSTATE 64

*NEW* Mile marker 302 to 303 including Exit 302, northbound and southbound – Overnight right lane closures for installation of concrete barrier, Sunday and Monday nights (May 31-June 1) from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Interchange ramps remain open. Following barrier installation, right shoulders closed 24/7. Traffic restrictions are for interchange improvements at exit 302. Estimated project completion November 20.

*NEW* Mile marker 309 to 310, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for inspection of bridges over Opequon Creek, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*NEW* Mile marker 310 to 311, northbound and southbound – Shoulder closures for inspection of Route 37 overpass bridges at exit 310, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mile marker 312 to 313, northbound and southbound  Overnight alternating lane closures as needed for bridge construction over I-81, weeknights from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Left and right shoulders closed 24/7. Work zone speed limit 60 mph. Estimated project completion August 28.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 315 to 300 southbound – Right shoulder closures for shoulder repairs, Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 313 to 318, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for bridge maintenance at various locations. Monday through Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

PRIMARY ROADS

*NEW* Route 522 (Front Royal Pike) – Northbound and southbound right lane closures for traffic-signal work at intersection with Route 645 (Airport Road/Crossover Boulevard), Monday to Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

SECONDARY ROADS

Route 623 (Fromans Road) – Closed for bridge replacement at Cedar Creek just west of Route 622 (Cedar Creek Grade) at Shenandoah County line. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion June 2021.

Route 655 (Sulphur Springs Road) – Flagger controlled traffic for roadway reconstruction between Route 50 (Millwood Pike) and Route 656 (Greenwood Road). Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Estimated project completion July 2020.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

CLARKE COUNTY

PRIMARY ROADS

No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS

*NEW* Route 761 (Old Charles Town Road) – Closed for pipe replacement between Route 661 (Wadesville Road) and Frederick County line, June 3-12 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Follow posted detour during work hours.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

WARREN COUNTY

INTERSTATE 66

No lane closures reported.

INTERSTATE 64

No lane closures reported.

PRIMARY ROADS

No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS

*NEW* Route 619 (Mountain Road) – Closed for pipe replacement between Route 615 (Wakemans Mill Road) and Route 626 (Steed Lane), 8 a.m. Monday to 4 p.m. Friday. Follow posted detour.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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

How do you stay safe in a construction zone?

business construction crane

(© bannafarsai – stock.adobe.com)

Construction zones account for an estimated 10% of all traffic congestion and 24% of unexpected freeway delays. If those statistics don’t grab your attention, the number of fatal accidents in work zones should.

According to the Department of Transportation, 799 fatalities occurring in work zones during 2017. Of these, 658 were motorists and passengers, 136 were bicyclists and pedestrians, and five were people on non-motor personal transportation vehicles.

Construction zones annoy millions of drivers, especially when they are running late or are otherwise in a hurry. Most states have laws stating that drivers should slow down while driving through them. Despite this, the majority of construction zone accidents are the fault of drivers. The majority of fatalities in these accidents involve those motorists and not workers.

Staying safe in a construction zone is simple so long as drivers, pedestrians, and workers follow these tips on construction zone safety.

Minimize Distractions

There can be a lot going on in construction zones. There’s a lot to pay attention to, from other drivers to construction workers and vehicles. To stay safe, reduce your distractions while driving. Don’t try and eat, change radio stations, or use your smartphone while traveling through a construction zone.

Merge Promptly When You See Lane Closure Signs

Lane closures are the most common cause of accidents and road rage in construction zones. Signs usually warn a person well ahead of time of a lane closure, so make sure that you merge as soon as it is safe to do so. Waiting until the lane has come to an end and then forcing your way into the adjoining lane is not only impolite, it can cause an accident.

Reduce Your Speed

The typical speed limit on highways in construction zones is 55 m.p.h. when workers aren’t present. When they are around, speeds may be significantly lowered. In order to provide incentives for drivers to follow the speed limits, many jurisdictions double the fines for speeding tickets.

Follow Flagger Instructions

Flaggers are present in many construction zones, especially those in residential areas. Reduce your speed when you see signs that flaggers are present. Even when a flagger’s instructions may contradict other road signs, always pay attention to and follow the directions of a flagger.

Pay Attention to the Signs

There are usually road signs, typically large, orange, and diamond-shaped, that warn drivers that a work zone is coming up. When you begin seeing these signs, pay attention to the roadway. There will often be vehicles, workers, and sometimes, cones set out. Slow down and be prepared for anything when you start seeing “construction zone ahead” signs.

Remember, construction zones are generally present to improve your commute by laying new asphalt, adding additional lanes, and in numerous other ways. While they may be frustrating and unexpected, remaining patient and following speed limits can help you to stay safe in construction zones.

Following the tips above can ensure that your commute ends with everyone arriving safely. You will also contribute to increased road worker safety.

What to Do After an Accident

If you are a passenger or a worker who was involved in an accident, you may want to speak to a construction accident lawyer near you to discuss whether or not you have a viable case. These tragic events can result in a lifetime of pain and caretaking expenses for the injured.

Families of the deceased may lose the future income, companionship, and parenting of those who are killed. On top of this, they may be left with medical bills and funeral costs.

The majority of construction zone accidents are preventable. Please pay attention when you’re on the road, especially where construction work is taking place. It could save a life. It might even save your life.

Morgan Griffith: Comments on George Floyd, FISA dangers

George Floyd

Like many Americans, I am appalled by what happened to George Floyd. The officers involved in his death did not recognize his constitutional rights to due process or even his dignity as a human being.

I am glad the Department of Justice is investigating. It is right and proper, and the actions by these particular police officers was disgraceful.

FISA

All Americans fall under the protection of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Remembering broad and arbitrary violations of a person’s possessions by British officials before the American Revolution, the Founders recognized the importance of guaranteeing against “unreasonable searches and seizures” by government authorities.

Although the Fourth Amendment was ratified before electronic communications, it shields them as well. But the current Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) falls short of these guarantees.

Section 215 of FISA was passed in 2001 as part of the USA PATRIOT Act. Under its terms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency have secured millions of phone records and data.

Under FISA, these agencies merely submit a “statement of facts” to a special FISA court about how the records they seek are relevant to an investigation. No probable cause, no warrant!

Further, despite the “F” in FISA standing for “Foreign,” many of the communications records obtained by the intelligence community are wholly domestic. These belong to American citizens!

I believe these provisions on their face violate the constitutional rights of American citizens, so I have consistently opposed reauthorizing FISA without wholesale reform throughout my time in the U.S. House of Representatives. But dangerous and documented abuses have awakened more people to FISA’s glaring problems.

Last December, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General issued a report on the FBI’s investigation of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. It found numerous significant lapses in the FBI’s application to the FISA court to surveille Page. Details in the “statement of facts” were not factual, and other information exculpatory to Page was omitted.

A subsequent report released by the Inspector General looked at 29 FISA applications on American citizens and found problems in each instance. In 25 of the applications, the “facts” presented to the FISA court were erroneous or insufficiently supported. In four cases, no supporting documentation was found at all.

President Trump is rightly furious about the mistreatment of his campaign by the intelligence community. He threatened to veto FISA reauthorization. I am glad that he came around to my position, as have many of my colleagues who have seen the harm that can be inflicted by the current FISA law.

But these failures should alarm every American regardless of party. Whether through incompetence or malice on the part of certain investigators, Americans were deprived of the constitutional rights guaranteed to all. If it could happen to a presidential candidate, it could happen to anyone.

FISA’s authorization recently expired, and Congress has been working to reauthorize it. The intelligence community does need tools to perform its important duties. I think we can find a way to enable the performance of intelligence work without putting innocent Americans at risk.

The legislation that has been put forward to reauthorize FISA, however, lacks sufficient changes. I voted against the package reauthorizing it earlier this year.

When reauthorization came back to the House in May, I wanted to make sure all my colleagues were on the record in person on such an important issue. I spoke on the floor in favor of suspending the House’s current proxy voting rules while litigation continues, so that no Member of Congress handed his or her vote to someone else on this matter. And I demanded the yeas and nays on the motion to go to conference with the Senate on FISA legislation.

Curtailing arbitrary and invasive searches was one of the priorities of our Founding Fathers. In 1761, Massachusetts lawyer James Otis gave an impassioned speech against “writs of assistance,” general warrants allowing any British official who obtained them to search anything they suspected of containing smuggled goods. John Adams said of the speech, “Then and there the child Independence was born.”

We must take violations of rights as seriously today – if not for the Constitution’s sake, then for our own.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

Attorney General Mark Herring comments on protests, violence

mark herringAttorney General Mark Herring issued the following statement today.

“George Floyd should still be alive, and if he had been white, he almost certainly would be. We know that the criminal justice system treats people differently based on their race—the disparities are documented and undeniable. It takes conscious, deliberate work to fix these problems and tear down the systems that created and perpetuate them, and that is where our focus must be. We need to move quickly to reassure Virginians that black lives matter in Virginia, and must make a long-term commitment to invest in laws, policies, and training that will keep all Virginians safe.

“While peaceful protests and demonstrations can and should continue, as they are important tools of accountability and visibility, I hope we’ve seen the last of the violence and destruction that occurred in Richmond and elsewhere the last few nights. It is dangerous and counterproductive, and it so quickly snatches the focus from where it should be, which is how we will come together to ensure the safety, rights, and equality of all Virginians.

“In my conversations over the last few days I’ve heard over and over again words like ‘tired’ and ‘exhausted.’ The weight of fear that our society places on the shoulders of African Americans is immoral and unsustainable. No one can be truly free if they live in constant fear that they, their children, or their loved ones could be killed if they go out for a walk, or run an errand, or if a traffic stop takes a bad turn. I can never personally know the weight of that fear, but I recognize it, and I will do anything in my power to ease that burden and that fear.”

Northam declares state of emergency in response to protest violence

virginia state capitol

Photo Credit: traveler1116/iStock Photo

Gov. Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency and authorized assistance to localities in response to escalating violence across the Commonwealth.

Northam also granted a request from Mayor Levar Stoney to extend a curfew in the City of Richmond.

“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe,” Northam said. “There are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and pre-position people and equipment to assist localities in their efforts to de-escalate violent protests and protect public safety.

