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During the month of May I spent time traveling around the state. If there had not been scheduling conflicts within the district, I would have been in every region of the state. Those trips fell into two categories.
The subcommittees of House Appropriations and Senate Finance that deal with investments in maintaining the physical needs of the state visited many of our colleges and institutions to hear of their needs in the coming decade. That trip took us to Newport News where we heard from William and Mary and Christopher Newport. From there we headed to Norfolk where we heard from Norfolk State, Old Dominion, and Eastern State Medical School. Our second day visits were to Virginia State in Petersburg, Longwood in Farmville, and meeting with the Virginia Tech folks in Roanoke. The third and fourth days took the committees to the Valley to hear from Virginia Military Institute and James Madison before going to Charlottesville for University of Virginia and finishing with Northern Virginia to listen to the needs of Mary Washington and George Mason.
We are truly blessed in Virginia to have such an assortment of quality colleges and universities. Some are in urban settings while others are in small towns. Some are research centers while others are more focused on undergraduate studies.
Additionally, we heard a presentation about the needs of the Chesapeake Bay as it continues its comeback. Thanks to modern science and the study of genetics, researchers have been able to match the best possible oysters to put into beds within the bay based on the particular dynamic of that part of the bay rather than simply seeding all beds the same. This is driving a resurgence of oysters in the bay and improving the water quality while allowing for greater harvests.
The Port of Virginia gave us a tour of their facility and told us of their continued growth due to larger cargo ships coming to Norfolk. Our ports have an advantage over most other east coast ports because of deeper water needed for the larger ships that others do not have. Rival ports along the east coast are planning to deepen their ports to address this issue. To remain ahead, Hampton Roads will need to deepen to a lesser extent.
In Roanoke, Virginia Tech and Carillon Hospital have joined forces to not only have a medical school but also for research. Much of that research has focused on the brain. After only five years, they are considered one of the best in the world. Their research may well change how we deal with mental disorders in the future. As an example, their research into autism can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnosis and care for children.
In Southwest Virginia I heard the challenges that the entire region faces with the decline in the use of coal for power production. Often, when we hear of lost coal mining jobs, we do not consider the other job losses from railroads to retail. These are the same type problems that we have suffered with the loss of textiles and furniture production.
Southwest and southern Virginia will make a comeback if we stay focused on skills training and working to create new jobs from new companies, expanding current businesses, and from entrepreneurs.
We love to hear from you! You can contact us at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, Post Office Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23297 or 434-374-5129.