Friday, March 27-Sunday, March 29


Local News: Traffic delays on I-64 in Albemarle this weekend, Saturday, 4 p.m.
State News: Prosecutors drop charges against McCain T-shirt scofflaw, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Local News: Community Bank begins food drive, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Local News: VDOT road work schedule, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Local News: Staunton Police warn of scam, Friday, 1 p.m.
Economy: Kaine touts economic-development iniatives, Friday, 1 p.m.
Economy: LaHood announces new fuel-economy standards, Friday, 1 p.m.
Sports: ODU mauls Dukes in CIT semis, Friday, 11:20 a.m.
Congress: Warner provision on Veterans’ Corps included in Senate AmeriCorps bill, Friday, 10 a.m.
Congress: Webb introduces legislation to review criminal-justice system, Friday, 10 a.m.
Local News: Friends of the Library kick off membership campaign, Friday, 10 a.m.
Local News: EMU sets up scholarship in memory of recent alum, Friday, 10 a.m.
Local News: Shenandoah National Park announces openings, Friday, 10 a.m.

 

Local News: Traffic delays on I-64 in Albemarle this weekend, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Traffic on Interstate 64 westbound will be reduced to one lane at the Mechums River bridge (milepost 110) beginning Saturday morning to allow repairs to a metal joint on the bridge deck that has loosened from the deck.

The metal joint is the part of the structure that allows for expansion and contraction between the bridge deck and the abutment on each end of the bridge. The joint is fastened into the deck and has come loose due to deterioration of the concrete where the joint is attached.

A contractor for the Virginia Department of Transportation will begin work to repair the joint at 7 a.m. Saturday. One lane is expected to be closed over the weekend while the joint is reattached to the deck.

Motorists are advised to expect delays when approaching the bridge on Saturday and Sunday. Repairs are expected to be completed over the weekend. Motorists should use extra caution and obey all signs as they approach and travel through the work zone. For real-time information about traffic and weather conditions, dial 511 from any telephone in Virginia or, before you leave, on the Web at www.511Virginia.org.

 

State News: Prosecutors drop charges against McCain T-shirt scofflaw, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Madison County prosecutors have withdrawn criminal charges brought against a voter who wore a McCain t-shirt to her polling place on Election Day last November. The ACLU of Virginia represented defendant Leigh Purdum, arguing that the First Amendment protected her right to engage in passive political expression while voting.

Leigh Purdum turned herself in to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department in December after receiving a warrant charging her with a Class 1 misdemeanor for violating a law recently interpreted by the State Board of Elections as a ban on political apparel in polling places. The Board of Elections also directed registrars to refer violations to the local prosecutors.

Although many voters wore political attire to the polls on Election Day, Ms. Purdum may be the only person in the state who was charged with committing a crime for doing it.

With support from the ACLU, Virginia’s lawmakers passed legislation this winter explicitly protecting the right of voters to wear political apparel, stickers or buttons in polling places. Although the bill has not yet been signed by the governor, Madison County Commonwealth’s Attorney George Webb, III reportedly decided to drop the case once he learned that the bill had passed the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin.

“It is still hard to imagine that a Virginia voter faced jail time and a stiff fine for silently expressing her support for the candidate of her choice,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “But with the criminal charges now withdrawn, and the General Assembly changing the law to comply with First Amendment, it looks like everyone is coming to their senses.”

In a separate legal action, the ACLU of Virginia, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, and The Rutherford Institute filed a lawsuit in federal court last fall challenging the law under which Ms. Purdum was arrested as a violation of voters’ First Amendment rights. The three free speech organizations represent Jill Borak, of Fairfax County, and Charles Epes, of Richmond, who were told to remove or cover Obama campaign paraphernalia worn to the polls on Election Day. That case will likely be withdrawn if the governor signs the bill.

The attorneys representing Ms. Purdum were Steve Rosenfield, Sebastian Graber, Jeff Fogel, and ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg.

 

Local News: Community Bank begins food drive, Saturday, 4 p.m.

In support of the growing population of people in need in the Shenandoah Valley, Community Bank kicked off its month-long food drive for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network Monday. The bank will be accepting food donations from the public at any Community Bank location through April 30. In addition, the bank will be supplementing food donations with matching cash contributions.