The declaration allocates $350,000 for state and local governments and state response and recovery operations authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The order extends a curfew in the City of Richmond between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM from Sunday, May 31, 2020 through Wednesday, June 3, 2020. While the curfew is in effect, people must remain in their homes and may only leave to seek emergency services or travel to and from home, work, or places of worship.

The full text of the emergency declaration can be found here.

 

Chris Graham: A path forward from protest to systemic change

chris graham dogsGeorge Floyd is dead over $20. You might not know that.

His arrest was over an alleged $20 counterfeit bill passed at a convenience store.

Police originally tried to say that he resisted, and that’s why Derek Chauvin, the arresting officer, took Floyd to the ground, and maintained pressure on Floyd’s neck with his knee, for nearly nine minutes, as Floyd repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” before losing consciousness, eventually succumbing.

Look at Chauvin’s face. I’m not publishing the photo here, since I don’t have the copyright, so follow the link.

Look at him. That’s the definition of white privilege there, isn’t it?

Consider that he knows he’s being recorded by multiple eyewitnesses. Presumably his body cam is activated and also gathering evidence that could be used against him.

He’s well aware of all of this.

And he’s still of the mindset that he will face no repercussions.

And he almost got away with it. The local prosecutor held a press conference on Thursday to state that he didn’t think there was enough evidence at that point to proceed with charges.

Despite the fact that the evidence was there for the world to see.

The prosecutor: white.

The cop: white.

This is a story that we’ve seen repeated over and over the past several years; honestly, from the start of the Republic.

We used to sell African Americans as human chattel.

When we did, their lives were worth more to us than $20.

This is at the heart of the protests, which, sadly, frustratingly, have been co-opted by, guess who, white folks.

Go figure, right?

We’ll find out for sure when this is over that radical anarchists are instigating the looting, fires, property damage, thefts, assaults that are marring the largely peaceful majorities taking to the streets.

To those folks, the death of a black man at the hands of police is opportunity to bring attention to their stupid cause, such as they have a cause, other than to mock.

There are also undoubtedly pent-up feelings over the extended COVID-19 lockdowns that have sent 40 million to the unemployment lines.

COVID fatigue is almost certainly playing a role in the violence that we’ve been seeing on the streets in cities across America the past few nights.

Effectively, the lockdowns have come to an end. It will be hard to get that horse back in the barn, the notion that we’d been reminded of, ominously, for weeks, that if we dared to stick our heads outside, we’d catch COVID and spontaneously combust.

That’s not going to fly now that the social distancing violations that we’ve seen are the least of the concerns right now.

Between the folks who just want to get out of the house, and the organized rabble-rousers, the focus has been taken from where it needs to be.

More than 150 years from emancipation, more than 50 years since the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, there are still two Americas: White America, and the Other America.

In White America, a cashier looks at a $20 bill from me, thinks it’s counterfeit, calls 9-1-1, and the police knock on my door, ask me for my side of the story, get my name and number, promise to get back in touch.

We were reminded of what happens in Other America this week.

Just another victim.

How do we change this?

First thing, obvious thing, street protests aren’t the end. They’re a means, certainly, toward the end, in getting attention to the cause, though the co-opting of the cause by the white anarchists is diluting the messaging, making it all about anger.

Anger is a motivation, but nothing is going to change if all this ends up being about is anger.

What needs to happen is the folks taking the case to the streets need to head down to city hall, to the state legislature, to Congress, on Monday, and speak truth to power, and if those with the authority to make change refuse to do so, there’s always an election coming ‘round.

This is, granted, the boring way.

You want to scream injustice to the mountaintops, so signing up to speak at a local government meeting, talking to your congressman, knocking on doors to get your neighbors to vote, can seem so … procedural.

It’s also why we are where we are right now.

You want to know why conservatives get their way on pretty much everything – packing the Supreme Court with anti-choice justices, blocking sensible gun control, perpetuating an inefficient, prohibitively expensive for-profit healthcare system that leaves millions without access?

Because they speak at local government meetings, talk to their congressmen, knock on doors to get their neighbors to vote.

It’s how things get done in a representative democracy.

I’d like to think that there are enough of us who agree on a path forward – from the center-right all the way to the sensible left – that we can get this done.

The protests are a starting point.

The violence, it must be said, clearly, unequivocally, needs to end, now, and those of us who know this need to be willing to say it, with emphasis, without fear of thinking that we’ll be interpreted as trying to undercut the legitimacy of the protests.

It’s the violence that undercuts the legitimacy of the protests, not us saying it.

The protests give the cause of justice attention, and energy.

Both can get us moving in the direction that we need to be going in.

Story by Chris Graham

10 digital marketing trends and innovations for 2020

marketing strategy

(© terrymorris – stock.adobe.com)

Technology has made the world a smaller place; it has allowed people and businesses to connect across continents. The sharing of information and ideas has never been easier with new technology appearing regularly. You can explore the trends in 2020 to look out for in digital marketing by reading below.

1. AI in Digital Marketing

AI refers to machines and robots performing some of the same tasks as humans. It uses a combination of features such as Chatbots, and voice assistance to help people get answers or solve queries. Siri is one of the best-known examples of AI intelligence that’s currently in use.

AI robots can take orders and carry them out behind the scenes. It’s possible by obtaining data through sensors and input factors programmed into its software. Some digital agencies use AI in helping professionals track and improve advertising campaigns.

2. Personalization

To stand out from the media noise, you need to personalize your marketing. This means creating customized content and emails to customers. 63% of consumers get annoyed with generic advertising campaigns, and 90% say that they find personalization appealing.

3. Visualization

Research has shown that people prefer visual content over text-rich information. You can see this in the growth of social platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Customers tend to remember visuals easier than the name of a product.

You can make sure that your business benefits by adding infographics, images, and videos to your text information. These make it more interesting and help get your message across.

4. Messaging Apps

Arguably one of the top digital marketing trends for 2020 is social messaging apps. Whatsapp alone has 1.6 Billion active users, and the Facebook messenger has 1.3 Billion. It makes sense that your business would want to take advantage of these platforms.

It’s a great way to message customers directly, adding value to the user experience. People also expect businesses to have a messaging app presence, as it allows them to contact the company directly and quickly.

5. Video Marketing

Videos are one of the most popular ways that customers prefer to learn about products. It’s an essential b2b marketing trend in 2020, and will likely continue to grow for years to come. It’s not only YouTube that you can use to reach customers. You can also incorporate videos into a live Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram broadcast.

6. Social Influencers

This is a type of word-of-mouth marketing that uses key leaders in a particular market to boost your brand. Sometimes influencers can be celebrities, but often some influencers have massive marketing clout only on social media. They are social media personalities that have a considerable following in a particular niche and can help spread the word about your business on their channels.

7. Insight-driven Marketing

Businesses need to take advantage of the data that they’ve collected from various digital marketing sources—using analytics and insight to drive business performance, optimizing results from digital marketing. This data-driven marketing will provide the business with a direction and help it recognize problems that need fixing.

8. Chatbots

A chatbot is, in effect, a virtual concierge. Prevalent in online gambling industries, the bot is programmed to pick up specific phrases and keywords to handle common queries. If you’ve ever played any online casino games, such as enjoying free bingo Canada online, you would have seen the little windows that pop up for a live chat.

More often than not, there is a chatbot that will initially reply. Customers prefer to use a chatbot rather than talking to a live person. Businesses need to understand this and offer Chatbots on websites.

9. Interactive Content Marketing

Anything that customers can swipe, click on, or interact in any way online will draw their attention to your business. Quizzes, polls, and 360-degree videos are beneficial for online marketing.

It is especially popular in affiliate marketing trends for 2020. It allows companies to share new products, training material, and information with remote parties in an engaging manner without the affiliate having to be present.

10. Immersive VR and AR Technology

Although still in its infancy, this technology is set to be the most significant marketing upset for businesses. Imagine your customer sitting on their couch, exploring your showroom in a fully immersive environment. Think of gamblers playing a live poker game inside a real-life casino right from the comfort of home.

According to our gaming expert, Daniel Bennet, it’s a technology that will change not only how the gambling industry does its marketing but also how it presents its products. He says it’s only the tech cost that is currently still keeping it out of mainstream use. From sampling to purchasing, VR and AR make the process seamless and instantaneous.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that any business that wants to remain relevant in 2020 needs to study it’s current marketing initiatives and align with trends.

Northam authorizes curfew in Richmond, places National Guard on alert

virginia map

(© niroworld – stock.adobe.com)

Gov. Ralph Northam has authorized a curfew in Richmond after a night of looting arising out of what began as peaceful protests of the murder of an African-American man by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Northam has also placed the Virginia National Guard on alert, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office Sunday morning.

The moves were made in consultation with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, according to the statement.

Several buildings, including the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and VCU’s Rhodes Hall, were set on fire overnight, in scenes resembling others seen in cities across the United States beginning with protests of the murder of George Floyd on Monday.

Derek Chauvin, a now ex-police officer, faces a third-degree murder charge in Floyd’s, after video shot by bystanders showed Chauvin kneeling on Foster’s neck for nearly nine minutes, as Foster repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” before losing consciousness.

In Richmond, police are investigating the shooting of a man on Grace Street that appears to be related to the riots.

Police are also reporting that two Capitol Police officers were injured.

“I acknowledge each of the voices crying out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth. I affirm the deep concerns from the black community. I hear you. I know your pain is real. We have all seen too many people harassed, abused, and killed by law enforcement officers, in too many places, for too long—just for being black. I also know that others are exploiting this pain and are now causing violence,” Northam said.

“I spoke with Mayor Levar Stoney throughout the night; pursuant to the mayor’s requests, I have authorized a curfew in Richmond and placed the Virginia National Guard on alert. They stand ready to assist in protecting our residents, businesses, especially small and black-owned businesses, and the capital city. As governor of Virginia, I call on all Virginians to join together and build a renewed commitment to working for justice and fair treatment,” Northam said.

Story by Chris Graham

Virginia Tech committee advances tuition freeze for 2020-2021

virginia techThe Finance and Resource Management Committee of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will recommend a tuition freeze for resident and nonresident undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

That recommendation will now advance to the full board meeting set for June 2 for its approval.

“Though we fully acknowledge the university will face challenging budgetary times ahead, I am grateful the board will consider this resolution on Tuesday. If approved, it will provide our students and their families with much needed support and greater stability during this uncertain time,” said Letitia A. “Tish” Long, chair of the Finance and Resource Management Committee. “If approved, it will clearly demonstrate our absolute commitment to our students and make a Virginia Tech education accessible for those who seek it.

