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Columns

  • In praise of public servants

    Many people who spend their careers in public service consider it more a calling than a profession.

    Teachers, for instance, are not drawn to the classroom for the pay or benefits. Quite the contrary. Many spend their lives working with children despite the hardship it inflicts on their bank accounts.

  • Turnout should have been better for city election

    I was fortunate enough to be able to vote in the May 8, 2018, race for members of the Galax City Council. I feel it is my duty as a citizen, and also my privilege.

    It may be more dear to me since I have also stood for election five times in my career as commonwealth’s attorney. While I am very grateful for all who turn out to vote each year, it troubles me that so few of our citizens make it a priority to vote in these local elections.

  • Saying goodbye to the old tax code

    Guest editorial by Rep. Morgan Griffith
    In the months since President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, many Americans have already enjoyed its benefits.
    They have noticed that Uncle Sam takes less out of their paychecks, companies are investing in the U.S. rather than overseas, and bonuses are being awarded.
    Still, some people are worried they have been left behind by tax reform. Many concerns are the result of misconceptions about the tax law.

  • Pieces in place for Virginia's Medicaid expansion

    State Sen. Frank Wagner, a Republican, is the latest member of his party to express his openness to expanding Medicaid in Virginia to cover an estimated 400,000 people now without insurance.

    In a column published in The Virginian-Pilot, Wagner said he believes a compromise is possible between Democrats who advocate for expansion, including Gov. Ralph Northam, and Republicans who now stand in opposition, primarily those who hold influential positions in his chamber.

  • Bills that could have made a difference

    State lawmakers approved hundreds of bills this year, but they cast aside a much greater number — either for more consideration in next year’s session or to be buried in the legislative graveyard.

    Many of the discarded bills had flaws that needed to be fixed before lawmakers could consider them for passage.

    But others, including bills that would have made travel safer and helped to protect dogs, deserved more serious attention than they received.

  • Objections to closing fell on deaf ears

    For six years, local legislators have campaigned on behalf of our community to reverse the impending closure of the Southwestern Virginia Training Center in Carroll County.

    But this year, with the mental health facility still slated to close by the end of June, after 40 years, there’s a deep sense of loss and discouragement. Our state representatives’ efforts once again were denied advancement in the 2018 General Assembly, which is set to adjourn this week.

  • Taking the initiative

    The effort to draw interest and create a sustainable community in Grayson County is nothing new; in fact, steady (and at times, staggering) improvements in our locality such as job creation (Oak Hall, Nautilus), agricultural stability (Matthews Farm, the GATE Center) and countless recreational resources regularly headline our newspaper.

    But in recent months, we’ve seen a refreshing new surge of interest in the betterment of our county, from Grayson’s new county administrator, William “Bill” Shepley.

  • Billy Graham: a steadfast voice for Christianity

    During a time when the shifting winds of morality reoriented the nation, the Rev. Billy Graham stood his ground.

    When the culture seemed to marginalize those preaching the message of God’s love, Graham’s voice continued to ring out.

    And when people of all backgrounds — from paupers to presidents — looked for spiritual guidance, they found Graham’s open arms.

  • ‘Thoughts and prayers.” Then a failure to act.

    The video is short, only a few seconds long.

    It is shot from below desk level, where a girl in a dress and a boy in shorts are huddled.

    The students’ talking is interrupted by the explosion of gunfire — 15, maybe 16 shots in all, as the kids scream. The shooter isn’t in their classroom, but is close, and the children’s terror is nauseatingly apparent.

  • Legislators' chance for transparancy

    The Virginia General Assembly has in this session a tremendous opportunity to dramatically improve the commonwealth’s approach to transparency in government.

    Numerous bills now pending before the legislature would make documents more accessible, strengthen the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and bolster accountability for public officials. They would afford residents a clearer view of how government works, which is essential in a democratic republic.

    Crucial to this effort will be a freshman class of legislators for whom openness is a priority.