“As a community bank we pride ourselves on giving back to the community. During this difficult economic time, we recognize the demand for food at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is up 20-30 percent,” said Norman C. “Butch” Smiley, president of Community Bank. “We realize that vital help for our neighbors, right here in the Shenandoah Valley, might already be in our pantry. We are encouraging our neighbors and friends to bring a non-perishable food item to any of our offices. We’ll make sure it gets to the Food Bank and we’ll magnify it with a cash contribution, so the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank can continue to serve our community.”

As unemployment rates in the U.S. reach record levels, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network fears that it could soon be overwhelmed by demand. In February alone, the Shenandoah Valley Area Branch of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank served 383,000 meals and snacks to needy individuals, families and children. That’s 72,000 more meals served than in February 2008. In addition, food distribution in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding area is up 17 % since the start of the 2009 fiscal year, providing over 2.9 million meals and snacks since July 2008.

In the last two years, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network has seen the demand for its services reach an all-time high. Without support from the community in the form of food and monetary donations, the Food Bank risks not having the resources to meet the demand.

 

Local News: VDOT road work schedule, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Here is an updated list of highway work projects that might affect traffic in the Staunton Transportation District during the coming weeks. Work scheduled is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. Also, when traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

 

Rockbridge County

Interstate 64

* (NEW) Mile marker 41 to 57, eastbound and westbound – Litter and debris removal. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

* Various roads – Cleaning ditches, drop inlets. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Interstate 81

* (NEW) Mile marker 174 to 205, northbound and southbound – Litter and debris removal. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

* Mile marker 195, northbound and southbound – Roadway lighting construction. Shoulder closures, Monday to Friday, flagger traffic control.

* (NEW) Mile marker 195 to 203, northbound – Survey and environmental work. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Various roads – Cleaning ditches, drop inlets. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Primary Roads

* Route 11 – Roadway lighting construction. Shoulder closures, Monday to Friday, flagger traffic control.

* Route 130 (Glasgow) – Bridge construction at Route 501. Periodic single lane traffic with flagger traffic control, Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Completion is in September 13, 2010.

* Various roads- Sweeping, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Flagger traffic control.

* Various roads – Litter pickup.

 

Secondary Roads

* Various roads – Brush cutting, shoulder work. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., flagger traffic control.

* Various roads – Grading dirt roads. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

* Various roads – Pothole repair, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mobile operation.

* (NEW) Various roads – Litter pickup.

 

Augusta County

Interstate 64

No lane closures reported.

 

Interstate 81

* (NEW) Mile marker 205 to 237 – Shoulder repair, litter and debris removal. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Various roads – Cleaning ditches, drop inlets. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Primary Roads

* Route 11, southbound (Lee Jackson Highway) – Sewer line installation from Route 694 to Route 701. Shoulder closure and lane shift, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* (NEW) Route 42 – Ditch work from Route 688 to Route 687. Monday to Friday. Flagger traffic control.

* (NEW) Route 252 – Brush cutting from Route 693 to Route 262, Monday to Friday. Flagger traffic control.

* (NEW) Route 254 – High shoulder removal from Route 642 to Route 820, Wednesday. Traffic control.

* Route 340 (Crimora) – Speed limit reduced to 45 miles-per-hour from 0.29 miles south of the Route 663 intersection to 0.39 miles north of the Route 612 intersection. Estimated installation of new speed zone signs is Mar. 31.

* Route 340, northbound and southbound (Eastside Highway) – Alternating lane closures from Route 672 to 1340, with flaggers for stripping and pavement marking of southbound lane. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

* Route 340, Waynesboro – Construction from Route 250 to Delphine Avenue for railroad bridge replacement and roadway widening, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Expect minor delays from Broad Street to Sixth Street for construction work. Sixth Street closed for sanitary sewer replacement, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Estimated completion is November, 2011.

* Various roads – Debris cleanup.

 

Secondary Roads

* (NEW) Route 640 – High shoulder removal from Route 250 to Route 254, Friday. Traffic control.