“I want to thank President Sands, Provost Clarke, and Senior Vice President Pinkney for their hard work for getting this resolution before us,” added Long, “and for their ongoing commitment to our students and families during this crisis.”

For a third consecutive year, tuition will remain at $11,420 annually for Virginia undergraduate students. Tuition for nonresident students will remain at $29,960.

And to further support low- and middle-income families who seek a Virginia Tech education, the university intends to allocate approximately $3.3 million in additional resources toward financial aid programs next year, raising the total institutional support for student financial aid to $62 million in 2020-21.

As part of the growth in financial aid, Virginia Tech will continue to protect low- and middle-income students from tuition and fee increases to help families plan for the cost of education over four years through its Fund for the Future program. The program provides 100 percent protection from tuition and fee increases for returning students with a family income of up to $100,000. The Virginia Tech Grant program will be enhanced to further reduce the unmet need of Virginia resident undergraduates. In addition, the university’s Presidential Scholarship Program will provide full four-year scholarships to 85 incoming resident students next year, growing the total enrollment in the program to more than 300 students.

Including university-funded support, Virginia Tech undergraduates received approximately $128.8 million in grant aid and scholarship support last fiscal year.

E&G fees, or fees that support library and technology services for students, also will remain at their current levels for all students in 2020-21. At Virginia Tech, these fees total $175 for all students, while nonresidents are assessed an additional state-assigned capital fee.

The comprehensive fee, which supports auxiliary operations including health services, recreation sports, student activities, transit system, intercollegiate athletics, and career services, is paid by all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled on the Blacksburg campus. The comprehensive fee will increase by $58, bringing the comprehensive fee total to $2,154, the lowest of all 15 public universities in the state.

Next year, tuition and mandatory fees for resident undergraduate students will be $13,749, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.4 percent. The total tuition and mandatory fees for nonresident undergraduate students will be $32,893 annually, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.2 percent.

On average, room and board charges for both resident and nonresident undergraduate students will increase next year by 2.3 percent, or $214 per year, to a total of $9,556 annually. Virginia Tech room and board fees for freshmen are the lowest of all 15 public universities in the state.

When adding tuition and mandatory fees with room and board, the total cost in 2020-21 for a Virginia undergraduate student living on campus will be $23,305. Nonresident undergraduate students living on campus will pay $42,449. Virginia Tech ranks 10th of Virginia’s 15 public universities in total cost for resident students.

In addition, differential program fees used in select academic programs to offset higher instructional costs, ensure continued academic program quality, maintain advanced technology, and expand enrollment opportunities in these high-demand programs will not increase next year.

Virginia Tech will continue to discount on-campus undergraduate tuition by 10 percent during the summer session and winter session courses to help students complete degrees at an accelerated pace during nontraditional times.

In 2020-21, tuition and mandatory fees for resident graduate students will be $16,030, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.4 percent. The total tuition and mandatory fees for nonresident graduate students will be $30,547 annually, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.2 percent.

The total annual cost to Virginia and Maryland veterinary students will be $25,435, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.2 percent. Nonresident veterinary students will pay $54,568, increasing only by the $58 change in the comprehensive fee, or 0.1 percent.

Students enrolling at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine this summer will pay a total annual cost of $54,420, increasing only by a $364 change in the student services fee, or 0.7 percent.

Tuition and fees are the primary source of revenue supporting the university’s E&G budget. In the current fiscal year, for example, tuition and fees from both resident and nonresident students account for $586.1 million (or 71.4 percent) of the $809.7 million total E&G budget. The state provides $184.7 million (or 22.8 percent) toward the E&G budget, and an additional $46.9 million (or 5.8 percent) comes from other sources.

This year marks the third consecutive year that more than 30,000 students applied to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is poised to welcome its most diverse freshman class in university history for the fall 2020 semester.

Regular admissions decisions were sent to prospective students last month. The academic performance of the incoming class remains strong with an average freshmen GPA of 3.96 and an average SAT score of 1272. The university projects to hit its freshman class target of 6,675, the second largest incoming class in history.

Harrisonburg City Public Schools beginning celebration convoy on Monday

The Harrisonburg City Public Schools is partnering with the Harrisonburg Police Department, Harrisonburg Fire Department and Harrisonburg Public Transportation Department to provide a celebration convoy during the first week of June.

Starting on June 1, 2020 a convoy of school busses transporting school staff members will be escorted  by HPD and HFD as they travel around city neighborhoods.

Check the HPD website at www.harrisonburgva.gov/police to see when and where the convoy will be.  Students are asked to construct an inspiring sign and stay in your front yard or on your porch and wave as the bus convoy travels by.

Route details can be found at; Route Information Based on Elementary School District
Bluestone Elementary – Monday June 1 – 10 a.m. to noon
Keister Elementary -Tuesday June 2 – 10 a.m. to noon
Waterman Elementary – Wednesday June 3 – 10 a.m. to noon
Spotswood Elementary – Wednesday June 3 – 2 p.m. to 4 p,m.
Smithland Elementary – Thursday June 4 – 10 a.m. to noon
Stone Spring Elementary – Friday June 5 – 10 a.m. to noon

Climate, energy news roundup: May 31

earth weather

(© Sean K – stock.adobe.com)

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley. We produce “The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News” to inform legislators and the public. Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup. Read the full Roundup at the CAAV website.

Politics and Policy

The UN announced that COP26 will be postponed until November 1-12, 2021.  The summit will happen in Glasgow.  The European Commission announced its green recovery; Damian Carrington (The Guardian) wrote: “It sets a high standard for other nations.”  Reuters provided its spending proposals.  Some were not excited about the plan, which relies heavily on borrowing.  Major European electricity groups issued a joint call urging the European Commission to prioritize renewable hydrogen in its pandemic recovery plan.  New research (Environmental Science and Policy) found that President Trump’s reelection would likely cause a significant delay in meeting global carbon emission reductions.

David Roberts (Vox) argued there is a broad alignment forming within the Democratic Party around a climate policy platform ambitious enough to address the problem and politically potent enough to unite various interest groups.  Subsequently Roberts said that if former Vice President Joe Biden embraces a bold climate policy he has a good chance of turning out the voters needed to win.  Two conservative clean energy advocates want Congress to “seize this opportunity to modernize the nation’s power system with investments that will pay dividends for the economy and the environment for generations.  ”Twenty-three states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.  States have challenged virtually every effort by the EPA and other agencies to walk back Obama-era rules, winning 80% of the cases so far.

Former Federal Reserve governor and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Sarah Bloom Raskin argued the Fed should not direct money to further entrench the carbon economy.  The U.S. Treasury Department released guidance offering onshore wind and solar projects more time to meet tax credit deadlines.  The oil and gas industry lost appeals in two major climate damages cases by California cities and counties.  The Bureau of Land Management abruptly postponed a scheduled auction of the right to drill for oil and gas on 45,000 acres in New Mexico scheduled for last week.

The Ohio Power Siting Board ruled the Icebreaker windfarm project in Lake Erie could move forward only if blades on its six turbines are turned off every night for eight months each year, a stipulation that “may well be fatal to the entire project.”  A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down the Trump administration’s request to revive a permit program for new oil and gas pipelines.

Climate and Climate Science

Humanity’s fingerprint on the climate is now unmistakable and will become increasingly evident over the coming decades, the UK Met Office confirmed after 30 years of study.  Climate scientists say planting a trillion trees as a climate change mitigation strategy is not that simple.  New research in the journal Science found that rising temperatures, deforestation, development, and climate-induced disasters are causing bigger trees to be lost at alarming rates, making the planet’s forests shorter and younger.

According to new research in Nature Climate Change, the deep ocean will be warming rapidly by 2050 even if dramatic reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions were to happen today.

Contrary to previous research, a new paper (Science Advances) concluded that marshes in the Mississippi River Delta have hit a tipping point and will likely drown this century due to sea level rise.

Research (The Lancet Planetary Health journal) revealed that over the past 11 years, the number of deaths attributed to excessive natural heat in Australia is at least 50 times greater than is recorded on death certificates there.

With the Siberian Arctic seeing record warm conditions in recent weeks and months, scientists monitoring wildfire trends are becoming more convinced that some of the blazes erupting in the Arctic this spring are actually left over from last summer, having survived by burning in dry underground peat formations.

Energy

Japanese scientists have designed a photocatalyst capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gases with almost 100% efficiency when exposed to ultraviolet light.  Their work suggests it should be possible to design a photocatalyst capable of doing the same thing with visible light, thereby paving the way for much more efficient systems than electrolysis for producing hydrogen from sunlight.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced on Thursday that in 2019 the U.S. consumed more energy from renewable sources like solar and wind than from coal.

Power companies have announced plans to close 13 coal-fired power plants this year, according to an E&E News review of federal data and companies’ closure plans.  Two others will be converted to natural gas.  Southern Company, which owns a number of utilities across the South, has joined other major utilities in setting a net-zero carbon target for 2050.

Botetourt County (VA) Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve the Apex Clean Energy request to amend its permit for the Rocky Forge Windfarm to allow the construction of fewer, taller wind turbines.  Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy announced the 2.64 GW Dominion Energy Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project will utilize its SG 14-222 DD turbine, with a capacity of 14 MW.  Siemens Gamesa said it is considering establishing the first global factory for that turbine in the U.S.  In Europe, as locations for wind energy fill up onshore and near-shore, companies are deploying floating turbines that can be sited in deep waters.  Offshore wind market leader Ørsted will work in and around Copenhagen to decarbonize transport on land, at sea, and in the air by producing hydrogen, from which other fuels can be generated.

Potpourri

John Schwartz defined “Cassandrafreude” in the second article of the NYT’s “Climate Fwd:” newsletter.  Heather Grady, Vice President, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, wrote: “…2020 can be a super year, not just for nature, but also for people.”  The latest Peter Sinclair video focused on the Florida Keys and whether the communities there can be saved.  Sinclair lives in Midland, MI, and wrote about last week’s dam breach there.  YouTube has taken down the controversial Michael Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans because of a copyright infringement claim by a British environmental photographer.  Vimeo has the film available for free.  Treat yourself to 4½ minutes of stunning photography about “The Beauty of Pollination.”

