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Phone in Hand and Driving Will Get Expensive Next Month

If you’re caught with a phone in your hand while driving you could pay up to $125 for your first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses.

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Richmond Police have sent out a friendly reminder of a new law that will be enforced next month.

Due to a Richmond City ordinance, beginning on Tuesday, June 9, it will be illegal to hold and use a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle in the City of Richmond.

This primary offense allows police officers to take action whenever they observe a driver operating a motor vehicle while using a handheld personal communications device, without having to also observe evidence of distraction.

While the Commonwealth of Virginia has passed a similar law which takes effect in 2021, in Richmond, beginning June 9, 2020, drivers using their handheld personal communications device while driving on a public street or highway in the City of Richmond could be found guilty of distracted driving and be fined.

“This ordinance will hopefully reduce the occurrences of distracted driving in Richmond,” said Special Operations Division Captain Don Davenport. “The goal is to increase the safety of all who use the roadways, including pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers and other drivers. We want all motorists to begin each trip by buckling up and putting their phones down.”

The ordinance does not apply to drivers lawfully stopped or parked, emergency vehicle drivers, such as police officers and firefighters, drivers using a handheld communications device to report on emergency, or drivers using a radio-based communications device during an emergency or disaster relief operation.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Kroger donates $55,000 towards Feed More’s mobile pantry program

Feed More’s Mobile Pantry, powered by Kroger, distributes thousands of pounds of food each month to people where they live.

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Grocer Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic operations recently donated $55,000 to Feed More in continued support of the food bank’s mobile pantry program. Feed More’s Mobile Pantry, powered by Kroger, distributes thousands of pounds of food each month to people where they live.

The program provides each household with perishable and nonperishable food items, including a lean protein, fresh produce, bakery items, and other shelf-stable items and reaches both rural and urban communities throughout Central Virginia. The Mobile Pantry serves approximately 5,400 individuals each month, averaging over 101,000 meals and 122,000 pounds of food in a typical month. In the last year, Feed More’s Mobile Pantry distributed nearly one and a half million pounds of food to children, adults, and seniors, greatly improving their access to healthy, nutritious food.

Kroger initially contributed to the mobile pantry in May 2018, donating a $120,000 refrigerated box truck. This enabled Feed More to deliver more fresh food to underserved communities and neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores across Central Virginia. The support is in line with Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign, a company-wide commitment to end hunger and eliminate food waste by 2025.

“When Feed More identified the mobile pantry as an area where they need continued support, we didn’t hesitate,” said Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager at Kroger Mid-Atlantic. “This initiative is incredibly important to reach people who would otherwise not have access to nutritional food, and we know that need has only increased with the pandemic.”

“Food insecurity has become a reality for far too many of our neighbors. We are grateful to have partners like Kroger who bring solutions to the table and do everything they can to help fight hunger,” said Doug Pick, CEO of Feed More.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic has supported Feed More for nearly 20 years and has donated more than one million dollars to the non-profit to help end food insecurity and over 4,000,000 pounds of food to Feed More’s network of area food pantries since 2010.

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Four-legged assistant at Sheltering Arms is helping change lives

Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara.

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Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute, a collaboration with VCU Health, has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara. Clara will assist handler Dr. Cynthia Rolston, Director of Psychosocial Services and Inter-Professional Science, in her work with patients.

Clara is a two-year-old Lab/Golden Retriever cross and has been training since she was eight weeks old. After being carefully matched with one another, Clara and Dr. Rolston spent the last two weeks working with professional Canine Companions instructors to prepare for their new roles. Training consisted of intensive lectures, hands-on practice and simulations, and multiple examinations in order to acquire public certification.

In just her first few days on the job, Clara has already acclimated to the many changes in her life and settled into her new home and work environment, bringing smiles to our patients’ faces.

“This is a new and exciting program for all of us, and I can’t wait to see how Clara helps our patients achieve independence,” Dr. Rolston said. “We will be working together as a team as we integrate Clara into patient therapy sessions at Sheltering Arms Institute.”

Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised, and expertly trained assistance dogs in more than 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire patients with special needs. Clara can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed, and retrieve all kinds of items. She has specific commands that allow her to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way.

“We have full confidence Clara will be an exceptional facility dog for Sheltering Arms Institute and bring a host of skills and smiles to the halls daily. She will assist the patients with their therapies, help patients practice their activities of daily living, and bring an added psychological assist,” said Debra Dougherty, Northeast Region Executive Director for Canine Companions for Independence.

Canine Companions for Independence enhances the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,000 assistance dogs with program graduates. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Clara entirely free of charge. The support for staff training and Clara’s ongoing needs is being provided by generous Sheltering Arms Foundation donors.

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More than 200,000 Virginia voters cast ballots in first week of early voting, Virginia Department of Elections says

Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period. 

Capital News Service

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By Joseph Whitney Smith

Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period.

Over 164,000 citizens have voted in person, while more than 926,000 absentee ballots have been issued as of Sept. 25, said Andrea Gaines, director of community relations and compliance support at the Virginia Department of Elections. Over half a million people returned absentee ballots in the 2016 presidential election, according to the department.

Breaking the traditional custom of voting on Election Day, the governor and other top officials hit the polls when they opened Sept. 18. The General Assembly earlier this year removed restrictions to vote absentee and allowed early, in-person voting until Oct. 31. The move allowed individuals to cast their ballots 45 days early.

“While the pandemic has made this an unprecedented election year, Virginia voters have several safe and easy ways to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release. “Voting is an essential part of our democracy, and I encourage every Virginia voter to know their options and make a plan for safely casting their ballot.”

About 20 people were lined up, six-feet apart, to vote Friday morning at the Henrico County registrar’s office. Carrington Blencowe was one of the voters. She said that voting early is more convenient for her family.

“This makes it a lot easier than trying to vote the day of because it gives people more time and we’re a working country,” Blencowe said.

Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote in person early. They just head to their general registrar’s office or satellite voting location, show ID and cast a ballot.

Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said previous early voting and absentee ballots were much more inconvenient.

“It involved signing a statement saying you had one of a range of acceptable excuses, they included military service, being away at college, travel plans, working from out of county, or disabilities,” Farnsworth said. “When you think about how much easier it is to vote via mail-in, my guess is that it will remain popular after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.”

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 23. The Virginia Department of Elections recommends that applicants return their ballot as soon as possible due to the high number of ballots issued. In 2018 and 2019, 90% and 85% of requested absentee ballots were returned, respectively.

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