* Route 684, northbound and southbound (Little River Road, Craigsville) – Bridge replacement from Route 683 (Bashaw Road) to Route 685 (Lehigh Road). Road closed to thru traffic 8 a.m., Mar. 9 to 5 p.m., Apr. 3. Suggested detour: Northbound traffic take Route 683 west to Route 687 north to Route 684. Southbound traffic take Route 687 south to Route 683 east to Route 684.

* Route 701, westbound (Howardsville Road) – Sewer line work from Route 11 to Route 613. Shoulder closure. Work is 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Flagger traffic control.

* Route 701 – Shoulder repair, Wednesday to Friday. Flagger traffic control.

* (NEW) Route 774, northbound and southbound (Cline River Road, New Hope) – Bridge replacement activities from Route 608 (Battlefield Road) to Route 775 (Craig Shop Road). Road closed from Mar. 30 to Nov. 13. Suggested detour: Northbound traffic take Route 608 to Route 778 (Knightly Mill Road) to Route 775 to Route 774. Southbound traffic take reverse of northbound detour.

* (NEW) Route 795 – High shoulder removal from Route 254 to Route 608. Thursday to Friday. Traffic control.

* Route 796 – High shoulder removal from Route 608 to Route 254. Monday to Friday. Traffic control.

* Route 815 – Pipe replacement from Route 11 to end of state maintenance. Monday to Friday. Flagger traffic control.

* (NEW) Route 1907 – Sweeping, Monday to Friday. Mobile operation.

* Various roads – Machining dirt roads, Monday to Friday. Mobile operation.

 

Rockingham County

Interstate 81

* Mile marker 237 to 263, northbound and southbound – Litter and debris removal. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Primary Roads

* Route 11 (North Valley Pike) – Waterline installation from Route 765 (Gravels Road) and Route 963 (Windy Knoll Drive). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 11 (North Valley Pike) – Gas line installation between Route 718 (Old Furnace Road) and the Harrisonburg City Limits. Right shoulder closure, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 33, eastbound and westbound (Market Street) – Safety upgrade at Route 33 and I-81 interchange. Single lane traffic on Route 33, Monday to Thursday, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

* Route 253 (Port Republic Road) – Sewer line installation from Route 704 (Osceola Springs Road) to Route 276 (Cross Keys Road). Westbound lane shoulder closure. Occasional single lane traffic with flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 256 (Third Street, Grottoes) – Commercial entrance and directional bores from Route 825 (Dogwood Avenue) and Forest Avenue. Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 257 (Mason Street, Dayton) – Entrance construction from Route 1204 (Ashby Street) to Route 1203 (Westview Street). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 259 (Brocks Gap Road) – Directional bore from Route 820 (Bergton Road) to West Virginia State line. Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Secondary Roads

* Route 641 (Cave Hill Road) – Road work from Route 843 (Cemetery Road) to Route 991 (Jacob Burner Road). Intermittent lane closures. Flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 679 (Pleasant Valley Road) – Sewer line installation from Route 689 (Spaders Church Road) to Route 898 (Pleasant Drive). Shoulder closures controlled by flaggers. Blasting may occur. Work is Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 689 (Shen Lake Drive) – Sewer line installation from Route 253 (Port Republic Road) to Route 1030 (Lucy Long Drive). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Motorists should use caution and expect delays, especially at the intersection of Route 689 and Route 253.