Joy Loving edited the latest Roundup prepared by Dr. Les Grady, a Rockingham County resident and Member of CAAV’s Steering Committee

 

Interesting facts you should know about buying a used car

car windshield

(© Yuri Bizgaimer – stock.adobe.com)

Isn’t it obvious? The majority of people buy used cars because it is a cheaper option and well if you get a good one, it will last you a right amount of years too. People who have a tight budget usually go for this option.

It is not necessary that a used vehicle ought to be in an inferior condition. You can always get one, in good shape, as long as you know its history report which will prevent you from any fraud, and do not forget to get your car inspected from some experienced mechanic.

1. Odometer Fraud

You would have probably heard about this and assumed that this is not possible, but it is a real thing. To make it seem like the right choice for the customer, the dealers can take the mileage off from the meter. This is why it is advised to get a licensed dealer because reputable companies do not indulge in this type of fraud.

2. Manual Cars are decreasing in demand

It is not even a fact now, but it’s an automatic world now. The demand for manual cars is declining rapidly, and within some years, we probably won’t be appreciating their existence either.

3. Don’t forget to inspect the airbags

This is definitely the last thing you would have thought to check on, right? Interestingly, people MUST check the used car’s airbags before purchasing it. Vehicles which have met an accident, need airbag replacement. However, their airbags are never appropriately replaced. If you have gotten a Rev Check report, you probably would probably know about any previous accidents that have taken place with the car. This is why a car history report can really help you in reducing the chances of scam.

4. V6 is the most loved engine

People who purchase used cars love the V6 engine. It has a beautiful level of speed, and the gas mileage is impressive too. If you are planning to get a used car, we would recommend you to get a V6 engine. It will run a long way.

5. A Decade-Old Vehicle might be fine too

A lot of us are under the assumption that a decade-old car is not worth the investment. Well, you’re mistaken. If the vehicle is from a trusted brand and is in good shape, both externally and internally, then it will last you just fine. Take the baby for a test drive, and you will get an idea about any problems that it might have.

These are some of the top 5 interesting facts about used cars which people usually do not look into. Don’t forget to check the airbags and make sure that you do not visit an unauthorized dealer either. They can easily scam you with an odometer fraud, and the car won’t last long too. Thus, be careful and inspect in all ways possible while purchasing a used car. A little effort can put your money to the right use.

Virginia Athletics celebrates National Running Day with two virtual runs on June 3

uva virginiaVirginia Athletics will mark National Running Day by hosting two virtual runs, the Wahoowa 5K and Cavman’s Fun Run 1-miler, presented by UVA Vascular, on Wednesday, June 3.

Walkers and runners can check in to the competition using the Virginia Sports mobile app prior to beginning their virtual race. Both the Wahoowa 5k and Cavman’s Fun Run 1-miler are free to join. The race leaderboards on the app will be open to submit race times through 11:59 p.m. on June 3.

“The track and cross country student-athletes and staff are pleased to support the Wahoowa 5k and the one mile fun run,” director of track & field and cross country/associate athletics director of administration Vin Lananna said. “We look forward to participating in this outstanding community building initiative especially on National Running Day on June 3.”

Participants can view a leaderboard for both races on the Virginia Sports mobile app. Fans who submit a time will be entered into a random drawing to win Nike and UVA prize packs.

Virtual competitors are encouraged to share photos and videos through the Virginia Sports mobile app or to the Virginia Sports social media accounts by using the hashtag GoHoos. Photo filters featuring a racing bib, a Wahoowa finish line and race medals are available on the mobile app.

For additional information or questions about the Virginia virtual runs, email athleticsmarketing@virginia.edu.

Information from Virginia Athletics

To download the Virginia Sports mobile app, click here.

 

Virginia Lottery plans to reopen seven customer service centers on Monday

Virginia LotterySo you say you have a large winning Virginia Lottery ticket, and you didn’t want to mail it to the Lottery while its offices were closed?

Beginning Monday, Lottery customer service centers in Abingdon, Farmville, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Henrico, Roanoke and Woodbridge will once again be open for business.

That means Lottery customers can claim prizes of any size in person at those locations. The Lottery’s Prize Zone in downtown Richmond will remain closed for the time being, although Richmond-area players can use the Lottery’s Prize Zone West, located on East Parham Road in Henrico. The addresses of all customer service centers can be found on the Virginia Lottery’s How to Claim page.

All those offices closed on March 23 due to the lockdowns enacted by Gov. Ralph Northam in response to the COVID-19 virus.

The Lottery is instituting new safety precautions at the reopened offices, including:

  • All customers and employees are required to wear a protective mask.
  • Do not bring guests or family members unless they are needed to complete the transaction.
  • Customers claiming a prize will receive a claim packet and pen, then return to their car to fill out the form. (Customers can expedite this process by downloading a Virginia Lottery claim form hereand filling it out beforehand.)
  • When the packet is completed, customers can ask for a ticket for processing and be ready for the next socially distant marked space in line.
  • As always, tickets must be signed, and the winner must show a current photo ID and proof of Social Security number. Full instructions are on the Virginia Lottery’s How to Claim page.
  • Virginia Lottery employees will be on hand to assist with social distancing directions.

Brave with the timing: Friendly City Food Co-op announces store expansion

Friendly City Food Co-op is about to undergo its first full store expansion since it was established in 2011. The co-op will be 9 years old on June 6th, and is marking the occasion by adding more space for fresh, local and organic foods.

The demolition/expansion will begin on Monday, June 1, and consist of three phases. The store will remain open during all of these phases and the entire project is expected to be complete in nine months time.

Health and safety protocols will remain in place as long as necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The first phase of work consists of annexing the former Teeny Tiny Spice Co. rental space (to the left of the current store), which will become the new deli, kitchen and café areas – complete with coffee bar, salad bar, and hot bar; building new office space; and adding new storage shelving. This will all happen within space that is not in the current store footprint.

The second phase happens within the current sales floor and includes: removing the wall behind the current bulk foods shelf and opening up the sales floor; putting in a produce walk-in cooler, sinks and prep area; relocating the bulk foods area; and adding a new larger meat case.

The overall store configuration will change – the aisles that currently run east/west will rotate 90 degrees, along with the lights and signage above them, to run north/south.

Phase 3 will include moving the produce department from its current position to the area in the front end that previously housed the checkouts and seating area; installing south facing windows in the area across the front of the store which will be the new café seating; and adding a new office, close to the cashier stations.

Local firms were enlisted to carry out the project. Harman Construction is the general contractor, and Blueline is the architectural firm. Co-op general manager Steve Cooke will serve as project manager.

Harman and Blueline were the co-op’s original partners for the store’s opening project.

Researchers repurpose pantry staple to fight mosquitoes

healthcare

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Most people know cornstarch can be used for cooking, as a stain remover and as a deodorizer. Now they can add insect repellant to cornstarch’s expansive list of applications.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service announced its scientists in Peoria, Illinois, are using the starch to make products that can fight insects, including mosquitoes.

Researchers convert starch into a class of materials known as amylose-inclusion complexes. The complexes can be combined with essential oils from plants toxic to mosquitoes, creating an emulsion. Once blended, the complexes surround the oil, protecting it from heat and oxidation, which can reduce its potency.

Safe for the environment but toxic to mosquito larvae, the emulsion can be applied to larvae habitats, such as water catch basins and old tires. The substance disperses in the water, allowing it to contact and kill larvae. Lab tests showed the emulsion killed the larvae of yellow fever mosquitoes in 24 hours.

According to the USDA’s announcement, researchers envision using the emulsion to help control mosquito populations and prevent diseases like West Nile virus, yellow fever, dengue and Zika.

“This is a terrific development,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “As an insecticide, this type of product could be environmentally safer and pose fewer exposure risks. Naturally, this technology could lead to greater demand for corn as more starch-based products are developed.”

With humidity and rainy weather, Virginia’s spring and summer make an ideal climate for mosquitoes, which are harmful to humans and animals and spread debilitating, sometimes fatal diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Virginia had 1,319 cases of mosquito-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016. The most prevalent such disease in Virginia is West Nile virus.

Farmers and their animals spend a lot of time outdoors and can be especially vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases. Many farms have sources of standing water that make ideal breeding grounds for the pests, including ponds, containers and drums, and ditches that collect water. This new technology could lead to new alternatives for controlling mosquito-borne diseases that affect humans, livestock and pets, Banks said.

“Mosquito-borne diseases can affect livestock production by causing weight loss, lost reproduction and death,” he added. “Vaccines are not foolproof, so we need to have a variety of measures for controlling pests and diseases.”

Avoid grilling accidents as barbecue season heats up

cookout grill

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Memorial Day marked the start of outdoor grilling season for many barbecue enthusiasts. Now that it’s time to fire up the grill, it’s important to do so safely.

Each year, approximately 57,000 grill fires occur on residential property, resulting in 100 injuries, 10 fatalities and $37 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Most grilling accidents are caused by grills that haven’t been properly maintained.

“Always inspect your grill before using it to ensure that it will operate properly, and always practice safe barbecue habits,” said Scott DeNoon, farm product and underwriting manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

Whether grilling with gas or charcoal, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions on how to properly set up and maintain your grill. Additionally, search the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to check for any safety recalls on your grill.

When using charcoal grills, use starter fluids designed for grills. Never use gasoline, and limit the amount of starter fluid. If a fire needs rekindling, add more charcoal if necessary, as too much liquid fuel can start a flash fire.

For gas grills, regularly check grill hoses for cracks, holes and brittleness. Hoses should be directed away from hot areas or where grease could drip on them. Gas leaks can be checked using a soap and water solution that will bubble at points where gas could escape.

When grilling, operate the grill in a stationary position on a level surface at least 3 feet away from nearby objects including homes, trees or shrubs. Only grill in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide exposure.

Protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and oven mitts that reach over your forearm. Never grill near others, and remove children and pets from the grilling area.

Keep a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water nearby. Should a fire occur that cannot be controlled by a fire extinguisher, call 911 and treat any injuries immediately with a first-aid kit.

National challenge seeks innovative rural entrepreneurs

covid-19 economy

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Rural business owners tackling new challenges due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and entrepreneurs addressing traditional challenges for farmers and rural communities can compete in the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge.

