The Roanoke County official at the center of an employee misconduct investigation last year will “resign his position and retire from public service” in February. The county’s handling of the investigation into Director of Human Resources Joseph Sgroi became a public matter when supervisors Al Bedrosian and Butch Church expressed unhappiness with the outcome at the time.
Here is the statement from Roanoke County Administrator Thomas Gates: Joseph Sgroi, director of Human Resources will resign his position and retire from public service, effective February 13, 2015. “I thank Mr. Sgroi for his years of service to the citizens of Roanoke County,” said Gates. “During Mr. Sgroi’s tenure, the County’s Human Resources Department has become a modern, employee-focused organization committed to meeting the needs of our organization.” Sgroi joined the County in 1996. Since that time, he has led efforts to ensure market-based pay structures for employees, initiated organizational development and training initiatives, and instituted wellness programs for employees aimed at reducing health care costs in the workforce. Anita Hassell, who is currently serving as Acting Human Resources Director, will continue in that capacity. The County will immediately initiate a nationwide search for a new director.
Virginia state employees may see at least a small pay raise under a new proposal by House Republicans. The state workers, including police and teachers, would receive pay raises between and one and two per cent. It’s the result of higher-than-anticipated payroll tax collections since July. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Students at nine Virginia middle schools are participating in a NASA program to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Virginia Department of Education says the state is one of ten chosen by NASA and the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the 2014-2015 Engineering Design Challenge. Officials say students will take on after-school challenges designed by NASA aimed at solving real-world problems such as how to successfully parachute a spacecraft onto the surface of Mars. The Virginia schools participating are: Caroline Middle in Caroline County, Falling Creek Middle in Chesterfield County, Holmes Middle and Key Middle in Fairfax County, Peabody Middle in Petersburg, Thomas H. Henderson Middle and Thomas C. Boushall Middle in Richmond, Stonewall Jackson Middle in Roanoke and Southampton Middle in Southampton County.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Fourteen grants totaling $1.7 million have been awarded by Virginia’s land conservation board. The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation awards will help add 5,700 preserved acres. The grants are used by private land trusts, local governments and state agencies to protect farm and forestland, historic area and open spaces. The grants are headed to Stafford County to purchase prime farmland, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to purchase an easement for the core area of Fisher’s Hill Battlefield, and the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund to preserve Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve in Franklin County. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the funding Thursday, calling the grants “money well spent.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A proposal to legalize two derivatives of the marijuana plant for treating epilepsy has cleared its first hurdle in the General Assembly. The legislation offered by Sen. David Marsden, a Fairfax County Democrat, would allow legal possession of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil when a doctor determines that a patient has a debilitating epileptic condition. The Senate Education and Health Committee approved the measure Thursday. The panel heard emotional testimony last week from families of children who suffer frequent epileptic seizures and have experienced serious side effects from taking legal drugs. The committee advanced the bill despite testimony from a State Police spokesman that it could put Virginia in conflict with federal law. The measure now goes to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Republican-controlled state Senate committee has defeated an attempt to repeal a 2012 law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound procedure first. The Education and Health Committee rejected Sen. Mamie Locke’s repeal bill Thursday on an 8-7 party-line vote. Locke, a Hampton Democrat, called the ultrasound requirement an invasive, medically unnecessary impediment to women seeking a legal medical procedure. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Medical Society of Virginia support repeal of the law. Opponents of repeal, including the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia and the Virginia Catholic Conference, said the ultrasound mandate helps women make an informed choice about undergoing a life-altering procedure. The committee also rejected a bill to repeal a ban on abortion coverage in insurance plans sold through a health benefits exchange.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ An attempt to reduce the number of required standardized tests taken by Virginia schoolchildren has failed in a Virginia Senate committee. Sen. John Miller’s bill would have cut the number of high-stakes Standards of Learning tests to the minimum required by federal law. Miller, a Newport News Democrat, said the measure would have reduced the number of required tests from 29 to 17. Miller said the tests promote rote memorization at the expense of critical thinking skills. The Education and Health Committee rejected the bill on a bipartisan 9-6 vote. The committee also rejected a perennial bill to remove a longstanding ban on beginning the school year before Labor Day without a waiver from the state Board of Education.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The mother of an inmate serving more than six life terms for a robbery is asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe to grant a pardon. Media outlets report that Angela Blount delivered a petition containing more than 14,000 signatures to Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney on Wednesday. Blount’s son, Travion Blount, was 15 at the time of the home invasion robbery in September 2006. He won’t be eligible for geriatric release until 2051, when he turns 60. Two co-defendants who were adults pleaded guilty and received 10- and 13-year sentences. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell granted Blount a conditional pardon that reduced the sentence to 40 years. A federal judge voided that decision, saying McDonnell overstepped his authority.