* (NEW) Route 704 – Bridge over I-81, .6 mile east of Route 11. Bridge deck maintenance. Single lane traffic, flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Route 704 (Cecil Wampler Road) in conjunction with Route 679 work – Sewer line installation from Route 679 (Pleasant Valley Road) to Route 704 (Cecil Wampler Road). Occasional blasting may occur. Shoulder closure. Single lane traffic controlled by flaggers. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 704 (Cecil Wampler Road) – Sewer line work from Route 679 (Pleasant Valley Road) to Route 705 (Cottontail Trail). Shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
* Route 709 (Autumn Lane) – Sewer line installation from Route 704 (Osceola Springs Road) to Route 710 (Greendale Road). Westbound shoulder closure. Occasional single lane traffic with flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 710 (Greendale Road) – Aerial crossing from Route 253 (Port Republic Road) to Route 709 (Autumn Lane). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* (NEW) Route 721 – Bridge over I-81, .42 mile east of Route 11. Bridge deck maintenance. Single lane traffic, flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* (NEW) Route 724 – Bridge over I-81, .24 mile east of Route 11. Bridge deck maintenance. Single lane traffic, flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Route 726 (Stone Spring Road) – Aerial crossing from Route 253 (Port Republic Road) to Route 726 (Peach Grove Avenue)/Harrisonburg City Limits. Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 794 (Canery Island Road) – Overhead line installation from Route 11 (North Valley Pike) and Route 620 (Mount Valley Road). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 820 (Crab Run Road) – Aerial line installation from Route 865 (Bergton Road) to West Virginia State line. Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 826 (Criders Road) – Aerial line installation from Route 820 (Bergton Road) to Route 700 (Trailer Park Road). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 865 (Bergton Road) – Aerial line installation from Route 820 (Bergton Road) to Route 823 (Overly Hollow). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* (NEW) Route 867 – Bridge over I-81, .75 mile east of Route 11. Bridge deck maintenance. Single lane traffic, flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* (NEW) Route 990 – Bridge over I-81, .26 mile east of Route 11. Bridge deck maintenance. Single lane traffic, flagger traffic control. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Route 996 (McGaheysville Road) – Directional bore from Route 842 (Slate Road) and Route 998 (Fairyland Lane). Right shoulder closure, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Route 1304 (Sunset Drive, Dayton) – Sewer line installation from Route 257 (Mason Street) to Route 1209 (Thompson Street). Road closed. Flagger traffic control, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  

Local News: Staunton Police warn of scam, Friday, 1 p.m.

On Thursday, March 26, 2009, two adult males entered a house on Gray Avenue claiming that they were selling flooring. They were in the residence 15-20 minutes. After they left, the victim realized that approximately $500 had been taken from her residence. One of the males appeared to be in his 60s, the other in his 30s. They were driving a black pickup.

Anyone having any information concerning this incident or similar incidents, please contact the Staunton Police Department at 540.332.3842 or call Crime Stoppers at 800.322.2017.

 

Economy: Kaine touts economic-development iniatives, Friday, 1 p.m.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today announced that he has signed several pieces of legislation that advance his economic-development initiatives, and were part of his 2009 legislative package. These significant pieces of bipartisan legislation will assist the Commonwealth in meeting commitments to its private-sector partners and provide Virginia with innovative tools to attract future high-paying jobs to all parts of the state.

“During this difficult economic time it’s important that we are equipped with the right tools to keep Virginia competitive in the global marketplace,” said Gov. Kaine. “Virginia is recognized around the world as a great place to do business, and I am pleased to enact this legislation that will fulfill our current obligations and position us for even greater successes in the future.”

Gov. Kaine won passage of the Major Employment and Investment Act (HB 2550/SB 1119; Cox/Colgan), which will enable the Commonwealth to compete for large, potentially transformative, economic development projects by allowing for the financing of qualifying projects through the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia Resources Authority. To qualify as a Major Employment and Investment Project, projects must have a substantial regional economic impact, create at least 400 full-time jobs, and include a capital investment of at least $250 million. The Major Employment and Investment Act was a recommendation of Gov. Kaine’s Advisory Committee on Mega Projects.

Virginia’s marquee incentive program, the Virginia Investment Partnership Grant Program (HB 2442/SB 1089; BaCote/J. Miller), received a significant increase of capacity. The program is designed for expansions and consolidations of existing Virginia businesses and the passage of this legislation ensures that the Commonwealth meets its commitment to the joint venture of AREVA and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, announced by Gov. Kaine in October 2008, that is expected to result in a new capital investment of $363.4 million and create at least 540 new jobs.

By amending the existing eligibility requirements, the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant (VEDIG) Program (HB 2673/SB 1548; Putney/Colgan) will be able to offer incentives to more companies locating significant headquarters, administrative, research and development, or similar operations in Virginia, creating new jobs and investing in the Commonwealth. The VEDIG program was a critical component in the recent recruitment of Hilton Hotels Corporation to Virginia, announced by Gov. Kaine in February. The Hilton relocation will bring a $17 million investment and at least 300 jobs to Fairfax County.