The American Farm Bureau Federation partnered with Farm Credit to showcase start-up companies that are addressing challenges faced by America’s farmers and rural communities. Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the contest aims to identify up-and-coming agricultural entrepreneurs and support innovation essential to rural businesses and communities.

“In light of the impacts Farm Bureau members are experiencing from COVID-19, solutions from entrepreneurs are needed more than ever to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’re very interested to see how entrepreneurs will use start-up funds provided by the challenge to help support farms and ranches and grow the rural economy.”

AFBF and Farm Credit will select 10 start-up companies to compete as semifinalists at the AFBF Annual Convention in January 2021. The 10 teams will be announced on Oct. 5 and awarded $7,500 each.

The final four teams will receive an additional $7,500 and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The team named Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year will win $50,000, and the business selected as People’s Choice winner will receive $20,000.

The semifinalists will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management faculty prior to competing at AFBF’s convention. In addition, those competitors will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and venture capital representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

Lee Spiegel, founder of Pulaski Grow in Lee County, represented Virginia Farm Bureau Federation in the first challenge in 2015. She said the training helped her to better express her ideas in a limited amount of time for the competition.

Pulaski Grow trains youth for working in aquaponics—the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics to grow food indoors. Participants in the program use water from the aquaculture tanks to grow greens, herbs and other vegetables in greenhouses and sell them to community-supported agriculture subscribers.

“The competition was extremely helpful in launching Pulaski Grow, and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity,” Spiegel said.

Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as top 10 semifinalists. Applicants who are not members can join Virginia Farm Bureau online.

Detailed eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past winners are available at fb.org/challenge. Applications must be received by midnight on July 31.

Women’s Golf: EMU’s Olyvia Longacre earns All-ODAC honors

emu sportsEMU women’s golfer Olyvia Longacre (Telford, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) wrapped up her collegiate career on a high note, earning All-ODAC Third Team status.

This is her first All-ODAC award.

Longacre had a great final season, highlighted by three top-7 finishes out of five tournaments. She started the year with a 79 (+7) at the Knights Invitational at Lexington Golf & Country Club, tying for second out of 45 women. She took third at the Randolph-Macon Fall Invitational in late September.

Going out on top, Longacre also had the best scoring average of her golf career, finishing at 84.9 strokes per round.

The ODAC honors only 10 women in their postseason golf awards, with four on the First Team, and three each on the Second and Third Team.

Longacre’s selection is the second All-ODAC honor in program history, following a Third Team spot for Brittany McDonaldson in 2014. Eastern Mennonite started their golf programs in the 2012-13 season.

Culpeper District Traffic Alerts: Week of June 1-5

road

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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 www.virginiadot.org/travel/travel_alerts/culpeper/default.asp.

Albemarle County

Interstate 64 – Roadside maintenance in both directions between mile marker 100 and mile marker 131. Be alert for operations with workers on both shoulders Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(NEW) Interstate 64 – Mowing operations in both directions between mile marker 100 and mile marker 131. Be alert for mobile lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

(NEW) Interstate 64 – Shoulder work. Expect workers on the shoulders Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the following locations:

  • Exit 107/Crozet
  • Exit 114/Dick Woods Road
  • Exit 118/Route 29-Charlottesville
  • Exit 120/5th Street
  • Exit 121/Route 20
  • Eastbound at mile marker 110
  • Westbound at mile marker 117

(NEW) Route 6 (Irish Road) – Pipe replacement. Road closed to through traffic between Route 627 (Porters Road) and Route 626 (Langhorne Road). Traffic detoured via Route 627 and Route 626 from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

(UPDATE) Route 29 (Monacan Trail Road) – Road work as part of Albemarle Design Build Bundle project. Expect alternating northbound lane closures near the I-64 interchange Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expect shoulder closures on the ramp from northbound Route 29 to eastbound I-64 and on the ramp from eastbound I-64 to northbound Route 29.

(NEW) Route 20 (Scottsville Road) – Inspection of the Interstate 64 bridges over Route 20. Expect alternating lane closures from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday.

(NEW) Route 20 (Scottsville Road) – Inspection of the bridge over the Hardware River near Route 627 (Carters Mountain Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

(NEW) Route 20 (Valley Street) – Inspection of the bridge over the James River at the Buckingham County line. Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

(NEW) Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Signal work between Lewis and Clark Drive and Route 641 (Burnley Station Road). Expect shoulder and alternating lane closures in both directions from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday through Friday.

(NEW) Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Pavement marking at Route 643 (Polo Grounds Road). Expect intermittent northbound left lane and southbound right lane closures Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(NEW) Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Signal work at Route 643 (Polo Grounds Road). Expect short duration, alternating lane closures in both direction from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.  Weather date: Thursday evening.

(NEW) Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Inspection of the Interstate 64 bridges over Route 29. Expect alternating lane closures in both directions from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.

(NEW) Route 250 (Rockfish Gap Turnpike) – Inspection of the Interstate 64 bridges over Route 250. Expect alternating lane closures in both directions Monday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

(NEW) Route 250 (Rockfish Gap Turnpike) – Inspection of the bridge over Mechums River near Route 240 (Three Notched Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

(NEW) Route 250 (Richmond Road) – Inspection of the Interstate 64 bridges over Route 250. Expect alternating lane closures in both directions from 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

(UPDATE) Route 643 (Polo Grounds Road) – Road work under VDOT permit between Route 29 (Seminole Trail) and Route 1033 (Bentivar Drive):

  • Westbound traffic detoured between Stella Road and Route 29 from 9 a.m. Monday until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Stella Road is a new road in the development. The detour will bring westbound traffic back to Route 29 north of Polo Grounds Road.
  • Expect traffic shifts and intermittent flagging operations during daytime hours.

Route 660 (Reas Ford Road) – Resurfacing operations from Route 676 (Woodlands Road) to Route 1544 (Forestvue Drive). Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

(NEW) Route 743 (Earlysville Road) – Road work near Route 660 (Reas Ford Road). Expect workers near the travel lanes Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(NEW) Various Routes – Pavement marking operations. Expect mobile alternating lane closures on the routes listed below from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday:

  • Route 6 (Valley Street) from Route 20 to the Fluvanna County line
  • Route 20 (Stony Point Road) from the Orange County line to Route 250 (Richmond Road)
  • Route 20 (Scottsville Road) from Route 712 (Plank Road) to the Buckingham County line
  • Route 22 (Louisa Road) from Route 250 (Richmond Road) to the Louisa County line
  • Route 53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway) from Route 20 (Scottsville Road) to the Fluvanna County line
  • Route 231 (Gordonsville Road) from Route 615 (Lindsay Road) to the Louisa County line

Culpeper County

Business Route 15 (Remington Road) – Rehabilitating bridge over Rappahannock River at the Fauquier County line. Road closed to through traffic with posted detour. Anticipated completion Oct. 2020.

(NEW) Route 3 (Germanna Highway) – Inspection of the bridges in both directions over the Rapidan River at the Orange County line. Expect alternating lane closures Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(NEW) Route 29 (James Monroe Highway) – Inspection of the bridges in both directions over Crooked Run south of Route 609 (Hoover Road). Expect alternating lane closures Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Route 15 (James Madison Highway) – Resurfacing operations from Carver School Lane to the Route 29 interchange. Expect alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(UPDATE) Route 15 (James Madison Highway) – Resurfacing operations on the off-ramp from southbound Route 29 (James Monroe Highway) to Route 15 and the on-ramp from Route 15 to southbound Route 29. Ramps closed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday and Monday.

(UPDATE) Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Mowing operations from the Route 622 (Old Bridge Road) to the Rappahannock County line. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Intersection improvements at Route 229 (Rixeyville Road). Expect workers in the median and intermittent left-turn lane closures during off-peak travel times. Anticipated completion June 19.

Route 229 (Rixeyville Road) – Resurfacing operations from Route 685 (Chestnut Fork Road) to Route 611 (Waterford Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flaggers Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Waterloo Bridge – Bridge restoration over the Rappahannock River. Anticipated completion April 2021.

Fauquier County 

(UPDATE) Interstate 66 – Bridge work in both directions over Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) in Delaplane. Westbound right lane closed Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastbound right lane closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expect shoulder closures in both directions and intermittent flagging operations on Route 55 underneath both bridges.

(NEW) Interstate 66 – Inspection of the bridges in both directions at mile marker 33 over Route 698 (Obannon Road). Expect alternating lane closures Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Business Route 15 (Remington Road) – Rehabilitating bridge over Rappahannock River at the Culpeper County line. Road closed to through traffic with posted detour. Anticipated completion October 2020.

Business Route 15/17/29 – Construction of grade-separated interchange at Route 15/17/29 (Eastern Bypass):

  • Acceleration ramp to southbound Route 15/17/29 toward Opal temporarily closed. All southbound traffic, coming from Warrenton, temporarily using traffic signal to access Route 15/17/29.
  • Expect nighttime lane closures in both directions for installation of signs.
  • Expect intermittent daytime lane closures.

Route 15/17/29 (Eastern Bypass) – Construction of grade-separated interchange near Route 880 (Lord Fairfax Road):

  • Northbound: Intermittent nighttime lane closures
  • Southbound: Intermittent lane closures from 6 p.m. to 1 p.m. the following day
  • Contractor will maintain 11-foot travel lanes with barrier in place in both directions.

Route 15/17/29 (James Madison Highway) – Mowing operations from Route 17 (Marsh Road) to the Prince William County line. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Route 17 (James Madison Highway/Winchester Road) – Mowing operations from Warrenton to Interstate 66. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) – Replacing multiple pipes between the Warren County line and Route 688 (Leeds Manor Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Mowing operations from the Culpeper County line to Warrenton. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Route 643 (Meetze Road) – Road work under VDOT permit between Route 674 (Lunsford Road) and Route 670 (Old Meetze Road). Right lane closed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Follow traffic controls.

Route 651 (Sumerduck Road) – Utility work under VDOT permit from Remington to Route 654 (Normans Ford Road). Expect alternating lane closures controlled by flagging Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Follow traffic controls.

Route 767 (Tenerife Road) – Rehabilitating bridge over Walnut Branch. Temporary road to be installed for traffic. Expect crews working near the bridge and intermittent flagging operations through late June.

Route 880 (Lord Fairfax Road) – Shoulder closures and intermittent flagging operations near Route 15/17/29 (Eastern Bypass) for Warrenton Southern Interchange project. Be alert for workers near the travel lanes Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Waterloo Bridge – Bridge restoration over the Rappahannock River. Anticipated completion April 2021.

