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Columns

  • Mental health funding still an issue in Virginia

    The legislative subcommittee examining Virginia’s mental health system registered a significant victory earlier this year when the General Assembly approved a bill expanding the mandated services provided by community services boards.

    It also has done well to address the systematic shortcomings illuminated by the 2015 death of a mentally ill inmate. As a result, jailhouse deaths will now be investigated by the Board of Corrections.

  • The best resource to combat ‘fake news’

    You hardly know who to believe these days, when actual events can be very strange and comedians can imitate politicians so well you have to ask, “It that him, or someone pretending to be him?”

    There always seem to be experts who disagree on a given topic, and often, there’s no telling just how authentic an “expert” is.

  • Lessening the penalty for first-time pot possession

    Virginia might take a step soon to lessen the penalties for first-time marijuana possession — ending the current criminal prosecution that does more harm than good.

    A bill that would make first-time marijuana possession a civil offense, rather than a criminal charge, will be considered in the next session of the Virginia General Assembly, which begins in January.

    The bill probably will receive a full hearing because of its sponsor — Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a James City County Republican.

  • Gift thoughtfully, shop locally

    As the holiday season gets fully underway, we should remind ourselves that certain kinds of gifts are more appreciated than others.

    Once children are past the age of wanting – desperately! – the latest toy or fashion, it gets harder to provide a really special gift. We offer the excuses of “I don’t know what’s in style right now,” or “I don’t know what kind of music the kids are listening to these days,” or even, “I don’t know what size anybody wears.”

  • Officers risk their lives to protect community

    Police officer down.

    The entire community holds its breath when it reads or hears those words, hands clasped and heads bowed, in the fervent hope that its worst fears are not realized.

    In incident involving a Portsmouth officer shot five times in the line of duty las week should spur us to take a moment to consider the challenge of police work in this day and age, a vocation that routinely requires the risk of life and limb in service to the public.

  • Nasty campaign ads a disgrace

    Virginia voters must only wait one more day before casting their ballots in this year’s gubernatorial election, but for anyone with a television — heck, everyone with a mailbox — the conclusion of that race cannot happen soon enough.

    For months, commonwealth residents have been subjected to all manner of ugliness in the race to be their chief executive.

  • Foundation has helped grads achieve dreams for 30 years

    For the past 30 years, Galax residents have opened their hearts (and their checkbooks) to support the scholarships offered by the Galax Foundation for Excellence in Education.

    The foundation has handed out more than $1 million and helped hundreds of Galax graduates achieve their dream of going to college since it began in 1987. It has come a long way since then, when the foundation awarded only two scholarships, totaling a mere $500.

  • Reflecting on violence in Charlottesville

    By Scott Jackson-Ricketts, Independence

    It came as no surprise to me that clashes between white separatists and those offended by their ideologies [on Aug. 12] resulted in violence, including the death of one counter-protestor. I am also aware of the two police deaths associated with the helicopter crash. All three of these deaths were unnecessary and a most unfortunate side effect of our collective failure to recognize our common humanity.

  • Hate, not heritage, in the streets of Charlottesville

    Kerry Dougherty is a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot.

    One dead. Dozens injured.

    It’s time to stop calling what transpired in the streets of Charlottesville on August 12 a white supremacist “rally” and say what it really was:

    A riot.

    A brutal clash between protesters and counter-protesters swinging clubs and baseball bats, throwing bottles and spewing expletives.

    And finally, a car plowing into a crowd of pedestrians that left one person dead and 19 injured.

  • Saving our poorest localities

    James W. “Will” Morefield (R-Tazewell) represents the 3rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He plans to submit legislation to the General Assembly that would exempt all residents and corporations from personal and corporate income tax for a period of 10 years in some of Virginia’s poorest counties.