The Major Business Facilities Jobs Tax Credit Program (HB 2575; Putney) has proven to be an extremely effective tool in business recruitment. Gov. Kaine sought, and the General Assembly approved, a ten year extension of this effective, performance-based incentive that encourages job growth by major Virginia employers. The tax credit allows eligible businesses to claim a $1,000 per job tax credit for each job created over a specified threshold number. To create a temporary stimulus effect, the credit can be claimed over two years through 2010, and will then return to being claimed over three years.

In December 2008, Gov. Kaine announced that Continental AG would expand its Virginia facilities, creating 318 new jobs, saving 500 Virginia jobs, and investing $194 million. A budget amendment will establish the Continental AG Workforce Training Program, providing $1.5 million to help develop the necessary workforce for this expansion, and fulfilling a commitment made by the Commonwealth to an important existing business.

 

Economy: LaHood announces new fuel-economy standards, Friday, 1 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced today that the Department of Transportation has posted the new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the 2011 model year. Click here to view the final rule for the 2011 model year.

On Jan. 26, 2009, President Barack Obama directed the Department of Transportation to review relevant legal, technological, and scientific considerations associated with establishing more stringent fuel economy standards, and to finalize the 2011 model year standard by the end of March.

“These standards are important steps in the nation’s quest to achieve energy independence and bring more fuel efficient vehicles to American families,” said Secretary LaHood.

The new standards will raise the industry-wide combined average to 27.3 miles per gallon (a 2.0 mpg increase over the 2010 model year average), as estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It will save about 887 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.3 million metric tons.

The 2011 standard will use an attribute-based system, which sets fuel economy standards for individual vehicle models, based on size. Secretary LaHood also noted today that work on the multi-year fuel economy plan for model years after 2011 is already well underway.

The review will include an evaluation of fuel saving technologies, market conditions and future product plans from the manufacturers. The effort will be coordinated with interested stakeholders and other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

  

Sports: ODU mauls Dukes in CIT semis, Friday, 11:20 a.m.

Old Dominion opened the game with a 16-2 scoring run and went on to beat James Madison 81-43 in the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament Thursday.

The host Monarchs hit for three three-point field goals during the game’s opening four minutes and added a three-point play for their 14-point advantage by the 15:55 mark of the first half. They had four three-pointers less than seven minutes into the contest and went on to lead 21-4 and 27-11. JMU cut the lead to 27-17 with 8:11 left in the half but didn’t score again for nearly five minutes. Old Dominion led 36-17 by then and was up 39-21 at halftime.

Old Dominion advances to the tournament championship game Tuesday (March 31) at Bradley. Tuesday’s 8 p.m. (Eastern) game will be televised by Fox Sports. 

 

Congress: Warner provision on Veterans’ Corps included in Senate AmeriCorps bill, Friday, 10 a.m.

The U.S. Senate approved legislation on Thursday expanding opportunities for public service, voting 79-19 to expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 participants over eight years. At the request of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., the Serve America Act includes a Veterans’ Corps to promote service opportunities and fellowships for our nation’s military veterans

In addition, Sen. Warner successfully amended the bill to include a six-month study of the best way to establish a Private Sector Corps within AmeriCorps to provide midcareer professionals with an opportunity to provide specialized management expertise to non-profit groups, local, state or federal governments. Sen. Warner believes private-sector expertise could be applied through AmeriCorps to recommend efficiencies and taxpayer savings across government programs.

Veterans’ Corps will help identify the unmet needs of veterans through activities such as recruiting veterans into service opportunities, promoting community-based efforts to meet the unique needs of military families, assisting veterans in developing educational opportunities, including professional and workforce certification, and developing projects uniquely tailored to assist older veterans and disabled veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Veterans’ Corps will help assist and support veterans, especially our wounded veterans, by giving them additional opportunities to serve their country when they return home,” Sen. Warner said. “Military veterans have a unique set of leadership skills and experiences that can strengthen our communities at the same time we’re trying to promote and expand the role of public service across the country.”