Fluvanna County 

Route 53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway) – Construction of a roundabout at Route 618 (Lake Monticello Road). Expect daytime flagging operations on weekdays on Route 53 and Route 618. Plan extra travel time. Anticipated completion Nov. 17.

Greene County 

Route 29 (Seminole Trail) – Signal work at Route 33 (Spotswood Trail) and Route 607 (Matthew Mill Road). Expect shoulder and short duration lane closures Monday through Thursday.

Route 670 (Preddy Creek Road) – Replacing large pipe structure that carries Preddy Creek under the road. Road closed to through traffic. Anticipated completion July 10.

Louisa County 

Interstate 64 – Roadside maintenance in both directions between mile marker 132 and mile marker 147.5. Be alert for mobile operations with workers on the roadway shoulders Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(NEW) Interstate 64 – Mowing operations in both directions between mile marker 132 and mile marker 147.5. Be alert for mobile lane closures Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Route 603 (Bowlers Mill Road) – Replacing bridge over South Anna River. Temporary road to be installed for traffic. Expect crews working near the bridge and intermittent flagging operations through late September.

Madison County 

(NEW) Route 230 (Wolftown-Hood Road) – Pothole patching operations from Route 662 (Shelby Road) to Route 29 (Seminole Trail). Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

(NEW) Route 231 (Blue Ridge Turnpike) – Pavement marking operations from the Orange County line to Route 230 (Orange Road). Expect alternating lane closures Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Orange County 

Route 20 (Constitution Highway) – Construction of a roundabout at Route 231 (Blue Ridge Turnpike). Expect flagging operations, traffic pattern changes and shoulder closures. Anticipated completion Dec. 7.

(NEW) Route 20 (Constitution Highway) – Ditching operations from Route 628 (Clifton Road) to Route 725 (Hook Road). Expect alternating lane closures Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Route 20 (Constitution Highway) – Resurfacing operations between Route 522 (Zachary Taylor Highway) and Route 600 (Mount Sharon Road). Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Sunday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

(NEW) Route 231 (Blue Ridge Turnpike) – Pavement marking operations from Route 33 (Spotswood Trail) to Route 655 (Weyburn Road). Expect alternating lane closures Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 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 

Route 211 (Lee Highway) – Mowing operations from Route 522 (Sperryville Pike) to the Culpeper County line. Expect mobile, alternating lane closures Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 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.

Annual state crime analysis report now available on Virginia State Police website

virginia map

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Virginia’s official report on local and statewide crime figures for 2019 is now available online at the Virginia State Police website.

The detailed document, titled Crime in Virginia, showcases a new layout this year while continuing to provide precise rates and occurrences of crimes committed in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth. The report breaks down criminal offenses and arrests by the reporting agency.

Violent crime includes the offenses of murder, forcible sex offenses (rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling), robbery and aggravated assault. Overall, Virginia experienced a 2.45% increase in violent crime offenses compared to the previous reporting period. There were 18,717 violent crime offenses reported in 2019 compared to 18,269 violent crime offenses in 2018.

‘Forcible Fondling’ will be removed from inclusion in violent crime data due to the updated rape definition given by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The exclusion of ‘Forcible Fondling’ reflects a total of 16,018 violent crime offenses reported in 2019.

The following 2019 crime figures in Virginia are presented in the report:

  • The number of reported homicides increased from 391 to 428 (9.5%).  Victims and offenders tended to be younger males; 37.2% of homicide victims were men between 18 and 34 and 52.2% of offenders were men between 18 and 34.  Nearly half (46.7%) of all homicides occurred at a residence/home.
  • Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts decreased 4.2% compared to the previous year which included 11,040 motor vehicles reported stolen in 10,472 offenses. During 2019 10,575 motor vehicles were stolen in 10,044 offenses. In 2019, 6,252 motor vehicles were recovered (vehicles may have been stolen prior to 2019). Of all motor vehicles stolen, 41.3% were taken from the residence/home.  The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $99,358,971.
  • Drug and narcotic arrests decreased by 6% when compared to the previous reporting period. Marijuana arrests accounted for 57% of all drug arrests with a decrease of 8.3% when compared to the previous reporting period. Arrests for amphetamines/methamphetamines had the greatest increase from 3,483 to 4,646 (33.4%).
  • Fraud offenses increased 4.2% compared to 2018.  Over three-quarters of victims (76.8%) were individuals while 14.6% were businesses.  Of the individuals that were victims of fraud, 20.7% were age 65 or older.
  • Burglary decreased 7.5%. Of the 13,978 burglaries and attempted burglaries, more than half (54.8%) took place during the day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Three-quarters (75.3%) occurred at a residence/home.
  • Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 78.9% of homicides and 50.8% of robberies. Firearms were used to a lesser extent in the offense of aggravated assault (28.2%).
  • There were 185 hate crime offenses, involving 187 victims, reported in 2019 representing a 16.2% increase compared to 2018. Over 60% (63.6%) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward sexual orientation and religion were next highest (17.7%, 15.0%, respectively). Of all reported bias motivated crime, 61% were assault offenses (aggravated assault, simple assault) or destruction/damage/vandalism of property.

The report employs an Incident Based Reporting (IBR) method for calculating offenses, thus allowing for greater accuracy. IBR divides crimes into two categories: Group A for serious offenses including violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault), property crimes and drug offenses, and Group B for what are considered less serious offenses such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations where an arrest has occurred.

For both Group A and Group B offenses, there were a total of 274,636 arrests in 2019 compared to 279,288 arrests in 2018, representing an overall decrease in arrests in Virginia of 1.7%. Between 2018 and 2019, adult arrests for Group A and Group B offenses decreased 1.1%.  Juvenile arrests also decreased by 9.5%.

Per state mandate, the Department of Virginia State Police serves as the primary collector of crime data from participating Virginia state and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The data are collected by the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division via a secured internet system. This information is then compiled into Crime in Virginia, an annual report for use by law enforcement, elected officials, media and the general public. These data become the official crime statistics for the Commonwealth and are sent to the FBI for incorporation into their annual report, Crime in the United States.

The Inn at Virginia Tech prepares to return to full-service hotel and conference center

Inn at Virginia Tech

The Inn at Virginia Tech. Photo courtesy Virginia Tech Media Relations.

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, which transformed into a learning-centered living environment last year for more than 300 students, is preparing to transition back to a refurbished and enhanced full-service hotel and conference center starting June 1.

“As we say goodbye to the students who have called us home, we are excited to welcome alumni, Hokie families, and other guests at the only hotel on the Blacksburg campus,” managing director Tom Cupo said. “Our students were fantastic guests. We want to thank them for the maturity, goodwill, and flexibility they exhibited throughout the year.”

In August, three of the inn’s four floors were converted to student housing to help meet the increased need for on-campus housing. Although most students left campus when the university pivoted to online-only classes this spring, about 50 students continued to stay at the inn through the end of the semester.

“We are grateful for the patience and understanding of our many alumni whose travel plans had been disrupted over the past year and who worked with us to accommodate and support our newest Hokies,” said Charlie Phlegar, vice president for advancement. “For nearly 15 years, The Inn at Virginia Tech has been a destination for our alumni when they return to Blacksburg, and I am looking forward to welcoming them back to their ‘home away from home.’”

As part of its transition, The Inn at Virginia Tech is unveiling room improvements and renovations that have been ongoing this spring. These include new queen bed upgrades to all previous double-bed guest rooms, new 55-inch flat-panel TVs, and Keurig coffee makers in all rooms. Renovations in the conference center are also underway and will include upgraded technology for enhanced videoconferencing.

“Not only is The Inn at Virginia Tech well known for its hospitality and first-rate accommodations, but it has also developed a legacy as Virginia Tech’s living room and sanctuary for communal engagement and learning,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for outreach and international affairs. “By offering the latest videoconferencing capabilities, the inn is now positioned to collaborate with our partners to develop virtual conferences, seminars, and workshops.”

Cupo said his highest priority remains the health and safety of the inn’s guests and team members. He and his team are monitoring information from university experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health, and hospitality industry professionals.

“We want our hotel and conference guests to know that we are doing all we can to ensure their comfort and well-being,” Cupo said. “We are committed to keeping our guests, our employees, and our university community safe and to slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

The Inn at Virginia Tech is exceeding industry protocols and best-practice guidelines, increasing the frequency of property-wide cleaning and disinfecting — with extra focus paid to high-touch surfaces and public spaces, such as the front desk, door handles, public bathrooms, and room keys.

All overnight reservations will receive a relaxed cancellation policy that provides guests with the confidence of flexibility.

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, part of Outreach and International Affairs, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this summer. The hotel has 147 guest rooms and suites, and the conference facilities offer 23,000 square feet of meeting space. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels has managed the property since 2011.

Guests may make reservations online or by calling 877-200-3360.

Rob Wittman: ‘We must come together as a nation’

Rob WittmanCongressman Rob Wittman issued a statement on the nationwide protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

“Right now, our nation is in anguish as we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others who have died tragically and needlessly. The failures of the system designed to protect and serve our communities regardless of the color of someone’s skin must end.

“We must come together as a nation, not tear ourselves apart. Protests are a right, but must remain peaceful. We must address underlying biases and racism in our society, and we do that by taking the time to listen, understand, and respect each other.

“It is time for our nation to treat this open wound. We must investigate the atrocities that have sparked this outrage while peacefully and safely demonstrating. Let us not react to violence with violence. Let us instead address these atrocities with positive actions. Everyone from the local, state, and national levels must come together to achieve lasting change to prevent these events from happening again.”

RevenueWire shares 5 things you can do right now to up your landing page’s conversion rate

The Often-Missing Piece

website

Photo Credit: sweetym/iStock Photo

Almost every online business’s marketing team works to get people to visit their website, which will turn their interest into a lead, and to then turn that lead into a final sale.

This is a simplified explanation of a sales funnel, but it’s also one that applies to virtually any company whose goal is to sell a product or service. Many marketers, however, fail to take crucial steps to sustainably grow their business and position themselves for success by increasing their qualified traffic.

This is why the best online marketers understand the importance of conversion rate optimization (CRO).