Sen. Warner also succeeded in including language directing the AmeriCorps board to conduct a study on ways to implement a potential Private Sector Corps. The Private Sector Corps would tap the energy and patriotism of mid-career managers, senior executives and others with specialized skills to connect with non-profit organizations and federal, state, and local governments to provide expertise to create efficiencies and cost savings.

 

Congress: Webb introduces legislation to review criminal-justice system, Friday, 10 a.m.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., on Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to create a blue-ribbon commission charged with conducting an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the nation’s entire criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee, is the principal Republican cosponsor.

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, S.714, is the result of decades of investigation and more than two years of intensive fact-finding in the U.S. Senate. In the 110th Congress, Webb chaired two hearings of the Joint Economic Committee that examined various aspects of the criminal justice system. In October of 2008, he conducted a symposium on drugs in America at George Mason University Law Center.

“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace,” said Sen. Webb. “With five percent of the world’s population, our country houses twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1,200 percent since 1980. And four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals. We should be devoting precious law enforcement capabilities toward making our communities safer. Our neighborhoods are at risk from gang violence, including transnational gang violence.”

Webb continued: “There is great appreciation from most in this country that we are doing something drastically wrong. And, I am gratified that Sen. Specter has joined me as the lead Republican cosponsor of this effort. We are committed to getting this legislation passed and enacted into law this year.”

“There have been many commissions in recent years, but the problems which we are now confronting warrant a fresh look,” Sen. Specter said. “This commission has the potential to really make some very significant advances in public security and protection from the violent criminals. I look forward to working with Sen. Webb and my colleagues in the Senate on this important legislation.”

The high-level commission created by the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 legislation will be comprised of experts in fields including criminal justice, law enforcement, public heath, national security, prison administration, social services, prisoner reentry, and victims’ rights. It will be led by a chairperson to be appointed by the President. The Majority and Minority Leaders in the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations will appoint the remaining members of the commission.

Commissioners will be tasked with proposing tangible, wide-ranging reforms designed to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug criminalization; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration; and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders.

Sen. Webb’s interest in reforming the U.S. criminal justice system stems from his days as a Marine Corps officer, sitting on courts-martial, and “thinking about the interrelationship between discipline and fairness.” Later, as an attorney, he spent six years in pro bono representation of a young African American Marine accused of war crimes in Vietnam, eventually clearing the man’s name three years after he took his own life.

Twenty-five years ago, while working on special assignment for Parade Magazine, Webb was the first American journalist allowed inside the Japanese prison system, where he “became aware of the systemic dysfunctions of the U.S. system.” Japan, with half of the United States’ population at that time, had only 40,000 sentenced prisoners in jail compared to the U.S.’s 580,000; today, the U.S. has 2.38 million prisoners and another five million involved in the process, either due to probation or parole situations.

“We are not protecting our citizens from the increasing danger of criminals who perpetrate violence and intimidation as a way of life, and we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail,” concluded Webb. “I believe that American ingenuity can discover better ways to deal with the problems of drugs and nonviolent criminal behavior while still minimizing violent crime and large-scale gang activity.

“We all deserve to live in a country made better by such changes,” said Webb.

 

Local News: Friends of the Library kick off membership campaign, Friday, 10 a.m.

The 2009 Friends of the Waynesboro Public Library Membership Campaign begins in April. Except for Life members, memberships expire as of May 1. Did you know that the Friends organization has raised almost $210,000 for the library since 1994? Last year alone your dues and gifts helped provide about $10,000 for the library with an additional $10,000 dollars placed in reserve to help kick off the library’s new expansion and renovation. We also anticipate spending almost $18,000 on furnishings and equipment for the same project.

Your dues and contributions unquestionably make a difference, providing the library with technical equipment, furnishings, programs and resources that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

This year the Friends provided funds for staff in-service training, the WPL summer reading program, adult and children’s programming as well as equipment, genealogy references and special books for the library. The Friends-sponsored Heritage Quest program, allowing patrons to access its powerful research capability from their home computers, has become very popular.

Membership categories are:

– Individual $10 or more

– Family $15 or more

– Patron $25 or more

– Organization $35 or mor

– Individual life member $100 or more per person

If you are already a life member, please consider a donation. Another giving option is to gift money to the library in the name of a loved one or friend. Memorials and living tributes of $25.00 or more and individual life memberships and organization contributions are publicly recognized at the library.