What Exactly is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Your landing page’s conversion rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and take the specific action you want them to. If you want visitors to complete a form, give you their email address, or purchase a product, these are all actions that can be seen as a conversion – and the formula to calculate your conversion rate is simple.

Number of conversions divided by Number of site visitors multiplied by 100

So, if you made 23 sales and had 300 visitors, your conversion rate would be 7.6%.

Through conversion rate optimization, you make improvements to your website or landing page to increase this number. At a basic level, your goal is to make your website a more appealing, straightforward, and easy experience for your prospective customers.

Five Steps to Improve Your Conversion Rate – Right Now

Make sure your landing page has a direct call to action

Pull up your landing page in another window or tab as you read this article. Ask yourself (or, better yet, ask someone else who doesn’t know your business as well), “What is the first thing you notice when you look at this page? What is this page asking you to do?”

You want visitors to your landing page to know exactly what action to take, whether they’re looking closely at your page or seeing it from a distance. Make your page as simple and straightforward as possible.

On this same note, don’t make more than one offer on one landing page. By making multiple offers, you confuse and distract your landing page’s visitors – and risk knocking your conversion rate down by as much as 266%. Your offer should be clear, straightforward, and easy to take – and you must rework your landing page to ensure this.

Once you have fine-tuned your initial offer, you can start updating it, as well as utilizing tools like those provided by RevenueWire to effectively cross sell and upsell your customers.

Declutter your landing page

Though most websites are full of links, sidebars, and connections to other potentially valuable resources, having these on your landing page is setting your business up for failure. Like a good book, you want to keep people glued to your page, and that means eliminating distractions.

If you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is get rid of any links, sidebars, or navigation tools. Doing this allows you to increase your conversion by as much as 100%, yet a very small number of companies – only 16% – actually make this a part of their marketing practice.

That said, do keep your logo and branding consistent to ensure awareness and recognition. Your goal is to keep the page as bare as possible while still communicating everything visitors need to know, and that means leaving just one link intact across your page: the call to action.

If you need help building a beautiful, effective landing page that gets to the heart of the matter quickly, RevenueWire makes it easy to get up and running, generate leads, and close your first sales.

Cultivate authority through testimonials and reviews

No one is better at selling us products and services than our peers and friends who have had great experiences. It’s why some of the most successful businesses don’t run marketing operations at all, relying on a steady stream of extremely qualified leads solely through word of mouth.

However, if you don’t have this privilege, all is not lost. 3 in 4 customers are more inclined to trust reviews over advertising, and by including authoritative, high quality customer feedback, you can quickly demonstrate your product or service’s ability to get results, solve problems, and make people’s lives better – and all of this can make it much easier to convert your audience when it’s time to make the pitch.

Don’t miss any of the main points

The copy on a successful landing page does two things:

  • It identifies problems that the visitor may have
  • It provides the visitors with clear action steps to take to solve this problem

No matter what industry you’re in, this strategy works – but you need to clearly understand the niche you fill and how you solve customer problems to deliver effective marketing via landing pages or email.

Everyone who visits your website is looking for something, so demonstrate clearly to your customers how you can add value to their lives.

If your niche, for example, were customers looking to save on high-end groceries, you could offer extremely high quality products in smaller quantities – and therefore more affordable prices, giving them an opportunity to sample items they otherwise couldn’t afford.

If you’re struggling to find examples, RevenueWire’s Performance Marketing team can help you find industry leaders to take inspiration from – and perhaps outperform.

Do competitor research

You can always take inspiration and learn from other companies in your niche, as well as other marketers who are simply very good at what they do. The highest-converting landing pages have been extensively researched, fine-tuned, and reworked over time to create the most powerful, effective marketing assets possible. Don’t simply steal their design or flow word-for-word, but do:

  • Take a look at the visuals they use
  • See what techniques, strategies, and tactics they employ
  • Use what you’ve learned to create a powerful, effective offer

Time to Build a Winning Landing Page

Landing pages may seem simple, but they are one of the most powerful marketing assets – and trickiest to develop well. Following these basic steps are a great way to improve your conversion rate and grow your business.

If you need help, RevenueWire’s Performance Marketing services can provide you and your team with the partners to scale quickly and globally using their all-inclusive, multi-channel growth and monetization platform.

To find out more about RevenueWire and their services, click here.

SCC invites public witness testimony for Kentucky Utilities fuel rate revision

Virginia SCCThe State Corporation Commission is offering the opportunity for public comments to be received by telephone regarding a request by Kentucky Utilities Company, doing business as Old Dominion Power Company, to reduce its fuel rate.

Kentucky Utilities is proposing to decrease its fuel factor by $0.00440 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from $0.02623 per kWh to $0.02183 per kWh, effective for service rendered on and after April 1, 2020. For the average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, it represents a decrease of $3.15 per month.

Electronic public witness testimony will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Public witnesses may access the hearing by dialing 1-804-299-5840 and entering the conference ID of 635657397.

The deadline for filing written comments also has been extended. Comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by June 10, 2020, at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply scroll down to case number PUR-2020-00029, and click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

The evidentiary hearing in this case will follow the public witness testimony. The hearing will be webcast on the SCC website by visiting: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting. A link to the live webcast will appear on the site 10 minutes before the start of the hearings.

Virginia Department of Health revises method of reporting COVID-19 test data

Virginia covid-19

(© Ingo Menhard – stock.adobe.com)

To provide more accurate information about COVID-19 testing at the community level, the Virginia Department of Health will begin reporting COVID-19 data on testing encounters by health district using more accurate ZIP Code information.

The new data will impact 37,362 test results that were previously not assigned a health district designation because incomplete patient address information was reported to VDH.

Since May 1, VDH has reported testing encounters, which counts an individual person once per day as a measure of testing frequency and testing capacity. Because VDH often receives laboratory reports with incomplete information, those results were included in the statewide total, but were listed as missing geographic data and, as a result, did not appear in local health district counts.

Beginning May 30, VDH will report test encounter data using a tiered approach. If a test record is missing a patient address ZIP Code, the ordering provider’s ZIP Code will be used. If neither ZIP Code for the patient or ordering provider is available, the testing laboratory’s ZIP Code will be used.

By using the new data reporting method, testing encounter numbers will increase the health district figures as follows:

  • Alexandria by 699
  • Alleghany by 1,309
  • Arlington by 187
  • Central Shenandoah by 334
  • Central Virginia by 119
  • Chesapeake by 1,213
  • Chesterfield by 393
  • Chickahominy by 194
  • Crater by 892
  • Cumberland Plateauby 208
  • Eastern Shore by 312
  • Fairfax by 3,072
  • Hampton by 829
  • Henrico by 622
  • Lenowisco by 234
  • Lord Fairfax by 6,414
  • Loudoun by 1,234
  • Mount Rogers by 197
  • New River by 618
  • Norfolk by 2,536
  • Peninsula by 1,435
  • Piedmont by 106
  • Pittsylvania-Danville by 33
  • Portsmouth by 165
  • Prince William by 933
  • Rappahannock by 296
  • Rappahannock Rapidan by 454
  • Richmond by 3,541
  • Roanoke by 6,453
  • Southside by 212
  • Thomas Jefferson by 573
  • Three Rivers by 444
  • Virginia Beach by 187
  • West Piedmont by 330
  • Western Tidewater by 584

This improvement in how VDH presents data on testing encounters does not impact case data.

Obesity makes COVID-19 harder to fight

uva healthWith so much misinformation surrounding obesity, UVA Health’s Catherine Varney, DO, says these facts are clear: Obesity makes people sick and makes it harder to fight COVID-19.

Obesity is second only to older age as the main driver for people needing hospital care because of COVID-19, partly explaining why younger people experience severe disease, preliminary studies suggest. Obesity is also at the root of a host of common diseases afflicting Americans, she said.

“Obesity is the underlying cause of all these chronic diseases that we’re seeing in primary care — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There’s nothing obesity doesn’t touch — even depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome], fertility and osteoarthritis. If we can get obesity under control, we can get all these other things under control,” said Varney, a family medicine physician who is also board certified in obesity medicine.

Varney has seven important facts for anyone struggling with obesity, which you can read about at the UVA Health newsroom.

Update: All lanes open on Route 29 at Hilton Heights Road

road

Photo Credit: carterdayne/iStock Photo

Update: Saturday, 11:50 a.m. All lanes are open on northbound Route 29 at Hilton Heights Road in Albemarle County.

 

Update: Friday, 2:05 p.m. VDOT is adjusting the traffic signal timing on northbound Route 29 at Hilton Heights Road while emergency utility repairs continue.

Left turns from Hilton Heights Road to northbound Route 29 and the southbound left-turn lane into the shopping center adjacent to northbound Route 29 will be temporarily closed to keep northbound traffic moving.

Motorists are urged to avoid the area and use an alternate route such as Berkmar Drive.

 

Original report: Friday, 1:13 p.m. Three northbound lanes on Route 29 (Seminole Trail) are closed near Hilton Heights Road in Albemarle County due to emergency utility work.

Traffic is getting past the scene in the northbound left lane. All southbound Route 29 travel lanes remain open at this time.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and consider using an alternate route.

The lane closures will likely remain in place for most of Friday and possibly continue into the weekend.

Updates 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. Local updates are also posted to Twitter.com/VaDOTCulp.

Charlottesville city leaders address outrage, join call for justice in murder of George Floyd

CharlottesvilleCharlottesville leaders put out a joint statement late Friday expressing the shock and horror felt locally over the murder of George Floyd, an African-American, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

“I am completely outraged by Mr. Floyd’s death, and the collective deafening silence of leaders across the nation,” said Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney. “Once again, the black community must bear witness to another senseless murder of an unarmed black man, as officers cavalierly defy Mr. Floyd’s and bystanders’ pleas for mercy.”

“This death and so many others create a bloodstain on the badge of those officers who take an oath to keep their communities safe, do no harm, and defend the defenseless,” Brackney said.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, faces a third-degree murder charge in the death, after video shot by bystanders showed Chauvin kneeling on Foster’s neck for nearly nine minutes, as Foster repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” before losing consciousness.

“I continue to be greatly saddened by the untimely and senseless death of Mr. George Floyd,” Charlottesville City Manager Dr. Tarron Richardson said. “It is my sincere hope that justice will prevail, and Derek Chauvin is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Protests in cities across the country have raised outrage over the murder. A local protest has been announced to begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in front of the Charlottesville Police Department headquarters to highlight issues with local police harassment, surveillance and militarization.

“There is nothing just about the devaluation America has place on Black Lives and the constant danger it puts us in,” said Mayor Nikuyah Walker. “To my Black people: I see you, I grieve with you, I breathe fear with you, and I will continue to fight for us and demand that white America stop murdering, stealing, and restricting our breaths.

“In this moment, I breathe with you in honor of all those who have had their breath stolen. I will protect your breath from my little corner of the world and continue to implore others to do the same. Breathe!” Walker said.

Story by Chris Graham

Charlottesville group plans protest to highlight demands for racial justice

charlottesville

(© Tach – stock.adobe.com)

A Charlottesville group is organizing a protest at the city police headquarters to highlight justice for black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, and raise issues with local police harassment, surveillance and militarization.

Cities across the country have seen protests come together organically in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man being detained for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a deli.

A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, faces a third-degree murder charge in the death, after video shot by bystanders showed Chauvin kneeling on Foster’s neck for nearly nine minutes, as Foster repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” before losing consciousness.

“We can no longer afford to just start the conversation. We have moved past the stages of dialogue. Now is the time for action,” said Zyahna Bryant, one of the organizers of the Charlottesville protest, which is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

The local protest is a response to the national call to action from the Minneapolis-based Black Visions Collective and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, in solidarity with Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, and family, friends and comrades on the ground in Minnesota.

Organizers will ask everyone who wants to join the protest to practice physical distancing, six feet apart from each other. Masks will be provided for those who do not have one.

Some community members will be gathering to support the protest by car.

There will be a local focus to the protest. Organizers released a list of demands for local justice – that the city, Albemarle County and the state Department of Corrections increase the number of people being released from jail and prison, that all people on work release be immediately set free, that fees for home monitoring be waived indefinitely, that city police end what organizers term the “targeted harassment and surveillance of Black, Brown, and Undocumented folks in our community,” the immediate demilitarization and defunding of the Charlottesville city police, and that Charlottesville City Schools ends its contract with the Charlottesville Police Department.

“The gathering today is emblematic of the fact that our community will protect ourselves,” said Don Gathers, another of the event’s organizers. “These incidents occur with far too much frequency. They’re sickening and maddening, and they must be brought to a swift end. We must usher in a new paradigm. Otherwise, I’m fearful of this country slipping deeper into this rabbit hole, from whence there is no possible return.”

Story by Chris Graham

Should you be getting unemployment if you were recently laid off because of COVID-19?

covid-19 economy

(© Alexander Borisenko – stock.adobe.com)

Shutdowns of businesses across the nation due to COVID-19 have caused a massive share of the U.S. workforce to become unemployed. In April 2020 alone, the U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs, bringing the overall unemployment rate to 14.7%. In contrast, unemployment in February had reached the record-low of 3.5%. The current unemployment rate is officially the worst since the Great Depression, and is unlikely to improve soon.

Fortunately, for most individuals laid off due to COVID-19, help is available. Workers laid off due to COVID-19 are often entitled to unemployment benefits from both the state and federal governments to help them get by while they wait for the health of both the nation and the economy to improve.

How can workers laid off due to COVID-19 apply for unemployment benefits?

Workers who have been laid off or furloughed should apply for unemployment benefits through their state’s labor and employment department. This is the starting point for obtaining both state and federal unemployment benefits. State offers unemployment benefits in varying amounts and for varying lengths of time, and not all workers are eligible to receive the maximum unemployment benefit. These payments will vary based on the rates in your state, the amount of time you worked before getting laid off or furloughed, and your hourly rate or salary prior to losing your job. In some cases, workers who have had their hours reduced may also qualify for unemployment benefits. You can find additional information on applying for unemployment benefits in your state by visiting the CareerOneStop.org website, or your state’s labor and employment website.

What will unemployed workers receive in benefits?

In addition to benefits provided by your state’s unemployment office, the federal CARES Act offers supplemental benefits for those who are currently out of work. The CARES Act provides for $600 in additional funds for those laid off or furloughed on top of any state benefits. This additional $600 is currently scheduled to last until July, but a new bill currently before Congress would extend the additional relief until December. The CARES Act also offers an extension of 13 weeks of unemployment benefits beyond what your state would provide if you’re still out of work when state benefits run out.

What about workers in the “gig economy”?

Independent contractors, freelancers, or other “gig” workers are normally unable to receive unemployment benefits. Under the CARES act, however, workers in the gig economy have become eligible for unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, or “PUA.” Others who are entitled to collect benefits under the PUA include those with a limited work history and those who have exhausted the right to regular or extended unemployment benefits. A labor and employment attorney can help you determine if you’re entitled to these benefits under the PUA.

If you haven’t been laid off but can’t work for reasons related to COVID-19, such as that you’ve become infected with the virus or are caring for someone who is, or you have child care needs related to COVID-19, you may have a right to sick leave benefits. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires that most private employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to offer up to two weeks of fully or partially-paid sick leave for workers who are under quarantine, are experiencing symptoms of the virus, are caring for a child whose school or daycare is closed, are caring for a family member under quarantine or experiencing symptoms, or is experiencing any “substantially-similar condition.”

Even if unemployment is unavailable, most Americans are eligible for federal stimulus payments that can help alleviate the burden.

How to improve your sleep naturally

better sleep

(© Damir Khabirov – stock.adobe.com)

The average human spends around 26 years of their life sleeping – however, they also spend 7 (yes, seven) years trying to fall asleep.

If you would like those 26 years to become even better and cut down on the 7, spending them somewhere else instead, read our tips for naturally improving the quality of your sleep.

Change your bed

The first thing you can do to improve your sleep is to take a look at the bed and mattress you sleep on. If you can’t get comfortable and keep tossing and turning trying to settle, you might want to look at a different option.

Look for the best mattress in a box which can be delivered right to your door (saving you the unnecessary trip outside), and one that will be as soft or as firm as you need it to be.

Get some exercise

Moving is not only fantastic for your overall health and wellbeing, but it is also a great way to sleep better. When you tire your body out a bit, it will be much more ready to doze off. Plus, exercise is great for balancing your hormone levels, and will thus make falling asleep much easier.

You don’t need to engage in something very taxing every day – 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day will be just fine.

Mind what you eat

If you are one of those people who loves to eat a rich and tasty dinner, it might be interfering with your sleep time. Spicy and heavy foods will keep you up as your body tries to digest them, so going for something light for dinner is a better option.

On the other hand, you can also just eat your dinner earlier and provide plenty of time for your body to process it.

Close the curtains

Artificial light coming in through your window can keep you up at night, so close your curtains before going to bed. You can also get blackout ones if you need to.

On the other hand, if you prefer having some sort of light source, try to find a night light that will only provide a tiny amount of light.

Adjust the temperature

You may think you’ll sleep better when you’re snuggly and warm, but moderate temperatures are actually better for your sleep. When trying to find the right temperature, make sure you take into consideration your pajamas and your bed covers as well, and adjust the thermostat accordingly.

If you have trouble falling asleep unless your hands and feet are warm, get some sleeping socks and gloves, and remove them when you get warm enough if you remember to do so in your sleep.

Avoid screens and sounds

We’re all used to looking at a screen before or in bed, but the bright light is horrible for the brain when it’s preparing for sleep. In fact, looking at your phone in bed can keep you up for hours.

Instead of looking at any screen (that includes the TV), do something else an hour before bed – read a book, meditate, run through your evening self-care routine. That’s how you’ll be sending a clear signal to your brain that it is now bedtime, and that it needs to slow down and drift away.

Doing the same things in the same order before bedtime is a great way to doze off faster. So once you establish a routine you like and find soothing, try to execute it repeatedly.

Get up no matter what

Sleeping in on the weekend may feel great – especially if you haven’t been sleeping during the week – but it will actually mess up your sleeping pattern. Focus on finding the appropriate bedtime and wakeup time, one that keeps you most energized, and stick to it every day of the week.

This will help your body wake itself up naturally after the proper amount of sleep.

Final thoughts

Sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy life, and so much of our wellness depends on it. Focus on improving it as much as you can, and watch as you become more energized, more focused, more productive, and more jubilant.

Sophisticated new scanner to aid cancer research, treatment for pets, people

healthcare

Photo Credit: Peshkova/iStock Photo

Cancer research and treatment for the region’s pets and people got a boost when a new computed tomography scanner was delivered to the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke.

The Somatom Confidence RT Pro scanner uses a combination of two-dimensional X-rays and advanced computation to produce three-dimensional images of organs, bones, and other tissues.

If cancer is present, the scanner will allow veterinarians and researchers at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and the new Virginia Tech Animal Cancer Care and Research Center to visualize tumors from many angles, meaning improved diagnosis and staging for treatment planning, better understanding of the biology of cancers, and development of potential new therapies.

“This state-of-the-art CT equipment will support patient health care and multiple aspects of biomedical research at Virginia Tech to address important questions about normal function, disease processes, and for the improving delivery of precision-guided therapies,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech. “Not only will the instrumentation facilitate translational research for future benefits, it will also provide immediate access to precise image registration for potentially life-saving radiation treatments of companion animals with cancer.”

According to Gregory Daniel, interim dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, “The scanner is an especially critical instrument at the new cancer center, because in addition to diagnosing cancer, it can be used alongside our linear accelerator to precisely define the areas targeted for radiation treatments.”

This technology will be available to researchers at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and across the Virginia Tech campus, providing a unique opportunity for advancing understanding of cancer in pets and in people.

Augusta County: Part of Route 759 closing Wednesday, June 3 for bridge work

Augusta CountyA portion of Route 759 (Oak Hill School Road) in Augusta County is scheduled to close for bridge maintenance and repairs for about seven weeks beginning Wednesday, June 3.

The location is the bridge over Moffett Creek, between Route 728 (Stover Shop Road) and Route 756 (Buck Hill Road). Detour signs will guide motorists as follows:

  • Drivers approaching from the north will go west on Route 756, south on Route 730 (Stribling Springs Road) and then east on Route 728 to return to Route 759.
  • Drivers approaching from the south will go west on Route 728, north on Route 730 (Stribling Springs Road) and then east on Route 756 to return to Route 759.

Route 759 is scheduled to reopen on or about Friday, July 24. All work is weather permitting.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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

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