All contributions are deductible as allowed by law. Please make checks payable to “Friends of the Waynesboro Library” and send to Membership Chairman, Waynesboro Public Library, 600 South Wayne Ave., Waynesboro, VA 22980.

 

Local News: EMU sets up scholarship in memory of recent alum, Friday, 10 a.m.

Eastern Mennonite University hopes to build on the legacy of musician and 2008 nursing graduate Matthew Garber through the newly established Matthew Garber Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Garber, 22, a well-loved student leader known for his strong faith and good sense of humor, drowned in Costa Rica on July 1, 2008, shortly after graduating with honors from EMU. The endowed fund named in his honor will provide funding for students-in-need who wish to study music or nursing at EMU.

Garber, of Elizabethtown, Pa., was spending the summer in Costa Rica assisting a missionary family and learning Spanish. He planned to begin a position in the emergency room at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital at summer’s end. He was one of 10 graduating EMU seniors honored with the annual “Cords of Distinction” recognition for their “significant and verifiable impact” on the university campus and beyond.

“From time to time, one who could be considered the ‘model EMU student’ comes along,” said Ken L. Nafziger, vice president for student life. “Consider a young man who, as an expression of his Christian faith, was prone to service, committed to community, loved to sing, made friends with ease and was kind, caring and scholarly- that was Matthew Garber. We grieve his passing but remain heartened by the way he touched and influenced so many people in his time on this earth,” Dr. Nafziger added.

“Faculty, staff and fellow students in EMU’s nursing department remember Matt for his smile, his positive attitude and his infectious sense of humor that he often used to relieve tension during some tense group projects,” said Arlene G. Wiens, nursing department chair.

Classmate Melissa Sikes described Garber as “wise and mature beyond his years; he was very immersed in life, involved in everything he touched.

“With tragedy there is hope, and I know I can be a better nurse, using my critical thinking to really connect all the points in a patient – thanks to Matt and his insights,” Sikes added.

Seed funding of $4,605 in gifts has already been collected for the fund; the ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 or more through donations from family and friends over the next several years. The scholarship fund may also receive future gifts such as bequests or any other type of planned gift.

As soon as the fund accrues $10,000 or more, EMU will begin to grant scholarships in Garber’s name, reported Kirk Shisler, vice president of advancement. “We believe that this permanent fund in Matthew’s memory is a meaningful way to celebrate his legacy of faith in Christ and love of life and others,” Shisler said.

EMU financial aid and admissions staff will choose the student recipients based on financial need.

For more information on Matthew Garber and the opportunity to support the endowed scholarship in his name, visit www.emu.edu/giving/matt-garber.

 

Local News: Shenandoah National Park announces openings, Friday, 10 a.m.

Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Martha Bogle announced that facilities closed during the winter season will begin opening at the end of this week and will continue to open through out the spring.

Visitor Centers will be operated as follows: Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center will open on April 3; Dickey Ridge Visitor Center will open April 9; Loft Mountain Information Center will open on May 23, operating weekends and holidays only.

Campgrounds will operate on the following schedule: Big Meadows Campgrounds will open on March 27; Lewis Mountain Campground will open on April 10; Loft Mountain and Mathews Arm Campgrounds open on May 15.

Elkwallow, Pinnacles, South River and Dundo Picnic Grounds are currently open. The remaining picnic grounds will operate as follows: Big Meadows Picnic Grounds will open March 27; Dickey Ridge and Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds will open April 10.

Concessioner-operated restaurants, lodges and associated facilities will operate as follows: Big Meadows Wayside and Big Meadows Shower/Laundry will open March 27; Skyland Resort will open on April 2; Elkwallow Wayside will open on April 9; Lewis Mountain Cabins and Lewis Mountain Campstore and Big Meadows Lodge will open on April 10; and Loft Mountain Wayside will open on April 23; Loft Mountain Campstore and Loft Mountain Shower and Laundry will open on May 15.

For more information about planning a trip to Shenandoah National Park go to www.nps.gov /shen or call the park at 540.999.3500.



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